Lost in Translation

Nine years after its release, I watched Lost in Translation on HBO. When it was over, I convinced Kim to watch it with me, and I enjoyed it as much the second time. I even noticed a few detailed I missed the first time such as when Charlotte stubbed her toe.

The idea I take from the film is that connections can change the trajectory of your life. But they aren’t guaranteed nor do they occur often. When they do happen, they are the source of so much joy that the rest of life’s complexities fade into the background.

lostintranslatio

I recently wrote about a friend I meet for Pho a few times each year. We chat for hours, and he’s my only guy friend that I hug when we meet or say goodbye. I don’t know why other than I share a bond with him that’s strengthened over time.

Last spring I sat down at a hamburger joint in Salt Lake City with my father. I’d recently lost my job and my career was in flux. I listened to him describe what it’s like to see your spouse become very ill, and how his plans for retirement had changed because of that. I’d never thought about it from his perspective, but there is was in all its emotional rawness.

It’s not easy for my father to say, “I have no idea how this turns out”, yet when he said that I felt a connection to him that I hadn’t felt before. He’s dedicated and controlled in his actions. But he was vulnerable in that moment, and it brought us closer together.

I told my father that I have no clue what I’m going to do to support my young family. I’d recently started a small business with a friend to escape having to take another mindless corporate job. I wondered if he’d question my work ethic. Instead he placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “You’ll figure it out. You always have.”

When the movie ended I told Kim that I could relate to much of it because I’d felt that instant bond when I first met her in Las Vegas. I didn’t feel the need to be someone I wasn’t because she was happy with the imperfect me. 

That so few of these connections have taken place in my life has me wondering if they are naturally rare or if I’m not perceptive or skilled enough to create more of them. But I know that I’m happiest when they are occur regularly.

Moneyball

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?” – Billy Beane

Moneyball was the best movie I saw this year. I read the Michael Lewis book a few years ago and liked it, but didn’t think much of it. When I heard Brad Pitt was playing the role of A’s general manager, Billy Beane, I shrugged it off and didn’t plan to see the film.

But Ebert gave it a good review and I decided to see it. So glad I did because I really enjoyed the performances from Pitt and Jonah Hill who plays an understated statistic whiz kid who understand that the goal of teams should be to buy  wins instead of players.

Basically, invest your money in players who get on base. It doesn’t matter how. A walk or hit by pitch is as good as a hit.

Not only are the performances good, but the music and cinematography are excellent. We’ve seen the ball sail over the fence for the winning home run dozens of times. You’ll find it in Moneyball as well but it’s done with such a deft touch that it feels authentic.

I highly recommend Moneyball even if you’re not into baseball. In fact, it’s as much about business and mathematics as it is about the game of baseball.

Flipped

So many awkward moments leading up to that first kiss make those early teen years unforgettable. Every tiny detail came back to life as I watched the movie, “Flipped” tonight.

There’s a scene in the movie where the girl chasing the boy sits behind him in class and inches closer so she can smell his hair which she says has the scent of fresh watermelon.

Who can’t relate with this? One moment I’m supposed to act like girls don’t exist and the next I’m dancing with one I don’t know very well, but dang, she sure smells good I wish the song would never end. But I can’t enjoy it too much because I wonder if I smell as good to her over the three layers of my dad’s Right Guard?

An older brother would have come in handy around this time. Although I don’t remember telling mine how to act around girls. I probably did, and he did well to ignore my advice.

And that’s the problem. Nobody pulls you aside and tells you what you’re supposed to do. Adults only tell you what NOT to do. My bedroom was in the basement away from my parents and sisters. I lay in my bed many a night sorting out my feelings such as, “Why didn’t I have the guts to ask that girl to dance?” My Panasonic digital clock radio provided the soundtrack. So many plans were made at that time and yet so few were carried out due to my lack of confidence.

Do you remember dancing with someone you cared for and the song immediately moved to the top of your favorites? Without the internet, I relied on the soft hits station to play it and hopefully not talk over the beginning or end of the song. Even 25 years later, if I hear songs from Toto or Chicago it’s as if I’m transported back to a time when I felt cool wearing penny loafers and pastel Izod shirts.

I have a few more years before my children enter the age of awkwardness. I wish I could pull each of them aside and dispense wisdom I’m supposed to possess as their parent. I’m sure my parents tried this, and I brushed them off. I suspect my children will do the same.

And I’m fine with that.

127 Hours

It’s difficult to describe the sound. I’ve tried. It’s more than a loud snap. But I know it when I hear it.

There’s no mistaking the sound a bone makes when broken.

And this was the most cringe-worthy scene that came from watching the movie, 127 Hours. This is the film staring James Franco as the hiker from Utah who cut off a section of his arm to escape from a boulder that trapped him deep in the canyons of Utah for 127 hours.

127 Hours Trailer

I read reports of movie goers passing out in theaters due to the amount of blood in the film. It wasn’t the amount of blood that bothered me, but how voyeuristic I felt knowing this happened to a man who survived to tell his story. We know he lived,  and that fact gives the story ample substance.

But it’s not the blood or the slicing of skin I’ve been thinking about since I left the theater. It’s that sound I can’t adequately describe. Of course, Ralston couldn’t just cut through his arm. He had to break it first, and that’s the part of the movie I had a difficult time watching. I closed my eyes but not my ears, and when I heard it, my stomach hit the floor.

The sound brought me back to a day in June many years ago. I was two days from finishing 7th grade. Baseball practice was winding down. I decided to stand on a bench and rock back and forth. When I lost my balance, I tried to brace my fall with my left arm still clenching my Wilson glove.  When my arm hit the long grass, it stopped while my body slid forward.

For months, I could not get the sound of my arm breaking out of my mind. Even today the thought of that fall still makes me shudder.

You may think I didn’t like the movie, but I loved it. It’s not depressing nor does it attempt to make a hero out of a man who had two choices: die in a rock crevice or take action, no matter how drastic.

He chose to act. Would you have done the same?