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!

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What does Black Panther bring to the table?

First of all, it’s Black History Month and time for Black Panther, the film.

February is  the month with the fewest days, but  African-Americans rise to the

occasion by celebrating the achievements of their ancestors in February.

This film is more fit for the occasion because it is the only film in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) to feature a predominately African American cast, an African American director, and great role models for African American children. T’Challa of Wakanda, aka The Black Panther ,made his debut back in 2016 in the heavily  hero populated film Captain America: Civil War.

Now his awesomeness has his own film. It’s not just a blockbuster film.  It’s a movie that’ll feed the culture, the culture being everything that African Americans stand for. Most films either feature African Americans as slaves, maids, or as silly creatures. This is a film where they  got the culture right tying the roots of the film s back to African origins. This film goes beyond the comic book movie cliches of fantasy, explosions, science experiments gone wrong, love triangles, or training montages.

Creed’s director Ryan Coogler who was snubbed at many awards ceremonies. He set

  the film in the fictional country of Wakanda, a hidden kingdom in Africa, one of the

most secretive and technologically advanced countries in the MCU mainly because of

its reserves of the world’s most useful but rare metal, vibranium.

Aside from setting the film in Africa. Coogler and Chadwick Boseman

considered what they could do to make Wakanda and its people more authentic.

Via Youtube /©Marvel Studios 2018

One thing about Marvel is that their stable of characters is diverse. The revolutionary

Stan Lee creator of Black Panther said, “He’s an interesting character that is going

to be such a different a things for the audience to see on screen.”

T’Challa was last seen in Captain America: Civil War  giving the business to everyone that stood in his way but also coming to grips with his father’s death and the knowledge that he has to assume leadership of his country. That is what makes him such a complex character . That is why Black Panther is on a whole other level. He’s not just a hero. He’s a leader of many.

Boseman who has portrayed many African American heroes on screen in the past, will not be alone in this step forward for African Americans in cinema. Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker are among many others who are helping carry the weight of this film.

It is not just the names that make the movie stand out. It is the message the film is sending. One message is that women of color are fully capable. The women of Wakanda explained what makes the country so special. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly Angela Bassett explained that “It’s a nation that respects and reveres women. They think of us not just as Queens but as the Queen Mother. Mother is the nurturer and the first teacher. That position is embraced. She’s not someone who is off to the side.”

Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly/ Kwaku Alston/©Marvel Studios 2018

Via Youtube/ ©Marvel Studios 2018

The film is already sold out in pre-order tickets. Advance reviews are positive.  The cultural appreciation is on point. This is a movie that Marvel fans have been waiting for like dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

Black Panther definitely has a lot to bring to the table. I hope everyone is ready for the release February 16th.

“Black Lightning” on the CW Premieres for DC Comics Fans

by Zayin Allen

(Episode 1, “Resurrection” trailer.)

The CW has sparked the attention of many DC comic book fans and their new show (debuted January 16th) “Black Lightning” has electrified the entire network.

The first African-American superhero in DC Comics, Black Lightning debuted originally in 1977 and defined an era of social injustice in the United States. Creators Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden showed the world that an African American man can have power.

The decision to have the television show premiere the day after the Martin Luther King holiday was a strong move on the CW’s part, because it filled viewers’ screens with an extra jolt of soul power.

Black Lightning tells the story of Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), father of two, teacher of few, and activist of many in the city of Freeland. Pierce struggles with finding balance in his life after retiring his superhero alter-ego. Following the divorce from his wife Lynn Pierce (Christine Adams), Jefferson is called back to fight for justice after his daughters, Anissa and Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams) are threatened by the rise of the 100 gang, led by their leader, former politician Tobias Whale (Marvin Jones III).

