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: travel Page 2 of 14

Arrived in Des Moines for Oscar Night Prediction Party

We have arrived in Des Moines (Iowa) from Austin (Texas) for our Annual Oscar Predicting Contest with our oldest and dearest friends.

The planes out of Austin to Des Moines were few and far between.  There were two and neither flight was direct.

We flew through St. Louis and I was able to put my winter coat in the overhead bin and remain comfortable on the way to St. Louis. It was on the way from St. Louis to Des Moines, when I also put my winter coat in the overhead bin, that I became cold. The last thirty minutes of the 43 minute-flight were cold.

When we arrived in Des Moines, a famous CNN talking head had just landed, also. (Don’t ask me which one; I was claiming my luggage.)

I was wearing a pair of boots purchased in Austin for wear in the frigid Midwestern winter. I wore them for roughly 20 minutes while walking from the Des Moines Airport Terminal to the car in the parking lot. They are now officially dirty, covered with mud and “christened” in the fashion of Iowa winters.

I was struck by the number of Good ‘Ol Boys draped about on airport chairs when we arrived at 10 p.m. They all were wearing baseball caps and were heavily bundled in winter coats, sometimes with “Iowa” insignia that proclaimed Number One Fan.

It is truly cold and miserable here in the capital city of the state of Iowa. After turning in at 2:30 a.m. I got up about 4-ish and noted that it was sleeting icily outdoors. Today (Saturday), the day before the Academy Awards, it is gray, grim, cold and unpleasant-looking outside. We checked the temperature in Austin: 75 degrees.

I am now watching “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and enjoying, once again, the choices of music used in the background to set the mood. Both Melissa McCarthy and her co-star, Richard E. Grant, are nominated in tomorrow night’s ceremony, and I truly loved this film. Do the two principals stand a chance. Sadly, I think not yet I enjoyed their performances a great deal. After sitting through “Boy Erased” (shut out) and “Ben Is Back” (shut out) and “Beautiful Boy” (shut out) I definitely needed something that wasn’t all gloom and doom and focused on the youth of America either succumbing to an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or sex.

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is a true gem. See if, if you can.

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out (Con’t, #2)

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                                        Beto O’Rourke, Wikipedia

Here’s why the illegal immigration population grew: as we made it harder for people to cross into the United States, we made it less likely that, once here, they would attempt to go back to their home country.  Fearing an increasingly militarized border, circular patterns of migration became linear, with immigrants choosing to remain in the U.S., many of them ultimately joined by family members from their home country.

This government-created condition continued to feed upon itself:

“The sustained accelerating accumulation of anti-immigrant legislation and enforcement operation produced a massive increase in border apprehensions after the late 1970s, when the underlying flow of migrants had actually leveled off.  For any given number of undocumented entry attempts, more restrictive legislation and more stringent enforcement operations generated more apprehensions, which politicians and bureaucrats could then use to inflame public opinion, which led to more conservatism and voter demands for even stricter laws and more enforcement operations, which generated more apprehensions, thus bringing the process full circle.

In short, the rise of illegal migration, its framing as a threat to the nation, and the resulting conservative reaction set off a self-feeding chain reaction of enforcement that generated more apprehensions, even though the flow of undocumented migrants had stabilized in the late 1970s and actually dropped during the late 1980s and early 1990s.”

This would only get worse.

(Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out, Continued, Day 2)

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out

Beto O’Rourke photo from his Facebook page.

Beto O’Rourke reached out via an e-mail and, since I’ll be traveling for the Oscar weekend, I’m going to break it up into smaller sections and share it with those of you who have, perhaps, not received it. I probably received it because I contributed to his campaign against Ted Cruz; I am in Texas. We are likely to hear a lot more about Beto O’Rourke, I think, so hear him out, in smaller segments. Thanks!

Connie:

The President came to El Paso last week.  He promised a wall and repeated his lies about the dangers that immigrants pose.  With El Paso as the backdrop, he claimed that this city of immigrants was dangerous before a border fence was built here in 2008. (*Untrue, El Paso was named the nation’s 2nd safest city after San Jose, California in one poll).

El Paso was one of the safest communities in the United States before the fence was built here. The president said the wall saves lives. In fact, walls push desperate families to cross in ever more hostile terrain, insuring greater suffering and more deaths.  He spoke about immigrants and crime, when immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than Americans born here. It’s worth thinking about how we got to this place.

