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: Of Local (Quad Cities’) Interest Page 1 of 26

The category is self-explanatory, but it would include new or old businesses, political elections, trends, restaurants in town, entertainment in town, etc.

Podcast Shows of June, July, and Mid-August

I am currently booking guests for my Thursday night podcast into August.

While my last post addressed the months of May (one week remaining) and June, here are those tentatively scheduled for June, July and August. This week’s author is Anita Oswald, author of “West Side Girl,” a nice companion to last week’s book “Redlined” by Linda Gartz, also about the West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago. (Linda’s book was the 2018 Chicago Writers’ Association Nonfiction Book of the Year.)

June 4, 2020: Guest will be Barbara Barnett, Chicago author of “The Apothecary’s Curse” who is promoting the sequel to that book, “Alchemy of Glass.” Barbara is a member of both HWA (Horror Writers’ Association) and SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America).

June 11, 2020:  Spike (“at the mike”) O’Dell, former WGN on-air radio personality.

June 18, 2020: Heather Graham, New York Times best-selling author of the Krewe of Hunters romantic/paranormal series, speaking about her newest book, “Seeing Darkness,” the Krewe of Hunters Book #30.

June 25, 2020: Suzie Quatro, prior to the release of the documentary on her life. Suzi was Joan Jett before there was a Joan Jett.

July 2, 2020:  Anthony Whyte, owner/editor of www.TheMovieBlog.com, the 3rd most heavily consulted movie blog on the Internet.

July 9, 2020:  Lance Taubold and Rich Devin of Las Vegas, Nevada, book publishers and authors at Invoke Books.

July 16, 2020:  Tori Eldridge, author of “The Ninja Daughter” from Polis Books.

July 23, 2020:  Quad City author Sean Leary, author of “The Arimathean” series and other books.

July 30, 2020: Dan Burns, Chicago Writers’ Association treasurer and Chicago film critic and screenwriter.

August 6, 2020:  Iris Waichler, author of “Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents”

August 13, 2020:  Jon Land, novelist (“The Caitlin Strong” series) and screenwriter.

Some of the above are subject to change and tentative, but this gives you somewhat of an idea who is scheduled in the future. I was working on an interview with Cathy Moriarty, but her agent has said the pandemic has caused her to “go to ground” and cancel all such appearances. I’m still waiting to hear back from Gary Cole’s representatives.

Heart Transplant/Cancer Survivor Gives Sheltering Tips on 4/30 WEEKLY WILSON Podcast

Jennifer BerlinerMy guest on my Weekly Wilson podcast on the Bold Brave Media Global Network and Tune-In radio on April 29, Thursday, at 7 p.m. (CDT) will be Jennifer Berliner (pictured below and to the left).

At 15 years old, Jennifer was treated for bone cancer (Askin’s Sarcoma) and one of the drugs used afterwards, known as “red devils,” caused heart failure 8 years after her treatment.

Therefore, at 39, Jennifer had a heart transplant.

Four months later, doctors diagnosed breast cancer and she underwent a double mastectomy. To add to this litany of woes, Jennifer’s mother died from ovarian cancer just before her 41st birthday.

Through it all, Jennifer had “kept on keeping on” and has maintained a positive attitude using techniques that she studied in college as a social work major and others she had developed to keep her attitude upbeat in trying times.

This is a live call-in format (866-451-1451) and we welcome callers (be prepared to hold for a bit) with questions. Tune in to learn more about how to “shelter in place” successfully from a woman who knows more about face masks and staying inside for months at a time than any of us knew before the pandemic.

Jennifer Berliner

Coronavirus Updates from the Front

We’ve hit yet another shocking and tragic milestone: More than 1 million Americans are confirmed through testing to have been infected with the coronavirus, and the real number is far higher than that because of all the testing that’s not being done. That’s one-third of all the cases in the world. Here in the richest, most technologically advanced, medical mecca. Right.

Today’s US coronavirus numbers:
Total cases: 1,002,498 (it was 883,826 at this time Friday)
Total deaths: 57,533 (it was 50,373 on Friday)

Testing, testing, testing. It’s the most critical thing that public health officials, epidemiologists, respiratory disease specialists, scientists, and researchers say the country can do now to slow down the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Widespread testing is essential so that those who are infected but not showing any symptoms can be identified and isolated so they don’t spread the virus. As one expert put it, find the hot spots before they become raging wildfires of infection.

