|7 march 1999|
PURITY OF ESSENCE
The day began with the news that Kubrick is dead. This is a drag all by itself, but given that Viv has been in business negotiations regarding what will now be his final film, and that we'd like to see the movie make scads of money this summer, his death added a major business uncertainty to the sunny California morning. The uncertainty faded quickly, not due to any new information, but simply because Kubrick is dead, as in gone, as in no more of his work, and the reality of that soon overwhelms all petty questions about the box office.
"Dr. Strangelove" is one of those films that never fails to satisfy me. From the lulling strings of "Try A Little Tenderness" under the titles, to the final sequence with "We'll Meet Again" as accompaniment, my passion for filmmaking gets fired-up again each time I see it. Kubrick and and Terry Southern and Peter George made a masterpiece with that one.
Has there ever been a better example of the emasculation of the American Male than in Peter Sellers' portrayal of U.S. President Merkin Muffley? Sellers' improvisational skills were at their peak in this film. If you look carefully you can see some of the other actors wincing to keep from bursting out in laughter and breaking character as they shared a scene with him. There's one very obvious example which Kubrick chose to keep in the film, perhaps because the moment was so rich with comedy and Sellers' skill, he thought no one would be watching any of the other players.
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It's safe to say that one of the last things a person wants to see when he turns on the TV is his child's doctor being interviewed by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. But that was the case this evening. Unlike what you might expect, however, my reaction was positive.
The story was about the Louise Woodward case and how a closer look at some of the evidence may reveal cause to reopen the investigation into the death of Matthew Eappen. Dr. Nelson, the head of radiology at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, has reviewed the medical records and concluded, along with another prominent physician there, that the cause of death and the timeline surrounding it may be different than those first presented by the prosecution.
Dr. Nelson looked instantly familiar when he appeared onscreen. A few years ago, after Amy had an MRI, Dr. Nelson reviewed the results with us. He'd been called in by another doctor to look at the pictures taken of her brain.
"Here, look at these Dr. Nelson. Can you believe that this brain belongs to that girl over there?" said the doctor, pointing to Amy as she ran around the room with her doll.
For a while now, Dr. Nelson's amazement has been a flotation device I've used when I've felt myself sinking.
When you have a kid who's not typical, for whatever reason, it's practically impossible to not make comparisons to other kids. I'm always wondering about the future, trying to figure out what Amy's going to be like in five years, ten years, twenty years. I keep my guard up for whatever kinds of slings and arrows may come her way because of how she talks and walks, trying to protect her but trying to let her be herself at the same time. It's a fairly constant juggling of letting go and paying close attention, and I'm aware that this is true for every parent, but for us it can be a bit more intense.
To get through it all with a reasonable sense of balance can take some delicate introspection, something I'm not always skilled at, and on occasion I end up exhausted from a brush with disability awareness. Reminders of what Amy can't do pop up every day without warning, they just sneak in to say howdy, kick me in the shins, and dance off merrily. I'm personifying the nemesis here, I know, and I guess it's because I have to, just to get a handle on it sometimes.
The fact is she is who she is, and all these troubles are a result of comparisons and the conflicts that arise in a world geared to a mean level of physical capabilities. The desire to belong is powerful, and disappointments arise for everyone. Amy belongs where she is no more or no less than anyone else.
It's my talent for forgetting this that gets me into trouble. Gotta remember that recall code: P.O.E.
"Hello, uh, hello Dimitri... Listen, uh, can't hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?.. Oh, that's much better, yes. Fine, I can hear you now, Dimitri, clear and plain and coming through fine... I'm coming through fine too, eh? Good, then... Well then, as you say, we're both coming through fine... Good... Well it's good that you're fine and I'm fine... I agree with you, it's great to be fine...
- Merkin Muffley
He who is firmly seated in authority soon learns to think security, and not progress, the highest lesson of statecraft."
- James Russell Lowell