Meryl Streep

So I dipped a toe into the topic of the avoidable, but didn’t delve into the flip-side, did I?

The young woman isn’t identified in the photo credits. Perhaps the photographer, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images didn’t ask. It would take a ballsy person to stroll up to such a scene and play 20 questions though I imagine he’d have gotten chapter verse and the annotated notes if he had.The grave belongs to U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Noah Pier. He was killed February 12, 2010 in Marja, Afghanistan and is resting at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, which is just outside the capital.

I’ve been there. It’s beautiful, belies its purpose and history. Arlington was the plantation home of Robert E. Lee’s wife. They abandoned it when he turned down Lincoln’s offer to head the Union Army, resigned his commission and went to serve the Confederacy. The mansion was built by George Washington’s grandson and the father of Lee’s wife, Anna.

The house was commandeered and used as a garrison and it was Union General Mieg’s idea to start burying dead soldiers there, partly as a rebuke to Lee. Mieg’s own son was among the first war dead interred there.

I wonder. Did he sleep on the left side of their bed? Is this the first restful nap she’s had in months? Were they married? Engaged?

Not that any of that matters but I bet she’d have told Chip if he asked.

I found the picture in my blog reader and then just after I found a post about John Cazale, the actor. You’d know him if you saw him. He only made five movies before he died of bone cancer in 1978, but all five were nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards, and he is cited by folks like Pacino, De Niro and Streep as being one of their great influences.

But that’s not why I found him interesting or mention him now.

Meryl Streep and John Cazale were engaged to be married when he died. She nursed him throughout his illness. She even took a minor part in The Deer Hunter, just to be with him and take care of him as he went about making his last movie.

She was with him when he died.

And then six months later, she was married.

Some people would find that shocking. Judge her even.

Yet, she’s been married for 31 years and has four children and by all accounts is very content, happy even.

She helped put together a documentary about Cazale and agreed to be interviewed. She is puffy-eyed and tearful at turns on the screen as she talks about him.

And yet …

I wonder about Noah Pier and this girl. On this most recent Memorial Day she is napping on his still fairly fresh grave, but where will she be mid-summer? Or fall? Or next year?

Losing people we love isn’t anymore avoidable than someday being “lost” ourselves. But it isn’t the end … of anything really.

Which is what my sweet husband would say if he didn’t have better control of his inner voice than I do.

Normally, Rob is the one who makes the questionable picks, but this last Wednesday, my number finally came up in the library queue for Mamma Mia!, the Movie with Meryl Streep. Did you know that she can’t really sing?

And sadly, she was the main character, so it was her or no one, but I can’t cast aspersions on her vocal talent without noting that aside from the girl who plays her daughter, the Greek chorus and Christine Baranski, who plays one of Streep’s best friends, no one in the film can sing.

I loves me some musicals. I have no problem suspending my belief long enough for characters to burst into song or dance in the pursuit of coherent story-telling. Musicals though weave song, dance and acting together to create a world for characters to inhabit. Mamma Mia took pop songs and quilted a story around them in a way that resembles a spiderweb after a thunderstorm. There is but a semblance of the beauty.

“I saw this,” Mick commented when she saw the dvd on the kitchen counter Thursday evening. “It was disappointing.”

She had wanted to see the movie when it was in the theatres. We’d even talked about going. I had requested it from the library at the beginning of June in hopes of having it when Mom and Auntie came in July.

Rob sighed. He watches chicky flicks for me only. He considers it a husbandly duty. When he found out it was a musical on top of a chick flick, he visibly braced himself.

“I am exercising my right to veto if this sucks too much,” he informed me before we snuggled into bed to watch it on the laptop.

But despite the fact that it was horrid from the first number, neither one of us gave up on it. Mostly because the premise of the story is that Donna (Streep) slept with three men the summer she got pregnant with her daughter Sophie who has invited all three men to her upcoming wedding in hopes of discovering who her father is.

SPOILER: She never finds out and neither do we.

Hours worth of butchered 70’s pop and for what? No daddy reveal. A tone deaf cast. Pierce Brosnan singing – which I assure you is every bit as awful as the earworm it gave me – and Colin Firth (one of the potential daddies) discovers his true sexuality and hooks up with a pretty Greek boy at the end. Not that there is anything wrong with a gay dad, but why couldn’t it have been the unattractive Swedish guy instead of Mr. Darcy? It could have been a stereotype breaker.

Speaking of stereotypes, I will give the movie props for not airbrushing or otherwise emaciating Streep and her friends. They looked like middle aged women and it was wonderfully refreshing.

The finale has everyone dressed for a special appearance on the Midnight Special in Kiss like platform shoes and stretchy polyester that glittered appropriately under the disco lighting. Enough said.

Mamma Mia is one of the worst movies ever. It is also the highest grossing film to date in the UK and we are moving there, but I will reserve judgment. It could have been a bad movie summer there that year and the earworminess of ABBA cannot be denied.

If you haven’t seen it, don’t bother. Life is too precious to waste like that.