SOMETIMES IT'S GOOD TO HAVE CROSSED THE THRESHOLD; to be on the inside when the sign on the door says, “Sold Out.” It means you’re in, your place at the table is secure, you have a seat for the show—a show that is worthy of being sold out.

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What it is like to assume there would be room left, a ticket still available? You’ve looked forward to it, you got all dressed up, all psyched up, only to arrive, to come face to face with the “SOLD OUT” sign. You can see the others in the room. They made it. They signed up early. But you’re out: disqualified.

I am sure I’m too stupid to understand something as complex as immigration policy. Add to my stupidity the fact that I don’t  care much about economic theory. I'm intensely skeptical of the statistics regurgitated by ruminants, politicians and pundits regarding increased crime within immigrant populations. Even a hint of attitude of racial superiority makes my old, wrinkly, white flesh crawl.

I have always found anecdotes more persuaisive than analysis. I get that many people love the charts, the graphs, the conclusions drawn from some suspect concept of historical perspective, but I am persuaded when I hear a brilliant, eloquent law student from the Congo tell his story about how he gained access to the USA just days before new, heightened immigration policies, enforcements and theories, while his equally brilliant wife, whom he met in a refugee camp in Malawi, was not so lucky. Her paperwork wasn’t processed until a few days after the changing of the guard. He’s on one side of the door, she on the other.

Don’t try to explain it to me. I’m too stupid to see it all as anything but stupid.

Speaking of “selling out”, can we think about Faustian Bargains* for a moment. In my naive, stupid, liberal mind and soul, that is a threshold too costly to cross, but we do it? Why?! Why does that have to be a part of our human story?

Would you believe me if I said I’m not trying to be political, just human? But, I guess it inevitably has to be about politics. If so, here’s a viewpoint on one thorny issue of the current immigration debate which even I can grasp:

"We should have a better understanding and better relationship than we've ever had. Rather than talking about putting up a fence. Why don't we work out some recognition of our mutual problems?” —Ronald Reagan speaking of Mexico as "our neighbor to the south." Houston, TX, 1980.

*Faustian bargain, a pact whereby a person trades something of supreme moral or spiritual importance, such as personal values or the soul, for some worldly or material benefit, such as knowledge, power, or riches. The term refers to the legend of Faust (or Faustus, or Doctor Faustus), a character in German folklore and literature, who agrees to surrender his soul to an evil spirit (in some treatments, Mephistopheles, or Mephisto, a representative of Satan) after a certain period of time in exchange for otherwise unattainable knowledge and magical powers that give him access to all the world’s pleasures. A Faustian bargain is made with a power that the bargainer recognizes as evil or amoral. Faustian bargains are by their nature tragic or self-defeating for the person who makes them, because what is surrendered is ultimately far more valuable than what is obtained, whether or not the bargainer appreciates that fact. —from Encyclopædia Britannica

To wrap things up on a lighter note—here’s my favorite rendering of the Faustian bargain.

O Brother Where Art Thou

O Brother Where Art Thou

POPS To Be The New Barbara Walters

BARBARA WALTERS WENT PUBLIC with her list of "Fascinating" people for 2013. I think she said there were ten but I could only remember nine. And actually, some were groups.

Miley Cyrus
The Royal Baby
Edward Snowden
Duck Dynasty cast less Phil. He was purported to be hunting.
Kanye West & Kim Kardashian
Robin Roberts
Pope Francis
Jennifer Lawrence
Hillary Clinton

No offense to Ms. Walters or those she found fascinating, but my list would be different with the possible exceptions of the Pope and the Royal Baby.

Barbara announced that this would be her last TV special about her fascinating people. That's a shame--she does a good interview and I like the intent.

Photo of Barbara Walters that is old enough I can hopefully post it without getting sued.

Photo of Barbara Walters that is old enough I can hopefully post it without getting sued.

So I am happy to announce that I will be stepping in to her pumps and developing the list of Fascinating People for 2014.

The whole thing will be a little different though. First, my list will be less populated with "famous" people because those types are unlikely to give me the time of day much less a sit down interview (and frankly, they're not always that fascinating). Also, at this time I don't have a commitment from a major (or minor) news medium to air the "special."

But, good news, I do have this little forum here at About POPS. That is one of the wonderful things about the WWW. It's provides such a wonderful way for anyone to have a say, sing a song, rant or rave, publish a book or a movie, etc.

I don't know at this point how many will be on the list. I'm not going to be limited to the Top 10 or Twelve or whatever. That kind of limitation puts you in the unnecessary position of having to ultimately choose one as more fascinating than another. Also if you have a certain number of spots to fill it puts you in the unfortunate situation, as Barbara found herself, of having to include brutally unfascinating people like Kim Kardashian and Kanye just to fill out the list.

That brings us to what seems to be the most daunting part of this challenge: identifying who is fascinating. I'm keeping the criteria broad at this point. I am definitely interested in your suggestions on whom I might consider. So keep your eyes and ears open for fascinating people. Oh and here's a hint: if by some chance, our paths should cross, act fascinating; you might just make the cut.