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Better Late [Feb. 12th, 2005|06:18 am]
I have it on the very best authority (my back) that I have been sitting here too long. This is the result of the catching up I had to do after four days of avoiding Sluggo's chilly room (to prevent that cold from settling in.) Now, maybe I can get back to what passes for normal. Or maybe not. Comcast has decided to give me a free preview of HBO. I don't know how long it will last, but it's a chance to see some of those movies everybody was talking about a few months ago and which I wouldn't see for a couple of years yet otherwise. I could be almost in the pop culture loop for a change! Maybe I'll watch a few, and let the Slug get more rest. And maybe I'll get bored with them after the first few minutes and come back to the Internets. As time goes on, I find that fewer and fewer new movies are able to hold my attention. I don't know if this is because movies are getting worse, or because I'm developing Old Geezer Syndrome. It might be a bit of both. Ah, for the days of my youth, when Doug and Mary and Charlie captivated our imagination from the flickering screens of the old nickelodeons! No, wait. Those were the days of my dad's youth! Well, in that case- Ah, to have been born forty years sooner!

Though, had I been born forty years sooner, I'd probably be dead by now, like so many of that generation whose famous members have been dropping like flies lately- Artie Shaw, Max Schmeling, and now Arthur Miller. The first Miller play I ever saw was The Crucible. Though it was only a college production, the performance was quite gripping. Later, I saw several other productions of his plays, and they have long been a mainstay of public television, where I have seen even more of them. It appears to me, a non-actor, as though it is difficult to do a Miller play badly. They have the ability to engage even amateur actors, and to pull the characters through them, as it were. I think it's because so many of Miller's characters are almost archetypes of ordinary people, so that it is easy for an actor to make that emotional connection which allows the character to come to life on the stage.

Many American playwrights of Miller's generation wrote about ordinary people, of course, but none of the others managed so consistently as Miller to get their characters exactly right and completely convincing as individuals. Their plays relied too much on setting and situation. That's partly why so many of them now seem dated. The characters are trapped in their own eras, and it is difficult for us to feel a connection to them. Miller's characters, though, occupy the same aesthetic universe as the figures in Edward Hopper's paintings. Regardless of their settings, they exist in the present moment. I suspect that they will exist in present moments for a long time to come.