Friday, September 5, 2014


It was a shame to see Helen Hunt listed in one of those innumerable lists you see on Facebook, numbered among the "washed up" formerly famous actors of Hollywood.  Nicolas Cage was also on the list, to the surprise of no one except himself.

I'm no big fan of Helen Hunt, but one movie she starred in (along with Jack Nicholson) is one of my all-time favorites.  Have you ever seen "As Good As It Gets" ?  There is a lot going on in that movie.

Nicholson plays Melvin Udall, a successful writer of 62 novels, all of them apparently on the Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts level of literary achievement.  He grinds out these pageturners in a nice apartment in Manhattan, where he lives alone, walling off all but the most odd of human contacts.  He is an obsessive-compulsive, following ritual after ritual, not stepping or cracks or using the same bar of soap twice, for instance.  Melvin is cranky, sardonic, and seems out of touch.  He says unbelievably cruel things to people, not even having any idea that his sharp words are so cutting.

But when a crisis affects his neighbor, Melvin steps up in a way that you wouldn't expect, and what follows changes his life and the lives of others.

I know the above sounds like the capsule summary of the movie that you might read in the TV listings, but I don't want to ruin the movie for those who have not seen it.  I recommend it with my two heartiest thumbs up!

While you're going to Netflix to find the movie (you won't be sorry!) let me say this about walls.  We don't know, always, what's behind them.  (You'll know what I mean after you see the picture.)

We need some walls.  No one needs to see their neighbors changing their underwear or their sheets or their minds as they set out for an evening stroll. Walls afford privacy, allow for furtive office naps (although everyone can hear you snoring, boss!) and also make a great place to hang pictures, plaques, awards, and R. Crumb posters or big pictures of dogs playing cards.

Sometimes we build imaginary walls to keep others out of our emotional beeswax or to try to keep them in it.  As humans, though, we don't thrive in vacuums.  You never heard of any books full of the warm wit and wisdom of bachelor lighthouse keepers along the rocky shoals of Maine.  We need a certain amount of interaction with others...not too much, not too little.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Conway Twitty.

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