I would have voted for you, John McCain

There was a time during primary season in the 2000 election, months before the Pretendsident hijacked everything, when–in my eyes, at least–you were the man.  You were tough but likable.  You were the guy that walked the fine line between conservative and progressive, and you did it with style.  You were strong and solid on the issues, but you were willing to listen and be swayed when people on the opposite side of the fence made sense.

Had the 2000 primary season gone another way, I would have voted for you.

I feel bad what happened to you after that election–how the Bush administration castrated you and beat you into submission.  And though I shook my head over the last few years at what a hollow shell of your former self you’d become, I was secretly heartened when you tossed your hat in the ring this time around.

Maybe, I thought, we’ll see a glimpse of the real John McCain for a change.  Now that he will, presumably, be out from under the thumb of the Bush regime, maybe he’ll reassert himself.  Maybe he’ll disavow and speak out against the politics of divisiveness, corruption, and hate that have gained a death-grip strangle hold on his party and our country.

Alas, I was to be sorely disappointed.

I don’t know what happened to you, John McCain.  What happened?  When did you go from the man to "the man"?

And when did you fall so far that the value of your word and your integrity was lost forever?  I thought they had gotten your body and your mind…but your soul, too?

Take a look at this memo from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, dated March 11, 2008 (courtesy of Time Magazine).  It pledges a "respectful campaign" from your camp, John.  One in line with the "highest standards" you have held yourself to throughout your life.  And finally, this…

"Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from
the big differences between John McCain’s vision for the future of our
nation and the Democrats’. This campaign is about John McCain: his
vision, leadership, experience, courage, service to his country and
ability to lead as commander in chief from day one."

Do your constant attacks on Barack Obama’s character since he’s become the presumptive Democratic nominee jibe with the commitment you made, Mr. McCain?  And is your wife guilty of a bald-faced lie when she said on the Today Show (on May 8): "What you’re going to see is a great debate.  Which is what the American Public deserves.  None of this negative stuff, though.  You won’t see it come out of our side at all."

If she wasn’t lying and you weren’t lying, then how do you explain this ad?

As if the comparison to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton wasn’t enough, you set the stage for the ad using (I believe) footage from Obama’s recent speech in Berlin accompanied by ominous chanting that made the event look like scene straight out of Triumph of Will.  There’s even a moment when you seem to have Obama mouthing the word "war".  So…in total, what you’re really implying is that Barack Obama is the irresponsible, reckless, and dumbed-down celebrity that Spears and Hilton embody AND Adolf Hitler to boot?

It’s too much, John McCain.  Too much.  You have gone too far.  Fallen too far.  Too low.  Shame on you and your smug countenance at the tail end of this disgrace of an ad.

I gotta tell you, I am an Obama man.  I believe in his message; I believe in his vision, which I think might actually deliver on a promise George Bush the first made years ago–of a "kinder, gentler nation."  One that is prepared and able to operate in the 21st Century world.

But even in 2008 there was a moment.  When I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.  When I thought that maybe the John McCain I was proud to support in 2000 would break through the crust.

I am sorry that didn’t happen.  Mostly, however, I am disappointed.  Deeply disappointed.

UPDATE — August 2, 2008, from Reuters:

"Republican John McCain‘s
presidential team mocked Democrat Barack Obama on Friday as an
overconfident, Messiah-like candidate with a tendency toward
exaggeration in a Web ad that closed out a week of attacks.

"The ad, e-mailed to supporters, refers to Obama as ‘The
One’ and uses rhetoric from some of Obama’s high-flying
speeches, making fun of quotes such as, ‘We are the ones we’ve
been waiting for,’ and ‘This was the moment when the rise of
the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.’

"’It shall be known that in 2008, the world shall be
blessed,’ the announcer intones. ‘They will call him: The One.’"

And the finale:

"McCain, at a news conference, smiled as he talked about the
new ad.

"’We were having some fun with our supporters,’ he said. ‘We’re going to display a sense of humor in this campaign.’

"He said he was running a ‘very respectful campaign.’

"’I don’t think our campaign is negative in the slightest,’
he said.

Really, John McCain?  Really?

What color is the sky in your world?

Dr. Jones and me

I was down at the New Amsterdam staring at this
yellow-haired girl
Mr. Jones strikes up a conversation with this black-haired flamenco dancer
She dances while his father plays guitar
She’s suddenly beautiful
We all want something beautiful
I wish I was beautiful
So come dance this silence down through the morning
Cut Maria! Show me some of them Spanish dances
Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones
Believe in me
Help me believe in anything
I want to be someone who believes

–Counting Crows

First, I need to tell you this: a friend of Robbye’s and mine invited us to a sneak preview of the new Indiana Jones movie yesterday.

