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!

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Connie (Corcoran) Wilson Presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award (Who’s Who)

 

EAST MOLINE, IL, May 17, 2019, Marquis Who’s Who, the world’s premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Connie Corcoran Wilson with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished listee, Ms. Wilson celebrates many years’ experience in her professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes she has accrued in her field. As in all Marquis Who’s Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

Connie (Corcoran) Wilson

Connie (Corcoran) Wilson succeeded as a small business owner, a writer, and an educator in the field for over 40 years in the IA/IL Quad Cities. Her work for three online blogs continues, including her own blog (WeeklyWilson.com). After earning a Bachelor of Science in English from the University of Iowa in 1967, with a minor in Journalism, she obtained a Master of Arts in English and education at Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL, in 1972. She was a member of Old Gold Singers (1965-1968), University Choir (1964) and Oratorio Chorus (1963), as well as the University of Iowa Honors program while in college, and received two scholarships to attend Iowa (Freshman Merit Scholarship awarded to the top 5% of the entering freshman class and a Ferner/Hearst Journalism Scholarship.)

Connie began her career as the Chairman of the English department at Silvis Junior High School in Silvis, Illinois (1969-1985). She served 4 terms as Co-Chairman of the Silvis Education Association, and was  responsible for achieving recognition of that group as the bargaining agent for the district’s teachers after a three-year long struggle and electing 4 members of a 7-member school board, which authorized a vote supervised by the League of Women Voters. She resigned her teaching position in 1985 to take a position as Educational Writer for Performance Learning Systems, Inc. (Emerson, NJ) and co-authored their book Training the Teacher As A Champion (1989) with PLS founder Joseph Hasenstab. Performance Learning Systems, Inc., is the nation’s largest teacher training firm and responsible for Project T.E.A.C.H., among other offerings.

Following the completion of the PLS company Bible, Ms. Wilson founded Sylvan Learning Center #3301 in Bettendorf, Iowa in 1987 and the Prometric Testing Center in Bettendorf in 1995. She continued as CEO of both businesses until 2003. Sylvan earned the distinction Best Business of the Year 1993 from the Bettendorf Chamber of Commerce, as well as earning a personally presented Bi-State Literacy Award from First Lady Barbara Bush.  Delta Kappa Gamma Honorary Society for Professional Educators, (of which Ms. Wilson was an invited member), also honored Connie with awards for service to the community on two occasions.

Currently, Ms. Wilson works as the chief executive officer for Quad Cities’ Learning, Inc., a role she has held since 2003. She currently is a contributor to www.TheMovieBlog.com, the third largest on-line film criticism blog, as well as writing for www.QuadCities.com and her own blog (www.WeeklyWilson.com), founded in 2007. Over the course of her career, she has written for 5 newspapers and over 20 online digital outlets, including being named Content Producer of the Year for Politics by Yahoo in 2008. She routinely covers SXSW in Austin, TX, and the Chicago International Film Festival and other film festivals, as well as attending numerous writing conferences, such as the BEA (Book Expo America), ITW (International Thriller Writers), National Federation of Pen Women, and Writers for New Orleans.

Connie (Corcoran) Wilson

Ms. Wilson served as adjunct faculty at Augustana College (Rock Island, IL), Blackhawk Junior College (Moline, IL), Marycrest College (Davenport, IA), St. Ambrose University (Davenport, IA) and Eastern Iowa Community College (Bettendorf, IA). She worked in Public Relations for Kaplan College following her sale of the two businesses she founded. She was a member of the Better Business Bureau from 1986 to 2003. Ms. Wilson completed post-graduate coursework at Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL), the University of California (Berkeley, CA), the University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) and the University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA), advancing from a Master’s degree to a Master’s degree + 30, (the equivalent of a PhD.)

A published author, Ms. Wilson’s works include Training the Teacher As A Champion for PLS Bookstores; It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now, and three volumes of short stories, Hellfire & Damnation I, II and III for the Merry Blacksmith Press; Laughing Through Life, a collection of humorous essays; Both Sides Now, a collection of previously published newspaper pieces; The Color of Evil suspense/horror YA series with three entries, and two books on the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House. Mrs. Wilson was the film and book critic for the Quad City Times newspaper (Davenport, IA) from 1970 to 1985 and has continued reviewing film uninterruptedly for the past half century. (*See ConnieCWilson.com for a complete list of books published in paperback, hard cover, e-book and audio book). She also compiled several books of Ghostly Tales of Route 66 on assignment from Quixote Press in both paperback and e-book format.

