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: News Page 1 of 13

H.Q. Trivia Game Dies A Grisly Death on Valentine’s Day (2020)

I’ve been playing H.Q. Trivia for about 3 years now, and it had become a staple of our evening, with an 8 p.m. show. We played the individual daily games to “level up” and, generally, it was a 15-minute date with trivia.

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

The app fell on hard times with the departure of Quiz Daddy host Scott Rogowski, who asked that he be allowed to host H.Q. part-time and host another sports-themed show on the side. The show declined to allow Rogowski to serve two masters and half of the faithful departed. He was obviously still in high dudgeon at SXSW in April, because I took the pictures of him hosting the first-ever “live” show there, which I attended that year.

There were issues with the leadership of the game show. One of the two founders died unexpectedly of a drug overdose. Peter Thiel was revealed to have been one of the initial investors, which dampened the enthusiasm of other investors. Prizes shrank to low, low amounts—-usually not even more than $1,000—and the very last game on Valentine’s Day caused last host Matt Rogers to give the winner $5 out of his own pocket, while the other winners took home only one cent.

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

Stand-up comic Matt Rogers did his best to inject enthusiasm into the mix after Rogowsky’s departure, and his co-host for the Words game, Anna Roisman, was competent in her verbal duties, if sometimes annoying in other ways.  Sharon from England did a good job.  (We watched to see if she’d ever fall out of her low-cut dresses.) Tyler the Fish (Tyler Fisher) was fast, and the blonde who handled sports did good work, but a new “add” to the hosting group who hosted a music version on Friday nights was obnoxious and awful. Laina Alaina (probably not spelled correctly) thought she was way too cute and insisted on singing, which was painful for the rest of us. Guest hosts were increasingly infrequent, but they sometimes appeared (Neil Patrick Harris, Jimmy Kimmel) and that kep fans wsatching and playing.

It was rather unexpected that the game was going to tank completely, however. Had I known, I would have “cashed in” the $13 I was owed earlier. (I’m still nursing a bruised ego over the $20 that the Cash Show took down witout paying me).

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).

The season had just ended and I had “leveled up” to Level 10 without winning anything more substantial than coins to use for free lives. Nevertheless, the trivia was a welcome diversion and reminiscent of that old game Trivial Pursuit, which I always enjoyed. I am sad to see H.Q. go.

The final night (Valentine’s Day evening) co-hosts Matt Richards (“Money-flipping Matt Richards”) and  co-host Anna Roisman (the poor man’s Sarah Silverman) Matt had just consumed a large meal consisting of crab legs and shrimp and lots of booze. Anna was complaining non-stop about Matt’s belching in their small studio and kept standing on her head, which was never funny. At one point, Matt insisted that he was going to “moon” the cameras, but Anna talked him out of it.

They were both “in their cups,” sad about becoming unemployed. Matt’s dogs eat $200 of dog food monthly, he said; they might starve. Plus there was the jewelry he had purchased (a gold ring with the initial “R”). Bad timing for Matt. Anna kept shilling for her podcast. I understand this impulse, as I’m going to be starting one on February 27th at 7 pm. CDT on the Bold Brave Media Gloal Network.

Indeed, the quiz show originally had about 35 employees, but a petition to get rid of the other co-founder of the game had circulated and, in a Trump-like gesture, that still-living founder fired 20% of the staff. Some, it was said, resigned in protest, claiming the founder was impossible. Meanwhile, veterans of marketing and coding were defecting and the staff that was left was trying to find a way to attract new downloads of the app, which had declined 92% over time. (measured June to June).

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.

One new game was billed as HQX and involved taking pictures with your IPhone and mailing them in. Bad game.

Then there was Laina Alainna and her non-stop singing and posing during a Friday night music game. Plus, the Words game had truly ridiculous premises, which simply meant that the Tuesday and Thursday night schedule drew fewer and fewer players and the prize money declined to almost nothing.

So, I shall have to fill my time with something else at 8 p.m. each night. Farewell, H.Q.

Oscar Night Predictions on February 9, 2020

“1917” film’s cast and director Sam Mendes in Chicago at the AMC Theater on December 10, 2019.

My favorite picture of the year, if anyone cares, for sheer enjoyment, was “Ford v. Ferrari.” It doesn’t have a chance for anything but the sound editing and potentially some visual effects.

