The kids around here are heading back to school – some last week and some this week – so I guess that means summer is coming to an end. I love this time of year. Spending so much time, both as a student and as a teacher, under the regime of the academic calendar, I always feel like the beginning of fall is a time of potential. It’s like a second new year. You would go buy your new folders and notebooks and resolve that this year would be different, that this year you would stay on top of deadlines and keep things organized and basically be a well-oiled learning / teaching machine.
To be honest, I did eventually get there, but when I did, the notes got much less interesting. They became mostly lists of the sources my professors and other colleagues were using. And for teaching, I had gotten my working notes refined enough to be a good base for teaching the same class year after year, with fewer revisions every semester, when we moved here and they became obsolete. Ah well, I still have them all. You know, against the day I go back and become a professor. With outdated notes. It could happen.
What I do these days doesn’t require notes. I’ve moved into cosmetology:
Little Mister got his first haircut last night. His father has been lobbying for this for weeks, and the boy was looking a little unkempt.
This gives you a bit of an idea. On a good day, he had a mullet with a little curl in the back. Adorable and a mess at the same time. Of course, his hair is still laughably thin, but it was long enough that shaping up the back and trimming the bangs and around the ears makes a difference – at least to our eyes.
He was a little wiggly, and it was an imperfect trim but, as they say, “good enough for government work.” And no one lost an ear or got traumatized, so a success.
Not the best picture, but the best I got of his head this morning. The little curl is gone, which makes me kind of sad, but it’s a better look overall. My boy is growing up.
Now, let’s talk about my neighbor. My Neighbor Totoro, to be precise.
This movie is oozing with adorableness. Two little girls move with their father to the country and discover that their neighbor is a, I don’t know, a wood spirit, the spirit of the huge camphor tree close to their house. The girls befriend the spirit, and when Mei (the younger of the two) goes missing, after some difficult news about their invalid mother (who is staying at a hospital close by), Totoro helps Satsuki (the elder) find her with the help of the Catbus I mentioned a few weeks ago.
In watching this time – and I think this is only the second time I’ve seen it – I enjoyed it more because this time I knew that even the bits I found off-putting before were essentially innocent. The whole scene where Totoro shows up at the bus stop Satsuki and Mei are waiting at, stands partly in the shadow, and then gets on the Catbus, felt very sinister on the first viewing. Second time through, though, it’s just a dark night and the spirits are going about their business and perfectly friendly.
It’s very similar to my experience with The Lord of the Rings: the first time I read it through I was so consumed by worry for the hobbits that I couldn’t enjoy it. I was sure, for example, that Tom Bombadil, Faramir, and even Aragorn (for awhile) were sinister enemy agents, and even though they were only helpful to them, I couldn’t shake the feeling. It wasn’t until I finally finished the book that I was able to relax, and subsequent readings have been much more enjoyable. I expect that is what will happen here; it will just keep getting better.
Charles says Little Mister can’t watch this before he’s 18 because when Mei goes missing, the adults find a sandal in a pond and start dragging the water for her body. A little dark, I’ll admit. I don’t know that LM would really pick up on the horror of that, but the scary spirits might be bad enough. Maybe we’ll wait longer than I had expected to on this one before I rewatched it. Before Sunday night, I was thinking maybe 4 or 5, like the other movies I’ve looked at here and here. But now, I’m leaning more toward waiting until he’s around Satsuki’s apparent age, which looks to me like 8 or 9. I think then he’ll be in a sweet spot between still identifying as a child (and therefore able to “see” spirits like Totoro) and not too scared by them. Besides, Satsuki is the main protagonist in the movie, and therefore the main audience identifier, so it would make sense to aim for him to best be able to identify with her.
The last movie I’m looking at will be one you might not have heard of. It’s not a Disney or Disney-affiliated movie, so I feel like it’s less well known than the ones I’ve done so far. I just don’t want to be only looking at products from the Mouse House. Enjoy your week!