Honors for her writing include the Midwest Writing Center’s Writer of the Year 2010 (Davenport, IA), and the Silver Feather Award from the Chicago chapter of the Illinois Women’s Press Association in 2012 and 2014. In addition, her three-novel series The Color of Evil was named Best Indie Book of the Year 2018 in audio format by Shelf Unbound online magazine and has won 38 screenplay awards since March of 2018 for the screenplay based on Book One (The Color of Evil). The second book in the much-lauded series is Red Is for Rage, with Book 3, Khaki = Killer honored in various cover competitions for its Vincent Chong designed cover. The illustrations for Ms. Wilson’s 6-book series The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats, illustrated by Hallmark artist Gary McCluskey and written expressly for her twin granddaughters, have also won plaudits.

In Sydney, Australia.

Outside of her professional career, Ms. Wilson has been married for 52 years to husband Craig K. Wilson and has two children, Scott, an engineer living in Austin, Texas, with his wife Jessica (also an engineer) and their twin daughters, Ava and Elise (age 10) and Stacey, a graduate of Belmont in Music Business (Nashville, TN) who worked for Taylor Swift’s 13 Management and currently works for Southwest Airlines. The family has enjoyed a Cancun Easter vacation every year since 1991 and gathers on the Fourth of July for a Family Fest involving the entire clan. With homes in Austin (TX), the Quad Cities of IA/IL and Chicago, Connie continues to write and enjoys reading, movies, swimming, trivia, playing cards, and travel in her spare time, (with Alaska following Australia/New Zealand as the next travel destination.)

In recognition of outstanding contributions to her profession and the Marquis Who’s Who community, Ms. Wilson has been featured on the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement website. Please visit www.Itachievers.com for more information about this honor and www.ConnieCWilson.com for more information about her writing or www.WeeklyWilson.com (her blog) for ongoing discussions of movies, books, politics and travel.

About Marquis Who’s Who®:

Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who’s Who in America®, Marquis Who’s Who® has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who’s Who in America® remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis® publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who’s Who® website at www.marquiswhoswho.com.

Beto O’Rourke Speaks in Davenport at the River Music Experience on May 20, 2019

Beto O’Rourke at the River Music Experience in Davenport (5/20/19).

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. (Bill Gluba, former Mayor of Davenport, to his right, in background.)

Beto O’Rourke.

River Music Experience, May 20, 2019, Davenport, Iowa.

Beto O’Rourke rally; May 20, 2018; Davenport, IA.

Former Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba at the Beto O’Rourke rally inside the River Music Experience in Davenport, IA. (5/20/19).

Beto O’Rourke taking questions in Davenport on 5/20/19.

Crowd member at the Beto O’Rourke rally. (He said he’d seen JFK when he was 2.)

Alyssia Gaiman introducing Beto O’Rourke at the RME on 5/20/19.

Beto O’Rourke.

Beto O’Rourke; former Mayor Bill Gluba in background (right).

A young future voter at the Beto O’Rourke rally.

The crowd in the room at the Beto O’Rourke rally on 5/20/19. I overheard a member of the traveling press say it was the 3rd largest rally he had seen for the candidate.

Working press; Beto O’Rourke rally on 5/20/19 at the River Music Experience in Davenport, IA.

Beto O’Rourke, potential Democratic presidential nominee, came to Davenport (IA) on May 20, 2019, and spoke to a crowd of about 200 enthusiastic supporters at the River Music Experience. Introduced by former Iowa Congresswoman  Alesia Gaiman, Beto entered, stage left. He may have thanked her with a wrong first name (sounded like a different first name from the press risers), but, if it was a faux pas, it was the only one I heard.

When Beto finished with a brief introduction about his vision for unifying this divided nation, he took questions from the audience for an hour and a half.  Both Beto and the audience acquitted themselves nobly.

Were the questions arranged in advance? I don’t think so, but both the Iowans who spoke and the candidate came off as smart, alert and prepared.

Here were the topics of the questions with Beto O’Rourke displaying an impressive ability to answer without a teleprompter or notes:

Question 1: LGBQT rights and how to restore them.

Question 2: His plans to revise the criminal justice system (with a backhanded slap at former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden for not handling this well enough while in office.)

Question 3:  Advice for a first-time voter who feels overwhelmed.

Question 4:  Will you fully fund the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)?

Question 5:  Immigration issues.

Question 6:  The student debt crisis.

Question 7:  Minimum wage concerns.

Question 8:  Collective bargaining rights for teachers in Iowa (which, aside from pay, have been stripped by the GOP legislature.)