So, here are my picks, based on having seen almost all of the films. (I do admit that I have not seen “Little Women” or Antonio Banderas’ nominated role in “Power and Glory.”
Let’s see how these come out:
Supporting Actor – Brad Pitt
MakeUp and Hairstyling: Bombshell
Costume Design: Little Women
Documentary Feature: For Sama (the favorite is said to be “American Factory,” which I saw last night. I think that the life-and-death nature of “For Sama,” filmed behind ennemy lines in Syria, was so riveting that, despite its technical issues, I voted for it.
Sound Editing: Ford v. Ferrari.
Here are my current picks: Brad Pitt for Actor in a Supporting Role
Maeup and Hairstyling; Bombshell (for transforming Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly)
Costume Design: Little Women
Documentary Feature: For Sama (I know that American Factory is the favorite, but For Sama was so powerful in its depiction of medicine in Syria behind enemy lines.)
Sound Editing: Ford v. Ferrari
Sound Mixing: Ford v. Ferrari
Production Design: 1917
International Feature: Parasite (could be the Best Picture for a big upset)
Actress in a Supporting Role: Laura Dern
Amimated Short Film: Hair Love
Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 4
Visual Effects: 1917
Film Editing: Ford v. Ferrari
Documentary Short Subject: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If you’re a girl)
Live Action Short Film: The Neighbors’ Window
Adapted Screenplay: Little Women
Original Screenplay: Marriage Story
Cinematography: 1917
Original Score: 1917
Original Song: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”
Director: Sam Mendes
Actor in a Leading Role: Joaquin Phoemix
Actress in a Leading Role: Renee Zellweger
Best Picture: 1917 (* Well aware that “Parasite” may knock it off)

Chaos and Confusion in the Corn State

Joe Biden in Independence, Iowa, on the Fourth of July, 2019.

Iowa drops the ball on caucus night, February 3. We still don’t know the results of the Iowa caucuses of Monday night, and it’s Tuesday afternoon.

Donald J. Trump will, no doubt, say something along the lines of, “Look at the Democrats. They can’t even hold an election. How can they run a country?” when he makes his State of the Union address tonight. I’d like to see the Iowa Democratic Party delay releasing the tardy results until the exact moment that the Orange One begins talking. That would be poetic justice.

I’ve actually been to the Iowa caucuses, in 2008. I wasn’t voting, but observing. What I observed in Des Moines was orchestrated chaos that was very home-spun and folksy, but not that efficient. There were all sorts of journalists from all over the globe snaking through the lunch room of the elementary school where my college roommate and I went so that she could caucus.

One thing that remained constant from 2008 to 2020 is that Joe Biden was among those one could vote for at both times. So was John Edwards back then, and I was an early Edwards supporter, while friend Pam caucused for Joe.

I’ve been watching the results (or non-results) of the caucus last night “live” on television since last night. I watched Precinct 38 in Des Moines weigh in, with 2 delegates going for Warren, 2 for Mayor Pete, and 1 to Sanders. Then, the talking heads switched to Cedar Rapids where 437 caucus goers  had gathered. There were 2 ruined ballots, we were told, but Mayor Pete got 26.5%, Warren 19.8%, Amy 18.4%, Sanders 18.4% and Joe Biden 16.8%.

The talking heads today are saying, “Old School was faster.” The back-up of paper ballots is what the Iowa Democratic party is now falling back on to laboriously count them by hand in 1700 caucus locations. “It’s beyond Old School. It’s really rudimentary,” says CNN’s Dana Bash.

During the evening, we viewers were also taken inside Drake University’s Field House (gymnasium) where 400 people had turned out. Sixty-six people would make a “viable” candidate.

In North Liberty, Iowa, just outside Iowa City, bigger numbers were expected than appeared. 591 showed up. Eighty-nine caucus goers meant that one’s candidate was “viable.”

In Cedar Rapids, 900 voters were expected, but 437 showed up. It appeared that Pete, Warren and Sanders prevailed with Biden in 4th and Klobuchar down there in the standings with the former VP. In another Des Moines precinct, 356 people showed up and we were told that fifty-six people would make for a viable candidate. Pete, Sanders and Warren were prevailing. Would the more rural districts weighing in change all this? Don’t know; can’t tell you. Just like the Iowa Democratic Party.

One group, forming 16%, refused to be categorized. They were originally Cory Booker delegates, but there were not enough bodies for Cory to prevail without throwing in with others, and that is what happened, with Biden and Klobuchar people forming an “uncomittted” group. It was weird.

“State of the Union” tonight.

