Sunday, May 22, 2011

Movie Monday

This week's movie topic is all about Writers...
Share movies that feature writers, authors, poets and scribes,
linking back here to the Bumbles.

All the President's Men. It's a story of two journalists on the case of their lives. In the scenes that show them at work, Woodward is the reporter, concerned about being comprehensive, while Bernstein's passion is as a writer, telling a complex story as clearly as possible. That difference in writing style adds to the dramatic tension.

Capote. In Cold Blood and To Kill a Mockingbird are two of my favorite books, two stories that could only be set in the US. Though the tales they tell couldn't be more different, the narrators' voices are similar and as familiar as a soft, Southern breeze. Of course. Because Harper Lee and Truman Capote grew up together, loved one another dearly, and -- as this movie reveals -- were more involved in one another's work than I knew.

Secret Window. As Capt. Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp has shown us that he can do wacky. But in this dark movie, based on a Stephen King short story, as an author accused of plagiarism, he does a mean bat shit crazy. Yet somehow he still makes bedhead and a ridiculous bathrobe sexy. One of the most eccentric performances in an eccentric career.

Julia. Fonda is Lillian Hellman (The Childrens Hour, The Little Foxes) and Jason Robards is her lover, Dashiell Hammett (The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon). The fact that these two fabulous writers were lovers at all amazes me, and to see them portrayed by two such world-class actors is a treat.

Money, money, money, money ... MONEY!

Spent a good deal of time talking to my friend from Key West. He lost his job this month, after more than a decade at the community college. His contract is up in (I believe) August and they bought him out.

But he has tenure, so he was completely blind-sided by this event. And the college, which he believed was his professional family, handled the situation hurtfully. He found out about his impending axing from one of his students, who was told she couldn't take his summer class because, well, the professor wouldn't be there anymore.

Enrollments are down. Funding is down. 7 educators were let go. He believes he was one of them because of his whistle-blower tendencies. That, combined with tenure, is why he wants to sue.

I warned him that he's not getting this job back. Even if he gets money from the State of Florida, or whoever he's looking to sue, he won't be reinstated. He acknowledges that intellectually but I don't think he gets it emotionally. He loved teaching at that school. He was involved with his students and his coworkers. It's like an amputation, and he still feels his "missing limb."

They can't afford their home on just his lover's income (even though his lover is currently working two jobs; days as an accountant, a couple evenings a week tending bar.). My friend had comprehensive health coverage through the school, but he didn't feel he could afford COBRA so he passed.* Since he and his lover are gay and cannot marry, it complicates things. They are checking whether his lover can add him to the group plan he gets from his accounting job. Never mind that they have been monogamous for nearly 20 years. Apparently we are comfortable dismissing that in this country "in defense of marriage." (Right, Governator? Don't you agree, Newt?)

Key West is an island. It's not like there's another institute of higher learning he can turn to now. This chapter of my friend's career is over.

The thing of it is, my friend is much beloved all over town. Friends and former students work in hotels, restaurants, stores and publications across the island. I reassured him that, at times like this, karma counts -- and all the good he has done will come back to him. He just has to allow himself to accept it graciously. (To get the ball rolling, I sent him a CVS gift card for $50. You can buy anything at CVS, right? And maybe it'll be a subliminal reminder to get that health insurance situation sewn up.)

I wish we could have spent more time talking about the emotional damage, rather than the fiscal. But alas, these are the days we live in. Money is important to all of us these days. If only it wasn't so.

* Though I feel he can't afford
not to take it.

Woof! Part 2

So I encountered my noisy canine neighbor this afternoon. The acoustics in this building confused me: He wasn't next door, as I thought. He was downstairs.

Chewy and I met a few blocks away on a busy street corner. As I approached the streetlight, there was a tiny blond terrier, making serious eye contact with me. I was mouthing, "Hi, Puppy!" when I heard, "You don't recognize me, do you?"

I didn't even notice my neighbor. The little ball of yellowish fluff was working that hard to woo me. (He was successful.)

We walked together to Petco. Chewy needed a bottle of puppy shampoo and I needed yet another sack of kitty kibble. As we walked together, I found out from my neighbor that Chewy will be staying with her for a while. He belongs to her daughter (but I know from a previous conversation that her adult daughter is very, very ill) and is adjusting well to a more urban setting. At first walking down busy sidewalks with traffic racing by unsettled him -- after all, he's not very big -- but now he traverses the neighborhood like a pro.

I didn't mention the recent barking incident. She seems to be making the best of a sad situation -- after all, if her daughter was still healthy and self-sufficient, she wouldn't have Chewy at all. I bet that, as Chewy adjusts to life in his new home, the barking will abate. If anyone on the condo board complains about Chewy, I will give them a piece of my mind. Soon Chewy will be all this woman has left of her daughter, and Chewy will be without his mistress. Considering what they're going through, we can ignore the barking.