Question 9:  The national debt and what to do about it.

Question 10: Gun violence in the schools and what to do about it.

Question 11:  How would you pay for everything you propose?

Question 12:  Your Middle East policy, especially in regards to Saudi, Arabia.

Question 13:  Solar and wind power and other alternative forms of energy.

Question 14:  The opioid epidemic in this country.

I am not knowledgeable enough about the organization of Democratic politics in Iowa to be able to tell you if these questions were assigned in advance.  I can tell you that O’Rourke pirouetted gracefully from one question to the next with an impressive array of statistics at his command. Did the organizers arrange for questioners (like the  retired Muscatine defense contractor who worked in the Middle East) to be present to ask these very relevant questions? Sounds plausible; seems more likely when a small child asked in perfect English, with no hesitation, about the IDEA act. However, the teacher mentioned coming directly from another meeting about the Iowa Supreme Court decision, and most questions seemed valid and unscripted.

Still, I’ve been to many rallies, starting in 2004 and continuing through every presidential election since then.. (2008 Content Producer of the Year for Politics for Yahoo) and this was a well-organized, well-informed crowd and—perhaps most importantly—a well-informed candidate. Very well-informed.

So let’s hear Beto O’Rourke’s fix(es) for these weighty questions.

Q 1 (LGBQT rights): The individual who asked this question appeared very feminine, with long blonde hair, until the question was asked. The voice was very male. Transgender? Don’t know; can’t tell you. Beto answered the question by saying, “Every American should be treated equally.” He shared that, “In my home state of Texas, you can be fired for your sexual orientation” and condemned such practices, saying, “No state can except itself” from providing equal rights to all U.S. citizens.

Q2 (Criminal justice system). The questioner identified himself as Chris Rice. Beto’s answer to the inequities of the criminal justice system and what improvements he would like to implement as president were: 1) End the war on drugs (2) No U.S. “for profit” prisons. (3) Eliminate the cash bail bonding system.

Q3 (1st time overwhelmed voter): Sharing that he had visited 34 college campuses (as well as high schools and middle schools) Beto reassured Jimmy Feeney by saying, “I’m here and I’m listening.” He said, “Show up (at the polls) with the courage of your convictions.”

Q4 (IDEA question): Yes, Beto would fully fund the IDEA.

Q5: John Dunsheath, who asked about immigration issues was given a heartfelt response about an issue Beto O’Rourke knows only too well, being from El Paso, Texas, a border city. He talked about the train known as “the beast” that immigrants take from Central America to the Mexican border, and said, “Amy and I have these conversations” about what they would do if they were in the dire circumstances that the immigrants seeking asylum endure. He suggested that we should lift visa caps. [*I’d like to refer readers to a comprehensive discussion of Beto O’Rourke’s views on the immigration issue and “the wall” by giving you these links to previous articles on this blog in February of this year]:

https://weeklywilson.com/16733-2/; https://weeklywilson.com/beto-orourke-speaks-out-cont-the-end/; https://weeklywilson.com/beto-orourke-speaks-out-day-3/;https://weeklywilson.com/beto-orourke-speaks-out-cont-2/

Q6 (Student debt): Beto affirmed that “crisis” was the right word to use for the student debt situation. He mentioned the $1.5 trillion outstanding debt and said that 10% of those in debt are either in danger of defaulting or have already defaulted on their student loans. He suggested expanding loan forgiveness programs, making college free, and recognizing that trade occupations are a valid career  choice.

Q7- (minimum wage): Kevin O’Brien, who identified himself as a 40-year union member, brought up the current minimum wage of $7.25, which, he said, was inadequate. He has 5 children (all college graduates), but commented on how expensive his adult children’s medical insurance was in relation to his own. Beto countered that, in Texas, the largest provider of mental health services was the state. In Harris City, Texas, the City Jail costs $110 a day, which entitles the prisoner to health care (and makes the Harris City Jail the largest provider of mental health services in town.) O’Rourke suggested a form of Medicare for Americans who are uninsured or cannot afford the cost of supplemental insurance.

