Archives January 2013

HONORED BY THE DON ARGO AWARD FOR FICTION

 This is all about irony and the fate of two authors.

On Sunday, the 27th of January, during an annual writer’s conference in Cocoa Beach, Florida, I was honored to be presented with the presitious Don Argo Award for Fiction Writing by the Space Coast Writers Guild, for my newest crime novel, The Upside To Murder.

Not only am I duly gratified, there is a poignant story about Don Argo and me, and what led up to the completion of this book which — incidentally — is now under consideration by a motion picture production team. For me, it is not just an award, it’s a message about courage, determination, love and struggle.

Donald Argo was a fellow author and friend. As fate would have it, we met at a book signing in 2004 like authors often do. He had penned Canaveral Light, an historical, post-civil war novel about migrants who settled in the east coast of Florida which is now Cape Canaveral. It was meticulously researched, with clear and interesting characters. Many copies were sold.

Don didn’t seem the intellectual sort – until you got to know him. He was born and raised in Arkansas, spoke with a distinct accent like he’d just come from the farm. But not to be fooled. Don Argo was also a mathematics processor at the local college, thought to be a virtual genius by most who came to know him, students and faculty alike.

We formed a critique group a couple years later. Every two weeks we’d meet and wrangle over each other’s nascent manuscripts. He was writing a sequel to his book. I was working on a new novel about the failures of the criminal justice system and how the father of a brutally assaulted daughter had to deal with cops and criminals. The Upside To Murder featured a tenacious and powerful character in Dr. Orville T. Madison, an African-American physician with an undying, unselfish devotion to his injured daughter.

We were about halfway through writing the books when Don became ill. We temporarily suspended the critique group for a while until Don could recover. As it turned out, it wouldn’t be temporary. As Don’s manuscript lay unfinished, so did mine. For two years, Don fought multiple illnesses, including cancer. For me, the story was on hold, perhaps forever. I had moved on to other things.

The last time I saw Don at his home, he was struggling to speak. We had a difficult visit, but it was important for him to know he had a caring friend, an admiring friend. I knew then, I would probably never see him again, alive. It was difficult indeed to say goodbye, without bursting into an emotional episode. But I managed.

As I headed out the door, I heard his raspy voice trying to call out, “Marshall!”

I turned. “Yeah, Don.”

“Don’t forget,” he sputtered. “Orville T. Madison.”

He passed away two days later.

It’s unlikely that The Upside To Murder would ever have been completed if not for that solitary moment and a laborious utterance by a dying man who thought, not of himself, but of me and a character in my book that we hadn’t mentioned in two years.

Those final three words told me how much he cared. In his dying breaths, he expressed his love and admiration for my writing skills. He implored me to finish. His days and hours were numbered, but he could still care about others. When he died in 2008, the Space Coast Writers Conference established the Don Argo award for excellence in writing fiction, in his honor.

And so, I dedicated the book to Donald David Argo, without whose confidence and affection may never have been seen the inside of a book cover. 

How ironic it is, that I now hold a writer’s trophy that bears his name.

Whatever comes of The Upside To Murder, I will forever know it was a joint venture.

Thank you, Don.

 Click here: Amazon.com: Canaveral Light (9781886104051): Don D Argo: Books

 

 

 

 

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: ANNA KARENINA – 10

 In a word: Exquisite.

It’s rare I would ever leave a movie hoping to see it again sometime. Such is the case of Anna Karenina, the Tolstoy saga now put to film for the third time since 1948.

While the film has been rightly nominated for four Academy Awards, (Cinematography, Costumes, Music and Production Design) it is conspicuous by absence for not being among the ten nominees for Best Picture. It should be up there with Lincoln and Argo, perhaps even surpassing each.

This movie has it all, great acting, deep romance, spectacular cinematography and visual effects, haunting refrains of music reminiscent of “Zhivago”, incredible imagery and beauty.

The story brings us back to Russia in 1874 where the dutiful wife of a government minister falls in love with a handsome young soldier. The minister (Jude Law) is beside himself with embarrassment and indignance, finding himself powerless to matter. Law is almost unrecognizable in this character, his best acting role to date.