How do you know if you are doing enough testing? The World Health Organization says that if fewer than 10 percent of the people tested are infected, then a country is doing an adequate amount of testing.

Epidemiologists say that’s too high; the standard they use for influenza and tuberculosis is that if more than 3 percent of those tested are positive, then you’re not casting your net wide enough and you have to do more widespread testing.

Given that the US positive results rate is close to 20 percent, it’s going to be difficult to get down to 10 percent, let alone 3 percent.

Early on, Trump pooh-poohed the virus, claiming it would just blow away or wash away one day like a miracle. His administration botched the manufacture and delivery of critical supplies to health care workers, sent out a test that didn’t work, and was excruciatingly slow to get test kits to states clamoring for them.

Now experts say he’s fumbling the next critical task: Making sure enough people are tested and then isolated to be able to figure out when states really should start easing restrictions.

(Given the way some people are acting in states that have already started easing restrictions — flocking to beaches without maintaining physical distancing, for example — what we really need to ramp up is IQ testing.)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, says testing for the novel coronavirus must be doubled before the US should even consider easing restrictions. There currently are about 1.6 million tests being performed every week; Fauci says that should be at least 3 million per week.

Harvard researchers calculated that the US should be doing 5 million tests a day, distributed unevenly across the states depending the size of each state’s outbreak.

To figure out how many tests each state should be doing, the Harvard Global Health Institute took the WHO’s 10 percent benchmark and applied it to each US state, calculating how many tests each would have to be performing by May 1 in order to reach that below-10-percent-positive goal.

The result wasn’t pretty: More than half will have to significantly ramp up their Covid-19 testing to even consider starting to relax stay-at-home orders after May 1, according to STAT.

What’s disturbing is that some states that have already started easing restrictions on businesses and gatherings aren’t doing anywhere near enough testing: Georgia should be administering 9,600 to 10,000 tests per day; it has been averaging around 4,000. Florida has to do 16,000 a day; it’s doing just over 10,000.

And you can ignore what Trump said yesterday about his new testing plan, claiming that the US is on track to double the amount of testing being done but providing no details and continuing to insist it’s up to the states because, you know, he might actually be held responsible for something.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, agrees with the need for far more testing in the US than is being done now, but recently has been touting antigen testing, which is a simpler test that delivers fast results — as little as 15 minutes. But the tests aren’t easy to make, and it takes a lot of time and money to validate their accuracy. Here’s an explainer from CNN.

Last word from Fauci about the states that are loosening restrictions: “If we are unsuccessful, or prematurely try to open up, and we have additional outbreaks that are out of control, it could be a rebound to get us right back in the same boat that we were in a few weeks ago.”


Rest in Peace, Wendy: We Love You

(L to R) Connie & Craig (Wilson); Regina & Steve (Nelson); Wendy & Mark (Wilson).

 

We lost Wendy (far right), the Best Sister-in-Law in the World, on Saturday, April 18th. She was 62.

She had been battling cancer for over a year. Recently, the cancer (leukemia, this time) had returned and her immune system was compromised when 3 different strains of flu hit. She had a high fever and difficulty breathing.

Wendy was in the hospital for 7 weeks, most of them in intensive care. She had already battled through 2 bone marrow transplants, a mastectomy, and various bouts of chemotherapy. When she went to the emergency room, she was having trouble breathing and spiking a fever.

Over the next weeks, her fever would continue and the doctors expressed their desire to re-start chemotherapy in order to boost her white blood cell count and her body’s ability to fight off the flu. Wendy soldiered on.

Wendy and Me, Texas, summer, 2019.

She was intubated three times. Doctors don’t like to leave you on a respirator for too long, and Governor Cuomo of New York says that 80% of patients who are intubated don’t come off the machines. Wendy did, and sat in a chair and was transferred out of the ICU and was potentially going to be sent to a rehabilitation center, where she would have to relearn how to walk.

These last few weeks, she has not been able to have in-person visitors.

When the call came in at 3 a.m., Mark (her husband) was told he needed to come. Wendy was having great difficulty breathing and was probably dying. He could bring one other person.

Mark and Matt, Wendy’s oldest son who is marrying Samantha in June, went to the hospital. She was not unconscious, but was aware of her children, with whom they face-timed: Megan in Denver and Michael, the youngest, in St. Louis. Mark and Matt were bedside.

