Wassail, traveler, and welcome to The Gable Grey -- a place of retreat, of renewal, and of resistance: a tree-shaded refuge in Dark Times. Now pass the threshold, and rest from journeys! For a cold wind is blowing; and here, if you wish, you may hear tidings of the world without...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I am nearly finished with a truly wonderful film experience:  Departures.  It is a Japanese film about a cello player who loses his job after his symphony is dissolved.  With little other recourse, he and his wife leave the big city and return to his home town, where he has a small house, left to him by his now deceased mother years earlier.  It being a small town, there are even fewer jobs than in the city; he ends up working in what in Japan is known as the "casketing" business:  they are hired by undertakers to perform the elaborate Japanese funeral rites, which are complex and, while occupying a rather lowly station among their customs, require a tremendous amount of finesse:  for the rites are performed in the presence of the family.

It is beautifully nuanced, comically touching, and profoundly relevant to pretty much anybody.  The cinematography is just short of marvelous; even the droll urban landscape is treated lovingly by the camera.  I rarely take the time to write a review of a film, but Departures is more than deserving.  I can't find anything bad to say about it, and will probably give it five stars.

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Whiles carried o'er the iron road,
We hurry by some fair abode;
The garden bright amidst the hay,
The yellow wain upon the way,
The dining men, the wind that sweeps
Light locks from off the sun-sweet heaps --
The gable grey, the hoary roof,
Here now -- and now so far aloof.
How sorely then we long to stay
And midst its sweetness wear the day,
And 'neath its changing shadows sit,
And feel ourselves a part of it.
Such rest, such stay, I strove to win
With these same leaves that lie herein.

-- William Morris, from
"The Roots of the Mountains"