Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books—-her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Oscar Predictions for February 24, 2019 Academy Awards

2019 Oscar Predictions

My Oscar Predictions for February 24, 2019, have to be put up early, so I can start the trek back to the Midwest for our Annual Oscar Party with friends.

Meanwhile, I’ve had 2 requests from wannabe bloggers to guest post.  I asked each of them to prepare a “Predicting the Oscars” piece by today. I have neither Oscar Prediction piece by deadline, so I will give you mine, just prior to our trip back to the frozen wasteland of Des Moines, Iowa, from Austin, Texas.

(Pictures from IMDB)

Viggo Mortensen and Linda Cardellini in Green Book (2018) Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book (2018) Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book (2018) Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book (2018) Peter Farrelly in Green Book (2018) Viggo Mortensen in Green Book (2018)

BEST PICTURE

I think the Best Picture will be “Green Book.”

The nominees are:“Black Panther”

“BlackKKlansman”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“The Favourite”

“Green Book”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

“Vice”

I have seen all of the nominated films and my top favorites would be “BlackKKlansman” and “Green Book,” with “Bohemian Rhapsody” in third place. I thought the hype for “Roma” and “A Star Is Born” (and, for a while, for “Black Panther”) was Big Studio money talking.  I am glad that it isn’t looking like big money will win out, this time.

As for “Vice,” as I said in my review on WeeklyWilson.com, it lacked focus. And “haters gonna’ hate” so the GOP members won’t like it much.

BEST ACTOR (MALE)

Joel Edgerton and Rami Malek in The Late Late Show with James Corden (2015) Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Joseph Mazzello and Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek, and Gwilym Lee in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, and Ben Hardy in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Rami Malek with Joel Edgerton on James Corden’s Talk Show;IMDB “Bohemian Rhapsody” shots.

I think Rami Malek will win.

For some reason that I cannot explain, neither the much-nominated Viggo Mortensen (3 nominations, including “Eastern Promises,” “Captain Fantastic” and this one) or Willem Dafoe (4 nominations for Oscars, but his first for the lead) ever prevail. Willem Dafoe’s previous Supporting Actor nominations were for “Platoon” in 1987; “Shadow of the Vampire” in 2001; “The Florida Project” in 2017; and this year for “At Eternity’s Gate.”)

I actually saw all four of Dafoe’s nominated films (and all 3 of Viggo’s) and can point to fantastic work with roles in  films like “To Live and Die in L.A.” (as the counterfeiter) to bolster my impression that they are reliable actors who always turn in good work. “The Florida Project” was a very low budget film where Dafoe played a landlord managing a run-down motel complex in Florida. It was an odd project, but so was this year’s “At Eternity’s Gate.” If you needed any further convincing that Willem Dafoe is a worthy nominee, think about the fact that he and the film’s director Julian Schnabel (“At Eternity’s Gate”) were responsible for all the knock-offs of Van Gogh paintings used in the film (about Van Gogh’s life). It was a truly unusual film; at various points, the screen would simply go black. [The director of “The Bell Jar,” Julian Schnabel, strikes again].

I can’t imagine why Viggo and Willem, with 7 Oscar nominations between them, are always the groomsmen and never the groom. I think Rami is going to beat out Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”), Willem, Viggo, and Christian Bale in “Vice” (even though Christian Bale took home one of the prestigious awards, saying, as he did so, that he looked to Satan for inspiration in playing Dick Cheney in the George W. Bush administration bio-pic helmed by Adam McKay).

BEST ACTRESS (FEMALE)

Image result for glenn close recent photos
Image result for glenn close recent photos
Glenn Close at the SAG Awards winning Best Actress.

Nominees are Yalitza Aparicio in “Roma;” Glenn Close in “The Wife;” Olivia Colman in “The Favourite;” Lady Gaga in “A Star Is Born;” and Melissa McCarthy in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

First of all, WHY would the Academy think it “fitting” to give such a prestigious award to an actress in her very first outing as a leading lady? That reference applies to Yalitza Aparicio, (who isn’t even an actress, usually), and Lady Gaga. Then we have “The Favourite,” in which Olivia Colman plays the Queen, and my own personal favorite, Melissa McCarthy in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” I truly enjoyed McCarthy’s dramatic turn, but Glenn Close has been nominated 7 times.

If there ever was a sure thing this year, Glenn Close is it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (MALE)

Image result for Mahershala Ali pictures
Image result for Mahershala Ali pictures
Mahershala Ali’s Oscar for Moonlight (IMDB).

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Adam Driver, “BlackKKlansman”

Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Mahershala Ali should nail this down for “The Green Book.” He’s already won almost all of the awards from other groups and he is doing some great work in “True Detective” on television right now. Again, I don’t know enough about the concerns of the family of the pianist whom Ali portrays to say that he is not represented properly onscreen, but even if “Green Book” is a work of semi-fiction, it was a heart-warming audience favorite in both Toronto and Chicago. It was the only film I took my husband to, after the Chicago International Film Festival was over, telling him I thought he’d probably want to take it in before Awards season began. The year prior (2017) that distinction went to “Three  Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and that turned out to be a dark horse late in the game.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, “Vice”

Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

I would like to see Amy Adams win, but I think Regina King will emerge victorious.

