Monday, March 23, 2020

28 Days Later

Last week I mentioned some films about viruses that I'd never seen. Over the weekend, my kids mentioned 28 Days Later. I actually did see that one and really enjoyed it. Can't say I'd enjoy it now, but when all this COVID-19 hysteria ends, I might give it another look. Here's a synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:

After breaking into a primate research facility, a group of animal rights activists discover caged chimps chained up before banks of screens displaying horrifying, violent images. Ignoring the warnings of the terrified researcher who maintains that the chimps are infected, they begin to free the animals and are immediately subjected to a bloody attack from the enraged creatures.

Twenty-eight days later, Cycle courier Jim awakes from a coma in the deserted intensive care unit of a London hospital. He wanders out into a church where he finds dead bodies piled in heaps on the chapel floor. A sudden explosion from a makeshift bomb heralds the arrival of fellow "survivors" Selina and Mark. They take Jim to safety and explain to him that this infection is transmitted by blood and overwhelms the infected victim with a murderous rage within seconds. 

Britain has been overrun, and they have no way of knowing if it has spread worldwide. Their only hope of survival may lie in the hands of a Manchester group of soldiers, as they claim to have the "answer" to infection and invite any survivors to join them at their blockade. Faced with no practical alternative, the group sets out northwards, unaware that the worst is yet to come.
This was quite a suspenseful movie that kept me on the edge of my seat! I'll watch it again...one of these days. Have you seen 28 Days Later?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Carona Craziness

The Coronavirus has taken over the news and our lives. People are hoarding groceries, toilet paper, and anything that says antibacterial. Schools, restaurants, and bars are closed in some states, theme parks are closing, and large events are being canceled or postponed.
In addition, movie attendance dropped over the weekend. Speaking of which, there are several films that depict outbreaks, and they're likely to send shivers down one's spine. Here are six featured at Cinemablend:

1, Contagion
2. Outbreak
3. Children of Men
4. It Comes at Night
5. Flu
6. Virus
I realized I hadn't seen any of these movies, possibly because the subject matter is a little too depressing for me. And with all that's going on today, I certainly won't be watching any of them now!

Are you taking precautions, stocked up, and ready to deal with Carona Craziness?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Eugene Jacques Bullard: Black Swallow of Death

Re-publishing this post about a fascinating historical figure that learned of recently. This article is from Blackpast.org.

Eugene James (Jacques) Bullard, the first African American combat aviator, was known as the “black swallow of death” for his courage during missions. He led a colorful life, much of it in Europe. 

Bullard was born in Columbus, Georgia, on October 9, 1895, the seventh child of Josephine Thomas and William O. Bullard. Eugene received a minimal education but learned to read, a key to his later successes. After witnessing the near-lynching of his own father and other racial violence, Bullard ran away from home in 1906. 

In Atlanta, he joined a group of gypsies and traveled with them, tending and learning to race their horses. In 1912 as a teen, Bullard stowed away on German merchant ship bound for Aberdeen, Scotland. For the next two years, he performed in a vaudeville troupe and supported himself as a prizefighter in Great Britain and elsewhere in Europe. He first appeared in Paris, his long-time destination, at a boxing match in November 1913. 

Bullard was nineteen years old when World War I broke out. He joined the French Foreign Legion, serving the Moroccan Division of the 170th Infantry Regiment. He was seriously wounded twice and pulled out of action. France awarded him the Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire for his bravery at the Battle of Verdun. In 1916 he joined the French air service, first training as a gunner but later as a pilot. Bullard quickly became known for flying into dangerous situations often with a pet monkey.  He amassed a distinguished record, flying twenty combat missions and downing at least one German plane. 

When the United States entered the war, Bullard, and other American expatriates, applied for transfers to U.S. forces.  Despite Bullard’s flight experience, his application was denied, and the United States military pressured France to ground Bullard permanently to uphold the U.S. policy against black pilots. France succumbed and removed Bullard from aviation duty. After the war, Bullard discovered jazz and eventually owning two nightclubs, including “L’Escadrille,” in the Montmartre section of Paris. 

