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!

Category: Books Page 1 of 21

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.

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.”

Trump’s First Hotel (Grand Hyatt NYC) Will Crash Like Builder

Grand Central Terminal, right next to the Hyatt where Thrillerfest was held.

Today’s good news is that the Hyatt (Manhattan) in New York City attached to Grand Central Station (Hyatt Grand Central) that Donald Trump bought when it was the Commodore and revamped is being bought and torn down. Yay!

This has to be one of the worst Hyatts, (if not one of the worst hotels in general), that I’ve ever had the misfortune to stay in, not once but at least three times at International Thriller Writers’ Conferences.

Let me elaborate:

The first time I stayed at this Hyatt I could not figure out how to turn the lights off in my room. The rooms don’t have normal light switches. They have strange little electrical plates that don’t work. The men sent up by the desk couldn’t get them to work, either. I ended up having to put a pillow over my head and trying to sleep with the lights on for three days.

David Morrell, an ITW staple.

Secondly, I like bath tubs. I was on a ridiculously high Hyatt floor and there was no water pressure AND no hot water when I tried to hop in the tub and wash my hair quickly. My flight from Chicago had been delayed an entire day; I was lucky to be able to make it in time to “pitch” my novel “The Color of Evil” to a variety of folk. The only person I chose to “pitch” it to was Tony Eldridge, because I knew Tony, personally (slightly). We compared horror stories of our travels. Tony had been stuck on a train, as I recall, traveling from Malibu to New York City, and that had not gone well, either.

The worst thing that happened to me while staying at the Grand Hyatt (aside from the sleeping with the pillow over my head thing) was when I wandered out to get some ice or a can of diet soda. I managed to get my hand (actually, my finger) stuck in a decorative wall plaque that I thought was the “door” to a recessed vending machine. (Hint: it wasn’t). I literally was to the point that images of James Franco amputating his own arm when stuck in a canyon in “24 Hours” were dancing in my brain, as I could not get the ring finger on my right hand back OUT of the crevice on the right after I stuck it IN the crevice, thinking that it would swing open somehow. IN reality, this was a gigantic recessed wall thing-ie meant to be decorative, set near the elevator doors where you would expect ice and soda machines to be located. It hurt like a SOB when I (finally) managed to force my finger back out of the tight spot, most of the skin cleverly removed by the incident.

The last time I stayed at the Grand Hyatt, while attending the workshop presented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco enforcement officers, I actually asked the woman in charge if there wasn’t ANY other hotel that we could have this conference at besides one that was famous as Trump’s first real estate venture in the eighties. The hotel had no cafeteria or cafe (you had to walk over to Grand Central Station’s food court through a tunnel) and the bar was the most ridiculously overpriced bar in Manhattan. I noticed on the third trip to this hotel that literally none of the “famous” authors who had frequented that bar my first year of attendance (Jon Land, Heather Graham, David Morrell, the “Game of Thrones” guy who was there the last two years, etc.) were hanging out in the bar any more. I’m sure they were able to find a much more reasonably priced bar in the area, and one with adequate seating.

Last, but not least, the day I was leaving I had to kill several hours until my plane departed. I checked out by 11 a.m., as required, and left my bags at the desk. Most hotels will happily store your bags for a few hours, but not the Grand Hyatt. There was an hourly charge, per bag, to store your bags in their storage room, despite the fact that you had just paid an outrageous amount to stay in their facility for several days.

Image result for Grand Hyatt Manhattan images

They can’t tear it down fast enough to suit me. From what I have read, the number of rooms available will decline from something like 1300 to 500, so, hopefully International Thriller Writers will find a different venue for the annual conference—hopefully one that has a coffee shop and a bar that is conducive to friends and fellow authors gathering in the hotel, rather than having to leave and go elsewhere to be seated and/or to be able to afford the ridiculously overpriced drinks.

Not my favorite Hyatt, and with the Trump history, truly a hotel worthy of tearing down. Did I mention that they charged you an outrageous amount to use the Internet in the room? If you wanted free Internet, you had to go to the lobby. While I realize that is not that uncommon with high-priced hotels, it did nothing to endear me to the place, since I had no hot water, couldn’t turn my lights off (yes, I called downstairs and the desk told me that they had problems of the sort in the hotel all the time before sending someone up who couldn’t fix it) all night, and found the entire place cold, sterile and uninviting.

“Glass” Review: Does Splicing “Unbreakable” and “Split” Work?