Why?

With 800 new members recently inducted into the Academy, many of them minorities or women, it is time.

 Amy Adams may join the ranks of Viggo and Willem as “Most Likely to Be the Bridesmaid but Never the Bride.” Amy has been nominated with great frequency (6 times), beginning in 2005 with “Junebug,” for Best Supporting Actress (the only nomination for her that I have not seen). She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress again, in 2008, for “Doubt,” and again in “The Fighter” in 2010 and again for “The Master” in 2013 and again in “American Hustle” in 2014 and now, this year, her sixth nomination for an Oscar. All but “American Hustle” were in the category she is nominated in this year, Best Supporting Actress.

The nomination of both actresses from “The Favourite” will split that vote. I honestly don’t think non-actresses in a black-and-white film chronicling Alfonso Cuaron’s childhood days in Mexico deserve to be nominated in their first outing. We watched it on Amazon; underwhelming. Lots of money spent promoting this one. Much ado about nothing, for me, but I wasn’t that keen on Cuaron’s “Birdman,” either. (“Gravity” was better.)

BEST DIRECTOR

Image result for Spike Lee pictures recent
Spike Lee, (IMDB image)

Spike Lee, “BlackKKlansman”

Pawel Pawilkowski, “Cold War”

Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Adam McKay, “Vice”

I keep being told  how much I should like the black-and-white “Roma.” I have not been a huge fan of Cuaron’s other films. I found the drumming in “Birdman” annoying, while others hailed it as brilliant.

You can pretty much eliminate Pawel Pawilkowski (which you’ll all have to see on television on Amazon or Netflix, probably, as I did “Roma”) and, while I did enjoy “The Lobster” by Yorgos Lanthimos” and thought his work on “The Favourite” was impressive, I think it is time for Spike Lee to win, don’t you? It’s been THIRTY YEARS, people, since “Do the Right Thing.” So, do the right thing.

If I were working with my students in class to help them “win” a predicting contest, this is one where I would tell them to “wheel the horses.” That is, fill out ballots with Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”) and Spike Lee as their Director picks. I think it is between those two men, and I, personally, think Spike really deserves it for his entire body of work and for this film, in particular. It was easily one of my very favorite films of the year and we all got to see Denzel’s son, John Davis Washington, break out.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)

“Cold War” (Poland)

“Never Look Away” (Germany)

“Roma” (Mexico)

“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Let Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” win for Best Foreign Language Film.

OTHER CATEGORIES

As for the other categories, I’m thinking that “Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse” has the best current “buzz,” but Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” may have the director’s name recognition on his side. (It premiered at SXSW last year).

I, personally, liked “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” enough to award it a best adapted screenplay award, but James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” adapted by Barry Jenkins might be difficult to beat.

For an original screenplay, many old-timers like the idea of giving it to Paul Schrader for “First Reformed,” after his long career of excellent work (“Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull.”) But there are other good original screenplays in this category, including “The Favourite” (Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara;) “Green Book” with Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Petr Farrelly, “Roma” with Alfonso Cuaron; and “Vice” with Adam McKay.

The latest word is that the Oscars will have NO host and that awards such as Cinematography and Editing will be given off-screen during the commercials. Not a fan of that idea. The other sure thing this night will be Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” (with Mark Ronson and Anthony Rossomando) will be Best Song. (The question mark, right now, is whether Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will duet on it onstage.)

QUESTIONS

Why were there only THREE nominations for Make-up and Hair? (“Border,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” and “Vice”). Why wasn’t “The Favourite” nominated, as well?

As far as acting nominations that were overlooked, Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”) and Lukas Hedges (“Boy Erased” and “Ben Is Back”) were robbed of rightful nominations. I also thought Charlize Theron (“Tully”) and Toni Collette (“Hereditary”) and Emily Blunt in “A Quiet Place” did work that was Oscar-worthy and should have potentially been nominated.

My own “don’t miss them” list for movies of this year, [for films that were entertaining and should have done better at awards time] would include “First Man” with Ryan Gosling; “The Front Runner” with Hugh Jackman; and “A Quiet Place,” with an acting nomination for Emily Blunt.

