Saturday, July 22, 2023

Pink Bombs and Misguided Gullibility (My Weekend at the Movies)

Hello Friends. Thought I'd dust this blog off and talk movies today since I recently saw two of the three most talked about films and the third I absolutely will not shell money out for because while the overall message certainly has merit, the whole thing feels like a sleazy scheme to extort from the gullible.

I am referring to Barbie, Oppenheimer and Sound of Freedom.  

I probably would not have gone to see Barbie at all had my wife Connie not wanted to go and I drag her to all kinds of concerts and events she isn't enamored with initially so I was happy to spend the time with her and go see something she was excited for. 

Let's get the controversy over the movie out of the way first. It is rated PG-13 so when I see or read complaints from parent's who took younger kids I dismiss them right away. Absolutely no one is advocating for you to take your little girls that still play with Barbies to see this movie so going on about "Evil Hollywood" grooming your kid or ruining their childhood because Barbie says in the movie she doesn't have a vagina and Ken doesn't have a penis.

Guess what? Every kid who has ever played with a Barbie or GI Joe has at some point unpants the doll to see what was underneath so we all knew this fact long before Barbie dared utter it in dialogue. 

This so-called controversy is just another example of people looking to be offended and we all know if you look for something hard enough you will damn sure find it. Get over yourself. 


(Skip down below the picture now if you do not want a spoiler)

Seriously this is your chance ...

because if you do not skip ...

You will read about he ending of the Barbie movie.

Okay hopefully I gave enough of a buffer that only people who di not care about spoilers or have already seen the movie are still reading this paragraph. Barbie goes to see a gynecologist after choosing to live as human and judging by my twitter this seems to offend a lot of people and all I can say is there was nothing controversial here. Women need to take care of their health. Yes, this includes their reproductive health. 

The filmmakers was clearly just establishing the fact hat Barbie had become human and therefore did now have genitalia and that requires checkups. There was no mention of birth control or abortion. She wasn't at Planned Parenthood. She wasn't making a political statement there at all. Perhaps the filmmaker wanted to suggest Barbie could now be a mother given the scenes that preceded the visit. But again, there was nothing controversial or political there and acting offended because a woman goes to see a gynecologist is absolute craziness.  Again, get over yourself if this bothered you.

 Spoiler averted. Read freely starting here ...

Moving beyond the much ado about nothing talk of invented controversies the movie was simply okay for me. I give it a 6 out of 10. 

Now there is one big talking point of the movie that is pissing some people off. The movie unabashedly bashed the idea of Patriarchy. But let's face it the people angered by this are the very people benefitting from patriarchy. 

Yes, society has evolved and will continue to do so, but no the patriarchy is not completely in our past. Men have had it far easier than women for ... well ever. Except maybe in Barbie land where Ken has always been an accessory rather than the focus. Because of that the movie was in a unique and great position to highlight both side of this and make some great valid points in a fun manner. And it did for the most part but I think the movie tried too hard especially toward the end. 

Sometimes writers or creators have to get out of the way and trust their words or work to speak but when they reach for a hammer and try to beat the pint in they lose a bit of their meaning and power.

 In this regard Barbie reminded me of Happy Feet, yes the animated penguin movie. Both movies did a good job of making their point but then added unnecessary montages at the end to hammer their point home and in doing so began to feel overtly preachy therefore hitting that "preaching to choir" vibe that never changes any minds. 

Now that said I doubt anyone was going to see Barbie hoping to be educated or enlightened so probably the move was doomed to be preaching to the choir anyway. TI did enjoy the humor but felt like they left a lot of potential for more on the table.  

On to Oppenheimer.

Great movie. 9 out of 10

Going in I expected a dark heavy movie that would leave me sullen afterward. I expected it to be about the problems and difficulties of turning science and theory into a devastating weapon of mass destruction with a side of guilt and regret and yes there was some of that, but the movie was so much more than problem solving and moral dilemmas. 

For me the movie reflected today's politics as much as they did the pasts but not in an artificial or blatantly objective way. History aside, for me this film is about the depths one person will go to  soothe their battered ego and climb to position of power they can use for their own benefit. 