Q8 – (Collective bargaining for teachers in Iowa) – I was way behind the curve on this one. In my defense, I’ve been in Texas since January, but I didn’t know that the Iowa GOP-dominated legislature and governor had stripped teachers’ unions of most collective bargaining rights—-previously in existence for half a century. In reading up on this issue (which is near and dear to my heart as someone who led the charge for collective bargaining rights in Silvis, Illinois, in 1979-1980) I learned that a recent Iowa Supreme Court decision was 4 to 3 to uphold stripping this right to negotiate such items as class size, length of school day, free periods, lunch hour length and everything except pay. A teacher quoted in a Des Moines Register article said, “Morale is very low.” O’Rourke said, “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life” and called it “Penny-wise and pound foolish,” saying the teachers educated in Iowa are not willing to remain in the state to teach. Iowa’s loss is Minnesota’s gain. How will Iowa attract top-notch teachers? Teachers can go elsewhere and have collective bargaining rights, (which simply means a say about the conditions under which they must work.)

Q9 – National debt – Citing a national debt of $22 trillion, which is going up $1 trillion annually, O’Rourke noted that “The GOP can forget about representing themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility.” Pointing to the wars that added $6 trillion to our national debt, unfunded by “W,” Beto suggested that lowering the tax rate from 35% to 21% was a fiscal mistake and re-doing it would help lower our national debt.

Q10 – (gun violence) – Anna Cynthia, a student, voiced her fear over gun violence possibly reaching into her own classroom. Beto mentioned that the government mandated that gun violence and its causes could not be studied, as cigarette addiction because of nicotine was, after Big Tobacco was overruled.  He talked about the deleterious effect of the NRA and gun lobbies, stating proudly that his campaign was not taking any PAC money.

Q11 – (How to pay for all this?) – Beto stated that we must “scrutinize every cent spent” and pointed to the endless war in Afghanistan, going on for his entire lifetime (he turns 47 in September). “Do not lead with the military, but with diplomacy.”

Q12 – Middle East – While acknowledging that MBS in Saudi, Arabia had cold-bloodedly plotted the murder of U.S. journalist Khashoggi, I did not hear the solution to our continuing affiliation with Saudi, Arabia, which leads us into wars  in places like Yemen and Sudan.

Q13 – (Solar & wind power) – O’Rourke mentioned that Iowa is second only to Kansas in harnessing wind power to create electrical power. He proposed a $5 trillion increase in programs to invest in wind and solar power over the next 5 years.

Q14 – (opioid epidemic) – O’Rourke talked about how, in his travels, he has met  addicts or former addicts, sometimes veterans, who describe how they originally became addicted because of prescription drugs. Beto’s solution? Not sure, as this was the last question of the night and the natives were restless.

Overall, it was an impressive performance from the charismatic candidate from Texas. As a winter resident of Austin,(Texas), I identify and was pulling for him when he ran against Uncle Festus from The Munsters—err, Ted Cruz. An interesting ticket would be Biden/Beto.

I highly recommend “Running with Beto,” which I covered at SXSW.  You can read my review of that here or on www.TheMovieBlog.com.

(L to R) Wife Amy, daughter Molly and Beto O’Rourke onstage in Austin, Texas, at the Paramount Theater,  on March 9, 2019, at the premiere of “Running with Beto.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville & Low Cut Connie, Redux

Earlier in the festivities I did a review of a wonderful new documentary called “The Bluebird,” which is a visit to the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee, which is (apparently) the subject of a television show starring Connie Britton. (I’ve never watched it).

I attended the Bluebird documentary, however, taking many pictures of the director and others on the stage of the Paramount in Austin, Texas, at SXSW on Thursday, March 14th at 6:30 p.m. (It showed again at the Lamar at 11:00 p.m. on Friday, March 15th).

Later on, I received a phone text message informing me that the daughter might be singing back-up for one of her singer/songwriter friends who was going to be appearing onstage at the Bluebird Cafe on their Monday songwriters’ night (featured heavily in the documentary). Lest you think this is unimportant, it launched the careers of both Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift and, although the daughter wasn’t certain she would have a role, I look forward to her ringside seat report of her friend’s performance.

I asked the daughter, who went to school in Nashville and lives there now, to send me a picture of the exterior, but when I went to press, somehow that picture (and a few others she sent) had disappeared, not to be found.

I’m still trying to figure out how to get a small bit of film sent me by the son of Low Cut Connie performing at Lucy’s Fried Chicken in Nashville on Saturday, March 16h, to post on my blog. The file sent me came through as IMG-5643.MOV (5.2 MB) but how does one get THAT to post? In place of it, I shall post the link of Adam Weiner (who is “Low Cut Connie”) appearing on Seth Meyer’s late night show and the 2 pictures of the Bluebird that I now have located.