How did it come to be that 11 million undocumented immigrants call America home? How did we come to militarize our border?  How did we arrive at such a disconnect between our ideals, our values, the reality of our lives, and the policies and political rhetoric that govern immigration and border security?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the challenges we face are largely of our own design—a function of the unintended consequences of immigration policy and the rhetoric we’ve used to describe immigrants and the border.  At almost every step of modern immigration policy and immigration politics, we have exacerbated underlying problems and made things worse.  Sometimes with the best of intentions, sometimes with the most cynical exploitation of nativism and fear.

Much of the history of immigration policy, and the source for the data that I’m using, is powerfully summarized in a report entitled “Unintended Consequences of U.S. Immigration Policy:  Explaining the Post-1965 Surge from Latin America,” by Douglas S. Massey and Karen A. Pren.

In 1965, the United States ended the bracero farm-worker program, in part because of the sub-standard wages and conditions in which these Mexican workers labored.  And yet, after decades of employing this labor, with our economy dependent on the laborers and the laborers dependent on access to the U.S. job market, the system of low-cost Mexican labor didn’t go away.  Many of the same Mexican nationals returned to the U.S., returned to the same back-breaking jobs, only now they were undocumented.  Ironically, despite the intent of the 1965 law ending the program, they enjoyed fewer protections and wage guarantees in the shadows as they continued to play a fundamental role in our economy.

As this same population converted from being documented to undocumented, a wave of scary metaphors was employed to gin up anxiety and paranoia and the political will to employ ever more repressive policies to deter their entry.  It was good for politicians and newspapers, but terrible for immigrants and immigration policy.  Thus began the “Latino threat” narrative.

As Massey and Pren wrote:

“The most common negative framing depicted immigration as a ‘crisis’ for the nation.  Initially, marine metaphors were used to dramatize the crisis, with Latino immigration being labeled a ‘rising tide’ or a ‘tidal wave’ that was poised to ‘inundate’ the United States and ‘drown’ its culture while ‘flooding’ American society with unwanted foreigners (Santa Ana 2002).  Over time, marine metaphors increasingly gave way to martial metaphors, with illegal immigration being depicted as an ‘invasion’ in which ‘outgunned’ Border Patrol agents sought to ‘hold the lin’ in a vain attempt to ‘defend’ the border against ‘attacks’ from ‘alien invaders’ who launched ‘banzai charges’ to overwhelm American defenses.” (Nevins 2001; Chavez 2008).

The fear stoked by politicians produced the intended paranoia and political constituency demanding ever tougher immigration measures.  The result of this was not to stop undocumented immigration.

Instead, it caused the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States to grow.
(Beto O’Rourke’s words continued tomorrow)

Trump’s First Hotel (Grand Hyatt NYC) Will Crash Like Builder

Grand Central Terminal, right next to the Hyatt where Thrillerfest was held.

Today’s good news is that the Hyatt (Manhattan) in New York City attached to Grand Central Station (Hyatt Grand Central) that Donald Trump bought when it was the Commodore and revamped is being bought and torn down. Yay!

This has to be one of the worst Hyatts, (if not one of the worst hotels in general), that I’ve ever had the misfortune to stay in, not once but at least three times at International Thriller Writers’ Conferences.

Let me elaborate:

The first time I stayed at this Hyatt I could not figure out how to turn the lights off in my room. The rooms don’t have normal light switches. They have strange little electrical plates that don’t work. The men sent up by the desk couldn’t get them to work, either. I ended up having to put a pillow over my head and trying to sleep with the lights on for three days.

David Morrell, an ITW staple.

Secondly, I like bath tubs. I was on a ridiculously high Hyatt floor and there was no water pressure AND no hot water when I tried to hop in the tub and wash my hair quickly. My flight from Chicago had been delayed an entire day; I was lucky to be able to make it in time to “pitch” my novel “The Color of Evil” to a variety of folk. The only person I chose to “pitch” it to was Tony Eldridge, because I knew Tony, personally (slightly). We compared horror stories of our travels. Tony had been stuck on a train, as I recall, traveling from Malibu to New York City, and that had not gone well, either.