The casting of the show is amazing. China Anne McClain said, in an interview before the show’s debut, that, upon arrival she “knew very quickly that they would be able to play a family easily.” The passion of Jefferson makes viewers understand that he wants better for his family and nothing will get in his way. Black Lightning is not just about a man who can glow like a light bulb and walk around shocking people. The show tells a deeper story about conflict and living in trying times. Cress does not tell this story alone.

Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain set the standard for strong independent African American women, and that is what the show needs. Anissa is an open member of the LGBT community, and is als an educated teachers who takes after her father in more ways than one. Jennifer is an intelligent high school student who is stressed by the pressures of school, but has a strong family dynamic to support her. Between the love of her overprotective father and her sister she stands her ground, but she’s still a teen growing into adulthood.

Everyone in the cast meshes well together, including Tobias Whale. It is declared early on within the show that Whale is not a force to be taken lightly. Even with 1000 plus volts and the ability to step walk on air, Jefferson still has things he has to battle with, things that he cannot combat with his incredible strength alone.

The discussion of race is what sets this show apart from others. It deals with issues like the struggle of trust between a community and law enforcement, the destruction of a community from within, and gang violence. This show is different because it talks about real world issues. These issues need to be seen by viewers in the comfort of their own homes to fully understand what is happening in the world around them. I, personally, applaud the CW for recognizing diversity, and I want to applaud the director, Salim Akil, for having enough understanding to make a show about the struggles and triumphs in the African American community, depicted by a predominantly African American cast of actors.

All in all, the show is amazing. It offers action, drama and humor all rolled into one. The casting is spot on and the issues are relevant. Like all superhero shows on the CW, the fight scenes are long and drawn out, no matter how fast or spectacular they look. However, this was only the first episode and the actors take you to a place beyond the comic book.

There is more to be seen, and judging from this week’s premiere, the voltage is definitely high.

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“Trespass Against Us” Did Not Work, Despite Fassbender/Gleeson Star Power

When you tell me that Michael Fassbender is starring opposite veteran UK actor Brendan Gleeson in a film, I’m there. I’m expecting good things. These are two great actors and the plot, set across 3 generations of the Cutler family of criminals, sounds exciting.

The Cutler family live as outlaws in their own anarchic corner of Britain’s richest countryside. (At one point the patriarch of the clan suggests they move on to Kent, where I spent a homestay as a foreign exchange student, and Kent, just a short train trip out of London, is a wealthy suburb.)

Chad (Michael Fassbender) is the heir apparent to his bruising criminal father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson) and is supposed to spend his life hunting, thieving and tormenting the police.
However, Brendan’s masterful criminal plans are about as workable as a bank heist planned by Donald Duck. The heists make little or no sense and bring in little revenue that can be easily translated into cash.

However, Chad has a wife, Kelly (Lyndsey Marshal) and 2 small children and his young son Tyson is causing him to take a closer look at the future. Chad was never sent to school by his dear old dad, so he is illiterate. He really would have a hard time finding any kind of honest work with that gigantic hurdle to overcome. He and his wife want their son and daughter to get an education.

The entire family live in a series of trailers in a gypsy caravan existence, complete with a village idiot named Gordon (Sean Harris) who serves little plot purpose other than to show Fassbender’s character being unnecessarily cruel to him at one point when he is particularly stressed out. It did lead to one line of dialogue that was memorable, however:
Chad says (to Norman): “Gordon, don’t be an idiot,” and Gordon responds, “I AM an idiot.”

I found the scene where Chad (Fassbender) tries to buy a puppy for his son’s birthday among the most moving. At least the scene was not 90% profanity in a thick British brogue, and I could actually understand what was being said and realize the injustice of the rest of the world towards the Cutlers, when they were merely trying to be normal members of society.

There was also a creative scene where Chad escapes from the police, who are searching for him with infra-red equipment using helicopters. Chad crouches beneath a cow in a pasture full of grazing cows. (It’s not every day you get to see Michael Fassbender crouched beneath a cow, so there’s that.)