By midnight, nobody knew anything, although, in Grinnell, large screens were lowered from the ceiling that showed the images of Warren, Biden and Pete, at one precinct in this college town.

Overall, it was complete confusion and the much-vaunted “app” seems to have been part of the reason why. One wonders if older volunteers who had done this “the old-fashioned way” for over 20 years were quick to pick up on “the app.” I was reminded of me trying to teach my mom how to program her VCR.

When all was said and done, it appears that Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie seem to have done well, while Biden is in trouble, both monetarily and in terms of live bodies that showed up. It is now 12:15 p.m., the afternoon of the day AFTER the caucus, and there are still no definitive results known. There are 41 delegates at stake, which is not that many, but the real fall-out is going to be for Iowa.

If Iowa loses its “First in the nation” designation, the millions spent on television and radio spots go away. The economic boom for housing and feeding all of the campaign workers who come from afar goes away. The idea that Iowa can give candidates a boost, as it did for Obama in ’08, goes away. Iowa’s position as national “influencers” goes away.

I would posit the idea that this is a very bad day for Iowa and Iowans. The state looks like it doesn’t know how to conduct a caucus, and they’ve had many, many years to get the process down.  Now the talking heads are all saying they want to see the caucuses “go away.” That means no more visits from national candidates to the Hawkeye state, and it is the state itself that will be hurt the most.

The delay in reporting results may work to the benefit of such old soldiers as Joe Biden, who did not seem to be doing well early in the evening. It seems that the new kid on the block, Pete Buttigieg, and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were the ones who came on strong, from what little we know. It remains to be seen if the money is going to be sufficient for candidates like Klobuchar and Biden, whose coffers are becoming increasingly bare.

It makes one wonder if Mike Bloomberg of the bottomless pockets had thought this through and decided to go all in on being there as an alternative candidate when former Vice President Biden collapsed. Did the “smear” in the Senate (the Ukraine thing) take its toll? These are points that will be debated for years.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on in New Hampshire.

E-book Titles on Sale & Radio Show Coming

I’ve been offering some titles for sale (on Kindle) for $1.99 this month, and it seems like a good time to mention which ones are (still) going to be reduced in price for the rest of January and February.

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).

January 26, “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House,” Vol. 2, will be on sale for $1.99.

February 1, (Sat.), the second volume of “Obama’s Odyssey” will remain on sale for this one day only for $1.99.

February 8 (Sat), 2020:  “The Color of Evil,” Book #1 of the 3-book series. This book is currently priced at something like $7.95 in e-book and will be $1.99 for one day.

February 15 (Sat.), 2020:  “Red Is for Rage,” Second book in THE COLOR OF EVIL series.

February 22 (Sat), 2020:  “Khaki = Killer”, Third book in THE COLOR OF EVIL series.

I’ll be starting a radio show entitled WEEKLY WILSON on Bold Brave Media, discussing movies, politics, books and whatever else interests me. Expect me to start off with politics; my newest book is BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE. Call in format at  866-451-1451.

Director Sam Mendes Appears with “1917” in Chicago December 10 at the AMC Theater

Sam Mendes, director of such classic films as “American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition.” “Skyfall” (one-time husband of actress Kate Winslet—7 years, ending in 2010) visited Chicago with the two leads from “1917.” His co-writer on the film, Krysty Wilson-Caerns and stars George McKay and Dean-Charles Chapman were also in attendance.

“1917, plotwise, is a bit like “Saving Private Ryan.” Two young British soldiers must go behind enemy lines to reach Benedict Cumberbatch, the Commander of 1600 men poised to attack at dawn. New intelligence shows that they will be walking into a trap the morning of April 6, 1917.

Director Sam Mendes, flanked by screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Caerns, Dean-Charles Chapman and George McKay.

Mendes is one of only six people to win a Best Director Oscar for his first film, 1999’s “American Beauty.” He has spent most of his career directing theater productions and told the audience in Chicago, following the showing of his Golden Globe-nominated film “1917” that, because of his heavy-duty theater background, he is used to “judging the audience.”

“I couldn’t take out anything.  It is not ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ It’s an instinct. To me, it’s part of my theater judging of ‘Yeah, that’s what I want.’” He added, “I was encouraging them (the actors) to live it as much as act it.”

