It's true... I may not get to be best friends with Al Franken

I wish I was wrong about that. Actually, I hope I’m wrong about that. But I have to be realistic...

...and I’m probably right.

Several months ago I was reading an interview with Penn Jillette… that taller, talkative half of the duo Penn & Teller. He said two interesting things during this interview.

Allow me a side note first… as a would-be, have finished one complete rough draft with NaNoWriMo, but have never been published novelist, I have a special story that I have been working on. About halfway to two-thirds through that story, there are two characters that I have already decided would be perfectly played by Penn & Teller. I hope that within the next five years, I can appear on all the television and radio talk shows and tell you how fortunate I was when the powers that be fulfilled that one request of mine and got these two talented performers to agree to be in the movie version of my best-selling novel.

Ok, back to the two interesting things…

The first interesting thing attributed to Penn involved alcohol. Apparently, he doesn’t care for it. He begrudgingly accepts it as an evil of the business he is in. But, if he were to join you for a casual dinner and alcohol was being consumed, he would likely leave.

Now, understand that I consider Penn to be one of the few unexpected geniuses in the world today. I don’t claim that he is a genius. I don’t claim that he isn’t. I say this intending the term to mean that he is a smart, incredibly well-spoken individual, and if given the time you would respect him even more by listening to his views… regardless of whether those views agreed with your own personal opinions or not. I firmly believe you could have a civilized, tremendous conversation with him on an amazingly diverse set of topics, and he would consistently surprise you with his candor, his humor, and his intelligence. An unexpected genius. In the entertainment industry the only other person fitting this definition that comes readily to my mind is the late Frank Zappa. I had the pleasure of hearing Zappa speak at Syracuse University about fifteen years ago or so. Wow. Tremendous evening.

So, back to the alcohol comment…

I don’t mind drinking. In fact, occasionally I have been known to spend some time in front of a blender myself. Make no mistake though… I have no problem with drinking, but drunking is another matter entirely. I don't drink to get drunk. Long story, no long explanation right now. Enough to say here I don’t really drink for the alcohol. I drink for mudslide mix blended with vanilla ice cream, a shot of Chambord, and an Oreo cookie with whipped cream on top. Maybe a cherry too, but I don't think I have any of those in the refrigerator right now.

As I read that comment from Penn, I filed it away… when you get to have have dinner with him, don’t order a drink…. don’t order a drink… don’t order a drink…

I actually started questioning alot of things for this web site a few months ago. I had just finished reading Al Franken’s book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. I was trying to prepare a review of the book, was working on my own political views, and was failing because I’ve never really considered myself a Republican or a Democrat. So when I finally finished the review, I basically found myself questioning my beliefs at all levels of politics. Beliefs which had seemed fairly clear when I wrote the essay “Please Mr. Gore, don’t do me any favors” almost four years ago.

Was I wrong about Al Gore? What would I have done if I had been that close to winning the election?

I didn’t know what I'd do.

I needed someone to talk to.

I wanted to talk to Al.

But the reality is I may never get to speak with Al Franken. I don’t have his cell phone number, can’t automatically get an e-mail to him, and can only hope a letter eventually finds its way to his hands and that he is willing to speak with me. And even then… I don’t know that this smart, very funny man will end up being a friend.

I can only hope.

Which brings us to my Playboy essay, and finally... (Did you forget?) the second interesting thing Penn said. I eventually came to the conclusion that I couldn’t focus my writing on any general target audience. I was being silly not writing certain articles or making certain comments because I might want to try to get something published or have a chance to speak with someone that could find those words offensive. Heck, just look at President George Bush and his White House staff waving pay stubs and dental records at the Democrats, paperwork that is thirty years old, to show he was in the National Guard. You can see what I mean about things coming back to haunt you.

If my children’s story doesn’t sell because Hugh Hefner eventually publishes one of my essays, I might have to learn to cope with that. If Al Franken won’t meet with me because after careful thought I decide I’m ok with what I said about Al Gore, I suppose I’m ok with that too.

And what Penn Jillette said as a second item in that interview, while I was thinking about drink orders… but I did include this thought in the Playboy essay… was that realistically, you only need to reach 1% of America to be a glorious success. Three hundred million people. If one percent… three million people... decide to buy my book then it has a chance to be a true success.

I can’t believe I agreed with Spike Lee, because while I respect him, I almost never agree with anything he says. At least not completely. But after the Super Bowl he noted, and I’m paraphrasing, about what a shame it was that shock value, or doing something extra that had nothing to do with talent or the performance, had become so important in entertainment today. It didn’t matter anymore if you could sing, dance or entertain… the important thing is how many people you could get to talk about you and how long you could keep them talking.

I hope someday to meet Al Franken. Maybe interview him for my site. Maybe exchange e-mails or phone calls with him on a regular basis. I hope someday to meet Penn & Teller for longer than a few seconds after one of their shows. Maybe interview them for my site. Maybe exchange e-mails or phone calls with them on a regular basis. But...

More realistically, I have been working on this web site for almost a year now. I’ve been happy with the results so far. But I want to improve on what has been accomplished, and in order to do so, I believe I need to make a few changes. It may not be too noticeable in the end. But it will require some modifications, some growth on my part. I simply can’t worry about who I’ll meet and when though… truth is I can be successful without the celebrities or by publishing everything I write. However, I won’t be successful any time soon if I remain concerned about pleasing everyone.


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