THE BAD

Although the opening bumpy scene of Chad driving through a field (he has apparently been the designated get-away driver in previous burglaries and robberies) is exciting, the camera work in all of these driving scenes is as choppy as any Jason Bourne movie.

Furthermore, what was the point of the “Free Bryan” stunt, i.e., painting a car yellow and driving it through town, when Bryan (Chad’s incarcerated brother) is never mentioned in the plot again and all the stunt did was draw attention to the crew from the authorities on the eve of a big job? The police are already upset enough with the lot of them. Yes, it was a cool chase, but it made little sense in any context, criminal or otherwise.

Most importantly, I haven’t seen a movie this badly miscast since “The Human Stain” (2003) cast Anthony Hopkins as a black professor and Nicole Kidman as a washerwoman. Nobody would believe that Brendan Gleeson is Chad’s biological father and, if we accept the premise that perhaps the MIA Mrs. Colby was impregnated by someone else (which lets Brendan off the hook as to paternity), we still have the problem of Michael Fassbender being way too cultured and good-looking for the ignorant oaf he is portraying.

I was also thoroughly annoyed that the film didn’t have Chad finally stand up to his destructive father and save his family from the inevitable fall. Not only is the patriarch of this clan a lout, he is an ignorant lout who argues that the world is flat. Furthermore, Chad’s young son is becoming his grandpa’s ardent follower.

I do want to commend the young George Smith who played Tyson Cutler. He did a good job of playing the nine or ten-year-old thug-to-be and I’m sure we’ll see him in future roles.

Adam Smith directed this film, which one critic in Toronto described as “the worst film I saw at the festival.” The writer, Alistair Siddons, cannot be blamed for casting the excellent Fassbender in a role that just doesn’t’ suit him. [Scoring Michael Fassbender for a part in your movie has got to be a coup.]

The plot, far from having a happy ending where Chad’s announced goal (“I’m not in that shit no more. I just want a quiet life. No troubles.”) is achieved takes us in an entirely different direction and asks us to root for the bonds of family over everything and anything else. (From Gleeson: “You have to stand up against them so they don’t trespass against us.”)

Only a satisfying POV if you are self-destructive masochist.

Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson in "Trespass Against Us."

Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson in “Trespass Against Us.”

“You’re Killing Me, Susana!” with Q&A from Director at Chicago Film Festival

The new Gael Garcia Bernal film, based on the Spanish novel “Deserted Cities” by Jose Agustin explores the changing nature of male-female relationships in Mexico and the world. This entire concept of the changing nature of female roles in the world has been a big topic in this year’s films, including “The Eagle Huntress” (from Mongolia) and documentaries “Girls Don’t Fly” and “The Swedish Theory of Love,” (in which we learn that the growing independence of women in Swedish society means that full 25% of Swedes now die alone.) Perhaps that is to be expected in a presidential election year in the United States in which a woman heads the top of a major party ticket for the first time.

“You’re Killing Me, Susana” played to a packed house, which I attribute to the star power presence of Gael Garcia Bernal, who broke out with “Y tu Mama Tambien” (2001) but is also known to U.S. audiences for “Babel” and television’s “Mozart in the Jungle.”

“You’re Killing Me, Susana” is charmingly hilarious, depicting a womanizing Mexican actor (Gael Garcia Bernal was a Mexican soap opera star in real life) named Eligio whose wife abandons him in the dead of night and strikes off for a writers’ conference in Iowa. Upon reading this plot point, I assumed the Writers’ Workshop would be the world-renowned Writers’ Workshop at my alma mater, the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, so I was interested in seeing how it was portrayed.

That assumption proved incorrect, as the scenes that represent Iowa were actually shot in Winnipeg, Canada and the college is the fictitious Middlebrook College, which looks nothing like the “real” Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa (nor the city of Iowa City).