In the Q&A following the showing of the film Mendes told the audience that the film was an homage to his grandfather, who, at the age of seventeen, served in World War I as a messenger. “It’s not about my grandfather because of my grandfather. It was the spirit that I really remembered from his stories. The two leads are two of two million, but representative of those who fought in the war.  The sense of a collection of individuals was very special…It’s 110 minutes in someone else’s life.”

Director of “1917” Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Skyfall,” “Road to Perdition”) and screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Caerns in Chicago at the AMC Theater on December 10, 2019.

The actors were rehearsed for a period of six months. The sets were built to support scenes that sometimes ran, uninterruptedly, for eight or nine minutes. The cinematography is gorgeous. In many cases, the scene had to be achieved in one take. Reciting those principles that good writers have often cited (Show, don’t tell.) Mendes said, “For me, exposition is the death of storytelling,”

Mendes pointed out that the audience is not told the lead’s name or about Lance Corporal Schofield’s family until the end of the film. “You need a good actor is what you need,” said Mendes. He added, “You want the happy accidents that occur.” One such “happy accident” was a scene where George McKay is knocked over (twice) by cast members whom Mendes described as “over-eager extras.” “The crew and I, 92 people watching, were muttering, ‘Get up, George. Get up, George.”

Of the journey of the two soldiers behind enemy lines Mendes said, “The ways the characters react to the space is not unlike the way the audience reacts.” George’s character of Lance Corporal Schofield, the more seasoned soldier of the two, has seen more combat, and tries not to look at the corpses and dead horses along the way, but Dean-Charles’ character, Blake, a novice, (like the audience), looks at everything. “Blake looks at it. He sees a generation gone.”

“1917” film’s cast and director Sam Mendes in Chicago at the AMC Theater on December 10, 2019.

This European attitude towards the ravages of both World Wars is distinctly European and British.  The wars were fought on the continent; the blitzkrieg targeted England. There is, as Mendes said, “a sense of time passing and bodies piling up.”

When “Road to Perdition” was mentioned (another superb Mendes film, which was shot in Chicago), Mendes—who is listed as having only 10 director credits on IMDB (but many producing and TV credits), said, “I loved being here, absolutely loved it.” He went on to relate an anecdote that occurred during shooting in Geneva, Illinois.

“I was walking down the street in Geneva with Tom Hanks on one side of me and Paul Newman on the other. A local woman was coming toward us, walking down the road carrying a Starbucks coffee. As she got closer and could make out the famous faces coming towards her, she passed out. Imagine when she woke up and who was looking her in the eyes but Paul Newman with those blue eyes saying, ‘How you doin’? You okay?”

“1917,” which is garnering awards nominations in many “best of” categories, opens in select theaters on Christmas Day and will be playing wide on January 19th.

Andy Warhol Exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago

Andy Warhol exhibit at the Art Institute in Chicago.

We took in the Andy Warhol exhibit in Chicago this past week. We selected a weekday, because the exhibit has been well-received and we thought it would be very crowded on the weekend.

Elvis.

As an advertisement illustrator in the 1950s, Warhol used assistants to increase his productivity. Collaboration would remain a defining (and controversial) aspect of his working methods throughout his career; this was particularly true in the 1960s. One of the most important collaborators during this period was Gerard Malanga. Malanga assisted the artist with the production of silkscreens, films, sculpture, and other works at “The Factory“, Warhol’s aluminum foil-and-silver-paint-lined studio on 47th Street (later moved to Broadway).

Early illustrations of shoes (the subjects of one of his very first exhibits) showed that Warhol had a thing for gold. Many of the pieces in the display reflect this, including the large painting below.

Gold painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warhol began as a magazine illustrator in the fifties and continued into the sixties, establishing a studio in New York City called The Factory.  Within the exhibit are some pieces of film taken within the Factory, whose walls were said to be lined with silver foil.

The Art Institute of Chicago Andy Warhol exhibit.

Warhol was an admitted homosexual, at a time when being gay in America was not accepted. Although his image was that of a libidinous lifestyle, he told an interviewer as late as 1980, when he was 52, that he was still a virgin (born in 1928).