Glass: Please be warned that I may talk about the end of this movie, so don’t read on if you’re saving up to watch it and be surprised. I saw “Glass” the day it opened and it’s still keeping a slim hold on the #1 box office spot for the third week. Estimates are that it has earned an additional $9.5 million in ticket sales, which would bring its total earnings to $88.7 million. 

I’ve been trying to decide what to say about “Glass,” M. Night Shymalan’s return to the big screen after “Split” 3 years ago (2016). I loved “Split.”

I was very happy that the director who gave us “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Unbreakable” (2000); “Signs” (2002); “The Village” (2004), and “Lady in the Water” (2006) was back with a winner in 2016 and, hopefully, “Glass” would be the winner in 2019. I may not be quite as fanatical about Shymalan’s success as the two screenwriters who wrote “A Quiet Place,” Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. They showed pictures on Twitter of every ticket stub for all of M. Night Shymalan’s pictures since the very beginning. [“The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” and “Signs” have sold over $1.3 billion in ticket sales, and Shymalan also was the creative mind behind television’s “Wayward Pines.”]

I’m a Shymalan fan, but I have to confess that my loyalty waivered a bit after “Lady in the Water” with Paul Giametti and Bryce Dallas Howard.  I was only too happy to get back on the bandwagon after “Split” hit theaters 3 years ago.  I was truly rooting for “Glass” to be just as good as “Split.”

The performance by James McAvoy in “Split” was nothing short of fantastic.  “Glass” would revive the character with 24 multiple personalities that McAvoy brought to life so vividly in “Split.”

Fortunately for me here in Austin (Texas), a history” of the inter-relatedness of the characters was shown at the Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane just before the main feature. “Glass” was a merger of Shymalan’s biggest hits: “Unbreakable” with Samuel L. Jackson and his case of osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disorder) and Bruce Willis as a hooded superhero survivor of a train wreck with McAvoy in “Split.” We also got a now-grown-up Spencer Treat Clark as Willis’ son. [Clark expressed gratitude that Shymalan was so loyal to his actors and had re-cast him as an adult after his first appearance as a child in “Unbreakable.” (He laughingly said he expected to hear that one of the Australian Hemsworth brothers got the role in 2019).]

So, it is with a great deal of reluctance that I have to say that I was disappointed in “Glass.” There is one scene where Anya Taylor-Joy goes to the sanitarium where James McAvoy is confined and asks to talk with him. It is strange that she would WANT to talk to him, since he held her prisoner in “Split” and terrorized her, but she survived.

JUMP-THE-SHARK MOMENTS

The head psychiatrist, played by Sarah Paulsen, is heard telling the young girl from the film “Split” that she cannot possibly talk to her former captor—and then, in a complete reversal, there Anya is, talking to him. Why? How? What?

Then there is the scene in “Glass” when all three of the bad guys are brought into the room to talk with Paulson (see a slight amount on the trailer above).

Only one of the three is chained, and that is Bruce Willis. Why wouldn’t James Mcavoy be chained, as he is clearly the most dangerous of the three? (Jackson is in a wheelchair and appears to be catatonic)  Also weird: the drum music used in the background; the pacing of the entire scene gave us a very draggy scene.

For the keen of eye, the usual cameo—a la Alfred Hitchcock—is Shymalan at a stand that sells cameras. He says he “used to hang out with some shady types at the football stadium in his youth.” Thanks to the Alamo’s history lesson, I remembered that, in the movie “Unbreakable,” his cameo appearance cast him as a drug dealer at the stadium where Bruce Willis’ character David Dunne is a guard.

So, the scenes in Raven Hill Memorial Psychiatric Hospital were generally difficult to explain or understand and some key scenes really dragged. David (Bruce Willis) is being treated for delusions of grandeur. He remains locked up until a scene where he inexplicably takes 3 runs at the metal door and manages to break free. (Say what?)

Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass has everyone convinced he is practically a vegetable when, in reality, he seems to be able to get out of his cell at will (something that is also never really explained.) And the operation Glass is to undergo on his brain, we are led to believe, is ineffectual because he switches out some glass lenses in the equipment the night before. Highly unlikely. He’s brilliant, yes, but he’s not a physician (although all 9 of Shymalan’s family, including his wife are either MDs or PhDs.)