Second, I need to assure you that there zero spoilers in this post.

Third, I need to tell you that what I am writing here should, in no uncertain terms, be construed as a review of the film.

And finally…Fourth, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I would suggest you click away to some other site, like this one (cuteoverload.com).  Spend a moment in your happy place.  For, regardless of my assurances, if you read on, I believe that the experience of watching the movie could be spoiled for you.

That’s the last thing I want.

Okay…is the coast clear?


‘Cause if you’re not gone by now, I’m not gonna listen to any "Bill ruined the Indy movie for me" nonsense.  Got it..?


For those of you left, I’m really not going to review the movie.  That’s not my place.  That’s for the likes of my friend, Colin, who covers that base quite superbly already.

This commentary, I would like to be clear, is a reaction–my reaction–to watching the movie.  And I think that there is a more-than-credible argument for why that is different animal.  I, for one, don’t care if you watch the movie.  I, for one, am not trying to sway you either way.  And I have no intention of supporting my position by discussing the relative merits (or lack thereof) of the movie in any great detail.

That said…anyone still here?

One…two…ah…three..?  Okay.

For now, all you need to know is this:

Did I like the movie?  No.

Was I disappointed in the movie?  Sorely.

Here’s why…  It had less to do with the kludging pace and lackluster energy; less to do with the absolute lack of focus, much less story; less to do with sub-par special effects and editing than it did with the absolute lack of creativity demonstrated over the course of the 2 hours and 4 minutes of my life I will never get back.

Okay…whew!  I can’t believe I just said all of that.  Because I gotta tell ya, being more or less a newly minted professional screenwriter, I feel like putting an opinion like that out on these Internets for the whole world to see is, like, a possible career-limiting move.  Like the title of this post should, more appropriately, be How to Ruin a Screenwriting Career in 1400 Words.

I am, however, trusting the movie gods.  That they are just and forgiving.  And that they will, somehow, appreciate my humble words.

Because I am not here to trash the gods.  I am, actually, here to honor them.

But they need to know this…

Guys!  10 years..?  10…years?  And that’s the best story you could come up with?  That’s the best you could do?  That hackneyed, bumbling affair?

I don’t know what to say.  I mean, for Pete’s sake!  You’re Steven Spielberg and George Lucas!  And no offense to David Koepp, either, but…crap!  If I had handed in a draft that rough, it would’ve been soundly and utterly rejected.  Overall, I’ve seen better and more compelling storytelling from babes stumbling around in the proverbial woods.

I don’t get it.  If I was them, I don’t know if I’d be able to sleep at night.

Good, bad, or indifferent, it doesn’t matter.  Paramount and Lucasfilm and the other stakeholders will all be fine in the end.  Per a story in Reuters today: "Even critics underwhelmed by the latest Indiana Jones venture conceded that it would make little difference in terms of box office, which they predicted would be strong."

And therein lies the problem.  Not that I begrudge Paramount and Lucasfilm and the other stakeholders making money off the movie.  God, no!  Quite the opposite.  And I pray with all my might that I do the same someday soon.  The problem is embodied in a specific word in the Reuters article: venture.  Not ADventure…just plain venture.

I feel like Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas lost their connection to the innovation, emotional center, and kinetic excitement that inspired people to gladly lay their money down time after time and place them atop Mount Olympus in the first place.  It seems that it’s no longer about the music.  It’s no longer even about the show.  It’s about the venture–ergo, the transaction.

Well, don’t worry, Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas, we’ll show up again.  We’ll lay our money down again for a few more moments with Indiana Jones, even if they are ultimately disappointing and unfulfilling.  We’ll do so based on past merit alone–of past movies (even though many of them, quite frankly, faired no better than this one) and, of course, of yours.

We will climb in bed with you one last time and go through the motions because of our longstanding relationship.  Because of our history.  We’ll know, however, that you’re really not present anymore and that the whole affair is a hollow and empty version of what was.  We’ll know we’re clinging onto thin air.  And because we love you, we’ll do it, even though you’ve abused our trust.  Because, quite honestly, we pity you, so we just sigh and tell ourselves it’s okay if your better days are behind you.  Whaddya gonna do?

In the same Reuters article quoted above, Harrison Ford asserts that he won’t read reviews for this movie because, he says, "it’s for the people who pay to get in, and whether they are getting satisfaction for their dollars spent."  If that is truly your assertion, Mr. Ford (because your very active involvement in this movie from its inception would indicate the contrary), would you please do us all a favor and tap Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas on the shoulder and clue them in, too?