Will Hurd (R, TX) Speaks Out Against Trump’s Border Wall

Image result for Will Hurd pictures
Will Hurd (R,Tx)
Image from Wikipedia
Will Hurd, (R,TX) on “Face the Nation” on February 17, 2019 was asked about the looming show-down over President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to get funding for his border wall.
Q:  You have 800 miles of the border in your district?  How will the National Emergency Declaration affect your district?
Will Hurd: I’m the only Republican who represents a border town. I spent almost a decade chasing bad guys as an undercover guy (before serving in Congress). I don’t think we needed a National Emergency Declaration. This is a problem that has existed since before Ronald Reagan. What we need to be doing is using a combination of technology and other methods.
DEL RIO BORDER SECTION, EAGLE PASS
Will Hurd: “We just passed a declaration that adds new technology. I was just down in the Del Rio sector of the border in Eagle Pass, and I crossed the border into Mexico. There was unprecedented cooperation with the Mexican government. Most of the caravan members are from Central America. Nine-two percent of the people in the caravan are from Central America, especially Honduras.
Will Hurd: We need to address things like border patrol pay. There is a retention problem with border patrol agents. We need additional technology. We just passed something in Congress called the Innovative Tower Initiative, the Smart Wall, which uses technology to figure out what is going on.
Q: How does this concept of the wall and using eminent domain to take land to build Trump’s wall affect Private property in your district?
Will Hurd A; In the great state of Texas we care about a little thing called ownership of private property. Over 1,000 ranchers and farmers would be affected. The government gets to automatically take the land (using eminent domain) and the owner has to go into court to fight to make sure they are getting the bare minimum payment for their land. One. One million acres of arable land is being seized…It’s CRAZY! (with emphasis).
(Hurd sits on House Appropriations)
Will Hurd: “This national emergency declaration. You can’t spend $8 billion in the next 6 months. Can you take funds for military construction…how about in Del Rio, TX, which produces more pilots than anywhere, we’ve been working on fixing additional funds to stop the flooding that keeps us from training pilots. There is
already 654 miles of barrier.The president has already been authorize over 654 million and over 750 million by Home Security. Our government was not designed to exist by national emergency. Our government was designed for the power of the purse to reside in Congress. We shouldn’t have a president, whether Republican or Democratic, who tries to get around it. I would support something that prevents taking money out of military construction for this. They need to make sure that these people are property trained and properly armed. We’re almost in uncharted territory. This is one of the first times that there has been a disagreement It sets a dangerous precedent.
Q: You are saying that the U.S. doesn’t need this wall but will hurt national security?
Will Hurd: “If you’re taking $ away from the military, we just spent the last 4 years rebuilding the military. I don’t want to see that money being taken away from that. We went through a number of hearings and investigations for that money and that is how our government is supposed to operate. 67 billion of drugs are coming into our country and 400,000 people coming in illegally. We need to have operational security. We need manpower and technology. In some places a physical barrier makes sense; we already have 654 miles of fence or barrier.)
Will Hurd: We need a focus on technology, not just one tool (a wall).

 

Promotion of Volume 2 of “Obama’s Odyssey”: Today and Tomorrow

As usual whenever I plan a promotion, nothing is going “right.”

First, the website (ConnieCWilson.com) crashed, after I had pointed out to my computer assistant that there were several framed squares with nothing in them. She says it can’t be fixed until she can talk to GoDaddy. That will most likely not be before Tuesday.  The sale ends on Presidents’ Day, Monday, February 18th, for the paperback version. The e-book version is on sale only on Feb. 17, today (Sunday). So much for having a helpful buy button set up for the promotion on my author site. (Sigh).

Secondly, Kindle, for some reason I do not understand, said the price of the paperback could only be reduced to $7.17. Besides being just a really weird amount, I don’t understand why that is the case, but there you have it. It’s still a reduction of over 50%, but the original plan to reduce your cost to $4.95 (from $14.99) has also crashed and burned.

The only thing that remains the same in this promotion (as far as I can tell now at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning) is that the e-book is on SALE for ONE DAY ONLY, $1.99.

I beg you to post a review for one or both of the books in this promotion. This can be as simple as clicking on the number of stars for the book(s). Without reviews, none of us can survive.  It doesn’t have to be a huge promotion on your part; a click will do.

Thank you, and I apologize for the above things regarding the Presidents’ Day promotion, which are beyond my control.Pr

“Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. 2) ON SALE for $1.99 Tomorrow (2/17); Paperback $4.95 on 2/17 & 2/18

“Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. 2) (Convention to Inauguration) with 61 photographs from the field that have appeared nowhere else will be ON SALE in honor of Presidents’ Day, February 18th. The sale will commence on Feb. 17 (e-book) and continue through Feb. 18 for the paperback version. Both books are significantly reduced in price, from 66 and 2/3% for the paperback to -40% for the e-book. Prices will return to normal on Feb. 19th, as I return to my Texas lair and try to stop shaking my head at the comments being made in Munich, Germany and elsewhere by members of the current administration.

The e-book version of “Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. 2) will be on sale ONLY February 17th for $1.99. (Normally, it is $3 more). The paperback will be on sale for TWO DAYS, February 17 and February 18 for a 2/3 reduction, from $14.99 (normal price) to $4.95. 

This is me, missing President Obama while dealing with the rambling, incoherent announcement yesterday from the current occupant of the White House regarding his “national emergency.” (The “pronouncement” was so rambling and unfocused and unintelligible that CBS cut away from the unfocused rambling after 25 minutes.)

