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2000-12-15 - 01:34:51

The Patriot

So I didn't really do much today.

Anything. I didn't really do anything today.

I set my alarm for 8:45 (just because) to get myself out of bed and go for a run in the early winter morning. Well, it's early for me. I've been slacking in that aspect of my life -- activity, physical exertion -- and I intend to pick up the pace.

But it didn't happen. I woke up at 8:45 with the alarm, and snoozed for an hour. That's seven eight-minute naps. I don't even remember the first few efforts; I think I seriously heard the alarm, woke up, reached over and set the snooze and returned to sleep all in one fluid, half-awake motion.

When I finally did rise to greet the day about 10 a.m., I came online to find some Christmas pictures to spruce up the letter going out with my cards this year, because I'd decided somewhere in between Snooze 6 and Snooze 7 that I was going to get those out today. But coming online meant that I would fall off track, and by 1 p.m. I was finishing up looking through Webshots, having left my room only to go to the bathroom, which took about 10 steps, round-trip. I love browsing photographs online. It's my number one hobby, and passion, or at least 1a after writing. Photography, that is, not getting sucked into the Internet. With both media, writing and photography, I enjoy looking at the work of others and finding inspiration in what they've done. I see a striking photograph and want to produce something similar. I read a moving piece and want to write something just as moving.

Just before 1 p.m., my friend Will called to thank me for the message I left him yesterday on his birthday. He's been working for movie production companies, and on Monday will begin scouting locations in New York City for a new Danny DeVito-directed movie with Robin Williams, Katherine Keener and Hank Azaria. There's one more person, but I cannot remember who.

So after that I make lunch and settle down in front of the TV to put together a photo album that I'm giving to one of my friends for Christmas (of a visit to see him in August out in Seattle), and to make a dent in those Christmas cards. I intend to do all this while watching The Patriot, a movie I'd been anxious to see all summer, but could not find the right friend to force to the theater.

All I got done was the photos in the album. No descriptions about them or anything, just in the album. During a two-hour, 40-minute movie.

But that was the problem. I was drawn into the film that I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. It was a powerful, moving work that captivated me. Many people I've talked to and many opinions I've read have not given the movie much praise. I, though, loved it. I'm not into period pieces, unless it is a period in American history. I'm not xenophobic, just proudly patriotic. So much so that during the scene where Mel Gibson's son, Gabriel, is in the small village church recruiting men for the South Carolina militia, I am surprised by the sudden lump in my throat and tears in my eyes when Gabriel and a girl in the congregation give their speeches, inspiring the men to stand and fight for liberty.

Who in America today can fathom what those men and women went through during the Revolution, what it was like to take a chance with their own lives and the lives of their families to fight against an empire for the responsibility of control of a new nation? I've been lucky in my lifetime to have no first-hand contact with war. I was born after Vietnam and watched the progression of the Gulf War as a freshman in high school. The Cold War was thawing out as I grew up in the 80s, and the biggest news on that front was when it ended.

I admire Robert Rodat for writing this movie, and Roland Emmerich for directing it. I had not thought this thoroughly about the Revolution since studying it in 7th grade.

I cannot gauge what Academy Awards The Patriot will be up for next year, but for me it's one of those movies that will not be defined by the accolades it received. It was an epic drama that captivated me and made me think. It also made me appreciate the lengths our ancestors went to in order to establish this republic, a thought welcome following the month-long haggling over the White House. When that ordeal ended with Al Gore's concession yesterday, the local New York news had one reporter quote a passerby as saying, "At least we got through this without tanks in the street." Or something to that effect.

And that's a good point. What a country this is, what a citizenry it has that we can go 36 extra days than intended to sort out the winner of the presidential election, and do so peacefully. No riots, not need for the National Guard. Thirty-six days and no protests out of hand, no deaths as the result of opposing sides clashing in the streets of Palm Beach. How many countries can go through what we just did so peacefully?

And so that is what I did with my day.

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