Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

[Update is below)

Dad got through his surgery in flying colors. I'll spare you the details, but he is an iron man.

Hard to be away from Mr. Jumping Chocolate Pudding and my beloved spouse for a week, but it was good to help my parents and give some relief to my brother and sister, who live closer to them and have been doing a lot.

Got back yesterday, delayed by a night by missed flight connection. In a hotel room Monday night I saw Roseann Cash on Leno singing a new-agey thing about her dead parents. Hope it helped her; it didn't really do much for me. Coincidentally, the 8:00 AM in-flight movie showing yesterday morning was the Johnny Cash flick. Suffering, sin, and redemption, hike! I haven't seen the Ray Charles flick; do I need to? The Johnny flick was OK. Good performances etcetera; hackneyed soundtrack emoting from T-Bone Burnette; mainly, it made me want to see a pic about Mother Maybelle Carter, a far more historically significant musician than her son-in-law, and apparently a nice person to boot. Also, disappointed that Dylan didn't get a cameo; not sure of the dates -- the story may have stopped before Johnny & Bob sang together. At one point Cash is listening to a Dylan record, which comes as a shock after all the "as-performed-by-the-actors" versions the movie gives us till then.

I got the Hollywood issue of "Vanity Fair" (for the articles, honest). Seeing pictures of Jack Reed & Eugene O'Neill & their shared lover (whose name is eluding me now) in that article about "Reds" made me think -- real people are better looking than actors, even actors as pretty as Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Pretty as Reese Witherspoon is, I'd rather see June Carter Cash play June Carter Cash. An actor's job is to be stared at. It's a profoundly outer-directed craft; the inner fires & quirks & particularities are what make people beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I love looking at pretty actresses and actors too. But biopics are inherently weak; any actor lacks the particular fire & spirit that makes the movie's subject worthy of a movie in the first place.

Anyway, glad to be back; glad my dad was well enough to do the surgery & strong enough to fly through it.

Update, March 1, 9:14 PM: Thinking more about that Johnny Cash movie on a drive through a molasses thick traffic jam this evening:

1. The movie makes Cash basically unlikeable. That's interesting.

2. Phoenix powerfully brings out the anger in some of Cash's songs.

3. The movie provides a context for Cash's cover of Dylan's mean song "It Ain't Me Babe." Never liked that song, Dylan's gleeful meanness toward a lover who wants him to make a singular commitment and toward whom he has no interest in committing; never got why Cash covered it. The movie explicitly makes it about mean Johnny Cash being mean to his first wife; I have no idea whether that's what was really going on in Johnny Cash's life.

4. The Mother Maybelle scenes confirm a belief of mine: in drama, the good person is the worried person, the one worried about other people's welfare and working to improve it. Examples: the protagonists in Oscar Wilde's romantic comedies; Judy Garland and Alan Hale's characters in the wonderful '30s flick "Listen, Darling"; Lon Chaney Junior as the Wolfman in "Abbott and Costello Meet the Frankenstein Monster," in which Chaney's face is furrowed with worry about what he might do when transformed into the werewolf; and now Mother Maybelle, urging her daughter June to help Johnny in his time of trouble, because Mother Maybelle knows June really wants to. Worry worry worry.

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Forgot to mention: Thanks to everybody who sent me good wishes for my dad's recovery. I have very much appreciated it.
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