Wasteland

Once upon a time I read widely and deeply. I went to the movies about once a week. I went to the theatre several times a year. There I was working in an office being treated like an idiot by my bosses while I read Anthony Trollope on my lunch hour. Then I went to graduate school.

Now I work in an environment where I’m valued for my intelligence and I watch far too much television, and bad television at that and I’m lucky if I read a book a month. I suppose it could be argued that I’m expending all that intellectual curiosity at the job, but I could also just be lazy.

On the seen and read front:

Two-Part Invention: The story of a marriage by Madeleine L’Engle. My book club picked this. I haven’t read any L’Engle since A Wrinkle In Time. I’m up in the air about this book. I am not fond of memoirs. The author tends to jump around a lot; it’s not an autobiography really so names and dates are vague. I get lost. She was married to actor Hugh Franklin who I know from Dark Shadows (he played a generic lawyer type for a couple of episodes) and more prominently as Dr. Tyler on All My Children. What fascinated me were the connections to other people I’ve read or heard about–Walter and Jean Kerr come to mind. I’ve lost the habit of reading for language’s sake and I need to correct that.

Thanks to On Demand, I had the chance to see The Upside of Anger with the remarkable Joan Allen. Nice performances from Allen and surprisingly, Kevin Costner, but the film has problems. Allen plays a mother of four nearly grown daughters. The husband has left and she descends into alcoholism and bitterness. Costner plays the neighbor who becomes her drinking buddy and casual lover. I would watch Joan Allen reading OSHA regulations; I’m that much of a fan. The film, however, is flawed. They never seem to know when enough is enough. They tried to add in material with the four daughters that took the focus away from where it needed to be.

Also saw some of (another VCR taping accident. Note to self: do not program the VCR when falling asleep) Above and Beyond. Robert Taylor is tapped to fly the Enola Gay. The training and the requisite secrecy nearly kill his marriage with Eleanor Parker. I’m not a big Robert Taylor fan. He looks like he should be doing commercials with the tagline “I’m not a movie star, but I play one on TV.” Eleanor Parker is an another story. She’s one of those actresses that for years I only knew of in one role (in this case the baroness who wants to marry Captain von Trapp in the Sound of Music). I can’t remember what the film I caught her in that made me realized how talented she was (it may have been The Seventh Sin), but I’ve come to appreciate her.

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