Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Friday, September 22, 2006

Diving into Fall

Butterfly or leaf?
Early twilight fools my eyes
Moving into fall.
- Pinetree

Fall is my favorite time of year. I look forward to having a campfire in the backyard, while enjoying the cooler evenings. I enjoy the change of colors, with which Michigan is particularly blessed.

I'm rereading the Baroque Cycle, a trilogy by Neal Stephenson, which is historical fiction about a fascinating time in history.

Reading about the baroque period in the fall, brings to mind the story of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. The movie, Sleepy Hollow, with Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp is usually on cable around this time of year, at least as we approach Halloween.

Halloween wouldn't be complete without one of the greatest horror movies of all time, Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. The scene where Dracula and Van Helsing simply face off against each other, without a word being said, has got to be one of the best moments in movie history.

Did you know that while they were shooting this movie, they were also shooting, at the same time, a Spanish version? When the English speaking crew left the studio at the end of the day, the Spanish crew arrived. They had the benefit of the rushes of the day's shoot to improve their own product, and some critics believe the Spanish version is actually the superior one. I would like to see it one day.

The movie of course, isn't enough. I have to reread Dracula, by Bram Stoker before Halloween.

Another newer classic is Bram Stoker's Dracula, starring Winona Ryder (again), Gary Oldfield, and Anthony Hopkins. I like it almost as much as the original.

Halloween. We take the portable firepit out to the driveway, put some music on the radio in the garage, stock a cooler with beer, and pass out the candy. A couple of neighbors have adopted this practice. When the kids stop coming, we gather around whoever's fire is still going the strongest, and have our own little get together.

My Japanese Language study has progressed. This is the character for autumn: 秋. It is a compound of two characters. The one on the left is a plant (specifically a rice plant), while the one on the right is 'fire'. Interesting, huh?

I've finished the online course I was taking. While I was grinding through the course, I was paying attention mostly to grammar and sentence patterns. I didn't pay so much attention to vocabulary or conjugating verbs or adjectives. I reasoned that I could always look things up, and what I looked up a lot, I'd remember.

Right now, I'm doing a thorough review, at a leisurely pace; paying a lot more attention to the vocabulary, verbs and adjectives.

I also have learned 240 kanji. I'm doing a very thorough review of them. Once I review the ones I know, I'll start grinding through the other 2000+ a literate person would know.

I have a couple of "learn Japanese" books. I intend to study these soon. It'll be the same information I've already received through the course, but it'll be presented a little differently. I think if I go over the same information, but in a slightly different way, I'm likely to understand and retain it better.

What I'm going to do soon, is to start to read Japanese literature. I've picked up two books: Breaking into Japanese Literature by Giles Murray

And Read Real Japanese by Janet Ashby

Each of these books is a collection of short stories. The beginning ones are easier, and the later ones are harder. Each has the original Japanese text on one page, the translation on the facing page, and a running dictionary for the kanji and less than common words along the bottom.

One of the stories I'm looking forward to reading is "The Grove" which was the story that inspired the movie Rashomon, by Akira Kurosawa. The story is interesting. A samurai is killed, and a suspect is apprehended. The suspect describes what happened from his point of view. The samurai's wife then gives her description, through the use of a medium, the victim tells his story, then finally a previously unknown eye witness describes what he saw happen.

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