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!
With over 800 flights canceled out of O’Hare and Midway in Chicago, the trip back to the United States from Cabo San Lucas could have been a nightmare.
It wasn’t. Our plane was one of the few that “got out” of the airport and we arrived home slightly later than we anticipated, but not that late, really.
Since our return we’ve been watching Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin in “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix, which is clearly aimed at the “mature” generation. The themes include prostate problems, E.D., death of one’s spouse, children who are drug-addicted and require rehab, dating in one’s golden years, and failure to pay taxes.
Took this one while waiting for the tram to drive us back to 1711.
The durable Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin have some good lines in the series, with Nancy Travis as the love interest for Douglas. Episode 6 is the best of the series, but you have to learn the backstory of the characters to get there.
The view from our room at Sunset Beach in Cabo San Lucas.
In honor of our 50th wedding anniversary, I began planning a trip for the 7 of us to Cabo San Lucas about 3 or 4 years ago.
We first visited Cabo in 2014 in January and enjoyed Sunset Beach, with whale watching, dolphins frolicking around our boat, and a lovely place. That year, we were in the process of helping nurse my mother-in-law, Helen, through her final illness and both of our blood pressure(s) were off the charts. We left for one week to try to de-stress.
Took this one while waiting for the tram to drive us back to 1711.
We then saved our 27 points on our Mazatlan Emerald Bay time share for 4 years, to gather up enough for the trip back. Not only does it take 4x what we get for a junior suite yearly, but the Pueblo Bonito people, who own 4 properties here, do not allow you to come every year.
Since Scott & Jessica are celebrating
Scott & Jessica: 17 years married and celebrating our 50th with us in Cabo San Lucas on a cruise.
their 17th anniversary today, Thanksgiving was selected so that the girls would be off school (as would the working adults).
The Sky Bar at Cabo San Lucas.
We arrived on Monday, November 19th, and all went well—after I made a phone call to the desk to check on the reservation(s) on November 12th, which, of course, the desk did not have at all. This caused me to spend all of November 12th straightening out the issues (thank you, Carlos Garcia in Mazatlan’s RCI headquarters for Pueblo Bonito) that had caused me to make these reservations on July 30, 2017, but nobody put them in until one week out!
Whether it was because of that or because there are 7 of us, we had a lovely villa with 2 bedrooms and pull-out in the living room, a huge veranda just off the pool, and a wonderful spot on the deck the night of Thanksgiving, when we dined with everyone else in the main dining room. There was live music and the food was wonderful.
Cruising the coast of Cabo San Lucas.
We also took a cruise on the Oceania at night, complete with food. Scott and Jessica and the girls were able to join up with old friends from Austin for Wednesday night. Add in some game nights and it’s been a great trip.
Tonight’s bon mot from Ava, as her mother drew a multitude of cards, [having been down to one card at “Uno,”] “Well, I guess we don’t have to worry
Elise and Ava aboard the Oceania cruise ship on November 23, 2018.
about her any more.” Last night, her philosophy of the moment was: “It’s a sad life.”
The 24th Annual San Antonio Film Festival kicked off at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts at 100 Auditorium Circle, San Antonio, Texas, on August 1st, 2018.
Longtime director Adam Rocha, who has led the group for 24 years, did not greet us as we drifted in to get our credentials, and my badge, listing me as a Screenplay Finalist for THE COLOR OF EVIL, was MIA. (I was given a VIP badge, instead.)
Most of us waiting for the 6 p.m. kick-off films were directed to a small café across the street called Pharm Market that was heavily in to health food(s). There were literally no soft drinks (like Coca Cola or 7-Up) but there was a table serving free alcoholic beverages (beer and wine) and many strange delicacies that I did not have the time nor inclination to sample.
We headed over to the opening film(s) at 6 p.m. selecting between “Tecumseh, the Last Warrior” directed by Alvarez Studio and Larry Elikann or “They Call Me King Tiger,” directed by Angel Estrada Soto.
6:00 p.m. Premiere Showing was here.