Biographer Bob Colacello provides some details on Andy’s “piss paintings”:

Victor … was Andy’s ghost pisser on the Oxidations. He would come to the Factory to urinate on canvases that had already been primed with copper-based paint by Andy or Ronnie Cutrone, a second ghost pisser much appreciated by Andy, who said that the vitamin B that Ronnie took made a prettier color when the acid in the urine turned the copper green. Did Andy ever use his own urine? My diary shows that when he first began the series, in December 1977, he did, and there were many others: boys who’d come to lunch and drink too much wine, and find it funny or even flattering to be asked to help Andy ‘paint’. Andy always had a little extra bounce in his walk as he led them to his studio.[73]

Attempted murder (1968)

On June 3, 1968, radical feminist writer Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and Mario Amaya, art critic and curator, at Warhol’s studio.[42] Before the shooting, Solanas had been a marginal figure in the Factory scene. She authored in 1967 the S.C.U.M. Manifesto,[43] a separatist feminist tract that advocated the elimination of men; and appeared in the 1968 Warhol film I, a Man. Earlier on the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from the Factory after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. The script had apparently been misplaced. Some of the skull paintings that are shown in the exhibit are said to reflect Warhol’s subsequent musing on life, death and mortality.

One interesting painting in the display looked exactly like Melania Trump and, of course, there were the famous Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and Marlon Brando pictures.

 

 

 

Marilyn Monroe.

Marlon Brando.

 

 

Des Moines businessman immortalized by Andy Warhol.

Melania look-alike at Warhol exhibit.

Bee Gone: A Political Parable & new Christmas Cats Book Are Discussed on CUTV News on July 31st

“The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” 6th book in the Christmas Cats series (www.TheXmasCats.com).

Bee Gone: A Political Parable is up on Amazon Kindle (Kindle only, at this point) in a pre-sale due to go “live” on July 31st for $2.99. If you order early from the link at the bottom of this article, it will automatically be delivered to your Kindle that day. If you DO order this amusing book, please leave a review on Amazon. (Thank you!)

July 31st was selected because Connie will be interviewed “live” for 30 minutes that day by New York radio station CUTV’s Jim Masters.  Connie is the author representative for their current female empowerment series of programs.

Anyone wanting to ask a question on July 31st (Wednesday) can phone in at  347-996-3389 at 1 p.m. CDT (2 p.m. EDT)

“The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” sixth book in the Christmas Cats series (www.TheXmasCats.com).

Connie will be talking about her new illustrated rhyming book “Bee Gone: A Political Parable” and the sixth book in her Christmas Cats series, entitled “The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” scheduled for release closer to Christmas. “Bee Gone: A Political Parable” is available in e-book only, but the Christmas Cats book will be available in paperback, hard cover and e-book. (www.TheXmasCats.com).

Bee Gone: A Political Parable is a rhyming, illustrated short e-book that examines the thought (articulated by Barack Obama), “Elections have consequences.” Given its timing, perhaps it will encourage those who did not vote in 2016 to go to the polls and vote in 2020.

In a very short story about a disgruntled drone in a bee hive who wants to take over the hive from the queen bee, the key take-away can be described (in the words of the book) this way: “So, the hive lost its honey, its Queen, and its money. It was really a mess, and that isn’t funny.”

The outstanding illustrations by illustrator Gary McCluskey are spot-on. They are both amusing and illustrative of today’s political situation. (Gary says, “It’s the most fun I ever had at work.”)

No matter what your political affiliation, no matter how divided in our individual beliefs, we all agree that citizens in a democracy must exercise their right to vote in order to insure that our democracy continues to function properly. Elections must be fair. Citizens must participate. Elections must be supervised to assure that they are not influenced illegally by outside forces.

If you’re a Democratic or Independent voter, you will probably chuckle all the way through this book.

If you’re a die-hard Trump supporter, maybe not so much.

Whatever your political leanings, enjoy the excellent illustrations and let’s try to remember that, so far, in this country, we all are allowed to express our opinion(s) under the First Amendment to the Constitution. Let’s hope we never lose that.

Lighten up and enjoy Bee Gone: A Political Parable! Order your copy today.

 

Independence: “Our Fame Is In Our Name” on July 4, 2019

Joe Biden in Independence, Iowa, on the Fourth of July, 2019.

I’m from a little town in northeast Iowa called Independence. It is 38 miles north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and  20 miles to the east of Waterloo/Cedar Falls,at the junction of Highways 150 and 218. It is the Fourth of July and it is an election year.

The last line of the paragraph above reminds me of the famous line from “The Blues Brothers” that laid out the situation for Belushi and Ackroyd in that film. Elwood: “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

Joliet Jake:  “Hit it!”

Beto O’Rourke in Independence, Iowa, for the Fourth of July parade.

