Author: Connie Wilson Page 1 of 92
I am writing to once again mention the ONE DAY sale (e-book) for $1.99 for “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House,” Vol. I, that is happening on January 5, Saturday, tomorrow.
I seldom use this space to advertise my own books (although it is said that I should), but I’m feeling distinctly nostalgic for “the good old days,” before Russian troll farms, when religion, politics and how much money one made (or didn’t make) was off the table for public discussion.
The e-book version of Volume I is (normally) priced at $4.99 and, if you would like it in paperback, the price was $14.95 on Amazon. There are numerous pictures that appear nowhere else (mine) and the blog entries from the run-up to the selection of the candidates to run in the 2008 election (i.e., Obama and McCain).
Volume II goes on to actually chronicle the presidential race, itself, which I covered, inside at the DNC, the RNC and elsewhere, for Yahoo. (Yahoo Content Producer of the Year for Politics that year).
There are A LOT of humorous entries and, if necessary, I’ll figure out a small segment from Book I to put up here tomorrow, along with a “buy” link.
Hope you all go take a look at the book, at least, on the peek inside feature.
I don’t know about you, my readers, but I’m missing B.O. (Barack Obama).
And by B.O. I mean Barack Obama. And Michelle, of course. And the days when we had an intelligent, literate, kind, considerate, compassionate adult couple in the White House.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArzB7P9CEy8It is January. It is cold outside. Children in elementary school are dying at the U.S. border while Emma Lazarus weeps. (“Give me your tired, your poor. Your wretched refuse yearning to breathe free. The huddled masses of your teeming shore. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”).
So, I decided to put my 2008 book “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House” on sale for just $1.99 in e-book format, for ONE DAY ONLY because, well, because I’m missing Barack Hussein Obama and his wife and family and the decency and integrity that his 8 years in Washington, D.C., represented.
In the day(s) when indictments are flying faster than snowflakes and the days stretch ahead of us, gloomy and dark, and we are fast heading towards the cliff of a Constitutional crisis, we ALL need more pictures of the 2008 election. This book fits the bill. It is jam-packed with previously unseen pictures, taken by Yours Truly as she followed the campaign across Iowa and, eventually, across the nation—to Denver’s DNC and St. Paul’s RNC and the Belmont Town Hall Meeting and the Ron Paul Rally for the Republic and the goings-on in Grant Park and at Invesco Field.
It’s only going to be on sale on January 5th, so hurry up and take advantage of this offer. I could be persuaded to put Volume II on sale in the future if this goes well. So crank up your e-book readers and order yourselves a slice of history for under two bucks.
You won’t be sorry.
Adam McKay’s new film “Vice” focuses on the Vice Presidency of Dick Cheney under George W. Bush. The director of “The Big Short” previously helmed “Anchorman” (2004), “Talladega Nights” and “The Other Guy.” McKay wrote and directed this film and is nominated as both Best Director and for Best Screenplay among the 6 nods from the Golden Globe awards.
The true wheat amongst the chaff here is Christian Bale’s amazing transformation from, well, Christian Bale, into the heavyset, overweight, middle-aged, follically challenged Cheney. Hats off to the make-up crew!
Amy Adams also received a Golden Globe nod for Best Supporting Actress and Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Actor for playing a somewhat clueless George W. Bush.
Given the fact that McKay wrote for “Saturday Night Live” in 1975 and has a partnership with comic talent Will Ferrell (“Funny or Die” is their channel), this is more in the spirit of “The Big Short” than of his previously silly films, but is not nearly as story focused
Obviously, when this many nominations are given for acting, the acting is great. (Not to mention the make-up.)
As for the screenplay, it is crammed with so much that you will drown in numbers, figures, and much, much more. It was not the movie I thought I was going to see, as I thought that Hollywood directors had this “FOCUS! FOCUS!” part down, (whereas my screenplay efforts are always accused of containing too much and being all over the place, even when they win awards).
