2008.02.06 A video of epic proportions

Written by David Green.


I don’t always watch all the movies David receives in the mail from Netflix, but he assigned me a “must-see,” “Namesake,” after watching it himself. David knows I don’t like movies with a lot of violence or those that are plotless or just too bizarre.

He’ll watch those in snatches on his lunch hour or before I get home from work. When he comes across one that he knows I’ll like, he’ll strongly suggest I watch it. It’s like having my own personal screener.

Sometimes, he’s way off the mark and I wonder if he really knows me. But, “Namesake” was such a great movie, an epic beauty right from the start, that I think David should assign it to everybody. It opens with a young man, Ashoke, traveling by train in India to visit his grandfather.

He sits reading a book on the train and is approached by an older jovial gentleman who engages him in conversation. The older man asks Ashoke what he’s reading and then offers his advice: Travel the world, go abroad, see the world while you’re young and free.

“My grandfather says that’s what books are for: to travel without moving an inch,” says Ashoke.    

I loved that line so much I had to stop the movie and write it down. What happens next influences the rest of the story and the young man indeed ends up traveling—all the way to America—and then traveling back to India for an arranged marriage, and to bring his bride to New York. But he also travels between two worlds as he and his wife, Ashima, raise a family in America.

Roger Ebert says, “‘The Namesake’ tells a story that is the story of all immigrant groups in America: Parents of great daring arriving with dreams, children growing up in a way that makes them almost strangers, the old culture merging with the new.”

That’s a general idea of the movie, but there are so many more themes and layers. It’s a mesmerizing story and so easy to feel drawn in. When Ashima’s father died, I weep right along with her and when her son doesn’t communicate with her for lengths of time, I feel great waves of guilt knowing I did the same sort of thing with my own mother. Yes, it’s a movie about an immigrant family from India, but it cuts across all cultures.

I watched another great movie this weekend—a 1988 video of David’s grandmother, Minnie Green, and her 100th birthday celebration.

Set in the home of her son and daughter-in-law Bob and Jackie Green, it featured a cast of characters from Minnie’s life—old friends, fellow teachers, business associates, church members, neighbors, and family, of course, and even includes the mailman—in a cameo appearance by Jack Baird —who stepped in to say hello while out doing his rounds. He didn’t have time to enjoy a slice of cake, but he did wish Minnie a happy birthday.

Videographer Dan Green should be commended for capturing significant moments on screen such as great-granddaughters Megan and Lisa Ball telling a frog joke—How deep is a frog’s pond? Knee deep, knee deep—and David Green performing an impersonation of Thom Green.

Although we have box upon box of still photos, we didn’t buy a video camera until our children were old enough to operate it on their own. Consequently, we don’t have any footage of them when they were little. That’s probably why this video is just so precious. Unfortunately, Maddie wasn’t born yet; Ben is about five and Rozee’s not quite two.

They just look so sweet and beautiful, so pure and innocent.

Although, there is this little scene where Uncle Dan is filming and says, “Hey, Ben,” and Ben yells, “What?” with great annoyance in his voice.

And Dan says, “Say, Hello.” And Ben says, “No way!” in this loud, very snotty five-year-old voice. Then I swoop in and guide Ben away from the action saying, “Come here, please.”

It sounds like Ben's going to get chewed out for being rude—although you can see I'm amused by the exchange, so maybe I’m just going to tell Ben to stop throwing paper cups which it looks like he was just doing.

Not an epic beauty, but I give it a thumbs up and four stars out of four.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016