My husband chose the latter film, which had this synopsis:“In June, 1967, the court of Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, was assaulted by armed men under the command of Chicano leader Reies Lopez Tijerina. The outcome of such bold action was the largest manhunt in the recent history of the United States. Tijerina managed to survive prison, a psychiatric hospital, and several assassination attempts. The Chicano movement faded away, and everyone thought the same of Tijerina. People spoke of him as a saint, a man illuminated, a man that used violence looking for a fair cause. They called him King Tiger. King Tiger is alive and he wants to tell his story.”
Some of this was misleading, as King Tiger recently died at age 88 (and insisted that he be dressed in his coffin as a Muslim to illustrate his conviction that he was a prophet; people had to be flown in from Chicago to accomplish this).
The story as told by Director Larry Elikann had a meandering documentary quality that did not serve the extraordinary story well. There definitely was feature film potential in the story of King Tiger, but this treatment, witnessed by only 9 people sitting on hard-backed chairs, was probably not it.
San Antonio, Texas, Aug. 1-5, 2018
For one thing, this was the Premiere of the film and the Director was not present.
For another, as we moved into the main substance of the story, it was still unclear what injustice, exactly, King Tiger was trying to rectify. It purports to be the story of New Mexico’s Hispanic peoples losing their land to “the gringos,” much like the Indians lost their land to European settlers. Quote: “These lands were robbed, and we want them back.” The 1848 Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty was at the bottom of much of the dissent, but the terms of that treaty are never spelled out for the viewer.
There were allusions to such historic figures as Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Malcolm X, but King Tiger’s followers never numbered more than 14,000 to 20,000, from the film’s reckoning, and, when he was a handsome firebrand of a man who had “boundless courage because he was always living in some other realm” he didn’t exercise his power as skillfully as MLK.
A conversation is recounted that supposedly took place between Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy and Chicano leader Reies-Lopez Tijerina. Bobby Kennedy supposedly said, to the firebrand leader, “There was a war. You lost it and we won it. Go home.”
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
A Treaty of Hidalgo is constantly mentioned, supposedly transferring one-half of what was then Mexico’s land to the United States. The statement is made: “They lost their lands through diverse legal movements, so he (King Tiger) led a campaign to reclaim those lands.”
How devoted the followers were seemed to be one problem. A friend and acquaintance of Reies’ recounted a rally at which Reies asked how many of those present “will fight like a she-dog fights to protect her puppies” to get back the land. He asked them to stand up, if willing. One-third of the men present stood up. Reies then told his followers that those who didn’t stand up should be among the first killed. This took me back to a horrifying documentary I saw at the Chicago International Film Festival about just such neighbor purging neighbor that happened in the Philippines, when the U.S. encouraged the removal of Communists and atrocities were perpetrated, neighbor upon neighbor.
Interior of Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
The film consisted largely of interviews with the extremely elderly (age 88) Reies himself, who wandered on about dreams and angels and was a shadow of his former firebrand self. If anything, it was an object lesson in how death comes for us all and the most dynamic among us will be weakened and withered by time, as Reies definitely had been. His three wives are interviewed and many of his numerous children, some of whom recount beatings at Reies’ hand. The prettiest daughter from his first marriage was incarcerated after Reies formed a small band of armed men and marched on the courthouse.
He then was arrested in a manhunt (2,000 National Guardsmen were searching for him) that was not as dramatic as the program claimed. He said he was in the back seat of a car on the way to Coyote when he was apprehended. Reies is quoted as saying, “I’m chewing up the gringos no matter who is in the middle.”
One of his wives—a second wife who left him—said, “He wanted to be fighting, fighting, fighting. I didn’t want to do anything.” His son by a second marriage remembered that Dad told him: :You are nothing. You are never going to be a man like I am.” The prettiest daughter, Rosita, who went to prison after the attack Reies engineered on the courthouse, said, “I don’t want to talk about or remember any of that. I think that people saw him as a terrorist. All my 6 brothers and I were beaten by him.”
So, not overwhelmingly positive as a leader and Man of the People.
