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!
Time in Austin is dwindling and the return to the Midwest is upon us.
As a result we journeyed out to my favorite downtown restaurant, The Roaring Fork. I don’t often post pictures of food, but I’m going to post a picture of the dining room, the bar, and my favorite dish on the menu, the chicken with dressing and green beans, which retails for around $24 and is delicious!
When we headed downtown, we had planned to stroll around after dinner and see what might be going on downtown, but when the temperature hit 108 and it was still 95 degrees at 9 p.m., that plan died a grisly death.
The other random topic I want to address is the Minions fad of dressing up to attend the new Minions movie.
The Roaring Fork, Austin, Texas.
It immediately reminded me of a long-ago field trip with my class at Silvis Junior High School. We were going to be sharing the movie auditorium with another junior high school (John Deere Junior High) and I wanted my students to behave. It had not escaped my attention that the day we were set to make the field trip was also the day that our school normally had something called Dress Up Day.
So, on the blackboard of my classroom, I wrote “DUD Day” and explained that that meant Dress Up for Deere day.
The kids got behind the idea and showed up looking like they were going to Sunday church or out on a fancy date. The girls looked lovely; the boys were also dressed like those attending the Minions movie that I’ve seen. My students were very well-behaved, and I think their attire was part of that equation. John Deere Junior High’s? Not so much.
I was never so proud of my wonderful students as when they got behind the idea of DUD Day and behaved like the ladies and gentlemen I knew they could be. They were on their best behavior.
I think dressing up for movies and other formal occasions–something my generation did as a matter of course—is a wonderful idea. It’s nice to know that it’s not totally dead, even if the dressing up, this time, is for a totally digital online fad/reason. (And no throwing bananas if you’re dressed up at the Minions movie!)
Front row: Stacey Wilson, Ava Wilson, Elise Wilson ad Aaron Eddy (in glasses). Rachel (girlfriend) and Michael Wilson (full beard). Jessica Wilson in center, wearing hat. Owen Castelein (9 years old) next to his father Chris Castelein (my nephew on the Corcoran side). Scott Wilson with hand up (the host); Hannah Wilson Poffenbarger (glasses on head in center). Megan Wilson Eddy with baby Winnie; Matt Wilson and Mark Wilson; Regina Wilson Nelson; Samantha Liss Wilson (back right, mouth open, hat on head). Sophia Castelein, daughter of Chris (above Jess’s hat). Standing on steps to pool: Craig and Connie Wilson. Standing, clothed, by pool’s edge: Steve Nelson.
Celebrants traveled from Denver, St. Louis, Nashville, the IA/IL Quad Cities, and from the local neighborhood of Austin, Texas, to add up to, at times, a total of close to 30 Wilsons and friends, celebrating the Fourth of July with delicious home-cooked brisket, ribs, sausage and side dishes with an active slate of competitions, including bags tournaments, a new Skip-and-Toss in-pool game, pool volleyball, foosball, and (at a nearby Armadillo Garden bar night), a game involving hooking a metal loop onto a hook.
The temperatures were near 100 degrees and that sounds as though it stretched across the U.S., as friends I spoke with in Des Moines and Minneapolis were complaining about the excessive heat, as well.
Big debts of gratitude are owed the host and hostess of the event, Scott and Jessica Wilson, who had 13 people sleeping at their house at one point. My small ranch hosted two of the guests, and a For-Rent-By-Owner house with 3 bedrooms housed most of the 8 people from St. Louis who flew in.
Along with the back yard festivities a water park and a go-kart track have been scheduled into the mix and, in other years, we rented a traveling bar and peddled it around town, took the Austin bat cruise at night, and rented a pontoon boat for floating on a nearby lake. All-in-all, it sounds like a massive undertaking to bring all the elements to fruition at the right time and in the right sequence, and when you add in at least 6 school-age children of various ages and an 11-month old baby about to turn one on August 23rd, satisfying everyone’s expectations for the holiday is quite a chore.
In a previous pre-pandemic year the fireworks, visible from the house driveway, were spectacular, but the dry conditions existing in this area now brought many words of caution regarding the locals setting off fireworks. While we could hear fireworks, we really couldn’t see that many and ended up watching fireworks mostly on television.
Daughter Stacey; Granddaughters Elise (with baby Winnie) and Ava Wilson.
The news of the Highland Park Massacre of spectators at a Fourth of July parade in their downtown area was a constant background noise. We held this event—mostly outdoors—during the pandemic and barely left the house that year. With the violence in this country extending to malls, houses of worship, concerts, parades and other gatherings, one wonders if staying away from crowds at all times is going to become de rigeur The first thing I said to my husband after the Highland Park massacre was that my literary agent lives in nearby Deerfield and that the towns, like Skokie, Illinois, have a sizable Jewish population. I wondered if this kind of hate crime was a factor?
Just a moment ago, on CNN, a local rabbi appeared, supposedly to share an encounter he had had with the shooter in the months before the cowardly attack, but the rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Schanowitz had been told not to talk about his April encounter with the accused shooter. It’s a sad commentary that this rabbi sketched how his religious group has to have armed guards (off duty policemen) and other synagogue members who are legally armed to protect worshipers in America from violence.
Those who know the history of the Holocaust know that Hitler made the Jews and gypsies the whipping boys and girls for his subsequent crimes and it is tragic to think that people who merely want to pray have to be protected against acts of random violence.
Cousins Chris Castelein (Hiawatha, IA), and host Scott Wilson (Brodie Springs, Austin, Tx). Chris and Scott were college roomnates and Chris was Best Man in Scott’s wedding 20 years ago.
Although this event injected a note of extreme sadness into the otherwise joyous weekend, this event in the very community where the films “Risky Business,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and “Home Alone” were filmed will remain linked with this year’s Family Fest.