I won't claim to have the depth of knowledge or historical insight to say whether the movie is accurate in its depictions of events. I will say I thought it did a great job of striking balance between obligation of duty and hesitation of heart. There were times I wanted the movie to slow down and take a deeper dive but given the 3 hour run time and the amount of story to tell that was an impossible task. 

The first hour of the film was a bit hectic and left me with thoughts of a story in a blender but the back two-thirds settle in for me and I eventually understood why we had to rush early on. The movie was reverent in tone even when the characters "celebrated' the achievement of their goal. 

The imagery, the acting, the ending all were damn close to perfection. And no I did not leave the theatre feeling down or depressed but rather grateful and relieved.  

Grateful that I had to opportunity to see the movie alongside my two sons and relived by the fact that at least how the movie portrayed these characters that greedy, pettiness, and diabolical scheming is borne out in the annuls of time.  

I hope this is the case because I hate to think a man can go from being humiliated at a White House Correspondents' Dinner for asinine conspiracy theories, to using that shame as motivation for a political career and needlessly setting back our nation fifty years, just to prove his point and make a fast million or ten, while jeopardizing the health of nation and world and ultimately inciting insurrection to try and desperately hold onto power without history mocking him for it.

In this I found the movie Oppenheimer comparable to todays politics and yes the historical significance of the United States developing and deploying two devastating bombs is a somber lesson we all need reminded of nearly eighty years after the fact, but we also must be cautious of the divides we face today and who is exploiting those divides for gain.

This brings me to the other movie in the news.

Sound of Freedom

Haven't seen it. Won't pay to see it.

Before some QaNon 4 Chan zealot labels me one of the Liberal Elite Devil Worshiping  writers of the word let me say I am fully aware that human trafficking exists on a large scale and is a terrible horrible thing that definitely needs more resources and awareness brought to the fight. I myself have an unfinished novel that I've spent countless hours over the years researching so I'd wager I know more about these atrocities than most of the public. 

Do I think the Illuminati/New World Order/Devil Worshipping Democrats are masterminding and profiting from human trafficking on some global scale? NO!

I think the world has all kinds of evil people hellbent to make money anyway they can. Has there ever been a politician or respected leader involved? Almost definitely, because you can find warped and twisted people in any profession, economic sphere, or location.  

This movie could have been powerful but chose to pander to the fear mongering and hateful rhetoric in order to crowdfund and get made. I don't know if they sold their soul to simply to get made or if that was part of the agenda all along, but I do know they have convinced wide swatch of people to buy tickets to multiple showings and that while many showing have sold out most of the seats have actually been empty. 

Here are some links to read some of the reporting over the movie from a variety of outlets.

This gives me the impression that its all been a big marketing ploy. Fear mongering and political signal calling to send a message to "Evil Hollywood" who are allegedly part of this mass Illuminati/New World Order/Devil Worshipping pact of Democrats profiteering from child trafficking. Such utter bullshit ruined any credibility the film might have had for me.

Reading comments from people extolling the virtues of the film has also brough to light a glaring hypocrisy because while they offer loads of hypothetical sympathy for the Honduran father whose children are abducted, most of these same people are quick to scream GO HOME! to immigrants wishing to flee such danger and pursue a better life here in the United States.

The people spending money buying multiple tickets to multiple showings and urging others to do the same to send "Evil Hollywood" a message are also the ones angry that desperate families are gathered at the border trying to find a better life.

And I'm sure there are a select few just trying to support the movie hoping somehow some of the funds find their way to helping victims of child trafficking. TO that I say there are far better way than by supporting these radical conspiracy theorists and greedy profiteers raking in millions by exploiting a real problem.

Here are a few I found ...

Specials Freedom Project

You can report suspected human trafficking to federal law enforcement by calling 1-866-347-2423. You can get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.        

Again I feel like the spirit of the movie and the man it was based are are legit and the cause is worthy of attention and resources but the way the film has been marketed and the asinine conspiracies tossed in without supporting evidence tainted what could have been a powerful, far reaching movie that transcended politics.       

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Gray Hair and Powdered Sugar

Been a while since I've chimed in here. There are a lot of reasons for that including the fact most people simply don't take time to read blog posts these days. We are all too busy binge-watching, and skimming social media to truly sit down and read longer forms. Sadly this applies to books as well and yet I continue to write. Though since moving to California the siren song of screenwriting has begun whispering in my ear and little by little I am doing more of that.