The English subtitles were also rife with errors. Example: “”Take this (sic) pills, please.” This was in reference to what was said to be psychological torture that Reies underwent in prison. His first trial, when he defended himself, he was found innocent, but the film suggests that he was a victim of double jeopardy or that various trumped-up charges kept recurring. One of his wives, Maria Escobar, had a house that was attacked and Reies swears that the attack was by thugs from the government.
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
As nearly as I could determine from the meandering plot and lack of focus, Reies was declaring that all those lands were taken illegally by District Attorney Alfonso Sanchez and that they were taken from Mexican and sold to white people and Sanchez was the person they hoped to get when they marched on the courthouse.
Just before his death, Reies told the interviewer, “What happened, happened, my friend.” His wife said he asked for forgiveness before he died.
The Awards Ceremony for the San Antonio Film Festival will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday night and the world premiere of “Stella’s Last Weekend,” a new comedy from writer/director Polly Draper (“Thirty Something”) will follow at 9 p.m.
Formerly of “Fame.”
A debut film from Director Jesse Borego (“Fame”) “Closer to Bottom,” will screen on Sunday, August 5th. It deals with two brothers who are coping with the death of their father when both fall for the same girl.
The San Antonio Film Festival began on August 1st and will conclude with the showing of Boreo’s film on Sunday, August 5th.
Although the state department has issued some warnings about various Mexican tourist destinations, we’ve been going to Cancun for the last quarter century. First, we stayed at Fiesta Americana Condessa for two years. Our daughter was 5, our son twenty-four or so. We next rented the Royal Mayan for two years and our daughter took a friend with her and they played Barbies.
The daughter and friend in Cancun.
After the two years at the Royal Mayan, a sales representative from the Royal Resorts talked us out of buying one of the Royal Mayan time share units, pointing out that it would go back to the state in 2015, which it has done. The Royal Caribbean, which also had 30 years, would go back sooner than their newest property, the Royal Islander, where we came to rest on the top floor in what they call the Penthouse.
The Royal Islander opened in 1993. We were not in on “the ground floor,” but quite soon after it opened, because it had no trees at all at the time. Since Stacey would have been 5 in 1992, it was probably about 1996 that we bought into the Islander.
Some 4 years later the Royal Sands construction began on a site next door to Kukulcaan Plaza that had previously housed the Royal Palace. Pre-construction prices were cheaper and we liked our one week so much that we ended up purchasing Week #14 to go with Week #15 that we already owned.
Now, we come with various and assorted family members, since my husband’s sister and her husband bought a unit after we invited the entire family to come down one year and visit us. Apparently, the lure of Cancun with its gorgeous beaches was too much to resist.
We are right next to the police station here in Cancun (on the other side of Kukulcaan Plaza), but the latest alerts about 14 murders in Cancun center on a drug king-pin who was once a police officer and is trying to corral the drug trade in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The violence was aimed at opposing gangs, but it is distressing, nonetheless, to think of this beautiful place being ruined for tourists and locals by the unfettered violence, which peaked on April 4th and 5th. (Most of the violence took place downtown).
We are entering our second week here and we won’t be trekking off to any downtown locations because of the violence, but it seems to be “business as usual” at the Royal properties.
Director: Jonathan Levine Writer: Katie Dippold Stars: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Christopher Meloni Length: 1 hour 30 minutes Reviewer: Connie Wilson
“Snatched” is a film about a mother/daughter vacationing pair who are kidnapped while on the daughter’s non-refundable vacation (“Let’s put the FUN back in non-refundable!” says Amy in trying to convince Goldie to accompany her).
Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) has been dumped by her boyfriend (Randall Park as Michael) in a restaurant scene that the row of middle-aged women behind me found laugh-out-loud hilarious. I have to admit: it was pretty funny ( It’s been featured in various trailers on television).
The mother in this equation is 71-year-old Goldie Hawn, an Oscar-winning comedienne whose presence in the film brought in the older crowd. Goldie is living her life very cautiously, having raised Schumer and her onscreen brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) as a single Mom after Mr. Middleton walked out on the family. Linda Middleton (Goldie Hawn) is fixated on cats and spends the evening checking the locks on her home, as she is convinced that the world is a very dangerous place. Son Jeffrey also has issues (agoraphobia) and only Emily (Amy Schumer) seems to be a free spirit who goes for adventure like a heat-seeking missile.
