May 26th, 2002


About a Boy

The trailers for "About a Boy" tell the story. We know from these thirty-second blips that Will (Hugh Grant) is a do-nothing bachelor who enjoys his independence and freedom from any attachments. We know that a twelve-year-old boy, Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), enters his child-free environment and changes everything. We know that Will is transformed and everyone lives happily ever after, and that it is all done with good humor.

So this looked like a flick I could easily miss. I am not fond of Grant and I am even less fond of "feel-good movies". However, my daughters saw it somewhat accidentally, and both were surprised to find that they liked it. They felt Grant played his role genuinely and with deeper feeling than they have seen before, and that the boy is likeable and not cute. So I figured I'd see for myself.

The story is improbable, predictable, hackneyed. What lifts it off the page is a slightly different approach - better writing - and the acting. Grant does come across as genuine and genuinely affected by Marcus. His transformation is unlikely yet we are willing to believe in it. Marcus is a truly nerdy little guy, whose star trek eyebrows, bad haircut, and little bow mouth never keep him from knowing who he is. It is the bright and persistent Marcus who engineers Will's change of heart, for his own self-preservation, and who ultimately benefits most from it.

The character of Marcus' depressed stuck-in-the-sixties mom does not, thank heaven, suddenly turn into Sandra Bullock. I would have liked to see her become a little more than caricature, but movies are short; there was barely time to develop Will and Marcus.

Lame story, well done. I can't give it five stars but I do think it's worth seeing. Not a flashy film and not a complicated story, so it's fine for video.

House day

I am not even dressed yet. I was on the trail in Goleta yesterday at this time. I think some of us need more recuperating time as we get older. So today I am looking at doing more in the house. I changed the sheets on the bed - leaving Simba right there in the middle, until that purring mound finally worked his way out from under - and ran a load of laundry. Made myself waffles, ate them.

My legs are stiff, my right calf aches a bit. I am moving slowly, watching movies and Forensic Files. I took a little nap after being up a while, and now feel fully awake.

So I will do more decluttering in my bedroom, vacuum the carpets, refill the bird feeders, maybe declutter more in the living room and back bedroom. That would be good, that would make me feel good.
  • Current Mood
    tired tired


I guessed that I might be less than active today. Still, it makes me feel guilty. I think, more than the activity, I feel so out of touch with others. I need to see someone, talk, have a nice conversation. I don't know how to make this happen.

I think I'll go see Insomnia this afternoon. Look for a gift for Karol and Ivah before or after. WHich means I should get out of here.

(no subject)

I found some gifts for both Karol and Ivah. I still want to get one or two more. I got some travel accessories for Karol and a stationery set that includes a reusable box that looks like a little house, that can be hung on a wall. I'd like to get Karol something pretty but am not sure what. Maybe a nice coffee cup? Tomorrow I'll look again. Then I can pack the presents up for mailing.

I'm kicking myself because I could have gone to a play this afternoon. I completely forgot about it. I need to write these things down, on the list on the fridge or on the moose message board.

Buried Child

I got home from work Friday knowing I would be going to see this play that night. But I bummed around, finally getting around to doing a workout at about 6:40. So when I was done with that, I had to rinse off and change clothes quickly to get to Cal Poly in time for the play at eight. I got to the ticket window at 7:45.

I have been to many performances of different sorts at Cal Poly and found that many of them get sold out or nearly sold out. So I hoped I was in time to buy a ticket. Yes, I was. Not only that, but it looked like maybe 150 people - maybe well under that - attended that night. We were scattered through the theater but mostly in the first four or five rows.

The set for Buried Child is the inside of an old farm house. The Cal Poly set had an elderly torn couch, some chairs, doors supposedly leading to the kitchen and to the outside porch. Windows show a large expanse of green outside. The play takes place in about a 36-hour period, starting with morning and ending the following morning.

An elderly couple, Dodge and Halie, live in the house with their son, Tilden, who has returned from living in New Mexico, and who appears to be "simple". Tilden's son Vince shows up unexpectedly with his girlfriend Shelley, after an absence of six years. He has apparently fed his girlfriend stories about bucolic life on the farm. We never find out exactly why he left or why he's been away so long without contact, but may be able to guess at some of the answers.

Perhaps expecting a warm reunion, Vince is disappointed to find out that his grandfather and father don't even seem to remember him. His grandmother is "out", meaning she's having some kind of affair with the preacher. Dodge refers to his wife's activities by saying "There's life in the old girl yet, " indicating this liaison doesn't seem to concern him at all.

There is plenty more where this strange behavior came from. To say the family is "dysfunctional" doesn't really begin to explain it. Shelley, an attractive and self-possessed young woman, asks the blunt questions, makes her observations publicly, and garners the appreciation of the old man in the process. It is odd that this curmudgeonly gentleman, who tries to coerce anyone nearby to buy him whiskey that he is not supposed to have, and who has very little nice to say about anyone, actually ends up seeming rather the most sane of the bunch.

The dialogue is unpredictable, often funny, sometimes moving. The family seems to have been affected permanently by an unspeakable secret, hinted at by occasional side comments, and it is the unearthing of this secret that drives the action.

A totally absorbing play, rich with words and intelligence, and featuring a range of good characters. It made me want to read more by Sam Shepard, and I am happy that nakedlove recommended a few specific collections of his plays and poetry. I will be looking for them.

In the first half I sat in the fourth row. A few seats down from me sat two women who laughed at everything, funny or not. I wondered if they knew someone in the play and thought, from some of the lines, that it was a comedy. This wouldn't have been so bad except that one of them had a high-pitched stuttery laugh that made me grit my teeth. After the intermission I found a seat much farther back and to the side, and that helped a little but not enough. Makes me wonder - do her friends ever say anything about that laugh?

Great play, terrific performance. I was especially taken by the young woman who played Shelley, although all were good. Perhaps I just liked the part a lot. I started writing a letter to New Times urging people to go to plays and I may actually finish it. It is distressing that so many people apparently feel that movies have taken over and plays are no longer necessary.
  • Current Music
    Faure's Requiem


Taking a hint from Room by Room, I decided to angle my bed in my room. I first looked at it in my design program on my computer, and decided it could be done. So finally today I did it. I still have a few things on top of the bed that need to be put away. I took some shelves out of there that are now sitting in the middle of the living room. It was not a fifteen-minute job. I bit off too much to be able to get it all orderly in one day, but I am confident it will all work out soon enough. I rather like the look of the bed in there and the larger area near the sink. I bought a little rug to place there, in a black & white leopard print. It looks pretty cool. We'll see how well it works tonight, on my many treks to the bathroom.