Less Miserable –Thanks to Leading Men! 

Ah, the holidays – magical, manic, frantic, stress-inducing, scintillating!  My heretofore rather mild psoriasis attack blossomed into Elephant-Man-itis.  Doc appointments wriggled their way into the usual notably bustling festivities.  Exhaustion and disillusionment R US!

“Doctor Feel-Good” adventures invaded my individualistic “I do what I wanna do, and when I wanna do it” schedule at the traditionally nutsiest time of the year — the progression of three celebrations throughout November to January, dictated by the calendar for ages upon ages.  You’d better be game.  Ride those sparkling events like a demented Beachboy hanging onto a precariously slippery surfboard for dear life!   No exceptions!  Always remain perky and full of positive thoughts!  Bah!  Humbug!

This particular season, national events encompassed:  stomach churning fiscal cliffs; stubborn “gunblasting-our-way-to-total-obliterative-MASS-massacre” foolishly contentious debates; wildlife culling promoted as sportsy; “looking occasionally cross-eyed” broadcast by the NRA to be certifiable mental illness, which is supposedly the onliest reason that increasingly (currently, more guns in the United States than people) heavily armed, paranoid, violent humans slay one another; ever-present, extremist political points of view quashing peaceful, reasonable dialogue; and self-defeating refusals to deal with climate change’s environmental emergencies — ALL of the aforementioned trampling upon one’s liberal-progressive spirit.  Chinese water torture. 

It follows that a person might reflect inner turmoil via the  “pain of psoriasis” — systemic, unpredictable, an all-too-obvious reaction to the world at large!  Furthermore, I am “got” because pharmaceuticals thundered into the life of somebody who never even swallows an aspirin. Ever!  Hypochondria’s not my style. Probably I lean more toward “Christian Science”, but our local branch shut down scores of years ago.

Quick-fix time!  Who relishes feeling even a teensy bit under the weather?  But how about greeting each day while covered with chicken-pox polka dots which “flare” into patchy, fire-engine red, scaly patches manifesting their myriad selves into mysterious patterns and configurations via a case of latter-day leprosy once featured in Bible stories, left and right?  Life, according to Thackeray, is a “Vanity Fair”!  Unsightly, temperamental skin eruptions, other than a few scattered mole-like beauty marks here and there, assure that I’ll be more anti-social than I am already!  Difficult to fathom!  Googling unearthed fellow sufferers comic Jon Lovitz and reality TV starlet Kim Kardashian. Misery loves company!

Any boob-tubed obsessed couch potato KNOWS that our societal dependence upon prescription or over-the-counter medications guarantees accompanying unwanted results whenever we watch  impossibly perfect models wander gleefully and prettily through peppy commercials.  Side-effects listed provide the bulk of the voice-over’s script; “possible liver failure, pituitary tumors, severe depression, suicidal thoughts, heart attacks, alteration of personality, debilitating anxiety — please discontinue use if any of these new symptoms develop!”

Waxy, cortisone-based, steroidal-loaded applications of topical, slathering creams initially converted me into a walking Christmas candle.  Within a couple of anxious weeks, I experienced a switch-over to a greasy, oily concoction, no longer in tooth-paste sized tubes but rather in huge jars, which assures that I could effortlessly swim the English Channel as a revisited, slicked-up Gertrude Ederle!  These ointments and salves co-mingle, entering my blood stream prompting both inventive dreams and convincing hallucinations.  Truly, I spotted JFK, or his identical twin, at Richard’s Restaurant recently.

“Jack” appeared very fit and startlingly elegant in an expensive over-coat, his distinctive shock of hair — still parted and combed to one side — now glistening silver. The president’s steely blue eyes peered in my direction in a decidedly aloof country club/landed gentry manner.  I spoke to him and am comforted that my husband also witnessed this occurrence.  Rod Serling, in a nearby booth, may have been jotting down notes for his “Twilight Zone” series.  

Thus, following my relentless rounds with the medical profession in an attempt to retrieve cosmetic acceptability, what TRULY soothed my jangled holiday nerves?

LEADING MEN!!!  Handsome matinee idols recently paraded across movie screens before my eager, adulatory eyes! These dudes re-directed my vain, obsessive fixation with my skin onto their perilous adventures with — respectively — Her Majesty’s Secret Service MI6 , civil wars, and French revolutions.  Daniel “James Bond-007” Craig stylishly and ruggedly pursuing villains as the sky falls all around himself, Daniel Day Lewis’s 150% inhabiting of the iconic persona of a Christ-like Abraham Lincoln, and hunky Hugh “Jean Valjean- #24601” Jackman’s completely convincing, mesmerizing transformation from a despicable singing French convict into an angelic singing French savior of singing French lost souls stole my heart! I vicariously cheered, swooned, and suffered!  Sacha Baron Cohen and Javier Bardem boosted my spirits also, as both appeared in these very films as cleverly clownish villains!  (Javier made it into my paperback book, “Secrets of an Old Typewriter”!)

Upton Sinclair regarded Victor Hugo’s masterpiece “Les Miserables” as “one of the half-dozen greatest novels of the world”– agreed!  Susie Sexton, likewise, considers Russell Crowe to be “one of the half-dozen greatest actors of this world or any other”!  I’ll not be moved to change my accurate evaluation of the Australian perfectionist. Contrary to probably countless audience members’ appraisals, I reveled in his “Gladiator”- “Insider” – “Beautiful Mind”-blended super-intelligent approach to the character of conflicted, yet determined, “Inspector Javert”.  His execution (Crowe detractors might snarkily agree with the word “execution”) of the constant musicalized dialogue, required of the entire cast at all times, demonstrated consistent focus, flawless articulation, and a raw honesty captured by not one other vocalist as exquisitely.

Extraordinary Russell’s inspirational believability astounds me.  Not since Spencer Tracy regaled audiences with total naturalness for decades have I ever been so impressed by any actor.  Russ’s Inspector Javert, planted firmly amidst dismally dreary overwrought deprived and depraved local masses of French humanity dubbed “Les Miserables”, provided the highlight of my 2012-13 holi-daze malaise!

Upon juggling noble protagonist Jackman/ Valjean with aggravating antagonist Crowe/Javert inside my currently addled state of mind, I preferred the performance of Mr. Crowe whose crisp portrayal was neither florid nor melodramatic but instead intriguingly, provocatively observational and artistically out of step with the film’s murky tone. For this devotee of unique talent, his Javert won my everlasting devotion. Standing rigidly upon a bridge above the River Seine — while expressing an anguished puzzlement at the nature of good and evil– baritone Crowe, as the unbending seeker of often brutal justice, sings:  “There is nothing on earth that we share!  It is either Valjean or Javert!  And my thoughts fly apart. Can this man be believed?  Shall his sins be forgiven?  I  am reaching, but I fall.  And the stars are black and cold as I stare into the void of a world that cannot hold.  I’ll escape now from the world, from the world of Jean Valjean…”  Then into the swirling, watery abyss he hurls himself.  Could have been my drug-enhanced malady, but I considered diving after him … to administer mouth to mouth resuscitation!   (Russell’s pending gig involves even more water; he’ll be piloting an ark full of animals “two by two” when he stars as … Noah!  I can hardly wait!)

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