You know things are bad when the heroin addict thinks you’re a bad influence

I had four things I wanted to get done this weekend, and I managed to complete them all, though it was later on Sunday than I’d planned when I put the finishing touches on #3. First off, I wrote two book reviews: The Dinner by Herman Koch and The Redeemer by Jo Nesbø. Then I wrote a 600-word entry for NPR’s three-minute fiction contest. This is the one that gave me the most trouble. When I read the prompt, I had a story immediately, but it took me a while to execute it. I also find that, with flash fiction, I spend a lot longer in the revision phase. I probably went over that thing 20 times until it was ready to send in. The deadline was late last night, so I got it in under the wire.

I also had to do some “homework” for my publicist, which I handled this morning. I didn’t watch any of the Grammy Awards, but I did get done in time to watch The Walking Dead. I’m not terribly engaged by the show. Any one of the characters could die and I don’t think I’d mind. And Rick is going off the rails. Dude, chill out. Give people a chance. It sounded like Andrea was running for Governor, with her little pep talk. I gave up on the show once already and had a change of heart, but if it doesn’t improve I think I’m going to drop it again.

Here’s my prediction: Flight is now out on video and video on demand, but I doubt you’ll ever find it listed on in-flight entertainment. I could be wrong. After all, they did run Cast Away in planes, and it has a harrowing plane crash sequence. As it turns out, the movie has very little to do with the crash, which all but six people survive. That’s our introduction to Denzel Washington’s character, but he’s already well into his downward spiral by this point. He’s divorced and his son won’t talk to him, mainly because of his addictions. He’s the kind of guy who can party all night long and take a snort of coke the next morning to trim out the stabilizers. He’s a better pilot high than many are stone cold sober, presumably because he used to fly a crop duster when he was a kid. He’s not in denial, though. He aggressively chooses to drink. He tries to go straight for about two days, but falls off the wagon when he finds out he might be prosecuted for manslaughter. He takes in a recovering heroin addict (cuter than most drug addicts you see in crime shows) who he meets in the hospital after the crash, and the best indicator of how bad Washington’s character is doing is that she considers him a bad influence. His lawyer and a friend lock him up in a hotel room the night before he’s set to testify at the NTSB hearing (I would never have left him alone—a guard outside the door wasn’t enough of a precaution), but still he finds a way to make a bad situation worse. It’s the kind of harrowing scene where you almost don’t want to watch. You hope he’ll find some personal strength but are dead sure he won’t. John Goodman has a funny cameo as the drug dealer. He looks like he just got off a flight from Haight-Ashbury by way of Margaritaville. It’s a somber movie that has an “as good as possible given the circumstances” ending and a bravura performance by Washington.

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