[It should be noted right about now that the Blues Brothers were traveling to Chicago from Rock Island, Illinois, which is where I’ve lived the last 52 years of my life, in the Illinois Quad Cities.]

So, for today, the operative line goes like this.

Woman on the far left is gaining on the candidate in Independence (Iowa).

Future President of the United States?

Go, Joe, Go!!!

Joe Biden: “It’s 38 miles from Cedar Rapids, we’ve got me,  Beto O’Rourke, a street full of voters in lawn chairs (plus one woman huffing and puffing alongside me like she’s running in the Boston marathon), Beto’s got a kid on his shoulders, and we’re both wearing sunscreen.”

Beto O’Rourke and unidentified child in Independence, Iowa, Fourth of July parade.

Beto O’Rourke: “Hit it!”

So it was in my small hometown this day—the day that DJT chose to threaten the infrastructure of Washington, D.C., with both tanks and planes for his politically themed Fourth of July celebration in our nation’s capitol, a departure from hundreds of years of decorum. (When asked, DJT said, “Decorum? What’s that?”)

I called my partner in political gate-crashing, Sue Ann Raymond, who also involved Dorothy Malek, I believe, in securing images of the Independence (Iowa) parade this fine July day. Sue Ann and I once crashed a “W” rally in Denver, Colorado, and she took a photo of an elderly man being dragged away by the Secret Service (after he held up a sign that read: “You lied and my son died”)  She appeared on the evening television news, much to the dismay of her friends in the community. [It isn’t every day that an Episcopalian minister ends up on the evening news as the photographer of the day, but Sue Ann, now the pastor of St. James Episcopalian Church, is just that good!]

Watching the scene in downtown Independence took me back to the many times my dad—the town banker—would load us into the car and drive us out towards the Mental Health Institute (or the dump, it varied) to watch the fireworks in Buchanan County, Iowa. Dad spent 4 terms as the Democratic County Treasurer before starting the Security State Bank on the corner of the downtown (right across from the Farmers’ State Bank and, in my day, Infelt’s Drug Store, which is long gone)

                     Go, Joe, Go!!!

Dad would have enjoyed the parade today, which consisted of more photographers than marchers, from the looks of it, and was well-attended. I still remember Dad driving a team of Clydesdale horses down the street and throwing out wooden nickels to the crowd from the Security State Bank when Independence had its sesqui-centennial many years ago. (We sat on top of the bank and, when the Blue Angels flew over, we were so startled that we nearly fell off!) Robert Ray was the Governor and all was right in the state—then.

Let it be known, for purposes of figuring out whether Donald J. Trump’s parade cost taxpayers $2.5 million—stolen from national parks moneys—or $92 million, as reported elsewhere, that running an F135 jet for an hour costs $140,000 and a Blue Angel plane costs $10,000 per hour to run. No Blue Angel planes in Independence this day.

Happy Fourth of July, America! Happy Moment in the Sun, Independence. “Our fame IS in our name!”

National Federation of Press Women Conference Winds Down as June Ends

Hotel one block from the Old Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Attending the National Federation of Press Women conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was an informational experience. We were treated to a keynote address from Peter Kovacs, editor of The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s local newspaper, and a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Walt Handelsman. Also featured as speakers were Jeff Cowart of San Antonio, who talked about Creative Story telling, and Scott Sternberg, an attorney and First Amendment expert who talked about attacks on First Amendment freedoms.

Scott Sternberg readies his presentation about attacks on the First Amendment (freedom of speech).

A panel of book authors featured Stanley Nelson, editor of the Concordia (La) Sentinel and author of “Devils Walking: Klan Murders Along the Mississippi in the 1960s,” Rachel Emanuel, author of “A More Noble Cause: A.P. Tureaud and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Louisiana,” and Leo Honeycutt, former television journalist and author of several books including “Edwin Edwards: Governor of Louisiana: An Authorized Biography.”

National Federation of Press Women attendees (approximately 80) in the Old Capitol Senate chamber.

Peter Kovacs, who started off the convention on Thursday, June 27 shared with us that his father, then 25 years old, was in Baton Rouge staying at this very hotel when Huey Long was shot. Why was he there? He was a traveling condom salesman. Kovacs went on from that shared glimpse into Louisiana history to talk about the Pulitzer his paper won for a series on jury law in Louisiana that allowed the accused to be sent to prison even if the jury could not find them guilty. It had to do with a now-outlawed law that allowed juries to find someone guilty with only 9 or 10 of 12 jurors agreeing on the guilt, a hold-over from the Jim Crow years.

