1. Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion, which has already been made into a good Paul Newman movie, is being performed onstage before a hometown crowd at Portland Center Stage in Oregon. I wish I could catch it, and if it travels to New York I certainly will catch it.
There’s also word that director Gus Van Sant is making progress on his film version of the Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a classic non-fiction text that describes the mid-1960s cosmic collision between Neal Cassady, Ken Kesey, Robert Stone, Larry McMurty, the Grateful Dead and a big bus. I think this ought to be an outrageously good movie, but I hope Gus Van Sant will do a better job with it than he did with Tom Robbins’ hippie-era classic novel Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. That movie had it’s moments (Uma Thurman dancing with her thumbs), but the ultra-stylized visual treatment and wooden acting made it boring to watch. My two favorite Gus Van Sant films were two of his quietest and most naturalistic: the haunting Elephant and the bleak, blank Last Days. I think an overly stylized or stagy treatment (a la Cowgirls) would hurt Tom Wolfe’s classic narrative, a narrative about a moment when truth was truly stranger than fiction. I think this film is in good hands, but I hope Van Sant will let the great story speak for itself.
2. Last week I praised the new HBO series John Adams, and I still feel that way, though in this week’s episode I really wasn’t trying to see John Adams getting busy in a Braintree bedroom. I wasn’t trying to see Paul Giamatti getting busy in a Braintree bedroom either.
4. Happy birthday The Millions!
6. I love a writer who’ll speak up for himself. Novelist James Morrow doesn’t agree with New York Times Book Review critic Siddhartha Deb’s comments about his the Philosopher’s Apprentice, and invites you to sample the novel on his website. I urge you to do so.