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Dear Amanda: love letters from Seyfried

Roger Moore
The Orlando Sentinel (MCT)

Just from looking at her, anyone can guess the answer to this question. But ask it anyway, man. You're a professional!

Ms. Amanda Seyfried, star of "Mamma Mia!" and the new romantic tear-jerker "Dear John," have you ever gotten a "Dear Amanda" letter?

"Oh, nooo," Seyfried says. "Well, not yet."

She's young. Give her time.

Letters are very much on Seyfried's mind these days. "Dear John" is about a long-distance romance between an Army Ranger and a college girl he met over spring break, a love kindled by letter writing. And "Letters to Juliet," coming in May, is a lighter romance in which Seyfried plays a young woman who discovers a "letter to Juliet" that lovers leave in the Verona courtyard where Shakespeare's characters are thought to have lived, and sets out to find its author. Seyfried is just 24, and these movies have her believing she and her generation missed out on something.

"I grew up after letter writing died out. I mean, I had pen pals growing up, but with e-mail and texts and everything else, who does that anymore? We're losing the personal touch, the effort, the thought process that goes into writing something to someone, not just blurting it out in a text. The actual piece of paper is something I miss, too.

"Sure, it takes longer for a letter to be written, mailed and get to you. But it keeps love alive, to be thinking about when the mail comes, waiting for that next letter from somebody you love. You live by it. We need so much immediacy and we're sacrificing something more personal, more intimate. We're so impatient and I think texting and all this technology that gives us instant access adds to our anxiety. I struggle with that myself."

One thing she isn't struggling with is her career. A former child model turned screen ingenue who made her film debut in "Mean Girls," Seyfried was pronounced a "charming discovery" by critics like Pete Hammond (Hollywood.com) when "Mamma Mia!" came out. But the girl had been prepping for that break-out. She sings in "Dear John" — no big surprise given her experience in musicals, including "Grease" on Broadway. The novelty is that she accompanies herself on guitar — and wrote the song herself.

"I've been playing for about six years. But that's something I do in my private life. Lasse (Hallstrom, the director) asked me to bring my guitar to the set one day, and I said 'No,' but I did it anyway ... And now I'm on the soundtrack!"

Seyfried (pronounced SIGH-frid) is on the critically acclaimed cable TV polygamy drama "Big Love." A film of Oscar Wilde's "A Woman of No Importance" is in her future. And her present? Maybe a little less time online and a little more with pen in hand.

"I did happen to have a boyfriend, not too long ago, who enjoyed writing me letters, because it is romantic and it makes you feel so special to get one.

"I just came across an old love letter from him just the other day, and I just melted. The familiar hand-writing, the envelope, remembering how I felt when I got it. An amazing experience, even though we haven't been together for a long time. But what're we going to do when there are no love letters? You can't save texts."

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
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Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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