Anna’s role is played skillfully and beautifully by Keira Knightly, a breathtaking beauty who makes you feel alive with passion, love and mystery, yet boldly candid and unashamed of her passion for Vronsy (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). That’s a love story similarly told in many films, yes. But this is absent the scourge of constant violence and graphic sexual content. Rather, it is tender and soulful. The director, Joe Wright, presents the story as life is a stage, literally. You’d have to see it to understand.

At the least this picture should also have been among nominees for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress.

This is what movie-making is all about, art in motion and sound. It is not just a movie, it is in a word: Exquisite.

I give this film a rare 10.

 

STORY OF A PETTY COP

For over fifty years, I’ve listened to people telling me their tales of woe about tickets they didn’t deserve, cops who were rude and arrests that were unnecessary. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I side with the cop. After all, I was one and…in my opinion …the cops are usually right.

However, there are exceptions. When an officer is petty or uses bad judgement, even when he’s technically right, they set a poor example for all police officers and their departments.

This story is about Carol. (A pseudonym) Carol is a hard -working young woman of thirty, and a single mother of two kids who cleans houses for a living. She has a clean record, no tickets, no arrests, no drugs, a clean-living, tax-paying citizen struggling to get by to support her children.

Along comes Officer Prink (also a false name, but close) who rides a motorcycle, assigned to traffic enforcement. He spots her pick-up truck passing by with her window open and decides to pursue. She is confused because she does not speed and has broken no traffic laws, to her knowledge.

The officer pulls her over and sees that her seat belt is fastened – but, incorrectly. Carol has an annoying problem with the strap across her shoulder and often crosses it under her arm pit. She saw no reason to conceal it. The officer points out why it is improperly fastened and without further ado, proceeds to write her a citation which will cost her a mail-in fine of $119.

The officer may have been technically correct in his assessment. Not every driver knows the minutia of every minor regulation. My wife often crosses her seat belt the same way, so do others, totally unaware that it constitutes a violation, unaware that it causes any danger to anyone, unaware she would be subject to punishment by the government.

The officer did his job. But he also had an option which required two elements: A brain and a heart.

One officer recently stopped me while driving with a defective taillight, another technical violation. That officer could have cited me. Rather, he politely informed me of the problem and sent me on my way. The light was fixed henceforth. That’s good police work.

Not so with Officer Prink who apparently needed statistics for his daily worksheet, and it mattered not that he would suck $119 from Carol’s hard-earned income that is needed far more by her children than by the city coffers. To Carol, $119 is pure gold for which she sweats and toils every day. $119 is like a thousand dollars to you, me and Officer Prink. When the officer motored away, she sat alone in her car for five long minutes, weeping. Over what? A seat belt crossed under her arm pit.

There is such thing as discretion, with which police officers are empowered. Some use it, some abuse it.

I think about all the “warnings” I gave decent people for petty infractions who could barely afford the fines I had the power to impose. I think about the cop I knew who gave harsh warnings, (but no arrest) to a teen because he was caught with a marijuana cigarette. That kid became a police officer cop five years later, thanks to a clean “record.” I think about the zillions of drivers who fail to signal a turn or a lane change, where cops smile and merely remind them of the law.

Carol’s cop could have made the department look professional and caring if he had only weighed the trivial nature of the violation versus the effect it would have on her dire financial circumstances. Instead, he centered himself in rigid correctness, devoid of compassion and good judgment.

Carol asked if she should go to court and fight the charge. In truth, the officer would probably be deemed legally correct and she’d not only pay the $119, she’d risk having to pay court costs as well.

Mired with expenses, Carol could barely scrape the money together. Her kids would have to do without a movie or a new toy, or a special occasion at a restaurant so she could pay her fine.

More importantly to Officer Prink, he will have pleased his sergeant with a healthy list of tickets for that day. He was technically correct, but in terms of public relations he did far more damage than good by abusing, not using, good discretion.

This is not the kind of police work I remember. It’s the kind that embarrasses me and other good officers in their chosen profession.

 

 

MALI, ALGERIA, NIGERIA: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MARCHES ON

     Doesn’t anyone see the big picture here?

     If we can pull our noses out of minutia and small-time bickering, step away to examine the global picture, we’ll see something much bigger going on than “rebel insurgencies” and “freedom fighters.”

