Missing in Action - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Missing in Action

I am still way off balance from my pal B getting locked up in prison. His was a huge presence in my life. Knowing of his confinement is torment. I must also selfishly say I miss his wisdom and empathy keenly. It just is not the same world without B. To talk to. He knew me. He inspired me. He talked truth to me.

I know he pleaded guilty to some very bad things. I still love him. We humans make many mistakes, and some of them hurt other people badly. He is still my dear friend and I miss him like the cutting of a knife.

It has been raining here in L.A. for about five days straight, maybe more. It doesn’t bother me. I know we need water desperately, so it’s not a problem at all for me. Plus, we are not getting really heavy rain. It is all fine.

Today, I got up early to drive to Studio City in the rain to do a commentary for CBS. Alas, I was in such a rush that I did not check my e-mails before I left my house. If I had, I would have seen that the taping had been postponed to late afternoon.

Again, no problem. I am so devastated about my pal B that not much else seems important to me.

Well, that’s not true. Last night, on my way out to Malibu to check my mail, I called my great pal A, one of nature’s noblemen, great, enormous help in my life at every turn. A is now in his mid 80s, and decidedly vague and getting distinctly more vague.

The only part of the conversation where he perked up was when I told him how much I loved him, and what an indispensable friend he has been. He snapped into lucidity for a few minutes, then wandered again. Love is the answer to a lot of problems. Love is the answer to almost all problems.

I was also disturbed yesterday by a text from a friend who said she is cutting out most human contact to spend her time in prayer all day long. Well and good, but how will she support herself? Her modus operandi her whole life has been to be the mistress of wealthy men, including some extremely famous ones. I believe she has little in savings. I wonder how she will provide.

There is an awful lot of irrational behavior going on around me and I do plenty of it, too.

Back to today. I went to my apartment that I keep for hiding and sleeping and took a long nap. Then a long lunch with wifey and our stunning daughter-in-law, Kitty, and our granddaughter, Coco. We ate at Nonna and had steaks and carrots. I only mention this because some of you might want to know the name of a good Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills. It is called “Nonna.”

My granddaughter is lively and alert. Our daughter-in-law is gorgeous and hard working. We are extremely blessed to have her.

Then, back to the Valley to tape my commentary. It is about economics and it is about yet another area where the GOP has painted itself into a small, dangerous corner. The GOP looks more and more like a party on a kamikaze mission and it scares me.

Then, home to pick up wifey and take her to see Skyfall in IMAX. This is my sixth viewing of Skyfall. Second time in IMAX, the best entertainment invention of the postwar era. Skyfall, especially in IMAX, is addictive. It is a work of art on a scale of genius that awes me. The acting — especially by Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem — is stupendous. Javier Bardem may be the best actor I have ever seen. Certainly, he is the best villain ever — sly, sexually ambiguous, self-righteously crazy. Above all, he is idiosyncratic and commands sympathy. He really was mistreated and deserves revenge. You feel for him even when he kills people. Daniel Craig is the ultimate James Bond. But in his power and energy and creativity, Bardem has no acting peer that I know of.

The art direction is uniquely great. The scenes in Shanghai (or supposedly in Shanghai) are works of visual magnificence. Beyond magnificent. Stupefying. Oriental and mysterious and also commercial and immediate.

The direction is perfect. That’s all, just perfect.

But the sound — that’s the best sound I have ever heard. Beyond perfect. Hearing it is like being drugged and escaping from all of life’s problems but with no ill effects. The closing scenes of a helicopter with a mini-gun attacking a manor house in Scotland are like taking cocaine — only, again, with no ill effects. Just breathtaking. I love helicopter sounds. We all do. Why?

Go see it soon.

Then home, to contemplate life without B and with my ultimate career savior, A, fading into a worrisome vagueness. I am so lucky I have Phil and John and Aram and Russ and Wlady and, above all, my wifey. If I did not have her, I might as well be in prison, too. And let’s not forget Julie Goodgirl.

I am not James Bond. I am not fearless and I am worried about the future. Things are falling apart. Where is B when I need him? A and B, missing in action.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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