The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, February 25, 2008


O.K….(according to the Drudge report) so the Clinton campaign is apparently circulating photos of Obama in Somali garb. Considering that no campaign is going to spread information about their opponent with the intention of making said opponent look better, I wonder what the point was? To remind voters that he is black? To imply he is Muslim? Sigh. I hate politics…
I know that a lot of people think Hillary was faking her “moment” at the debate last week, the “I’m honored to be sitting on this stage…” thingie. I’m not one of them. Truth be told, I think it was one of the most genuine moments I’ve ever seen from her. I think that not only does she respect Obama, but he is, in almost every way, EXACTLY the man she thought she’d married. I mean, wouldn’t he be exactly what she’s attracted to? Intellect, ambition, vision, optimism, energy, etc? What in the hell is there that she WOULDN’T be attracted to? And that attraction is at the belly brain, base chakra stuff, and trumps the ambition chakras, which are higher up Maslow’s hierarchy. I never believed that there was genuine antipathy between them, any more than there is between most boxers, despite the fact that they beat the hell out of each other. Now, there IS real bad blood between Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier, because Frazier has no imagination, and took Ali’s box-office tweaking rantings to heart. Didn’t like being called a “gorilla.” Oops. But George Foreman, Ken Norton and others got the joke, didn’t take it personally, and love Ali. So…Obama and Clinton are heading for the same goal. I don’t believe she’s small-minded enough to dislike someone for wanting what she wants out of life.
By the way, I hardly consider my little “Body-Career-Relationship” rubric to be fool-proof. After all, George W. Bush would arguably be considered well balanced, and that hardly makes him exemplary. I consider his failures of the “Peter Principle” variety—he rose to his level of incompetence. This is where nepotism has problems. Without a father as strategically placed as W’s, he would have been on his own resources. Would he have gone to Yale? Speculated on oil? Been a governor? Etc. etc. The term “born on third base and thought he hit a triple” comes to mind.

Someone who starts with little, and builds a life, on the other hand, is exhibiting their own capacity, not the luck of the draw. This is why I always factor in a person’s origins, and the social context of their gender, race, etc., in their overall accomplishments.
The point is that if a person is balanced in all three, I feel they have a good foundation from which to build a reality map. (My guess? Born to a more modest family, Bush would be once divorced, middle-management, with a moderate weight problem related partially to alcohol.) Just my take on it. If a person is blown out in one area (two divorces and/or a string of failed relationships, serious weight issue, or bankrupted) that should raise an eyebrow. Two areas, and you should take what they say of the world with a serious grain of salt. Three areas? Wish them luck, and listen carefully to their opinions—and then do the opposite. Just kidding. No, I’m not.
So “No Country For Old Men” swept the Oscars. Cool. I’ve loved Joel and Ethan Coen since “Blood Simple.” “Simple” was just funny and sick. “Old Men” was killer, and the ending was about perfect. I remember the killer sitting in that woman’s house, trying to cut her a break, and the best he could do was flip a coin. I remember thinking that we were getting a peek into his psychology and cosmology. That this was a man so damaged that he saw everything in absolutely stark terms—black and white. It was the only way the world made sense to him. He literally COULDN’T do more for her than that. His entire world would cease to be “rational” if he did. The nature-nurture argument has a field day with people like this. I would bet that however he was born, he was also horribly abused, to the point that he had only the most tenuous connection with the rest of humanity. I felt genuine sorrow that he couldn’t offer her more than this.
Contrast this with the merry murderer “Dexter.” LOVE that show. He was born a monster (nature) and trained to be a contributing citizen (nurture) by a father who genuinely loved him. Oops! No, that’s not true. He underwent something early in life that turned him into a monster. So is it all nurture? Only if one assumes that NO ONE who went through a similar circumstance could come out unscathed. In general, most monsters in Hollywood are presumed to have been created by circumstance, evidence of Hollywood’s “Liberality” I suppose.
Eight work days away from being finished with “Shadow Valley.” Printing today. I can review a hundred pages of manuscript a day. Takes about four hours. And then about two hours to input the notes. I’ll count down as the work proceeds. My guess is that finishing this book will put me in a different head space than I have been in in my entire life. It’s tied into too many things, including my marriage, my move to Southern California, money issues, racial issues, chronic stress, and some other stuff. We’ll see.
The question of the day is: What major thresholds have you ever consciously approached in life, and how did it turn out?


Anonymous said...

I like Dexter too, but It also makes me very annoyed at CBS. During the show on Sunday it became obvious that they are teasing those of us who don't have Showtime because that is where the show will continue in the fall.

Marty S

Mike Ralls said...

>What major thresholds have you ever consciously approached in life, and how did it turn out?<

Well, most of them I approach consciously, I think. I mean, I remember thinking when I was leaving for college that a new phase of my life was beginning, ditto with moving to Japan, and huge ditto with getting married. All turned out great, so far.