Tuesday, January 24, 2012


*Thoughts on an extraordinary new film
*A day of discovery
*A Neil Diamond encounter

I want to add a few more oxymorons to the title 
of the film-
uniquely extraordinary
powerfully moving
hauntingly reassuring.
This is not one of those big name (Tom Hanks,
Sandra Bullock, Max Van Sydow, Viola Davis)
formulaic and predictable films. Director Stephen
Daldry(The Reader, The Hours, Billy Elliot) keeps you off balance from the unsettling opening credits. He has a lot to work with.  Eric Roth's screenplay (Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Forest Gump,The Insider, Munich, Horse Whisperer)
is the latest in a series of brilliant scripts. He worked with
actor/writer Jonathan Safran Foer's  (Everything is Illuminated) book Extremely Loud and Outrageously Close.  These are some of the brightest, most
talented, gifted and cerebral people in film making.
What you get is a film that works on you in a 
special way.  The premise, a possibly near Asperger's syndrome nine year old, finds a key belonging to his father who died in the 9/11 attack. That launches him
on a search mission that leads viewers into a 
wonderful discovery of humanity and love.
Thomas Horn, the nine year old, carries this
film in a way that only seeing can convey.
Hanks and Bullock are again superb.
But Max Van Sydow, as a speechless man, is so good
he will etch a memory.  He uses no words, just
expressions,his eyes and body language. Wow!!!
It is an odd film, hard to categorize, makes you laugh,
cry, feel desperation and then joy.
Yea, guess I'm saying this is one you want to see. It's a jewel.
It was on this date in 1848 that gold was discovered
at Sutter's Mill, pictured below.
 Gold flecks in this creek set off what became
the gold rush of '49.
California was forever changed.
If you'd like a quick tour of California's Gold country
link here for an earlier post of the Mother Lode Highway.
Noting that today is Neil Diamond's birthday
reminded me of an encounter years ago.
I was a college student working at a commercial station
that hosted a "Caravan of Stars" concert headlined by
Mr. Diamond who was just then breaking out. It was still very early in his career.
  Most of the tour traveled on a bus but we were told that Neil was traveling by motorcycle and would arrive later.
I had been scheduled to do dressing room interviews
with the singers as they were changing into their
performance outfits.  
Diamond arrived back stage, got a notice from the producer he was to be interviewed by me.  He came over to where
I was set up.  
"Hi I'm Neil, I'm here for my interview." 
"Nice to meet you.  I like your music, " I said.
"Would you like to change before the interview?" I added.
Diamond looked shocked, perplexed.
"What's wrong with this?" He said looking down at 
his jeans, boots and rubbing his leather jacket
over a ruffled shirt.
We did the interview.  I apologized in some mumbled manner
about insulting him.  He passed it off like it was no
big deal.
I soon noticed that more rock stars abandoned blazers, mohair suits and the like for "real" clothes. 
In his autobiography Keith Richards tells how the Stones
made that transition.  It was just a few months after the Diamond encounter the Stones
toured the mid-west and I was assigned to
a news conference with the lads.
No costumes for them.  Lots of cigarettes though. 
They had made the change.
Neil Diamond was the cutting edge of that cultural change
which just took a little longer to get to Muncie
Indiana in the mid '60's.
Thanks for the lesson, Neil.  Sorry again.
Happy Birthday.
See you down the trail.


  1. Hi Tom: We do enjoy your blogs. Sorry we won't be on the walk Wens. We have to be in Paso at 9:00 AM for some shots we are getting for an upcoming trip. Hope to see you soon. Jack & Judy Scilley

  2. You were certainly right about Hugo so we'll probably go see this one.

  3. Good blog! I really love how it is easy on my eyes and the data are well written. I'm wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!
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  4. Sylvia-
    Leave a reply with your direct e-mail and I will see that you get added to a list.