When Amy’s band member boyfriend dumps her, she is stuck with a trip to Puerto Cayo, Ecuador and no one to take it with. Ultimately, Emily asks Mom Linda to go with her, even though, while on the trip, Mom emerges from her hotel room swathed in multiple layers of clothing, causing Amy/Emily to say, “You look like a beekeeper.” I smiled, as I have a friend who will not expose her aging skin to sunlight, even when in Cancun for two weeks. And—let’s face it—inviting Mom to accompany her is better than leaving Linda/Goldie at home reading a book entitled “How to Cheer Up a Depressed Cat. ”
Goldie Hawn has not been in a film since 2002’s “The Banger Sisters” but her comic timing is just as sharp as ever, and she looks great for her age, as anyone who has seen her at various awards shows will know. Now, Goldie has become BFF with rising star comedienne Amy Schumer, who told “People” magazine, “I read the script, and, as I’m reading it, I pictured Goldie the whole time. There was never anyone else.” Schumer went on to tell a story about running into Hawn on an airplane and “sort of creepily” following her from the airport terminal and pitching the project to her. (Hawn says she does not remember the incident).
I found the interaction between the two blondes very natural and authentic, although the critics who have complained of the crassness of language and situations are not wrong. (One scene, in particular, involving Amy giving herself what used to be called “a spit bath” in a ladies’ rest room and washing all unmentionable spots, with the door swinging open at a key juncture so that the man who has been chatting her up at the bar gets a good look at her. That scene is Exhibit A, but the row behind me found it to be pretty damn funny, and I can’t argue with them.) Perhaps you’ve seen that scene in trailers, as well.
My favorite character, other than the two leads, was Christopher Meloni (television’s SUV: Special Victims’ Unit) as Roger, a cashier from Rochester who misrepresents himself as a seasoned jungle guide, when, in reality, he has only spent 3 weeks in Ecuador and is wearing a hat from J.C. Penney. When their intrepid guide instructs them to swing across a deep canyon on a vine, saying, “I’m the man so I’ll go first” and the vine instantly breaks, I laughed. When he instructed the mother/daughter combo to “take the first 10-hour shift” so he can sleep, I smiled. His character was fun and funny.
Less fun or funny was the bad guy of the piece, Morgado, played by Oscar Jaenada. It seems that Morgado employs good-looking young men (in this case, Tom Bateman as James) to lure hapless single females on adventures that will involve kidnapping them and holding them for ransom. Once in the clutches of Morgado, the women have to call home and implore Jeffrey to ransom them.
Jeffrey is one of the three most annoying characters in the film. He makes so many calls to the U.S. Embassy that the agent on duty (Bashir Salahiddin as Morgan Russell) finally says, “If you feel the urge to call again, resist it.” The other two annoying characters are Ruth and Barb, played by Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack. I didn’t find that either of these two talented comic actors added much to the movie, but I do appreciate the studio’s savvy promotion and marketing. It was released on March 12th, which means that it was the perfect choice for Mother’s Day.
“Snatched” also cost only $42 million to make and quickly moved up to second place (behind “Guardians of the Galaxy II”) in money made, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a vastly more expensive film. Goldie brought in the older crowd and Schumer’s fans were also in attendance, plus the Hawaiian jungle settings were convincingly tropic, with cinematography by Florian Ballhaus. (Schumer, who just broke up with her Chicago boyfriend of 18 months, was sick for a week with bronchitis and couldn’t shoot during that time.)
Say what you will about the anatomical references (‘Your tit’s out.”) and the crass low-brow humor, if the women behind me were any indication (you could barely hear the dialogue above their raucous laughter), this feel-good movie about mother-daughter bonding will make money and potentially spawn a sequel. (Goldie says, “Definitely there’s a toe back in” and Schumer says that she’d like to make another movie with her idol “as soon as possible.”)