I am posting the Low Cut Connie link because he and his band will be performing at The Rust Belt in East Moline (IL) on April 18th. I’ve been told that the Rust Belt is somewhere on 7th Street, but look it up and check  it out. (I’ll be in Mexico). I’m hoping that www.QuadCities.com will run a notification when it is closer.

I missed Low Cut Connie when he hit the Raccoon Motel in Davenport, but Craig wanted to be present here in Austin for his birthday celebration with son Scott and daughter Stacey at Lucy’s Fried Chicken. They got to hang with the band afterwards, as one of the guitarists was someone known to the Nashville daughter.

The van at Camp Sandy.

I was covering “Pet Semetary” with stars Jason Clarke, et. al., (that piece has also run previously), so I missed the hilarity (and the chicken) and the music, but I’m doing my best to drum up a record crowd for you, Low Cut Connie (i.e, Adam Weiner) if only because my name IS Connie. The picture to the left represents the van that Low Cut Connie was supposed to play in at Camp Sandy. INSIDE the van. You sit outside and watch the performances on the screens you see mounted on the exterior of the van.

I’m not thinking this would be optimal for an act that is Jerry Lee Lewis Redux times 100. However, I did drive out to catch him there (since I couldn’t be present at Lucy’s Fried Chicken on Saturday, March 16th). There were problems at Camp Sandy, but the Turtle Wax people have reached out and are sending me vats of Turtle Wax to East Moline. Thanks, Eden Zaslow of Zenogroup! That was not necessary. 

Low Cut Connie WAS present on the 16th and, if I can figure out how to post the 5.2MB piece of film sent me by my son, you will be able to see it here some time in the future.

H.Q. Trivia Goes “Live” in Austin at SXSW with Scott Rogowski—And You Are There!

The inimitable host of H.Q. trivia, Scott Rogowsky, hit SXSW in Austin, to conduct a first-ever “live” version of H.Q. on Sunday, March 11th at 90 Rainey Street in Austin Texas at 4:15 p.m.

An avid player, I made certain to get in to the small bar, where we were given tickets good for 2 free drinks. I nailed down a seat right in front of a large-screen TV to watch Bohannon (of Iowa) take his final shot against Nebraska which was blocked in overtime, resulting in a 93-91 loss.

Over 2,500 of us were playing, after we entered in a special “code” that was handed out on site. (You had to be there to win).

Scott Rogowski, Host of H.Q. Trivia, “live” in Austin at SXSW. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Scott Rogowski, “live” from SXSW at 4:15 p.m. on March 10, 2019. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Scott Rogowski congratulates one of the 72 winners of the $10,000 prize on March 10, 2019 at SXSW in Austin. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Scott Rogowski, host, and one (of 72) winners of the first-ever “live” game of H.Q. in Austin, Texas at SXSW on March 10 at 4:15 p.m. CDT. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

The prize money was $10,000 for answering 12 questions in 10 seconds or less, per question. Having just attained Level 7 during the season that ended on February 28th, I was feeling pretty lucky—but, then, I’ve never won (although I won The Cash Show 7 times and then they folded and never paid me my $20!)

As always, the first three questions were the easy ones.  (Q1:  Where is SXSW held? A1: Austin, Texas. Q2:  What song did Phoebe on “Friends sing to her cat? A2:  Smelly Cat. Q3:  What did the soup Nazi on “Seinfeld” yell at his customers on occasion?  A3:  “No soup for you!”

Then, things got interesting. And difficult.

Had I known there would be a question about which chef had not been a judge on a cooking show, I would have paid more attention when trapped in the nail shop in Chicago where that is all they ever have on TV. Or, I would have phoned a friend. And who knows what the MS in MSNBC stands for?

The rest were right up my alley. Q6:  What famous actress does George have a date with on “Seinfeld?” A6:  Marisa Tomei, of course.

Q7:  Which Saturday Night Live performer has amassed the longest tenure?

A7:  Kennan Thompson

Q8:  Which one of “The Office” cast members was not in its first episode, Jan, Kevin or Andy Bernard?

A8:  Andy Bernard, of course. By this time, 566 were still in the game.

Q9:  In the mid 70s which one of these acts appeared on the first “Saturday Night Live”:  Paul Simon, Billy Preston or the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band? I KNEW this was Billy Preston, but only 183 others did. (Most said Paul Simon, who got 328 votes and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band got 56.)

That one was declared a “savage” question and I temporarily forgot to write down what was asked next, but I can tell you that the final question, with 943 competitors in attendance, was: “Which of these shows did not appear on NBC: Today, Tomorrow or Late Show?” I was positive it would be the Late Show, and it was—although my 2 much younger seat mates were not in agreement.

