‘The Breakfast Club’: its strengths, and yes…its flaws

This was one of the big teen movies of my youth. I saw it when it came out in the mid-1980s. I recently watched it again as a middle age (51) adult.

 The basic idea of The Breakfast Club is immediately relatable: Five very different teens (a nerd, a jock, a princess, a basket case, a criminal) are thrown together in the enclosed space of their high school’s library. They are then forced to interact over the course of a day-long detention period on a Saturday. This is a small drama, but also a much larger one: The setup for the movie provides a concentrated and contained view of all teenage interactions.

Why we like The Breakfast Club

I liked The Breakfast Club, for all the usual reasons that millions of people have liked the movie since it first hit cinemas in February 1985. Everyone who has ever been a teenager can relate to feeling awkward and misunderstood; and The Breakfast Club has teenage angst in spades. The cast of characters is diverse enough that each of us can see parts of himself in at least one of these kids. 

The Breakfast Club is free of the gratuitous nudity that was somewhat common in the teensploitation films of the era. There is no Breakfast Club equivalent to Phoebe Cates’s topless walk beside the swimming pool in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (There is a brief glimpse of what is supposed to be Molly Ringwald’s panties. But since Ringwald was a minor at the time, an adult actress filled in as a double for this shot.)

Nor are any of the actors especially good-looking or flashy. They all look like normal people. No one paid to see this movie for its star power or sex appeal. The Breakfast Club succeeded on the basis of its script, and solid acting and production values. 

What I didn’t see in 1985

I enjoyed the movie the second time around, too. I have to admit, though, that teenage self-absorption can seem a little frustrating when viewed through adult eyes.

I’m the same age as Michael Anthony Hall and Molly Ringwald; we were all born in 1968. The other actors in the film are all within ten years of my age. Nevertheless, this time I was watching their teenage drama unfold as an older person–not a peer. Teenage drama is, by its very nature, trivial (and yes, a little annoying) when viewed from an adult perspective. 

The movie also makes all adults look corrupt, stupid, or craven–as opposed to the hapless and victimized, but essentially idealistic– teens. Every young character in The Breakfast Club blames his or her parents for their problems, and these assertions are never really challenged.

We get only a few shots of the parents, when the kids are being dropped off for their day of detention. The parents are all portrayed as simplistic naggers. 

The teens’ adult nemesis throughout the movie, Assistant Principal Vernon, is a caricature, a teenager’s skewed perception of the evil adult authority figure.  The school janitor, meanwhile,  is no working-class hero–but a sly operator who blackmails Vernon for $50.

A movie written for its audience

One of the reasons you liked this movie if you were a teenager in 1985 is that it flattered you–without challenging your myopic, teenage perspective of the world. If you weren’t happy, it was probably because of something your parents did, not anything that you did–or failed to do. 

That may have been a marketing decision. Who knows?  The Breakfast Club goes out of its way to flatter its target audience–the suburban teenager of the mid-1980s. I suppose I didn’t see that when I was a member of that demographic. I see it now, though. 

The Consultant: Chapter 10

The guard grabbed Barry by his shirt collar. The other big Korean—the one whom Jung-Ho had identified as Sgt. Park—squeezed into the cell to help manhandle Barry.

They picked him up. Sgt. Park slammed a fist into Barry’s abdomen. Barry would have vomited, if there had been anything in his stomach. 

The guard slipped a little plastic tie around Barry’s wrists.

Jung-Ho shouted something else in Korean. Then Sgt. Park and the unnamed guard pushed Barry out of the cell. 

“Stop!” Barry shouted. “I want to speak to the Swedish embassy!”

No one answered him.

Now he found himself in a long corridor with stone walls. The kind of decor one would expect in the hallway of a prison in North Korea. 

The corridor was almost completely dark. There were bare bulbs spaced at wide intervals in the ceiling. But as was the case in the cell—they didn’t give off much light. 