I’m here in Texas (Austin). While most Texas representatives have fallen in line behind DJT, here is the pronouncement from our representative Chip Roy (R) who said (and I quote):  “With this authoritarian power grab, Trump would divert resources from real security challenges elsewhere to his politically-contrived, on-crisis on the Rio Grande.  I am a sponsor of a privileged resolution to stop him.  If his routine Republican enablers refuse to join us in standing up for the Constitution, we will promptly seek judicial relief.  What we clearly don’t need is a multi-billion dollar waste in pursuit of his anti-immigrant hysteria.”

 

Bombshell Andrew McCabe “60 Minutes” Interview Runs (Feb. 17)

Andrew McCabe
Andrew McCabe official portrait.jpg
16th Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

(Wikipedia image)

Former Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe of the FBI, regarding a “Sixty Minutes” interview to be aired on February 17th: “I wrote memos about my interactions with President Trump for the same reason that Comey did: to have contemporaneous records of talks with a person who cannot be trusted.”

 McCabe called for an obstruction of justice investigation in advance of Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation. The violation of the president’s oath of office and his abuse of power, was under discussion by CNN talking heads at noon on Valentine’s Day. The concern level regarding Trump’s loyalty to the nation amongst career FBI officials was so high that they were discussing which Cabinet members might support a movement to remove the president from office using the 25th amendment, says McCabe. Legal experts within the department were approached more than once.

WEARING A WIRE

The fact that Rod Rosenstein was approached to wear a wire in conversations with the President is confirmed by Andrew McCabe. Andrew McCabe says he  did not consider Rosenstein’s proposal “joking around.” The top intelligence officials of the United States government, with resources above and beyond the average citizen, saw enough evidence of potential collusion with the Russians and enough wrongdoing on Trump’s part during the election that the very top officials (McCabe, Comey) were trying to right the ship of state and sound the alarm early in the game. (* Paul Revere:”One if by land and two if by sea moment…”)

NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR

The Mueller Investigation is nearing completion, but, with the confirmation of William Barr (which seems to be a foregone conclusion and is happening now in the halls of the Congress and Senate), will Barr attempt to hush up the Mueller findings to “protect” the president? Barr’s pre-hearing writings indicate that he would not move against a sitting president; it is clear that this is Barr’s chief virtue in Trump’s mind for selecting him, following temporary Acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker.

Matthew Whitaker
Matthew G. Whitaker official photo.jpg
Acting United States Attorney General
In office
November 7, 2018 – February 14, 2019

(Wikipedia image of Matthew Whittaker)

ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL MATTHEW WHITTAKER

Whittaker was unqualified for the job  and turned out to be a very uncooperative Senate testifier during recent hearings (with only 6 days remaining in his temporary term). Like so many Trump appointees, Whittaker got the job temporarily not because of what he knew, but because of who he knew. In this case, Whittaker was previous Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ sidekick, but had, himself, been accused of defrauding veterans while involved with an Iowa concern and served only a few years in the southern district of Iowa in a position that would even remotely qualify him for the top judicial spot in the nation. [But nevermind about calamitous Cabinet appointees or we will have to discuss Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education and the policy of poor picks will take over this piece.]

FROM TED DEUTCH of the JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

“What we ought to really focus on is that there  enough concern about the president’s actions and behavior that this even came up. We knew that the Republicans saw their role as defending the president above anything, above their duty to defend the Constitution. Now we know what they were defending from.”

The statement above from Representative Ted Deutch of the Judiciary Committee also included the response that he didn’t know that Bill Barr, (who appears to be headed towards confirmation as Attorney General), is now bringing his son-in-law along with him to the Attorney General’s office. Said Deutch: “I didn’t know it was a two-fer.”

Andrew McCabe, Deputy Director of the FBI who was fired just days before his retirement, said, in the interview that will be aired on Sunday, February 17th, that the idea that Rod Rosenstein should perhaps wear a wire to talk to Trump was NOT “sarcasm,” (although some have dismissed it as such.) He said that the concern was high enough that legal experts were approached on more than one occasion about steps that should be taken; legal sources were consulted on more than one occasion.

ANDREW MCCABE

McCabe was ultimately fired from the FBI, days before his retirement eligibility.  His offense was that he leaked to the press and then denied it under oath. The consensus amongst the three-member panel discussing the upcoming “60 Minutes” interview was that Andrew McCabe’s impeccable record as a public servant over decades offset the  minor offense used to remove him from the FBI and that McCabe’s warnings should be taken seriously. McCabe quote: “I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia probe on absolutely solid ground that were I removed the case could not vanish in the night, that if I were removed there would be a documentary record that those investigations had begun.” “Sixty Minutes interviewer recaps: “Because you feared that the investigation would be made to go away?” McCabe’s response: “That’s right.”