Today it rained for about a half hour. This is only the second time in about 25 years that it has rained (and the last time it rained for days).
Granddaughters Ava and Elise in the lobby of the Royal Sands.
We moved down the street with all our food and clothing from the Royal Sands to the Royal Islander on Saturday and now we are in the penthouse of the second hotel.
The daughter (Stacey) in the lobby of the Royal Sands.
Our friends, the Rhodeses arrived 2 hours late due to waiting for a van transfer. We still made it through “Saturday Night Live” and enjoyed watching Jimmy Fallon’s hosting duties.
The concierge arrived with gifts and he turned out to be a huge movie fan. He checked out the films in town for us (in case it rains again) and made reservations for us at El Conquistador, Ruth Chris’ Steak House and Captain’s Cove.
So far, we’ve confined our adventures to the Royal Resorts restaurants near us, dining at Trade Winds at the Royal Caribbean and at our own restaurant affiliated with the Royal Islander.
All 15 of us in Week One.
The weather has been in the eighties and lovely, with the exception of the short amount of rain.
Tomorrow is Friday, April 7th, and I will soon be departing for Cancun, Mexico.
Quite frankly, with the news that Donald J. Trump has just gone and done yet another dumb thing (i.e., bombed Syria), I’m seriously thinking of claiming to be Canadian while in the sunny land down under.
It sounds like our departure from Austin (TX) will come just before the rain moves in, and the weather in Cancun is projected to be sunny and beautiful, with highs in the eighties. I spent an hour or so packing tonight, and tomorrow I will pack the cosmetic(s) bag, which carries our shampoo, toiletries, et. al.
I’m debating about whether or not to post a review of “Wilson,” the movie that starred Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern, which I recently saw. We went because, after all, when your name IS “Wilson”…..(finish that thought) If I have time, I may post about it tomorrow. It’s a slight film and unlikely to get wide distribution.
Meanwhile, an interesting anecdote. Because we will need cash while in our neighbor to the South, and they always enjoy the use of U.S. dollars, as opposed to credit cards—and, also, because my credit card numbers were stolen in Mexico one year, which caused someone to run up a $25,000 bill on my card, we went to the Bank of America on Slaughter Lane. I had written my spouse a check for $200 to pay him back for cash he had loaned me when I was in Chicago for a week and forgot to take any cash. (My bad).
He presented the check, written on the Triumph Bank of East Moline, and, of course, they wouldn’t cash it at all.
I was present, doing battle with a machine that was going to give me cash, I hoped, using my debit card from BOA, but I couldn’t figure out how to get more than $80. My husband suggested that I write my check for $400 (rather than the $200 I owed him) and he’d give me half of it for my cash. I would write this check on my Bank of America checkbook.
That seemed a good idea, so, in full view of the 2 cashiers, I wrote this check and he stepped up to cash it. The cashier demanded that he be fingerprinted before she would cash the relatively small check. They had just watched me (the account holder) write the check in the first place, and we explained why we were writing it (need cash for vacation). Still, some flunky raced out with an inky thing and he had to put his fingerprint on the bottom of this Bank of America check before they would cash it.
Now, what occurs to me is this: what good is my husband’s fingerprint on this check? It isn’t like he has done major time in a correctional institute or anything! He isn’t in any “data banks” of fingerprints. And that is all assuming that the Powers-that-Be thought this 72-year-old man looked like a really guilty character.
Has this ever happened to anyone else, because it seemed very dumb to me.
The weather here is beautiful and no rain (so far). Forecast does suggest tomorrow might bring showers, but the past 3 days have been great.
On our way to dinner at the Royal Mayan.
When we arrived at Cancun International Airport, however, we were told it had been raining for 4 days straight, and the humidity in the air confirmed that.
On our way to dinner at the Royal Mayan.
We went to the beach today, rather than the pool. However, when it became unbearably hot, we joined a volleyball game in progress and played 3 games, all of which our team lost. (Apparently, I can barely serve overhand).
Another lovely day, with authentic Mexican food this evening at a poolside restaurant.