I will always remember Wendy’s infectious smile and her spirit. I remember wheeling my huge VCR into my classroom in Silvis to show my class there her appearance on “Wheel of Fortune,” where she won a trip to Hawaii and a lot of Gucci merchandise. (Her final puzzle was “Zero In On,” which also seems unfair). I remember being pregnant at the same time, with Wendy giving birth to Matt forty-four days before I gave birth to my youngest, Stacey (we have the pregnant photos, belly-to-belly to prove it).

WendyLife isn’t fair; Wendy should be here. We shouldn’t be scurrying to set up a Zoom family hook-up to memorialize her and restricting mourners in a church or cemetery to 10 people. She should be attending Matt’s wedding in June and having a great time, living in the moment.

Wendy was the World’s Best Sister-in-Law. I’m wearing the gold earrings she gave me for Xmas. I think she may even have liked me. I will miss her at every family gathering and think of her every time “Wheel of Fortune” comes on, oddly enough.

WendyRest in peace, Wendy. We love you and we will always remember and miss you. You put up a courageous fight and you should be here with us.

Executive Producer Ed Dezevallos Shares on Weekly Wilson Podcast

Home podcast office in Texas.

Tonight’s guest on “Weekly Wilson,” Ed Dezevallos, the 75-year-old Executive Producer of “Lone Star Deception” (now streaming on Amazon) was my guest tonight at 7 p.m. CDT.

Ed was an especially great guest, as he could “take the ball and run with it” conversationally, and, therefore, you get to hear less of me and more of him. His accomplishments are many, including a number of real estate developments over his 50-year career. I regret that I didn’t get to hear the rest of Ed’s “bucket list,” but being involved in making a film was one of those “bucket list” wishes and he spent 2 years shepherding the Eric Roberts, Anthony Ray Parker film to the screen. Last week, I interviewed Eric and Eliza Roberts,both of whom played roles in the film.

The other project that Ed has supervised was one designed to help young people learn about a variety of careers. Called www.soyouwanttobe.org, we spoke about this colorful and useful series of videos. I tried to play its upbeat cheery theme song from my laptop—3 times. No dice. (I had warned my guest that, if it were a technical matter, it probably wouldn’t work.)

If you would like to hear an interesting story about becoming the Executive Producer of a film at 75, it is cued up for your entertainment. Check it out.

Singing in Italy During the Pandemic

Tune In to Weekly Wilson, the Podcast on Thursday Nights (7 p.m., CDT)

Home podcast office in Texas.

The upcoming guest list for the Weekly Wilson podcast on the Bold Brave Media Global Network, while subject to changes in these uncertain times, looks like this through mid-May:

April 2, Thursday, 7 p.m. CDT – Texas author Charlotte Canion will speak with Connie about her book, “You Have to Laugh to Keep from Crying,” which is about coping with elderly parents when you may have health issues of your own.

April 9, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Film star Eric Roberts and his wife Eliza (also an actress) are re-scheduled after the shutdown of the network caused the cancellation. We’ll talk about Eric’s storied career, his role in “Lone Star Deception” and other topics of interest.

Eric Roberts & Anthony Ray Parker.

April 16, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Ed Dezevallos, Executive Producer of “Lone Star Deception” and the force behind a series of instructional videos for young people called www.soyouwanttobe.org will drop by.

April 23, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Dr Bill Kohl, an epidemiologist in charge of the University of Texas in Austin’s response to the Corona virus, will share insights and information.

April 30, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Jennifer Berliner, heart transplant and cancer survivor and blogger (www.anewheartrocks.com) will share various tips regarding “sheltering in place” and remaining positive in the face of adversity. (Read up on Jennifer’s background at her blog)

May 7, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – TBA

May 15, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Author Michael Serrapica returns to talk politics with Connie.

As always, listeners can find the podcast (Thursdays, 7 p.m. CDT on the Bold Brave Media Global Network) and phone in “live” at 866-451-1451.

Trump’s Statements Through This Crisis Tell the Truth (Which He Doesn’t)

The Covid-19 Coronavirus was first reported on December 1, 2019, in China by a courageous physician, Dr. Li Wenliang, who told other physicians that a SARS-like illness was spreading. For his concern, he was arrested along with 6 others and obliged to apologize for “spreading rumors.” Dr. Li Wenliang died of COVID-19 on February 7th. Until January 5th, the Chinese government engaged in a cover-up. As late as January 15th, official sources were saying the risk was low and that human-to-human transmission had not been proven. Only on January 23rd, 6 weeks in, did China quarantine Wuhan.