Will the Trump supporters, (one of whom told me yesterday that he would “ride the Trump Train to hell,”) consider the implications of the former head of the FBI saying how concerned they were (and are) that Trump was (and is) a traitor and change their minds? [*Is there no amount of evidence that will convince them that the man has conned his way into the White House? Have they drunk not just a glass of Jim Jones’ Kool Ade, but the entire pitcher?]

The Trump people will try to discredit this public servant. He is selling a book now. He was mistreated, first, by being fired just days shy of his pension eligibility. Naysayers will see dumping on McCabe as an attempt to stifle the free press, (since McCabe was accused of leaking to journalists). [James Comey has experienced how a person who lies 8,500 times in his first 2 years in office then points to truthful others and claims THEY are the liars; it’s the old “The best defense is a strong offense.”] Will Trump’s base accept this judgment from the top? [*I rode the Edwards Express until his true colors showed. Why can’t Trump supporters do the necessary analysis to see that their own trust has been misplaced? Learn to admit it when you are wrong and move on.]

James Gagliano, a retired FBI Supervisory Agent, said, in regards to McCabe (whom he knows personally to be an honorable public servant) that not telling the truth about leaking to the press under oath was incorrect, but that the FBI is supposed to defend the United States against foreign interference including situations where a fictional “Manchurian Candidate” becomes fact.

Gagliano says that there may have been panic on the 7th floor of the FBI headquarters (I’ve been there, by the way). Career justice department people panicked at the very thought of Donald J. Trump with the power of the presidency. “You have to be the calm in the chaos,” says Gagliano. He questioned whether McCabe was being calm amidst the chaos. The talking heads say that McCabe saw a five-alarm fire where the President of the United States was involved with Russians in an inappropriate way. (The five-alarm fire may have just escalated to a six or seven-alarm fire).

IN OTHER BREAKING NEWS

1) Paul Mananfort is declared to have lied while supposedly cooperating with the Mueller investigation. (“You’re burnt!”)

2) Dianne Feinstein says Joe Biden is going to for President.

3) Trump is leaving everyone hanging on whether he will sign the funding bill to avert a shutdown. The news from that front goes back and forth. Fox News host Laura Ingraham is dictating Trump’s actions, as per usual, by suggesting that he NOT sign the compromise bill that others have worked on for weeks.

Adam Schiff Lays It Out on “Meet the Press” (Feb. 3, 2019)

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Adam Schiff, Wikipedia image

Representative Adam Schiff, who is heading up the investigative committee on Trump in Congress, appeared on Chuck Todd’s “Meet the Press” on February 3rd. I copied down his remarks (as best I could) because he is always articulate and it is such a nice change from the chaotic, incomprehensible utterings emanating from the Oval Office.

Here is what Adam Schiff said, condensed slightly:

“Our priority is to make sure the President of the United States is working in the national interest…We’re not interested in whether he’s a tax cheat as he said he is. We’re not interested in whether he is worth more millions or fewer millions. We’re interested in whether the President is compromising our national security and a perfect example is Trump Tower (Moscow).

 Image result for adam schiff pictures

               Adam Schiff on Twitter

While he was telling the American people that he had no business interests in Russia, he was pursuing perhaps the most lucrative deal of his career and that’s important because it means the President of the United States is looking out for his bank account and not for the United States of America…I find it just remarkable that the President of the United States or the presumptive nominee of the Republican party could be pursuing business with the Kremlin and lying about it to the American people…We have a responsibility to tell the country what happened.

What we have seen from (Attorney General nominee) Bill Barr’s testimony is that there is to be no leadership to find out and tell the American public, so we will have to find out ourselves…

When the President said that there is”no collusion,” he means that Bob Mueller has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is not guilty of colluding with the Russians.  When Michael Cohen was meeting with the Russians, that was a form of collusion.  When Trump Junior was meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower to try to get dirt on Hillary Rpdham Clinton, that was a form of collusion.  When the president  himself in his business is trying to make money from the Russians and promising a new relationship with Russia, promising relief from sanctions, that’s a form of collusion.

Ultimately, it will be up to Bob Mueller to determine if that is a crime. Our job is to find the facts and make them public, whichever way they cut.  The people closest to the President (Steve Bannon) have said that there is zero chance that other people would make a decision without talking to the President.”

Presidents’ Day Sale on “Obama’s Odyssey,” Vol. II

Inside the Democratic National Convention of 2008 (Pepsi Center) in Denver, Colorado.

“Obama’s Odyssey:  The 2008 Race for the White House” (Vol. I) was put on sale a while ago. The response was so overwhelming (from heartsick Democrats?) that the long Presidents’ Day weekend seems the perfect time to offer Volume II of “Obama’s Odyssey”  for sale.

“Obama’s Odyssey: Convention to Inauguration,” Volume II, contains 61 previously unseen photographs. In 2008 I followed all candidates during the Iowa caucuses; the caucus season gave way to the nationwide campaign and led to 23 months spent following the Democratic and Republican candidates across the country. With over 1,000 blog entries from the field that garnered over 3 million hits, I was named Yahoo Content Producer of the Year for Politics (2008).

