Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Vol. 2 - Random Unconnected Thoughts: Eight Men Out, Slinging Crack Rock, and Herb/Dorothy

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I stumbled upon an old episode of Ken Burns' baseball documentary while flipping the channels. He was talking bout the tail end of the Black Sox scandal. That's when I started talking about Eight Men Out. When Nicky heard that John Sayles directed the film, she was interested in checking it out. Voila! The magic of Netflix on an iPad. Within ninety seconds, we settled into the couch and watched the entire film.

During "Eight Men Out", a film that was shot in 1988, we kept joking how young that Charlie Sheen and John Cusak both looked. "Cusak had his real hair then," I observed. "And Charlie was still a few years away from his 'hookers and blow' addiction."

I also broke down John Sayles' career into this simple statement: Sayles makes movies about "men grappling with decisions" and the consequences they suffer, real or imagined, by their ability or inability to make that decision.

I had fun watching the Super Bowl. It could be its own post, but I've worn myself out writing about the exhausting topic of sports betting. In short -- most of my bets lost and I wipe out any profits I made in 2011. I will survive. I shall get my roll back up in time for March Madness, otherwise I'll have to borrow some from my poker bankroll, which barely gets used these days anyway.

I think that I scared Nicky when I explained how trading commodity futures worked. She was amazed that you can buy a futures contract for only a small percentage of the actual contract. Now she knows why I don't waste my time with online poker anymore and why I get up at 5am to check my open positions.

On Monday night, after a long day of editing, I settled in with a stiff drink and watched Boiler Room for like the thousandth time. I got a DVD for just $2.99 on Amazon,which included Prime Shipping. Boiler Room resembled how Wall Street operated more so than both of Oliver Stone's Wall Street movies. Yes, it's all just a bunch of schemes -- Ponzi, Buy the Dip, Pump & Dump. I went along for the ride...twice. I get a pass for the first time that I worked on Wall Street because I was young, broke, and didn't know any better. But the second time around, I knew exactly what I was getting into, which is why I went back. I just didn't know to the degree of moral hazard happening on the other floors of our building. Lucky for me, I couldn't hack it and got my walking papers before things really blew up.

I watched a slew of documentaries over the weekend that might get me on a watch list. I won't publicly state some of the titles (no worries, they were not 9/11 conspiracy films -- that was sooooo 2005-06), but let's just say that some of the documentary films about banking, global finance, money as debt, and the 2008 financial crisis are all amazing resources. Like most of the information you access from the web, you have to sift out the fact from fiction, or fact from disinformation.

If you're a bit embarrassed about your lack of knowledge on finance or how the financial world really works -- don't be! That's the entire point of the powers to be -- to intimidate you, to make you look stupid, and use big words and vague definitions in order to confuse you, and then dupe you and take all of your money! In a few months, you can catch up to the curve if you educate yourself. Definitely take a peek at some of the stuff we post on Tao of Fear. But, Netflix, YouTube, and other sites definitely uploaded plenty of amazing films that break down complex financial definitions into simpler terms. Shoot me an email if you'd like to watch some of these docs. It's in your best interest to know what exactly is going on behind closed doors at the Federal Reserve and in boardrooms for the brokerage houses on Wall Street.

On a positive note, I've been devouring documentaries about art, art movements, artists, and art critics. Thanks to Woylinski who recommended Herb and Dorothy, a wonderful couple who worked as civil servants in the 1960s. Herb was a postal worker, and Dorothy was a librarian. They lived off her salary and bought art with Herb's. They couldn't afford higher-ticket items, so they had to settle on collecting pieces from living artists, many of whom, they developed close-knit relationship over the years. In four plus decades, they amassed an art collection worth millions, but they refused to sell the art for profit, instead they donated their collection to the National Art Gallery in Washington, DC.

Viewing paintings triggers something in the creative lobes of my brain. I usually write better after letting different works and artists soak into my brain. Maybe it's total bullshit and there's no correlation, but I think I write better after looking at paintings, so I'm gonna keep doing it before I have to work on a major project. Alas, time to go because I have a novel to edit and fucked around here for too long.

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