The plot has Eligio walk off the soap opera set in the middle of filming (when a fellow actress protests, he says, “Tell them to kill me. It’s a soap.”) to chase his now missing wife to the United States, landing at Central Iowa International Airport, (which is non-existent, as well). Funny scenes ensue at the airport when he is rather vague about where he will be staying while in the U.S. and Customs steps in to perform a strip search.

When Eligio reaches Iowa, there are many amusing scenes of culture shock.
I remember this theme from as far back as 1979’s “Time After Time” when Jack the Ripper is transported into the present and must cope with modern life. The culture shock between coming from Mexico City and landing in whatever fictional city in Iowa this is supposed to be is no less vivid to Eligio. In fact, one of the funniest scenes involves him stiffing the cab driver for an $84 fare from the airport and hiding in piles of leaves on campus to avoid paying. Eligio seems to always be big on breaking petty rules, which makes him lovable but also exasperating.

Neither Eligio nor Susana can believe that nobody is out walking around on the streets of the (supposedly) Midwestern town, when he is from Mexico City, one of the most crowded cities in the world. Eligio is also upset to learn that Susana has been having a fling with a Polish poet, who stands at least a foot taller than Eligio. I admit that I also laughed out loud at the prospect of Eligio trying to drive a car to Chicago through a blizzard when Susana and the poet flee again. Eligio obviously knows nothing about driving in Midwestern winter weather and proves this.

Director Sneider, who now lives in the United States, when asked, after the film, about his reaction to seeing it in Chicago said, “When I saw it, I wanted to change it. I tend to think different things, even in editing.” He added, “I love the character of Eligio. He is deplorable in many ways, but very human. I also saw an exploration of how relationships between men and women are being re-imagined. (See first paragraph above) We think we are beyond machismo, but we’re not. I think it’s a lot about self discovery. Eligio feels fidelity is overrated—until he experiences infidelity. It’s definitely not funny then. We see the characters fighting themselves.”

Sneider added that much of the dialogue was improvised and that Gael Garcia Bernal (who is also a director) enjoys improvising, unlike some other actors. “It feels very raw, spontaneous and fresh (if you improvise). I felt this was important to get that feeling of freshness.”

Sneider commented on the jump cuts in the film, cutting through the scenes to pick the moments and improvising in front of the camera. “I think he does some very deep serious roles but I, personally, like to see his great sense of humor and how he gets to display that here.”

Sneider also remarked that “music was super important because the music softens the tone.”
He gave credit for much of the music to a San Antonio based group (StumpFhauser and Victor Hernandez) and said that the entire movie was shot with a hand-held camera. He mentioned the song “Uncertainties of the Heart.” We hear the lyric “He who loves a woman doesn’t know what he gains when he loses her. Another one comes along.”

When asked how much time is supposed to have passed between the time that Susana leaves and Eligio follows her, he said, “7 months and 3 days” with a laugh, leading me to believe he plucked the number from thin air. He added, “I wanted the ending to be a little like the end of ‘The Graduate.’ They each look at one another and say, ‘What now?’ I think the characters are both full of defects, but they’re still the same. I actually think with many couples you think, ‘Should we be in this position?’ There are some things in relationships that we can’t explain.”

When asked about the casting of Veronica Echegui opposite the male lead he admitted that he was “looking for chemistry between the leads” and that he found it in the lovely Veronica, who plays Susana, a strong-willed, beautiful woman who is also a great writer and wants to find her own fulfillment of her own talent.

Sneider said that Gael Garcia Bernal has done 3 adaptations of Mexican novels and that this novel (“Deserted Cities”) is “very much an exploration of what it means to be a Mexican man.” He commented, “In Mexico, he’s just a guy. Now, in the U.S., he’s a Mexican guy.”

American audiences (especially female audiences) will probably wonder why it took Susana so long to pack up and leave. She had plenty of provocation prior to her actual departure.

The ending, which is faithful to the book and involves Eligio spanking Susana, was also questionable, but adhered to the novelist’s vision. (Good luck with that approach with feminist audiences in the U.S.)