Bullard married Marcelle Straumann in 1923 and had two daughters, Jacqueline and Lolita, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1931. Bullard later joined a French counterintelligence network in the early years of World War II, spying on Germans in Occupied Paris. His nightclubs were popular with German officers, who had no clue that Bullard, fluent in German, was indeed a spy. 

By the end World War II, although a national hero in France, Bullard and his daughters moved to New York City, New York. He established a new life, working odd jobs selling perfume and operating the elevator of the RCA building, home to The Today Show. In 1954 Bullard was interviewed for the show. 

In 1959 the French government named Bullard a national chevalier, or knight. The following year, French President Charles DeGaulle visited the United States. He traveled to New York City to meet Bullard personally. Eugene Jacques Bullard died in Harlem on October 12, 1961 at the age of 66.  In 1994 he was honored posthumously by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. 

Were you familiar with The Black Swallow of Death? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, March 2, 2020

It's All in What You Say: Writing Dialogue



"A dialogue is more than two monologues." Max Kampelman

My favorite part of fiction writing is dialogue. It serves many purposes. And so much can be revealed about a character through his thoughts, actions and especially words he says or doesn't say. Each word clues the reader in to that particular character's identity.

I love old movies and Casablanca is one of my all time favorites! William Bayer, in his book The Great Movies, classifies it as one of the 60 greatest motion pictures of all time. Bayer says it is one of the few adventure films where the adventure takes place indoors. There are no fights or outdoor adventures. "There are, instead, adventures of verbal jousting, of dialogue and innuendo, and they are dominated, in fact ruled, by a supreme adventurer, Rick."

What makes us know Rick is an adventurer is his dialogue. Bayer outlines several snatches of it that reveal glimpses into Rick's character:

His Irony
When asked to explain why he came to Casablanca, Rick says,"I came to Casablanca for the waters."
"What waters? We're in the desert."
"I was misinformed."

His Sex Life in Casablanca:
As seen with a girl in a brief exchange. She asks,"Where were you last night?"
"That's so long ago I don't remember."
"Will I see you tonight?"
"I never make plans so far in advance."

His Bitterness:
When he accuses Ingrid Bergman of having had other lovers: "Were there others in between? Or aren't you the kind that kisses and tells?"

His Urbanity:
"What is your nationality?" Major Strasser asks.
"I'm a drunkard," says Rick.

His Mystique (my favorite quote):
Claude Raines explains to Ingrid Bergman: "Rick is the kind of man that if I were a woman, I would be in love with Rick."

Besides revealing insight into your characters, dialogue moves your story along by providing important information. That's why the lines are there in the first place, and that's what keeps the reader reading!

Keep your dialogue natural sounding. Reading it out loud is a good test to hear if it sounds like a real conversation. As far as dialect, a little goes a long way. It makes your reader work too hard by having to intepret what you've written. Just throw in a few words, then leave the rest to the reader's imagination. They'll get the message regarding the character's speech pattern.

Hope this insight into dialogue has been helpful! If you haven't seen Casablanca, rent it this weekend! It's worth it!

What's some of the best dialogue you've seen or read lately?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Lazy Lasagna

"When the lasagna content in my blood gets low, I get mean." Garfield the Cat

Lasagna used to be one of those dishes I'd only make for company because it was too labor intensive! Browning meat, preparing sauce from scratch, boiling the noodles, only to have them tear--ugh! The whole process was a major pain!

But ever since I discovered the no-boil method, lasagna has become a staple in our home. To make it really super simple and fast,  I use jarred pasta sauce and precooked Italian meatballs that I run through the food processor. I love shortcuts! Enjoy!

Lazy (No Boil) Lasagna

2 26 oz jars pasta sauce
12 oz. lasagna noodles, unboiled
1 12 oz. pack prepared Italian meatballs (chopped through food processor)
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
8 oz. mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan cheese and egg. Set aside.

Spread one cup of sauce evenly over bottom of glass baking dish. Place a layer of noodles on top. Spread half of ricotta cheese mixture over noodles, then over this, sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the mozzarella.
Top with half the chopped meatballs and another cup or more of sauce.

Repeat layers. Cover and bake one hour.  Remove cover, top with remaining mozzarella, then run under broiler until cheese melts.  Makes 8 servings.

Do you have a favorite pasta? Thanks for visiting, and have a great week!