Seventy-two winners split the prize (one is pictured with Scott Rogowski, the host) and took home $138.89 apiece.

Carry on, Garth.

Beto O’Rourke HBO Documentary “Running with Beto” World Premiere on March 9, 2019, at SXSW: Crowd Wants to Know: Is He Running for President in 2020?

(L to R) Amy, Molly and Beto O’Rourke on March 9, 2019, in Austin, Texas at the World Premiere of HBO documentary “Running with Beto.” (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Beto O’Rourke (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Running with Beto,” the HBO documentary that will air on HBO in early spring (May 28 release date), was screened at a World Premiere at the Paramount Theater in Austin this morning (March 9 at 11:30 a.m.) and a rapt crowd of supporters got to see Beto O’Rourke, his wife Amy, and their daughter Molly (as well as all those associated with the film) up-close-and-personal during a Q&A after the film.

I was seated in the third row on the right for “Running with Beto” when a large group of people began ascending the stairs that lead to stage right. The tallest of the group, hunched over so as not to block the credits then running, was Beto O’Rourke, who managed a small wave to those of us who noticed his entrance with family and campaign workers and Director David Modigliani.

All spoke to us after the film. Director David Modigliani described his goal as “wanting to capture a moment in Texas where there’s a real political re-awakening going on. It’s never too late or too early to get involved in politics.”

The crowd outside the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas, at SXSW, waiting for the World Premiere of “Running with Beto,” an upcoming HBO documentary, on March 9, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Modigliani had creative control of the film, however, saying that the 700 hours of footage they shot in nearly final draft format was cleared as his project (others wanted the job, as well) with Beto over lunch in Austin.  Beto protested, “I didn’t realize it would be THIS involved. I am very Begrateful that you did this with us.  The audience was probably wondering why Shannon Gay wasn’t the candidate.”

Shannon Gay was a particularly feisty blonde worker on the campaign (and in the film) who fought for Beto’s win to promote veterans (among other issues). She was seen crawling around on her roof to tack down a large campaign sign in a prominent spot. When asked what her reaction was to being onstage this day,  Shannon’s response was typically Shannon: “I wish I had a vodka IV,” (which got a laugh). She is shown in the documentary saying “Tough as Texas, my ass” (an allusion to Ted Cruz’s campaign slogan) and “I want so desperately to hear Beto tell Ted Cruz ‘pack your shit and get the Hell out of Dodge.’” Easy to see why Shannon’s outspoken advocacy will catch your eyes—and ears.

(L to R) Wife Amy, daughter Molly and Beto O’Rourke onstage in Austin, Texas, on March 9, 2019. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

When Amy O’Rourke (Beto’s wife) was asked her reaction to the rough draft that “David was kind enough to show us in advance,” she said her reaction was that it was “Very powerful. We knew this was their (HBO’s) film and we trusted him (Modigliani) at every turn.” She also added, to the crowd’s amusement, “The only thing I asked was ‘Could you take out some of the expletives?’” The film was separate from the campaign. It was being edited up until six months before the election.

In an Austin “American-Statesman” article that ran the day of the World Premiere (March 9th) Modigliani said, “The film is about people responding to crisis in democracy and allowing themselves to be vulnerable and allowing themselves to participate in politics in a new way.”

David Modigliani, Writer/Director of “Running with Beto.” (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Modigliani went on to say, “I felt it was brave of Beto to give us the access that he did. There is real conflict and tension and there are moments where he doesn’t always come off as a prince. It just shows the realities of the stress on the campaign trail, the realities of stress and tension within the family.  It has a realness that we were able to capture because of the access we were afforded. They were committed to running a no-BS campaign and we wanted to make a real no-BS film that captured that experience.” Modigliani, a Massachusetts native who is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas (and the director of the 2008 documentary “Crawford,” about George W. Bush’s effect on that small Texas town) added from the stage during the Q&A his suspicion going in that Beto’s campaign was going to be interesting, that O’Rourke was a total long shot, and that he was unlikely to win.

However, said, Modigliani, “I felt like there was going to be a national conversation that was going to run through the middle of this race.”

O’Rourke was asked point blank, from the audience (in the Q&A following the show), if he was going to run for President. He bobbed and weaved on that one. You can sign up to be one of the first to find out at [email protected] [Sounds like a yes, to me.]