Alright, enough grousing.  I mean, if I was Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas, I’d be ready to throttle me by now and screaming, "We get it!  But what do you want us to do about it!?!"

I think I have a very simple solution: stop trusting the opinions of the people immediately surrounding you.

Let me explain…  Though I am certain the people immediately around you are great and talented people, I am assuming that they are either a.) your employees, or b.) people who want to impress you.  That, and you guys are Steven-fucking-Spielberg and George-fucking-Lucas!  Who is going to disagree with you, regardless of how lame your ideas may be?  Gentlemen, I have lived in Corporate America; I know how the dance goes.  No matter how much you preach "open door" and "okay to dissent", no one’s gonna do it.

It is, by the way, not their fault, either.  It’s the way things are.  I gotta tell ya, if I had to stand in front of either of you and deliver a critique of your work, I would be shaking in my boots.  I’m not sure I’d be up for it.  In fact, I am shaking in my boots simply for posting this commentary!  For the possible backlash it might have on my own career.

You have to find some other way to test your ideas because the current way is clearly not working.

My suggestion?  Listen to dissenting critics because they’ve got it pegged pretty well, I think.  And more important, listen to your fans–the ones who have been there with you all along.  We’ll guide you through.

Because we believed in you.  We trusted you.  The two of you are almost entirely responsible for creating the most important–screw icons!–idols of my generation and the next.  For heaven’s sake, "Jedi" or "Jedi Knight" was identified as the 4th largest religion in England’s and Wales’s 2001 census, beating out Judaism and Buddhism!  Me thinks that says it all.

Just so you know, we’re not going anywhere.  Again…no need to worry.  So fuck the venture and return to the adventure.  Go back to the basics of the game.  Have fun again, and let us have fun with you.  Get back in touch with us…us!  We miss you, and our taste and our opinion, after all, paved your way to the top of the mountain.  …Right?

Trust us.

That’s all we ask.

Because our belief in you inspired many of us to believe in ourselves once upon a time.

And we want to believe.  …Again.

We need it, in fact.  Now more than ever.  Please don’t let us down.

If I may direct your attention to the right side of your screen…


You’ll need to start by scrolling down a bit. Yes…yes… Stop!

See it?

I am finally shouting from the virtual rooftop what I should
have shouted out weeks, if not months, ago.



He has my support. He
has my vote. He has my hands as he
strives to help heal our country and then realize the America all of us have the secret
audacity to hope for, but rarely give that hope the voice it deserves.

Not that it matters greatly, I suppose, whether I announce
my support for him or not. I’m just one
guy—not even really a blip on the RADAR screen of the blogsphere, much less the
world. One thing that Obama’s campaign
has done, however, is to take me back to my junior high days in Mr. Clough’s
Social Studies class when the guy from the filmstrip assured us that every vote
counted. That everyone’s voice mattered
in a democracy.

Every voting cycle I cast my ballot. It has, however, been over a decade since I
have done so and felt either a.) like my vote really mattered, or b.) like I
was voting for someone who truly had an interest (much less the ability) in giving our country the simultaneous TLC and tough love for which it
desperately cries. For over a decade, as
I stepped from the polling station, I’ve crumpled up my “I voted” sticker and 86-ed it with a cynical huff.

I believe that this year will be different.

Today, former candidate John
Edwards said, per a Reuters story by John Whitesides, “What he brings to the
table is the capacity, number one, to unite the Democratic Party. Number two, to bring in new voters, to bring
in people who haven’t been involved in the process over a long time and to get
people excited about this change."

I think you nailed it, Mr.
Edwards. Yet, I would also add that he’s
also brought people who HAVE been involved, but in whom the light of hope is
all but extinguished, back into the process, as well. Because we finally have someone to crow
about. Someone we don’t feel bad or slimey
about when we invest our time and money and trust. Some who, for once, is not merely the lesser
of two evils.

Not that I believe any one person represents the magic
bullet or that Nirvana is just around the bend. I believe, however, that Obama’s vision and
integrity and passion—and his audacity to hope—will (to borrow a quote from
Zach on the night Robbye and I announced our engagement to the kids) “revive this
bleeding dog of a family.”

If you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of
endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the
time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on
the debt we owe past and future generations, then I’m ready to take up the
cause, and march with you, and work with you.
– Barack Obama, February 10, 2007

You go, Obama. I, for
one, am beside you all the way.