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Wednesday, May 17, 2000

Last night I found a totally new way to stay up most of the night. Since I'd finished reading High Fidelity, I was ready to move on to another book, and I thought I knew which one. It's the Dave Eggers book, the title of which is too intricate and convoluted for me to remember without having the dust jacket in front of me, which I don't since I never did find it. But that's what I was looking for until three in the morning. If I'd found it, I would have been too tired to read anyway, so it was a doomed exercise from the start.

"Heartbreaking," and "staggering," as I recall. With "genius" thrown in there somewhere. Put together with a few less elegant words in a manner that sounds as far from literary as the Pacific Bell Yellow Pages. I own the book; I just can't find it. Lost in the move.

So, irony of ironies, because I was up so late last night, and had to drag myself through the day, there seemed little chance that I would have the energy by tonight to go see the movie. High Fidelity, that is, which I can't go to tomorrow night because my car will be in the shop, and which it looks as if will have completely vanished from local theaters by Friday, judging from the dwindling number of screens it's being shown on.

Well, I guess it would have been ironic if it had worked out that way. Oddly, if not ironically, what almost kept me home tonight was that my copier guy didn't show up until five o'clock. He called about two and asked if that would be okay, because his other calls were at real businesses, the kind that close down and lock up and everyone goes home. Not me; here at Western Sprocket we never close.

And I wasn't about to go to the 9:00 show and be up so late again tonight, so it was 6:20 or nothing. It worked out so that he was gone in time for me to scarf down some yogurt and a granola bar and hit the road. As it turned out, he could have stayed another half hour, because 6:20 on a Wednesday night is not exactly prime cinema-going time, at least in Sonoma County.

It was the first time I'd driven to the Rohnert Park stadium theater from my new house, so I left myself plenty of time. Oh yes, plenty of time. It's not often that you get to a theater and have to wait for the previous showing to end before you can enter. Truth be told, I'm pretty sure they were a bit off schedule, but maybe they did plan it that closely.

There were ten of us at this showing, reinforcing my conviction that this would have been my last chance to see it in first run. It's too bad, too, because all those people flocking to see Battlefield Earth and Viva Rock Vegas are missing a worthy diversion.

I won't review the film, because I'm notorious for liking everything I see. But I think I have a unique perspective, having finished reading the book just yesterday. I was curious about how a novel that is a personal narrative, a highly subjective exploration of one man's battle with himself to define his relationship, would be translated to the screen. And I think it was done precisely right.

John Cusack's Rob is faithful to the character described by Nick Hornby in his novel. In fact, with little deviation, the film's plot traces the book's narrative with a genuine appreciation of the world the author has created. It respects both the music and the quirky characters whose devotion to that music consumes them. Hornby's words are used throughout, and Cusack's speaking to the camera becomes natural and expected as the story progresses. (And moving the setting from London to Chicago is also a non-issue.)

I liked the fact that the novel I'd just finished was translated so accurately to this medium by director Stephen Frears. And I'm no expert on acting, but I loved the chemistry between Cusack and Todd Louiso and Jack Black, who play his record shop employees.

Even though there were only ten people in the theater, I was shocked when eight of them got up and left as soon as the end titles began. There was still music to be heard! I always stay until the lights come up, but I really wanted to read the music credits for this film, and I couldn't understand why everyone else didn't want to do the same.

On the other hand, maybe that was the point of the story — that who you are and who you're with matters more than the music. Or as Rob may or may not come to realize, what you like is less important than what you're like. (Still, I really want the soundtrack, although it might not sound as great without the theater sound system. Mine falls a little short of that quality.)

Now if I could only find my copy of the Eggers book.

On my front porch this afternoon.a closer look

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Latest recommendations:

Diane, Nobody Knows Anything, May 17, I Love Her

Al, Nova Notes, May 17, The Most Unromantic Twentieth Anniversary Ever

Other recent recommendations can be found on the links page.
As we were driving down the highway she asked me, "Baby, what's so great? How come you're always goin' on about your notify list?"