This installment of “Ben Stein’s Diary” ran in the July/August 2006 issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe, click here.p> FRIDAY br> Here I am in Boca Raton, Florida. Wifey and I flew in to Miami last night. It was hot. It was very hot. Humid, too. Too many Democrats talking. The driver took us up to Boca, as we call it, on that maddeningly busy freeway. Then we had trouble at the front desk of the Boca Raton Resort and Racquet Club, but it was quickly straightened out and we went to our room. Wonderful stuff overlooking the ocean. Wait, no, it’s not the ocean. It’s the Intracoastal Waterway. Anyway, it’s water. And there are boats and that’s nice. /p>
We had a modest dinner. I can’t remember what it was so it must have been very modest. Maybe just eggs, and then we watched Walk the Line together.
I have always been a huge fan of Johnny Cash, so I liked it. Plus, my wife’s family is from Arkansas, so I feel as if I have a bond with the Man in Black, since he was also from Arkansas. Most of the movie is about as slow as watching paint dry, but I love the songs. And I just adore Reese Witherspoon, who steals every scene she’s in as June Carter Cash. She is not just good, but great. I hear tell she sang those songs her own self and that’s no small thing.
Joaquin Phoenix is great, too, especially the great look of concentration on his face when he’s singing “Folsom Prison Blues” for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Plus I also loved one scene at a motel where the swimming pool is just a perfect light blue. Swimming pools are one of my favorite sights. I have one in Beverly Hills and one in Rancho Mirage, and I look at them a lot when they’re lit up at night. Something tells me, “‘Come in,’ she said, ‘I’ll give you shelter from the storm,’” as my hero, Bob Dylan, has sung into my ears so many thousands of times. Watch for that scene at a little Southern motel with the night-lit swimming pool. It reminds me of when my high school senior trip took a bus ride to New Orleans and stayed at little motels with little blue-lit swimming pools, and Ms. Jean Dorsett fell in love with me, but I didn’t know it. It is an evocative scene. But the whole movie is totally stolen, hook, line, and sinker, by the woman who plays Johnny Cash’s bitch first wife. Wow. Can she act, or what? She should give lessons. She was amazingly mean and cruel. I think I’ll look up her name right now as I’m writing this. No, I think I’ll have Wlady do it. She’s one of the stars of Big Love on HBO, which I have not seen, but I’ll bet she’s good. [Her name is Ginnifer Goodwin — ed.]
Anyway, we ordered popcorn from room service, and it was brought to us by an amazingly hirsute Haitian woman. Plus, it cost $30. Well, who cares? It’s only money.
By the way, I once sat across the aisle from Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash on a flight from LAX to New York City. He was super friendly and told me how much he liked me in Ferris Bueller. I told him I worshipped him. What is it about music? Really, what is it about music that gets to us so powerfully? Interestingly enough, I spend most of my day listening to music, but my sister and my mother spend or spent much less time if any. Plus, I don’t think my sister ever got into country music or rock and roll. It’s my obsession. What’s that all about? There is so much of life I don’t understand and so little I do understand.
Well, more popcorn, huge doses of Fibercon, then off to sleep. I wound up loving that movie a lot even though it was slow. But be warned, do not watch when Johnny’s brother is near the saw.p> SATURDAY br> Up in the morning and off to school. Yep, I am here working. That’s all I ever do. Work. Work, work, work. I am here speaking at the graduation of a fine little school called Lynn University. Right here in Boca. Everyone is extremely pleasant, especially the beautiful Ms. Lynn, whose late husband was a principal donor to the school. What a story she had: famous Norwegian swimmer mother. Czech diplomat father. Travels and travails around Europe and Canada. Then she met and married the fabulously successful Mr. Lynn of Boca, an insurance magnate, and next thing she knew, she was in Florida. She is still lovely and could not be more charming. Like all of us, she is lucky to be in America. I sat next to her after my speech and we hit it off famously. We both looked at the shoes of the kids graduating. An interesting mixture, from high heels to thongs. But who am I, a tennis shoe playing fool, to complain? /p>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?