November 20, 2008
A newish day

So, my guy won.

On the night of the election we went to the same bar we'd been in four years previously when we got the news. It was like returning to the spot where you'd once been attacked by a bully; you're going back just to make sure you've dispelled the bad vibes.

I was surprised how quickly it all went down three Tuesdays ago. After all the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth, after the thousand-year campaign, the humbling phone-bank experiences... it was over just like that. I'd been primed for a long night - if not months of litigation and finally the Supreme Court giving it to McCain to save us all from a Constitutional Crisis.

I was still studying the precious electoral map trying to sort out the possibilities when the networks started to call it - and then McCain gave his concession, and then the place, as they say, went wild.

We did too. Total elation. I remember being happy to be alive on Jan 1, 2000, and that fantastic feeling of having cheered along with the entire world - but Nov 4, 2008 beats that.

I won't have many elections where my candidate is not just the least bad, but someone I REALLY like - someone smart, someone who talks like an adult, someone who - allow me to be sincere for a moment - makes me want to be a better citizen. That makes the elation all the better.

Oh, and by the way, we watched the first African-American get elected President of the United States. I'm so glad I lived to see it.

All in all, a good day to be an American. And consider me unpatriotic for saying so if you have to, but there have been many, many days in the last 8 years when I could not have said that.

But even at the height of my excitement, I don't think this means that the country has come to its senses, that we've realized our errors and will no longer be guided by the smallest part of our minds. I'm happy, but I know a part of this win just has to do with people's boredom. They are tired of the same show and they wanted something else to entertain them. The pendulum swung back the other way.

Yes, we did the right thing this time - but look how bad it had to get before we did.

And I know that it will only be a matter of time before the war, the economy - all of it - will not only be Obama's fault, but it will have ALWAYS been his fault. And just like that, they'll draw their Orwellian curtain down on reality once again.

Posted by Chris at 4:19 PM
November 4, 2008
Not a good soldier for democracy

More phone-banking for Obama happened. Let me say this, and it is not a point of pride - I don't do well as a cog in a very large machine. I am not the man you want in a volume operation like phone-banking.

I need context, I need answers; especially when it is a distasteful task such as calling people at home to speak on a personal matter. And the low-level Obama volunteers, who I will call Obamateers, were usually not prepared to provide context and answers.

They were hell on enthusiasm, they had that covered, but what they did not understand or care about was that I was terrified to give people incorrect polling information. What if I left a message for someone directing them to the wrong place? I'll be honest - I think the chances are high that I probably did.

(I believe if you will think about the relative chaos that has accompanied this national election - because after all, we're only #1 AMERICA U.S.A. YEAH!, so why would we be able to do a thing like hold an election with standardized rules in a way that maximizes participation - you might realize that it would be easy to give someone incorrect info. Well, I am sure I did.)

But what the Obamateers wanted from us was just pure volume. They wanted a LOT of calls. They wanted quantity, not quality. I have to have faith that this comes from hard-won election wisdom. But as the caller, I do not feel so hot about it.

The directive of my life is basically DO NOT OFFEND. My entire world sometimes seems like a vast social minefield. So calling people at home and even being called by them presents a tall personal challenge to me. How best to do it without offending?

Here's a comic strip I made starring Mazinga:

Anyway, it's 4:30 PM PST on Election Day - and I'd just like to record that for right now at this moment, there is hope and excitement, tinged with no small measure of anxiety. It's been a long time coming. It's nice to be this close to the end of such a long campaign. It will be nicer still if tomorrow I can regain a bit of confidence.

Some films that were viewed by me:

Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Lovely and well-acted and moving in a way that makes one cherish their life. I would, however, recommend this movie about the enduring spirit of a man who's lost all movement due to a stroke for a very certain mood that you might be in - personally, I mis-programmed it for a Friday night.

Toy Story 2. I imagine that the Pixar folk had so many ideas left over from Toy Story that this sequel was inevitable. The Toy movies aren't my ultimate favorite Pixars, but they are a grand double feature.

What Just Happened? Ugh. Unfortunately boring. Choose any other movie about the challenges and insanity of producing a big Hollywood production. I was never interested in any of our lead's problems in this film, and even the novelty real-life casting didn't make it work.

Talk to Me. Maybe Don Cheadle's best movie so far. I had things to do when this came on and meant to walk away several times - but ended up watching the whole thing. What's the state of the dream, Rev?!?

The Changeling. Not Clint Eastwood working at his Unforgiven or Million Dollar Baby best, but there's strong stuff here in this story of a woman put through almost as much misery as she could be in 1928 LA. Hard to believe this was the way things worked once upon a time.

Rachel Getting Married. You know I'm a fan of these one-house ensemble movies, and I'd recommend this one to anyone. Smart dialogue, beautiful, damaged people. You will feel as if you have been a guest at this family's affair, and you will want to be with your family afterwards.

Posted by Chris at 9:28 AM