When the turnout in Harris County in Texas increased from 26,000 to 60,172 in the last election cycle, you know something is happening at the grass roots level. The possible candidate, onstage after the film, said, “Thank you to everyone who allowed themselves to hope and to dream.  I am grateful. I was like, what can we talk about up here that will not make me cry.” (laughter) He added, commenting on the many candidates who subsequently drew inspiration from his unsuccessful attempt (and have begun campaigns of their own) that he visited every one of Texas’ 254 counties. The O’Rourke campaign brought the Democratic party alive in Texas like it had not been in over 25 years. Said Beto,“Turn hope into action.”

The Oscars and The Blizzard in Iowa on Feb. 25th, 2019

Snow Is the Name of this Weather Game

The morning after the Academy Awards. I’ve not done as much due diligence  about other people’s opinions of the Oscars this year as I will in the hours that loom sitting in airports between here (Des Moines, Iowa), where the temperature feels like zero, or 43 minutes away (by air) in St. Louis, Missouri, (or when we are back in Austin, Texas, our ultimate destination, where it is 65 degrees.) I am just feeling relieved to have made it here and hoping to make it back! As usual, I enjoyed Oscar night, and, as usual, there was an upset or two.

I did see a photo of Rami Malek, still clutching his Oscar, climbing out of what looked like an orchestra pit, with the information that he had fallen offstage after winning. (This was not televised to us out here in the Heartland but I saw it before heading off to bed about 3 a.m.). He was looked at by medical people on the scene and was fine.

How was the ceremony without a host in charge?

It seemed about the same as ever, to me. It moved smoothly with fewer SNAFUS than the year  Jimmy Kimmel hosted and the wrong film was given the Oscar for Best Picture. In that classic case of Situation Normal: All F***** Up, “La La Land” had to give the trophy back to “Moonlight,” as the critics’ groups across America triumphed over the popular will.

I was a member of a critics’ group in Chicago at the time; I voted for “La La Land.” However, “Moonlight” (Barry Jenkins, 2016) carried the day, buoyed by a great performance from Mahershala Ali. Still, “La La Land” was far and away the crowd favorite that year and deserved to win. To me, a working critic, it felt like “the fix” was in. The theme (of “Moonlight”) was “timely” and that would carry the day, even if Damien Chazelle’s musical with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone was far and away more popular, seen by many more people, just as original and high in quality, and a more “uplifting” feeling film.

Viggo Mortensen at the 2008 Chicago Film Festival.

This year, it looked, to me, as though Big Money was at play trying to land a Best Picture Oscar for “Roma” over any of the more popular competitors and “A Star Is Born” also was over- hyped with that goal. It is normal to campaign, and the idea was that Alfonso Cuaron (already lauded for both “Gravity” and “Birdman”) would be able to snag a Best Picture Oscar for a streaming network(s) for the first time ever.

I had to make my picks early in the game, prior to beginning our multi-state pilgrimage to meet up with our old friends who celebrate the Oscars with us each year. Those picks are posted on WeeklyWilson.com. You can see for yourself that I missed only  the category of Best Actress (I was surprised, like everyone else, that Glenn Close lost. Again.) Selecting Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director (with a slight hedge there) and only missing the Best Actress category means 5 out of 6, for +83% accuracy. (Of course, on party night, we have to select all 24 categories and the accuracy percentages plummet.)

I went with my instincts, which served me well last year when I was delighted to see Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” win, but also thought “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was a strong contender and insisted on taking my husband to see it after the Chicago International Film Festival. You will remember that, while “Three Billboards” did not win Best Film, it did garner both Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell (who showed up this year with a shaved head) Academy Awards for their performances in that Coen Brothers film.

So, I disregarded the “Roma” buzz, especially after seeing the film. Let them eat cake, I said. Let it be Best Foreign Film, but don’t try to foist it on those of us wanting a real Best Picture of the Year. “Roma” is black and white and subtitled in Spanish. A maid—(who, I am told, was a real maid and not an actress when the film was shot)—-is shown cleaning a house in Mexico in the seventies. A lot of the film involves the maid cleaning and interacting with other help. If you enjoy watching scenes of that sort for a large portion of your film-going experience, by all means hit it up. There are also several scenes of the car port floor being swept. It made me remember that I should be vacuuming the entire house. (Is that a good thing?)

Film buffs applauded Alfonso Cuaron’s ability to recreate the Mexico City of the seventies and the events of his youth, but to audiences who wanted a good story they could relate to, there were only a few themes to hold onto. The universal theme of being a vulnerable pregnant woman who is abandoned, or a mother who loses her child, or a woman with a family whose husband abandons her are there, but the thread is disjointed. [The reasons why the Mistress of the house is jettisoned are never fully explored.]