I still remember the phone call that came from Yahoo editors in Colorado asking me if I’d come to Denver and report on the DNC. “Your pieces predicting that Obama would carry the Iowa caucuses caught our eye. You set off a lot of controversy. We’d like you to come to Colorado and cover the Democratic National Convention. We can get you inside.”

My response? “Heck! I’d pay you guys for that, but you’ll have to find me somewhere to stay that doesn’t cost me $500 a night.”

They did, and I did. The two volumes of “Obama’s Odyssey” are the result of those long days spent attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver at the Pepsi Center, the Republican National Convention at the Excel Center in St. Paul (MN), the Ron Paul Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis at the Target Center, the Belmont Town Hall meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, and uncounted caucus rallies in the state of Iowa.

And so, once again, in the spirit of longing for the days of civility, intelligence and decorum represented by the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, I’ve lowered the price on the e-book version of Volume II to $1.99 for ONE DAY ONLY, February 17, 2019. ($3 off the normal e-book price).

Taken during a McCain rally at the Cedar Rapids Municipal Airport during the 2008 presidential campaign. Cover of Volume II of “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House.” (Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book).

If you prefer the paperback version of “Obama’s Odyssey,” it will be reduced from $14.99 to $4.95 on the same day, a reduction of $10 off the $14.95 regular price. It will be on sale on February 17th (Sunday) AND the following day (Feb. 18th),Presidents’ Day.

On Monday, February 18th, PRESIDENTS’ DAY, only the paperback version of “Obama’s Odyssey” will be on sale. It will remain reduced in price to $4.95, which is 2/3 off its normal price. [Put aside $1 daily starting today (5 days out) and you’ll have the price of the paperback on Amazon.]

This is a ONE-TIME ONLY sale price.

If you miss Barack Obama and long for a return to those 8 years of his presidency, this is the book for you! And PLEASE leave a review of  both books on Amazon. Writers in today’s marketplace have no chance without reviews. That, my friends, is up to you. If you don’t want to write anything, simply click on the stars, but please take the time to simply click on the Amazon stars for either or both volumes of “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House.”

Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar Announces Her Run for President

Image result for amy klobuchar photo gallery

Amy Klobuchar, (D, MN) Senator

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota announced that she is running for President today in a snowy appearance from Minneapolis, where it was 16 degrees. She is among the other female candidates (5 others by last count) who have thrown down the gauntlet, but she is the first one to announce while hatless, in a blizzard. By the end of her announcement today, snow had accumulated on Ms. Klobuchar’s nose; she looked fairly well frozen, as did about 100 hardy supporters clutching signs and occasionally chanting “Amy!”

Here were some of the themes that Klobuchar hit during her announcement:

INFRASTRUCTURE

Alluding to the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, she said, “A bridge just shouldn’t fall down in the middle of America, but it happened. In that day, America saw in a very visceral way that everyone matters—everyone.” Klobuchar went on to praise the heroism of a man who gave up his own life to insure that a school bus full of children did not plunge into the abyss and also praised the heroics of divers who took part in the rescue and recovery mission. She went on: “Later, we worked across the aisle to fund that I35 bridge.  That’s community.  That’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

She continued, “But that vision is wearing down, worn down by the petty nature of our politics.  We are tired of the gridlocks and the grandstanding. Today, on this snowy day, we say enough is enough! Our nation must be governed not through chaos but through opportunity.”

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

A crash course in Amy’s biography came next, with the information that her parents “arrived in this country with just a suitcase.  They arrived with nothing.  It was cold—Okay, maybe not as cold as this.” (Biggest laugh line). Klobuchar said that her 90-year-old father was present this day and that he had gotten a 2-year degree after arriving in Minnesota, followed by a degree from the University of Minnesota in Journalism, after which he worked for the Associated Press. She described her father as having interviewed everyone from presidents to Ginger Rogers.” Her mother, “a proud union member, taught second grade until age 70.”

GOAL

“I am running for this job for every person who wants their job recognized and rewarded, for every parent that wants a better world for their kids, for every student who wants to be able to afford a good education, for every senior who wants affordable drugs.  I am running for every American.  I am running for you.  And I promise you this:  as your president I will look you in the eye, I will tell you what I think, I will focus on getting things done and, no matter what, I’ll lead from the heart.”

At this point, there were numerous chants of “Amy!” from the chilled spectators.

CLIMATE CHANGE

“Let me be blunt: for too long, leaders in Washington have sat on the sidelines.” She went on to cite the inactivity on climate change and the tumult in our world. “Did we view snow as an obstacle? No, we did not. Let’s see those problems as obstacles in our path.  Insidious forces trying to make it harder to vote mean it is time to organize. It is time to galvanize.  It is time to take back our democracy.  We must overturn Citizens United and get the dark money out of our politics. We must restore the voting rights act.  It is time to pass my bill to automatically register every  young person to vote when they turn eighteen.”