Old Capitol. Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

On Friday, the noon luncheon at the Old Senate building one block away yielded many interesting and amusing stories conveyed by Jay Dardenne. The building, itself, is a National Historic Landmark and received an Excellence for Architectural Award. According to Dardenne, the building was more than adequate to serve as the Capitol building but Huey Long wanted the tallest Senate building and decreed that a new Capitol building must be built, which it was. (Huey Long is buried in the front lawn).

Voted 11th best stained glass window in a recent poll.

For those of us who have seen Sean Penn play Huey “Catfish” Long in the movies, we may not have realized that he was a very real threat as a Presidential candidate to FDR in the election of 1936, but was assassinated on September 10, 1942, at age 42 in Baton Rouge before his 8 million followers in many other states could band together to put him in office. In his first year in office, Huey Long

Outside the convention center hotel.

paved 8,000 miles of formerly dirt roads, provided for free text books for all Louisiana students, and had placed 23 members on the family payroll. Each employee was required to contribute 10% of his or her pay check to a fund known as the Deduc fund, which was used to support Huey’s chosen candidates in their races. When told this was not kosher, Huey said, “I’ve made them pay it momentarily.”

Jay Dardenne, Commissioner of Administration for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. He oversees the state budget and general government operations and served for 8 years as Louisiana’s Lt. Gov. 4 years as Secretary of State, 15 years as a state senator, and 3 years as a Baton Rouge metro Councilman. (Speaker on 6/28 inside the Old Capitol).

Ultimately, Huey’s domineering very Trump-like ways caused a move to impeach him. The Senators met in the very room where we had lunch, but they had all been placed in office by Huey and, after deliberating for one hour, refused to impeach him (“We will not vote to impeach.”).  They all signed in a circle, so that no one could see who had signed first, forming the famous “Round Robin Signature.” Chief Justice O’Neal of the Louisiana Supreme Court, when asked about the prospect of impeachment for Huey Long, said, “Don’t you think I’d give the thieving son-of-a-bitch a fair trial?”

The 6/28 luncheon was held within the very Senate room where Senators met to vote on whether to impeach then-Governor Huey Long.

When Huey was finally gunned down, he was no longer the Governor, but was serving as Senator. On September 8, 1935, Long was at the State Capitol attempting to oust a long-time opponent, Judge Benjamin Henry Pavy. At 9:20 p.m., just after passage of the bill effectively removing Pavy, Pavy’s son-in-law Carl Weiss, a physician from Baton Rouge, approached Long, and, according to the generally accepted version of events, shot him in the torso with a handgun from four feet (1.2 m) away. Long’s bodyguards responded by firing at Weiss with their own pistols, killing him; an autopsy found that Weiss had been shot more than sixty times by Long’s bodyguards. Long died on September 10 at 4:10 a.m.[109] According to different sources, his last words were either, “I wonder what will happen to my poor university boys,” or “I have so much to do.”

Speaker Dardenne shared details of another Louisiana politician,  Cat Dusett, who spoke Parisian French and did not speak English well. He once declared he would “win by a landscape” and said, “I talk out of my head.” When asked about his policy on juvenile delinquency, he said, “If it’s good for the kids, I’m for it.” Asked about Civil Rights, his response was, “If we owe it, we ought to pay it.”

Incoming President Gwen Larson.

Dardenne moved on to humorous stories of a snake oil remedy called Hadacall. (When asked why it was named Hadacall, the entrepreneur and patent medicine salesman inventor said, “I hadda call it something!”) In addition to advertising that the potion could cure cancer and insomnia, it was eventually marketed as an aphrodisiac and Jerry Lee Lewis even composed a chorus in one song, which went like this:  “It takes a knock-kneed woman and a bow-legged man to do the Hadacall boogie on a sardine can.”

 

 

 

Walt Handelsman, who has won 3 Pulitzer Prizes for his cartooning and his animated drawings, delighted the crowd with a presentation featuring some of his better-known cartoons. Some cartoons we were not allowed to photograph, but this one, featuring Bill Clinton, earned a second laugh when Handelsman told us that the next day he got a phone call from an elderly woman who wanted to know, “Who is Bill talking to? Is it Monica?”

The caption on the cartoon, (for those who cannot enlarge it on their screens)  shows (Bill) Clinton saying, “Well, this is ANOTHER fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”

 

Rolling Stones Rock Soldier Field on Friday, June 21st, 2019

The Rolling Stones on June 21st, 2019 at Soldier Field.