For the “good” list, let’s just mention some of the superlative performers (besides those already mentioned above) who put in an appearance:
Steve Carrell – his wife was an early improv partner of McKay’s. He plays Donald Rumsfeld.
Alison Pill – she had a fairly large role opposite Sarah Paulson on the clown episodes of “American Horror Story.” She plays Mary Cheney (the gay one).
Justin Kirk – You will recognize Justin Kirk, who plays Scooter Libby, from “Weeds.”
Jesse Plemons – Kurt – Jesse was in both “Fargo” and “Breaking Bad.” I did not like the way in which his character was integrated (or not integrated) into the plot, and I was always told that “voice over” was lazy writing. So much for that advice.
Tyler Perry – Yes, THE Tyler Perry, plays Colin Powell
So, the cast? Uniformly good. I watched a documentary (Errol Morris) on Donald Rumsfeld called “The Unknown Known” at the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival and Rummy comes off as just as big an SOB here as he did there.
The acting cannot overcome the incessant barrage of facts and data, some of which are incidental to the story. We all know that there is a drug epidemic going on, but why do we see close-ups of a victim being treated with NarCan, for example, or forest fires in California? For that matter, why did Gerry Fraser photograph it in such a herky-jerky fashion that it was like rewatching Costa Gravas’ “Z”, (which pioneered hand-held camera work) or “The Blair Witch Project.” The close-ups were not fun for the audience.
There’s just too broad a net thrown over this whale. It may be nominated for Best Picture, but it was a disappointment to me, as we drove around on Christmas Day for an hour and fifteen minutes trying to get in to a 3:10 or 3:55 showing, only to ultimately give up.
The political implications and message did not offend me, a journalist (Yahoo Content Producer of the Year 2008 for Politics) who did not much care for George W. Bush and thought him incompetent, but Republicans won’t like it. As for me, the film is too jam-packed with too much detail to carry the plot of how Cheney became our “acting President,” (whether he ever earned the honorary title or not).
“Bloodshot & Bruised: Crime Stories from the South & West” by Travis Richardson Entertains
(* A 180 page collection of short stories, many of them award-winning)
Travis Richardson grew up in Oklahoma, but currently lives in Los Angeles—which, (judging from some of the lines in his short stories within this slim (180 pp.) volume),he doesn’t really like all that much. But it’s where the action is, in writing and in film.
Travis has directed a handful of short films and written many award-winning short stories, such as “Incident on the 405,” which was a nominee for both the Anthony and Macavity Awards for Best Short Story, or”Quack & Dwight,” which was a Finalist in the ScreenCraft Short Story Contest, as well as a Finalist for the Derringer Award and a nominee for the Macavity and the Anthony Awards for Best Short Story.
This collection of crime stories consists of 16 short stories and some (“The Day We Shot Jesus on Main Street,” or “Real-Time Retribution”) are REALLY short.
As a fellow short story writer, I can empathize with the need for some sort of organizational principle.
What should it be?
In my own case(“Hellfire & Damnation,” Vols. 1, 2 and 3) it ended up being the crimes or sins punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell in Dante’s”Inferno.” In Travis’ case, it ended up being the geographical area of the country where the stories are set.
It’s tough to come up with a logical organizing principle for a series of short stories,especially if, as in Richardson’s case, you are dealing with Oklahoma and L.A.
In my own case, I had to be inspired to write stories that dealt with limbo,lust, gluttony, avarice & prodigality, wrath & sullenness, heresy, the violent, the fraudulent and treachery. But Travis had to come at it from a different angle. I think it works here, and I salute him for his efforts. (Mine pre-date the many works by the likes of Dan Brown that focus on Dante’s “Inferno” but nevermind about that...)
What were the”best” stories in this collection?
While all are enjoyable, it is tough to call a story of only 101 words a complete “short story.” Flash fiction, yes. A short story only if in that category. That super short one is the final story in the book, and it is not my favorite.
So, what IS my favorite?
Within”Bloodshot: Tales from the South,” I liked these in no particular order: “The Proxy,” “Cop in a Well,” “A Bro Code Violation,” and “Maybelle’s Last Stand.”