This one is in the books and hats off to the Chief Organizers (Scott & Jessica) who put up with the presence of 21 family members, plus others, for periods of up to a week. Most began drifting out on the actual Fourth of July and the remnants of the party group, with the exception of Yours Truly, who will be here until July 11th have now properly celebrated our nation’s birthday. Since we’re in Texas and one never knows what the Texans will want to do about remaining in the United States (of America), this is one for the books and here is an Emily Dickinson quote that seems appropriate.
Twenty-three million Americans are now completely vaccinated against Covid-19 and 70 million have had the first (of two) shots. I am among the seventy million who just received the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, today, at 12:30 p.m., at an HEB grocery store in Austin, Texas.
Stephen K. Austin Sonesta Hotel, 701 S. Congress Ave., Austin, Tx.
Sonesta Hotel, formerly the Intercontinental Hotel in Austin, Texas.
We have been placing ourselves on various lists (State list, HEB, CVS, Walgreen’s) for months now. I even got a local doctor, thinking that might help (it didn’t).
I finally took to tweeting to various entities and wrote an e-mail to HEB, since the state website seemed completely unworkable. That site would ask you to select a pasword, which we did. When we’d try to check back in to see if there was any vaccine available (usually not), it would not accept our passwords, even though we knew what they were. We would then be forced to say “Forgot password.” The site would say it was going to send us an e-mail (to our e-mail boxes), an e-mail which never arrived.
I pinned my hopes on HEB, which has performed brilliantly during the pandemic for well over a year. Their Favor delivery service has been phenomenal, and far better than similar services in the Midwest. Today, I spent 20 minutes sitting in a chair waiting for my name to be called outside the pharmacy inside the HEB store at 2701 E. 7th St. in Austin, Texas. Later, I wrote to HEB, “You may have literally saved my life.”
We are slated to travel to Mexico near Easter and the thought of travel at this time is scary and travel without a vaccination is terrifying. We already had Covid-19 in October, but getting the vaccination, as many of you know, has been an arduous process.
So, I kept pestering anyone I could think of to pester, with tweets, phone calls and e-mail. After writing about this to HEB, I called one of their stores and asked to be connected to the pharmacy. I held for a “live” person for a long time, but after we spoke she said there was one spot, at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28th (today). As she was making that appointment for me, another opened up and she said she only had 8 minutes to fill it, for my husband, who was booked on Saturday, Feb. 27th. This means that our second shots will take place on or near his birthday (March 21st).
It also means that I got the Big Bright Idea of driving downtown and getting a hotel room nearby for one night. We dined at the Roaring Fork and made it to our appointments and I have included pictures of the Stephen K. Austin Sonesta Hotel, which used to be the Intercontinental Hotel at 701 Congress Avenue (until a month ago.) I had always wanted to see the rooms in this hotel, since it is Grand Central Station during the normal SXSW Film Festival.
Well, because of the idea that installing a Windows 10 would be an “improvement,” I’ve been without ANY Internet service in Chicago since October 28th. A technician came out on a Saturday, but he needed access to a closet that is kept locked and can only be accessed by the building manager. (We have a building manager, but only Monday through Friday).
I was able to get a board member of the building to let us in, but more bad news awaited us in that he needed to “put a ticket in” to AT&T to do some sort of “upgrade” and, long story longer, he is coming back on November 14th to (hopefully) put an end to my computer woes at the condo and exponentially increase the speed of my new computer while reducing my bill by half. (I’ll believe THAT when it happens.) When he left, he didn’t make it clear that he had left me high and dry with no Internet AT ALL, so I was pretty much up a creek without a paddle unless I wanted to find a Starbucks. Since I was waiting on Deborah Riley Draper (director of “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”) to respond to my questions, I decided to wait until returning to East Moline, 3 and 1/2 hours away, to continue with movie reviews.
We were hanging around in Chicago during the World Series hysteria. (In fact, my son drove all the way to Cleveland from Pittsburgh and was present at the 7th game last night; ticket price $998; and my husband and son bought rooftop seats at Wrigley for Game #4 for $1008 apiece.) The priorities quickly shifted from movies to baseball and I’m not sure if we are driving back to Chicago now for the homecoming or what. (Keep in mind, Chicago has waited for over 100 years for this!)
I am now using my desktop (Windows 7) in the basement, since it is not involved in the upgrade (yet) or the slow speed I had always blamed on my Vista computer when it seems it may have been the fault of the building’s Internet provider not being as fast as possible. While I have a laptop, it was affected by the same issues in Chicago and it is a Windows 10, which I am still learning how to fully operate.
No, I do not currently like it, but that’s par for the course for me and new technology, which is ironic when you consider that I owned and operated a Prometric Testing Center (computers) from 1995 to 2003 (along with Sylvan Learning Center #3301 in Bettendorf, Iowa).
I just got home and working on “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice,” which is now up. It opens in December on HBO. I asked Deborah Riley Draper (its director) if it was “okay” to run with a review now and she was more than positive on that idea, but she also has not sent back her responses to my 10 questions and my last words to her were: “I’ll wait to hear from you to write up the film.”
I’ve now given up on “waiting” for her, so I can get on the review, and I’ll do “Heartstone: from the film festival, as well, and I may write something on “Hacksaw Ridge.”
So, it’s been All Baseball, All the Time here. The son and heir got roughly 3 hours of sleep after deciding on the spur of the moment to drive from Pittsburgh to Cleveland for the game, with no ticket to get in. He then flew back home to Austin today and just called us from St. Louis.
Meanwhile, we will be flying to Austin on Nov. 15 to close on a house there that started being built for us in July. (No, we’re not selling the other 2).