Klobachur acknowledged that there were obstacles, but said, “That is also our patch.  They are how we organize.”

On climate change, Klobachur said, “The people are on our side when it comes to climate change.  Why?  Because, like you and I, they believe in science.  That’s why, in the first 100 days of my administration, I will restore the gas mileage standards and put in sweeping legislation to invest in green jobs and infrastructure.  On Day One we will rejoin the International Climate Agreement (Paris Accord).”

COMPUTERS

Moving on to the subject of computer literacy, Klobuchar said, “Way too many politicians have their heads stuck in the sand when it comes to the digital revolution.  If you don’t know the difference between a hack and a slack, it’s time to pull off the digital highway.  We need to put some digital rules of the road into law when it comes to people’s privacy.  For too long the big tech companies have been telling us, ‘Don’t worry.  We’ve got your back,’ when they have been mining your data.” She promised to guarantee net neutrality. I promise to connect every household to the Internet by 2022.  And that means you, rural America.  We need to train our workers today for the jobs of tomorrow and strengthen our economy by planning ahead.  Making it easier for people to get 2 year degrees is part of that plan.  Comprehensive immigration reform is part of that plan.  It is time, America.”

HEALTH CARE

Klobuchar moved on to medical questions with the story of a young Minneapolis man who was forced by the high cost of the drug to ration his insulin and, as a result, died.

“We’re going to harness the negotiating power of 43 million seniors and lift the ban on negotiating cheaper prices for prescription drugs. They (big pharma) don’t own me.”

GUN CONTROL

“I will continue to advocate for criminal justice reform.  In a state where we still enjoy hunting, universal background checks and common sense gun legislation will be voted into law. It is time, America.”

WORLD UNITY

“A safer world isn’t judged by what we do here at home.  Even if we want to isolate ourselves, the rest of the world won’t let you.  We need to stand strong and consistently with our allies.  We need to be clear in our purpose.  We must respect our front line troops, diplomats, and intelligence officers, who are there every day risking their lives for us.  They deserve better than foreign policy by tweet!”

Summing up, Klobuchar urged those who support her to text 91990 to AmyKlobuchar.com and added, “Stop the fear-mongering and stop the hate.  We may come from different places, but we all live in the same country of shared dreams.  In Minnesota we have the biggest Somalian population in the country, and we are proud of that country.” She proceeded to tell a story about a man who told a family of 4 to “go home,” causing their small daughter to protest that her mother had said they could eat out that night.  “That little girl only knows one home, and that is the United States of America.”

E PLURIBUS UNUM

Klobuchar quoted Walt Whitman:  “Walt Whitman once wrote, ‘I hear America singing the very carols I hear.’ For Whitman those were the songs of the masons, carpenters, the shoemakers, and those carols are still being sung today.  A chorus of different colors and creeds. E Pluribus Unum: Out of one, many.  It is the North Star of our effort, of our democracy.  It’s time to take back our democracy.  I am asking you to join our campaign. I don’t know if you can even see our number because of the snow.  I don’t have a political machine.  I don’t come from money. But what I do have is grit.  I have family, friends, neighbors, and all of you who are willing to come out in the middle of winter, all of you who are willing to stand up and say, ‘People matter!’ I’m asking you to look up and to look at each other and to look at the future before us. Let us rise to the occasion and meet the changes of our day.  Let us cross the river of our divides and walk across the bridge to the sturdy land of higher ground.  To pursue the good, we must believe that good will prevail, so let’s join together as one nation to pursue the good.”

Thank you, and God bless America!

 

“Cold Pursuit:” Liam Neeson Seeks Revenge for his Son’s Death

“Cold Pursuit,” based on the 2014 Norwegian film “In Order of Disappearance,” stars Liam Neeson as a father intent on avenging the death of his son Kyle (Micheal Richardson).

I saw the original Norwegian film on the recommendation of novelist F. Paul Wilson. My remembrance of the differences between the Norwegian version and this Americanized version may be slightly off, since it has been 5 years since I viewed the original.
Here are a few of the things I remember as being different:
1)     There was no wife in the Norwegian film. In this American version Laura Dern plays Liam Neeson’s wife. As the film opens she is telling him he’ll have to say a few words as he accepts his Citizen of the Year Award. The award, itself, appears in both films, but Laura Dern’s character does not. The way she leaves (and why) is one of the mysteries that doesn’t add up. Why would someone leave a card with absolutely no note in it or any writing on the card? The film would have been better off leaving the character of the wife out of the film.
2)     In the American version, the drug war is between an Indian tribe and a Denver drug dealer. In the Norwegian version—which was also directed by Hans Petter Moland—there was a Serbian drug dealer and a vegan drug dealer known as “the Count.”
3)     The method of disposing of the bodies was the same: the bodies are wrapped up in chicken wire (like a human taco) and thrown into water. In Norway, this meant fjords. In this version that is supposedly set 172 miles outside of Denver in a town named Kehoe, Neeson still throws bodies down spectacular waterfalls. To me, this immediately screamed “This is not Denver.” It wasn’t. [Shooting took place in Alberta, Canada, with a crew from Calgary, and there was also a Norwegian crew.]
4)     If the ending of the film is the same, I do not remember it well enough to comment. The body count definitely seemed much, much higher in this film, and the fortuitous graphic violence was much, much more intense.I counted at least 20 deaths in the American version, whereas the Norwegian entire cast did not number much more than that.
I had issues with the depiction of the Denver drug dealer called the Viking. Played by Tom Bateman as a character whose normal name was Trevor Calcote, he is unendingly despicable (even unto his dying breath(s). His relationship with his small son seems to signal control freak with sadistic tendencies and he is horrible to his ex-wife. There are tantalizing plot threads dropped into the script that suggest we may get a message about bullying, for instance, but those concepts are never explored.
The entire attempt to Americanize a Norwegian dark comedy was slightly odd. The real-life town of Ferme, British Columbia may be the ski town we see Emmy Rossum (of television’s “Shameless”) and her policeman boss John (played by John Doman) patrolling. I’m somewhat familiar with Colorado; my daughter lived there for three years and my sister attended the University of Colorado at Boulder briefly. There is no vista near Denver that I am aware of that even remotely resembles that of the snowbound area(s) in this film.
There were, as I said earlier, times when a plot thread seemed to have been dropped into the dialogue. But “dropped” is the right term, because lines like, “Lord of the Flies—all the answers you’ll ever need are in that book” just appear and then disappear(The drug dealer father to his son). Or we could quote Liam Neeson during his speech while accepting his Kehoe Citizen of the Year Award: “I picked a good road early and I stayed on it.” Or there is the occasional fascination with diet (not in the original) and the Asian woman that Liam Neeson’s brother (played by veteran character actor William Forsythe) has married. There are also discussions of “Who is the better quarterback, Elway or Peyton Manning?” and fantasy football. All-in-all, lots of “fluff” that is inserted to make this film longer.
I found myself asking questions like, “Why does Laura Dern’s character show up in only her stocking feet to tell her husband (Liam Neeson) that their son has been killed?” It’s cold out and the snow looks to be about 5 feet deep, so why would you leave the house without shoes of any kind? But there she is, as Liam is plowing the road and it’s simply not enough to say, “Well, she was really upset.” Or why does she leave a note in an envelope and, when it is opened, it is completely blank? I vote for leaving her out of the film, as the original film did, as mentioned above. What was the intent with the fascination with hang gliding or with Emmy Rossum’s Denver-based boyfriend, who provides her with insider knowledge of the ongoing investigation?
There were scenes inserted that seemed to have been put in simply to make the film longer; why the truly odd warehouse with various stuffed animals, etc. in it that the Indians own? Why the very strange house that Liam Neeson’s brother and his Asian love live in? The scene with the black assassin called “The Eskimo” is also strange. The line is inserted, “Sometimes loyalty comes at a price.”That sounds like a thread we will see explored, but all we see are people being murdered, one after another.
The body count on this film was much higher than in the original. At the end, alone, there are twelve fatalities. Before that, in the order of their disappearance (which was how the original film worked it, too) we see the following characters disposed of, one by one:
1)     Kyle Coxman (Liam’s onscreen son)
2)     Steve Milliner (Speedo)
3)     Jeff Christensen (Santa)
4)     Simon LeGrew (Baby Hawk)
5)     Leighton Deeds (The Eskimo)
6)     Brock Coxman (Wingman)
7)     Tyche Hanmel (Dexter)
8)     Dante Firstal
9)     Gallum Ferrante (Sly)
10)  Anton Dinckel (Bone)
11)  Charles Schalm (Janitor Chuck)
I had questions about the Indian drug dealer Chief White Bull at film’s end, too. He gets in the car with Liam Neeson and pulls a gun. Neeson goes about his duties as snow plow driver; the Chief simply lets him exit the vehicle (a large snow plow) and do his job. What’s that all about?
I also found the end of “Viking” unsettling. First of all, the machine that literally can pick up trees and drop them through cars was not in the original film, and I don’t know why it had to be in this version. A Tesla was also involved; it was sad to see a gun fight where expensive cars are being pocked with automatic gunfire. The scene falls in the tradition of crazy fire fight sequences, like others I saw last year at SXSW— “Baby Driver” comes to mind.
The fight scenes are good, if overly bloody and graphic, but the film lacked focus.

“Cold Pursuit” Review by Day’s End

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5719748/videoplayer/vi2021964313?ref_=tt_ov_vi

So, yes, I saw “Cold Pursuit” with Liam Neeson.

And, yes, I also saw “In Order of Disappearance,” the 2014 Norwegian film on which “Cold Pursuit” is based. Both were directed by Hans Petter Moland.

I suggest you rent the original film first.

More details  later today.

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