Within”Bruised: Stories from the West” I liked “Incident on the405” and “Not Sure Which Way I’m Headin’.”
The entire collection goes down easily and well; I finished it one 4-hour sitting. I enjoyed the plots that were the most fully developed, which is probably why I’m aiming my praise at those longer stories.
One thing I’ve noticed as a short story writer of about nine volumes is that the “surprise” or satisfactorily “concluded” ending is hard to pull off—[and gets harder with every story written.] There are only so many ways to”surprise” a seasoned reader, and don’t we writers know it!
In this volume we have these stories: “The Day We Shot Jesus on Main Street” -“An inspired train of thought about how mega-churches are the opposite of Jesus’ examples and how nothing, not even a blasphemous stunt, would get members to see this.” (Synopses from the author).
“The Proxy:” “Thinking about the country’s drug epidemic, the moral issues involved, and how much somebody would sacrifice for a family member.” I could see this as a film with Clint Eastwood as”the proxy” and Clint’s new movie (“The Mule”) sums up how I would expect him to appear as the lead.
“Cop in a Well” – “Written with the idea of having a character escape an impossible situation.” One of the first and one of the best.
“A Bro Code Violation” – “I hunted deer a few times in Oklahoma. What I remember most is standing still and freezing.” Also good and lengthy.
“Here’s to Bad Decisions: Red’s Longneck Hooch” – “I could hear an announcer dictating the downfall of a character while selling his product. I had to write it.”
“Getting the Yes” – “Written not long after I was engaged, it has nothing to do with my wife and more about anxiety of the ring being good enough.”
“Damn Good Dad” – “A sad take on meth addiction and skewed priorities. I had heard stories about families suffering burns while trying to provide extra income.”
“Tim’s Mother Lied” – “I sent the story to Shotgun Honey as a noir children’s sale. They sent notes that it didn’t work, so I rewrote the story straight from the child’s point of view. It turned out better.”
“Maybelle’s Last Stand” – “Not sure of the origin, but I remember a vision of a blurry, menacing man sauntering up to a porch, not unlike Once Upon a Time in the West.“
“Because” – “The working title was ‘The Boy Who Didn’t Read.’ I saw the story from the middle first with the robbery and then broke down the reasons why it happened.”
“Incident on the 405:” “I pictured two women from two different worlds colliding on Los Angeles’ biggest parking lot.”
“Quack & Dwight:” “I worked on multiple drafts to get this story right and enlisted the aid of an L.A. County Prosecutor and an expert in child services. Also, the editor, Kenneth Wishnia, called me out on putting too much starch in the Jewish meal.”
“Final Testimony:” “Started out as a longer piece that got compressed into this story. I saw a desperate cop who sacrificed everything for a case, and it could be for nothing.”
“Not Sure Which Way I’m Headin'”: “I’d wanted to write about the 1992 Los Angeles riots for quite a while. When I moved to L.A. in the late ’90s, people talked about O.J. and the riots all the time.”
“The Movement:” “I wanted to set the story with the Bohemian Club, but research proved to be difficult since it is a secretive society. So I opted for the nearby Russian River in an area where I used to work.”
“Real-Time Retribution” : “I thought of a man in an impossible situation and how he might get out of it with some pride. A fun exercise in compression.”
The very first story (and nearly all in the first half of the book) uses a lot of slang and idioms. Example: “This is a right-to-carry state, and if you don’t carry—-well, that says a lot about your character.” There was also an expression that football coach Hayden Fry of the University of Iowa, a transplant from Texas, used to use: “That bird won’t fly.” (Only, in Hayden’s case, it was “That dog won’t hunt.”) I still remember how Fry’s references to a “high-porch picnic” was incomprehensible to Iowans, but natural to a native Texan—or Oklahoma— native.
When I was writing “Hellfire & Damnation,” Vol.I, I wrote a story entitled “Amazing Andy, the Wonder Chicken.” I showed it to David Morrell, who quickly took the wind out of my proud sails by saying that he “didn’t like the use of idioms” or some such.