     It’s all about conquest. And, it’s only just begun.

     What the radical Islamists did in the 7th century, they are doing today, and succeeding.

     The first plight of Islamist conquest took place after the death of Muhammed in 632 A.D., when southern Asia, the middle east, all of north Africa and a part of Europe were victimized by mass murderers, plunderers and terrorists in the name of Allah. In a matter of eighty short years – in the wake of multi-millions of innocent dead people – all of these massive regions were harnessed into the yoke of Islam through the application of terror.

     Yes, some peace prevailed in the years following, but that was because of the institution of fear, enslavement of women, and the mass indoctrination of children which only took one generation to evolve into normalized societies under Islam.

     I know about all the arguments about the dark days of Chritianity, but those were yesteryear and they don’t compare in scope. Now, in today’s world, global jihad is being carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood and their offshoot organizations which not only employ terror, they are masters of deceit and propaganda. They can fool you, me and the media into believing they are peace-loving, secular and harmless. In truth, they are the spawners of al Qaeda, Hamas and many other ill-defined insurgency groups that have one common denominator: Death to infidels and world conquest. Know their unshakable motto:  “Jihad is our way; Dying in the path of Allah is our highest hope.”

     Jihad translated: Struggle for conquest.

     Step back and examine what has taken place in the last two years:

    Egypt– Now under control of the Muslim Brotherhood

    Tunisia– Now under control of the Muslim Brotherhood

    Libya  — Now under control of the Muslim Brotherhood

    Syria  —  Soon to be under control of the Muslim Brotherhood

    Yemen  –  Soon to be under control of the Muslim Brotherhood

    Mali  –  Under siege by al Qaeda, soon to be under the Muslim Brotherhood

    Algeria  — Under siege, soon to be under the Muslim Brotherhood

    Nigeria  — Infiltration of Muslim Brotherhood organizations under way

    Jordan —  Shaking in their boots, they know they’re next.   

     It will not stop at Africa and the middle east. Non-violent jihad has gained enormous traction in European countries where Sharia has infiltrated many legal systems, superseding the existence of national law, i.e. England, France, Netherlands, Spain., etc. Their numbers are rapidly expanding. Birth rates of Islamic immigrants in these countries far exceed those of European nationals. Some countries will lose their cultural identities in a matter of one or two more generations.

     This is by design. It is no accident. It is part of the strategy for global conquest. Pleased view some of the links provided below.

    America is the big prize. We are specifically targeted for jihad in their hierarchy manifesto documents that have been uncovered by law enforcement agencies, and which our current justice department (and misty-eyed media) have chosen to ignore.

     The Muslim Brotherhood could not have had a better ally than the current president of the United States. Through him, the Muslim Brotherhood has made (and will continue to make) enormous inroads into the infrastructure of America, including our schools, universities, law enforcement agencies, jails and prisons, banks and yes, our government leaders.

     These are facts, not suppositions.  I have written numerous blogs identifying those who have been welcomed into the womb White House and State Department operations. These, and many other articles, have exposed the inroads of the Muslim Brotherhood and their thirty-plus surrogate organizations in the U.S. who are actively engaged in our courtrooms, universities, government agencies, banks and social systems to slowly, but surely, gain footholds as the future of America.

     We just stand by, dopey, ignorant, powerless. And we are selfish. We think of the “now” and not the “tomorrow” that our kids will face. And we are stupid. So stupid that most of us refuse to see the obvious in front of our very noses. In these times, the information highway is at our fingertips, yet we’d rather stay in denial or remain too lazy to learn the truth.

     Very few government leaders have the guts to stand up to the propaganda artists and Islamist intrusion of America. Even worse, is the milk-toast media whose primary concern is the protection of Barack Obama from anyone who dares slander his name.

     How Barack Obama portrays himself before cameras and the media, is a different person with nefarious objectives behind closed doors. And rest assured, his loyalties lie with Islam. Nothing he has said nor done anything to that disputes that fact. Every policy and decision he has made since the beginning of the so-called “Arab Spring” has been to the advantage of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Meanwhile:

     It won’t be long and Spain will again be re-conquered by Islam, as it was in 711 A.D., only this time they won’t even have to kill anyone. Check this video from Spain, and figure they are but one generation from America:

     Click here: L’Espagne bientôt sous domination musulmane – YouTube

      Check out what’s happening inFrance:

     Click here: ‘Generation Identity’ Wages War on France Islamization – CBN.com – YouTube

     Islamic population has doubled inEnglandin ten years.

