Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lost in translation

I watched the movie "Lost In Translation" for the first time Sunday night. It popped up on Netflix and I practically pulled a wrist muscle trying to order it.

I have wanted to watch this movie for almost 10 years. But because it hit theaters during a time when movie-watching was impossible, and because my movie-watching is still almost nil, I never got around to seeing it.

But I knew I would identify with it as soon as I heard about it. And I did. Completely. It's easily one of my all-time favorite movies.

As everyone probably knows, "Lost In Translation" is about two individuals who are very similar but at very different points in their lives. Bill Murray plays a formerly successful actor pitching whiskey in commercials in Japan. Scarlett Johansson plays a recent college graduate and wife of a celebrity photographer, who is working in Japan.

Both are terribly lost, in the country, in their marriages, in their lives. And they meet, desperately bond amid everything they can't relate to, and form an unlikely kinship.

The movie addresses themes that I know instantly. Alienation. Loneliness. Periodic insomnia. The feeling of drifting through life with no true attachment to anything.

Although I am most similar to Murray's character in outward appearance -- male, about the same age, married for about the same amount of time, children, world weary take on my profession -- I identify more with the Johansson character.

Not the beautiful female part, of course. But her personality is a lot like mine. She is content to observe. Lives to observe, in fact. She's a writer, although she doesn't know it yet.

She speaks in a short, clipped, observational way. It's not worth saying unless it's worth saying. She's wry. That's me.

The movie ends in a way so that you know that they both move on with their lives. That being "lost" is mostly temporary -- or at least that's what they hope, without ever saying so.

I am fortunate that I have an immediate family that I can relate to and that keeps me sustained. Because there have been moments in my life -- many times -- when I might as well have been wandering around in Japan.

That even holds true with this blog. I write it in part to stay connected to something. To enjoy a hobby that others enjoy. But I can't write a "look what I got!" blog. If my posts were all "these are my new cards!" the blog would last a week.

My posts need to be wry, observational, worth saying. Like when Johansson's character is scolded by her husband because she mentioned that the ditzy actress' hotel name alias was a man's name. She wasn't being critical, or at least she didn't think she was. She just thought it was funny. And worth pointing out.

Often times, I write things on this blog that mean something -- to me -- that I think are worth pointing out. But the comments left show that people didn't get what I was saying. The point of the post is lost in translation. This used to bother me. It doesn't bother me as much now. Although I do go through stages -- when I'm wandering around in Japan.

If I simply featured cards that I got, that wouldn't happen at all. But that's not how I'm made.

I also feel this way in particular these days about new cards. I haven't really liked anything put out in 2012. It just doesn't work for me. Back in March, I thought Topps Archives would be really fun. But now, I go to the card aisle, and I can't get myself to buy any of it. It leaves me disenchanted. Lost.

There is nothing in the card aisle that I want to buy. And that is very different for me. I ALWAYS can find SOMETHING that I want to try. I've said this many times, and the former me would scold me for thinking this way.

But in a way, this is good. I can focus on the older stuff that definitely interests me, that speaks to me. The 1975 minis, the Lineage minis, my 1977 Topps want list, my 1972 Topps set.

In fact, here are some cards that Don sent me recently:

Tremendously cool. The Les Cain card (#783) is the highest number that I now have in the '72 set.


Hey, what do you know? I just did a "these are some cards I got" post.

But not exactly the latest and greatest either.

Listen, I'm not a misanthrope or a loner. I interact at work, in social and religious settings, at home, with relatives. Much like the Bill Murray character, I've built a successful life and get joy out of it ... periodically.

But there is always this, as they say, "comfortable distance."

Will that distance ever be closed?

I don't know. Sometimes, in some situations, I think it does close.

But permanently?

I doubt it.

Maybe I need to go to Japan.


  1. I may have to watch "Lost in Translation" now.

    I think I'm a lot like you in terms of my blog. My writing probably isn't as good as yours (and will probably never be), but I like to think I'm as much of an observer as a collector as well. I could never do too many "Look what I got" posts either.

    That's probably because I decided to start my blog after reading yours for a while.

    Tremendous post, Greg.

  2. Great movie, good soundtrack, The Vinyl Picture Disc version of the soundtrack is a thing of beauty/

  3. Bill Murray never gets enough credit for his acting. It's a terrific movie.

  4. I watched Lost in Translation when it first came out in theaters, mainly because I am a Bill Murray fan.

    I was lost. It's probably a movie that I will now have to revisit.

    You've done a lot more "look what I've got" posts than you think. You just disguise them well enough amongst commentary and witty repartee that it's hard to tell.

    Muy bueno senor!! (sorry, I don't know any Japanese)

  5. It's a movie worth re-visiting. But it probably loses some people.

    As for the "look what I've got" posts, I disguise them because I feel I need to disguise them, which kind of goes along with what I was saying there.

  6. One of my favorite movies ever. I saw it my freshman year of college, and it was when I had just finished things with my high school sweetheart. About a month later I met my now fiance and this was the first movie we ever watched together. We share a lot of loves, but Bill Murray is high on that list.

    Oddly enough, she never saw Ghostbusters (a very different film haha) until this year when I made her watch it. Bill did not disappoint of course!

  7. That's a damn good movie. I wanna know what Bill said at the end.

    I know what you mean about being lost. I'm wandering through Hokkaido writing wise lately. Kinda worried I'm fading off bloggery like Stale Gum. Doesn't help I've got at least 4 other obsessions right now.

  8. Dayf...the answer to what he said is out there. People can find out anything these days hahaha.

    But I too feel like I'm fading out of blogdom. My collection is very much a one trick pony now, and I like that pony but it is so unrelated to most of the blogs and there's not a lot to write about it that I haven't written. Unlike dayf's ponies which are wonderful.

    Nice post by the way Mr. Owl. I just reread it and I loved your ending thing about the comfortable distance. I'm social when I'm out...but given the choice I would usually just sit by myself watching movies/searching for cards/etc. Somehow my fiance weaseled her way in and so I generally like her company all day too. Otherwise I'm pretty content to beat my own drum.

  9. Holy damn that was an amazing post. It spoke to me. The themes of my life as it stands now right there. Been drifting mostly alone, mostly aimlessly through life all my life man. And the insomnia, oh the insomnia. Also the only talk when I have something to say thing (except on twitter, where I sometimes babble like a loon). I come and go on my blog and all my other haunts as life and the wind blows. I must see this movie now.

    Also I found the card that was missing so I'll be sending you things this month.

  10. IN my top 10 greatest movies ever list. A lot of folks have never heard of it too. It's a great movie to watch when your a little sick of the people in life rather than life itself. Johanson is hot too, and Murray is the funniest man alive...REPPP THEM!!!

  11. I'll sell you my blog name for 10 bucks.

  12. Awesome movie, both before I even thought of moving here and after I arrived. I love Sofia Coppola movies.