“The Infiltrator” Delivers Summer Suspense at the Movies

“The Infiltrator” is Bryan Cranston’s (“Breaking Bad,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Godzilla”) new film. It is based on the 2009 Bob Mazur book about his experiences as an undercover agent for the FBI. Mazur was the federal agent who infiltrated one of the largest drug syndicates in the United States. He also suggested “Operation C-Chase,” which would follow the money instead of the drugs. [ I just spent July 5th within FBI headquarters in New York City hearing, firsthand, about undercover work from the experts, as a part of the ITW (International Thriller Writers) Conference, so the film was particularly timely and relevant for me].

Directed by Brad Furman (“The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Runner, Runner”), the quest for the rights to make the film took two and one-half years to obtain, as many other high profile stars were in a bidding war in Hollywood to secure the rights, including Leonardo DeCaprio and Tom Cruise.

As Bad Furman told Frank Gonzales in an interview entitled “Inside the Infiltrator,” “Fortunately for us, one of my best friends from college, Don Sikorski, who is a producer on the film, brought the book to my attention. We both loved it and tried to go through official channels to obtain the rights with no luck. So, with nothing to lose and in true investigative journalistic fashion, we tracked down Bob Mazur’s phone number and I cold called him.”

CAST

The upshot is one of summer’s best films, with stand-out performances from star Bryan Cranston and extremely good support from John Leguizamo, whom Director Furman described as “one of my dearest and closest friends.” Furman went on to tell Gonzales, “I’ve known Benjamin Bratt (Alcaino) and Yul Vasquez (Ospina) for 20 years and Diane Kruger (Kathy Ertz) and I had met on a movie a few years prior, so I’ve had deep personal relationships with the core base of actors in this movie, and I think it paid wonderful dividends for me, for them, and for The Infiltrator.”

SCRIPT

Another close tie that really enhanced enjoyment of the film was the great script by Furman’s own mother, Ellen Brown Furman, a well-known Hollywood scriptwriter, as Furman added, “My mother really wanted to show the balance Mazur struggled with in trying to have a family and in trying to do his job. Bob was going back and forth from Tampa to Miami and he was away from his wife and children. Mom really brought out how hard that was for Mazur. She was also able to show how even drug lord’s lives were influenced by their families. She should get a lot of credit for her brilliant work in crafting a screenplay that got it right.”

Leguizamo has some of the film’s best lines and his performance is as stellar as Cranston’s. It is made clear from the beginning of the film that Mazur (Cranston) is leery of working with this Hispanic fellow officer, who seems to live life on the edge. He asks that he not be assigned to work with him, but is told, “He’s your way in.” Leguizamo’s character wants to pay a snitch he knows $250,000 to assist them; Cranston is skeptical that the man is trustworthy, saying, “These people who sell information…they walk on the dirty side of the street, and then they cross over to the clean side, but their shoes always stay muddy.”

Pretending to be Bob Musella (Cranston) and Emilio Dominguez (Leguizamo), the duo scores a better office. (Leguizamo says, “ This is so much better than our old place. It was so filthy even the rats ran from it.”). Cranston’s sidekick is incredulous that Mazur has just turned down a nice, safe retirement offer, saying, “You and the kids and the wife could be playin’ cricket on a yacht or whatever-the-hell it is white people do when they retire.”

But that’s just the point: Bob Mazur doesn’t want to retire. In fact, he did not after the bust—despite facing intense danger in going deep undercover to infiltrate Pablo Escobar’s drug-trafficking plaguing the nation in 1986, by posing as a money-laundering businessman named Bob Musella. The impulsive and streetwise Hispanic agent Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) and a rookie female agent who poses as his fiancée, Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger) the two pull off befriending Escobar’s top lieutenant Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt) to the point that Alcaino says of the bogus engaged couple, “We love them like family.”