Currently I am sitting in a Dunkin Donuts typing this as  the powdered remains of a Bavarian Kreme decorates my beard. The beard is longer these days but also has a bit more of its own white adornment. 

What else is new? Well my latest novel, THE GOOD FORTUNE OF BAD LUCK is out as of yesterday.


The novel is available in paperback or eBook

I wrote the first words on this book more than twenty years ago so like most of my writing it has taken an arduous path to publication. It is a story if expectations versus realities and how we often initially think of something as bad luck that in the ends leads us to happiness. The characters are everyday people facing everyday problems and this is the heart of who I am as a writer. I strive to be somewhere between the Richard Russo's, Kent Haruf's, Anne Tyler's of the literary world, and the Jennifer Weiner's, Jodi Picoult's, Kristin Hannah's. Meaning I want some literacy sensibilities with strong emotional readability and everyday relevance that is easy to identify with. 

This is what I work to achieve and I am not suggesting I've found the writing success of those talented authors but I am working to get there and I thank all of you who have been walking that journey with e for years now. If you are new here I thank you for that as well. Writing in a vacuum is tough but given how long it takes to create and publish a novel it does often feel like throwing words into the void. 

THE GOOD FORTUNE OF BAD LUCK was born from my own superstitions and strong belief in luck. As I've aged I realize we mostly make our own luck, both good and bad.

I hope all of you have been on the good side of fortune these last few years, though even as I type I think how crazy the world has been for a while now. The politics, the virus, the growing divide among us. I don't know how to fix any of that but I think we all tend to forget our humanity when confronted with things we don't like or agree with. I struggle with this myself and have sadly lost friends I care about in these tumultuous times. They will tell you I cast them aside for political differences, but I disagree. I can debate politics, but I have no ZERO tolerance for racism, bigotry, or intolerance because these are not truly political issues in my mind but rather the difference between good and evil. 

I will argue and debate the benefits of small government versus big government, taxation, and even personal freedoms, but not at the expense of human rights. But I digress, this isn't meant to be that kind of post. Simply freethinking as I type.

My belief is that fiction can help us better understand humanity. It exposes to people different than ourselves. It exposes us to other cultures and places. It exposes us to the emotions and motivations and makes it clear despite these differences we all have the same basic needs and wants and when we are reminded of that we are more compassionate and understanding and that is why reading is so important. Yes even when the story and characters are made up because while fiction is not the truth it is born from humanity, because no matter what you think of we writers (yeah we are a bit weird because we live in our heads so much of the time) we are indeed human. 

This is my longwinded way of asking you to check out the story of Destiny and Dillon and their quest for Good Fortune amid Bad Luck. I hope you will find some heart to their story as well as some insight into your own thinking. The story has been with me for a long time and I am eager to share it with y'all. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Let's Help One Another

Now that I am a full-time writer my routine is a bit different. used to be I stole time to write. I carried a notebook and wrote by hand in starts and stops. At work, int he park waiting for my son's soccer practice to end, in a variety of doctor and dentist waiting rooms. Then I'd type it all up first chance I had and add more.

At least that is how I did it for fiction. Freelance work was a bit more linear as I'd do the required research and then write the article up usually in one fell swoop.

Over the years my body of creative work has piled up. In addition to the published works and sold stories and articles I have numerous works both finished and incomplete. The toughest thing these days is staying on one project because I often feel like a have the voices of a thousand character whispering in my ear. Characters and projects actually.

And then there is the hunt for new and continued freelance work, because as a full-time writer I can't rely on royalties for books past or the far off splash of future royalties. I know Mr. King and Ms. Rowling do not share this financial problem, but I'd be willing to bet they have to fight off the siren call of other projects in order to finish one.

The ability to finish books separates the professional from the hobbyist much more than talent. I have known some incredibly gifted writers who never once finished a novel.

I say all of this to motivate some, and remind others. Including myself. Finish the damn thing already!


In other, slightly related news, I have started a new blog focused entirely on music. Most content is brand new and what is not has been backdated (some old material from this blog as well as a few of the articles I wrote for other media outlets). Come check it out The Feels.

