May 20th, 2004

pod

I want more

I'm scared and embarassed, not unusual emotions for me. I just graduated from college, I have my Diploma now, I did well, didn't cheat, have regrets but frankly if you don't have regrets then you aren't setting your sights high enough.

But I'm scared. Because I'm embarking on something that might actually be meaningful. This last semester it was really driven home to me. I didn't care how I did in any of my non-creative classes. I mean I cared in that I wanted to do well and get Phi Beta Kappa and other superego stuff, and I also enjoyed the actual process of being in class and learning or discussing materla. I didn't, however, care in the "This is a measure of who I am" way. I don't imagine I'll ever care about grades like that again, but I care about writing and filmmaking and other forms of art in that way. They matter to me in a way that a 25 page paper on the contradictions of American reproductive policy just plain doesn't.

So I'm scared. Because maybe I'm not cut out for this. Maybe I'm not going to be the best and the brightest, and then what do I have? Being told you're special gets under your skin. You end up needing it to get along because tied into the "you're special" rhetoric is the idea that being average is...well...bad. At least for you. You've got so much potential.

There's an easy way out of course. Go from elite college to elite graduate school or lawschool back to elite college or on to elite lawfirm. Let them funnel you upwards and start relying on high income to make you special. As long as you've got the Range Rover and the double D girlfriend you're still a somebody, right?

It's tempting. I think I could do it, I really do. I could sublimate my deviant impulses and dive right in to one of those worlds and stay safe.

I'd be miserable though.

I saw "The Cooler" this morning. It was a film that I'd been meaning to see, I like William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin both quite a bit, and it seemed like an interesting story. It was, to a degree. I wouldn't call it a great film, it had a lot of flaws that I could pick apart for paragraphs, but I'm not going to because that's not important at the moment. What is important is the message the film attempts to beat you over the head with. Bernie, Macy's character, is a loser, capital L. That's really what he is. It's his job, it's his life, it's his persona. He's a reformed gambling addict with a son he never sees and not much reason to get up in the morning.

But his life isn't horrible. And he has hope. That's something that some critics have criticized about the movie, if Bernie is supposed to be such a big loser then why does he have a stable, improving life? The answer is because you're not a loser if you don't have anything to lose. He can't be desperate, he can't be homeless and hungry. He has to be comfortable on some level or the character doesn't work.

Anyway, the message of "The Cooler" is that you have to take gambles, but only when what you're gambling for is worth it. The film is set in Vegas and full of characters whose lives revolve or have revolved around casinos. Yet the secret truth of Vegas is that Casinos aren't venues for gambling, they are venues for making money. Suckers gamble, the house always comes out ahead.

The Cooler is about gambling when it counts and keeping your money when it doesn't. That's a good life lesson. Staying on the safe and narrow isn't always the solution, but if you go for broke all the time you will...well...go broke. It's picking your battles that makes the difference. That's why it's so interesting that the only card game the movie ever shows is Blackjack. Blackjack is a game of skill but not in how you take cards, that's really a formula more than anything else. It's how you bet that matters there. That's how you do battle with the odds.

As for the embarassmenet function, well it's embarassing to go right back to school. It's sort of an admission that I didn't get it right the first time AND an admission that I can't become a superb success in the real world without more seasoning. But that doesn't matter so much. Will there be issues? You're damned skippy there will. I'll bump into people who will ask me what I'm still doing there. I'll be in film classes with people who thought I was a senior and possibly with...well..that's a bridge that will be crossed or hopefully ignored if it presents itself.

But I gotta just say fuck that and make the effort I need to make to be happy. Because Bernie's story is of someone who finally returns to happiness in his 50's. He finds his opportunity for happiness and he grabs ahold the best he can. I'm young still. 22. I think I see my happiness and while it may not have pink nipples and a tattooed ass and it may not love me yet I think I need to at least think of doubling down and going for it.

There's the risk of failure, sure. There's the risk that I'll suck at it and never make anything of value. But there's also the chance of happiness. That's part of what makes it scary, because like Bernie I don't know how to be happy, at least not on a consistant basis.

I'm willing to learn though.

Hopefully.
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pod

Dumb and ugly

John Kerry is not a communist!

I don't say that as an endorsement of him. If he were a communist I might at least have some respect for the man. He'd be a red, sure, but he'd have a defineable comprehensible position. Instead it's virtually impossible to get a real read on what kind of president he'd be.

The right wingers are using this against Kerry very effectively, by essentially painting him with every negative brush they can think of. He's a hardcore leftist who votes the ACLU line more frequently than Ted Kennedy (Damn pro-liberty bastard!) AND he's an ardent flip-flopper who makes decisions based purely on what's politically expedient. He's dishonest about his military career because one of his purple hearts might be bogus (is this supposed to be a counterargument to the ACKNOWLEDGED fact that Bush took time off FROM THE NATIONAL GUARD IN WARTIME to work on a political campaign?)

So how is John Kerry responding? No seriously, that's not a rhetorical question. I can't figure it out.

I'm beginning to think that John Kerry might be trying to be Bill Clinton without the Charisma, which is sort of like being Manute Bol without the height, which is to say that there's not much point in it.

Clinton was something of a chameleon when it came to policy. Yes he did have some well-defined positions that helped drive his candidacy, but he was very good at reaching compromises that satisfied nobody and didn't achieve much of anything. Don't ask don't tell was a policy that makes absolutely no sense, and yet he made it seem like a victory for gay rights. "Congratulations you faggy bastards. You can now be in the military if you stay in the closet. This is different from before because now we won't OFFICIALLY be trying to root out your fudgepacked asses. Also you can wear a handbag in the field."

The thing is, Clinton was unique. He had incredibly charisma that comes along once every few generations. The kind that Kennedy had. Also it was an entirely different time, and Clinton faced different challenges.

Despite all that Clinton only won a plurality, not a majority. People forget that. And Perot syphoned off more Republican votes than Democratic. I think if Perot were running today he might actually stand a chance of winning, well if he hadn't blown his wad in the last two (I don't mean his financial wad, I mean his credibility wad.) Never before has one man gotten so far on big floppy ears and pie charts.

Anyway I am getting more and more pissed at Kerry as his campaign is basically in hibernation mode and he still REFUSES to stake out strong positions on any issues. Or even detailed positions. If he wants to be nuanced, fine, but then EXPLAIN that you pansy!

I know what people say. That Kerry has been a successful politican and knows more than the rest of us. But he was successful as a liberal senator from Massachusets. You can keep that job even if you're responsible for the drowning death of an innocent (as in not evil, not unworldly) young woman you were having an affair with, and that's a proven fact. As a presidential candidate he comes off as Dukakis without the substance. This is the guy we picked to take on Karl Rove and his team? It's not too late to enlist Kucinich. At least he'd be making some noise.

The longer this lasts the more I begin to suspect that this was all some Skull and Bones conspiracy to keep Bush in power. Enlist a democrat willing to throw the election so that George can stay in power. I wouldn't put it past those blue-blooded butt bandits (gay frat sex? Check.) If Kerry were subtly trying to throw the election to Bush how much more could he do?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Johnny K. is afraid to engage in Abu Ghraib because of his own war record and is secretly plotting strategery, as Rush would say. Maybe he has some brilliant plan to take down Bourgie Bushie.

Maybe my ass will turn into a purple haze and seduce me a Rockette.
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