The fight outside the sanitarium between Willis and McAvoy seems extremely unrealistic and hokey, especially when Willis’ son shows up and is about as ineffectual at helping his father as humanly possible and with McAvoy loping along like he is in a “Planet of the Apes” sequel. Who really thinks that the much younger McAvoy (i.e., “the Beast”) is going to be truly challenged by Willis? The “precipitating event” that we see (i.e., a scare in the water when he was a young boy) is anti-climactic.

COMIC BOOKS

Shymalan likes comic books. This script says, “Superheroes are based on people like him” and, “Everything can be explained away, yet it exists. Some of us can bend steel and don’t die from bullets.” But, later, this line is inserted, “There just can’t be gods among us.” Paulsen’s specialty is treating patients who think they are super-heroes. (I wondered if there was a lot of work for a psychiatrist who only treated Superhero wannabes.)

CAMERAWORK

The camera work at the end, when three characters are shown sitting in the Philadelphia train station, was off-putting and jerky. One wonders how anyone is going to know to come flocking to the train station in the first place. Way off the chart of believability.

TWIST ENDINGS

Shymalan is well-known for surprise or “twist” endings and tries for a double twist here, which I won’t reveal, although he has said, “The negative thing about the twist (ending) is that it’s all people are occupied with; all the gentleness in the movie is being overshadowed by the flashy cousin in the sequined vest taking center stage.” In this film he tries for a double surprise ending as we come to learn that Mr. Glass was much smarter than his keepers. It may be for the best that both Samuel L. Jackson’s character and Bruce Willis’ character are dispatched by film’s end, but it seemed pretty arbitrary. Still, I’m glad that he bit the bullet and did not leave us thinking they’d show up again in a film this implausibly plotted.

IMPORTANCE OF MOVIE THEATERS

One thing that I do agree with Shymalan about is the importance of the movie-going experience. I recently answered a question on Quora (about whether I’d take a million dollars if it meant I could never watch a film at a theater again) in direct opposition to 5 other responders. I don’t ever want to see movies go away, and I said so. Shymalan agrees, saying:

“I’m going to stop making movies if they end the cinema experience. If there’s a last film that’s released only theatrically, it’ll have my name on it. This is life or death to me. If you tell audiences there’s no difference between a theatrical experience and a DVD, then that’s it, game’s over, and that whole art form is going to go away slowly. Movies will end up being this esoteric art form, where only singular people will put films out in a small group of theaters.”

Shymalan also went on to share this anecdote:

[on the power of cinema] “I once wrote an article about the Nuremburg trial and on the evil of the Nazis. These people were animals. And their faces throughout the trial were like ice, except for the moment when they showed a movie in the courtroom. When the lights went down and they showed the footage of the bodies being pushed into the pits, their expressions changed and they became emotional. They were watching the events on the screen through the eyes of everyone in the theater. They were having a joint experience. They were all connected, and they saw the horror, saw that their victims were human beings, and they changed.”

I recently spoke to a roomful of 3rd and 4th graders at a Young Authors’ Day on January 24th. The students were polite and generally attentive. When I switched to the trailer, projected on a large screen, for my book series (“Ghostly Tales of Route 66”) and showed a short film clip of the route, I was in the back of the room, scanning the crowd. They were mesmerized, enraptured, totally “with it,” whereas I had to contend with Susie sharing her lunch crackers with Janie and whispering to her when it was just me trying to share stories of my experiences driving from Chicago to Santa Monica gathering ghost stories. (www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com).

ON CRITICS

As for his reaction to the luke-warm critical reception of “Glass,” Shymalan said:

“It really doesn’t bother me because my aspiration, as I said, isn’t necessarily acceptance. But I always want to understand what’s going on. What are the principles behind the tension or the miscommunication? I want to totally get that. Then I can choose not to react to it, or react to it. My constant, in self-analysis, is to try to figure out: Am I complicit in this situation? How did I create this situation? What is my role in it? Do I want to continue that role? Do I want to change the course of that role? As long as I understand it, I’m much more comfortable with it. And I feel I’m in a strangely decent place of wanting that amount of passion [and debate] people have when they speak about the movies, and the expectations. My obligation is to figure out the bridge so that I don’t just let go of me and please them. That would be the disaster.”

He added, ruefully, referencing critics in general:

“It’s human nature. Twenty-six people love the movie, and the 27th person hates it, and the only thing you can think about is the 27th person.”

“Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House” ON SALE

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.

“Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. I) ON SALE for One Day (Jan. 5)

Barack Obama in Davenport, Iowa (River Center) during the 2008 caucus season.

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.

“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.

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!

 

 

 

 

Page 1 of 21

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén