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March 19, 2000

Julia Roberts is so perfectly cast in Erin Brockovich that it's hard to imagine another actress in the part. No other movie star is so charismatic, so capable of taking over the screen so that you see everything that happens through her eyes. And the character is the same, an earthy, dynamic person who changes people's lives by the force of her intelligence, will and personality. This is someone you root for, someone you would follow wherever she goes, in the same sense that Julia Roberts makes any film she's in more interesting because it's so easy to lose yourself in her world.

The wind that blew through Sonoma County today was not the gentle spring breeze that ruffles the leaves. It was the gusty wind that propels whole branches violently back and forth and hunches you over if you dare to walk against it. It also gets in your brain and makes you a little crazy. It's like a drug that intensifies your reactions and sharpens your senses.

I saw drivers on the road today with that look of rage on their faces, for no other reason than that nature was throwing down against them. You get a few frenzied folk out on the highway, and you see cars swerving in and out of traffic, with impatient drivers growling and snarling and snapping at each other.

On a windy day, things seem more out of control than usual. If you allow yourself time to reflect, it makes you appreciate the delicate balance it takes to maintain social order when chaos is so obviously the norm. We could be one raving maniac away from going all Lord of the Flies. It seems like a real possibility on a day like this.

Even with the wind, the weather this weekend was just too good. I should have spent some time working, making up some of the time I lost during the week. I still have plenty of catching up to do after finishing the Big Project, and a few more of those gray, drizzly days might be what I need to get focused again. When I'm not tempted to go out and play, my pulse slows and my concentration on the task at hand gets better. I'm just going to have to work a little harder at working a little harder.

If it sounds as if I'm asking for a return to winter, I'm not. I'll find a way to deal with warm, sunny days and still get payroll and cost reports and check records and accounts payable and the bank statement reconciliation and that pile of correspondence all done. I just get the shivers whenever another Monday morning looms and I've spent the weekend not preparing for it. But since I seem to spend all my time catching up anyway, another day of digging out from under shouldn't matter.

After checking the roster, there was only one movie I really wanted to see this weekend. Sometimes I'm attracted by the story (The Cider House Rules, Boys Don't Cry). Sometimes a little quirky notoriety will catch my attention (Being John Malkovich, American Beauty). I go to foreign films whenever I can, and I'm always up for the re-release of a classic.

But there aren't many actors that will compel me into the theater. Tom Hanks is one, and Julia Roberts is another. Since I saw the Erin Brockovich trailer the first time, I've known I'd have to see this film. And the energy and honesty the actress brought to the part justified my decision. Not to mention that huge face and all those fabulous teeth.

It's not that she's the best actress in Hollywood. She doesn't lose herself in a role, as Meryl Streep does. Rather she takes over the role, and the whole landscape of the film. She's more like Katharine Hepburn in the way her persona is so riveting that you can't take your eyes off her. She's like Sally Field in the intensity and integrity she brings to this performance in particular. But she doesn't have to be like anyone, because she has the magic within her, and the screen positively vibrates with it.

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