Showing posts from 2019

Talking About Conservative Propaganda: Explaining Why Trump Is Not Universally Supported

On Quora, Trump supporter extraordinaire Paulie Duguay asks:

Why can't people support President Trump the way U.S. Presidents in the 1940's, 50's, and 60's were supported?

My reply:

I wasn’t going to answer this; I have a comedy screenplay to finish and turn in, but since right now I’m stuck trying to add an extra scene the director/producer wants me to add for “dramatic tension,” I will use this rather bizarre and patently insincere question to loosen up my writing muscles and do some mental gymnastics. I’m sorry to tell you this, dear staunch Trump supporter, but this question is based on a flawed premise: that before the Sixties, Americans of all social strata and political stances supported American Presidents almost universally. This, my sweet summer child, has never been true in any era of American history. Since 1789, perhaps the only U.S. Chief Executive who enjoyed this kind of support may have been George Washington, and even he once had to put on his old gene…

Real vs Reel: How historically accurate is HBO's 'Band of Brothers'?

On Quora, Cory Dun asks:

How realistic is the miniseries Band of Brothers as far as the airborne divisions are concerned? Was Easy Company a real parachute infantry company?

I replied:

Band of Brothers is a 10-part adaptation of Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 non-fiction book Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Nest, which itself was a companion book to his 1988 book Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944. Based primarily on interviews with surviving E (or Easy) Company veterans, correspondence, unit histories, diaries, and other resources, Band of Brothers was a look at a light infantry unit (albeit an elite one) that fought in many of the major campaigns in Northwest Europe from D-Day all the way to V-E Day (May 8, 1945) and through the summer of 1945. Because it is a dramatization of a non-fiction book and not a documentary, Band of Brothers does use artistic license to portray its real-life counterparts. As a result, time is compressed, huge chunks …

Q&As About 'Star Wars': What is the name of the first Star Wars movie of the Original Trilogy?

On Quora, Marielle Jenna asks:

What is the name of the first Star Wars movie of the Original Trilogy?

My reply:

Officially,the name of the first Star Wars movie of the Original Trilogy is Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope. Originally, though, 20th Century Fox released writer-director George Lucas’s now-iconic space fantasy adventure on May 25, 1977 as Star Wars. The studio, which financed, marketed, and released the film (indeed, owning the rights in perpetuity, although that’s now a moot point since The Walt Disney Company now owns Fox and Lucasfilm) allegedly refused to allow Lucas to include the Episode IV: A New Hope subtitle in the main titles sequence. Per Lucas’s account in the director’s commentary, Fox executives feared that audiences would be put off by seeing an “Episode IV” subtitle at a time when no other Star Wars movies had been produced. In spite of Lucas’s pitch that the idea was to give viewers a taste of the 1930s serials experience (“Oh, you missed Episode III? That…

Q&As About 'Star Wars' History: When did the Original Trilogy of Star Wars movies adopt the Episode IV, V and VI subtitles? Was this met with confusion at the time?

On Quora, Henry Hunter recently asked:

When did the Original Trilogy of Star Wars movies adopt the Episode IV, V and VI subtitles? Was this met with confusion at the time?

My reply:

The trend was actually “telegraphed” as early as November of 1979, when Ballantine Books published a limited edition hardcover book titled The Art of Star Wars. Edited by Lucasfilm’s VP for Publishing, Carol Titelman, it was the first in an ongoing series of books that feature production paintings, storyboards, costume and prop designs, set designs, and illustrations and models of vehicles seen in Star Wars. The book was highly coveted because, in addition to the titular art of Star Wars, it also contained the complete fourth revised draft of George Lucas’s screenplay for the film released to the public. It was not presented in proper screenplay format, but rather the easier to read “for public consumption format” that many of us were familiar with from reading plays in high school English classes. The title pa…

Talking About Politics: Sarah Sanders to leave White House at month's end

Originally asked on Quora as:

Sarah Sanders was under a great level of scrutiny professionally by some in the mainstream media or personally (Red Hen refused to serve her). Do you think she did a good job? Do you sympathize with her now that she's leaving?

My reply:

Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not, in my opinion, do a good job as Donald Trump’s second, longest-serving Press Secretary. Yes, she served the President faithfully and to the best of her ability, but did nothing to either (a) reconcile the wide gap between real journalists (Fox News, Breitbart, and BlazeTV, being basically propaganda outlets for the right wing) and the Trump Administration, or (b) give the American people at least a modicum of honesty and decency. On the contrary, not since Ron Ziegler, President Richard M. Nixon’s press secretary throughout his two terms (1969–1974) have we had such an adversarial Assistant to the President charged with being a liaison between a Chief Executive and the press. Not only was…

Talking About 'Star Wars': Was The Last Jedi too far, far away from being like a Star Wars movie?

Was The Last Jedi too far, far away from being like a Star Wars movie? Despite what many of its vocal “Disney ruined Star Wars” detractors claim, Star Wars - Episode VIII: The Last Jedi was not much different from any of the other Skywalker Saga films. It follows the basic format of the previous seven Saga films and has the same basic visual and aural Star Wars-y features, including: The Lucasfilm logo (yes, I miss the 20th Century Fox logo and fanfare that preceded the movies made before 2008, but let’s get over that)The Main Title, with the receding Star Wars titles and crawl, accompanied by John Williams’ scoreJohn Williams’ scoreTransitions accompanied by “wipes” and “dissolves”A basic three-act structureIntertwined plots that converge at the endLessons about the ForceJedi stuffDark Side of the Force stuffLightsaber duelsMix of comedy and dramaSpace battlesEnemy superweaponsUnexpected plot twistsA cliffhanger ending for the second film of a trilogyEnd credits done in the same style…

Talking About 'Star Wars': My reply to 'Why was Luke Skywalker made to look so weak and cowardly in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and is it possible to bring him back?'

Why was Luke Skywalker made to look so weak and cowardly in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and is it possible to bring him back?

Luke Skywalker was neither weak nor cowardly in Star Wars - Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Only those viewers who either don’t understand human nature or invested much of their devotion to the “lore” of the Star Wars Expanded Universe like to think that the Luke they see in The Last Jedi is a coward or weak. As a matter of fact, the old EU (now wisely called Legends) Luke Skywalker was never portrayed in a way that was either believable or consistent. Only a few writers, including Hugo Award-winning Timothy Zahn, ever wrote stories or plot lines that showed Luke as a realistic character with human flaws or weaknesses. In those stories and specifically Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, EU Luke was so faithful to Original Trilogy Luke that I could hear actor Mark Hamill’s voice in my head whenever I read his dialogue. (I could also say that for Steve Perry’s treatment of the cha…

Book Review: 'DEFCON One'

On August 1, 1989. Novato, California-based Presidio Press (now owned by Ballantine Books) published Joe Weber's DEFCON One, a techno-thriller that imagined what would happen if Soviet hardliners "disposed of" then-General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) Mikhail Gorbachev and reversed his liberalization policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). Judging from the novel's title (a reference to the Pentagon's Defense Readiness Conditions - DEFCONs - highest level) and the stark silhouette of a U.S. Navy carrier on the dust jacket art, such a development in the Soviet Union's internal affairs is not going to be a pleasant one.

Weber, a retired Marine Corps aviator and - before becoming a full-time author - corporate jet captain based in Colorado, had no illusions about the CPSU, its conservative (in Soviet terms) "old guard," or the notion that a more radicalized Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (US…