The worst thing that happened to me while staying at the Grand Hyatt (aside from the sleeping with the pillow over my head thing) was when I wandered out to get some ice or a can of diet soda. I managed to get my hand (actually, my finger) stuck in a decorative wall plaque that I thought was the “door” to a recessed vending machine. (Hint: it wasn’t). I literally was to the point that images of James Franco amputating his own arm when stuck in a canyon in “24 Hours” were dancing in my brain, as I could not get the ring finger on my right hand back OUT of the crevice on the right after I stuck it IN the crevice, thinking that it would swing open somehow. IN reality, this was a gigantic recessed wall thing-ie meant to be decorative, set near the elevator doors where you would expect ice and soda machines to be located. It hurt like a SOB when I (finally) managed to force my finger back out of the tight spot, most of the skin cleverly removed by the incident.

The last time I stayed at the Grand Hyatt, while attending the workshop presented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco enforcement officers, I actually asked the woman in charge if there wasn’t ANY other hotel that we could have this conference at besides one that was famous as Trump’s first real estate venture in the eighties. The hotel had no cafeteria or cafe (you had to walk over to Grand Central Station’s food court through a tunnel) and the bar was the most ridiculously overpriced bar in Manhattan. I noticed on the third trip to this hotel that literally none of the “famous” authors who had frequented that bar my first year of attendance (Jon Land, Heather Graham, David Morrell, the “Game of Thrones” guy who was there the last two years, etc.) were hanging out in the bar any more. I’m sure they were able to find a much more reasonably priced bar in the area, and one with adequate seating.

Last, but not least, the day I was leaving I had to kill several hours until my plane departed. I checked out by 11 a.m., as required, and left my bags at the desk. Most hotels will happily store your bags for a few hours, but not the Grand Hyatt. There was an hourly charge, per bag, to store your bags in their storage room, despite the fact that you had just paid an outrageous amount to stay in their facility for several days.

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They can’t tear it down fast enough to suit me. From what I have read, the number of rooms available will decline from something like 1300 to 500, so, hopefully International Thriller Writers will find a different venue for the annual conference—hopefully one that has a coffee shop and a bar that is conducive to friends and fellow authors gathering in the hotel, rather than having to leave and go elsewhere to be seated and/or to be able to afford the ridiculously overpriced drinks.

Not my favorite Hyatt, and with the Trump history, truly a hotel worthy of tearing down. Did I mention that they charged you an outrageous amount to use the Internet in the room? If you wanted free Internet, you had to go to the lobby. While I realize that is not that uncommon with high-priced hotels, it did nothing to endear me to the place, since I had no hot water, couldn’t turn my lights off (yes, I called downstairs and the desk told me that they had problems of the sort in the hotel all the time before sending someone up who couldn’t fix it) all night, and found the entire place cold, sterile and uninviting.

New Content Coming Tomorrow: Stay Tuned

Biden on the caucus campaign trail in Iowa prior to the 2008 presidential race. Don’t worry: I’ll be back to politics by the end of the week.

Content: I’ve been experimenting with trying to post new content on this blog every day.

This is hard when you are a staff of one and have a life, but no new material, i.e., content.

Of course, I don’t have much of a life at the moment, but I did play Hand & Foot Canasta all day today, so I don’t have anything “new” to share with all of you, except that the drive to play “Hand & Foot Canasta” is so far that it took me almost an hour to get there. And it starts at 11 a.m., so I was up early, for me.

I had received a somewhat snarky request that I “not be late.” I was not late, but 2 other people were late (one never showed up at all), and, therefore, my table of newcomers who are learning the game started play with 2 “ghost” players represented by a piece of paper. Those hands were played by our best player (Inga) who did a remarkable job. Inga, who has a pronounced German accent, is truly a good player, as she was able to play HER hand and supervise the 2 pieces of paper that represented the MIA players, one of whom never showed up at all. Apparently you need either 4, 6 or 8 players; we had 5 by game’s end, which made the order in which we would draw and discard cards somewhat irregular.

I had just gotten myself used to the fact that I was the player who would “follow Inga’s discard” when, as it turned out, Inga was playing  THREE TIMES.  I, however, was not.  It became very complex to even know if or when it was even my turn—[and I had 2 sets of rules from the one time I played 2 years ago while visiting my friend Marilyn at the Senior Citizen Center (which is also far away, but not nearly as far as the Blue Cafe where we played here in Austin.)]

I am unclear whether we won or lost. That’s the truth. No idea at all.