Back in the U.S. of A.:

January 22, 2020 – “We have it totally under control.” (DJT)

February 2, 2020 – “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

Two times in February, Trump said that “When we get into April, in the warmer weather—that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.”

February 26, 2020 – (Over 60 cases diagnosed) – “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

February 28, 2020 – (In South Carolina): “This is their new hoax. (Blaming the Democrats for the Chinese COVID-19 virus.)

March 6, 2020 – Continuation of the theme that the virus was “a hoax.” and “Anyone who wants a test can get a test.” Repetition of a “fake news/Ukraine” theme saying that the tests were “beautiful” and “The tests were all perfect, like the letter was perfect, the transcription was perfect, right?”

March 7, 2020 – asked if he was concerned about the virus, Trump replied, “No, we’ve done a great job.”

Two days after declaring that the virus was “under control” Trump declared himself “a war-time president” and said, “I’ve always know this is a real—this is a pandemic.  I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” He also gleefully proclaimed himself as “getting it” and being extremely good at understanding the epidemic.

With Vice President Joseph Biden (then Senator Biden) at the Jefferson Jackson dinner in Davenport, Iowa, caucus season, 2008.

Will November’s voters remember the criminal dishonesty that permitted this pestilence to hit us so very hard and kept us from preparing for the eventuality for so very long? Coupled with the damage to our national parks, our environment, our very planet, our alliances, our economy now (post-pandemic), with the evidence that management is not DJT’s forte, will informed voters finally get the message that drafting this guy was a bad idea? His remarks about opening up for business as usual have alarmed health experts, with the stated date being Easter—only a couple weeks away.

For the moment, the graphs and charts showing how GREAT our economy was doing—[supposedly all because of Trump, although the last 36 months of President Obama’s tenure showed an uptick after his saving of the economy from the housing collapse of 2007-2008]—have stopped. That is the only “good” thing I can point to from a worldwide epidemic that should show very clearly the true colors of the man who is unfit to lead a nation, let alone 4 bankrupt businesses. The second good thing to come from it will be if this ousts Trump from power.

The petty actions towards the Governors of Washington state and Michigan speak volumes. The failure to have bi-partisan shows of support for the stimulus bill when it was signed in the Oval Office: small and unpresidential. The grasping, ridiculous mewling of GOP Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and 2 others delaying the passage of the stimulus bill on the floor of the Senate far into the morning (1:30 a.m.). The only voice of reason seemed to be Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

What were Lindsey and Cruz so upset about? The stimulus package might give South Carolina workers $23 an hour for an hourly wage and, according to Graham, workers could be hired there for $15 an hour, largely because the minimum wage has been stalled for nearly a decade. And this was a problem why? Well, because, for 4 months (a finite period of time for the stimulus package), the citizens of South Carolina (whom Lindsey obviously thinks are a bunch of slackers) would rather NOT work than work, because of the pay difference. No thought given to those who welcome a return to normalcy and having something to do, including some structure in their lives.

Meanwhile, New Orleans needs 20,000 ventilators and has only received 200. Mardi Gras Parades, as usual, were, perhaps, not such a good idea. New York’s Governor Cuomo asked for 30 or 40,000 ventilators and had to argue with DJT over whether it needs that many. Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans are new “hot spots,” but New York is the worst. Parts of New York might be put under quarantine by the man who allowed this disaster to become worse, our president Donald J. Trump. Of course, the quarantine did not come up during a conversation between the Governor (Cuomo) and the President, as per usual. Management, transparency, and communication are not this president’s forte, as we know from the failure of his administration’s top-ranking officials to come to Congress when asked.

In Chicago, 3,000 cases wiith 34 deaths. Mayor Lori Lightfoot had to shut down beaches and Lake Shore Drive’s jogging trail. Young people are showing up in hospitals, like Rush. Dr. Omar Lateef, President & CEO of Rush University Medical Center expressed concern. Over 400 new cases in the past 24 hours, including within the jail population—one of the largest in the nation.640,589 cases worldwide, 111, 684 in the U.S. 1,850 deaths in the U.S. versus 29,848 worldwide. 138 people on board a cruise ship off the coast of Panama are sick. Delta is waiving costs for health care workers who are traveling to help volunteer in hard-hit states. All Nevada businesses closed by the Governor for 30 days. Los Angeles cases tripled in three days. Elon Musk took it upon himself to fly 1200 respirators to California from China. A hospital ship now sits offshore (The Mercy) of Los Angeles with 12 fully functioning medical operation rooms and a similar ship sits off the shores of New York City.