     Click here: Islam in England – YouTube

    Belgiumand the rest ofEurope. Read this!:

     Click here: Islam to be majority in Europe by the end of the century –

     In case you had any doubts about the objectives of Islam, follow this “moderate” guest on al Jazerra, in a 4-minute interview.  Very telling:

     Click here: Honest Muslim – YouTube

    Click here: Muslim Brotherhood Fact Sheet

     This is an important article published in Egypt, identifying the success of Islamic infiltration of the White House:

   Click here: Egyptian Magazine: Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrates Obama Administration

 Click here: The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report » ANALYSIS: Nigerian Islamic Student

 

THE BASEBALL HALL OF SHAME

 Baseball writers in 2014 should rethink their position on condemning players from entry into the Hall of Fame because of steroids.

     If players like Mark McGuire, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds did not have super-sized seasons from 1998 to 2002, major league baseball would be dead.

     Via their unions, Major League Baseball players shamefully went on strike in 1994. They wanted more benefits and money. For people who are being paid multi-millions of dollars to throw and hit balls, that’s obscene in itself. The Majors were ready to bring up minor league players to replace millionaire starters until they reached an agreement. But it left a stench of greed in its wake. Fans reacted with boycotts and disinterest, causing the money pool for baseball, including television receipts, to diminish. Baseball was in serious trouble.

     Along came Mark McGuire and others. Already in his 9th year, McGuire had posted home run numbers at a rate equivalent to Mickey Mantle. In 1989, He set a rookie record hitting 49 homers. Another two times before the steroid era, he hit over 50. McGuire was headed for the Hall of Fame.

     In his first twelve years in baseball, Roger Clemens’ set Herculean records, ultimately winning seven Cy Young Awards, five of them prior to 1998.

     Barry Bonds also posted numbers that were on track for the great Hall before the steroid era started.

     It’s good that the system has since been cleaned up. However, prior to the scandal becoming public, most ball players will admit it had become a common endeavor for players using enhancement drugs, because it had become the “in thing.” The managers and coaches are just as guilty because they had to have known about the enhancements but turned a blind eye. If one team did it, they all had to do it to remain competitive. We cast shame upon the big names because they are best known, but everyone was guilty.

     Now, the holier-than-thou moralists among the baseball writers have imposed punishment upon players who did what players did in an era where it was commonplace. Sure, they may have hit a few extra homers and struck out a few more batters, but these guys were already exceptional long before 1998.

     Rather than punish, these men should be given a gigantic vote of thanks for resuscitating a sport that was on the decline in fans, attendance, respect and money.

     The Baseball Hall of Fame is about just that: Fame. It is a tribute to those who stood above average players by doing more and better. When did the Hall morph into a shrine for moral values?

     Babe Ruth was a notorious womanizing, beer drinking philanderer, yet he is worshipped to this day as a great player. Ty Cobb was a known racist. There are other enshrined baseball players who were drug addicts. Turn to football, and we’ll see convicted felon, inmate, O.J. Simpson in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

     Thanks to these players, baseball is thriving and so are the sports writers who rely on the excitement they provided. So let’s stop the hypocrisy in 2014 and enshrine players like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling.

     And while we’re at it, it’s time to induct Pete Rose, among the all-time greats. This is another player who baseball can thank for selling multi-millions in tickets and television commercials during his 24 years with the Reds, Expos and the Phillies. Rose’s gargantuan contribution to the sport can be summed up, not only in his famous Charlie Hustle, he holds more than two dozen Major League records, including of all things, most hits (5,256) and games played (3,562.) How can that be ignored?

     Rose’s guilt lay in betting on baseball games while he was a manager, though he denies ever betting on his own team. But that has nothing to do with his player credentials.  Rose has paid for his sins. It’s time to forgive and induct him, and all players, who deserve the recognition.   

     They earned it.

     Click here: Pete Rose – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

     Click here: Voters cheat cheater Barry Bonds out of Hall of Fame | Double-Chin Music | KUsports.com