I think the first set of hands we were so far down that we couldn’t find up, so everyone decided that we would just call it a “practice round.” One woman (Katie) said she never cared about the score, anyway. That was fine if you’re Katie, but some of us who are going to spend 5 hours playing a game would like to know, at the end of that time, whether we “won” or “lost.” I’m thinking we “lost” the first round and maybe won (?) the last. Who knows? More content on that when I figure it out.

What I do know is that I accidentally left my expensive metal cup in the rest room (I took my own ice because the ice situation is dire with the staff; they bring you a pitcher of water and a pitcher of iced tea, but no glasses, so…). I am sorry I left a $20 thermal cup in the rest room, but I have 2 bright spots of content to share.

#1) I gave a homeless guy in an intersection with a sign one of my 2 cans of Diet Dr. Pepper at a stoplight. He had a sign that read “Anything will help” and it was the only thing I had time to hand him before the light changed.

#2) I walked past a truly cool store at the Galleria (where the restaurant is located) and bought myself a white shawl-like garment that I will, henceforth, carry with me when the AC may be too cold…like all the time. More content on that as the temperatures in Austin soar to 78 or so in the next two days.

#3) I also realized that I had parked my car ON the curb. (I wondered what that large “bump” was when I backed in doing my best imitation of parallel parking.)

So, tomorrow, I am either going to review “Glass,” the new M. Night Shymalan film, OR make predictions about the upcoming Oscars. Stay tuned for further developments. Let me know if you have a preference. Content! Content! Content!

Fact-Checking Trump’s Feb. 1st Claims

Cabo San Lucas in November, 2018. Claims justified as to its danger, but reports say it is improving with additional police presence.

I never thought I’d see the day when I would have to fact check every single claim that a sitting U.S. President made, but that day has arrived. Oh, yes, we always had to take some figures and facts from any president (“W,” in particular) with a grain of salt, but it has become increasingly clear that we cannot believe even one fact or figure that comes out of Donald J. Trump’s mouth without confirming it independently, so I thought I would spend a small amount of time doing just that. I consulted sources like the U.K. “Guardian” that are not known to be prominently right or left, and I read more than one source. So, I’ve done your work for you, Kids!

I boldfaced a lot of Trump’s “claims” in yesterday’s speech from the Oval Office to help me in this onerous task. I don’t claim that I have done as good a job as Snopes, but bear with me, Sportsfans!

The first claim that I want to cry LOUDLY is pure B.S. is The Donald’s bragging about how much he has accomplished in these last 2 years in office. (“I’ve done more than any other president has ever done in the first 2 years of his presidency.“) The truth is that a quick check of just ONE President (FDR) and his first 100 days in office—far less than 2 years— would prove that Trump has a high opinion of himself that is undeserved. Anyone who was alive when Obama took command of the housing mess in 2008, inherited from George W. Bush, can provide a list of  the actions Obama took to save the auto industry and keep our economy from collapsing. (Thank God it wasn’t Trump who was in office then!).

  1. TRUMP’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE PAST 2 YEARS:

In FDR’s first 100 days in office (3 months), he pushed through 15 major bills (March 4, 1933) including the Emergency Banking Relief Act, the Federal Emergency Relief Act which was a state-run welfare program, the Homeowners’ Loan Act, Glass vs Steagall Act, which guaranteed deposits in banks that were under $5,000 (and loans for a few million) AND he took  the nation off the gold standard. I could probably do a similar comparison with every one of the other 44 presidents, but suffice it to say that Trump has not “accomplished more while in office in my first 2 years than anyone else.”  (Not much honor in causing the longest shutdown in U.S. history.)

2.  FENTANYL:

The second claim I checked out was whether or not China has, at Trump’s urging, declared fentanyl illegal and stopped the flow of the drug into the U.S. The CNBC comment on this was: “Chinese state media said only that the nation will work on controlling fentanyl, language that falls short of the White House statement.” Apparently, fentanyl was already illegal. [This reminds me of Trump’s many pronouncements about North Korea’s arms building following his meeting with their leader; nothing substantive was signed, sealed or delivered during those meetings].

3.  MEXICO’S MURDER RATE:

Cancun, Captain’s Cove, 2018

Trump said: “38,000 people were being murdered in Mexico, up 38% from previous years. It is one of the most unsafe countries in the world.” This statement comes closest to being true, but there are some caveats here, as with anything Trump says. The murders per 100,000 in 2017 were listed as 25 per 100,000 (versus 19.4 in 2011). Murders went up 16% in 2018. In the first half of this year, the reports were 15,973 murders and, if you double that, you come up with 31,946, which is close to what Trump cited.