And so it goes when you elect a Con-man who is untrustworthy and he ends up heading up a nation during a national crisis. We all held our breaths when DJT was pronounced the winner of the presidency in the electoral college and hoped that he could continue skating on the thin ice that buoyed the economy—for a while.

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

Beyond the embarrassment we feel whenever Donald J. Trump unleashes his thin-skinned temper at an unsuspecting reporter or insults the Governor of a state for no good reason, beyond the jockeying for position our national leader displayed for the world to see, [shouldering aside the leader of Montenegro so he would be first in the picture at an international meeting]—those embarassments fade in comparison with statements that misled a nation with only a brief window of time to prepare, to get ready, to be prepared (as the Boy Scout oath says) for a once-in-a-lifetime crisis.

My mother lived through the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918. She was eleven, the same age as my twin granddaughters are now. I remember her stories of how only half of her sixth grade class returned to school after schools resumed and how flatbed trucks circulated in Hospers, Iowa, to pick up the dead bodies.

DJT blew this. Big time. Like the cheating husband who tries to win back his wife after infidelity with promises of better behavior in the future, DJT has not been equal to the challenge; people are dying because of it.

Future President of the United States?

Remember that in November when you vote. Before then, try to see the documentary “Kill Chain:  The Cyber War on America’s Elections” to prepare yourselves for the extent of the cheating that will occur this time around.

 

 

Texas Lt. Gov. Patrick Calls for the Wrong Kind of Sacrifice

Democratic National Convention, 2008, Denver: CNN Headquarters.

(*This is reprinted from the Opinion page of the 3/25 Austin American Statesman, who responded to the news that Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick had made some remarks about re-opening the economy, which were not only controversial, but stupid).

“Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has offered a reckless and false choice: Let some seniors die or watch as our economy crumbles.

“Let’s get back to work.  Let’s get back to living,” Patrick said Monday evening on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “Let’s be smart about it and those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country.”

It that means taking “a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren, Patrick said, then “I’m all in.”

The suggestion from Texas’ second-highest elected official is not only wrong-headed and cold, it’s dangerous.  The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t solely affect the elderly: about 40% of those hospitalized so far in the U.S. were ages 20 to 54 (50% in California).  Encouraging people to “get back to living” disregards the warnings by public health experts and risks further spread of this highly contagious disease.

Morally, we cannot accept the argument that the deaths of our neighbors of any age are a necessary trade-off for the health of our economy.  And, from a practical standpoint, economists tell us this is not true: going back to our old way of life while the coronavirus spreads will lead to more sickness and death, more lost wages, more strain on our hospitals and medical professionals, making it even harder to climb out of the recession that is likely already here.

Our best bet to help the economy is to contain the virus that is hurting it.

Governor Greg Abbott has worked to do so by temporarily closing schools and dine-in restaurants statewide, boosting the number of nurses and hospital beds, and asking for President Donald Trump to issue a major disaster declaration that would provide more badly needed federal aid to Texas.

Yet there is Patrick, Abbott’s self-professed wingman, undermining all of those efforts by suggesting we ditch the social distancing efforts that are the heart of our public health response.

Patrick’s statement comes as Trump is also pushing to reopen public life while public health experts urge isolation, creating a cacophony of mixed messages when Americans need clear, consistent direction. Lives are at stake.

Yes, we all want this emergency to end.

But Patrick is asking Texans to make the wrong kinds of sacrifices to get there.”

“Weekly Wilson” Podcast of Thursday, March 26th: Politics

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).

My second podcast was an interview with Texas author Michael Serrapica, author of “Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals.” We talked about the various propaganda techniques that abound in politics.

Michael has agreed to join me at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday, March 26th, to talk more about politics, in general, and about my two political books, “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House,” Vols. I & II and his book.

We will probably wander off-topic and discuss All Things Political. Remember, you can call in as the program is “Live” on the Bold Brave Media Global Network (Channel 100), Weekly Wilson.

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