By John Balaban
Hadn’t seen Eddie for some time,
wheeling his chair through traffic,
skinny legs in shorts, T-shirted,
down at the corner off Dixie Highway,
lifting his Coke cup to the drivers
backed up, bumper to bumper, at the light.
Sometimes he slept on the concrete bench
up from Joe’s News. Sometimes police
would haul him in and he said he didn’t mind
because he got three squares and sometimes
a doctor would look at his legs, paralyzed,
he said, since the cop in New York shot him
when he tried to steal a car. Sad story,
of the kind we’ve learned to live with.
One rainy day he looked so bad, legs
ballooned, ankles to calves, clothes soaked,
I shoved a $20 in his cup. But, like I said,
I hadn’t seen him around so yesterday
I stopped and asked this other panhandler,
Where’s Eddie? "Dead," he said. Slammed
by a truck running the light, crushed
into his wheelchair. Dead, months ago.
My wife says he’s better off dead,
but I don’t know. Behind his smudged glasses
his eyes were clever. He had a goofy smile
but his patter was sharp. His legs were a mess
and he had to be lonely. But spending days
in the bright fanfare of traffic and
those nights on his bench, with the moon
huge in the palm trees, the highway quiet,
some good dreams must have come to him.
As usual, Friday consisted of reviewing ("Return To Tomorrow"), some writing, trying to get the kids to get some outdoor time before the weekly video game restrictions were lifted and they had their weekend play time, driving the kids to friends' houses, dinner with my parents and uncle. I read weekend movie reviews; lots of people seem to like Poseidon because it's shorter and scarier and has better special effects than The Poseidon Adventure, and if you like disaster movies, I guess that's great (I have no interest in disaster movies). Am I weird for having loved the original not for the underwater thrills but the religious allegory? The Poseidon Adventure is one of the most religious movies I saw in my youth...extremely Christian, but that didn't bother me given that it lacks the "all Jews must convert" overtones of things I had read earlier in childhood than I saw the film (e.g. The Bronze Bow). The survivors are saved by a reverend who has by the end become a Christ figure; they climb out of the flooded ballroom on a Christmas tree; there are are several "baptisms"; they are preceded into the flooded wilderness by a Jew; the prostitute meets the fate that prostitutes traditionally meet; a little child leads them; even the much-mocked theme song ("It's not too late, we should be giving/Only with love can we climb") is rife with pop theology. I am a total sucker for this stuff when it's done well, and for all its absurdities and over-the-topness, The Poseidon Adventure is done quite well. Someone tell me if there's any reason I should risk my pure love of this film by seeing the remake.
My love for Doctor Who is boundless, so much so that I really feel no urge to write fic and the few things I've read, all of which have been highly recommended by people whose judgment I trust, left me rather cold, as they felt unnecessary and almost intrusive in most cases with the exception of "One Thing We Always Suspected About Captain Jack" which made me howl (Ninth Doctor spoilers). This week was "The Doctor Dances" here and I'm feeling self-conscious about writing about it; these are really notes just for me so I remember what the experience was like.
I figured that Nancy might be Jamie's mother when she warned the other children that he will always come after her. The only thing in the world Jamie wants is his mummy...I thought she had only lied to the other children, though, it didn't occur to me that she had lied to Jamie himself. And I'm a little unclear how Jamie knew that he had been lied to about his mummy, whom I assume Nancy told him was dead or missing...if she was pretending that he was her brother, she must have provided him with some cover story. How did he figure out the truth? The Doctor said from the drawings that they were looking at the work of a child who was afraid and angry...angry about his transformation, or the abandonment implied by the lie? What if his mummy had been dead...would the living DNA of his sister not be enough to convince the nanogenes that they'd made a mistake incorporating the gas mask into his DNA? It's so sad that Nancy assumes anyone born in London in the future must be German, that of course Britain is going to lose the war. However she ended up a pregnant teenager, I don't imagine much in her life has ever been happy. It's gut-wrenching when she knows she's being chained up with a soldier mid-transformation, and somehow almost worse that she can sing him to sleep.
Jack, on the other hand, has apparently led a charmed life -- his emergency protocol in case of imminent death is to drink a martini, and he woke up in bed with both his executioners the last time he was sentenced to death, hah! ("They stayed in touch.") Both his "romance" with Rose and its fadeout are among my favorite TV scenes ever. Jack puts on music to mask signals between the Doctor and Jamie; Rose announces that he's playing their song and insists to the Doctor that he's just like him except "with dating and dancing"; the Doctor complains about her assumption that he doesn't dance, "900 years old, I've been around a bit, I think you can assume at some point I've danced"; she demands that he show her his moves. "Rose, I'm trying to resonate concrete!" When he warns her that Jack is not really a captain -- he was defrocked -- she retorts, "I think you're experiencing captain envy." (When he interrupts this conversation by transporting the Doctor and Rose mid-dance to his ship, Jack claims that he quit; nobody takes his frock.) Then the three of them head to the bomb site, where Rose offers to distract the guard, but Jack announces that she's not his type -- he knows him well -- "Don't wait up." At Rose's startled reaction, the Doctor insists that a guy from Jack's era is "just a bit more flexible when it comes to dancing" and suggests that he might be, too: "That's our mission, we seek new life and...dance."
I don't think there's been a lovelier moment on TV this year than the Doctor swinging his arms around and saying, "Everybody lives, Rose, just this once, everybody lives!" It reminded me so much of the end of Longtime Companion, the first big AIDS movie, where at the end one of the survivors wonders what it would have been like if none of it had happened and all the people who've died over the course of the film come running down the boardwalk...I started crying just by association. (I love the absurdist comedy in the midst of horror too, the woman who comes to the newly retransformed doctor from the hospital and says her leg's grown back, only to be told that there's a war on and asked whether it's possible she miscounted...) The Doctor is flying -- he says he's on fire -- when he and Rose get back to the Tardis, he's up for anything, but Rose is worried about Captain Jack, and after the obligatory eye-rolling the Doctor takes her to rescue him, even as he's proving that, yes, he can dance, her way or his. And with either or both. Ahh, it's bliss.
1. How many siblings do you have? One sister. (She has a husband and three little girls, and I have two brothers-in-law, both of whom have children as well.)
2. Do you get along with your family? On the whole, yes. I have my moments with my father, sometimes my mother and especially my sister if we are in close proximity for long periods, so I make it my business not to be in close proximity overlong, which is kind of sad, but compared to people I know who can't stand their relatives or have experienced abuse by them, I feel very lucky. And I have absolutely wonderful in-laws; I feel exceptionally blessed in that regard.
3. Think you look like anyone in your family? I look exactly like my father. Well, except that I'm female. Sometimes I see recent pictures of myself and wonder how my father's mother got into a picture with my kids and then realize it's me.
4. Do you want / do you have any children of your own? Two, as I'm sure everyone reading this already knows.
5. Special plans for Mother's Day? We are going here, figuring it's something my mother, my husband's mother and I would all enjoy and the kids would tolerate. I think we're all having brunch and dinner together too.
Here is a close-up of her wheel. We first saw her in Baltimore in 2004; there are a couple of photos here and here.
We were not allowed to walk around the lower decks but here is the entrance to the area in front of the Great Cabin -- I don't know what this is called on a ship of this size!
And the Brazilian Navy brought a band which could be heard across the harbor.
Speaking of Baltimore, the reason I am still awake is that Hairspray is on. I love this movie so much! I wrote an essay about it in a class once!