 

The Rolling Stones played for the 8th time at Soldier Field on Friday night, June 21st, beginning at 7:30 p.m. with the lead-in act, St. Paul and the Broken Bones from Alabama.

Before arriving at the venue, we were told not to bring large purses. Specific dimensions were sent and a suggestion was made that we use quart-sized plastic bags. All metal objects had to be placed in trays as we went through metal detectors up front. I was able to get my plastic bag contents down to cash, one credit card, my cell phone, my small camera,

We were waaay up in the stadium and these were taken with a Canon PowerShot with a 40 zoom.

and opera glasses (that turned out to be useless). Tickets in the nosebleed section were $69.50 and we climbed a long time. (I told my husband, “I’ll just keep climbing until I pass out.”)

The booths selling shirts and the like ($45 for a regular tee shirt; $85 for a hooded sweatshirt) were set up in a particularly problematic way. You  could barely walk through to get to your section because of the presence of several tables selling merchandise.

Mick Jagger.

Finally, we climbed to the 18th row in the highest section. The night was cool and rain threatened, but the four things that amazed me most about the concert this night were as follows: (1) Mick Jagger definitely is in amazing shape for someone his age (75, born July 26, 1943) (2) Jagger is back from the heart surgery that had originally postponed this concert date, but was re-programmed for the original date shortly after he had stents placed in his heart (3) my new small camera (Canon Powershot) with a 40 zoom did a pretty fair job of getting pictures from this far away and (4) how far other concert-

Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood.

goers had come to hear the Rolling Stones. We heard Germany, England, New York, Cleveland, Minneapolis and St. Louis and everyone around us was from out-of-town. In fact, following the concert, we had to provide directions to a gentleman who was to meet his friends at Scout bar on Wabash and Michigan and had little idea how to get back there.

Mick shared that the Stones had played Soldier Field 8 times and Chicago 38 times over the years since 1964. Only 2 of the songs were from later than 1981. Which, as the Chicago Tribune noted, is exactly what the vast majority of fans paid to see.

Other musicians assisting the band included keyboardist Charlie Leavell and Chicago born bassist Darryl Jones ably backing the Stones (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood).

The Rolling Stones, June 21, 2019.

Since 1998, the stones have produced only 2 studio albums, yet they play their hits differently each night. I can vouch for this, having seen them for the first time in 1982 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, at Northern Iowa University and, after that, during the Steel Wheels tour, the Bridges to Babylon tour (2x), the VooDoo Lounge tour, the Tattoo You tour, twice inside the United Center (one of them the No Security tour) and at the Indianapolis Speedway in 2015, as well as tonight’s No Filter tour. Mick had never danced more and I had never seen Charlie Watts AND Keith Richards smile more onstage.

Mick Jagger.

To me, tracking the band in person for 37 years, Keith Richards looked the most changed. Something about the expanse of forehead looked very different. The joke about Keith is that he has looked like he is at death’s door for at least 40 years. He really did look different to me, tonight, and his comment when he spoke was, “I’m happy to be anywhere.”

Keith (Richards) and Mick Jagger onstage.

The Stones have weathered sixties drug busts, seventies heroin addictions, the Jagger/Richards split during the eighties, Keith’s brain surgery after he fell out of a tree in 2006 and, now, Mick’s heart surgery (stents) in March. They sound as good as ever, and Mick danced more, if possible, than I’ve ever seen him, in a “Look! I’m still standing!” move. It was a great show! Even the weather cooperated. The downside was that it took us a full hour to walk across the street from the stadium.

Their play list this night was as follows:

1) Street Fighting Man

2) Let’s Spend the Night Together

3)  Tumbling Dice

4)  Sad Sad Sad

“Brown Sugar,” Mick Jagger.

5)  You Got Me Rocking

6)  You Can’t Always Get What You Want

7)  Angie

8)  Dead Flowers

9)  Sympathy for the Devil

Charlie Watts.

10)  Honky Tonk Woman

11)  You Got the Silver

12)  Before They Make Me Run

13)  Miss You

14)  Paint it Black

15)  Midnight Rambler

Mick Jagger.

16)  Start Me Up

17)  Jumpin’ Jack Flash

18)  Brown Sugar

Encores

19)  Gimme Shelter

Ronnie Wood.

20)  I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Mick, center stage.

Keith Richards

Mick, far left.

 

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