QUOTES

In one memorable exchange, Alcaino comments on a hit on a different infiltrator, Barry Seal (played by a virtually unrecognizable Michael Pare, once Eddie in “Eddie and the Cruisers”), saying that he had 2 rings made of coca leaves and gave one to Barry Seal and had him to dinner at his home. Alcaino says, with disgust, “I wasted my knives on the meat.” Adds Alcaino (to Mazur): “The politicians think it’s a drug war, but it’s a business like any other. Trust is necessary. Without it, there is no loyalty, and without loyalty it never ends well.”

Completely trusted by Alcaino, Mazur learns about “the anonymous window” of the Federal Reserve Bank, which has been allowing the CIA to fund a secret account that helped fund Noriega’s Contra organization. ($10 million of Escobar’s money was frozen by the bank). All this led to the Reagan years Contra scandal, which inspired another Leguizamo scripted line: “Ronnie should have stayed the Gipper. He is nothing but a God damned two-bit drug pusher.”

PACING, CONFUSION

The movie is exceptionally well paced, although some of the exciting near misses are inscrutable and difficult to decipher as a first-time viewer. Why is that man apparently following Mazur in a car as Mazur completes his morning jog? Who was that guy silently observing Mazur talking to Emir (Leguizamo) from across the street? The time/city locations are also a bit difficult to follow (Is this Miami or Tampa?) and I am still wondering how a group with as much money as Pablo Escobar’s drug outfit couldn’t have run a more in-depth background check on imposter Bob Musella, and/or why the criminals wouldn’t have, at the very least, bugged the room that the supposed engaged couple shared, to see what they were discussing. But that’s probably just me; a second viewing cleared up my confusion.

The good news for the U.S. is that 85 drug lords and the corrupt bankers of BCC (Bank of Credit and Commerce International) which laundered their dirty money were taken down by two brave agents who risked their lives and played their parts as well as any Hollywood actors.

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Playa del Carmen, The Mayan Palace on Nov. 9th, 2015

Beach at the Royal Mayan.

Beach at the Royal Mayan.

The weather here is beautiful and no rain (so far). Forecast does suggest tomorrow might bring showers, but the past 3 days have been great.

On our way to dinner at the Royal Mayan.

On our way to dinner at the Royal Mayan.

When we arrived at Cancun International Airport, however, we were told it had been raining for 4 days straight, and the humidity in the air confirmed that.DSCN1037

On our way to dinner at the Royal Mayan.

We went to the beach today, rather than the pool. However, when it became unbearably hot, we joined a volleyball game in progress and played 3 games, all of which our team lost. (Apparently, I can barely serve overhand).DSCN1023

Another lovely day, with authentic Mexican food this evening at a poolside restaurant.

Happy 92nd Birthday, Nelson G. Peterson!

I am posting this on the eve of one of my very best friend’s birthdays: Nelson G. (for Gene) Peterson of Moline, Illinois.  Nelson was born Aug. 20, 1923. He is 92 today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NELSON!

I first met Nelson when I began teaching at Silvis Junior High School in the 1969-1970 school year.I taught Language Arts to 7th and 8th graders. He taught History in the room across the hall from me. In fact, we taught across the hall from one another throughout our years on-staff (my years there ended in 1985; Nelson retired earlier).

But teaching was not Nelson’s only job. He is a World War II veteran (the Battle of the Bulge, I think) just as his own father before him served in World War I. He also worked at the Arsenal and came to teaching later in life. Nelson used to say his initials (N.G.P.) stood for “No Good Prick” but that’s not true.  He is one of the sweetest, kindest, nicest people I know. He has always been my friend and has never waivered or let me down or tried to hurt my feelings, intentionally or unintentionally. Nelson has never come to a funeral home and gone out of his way to snub me, as a different old friend has done on two  occasions. If the funeral is that of someone who was a mother to you for close to a half-century (my mother-in-law) it is particularly distressing and upsetting to be on the receiving end of mean-spiritedness at an already trying time. (Better not to come at all than to come just to be mean.)  But that’s the way some people roll— although not Nelson. He even came to one of my book signings at the (now-defunct) Book Rack in Moline and another one at the Hy-Vee Grocery store in Silvis— in the middle of winter— for a children’s book, despite having no children or anyone who needed books. He has truly gone out of his way to be the great friend he remains today. (Thanks, Nelson! I appreciate it!)