There were scenes of the woman of the house having trouble driving her large behemoth of a car into a very small parking space connected to her home, and, as a condo dweller in Chicago who has to park in an extremely small parking spot (and pay $52 a month in taxes on that spot), I could relate to that, but it was not riveting cinema.

I could empathize with the young girl abandoned by her somewhat weird martial arts fanatic boyfriend, a male chauvinist pig who completely rejects her in her hour of need, but the entire film seemed like a vanity project. It would be tantamount to me taking an audience on a rather boring and uneventful day from my youth  in Independence, Iowa. If I then shot it in black-and-white and subtitled it in a language you do not speak, would you really be sucked into this story?

The backdrop of riots was compelling for the few scenes that depicted the violence, and I salute the cinematographer (et. al.) who was able to recreate those historic events, but, overall, it was not a film I would want to see win the Best Picture of the Year award. I once almost drowned in Hawaii when I swam out too far, but, since I did NOT drown, the impact of that, on film, would be pretty “meh.” (I mention this life event because of a similar life event involving the maid/nanny and her young charges.) To be fair, I have to admit that I was not a huge fan of “Birdman,” which veered between reality and floating in the air. I did not like the backdrop of the guy pounding on drums in the side room. Of Cuaron’s films, I liked “Gravity” the best, so far, because of the difficulty of recreating Sandra Bullock’s journey into space, but we saw “First Man” (Damien Chazelle) this year do a similar “man-or-woman-in-space” recreation, with more on-the-ground psychological make-up of the astronaut provided. “First Man” came away with very few plaudits for a far more complete and realistic recreation of a foray into space. Maybe it’s all about timing, as with “Moonlight’s” burning themes?

The U.K. papers were unhappy that “Roma” didn’t win, as it would have marked a “first” in having a streaming film take the Best Picture Award. That sounds more like a political statement (rather than a quality-of-the-film-statement) than a good reason for naming this peek into Alfonso Cuaron’s childhood in Mexico Best Picture of the Year.

The other film that threw a lot of dough-re-mi at the Oscars and came up relatively short was “A Star Is Born.” It did win Best Song of the Year (for “Shallows”) and deservedly so, but the Best Actor, Actress, Director and Picture awards did not materialize.  Cynthia (my Chicago hairdresser) and I did not find the chemistry between the stars that dynamic in this one. We both agreed that it was a revelation that Bradley Cooper really can sing; he proved it once again onstage at this year’s Oscars. I saw “A Star Is Born” at the Icon Theater on Roosevelt Road. I admit my opinion of the film was negatively impacted by the volume. It was so loud I feared my ears would bleed. On the “story” front, however, “A Star Is Born” has been done about 5 times and the ending is telegraphed from a million miles away.

This year’s Annual Oscar Party went off without a hitch because we ditched plans to drive 3 and 1/2 hours from Chicago to the Quad Cities and then, a day or so later, to drive another 3 miles from I-80 to Des Moines from the Quad Cities. Here is why we flew directly from Austin to Des Moines: a weekend blizzard brought much of Iowa to a halt. Des Moines broke its record of snowiest February with 24.1 inches of snow. The old record was 22.7 inches set in February of 2008. Winds of up to 50 mph created drifts and white-outs across much of the state and I-35 saw some of the worst of it, with the road closing from Ames to Minnesota on Sunday morning. Between 9 pm. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday (Oscar day) more than 100 cars ended up in the ditch between Des Moines and Ames and Iowa State Patrol spokesman Nathan Ludwig said they had assisted 390 motorists and responded to 90 crashes between 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. A number of state patrol cars were hit by cars traveling too fast and a firetruck was struck on Sunday morning between Ames and Des Moines.

Keith Morgan, Storm County’s emergency management coordinator, said, “Visibility is so poor in open areas that our snow plow drivers can barely see the front of their plows, making plowing conditions very risky.” A State of Emergency was declared in Wright County on Sunday afternoon (Oscar day) due to blowing and drifting snow. More than 18 people stranded in their vehicles were rescued in the county before 11 a.m. on Sunday (Oscar day). The temperature outside right now, given the wind chill factor, is zero.

The Iowa Department of Transportation warned against traveling on roads north or west of Des Moines through Monday as “conditions can be life-threatening.” Near Fairbank, Iowa, my father’s hometown, a woman on her way to Oelwein and Des Moines to deliver her baby had to be rescued when her vehicle slammed into a snowbank.

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)

Image result for adam schiff pictures
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.”

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