- Bloodshot and Bruised: Crime Stories from the South and West Nov 27, 2018 by Travis Richardson Kindle Edition$3.99$ 3 99Get it TODAY, Dec 14Paperback$14.99$ 14 99 Prime FREE Shipping on eligible orders Available to ship in 1-2 days More Buying Choices$14.53(6 used & new offers)
Nevermind: I liked it then, and I like it now, in Richardson’s stories. (There’s quite a bit of it in the first 10 stories, so my advice would be: “Don’t show these stories to David Morrell!”) It just goes to show how different writers have different standards and there is no ONE “right” way to write.
Richardson’s work is heavy on action and right on the money for description: not too much (hundreds of words describing a bicycle leaning against an ivied wall in one Joyce Carol Oates short story!) and not too little. His stories and characters are interesting and plots are his forte.
All-in-all, a very nice collection of short stories. Try them. You’ll like them!
With over 800 flights canceled out of O’Hare and Midway in Chicago, the trip back to the United States from Cabo San Lucas could have been a nightmare.
It wasn’t. Our plane was one of the few that “got out” of the airport and we arrived home slightly later than we anticipated, but not that late, really.
Since our return we’ve been watching Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin in “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix, which is clearly aimed at the “mature” generation. The themes include prostate problems, E.D., death of one’s spouse, children who are drug-addicted and require rehab, dating in one’s golden years, and failure to pay taxes.
The durable Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin have some good lines in the series, with Nancy Travis as the love interest for Douglas. Episode 6 is the best of the series, but you have to learn the backstory of the characters to get there.
In honor of our 50th wedding anniversary, I began planning a trip for the 7 of us to Cabo San Lucas about 3 or 4 years ago.
We first visited Cabo in 2014 in January and enjoyed Sunset Beach, with whale watching, dolphins frolicking around our boat, and a lovely place. That year, we were in the process of helping nurse my mother-in-law, Helen, through her final illness and both of our blood pressure(s) were off the charts. We left for one week to try to de-stress.
We then saved our 27 points on our Mazatlan Emerald Bay time share for 4 years, to gather up enough for the trip back. Not only does it take 4x what we get for a junior suite yearly, but the Pueblo Bonito people, who own 4 properties here, do not allow you to come every year.
Since Scott & Jessica are celebrating
their 17th anniversary today, Thanksgiving was selected so that the girls would be off school (as would the working adults).
We arrived on Monday, November 19th, and all went well—after I made a phone call to the desk to check on the reservation(s) on November 12th, which, of course, the desk did not have at all. This caused me to spend all of November 12th straightening out the issues (thank you, Carlos Garcia in Mazatlan’s RCI headquarters for Pueblo Bonito) that had caused me to make these reservations on July 30, 2017, but nobody put them in until one week out!
Whether it was because of that or because there are 7 of us, we had a lovely villa with 2 bedrooms and pull-out in the living room, a huge veranda just off the pool, and a wonderful spot on the deck the night of Thanksgiving, when we dined with everyone else in the main dining room. There was live music and the food was wonderful.
We also took a cruise on the Oceania at night, complete with food. Scott and Jessica and the girls were able to join up with old friends from Austin for Wednesday night. Add in some game nights and it’s been a great trip.
Tonight’s bon mot from Ava, as her mother drew a multitude of cards, [having been down to one card at “Uno,”] “Well, I guess we don’t have to worry
about her any more.” Last night, her philosophy of the moment was: “It’s a sad life.”
Steen Metz, who is an 83-year-old survivor of the Holocaust from Denmark, spoke to an audience of roughly 200 interested audience members on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 at the Moline Public Library.
Steen grew up in Odense, Denmark, a small town 100 miles west of Copenhagen, where only .2% of the population was Jewish. Neither Steen’s father, an attorney, nor his mother were practicing Jews, although Steen’s father was raised in a practicing Jewish family.
On October 2, 1943, when Steen was 8 years old, his family was herded into a cattle car and spent 3 days traveling to Terezin Concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. They had no food, no water, no bathroom facilities and the adults had to take turns standing or sitting during the 3-day journey. He recalled that one elderly adult in another car committed suicide on the journey.
The camp was called Theresienstadt in German; it was not an extermination camp with gas chambers. 150,000 people were held there and only 17, 247 survived. Steen and his mother somehow managed to be placed together in the barracks. His “job” as an 8-year-old was to be a messenger boy. When asked if he ever read any of the missives he explained that he did not speak or read German. He did, however, occasionally steal a potato when he had the chance, as he and his mother and all the prisoners were starving.
Hitler had invaded Denmark by land, sea and air on April 9, 1940. For three years Danes were allowed to go about their lives in roughly the same way they always had. His father continued to practice law. He continued to attend public school. Part of the reason for this was that, in a country of 4 and 1/2 million people, only 8,000 were Jewish, and most had already fled to Sweden, which was neutral and opened its borders. Another difference for Steen was that he was not tattooed, as we assume all Holocaust survivors were. Also, in the later stages of the incarceration, the inmates were allowed to receive packages, but sometimes the guards would open them, remove the goods or food, and replace the contents with rocks.
The Danish people were very supportive of the Jewish citizens and hid many of them, at great personal risk. The normal life Steen had experienced came to a screeching halt in the fall of 1943. [He projected a picture of the people of his small town being assembled in a school yard to be transported to the concentration camp.]
Steen’s father was made to dig ditches and ultimately died of pneumonia. His mother survived and remarried in 1951. She lived to be 91.
The camp where Steen and his mother were held was made to appear to be a “model” camp and filmed for use in propaganda films. A gazebo was constructed, the facades of shops were freshly painted (there was no running water anywhere) and healthy French children were brought in to play in the streets. On June 23, 1944, a group from “outside” came to Terezin to tour, proving to the rest of the world that the camps were not systematically starving people, as they were. There were 470 Danes in Terrazen, of whom 420 were liberated. 50 died of starvation. 4 babies were born there and 2 of them survived. All but 4 of Steen’s family survived and, when he and his mother returned to their small village, his father’s firm had put their belongings in storage and most belongings were returned to the pair.
Steen joined a Danish food company after he grew to adulthood and was sent to Canada. He met his wife there (a British citizen) and they came to the United States in 1962. He retired in 1999. He estimates he has spoken to 65,000 people about the Holocaust and each of us was to tell 4 other people that the Holocaust was real. He warned about the current climate of hate and anti-Semitism abroad both here and in Europe, pointing to the Pittsburgh of 11 Jewish worshipper at a synagogue there.
When asked if his experiences had made him a more intense follower of the Jewish faith, he answered, “No” and explained that he had not been brought up in a religious home and that claiming that distinction in post-war Europe was not really that good an idea.
Some thoughts of the day, on Monday, the day before the election.
I am asked if I think there will be a Blue Wave.
I respond that my biggest fear is that the Kavanaugh hearings will function like the Comey memo about Hillary’s e-mails. If the Kavanaugh hearings energize Trump’s base…..(finish that thought).
On another topic, I saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” AND “First Man” and I can highly recommend both.
Years ago, at the Chicago Film Festival, I saw a bio-pic on Freddie Mercury of clips of all his public appearances put together by the man responsible for curating same. It was terrific! One thing that was not covered as well as it could have been was Freddy’s collaboration with an opera singer of the day.
“First Man” was also wonderful and a tribute to Damien Chazelle’s directing as much as Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Neil Armstrong.
Visited the Field Museum today and saw 2 films, one on ancient Egypt and one on Antarctica. Both were informative and educational.
The rest of the past few days were spent participating in a SLAM (Culture Club)
on Friday night and dining at Joe’s on Saturday night. I learned, the hard way, that I should always ask for the “market value” on crab values. (A: $70!) But it is a lovely place and the food was good.