Nelson G. Peterson

Nelson G. Peterson

Since Nelson, at 92, is the Renaissance man who literally has everything, I stole the idea of 3 of his other friends  who took him out to dinner on his 91st birthday. That was a GREAT idea. Kudos! My husband and I decided it would be the best way to salute Nelson on (or near) his special day.

I purposely did not plan dinner for the REAL day, because Nelson, who speaks fluent Swedish, has many cousins in the area and many other friends from his Baptist Church who probably also want to fete him on his birthday today (the REAL day). For example, 3 friends who taught with him for a long time, (as did I), took him out to dinner last year. Perhaps they plan another such outing for this year on August 20th, or perhaps the cousins in town will be “on the case.” [Best not to muck that up and ruin 2 dinners out for the Birthday Boy—although Nelson did say, as we dropped him off at home, that he hadn’t been out after 8:00 p.m. in a long time !]  One of Nelson’s cousins, Rose Fuller of East Moline, has shuffled off this mortal coil, but also taught with us at George O. Barr Elementary School for years, so, sadly, she won’t be among the relatives there for him. (R.I.P., Rose). Nelson never married.

I love Nelson and appreciate his sense of humor and his loyalty as a friend, which mirrors my own. I try very hard to be the Best Friend Anyone Could Be, remembering special days, offering help if needed, and just generally trying to be a friend, for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.  I don’t need (or want) thousands of superficial friends. I only want the really good ones, like Nelson. I won’t befriend you simply because I think you are going to do some good for my social status or because you have a lot of money or any of those other bad reasons that can come into play. I have only ever befriended people I truly like, who (seemed to ) truly liked me.

On this night, I gave him a card that said, “Everyone is young once…(and, on the inside) Your time is up.” He laughed and seemed to enjoy that and the catfish dinner he selected from the menu at Short Hills Country Club. We were (literally) the only people dining on Tuesday night and out-numbered the staff. I asked the waitress if she could turn down the air conditioning, as it was  frigid. The waitress said, “Well, you’re the only people here, so why not?” The A/C was promptly reduced to something that did not threaten to turn me into a popsicle during dinner, for which I am grateful. (Thanks!)

I am also grateful for true-blue friends like Nelson. It is possibly my aversion to early mornings that makes me an unsuitable friend for invitations to join others as they take  (took) trips to Chicago or Wisconsin or Las Vegas or wherever over a 40-year span. (Anything before 10 A.M. is verboten.) I admit that early, early mornings are not my thing; I write late into the night (30 books, so far). I didn’t know that being a Night Owl made me a bad person, but apparently it is a fatal flaw. Speaking your mind is not appreciated, either, but I have always spoken out and been honest about things, both for myself and for others, and if that is a flaw, I plead guilty with a certain measure of pride. It is not always easy suffering the backlash of being outspoken, but, for instance, during 4 terms as President (or Co-Chairman) of the Silvis Education Association, it was necessary in order to unionize our district’s teachers. And there are many occasions in a classroom setting where a teacher has to intervene to insure fairness. When I have spoken my mind, it has sometimes been applauded and other times, [because the truth hurts if it is unflattering], I have been reviled and, later, treated very poorly. One should, instead, play their cards very close to the vest and pretend they like people that they (may) actually despise—maybe even send them an oh-so-proper little note of some kind to suck up to them. I never aspired to such dishonesty.