My goal with this blog multifaceted. I am a passionate and prolific listener of music. Well-written emotional lyrics speak to me far louder than a catchy beat or a flashy exterior. I am not bound to any one genre but I do lean to the Americana, Folk, Singer/Songwriter side of things. A traditional country song is hard to find these days, but I do love a good two-stepping tune if it has heart. Rock, the occasional rap, zydeco, jazz, EDM, Funk, even POP if it has substance. I am picky but not particular so sharing what I feel are worthy songs is something I am compelled to do.

I have been fortunate enough to dabble in some lyric writing with some really talented musicians and I have a notebook full of lyrics that are just waiting for my burgeoning guitar skills to catch up to. I have no desire to sing, but the emotional impact and complete storytelling in a three or four minute window calls to my writer's soul. Sometimes I have a feeling to express that feels wrong for a novel or even short story. So this blog is also to keep my ingrained in the music community.

And last but not least, I hope this blog will bolster my writing income. I am currently writing for another music blog here in LA and they are part of a network that allows them early access to songs. Independent and those on labels. This opportunity comes with some financial gain and I would like to focus my reviews and listens to music that speaks to me, but only a select number of blogs are approved. To get there I need my Alexa ranking to increase as well as my Spotify followers to grow. I would appreciate any help y'all can give me with that by sharing this link on your blogs, websites, or social media.  

And you can help by giving me a follow on Spotify. There are playlists for most of my books so for those of you that have read them you might find those especially interesting.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Jed, The Joads, & Me

I didn't strike gold, or get blown west by dark dust bowl clouds, but in the Fall of 2017 I made pretty much the same migration as the Clampett's, Woody Guthrie, and Faulkner's famous family.

Texas to California

Most people that know would say me and Texas fit together like boots and jeans, but sometimes life takes us all places we never thought we'd go. Sometimes things fall apart so better things can come along, and make no mistake that my life is better out here in Southern California than it was back in the windy Texan Panhandle.

My journey started way back  in the fifth grade but of course I had no idea back then that it would lead me to the Golden State. I met Connie in Mrs. Davis's class. She hadn't gone to elementary school with me before then because she lived in a neighboring district but her old school did not have an Enriched Learners program so she transferred over to Oakdale. We had no whirlwind puppy love romance, but we were friends until her family moved to California our seventh grade year.

More than two decades later we reconnected through the powers of social media. This eventually led to me and my two boys moving west and it has been great for us all.

Food, Funk, & a Few Folks 

I am told I have an accent but if you ask me I sound just like everyone else. Nevertheless, the first question I get asked is, "Where are your from?" Guesses range from Arkansas, to Georgia, Tennesee and often Louisiana probably because I often wear a New Orleans Saints cap. (By the way if you are reading this Roger Goodell you and your corrupt NFL officials all suck. I stick by my theory that the NFL Commissioner caught some venereal disease from a Bourbon Street prostitute during a bygone Super Bowl in the city and has held a private grudge agasint my beloved Saints ever since)

But I digress.

The second question I get asked is, "What do you miss most about Texas?"

My mom tops that list, but she is finally coming out to visit at the end of the month. Friends are also on the list but the power of social media and with a few visits back and forth and it is not hard to maintain those relationships. 

Live Music is not quite the same beyond my cherished Texas dive bars, but I have found a number of cool venues, including The Cave up in the mountains at Big Bear, which hands out warm pork rinds as you wait in line to get inside. 

Little-by-little immersing myself the the Southern California Music scene. I have also been fortunate enough to see Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, and a few other of my longtime favorites that simply do not play in or around Amarillo.

That brings us to food.

Man oh man do I miss Texas cooking. Not always, because I have my smoker and grill and to stoke my own wood box I can cook up some damn tasty meat. Good thing too, because what passes for BBQ out here in California is a damn shame.  

Tex-Mex is few and far between, but the chain Cafe Rio does the subgenre justice and they easily have the best queso I have found in the state.

Californians do love their avocado this and mango that. And for the love of Gad stop putting fruit in sweet tea. Raspberry, passion, watermelon. All of that shit is perfume water not suitable for hydration. McCalisters Deli can you please bring your southern sweet tea to SoCal?

