Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Egg and I

If it's the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

Robin Williams's recent death is irreconcilable. 

I first noticed him as Mork, the visitor from the planet Ork in the sitcom Mork and Mindy. His frantic humor, jackhammer dialogue and pithy observations ("Why is it called rush hour when nobody moves?") made the show eminently watchable. I'd moved to Colorado the year before the show began, so I was already familiar with M&M's setting - Boulder. It seemed an apt landing spot for his spaceship - a giant egg.

I saw a few of his movies - Awakenings, for example. He played a doctor whose therapy gave catatonic patients a new, if brief, lease on a more active life. The pain on his face as the patients begin slipping back into darkness cannot be described. It takes a gifted actor with a personal relationship with despair to pull that off.

My father phoned once to discuss a movie he'd seen. The main character was an airman for Armed Forces Radio, the scene Vietnam. The airman had encountered a number of troop trucks, all full of soldiers headed for battle. It wasn't the banter that got to him, or the expectant faces of the men. "The trucks starting up," he said. "I remember that sound. The trucks started up and they took us to the fighting. The main actor understands, too. You can see the dread in his eyes. A bunch of those kids are going to get killed and he knows it."

That was Good Morning, Vietnam. Robin Williams played Adrian Cronauer, an Air Force DJ.

Over the years he repeated that role in real life, entertaining troops all over the world. He was a man of varied interests, among them cycling. He was a friend of Lance Armstrong, and American road racing.

I don't know what it is like to be so discouraged, so distraught that suicide is the only viable option. I don't want to know. I've seen the aftermath of that decision and I don't much care for it. I've seen the other victims, how they struggle with the inexplicable hole in their hearts and their lives. How they try to answer the unanswerable, make sense of senselessness. It is a dark place full of dead ends.

Robin Williams's voice, intellect and talent are stilled. I can't make sense of it.

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