Craig, me and Nelson as the evening ended.

Craig, me and Nelson as the evening ended.

I try to be loyal, honest, and true-blue— not a phony or superficial or sometimes friend . But I don’t play golf, don’t like early mornings, and I never was a teacher at our local high school (UTHS), United Township High School. I’d say that was a criteria for inclusion in dining out with Nelson in a group, although one guest last year  [Judy LeMaster Patchin] was not a teacher at UTHS, either, but taught with him in Silvis, as did I.   Judy made the guest list; I did not. (She is better with early mornings, for sure, but I don’t think that is the entire story.)

I was judged and found wanting, probably because I tell the truth instead of currying favor with one and all by any means possible.  I am positive I am just as good a friend of Nelson’s from our mutual teaching days as any of the other attendees with whom I also taught, and the Amish “shunning” thing is both childish, hurtful and unnecessary. Is 10 years of that not enough for having noted that the invitations to the “fun” things went to others, but the invitations to help out or pitch in came in pretty regularly and routinely, and I did my best to comply.

Then, too,  I’m usually off on an adventure of one sort or another that others don’t find interesting or noteworthy (*Nicest compliment of the week from someone I did not know in a store I frequent: “Your life is an adventure.”)

Yes, my life IS an adventure. It is true, as Shakespeare wrote (roughly paraphrased), “If you cut me, do I not bleed?” It is hurtful to be shunned when you have done nothing to deserve it. If you must be punished for feeling left out (when you were left out) and saying so, is that a life sentence? It is also sad to realize that people you thought were your good friends don’t stand up for you in the face of  meanness directed at you for over a decade without good cause, don’t remember your special day (even if  you always remembered theirs), and disappear without a trace. But, c’est la vie—right gang?

I’m lucky, though. I have a wonderful husband, wonderful kids (my daughter drove me all the way to Indianapolis to see the Rolling Stones for my birthday in July!) and at least one truly wonderful, loyal, long-time Quad Cities friend: Nelson G. Peterson. (I’d name a couple of others, but I’m a believer in quality over quantity and I don’t want to jinx my good fortune or cause them to be ostracized.)  I’m pretty sure Nelson won’t leave town and move to a remote location without so much as a phone call to me, nor, intentionally or unintentionally, forget my birthday, (which he remembered this year, as he has every other year.) I’d recite a list of other loyal friends, beginning with my college roommate (who does not live in this area), but this post is for Nelson on his special day. [If you see him, wish him a “Happy Birthday!”]

Nelson G. Peterson, my good and special friend, long may he live and be my friend and here’s to many, many more birthdays! (We’re aiming to have Nelson replace the lady who was the Oldest Living Veteran at age 110.)

Jennings Radio Podcast with Connie (Corcoran) Wilson

Jennings Wire. @: [Connie Wilson Podcast on Jennings P.R.](http://www.jenningswire.com/marketing/podcast-secrets-to-successful-self-publishing/)

This is the link to the Jennings Wire podcast I took part in recently. The post was about promoting what you write after you write it. Can’t say I’m an “expert” on this subject, but, after 12 years of learning by doing, I know a few things.

 

Post Script to “Hellfire & Damnation III” KDP Give-away

One of the Free Book Sites that is posting the knowledge of “Hellfire & Damnation III’s” being free on April 24, April 25, May 2, May 3 and May 4 asked me to post a link to their site. Here it is: www.fkbt.com

Also, in my previous article about same, when I said tarantula, I think the lifeguard who carted off that spider the size of a Buick said it was a form of scorpion and there were LOTS of smaller ones around. So, my “tarantula” reference perhaps should have been “scorpion.” Not sure WHAT it was that bit me, but the bite was not a puncture would, as a bee would leave. It was a horizontal slash mark about one inch across, like that a knife might leave if you slipped while cutting a tomato. It was “no big deal” at the time, but it sure left me with a big problem.

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