And don't even get me started on quality french fries. The venerable Golden Light Cafe in Old Route 66 in Amarillo, Blue Sky, and Coyote Bluff all serve up a hand-cut style of fry that might as well be a Brontosaurus in California. 

In-n-Out is not Whataburger. I don't hate their small little round burgers, but I have to eat two if I want to be satisfied, And their bland fries are palatable, when dipped in the imported salty greatness that is Whataburger ketchup.

I have railed enough for today, but soon I will be back to highlight the things I love most about my life here in So Cal. 



Monday, February 4, 2019


Years back, I eagerly ordered a copy of a novel. A novel written by a fellow blogger. Not a blogger that I read everyday or that commented regularly on my posts, but a blogger some of my closest friends often touted so I had read enough of her posts to know she was a very talented writer.

And her book was very well written, but man did I hate her protagonists. Both of them. Still finished the novel hoping for character growth. And grow they did ... on my nerves. Oh the arc was there just like it should be a good writing and this was good writing, it was just about people I hated.

I've always felt the same way about Holden Caulfield though I know many people who think of Catcher in the Rye as the ultimate American novel. I suspect those same people voted for Trump, because I imagine Holden grew from that entitled snotty teenage boy to be an entitled pugnacious fool and if you admire those qualities in a human then Trump was clearly your candidate.

Which brings me to this. Reading that novel I realized I did not care for this particular blogger. Her ideals were not shared by me and while I had never articulated that thought until I read the manifestations of her ideals within a fictional character.

No, I am not saying that every character in fiction is a direct representative of the author who created them though this was the case between the blogger and this novel. You will just have to trust me on this as I can't explain without revealing too much or being more longwinded than I already am.

Since that time social media has exploded and now we read a deluge of thoughts and opinions from every one we know. The bloggers I met and read were people I had no prior relationship with so it was fairly quick and painless to know if I wanted to keep reading their posts or not. And it did not really matter if I chose to move on.

This choice is not so easy anymore.

I have had to disassociate from a few long time friends and even some distant family. I do not do so easily, nor do I run from a healthy debate, but some people are looking simply to agitate.  They prefer to poke, prod and belittle rather than discuss or debate rationally. Hate is venomous and every knows it is not wise to play with rattlesnakes. I suppose the bushes have always been full, but now everyone has a outlet to rattle their tail.

Me included. Maybe this post feels like hate and bigotry and you will never again read this blog. If so I bid you adieu, but really I write this because I am curious in this heightened era of divisiveness  have you had to distance yourself from people you otherwise had a relationship with?  And if so what does it take before you make that decision?


Thursday, January 31, 2019

If It's Good Enough for Cher, Michael Jordan, and Garth ...

... it's good enough for me.

Don't call it a comeback
I've been here for years

Me and LL are cool, so I'm sure the esteemed Mr. J won't mind me borrowing a couple of lines from his lyrics. What I am trying to say here people is that I am once again going to be using this space to speak, share, rant, and ramble.

I tried to use a blog on my dedicated webpage, but the format was cumbersome to post at and even worse for folks wishing to comment or take part in the conversation.

So much has transpired since I last post here, personally and professionally. I will do my best to catch y'all up over time, but we will focus on the latter for now..

I moved out of Texas, and now live in sunny Southern California where I write full-time. Freelance articles of a wide variety, as well as continued work and promotion of my fiction.

I released a new novel WAITING ON THE RIVER which is available in print and ebook and a collaborative collection of shirt stories titled Hemingway that is a companion piece with an album of the same name by musician, Dan Johnson. The stories in that collection expand on the songs while telling a bigger story delving into the humanity of the choices we are all forced to make in life.

I will be back with at least one post a week to catch y'all up and I will also be posting some writing samples that were once published elsewhere but are now unavailable so that potential clients can have a place to read a variety of my work.

Hope to hear from y'all so please take a moment o say hello, ask, a questions, or chime in with a comment.  


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

See Ya' There

I am proud of what I did here for over 8 years, but as they say all good things must come to an end.

This blog is now inactive. For new blog posts from me please visit ... 

It is a process but I will be moving the posts that still have relevancy as well as the ones that simply make me smile over to the new site.