stephen clark
January 9, 2003

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I woke up this morning and it was a beautiful day. The weather was perfect. "This will be the day that I go to the cinema", I thought as I got the breakfast things.
    The decision to go to the cinema was a good one, because it would give me something to do. Not that I didn't have things to do at home I could read a book, or write a song, or do any number of creative things on the computer. But going to the cinema would make me feel like a participating member of society.
    The big question of course, was: "Which film to see?" I walked to the shop on the corner to buy a newspaper, and when I arrived home I scanned the entertainment section. There were a great many films to choose from. I considered a big Hollywood blockbuster with famous actors but I didn't choose that, because I like to think of myself as somewhat "outside the mainstream". I considered a film called "Satin Rouge", about belly-dancing in Tunisia it's supposed to be very good. But I didn't choose that, because I didn't feel "highbrow" enough.
movie guide
Then I noticed that some listings had this Japanese animation called "Spirited Away", and all at once I knew that was the movie I wanted to see. I'm a big fan of Japanese animation, and I'd heard that this one was particularly good. It was not too mainstream, not too highbrow just the perfect movie to see on a day like this. Furthermore I decided to see it in the "Nova" cinema, partly because it was the only one that was showing the original Japanese version, and partly because my friend Sharon said the "Nova" is the cheapest cinema in Melbourne.
So, the decision was made. "But Stephen", I thought, "if you're going out to participate in society, you ought to make yourself look nice." So I prepared for the outing by improving my appearance a bit. This involved having a shower and a shave, clipping my fingernails and putting on some nice clothes. I also decided to make things complete by tidying up my apartment a little. This is because I feel like my living-space is an extension of my mind when it's neat and tidy, my mind is more at ease.
    There is a tram-line running down the road near my house. So at the appropriate time, I went outside and waited for a tram at the small shelter there.
tram stop
I didn't have to wait long before a tram came. The journey to the Nova cinema is a long one to get there, you have to change trams in the city. I knew which trams to catch because I had my map with me. The city was busy full of life, full of people passing to and fro on this fine summer day.
I got off the second tram at the right spot, very close to the cinema. I arrived just a few minutes before the film was due to begin, so I had just enough time to buy a ticket at the box-office.
cinema foyer
The film "Spirited Away" is about this young girl named Chihiro who is somehow accidentally transported to a strange and magical universe. Her parents are transported along with her, but they are changed into pigs and taken away. Thus Chihiro is left alone and vulnerable in a world full of danger and hardship. It's a kind of society, but there are no humans. Or at least, there are, but they're not called humans only Chihiro is human, and this makes her the odd one out. Everyone treats her badly just because of her human status. But despite this, she manages to find work in a bath-house and slowly becomes integrated and accepted by the people around her.
    Of course, eventually she does find her way back to her own world and turn her parents back into human beings. But along the way, she becomes more pre-occupied with helping her friend Haku who is in mortal danger.
spirited away
Throughout most of this movie, the character Chihiro is seen as very small, vulnerable and scared. She is only a child, being forced into situations that a child should never be subjected to. When the audience sees her, they would think, "Oh, poor Chihiro, the other characters should treat her with more kindness." This film reminds one in many ways of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", the classic story by Lewis Carroll. But this movie is not just for children it affects our emotions on a much deeper level. The story is complex and sophisticated like adult stories. It's an excellent story with a clever plot that twists and turns, ultimately leading to a happy ending but never in the way that you expect.
    It's also a beautiful movie. The artists have excelled in the visual department, creating many eye-catching effects and elegant compositions still images from the movie are worthy to hang on the wall by themselves, such is the artists' attention to detail. If there was one criticism I'd have to make of this movie, it's that the music was sometimes a bit much. Plus, there was one other thing wrong after the flying dragon turned into the boy, something happened which didn't quite make sense, and I could only assume that the film maker had to sacrifice logic for the sake of visual effect. This little flash animation will show you what I mean.

But all in all, I'd have to say that this movie was excellent. I left the cinema with a sense of deep awe at its cinematic brilliance. This was the perfect movie to see on a day like this I could not have chosen a better one.
homeward bound
The time was about seven o'clock when I stepped out on the street. It was still light. The smells coming from the restaurants were enticing, but I knew that my dinner would have to be at home tonight. One thing I did want to buy was a little diary, so that I could jot things down on the fly, during the week, and type them up later. But the newsagents were all shut. I went into a book-shop to search for one, but there were none suitable.
    That's when I heard something sending me a message it was saying, "The grace period is over. From now on, you will be faced with imperfections in your life, and you'll have to deal with them the same as everyone else." And by "it", I mean, a higher power.
    The air was still sweet and summery. But I could sense that something was different, and it was symbolized by the fly that buzzed around my face as I rode the tram homeward. My life is no longer in a state of perfect order. That's all right there's complications to come, that's what makes life interesting, and I can still shape my existence into something happy.
    Late in the evening, I worked on my web-site, for hours and hours, fixing errors, designing graphics, sorting through problems in the code. I continued doing it until after three o'clock.

Some of my favourite TV shows at the moment are: Scrubs, South Park, Boston Public there's others, but the TV schedule is in a state of turmoil at the moment so it's hard to tell what's been axed and what hasn't.
I'm reading a book called "The Number of the Beast" by Robert Heinlein (1980). So far it's about this group of people who are trying to save the world from killer aliens by travelling through dimensions in a futuristic space/time machine. The characters are sometimes annoying and too smart but it's still a good book, for clever people who like science.
You know who's a really good songwriter? Juliana Hatfield. She makes rock music, sometimes heavy, sometimes mellow, always with good lyrics, and I listened to her CD "Become What You Are" in full yesterday.      next >>