As part of my birthday cruise in July, I negotiated a week on land, free of charge. I assumed that week would be near the embarcation point (Barcelona), but my husband took the call and selected Playa del Carmen from the list of resorts that RCI would front us a free week on land.
Mayan Palace, Mexican Riviera, largest swimming pool in Latin America.
So, here we are in sunny Mexico, where the preceding 4 days before we landed were rainy. It was extremely humid when we landed and we learned that the inflated price we had paid for transportation to the Mayan Palace outside of Cancun would have been complimentary, had we identified as RCI owners. However, the main point is that we arrived, safe and sound, and spent today (our first full day) lounging poolside in 85+ weather.
Craig lounging poolside at the Mayan Palace.
Last night, on the recommendation of other vacationers, we ate in the Italian restaurant on the grounds. The special was lobster, shrimp and steak, and it was very good. The restaurant was so chilly that my glasses fogged up from the extreme difference in temperature from the heat outside to the A/C inside.
The Italian restaurant within the Mayan Palace.
The pool here is said to be the largest in Latin America, and that is not hard to believe when you walk along it, as it seems close to 2 football fields long. This area has several resorts (The Grand Luxe is another) built up in the same area and, according to those who own time shares, the place has grown by leaps and bounds. The beach here is also very nice, although not as nice, for my tastes, as the white sands of Cancun proper.
Looks almost like a nude pool, but it’s an optical illusion.
It is supposed to stay sunny and warm until Wednesday, so the pool will, no doubt, beckon until then, when a rain shower is predicted and the town of Playa del Carmen may beckon.
This is the day that I remind you of tomorrow’s FREE give-away of the 3rd installment in the Hellfire & Damnation short story series. The KDP (Kindle) give-away is scheduled for April 24, April 25, May 2, 3 and 4th. For more information on the book(s) and for trailers, check atwww.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com.
While letting readers know about the give-away (again) is one concern, my biggest concern the past week has been my left leg. Something bit me in Mexico. I think it happened on Wednesday and, no, I’m not kidding about the possibility it was a small tarantula, since I had watched the lifeguards at the beach in Cancun cart one off on a stick that was (roughly) the size of your knuckles. I remember that my friend said, “What bit you?” and I nonchalantly said, “I don’t know. I probably ran into something.” The small (about 1 inch) cut was bleeding slightly.
By the next day, I was hot and uncomfortable and sweaty. That was just the prelude to a “fit” of sorts that took place at 4:10 a.m. on Friday. My teeth were chattering so hard that I couldn’t speak and all my muscles became rigid, while my arms and hands resembled the tragic footage of the Saran gas victims in Syria that was shown on “Sixty Minutes” recently. I was absolutely baffled; nothing like this had ever hit me before. My husband said (later), “I thought you were having a stroke.”
Meanwhile, I was blaming it on overly cool air conditioning–which was not really the case and didn’t explain any of the baffling symptoms described above. All day Friday I felt punk, sleeping until almost 3:30 p.m. after trying to get up and get going earlier. I had no appetite and could eat no dinner with the other 3 vacationers.
As we sat there on our last night of vacation, feet propped up on a pillow watching television, my college roommate said, with alarm, “What’s the matter with your leg?” I had not been aware that there was anything the matter with my leg, but I knew I didn’t feel good. When she had me put both feet out, side-by-side, it was obvious that there were two roughly fifty-cent sized red places on my left shin.
Dr. John Rhodes, vacationing with us, came in from the balcony and immediately said (after examining the leg), “You’ve got cellulitis,” which is an infection of the skin that can be caused by insect bites, staph or other bacteria, or even by mersa, the flesh-eating bacteria. The antibiotic I have been taking in 500 mg. dosages 4 times a day since Sunday (the earliest I could get back to the United States and be seen by another doctor to receive a prescription) is designed to protect against nearly every infectious agent, and the leg IS responding, but my need(s) to let the world know a book is free has faded slightly in significance when compared to the thought of intravenous antibiotics in a hospital.
Meanwhile, I’ve provided you with graphic evidence of why you should always travel with Bactine or another antibiotic ointment and use it if you are bitten by some mysterious bug. I wish I had.