The problem, currently, is that the Jalisco and Sinaloa drug cartels are competing for control after El Chapo’s arrest and imprisonment.  These figures are important to me, with a time share in Mazatlan in Sinaloa and a couple in Cancun (Quintana Roo). The murder rate in Mazatlan is (currently) 71 per 100,000. (Honduras and El Salvador, by comparison, chart 60 per 100,000 ). The most dangerous state is Colima with 80 per 100,000. Quintana Roo, where we have vacationed at Easter for the past 25 years, has a rate of 35 per 100,000, a 132% increase. All these figures are courtesy of The Guardian (July 23, 2018). [I’m particularly interested in Cancun with an April 6th arrival date this year.] Recently, El Poncho (Alfonso Contieras Espinoza) and his wife were gunned down while he was hospitalized at Playamed Hospital.  Los Cabos  (we just spent a week in Cabos at Thanksgiving) was characterized as “the most dangerous city outside a war zone.” There is a new gang called the Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) and they are fighting with the Gulf cartel for control of Baja Peninsula’s drug trade. A former Mayor of Playa del Carmen (Mauricio Gongora) was recently accused of misappropriating $13.3 million.  There was the explosion on a ferry boat that killed 9, which was said to be drug-related. Still, the occupancy rate in Cancun remains 83%; tourism is 8% of Mexico’s annual GDP. Still, 84% of the locals in Cancun do not find their side of town, away from the Hotel Zone, “safe” and complain that they have third world facilities in a first world city, when a pot hole has gone unfixed for 15 years and has gotten so bad that they recently held a birthday party for it (zip-line across the large gulch) to underscore their dissatisfaction. So, The Donald is not wrong about the need for Mexico to get its murder rate under control (much like Chicago); the preliminary report from Cabo, is that an increased police presence has been instituted and is working there.

Royal Islander, Cancun, 2018

4) CHINA TARIFFS:

Trump seems to think that we are profiting from the tariffs with China. (Two economists analyzed this (Krill Borusyak of Princeton and Xavier Jaravel of the London School of Economics) and they say the tariffs will cost the average American family $127 a year.  Among other manufacturers that will have to increase their prices in the face of Trump’s tariff decision are Walmart, the Gap, Coca-Cola, General Motors and Macy’s. The list of products that will increase because of Trump’s poorly-thought-out decision include TVs, home repair materials and home building materials, washing machines, solar panels, cars, beer, cosmetics, electronics and clothing. And don’t get me started on the loss of the soy bean market (et. al.) for American farmers.

5) CARAVAN MEMBERS

As for the caravan members and how many of them are “bad dudes,”, of 4,841 registered migrants applying for housing in a sports complex in Mexico as part of their caravan to seek asylum, 1,726 were below the age of 18. Three hundred and ten were under the age of 5; 2,700 applied for temporary visas in Mexico upon arrival. Of the approximately 5% of the caravan’s members who have a criminal record, 32% of them were because they were undocumented in the country, 16% were for drug possession, 14% were for traffic violations, 10% were for assault and  1.7% were for sexual assault, Trump’s biggest talking point. (“They throw the woman onto the back seat of cars with black masking tape on their mouths; they turn left, blah, blah, blah.”) These figures mean that 95% of the caravans’ members were NOT in any way “criminals” and the “crimes” that the others were accused of were often minor, yet Trump sent 5,000 U.S. troops to the border to deal with these (primarily) women and children.

 

 

 

Cabo Return and “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix

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.

Cabo San Lucas at Thanksgiving, November 19-26, 2018

 

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.”

Stacey takes a selfie.

San Antonio Film Festival, August 1-5 in San Antonio

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.

Cancun Pictures While Snow Falls in Illinois

Cancun, Mexico, April 14, 2018

An emergency weather alert for Rock Island County (IL) reached me here in Cancun, Mexico, predicting SNOW and sleety rain on Wednesday (tomorrow) and a generally horrible-sounding bit of post-Easter weather. Ugh.

Everyone but Stacey in this one, on the bridge at the Royal Islander.

I am posting a couple of pictures from where I am hiding out till it truly IS spring (or summer, at this rate), which is Cancun, Mexico.

 

Enjoy. Or don’t. You have my sympathies.

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