Barry was jostled around a corner, where he saw a wedge of daylight just ahead of him. A few steps further, and he saw an open doorway, lit up with the obscured sunlight of a cloudy day.

Sgt. Park and the guard kept shoving Barry forward, while Jung-Ho walked calmly alongside them.

Barry shouted more protests. But Jung-Ho would give him no response, and the other two Koreans didn’t even understand him. 

Another shove, and he was outside, in a muddy courtyard enclosed by brick walls.

The courtyard was barren, but not empty. There were two groups of people out here.

One group was wearing rags. They looked like prisoners in a concentration camp, which—Barry supposed—was exactly what they were.

The other group was wearing military uniforms. They had guns. 

Something, Barry could tell, was about to take place in this courtyard—something very bad.

And he was going to be a part of it.

Perhaps twelve or fifteen prisoners—all of them Korean, apparently—were lined up against a wall. Four more Korean guards were watching them with scowling faces. 

Three of the guards carried AK-47s. The fourth guard, who might have been an officer, carried a pistol like the one that had been used to threaten Barry.

The prisoners were a mix of age and gender. The youngest of them was a woman who appeared to be in her twenties. The oldest was a man who looked old enough to be a great grandfather.

Sgt. Park and the guard who had helped jostle Barry outside now shoved him to the nearer end of the line, and against the wall.  

Barry had some idea what was going to happen here. He shouted, “Wait!” and tried to resist. The big Korean, Sgt. Park, smacked Barry with his open palm. 

It was only a glancing blow across Barry’s head. But after being struck by the truncheon in a similar manner, his head was already ringing. He also now realized that he was famished and dehydrated…Not to mention the shock of waking up from a drug-induced slumber in North Korea. 

And now this: His captors were pushing him toward what looked like preparations for a mass execution. Toward the target line.

Stunned, Barry had little choice but to let himself be pushed. He looked down, and saw one of his two hundred-dollar loafers sink briefly into the muck of the courtyard. 

This couldn’t be real.

But it was real, impossible though it seemed.

They shoved him again. 

Sgt. Park and his helper finally pushed Barry into the place where they wanted him. Barry turned around and saw a crumbling brick wall that was punctured with bullet holes. There were also dark stains that could only have been dried blood.

The smell out here was wretched. A mixture of the oozy mud beneath their feet, and the reek of the prisoners’ unwashed bodies.

His own unwashed body. 

Barry glanced over and saw Jung-Ho, waiting and watching impassively. Jung-Ho was at the very edge of the courtyard. He had not stepped out into the mud. 

Opposite the wall, Barry could see the four Korean guards talking among themselves. The sky was a white-grey, the air warm and fetid. From a flagpole in the center of the courtyard hung a North Korean flag. 

Barry could hear some of the prisoners beside him begin to whimper and sob as the guard with the pistol approached the line. 

The guard with the pistol now stood at the end of the line farthest from Barry. 

Barry looked around: There was nowhere to run. In every direction, was a brick wall, a North Korean with a gun, or both.

Barry had a sudden realization: He would be dead within a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

The guard with the pistol shouted something in Korean. Barry watched in disbelief as he placed the muzzle of the pistol against the head of the first prisoner—a middle-aged woman.

There was a loud crack, and Barry saw the pistol buck in the guard’s outstretched hand. 

The female prisoner fell to the ground. A section of her head was missing. Her blood was gushing out onto the mud. 

A few seconds ago she had been alive. Alive in this hellhole, yes—but alive. 

And now she was dead. 

Just like that.  

Before Barry had even absorbed this horror, the guard with the pistol moved on to the next prisoner: the great grandfather.

The old man looked stoically ahead, not looking at the officer.

The guard held out the gun and the gun went BOOM! again. 

The top of the old man’s head seemed to have been sheared off. He toppled forward into the mud. 

The next prisoner was a youngish woman. Under different circumstances, she would have been pretty. But now she was crying, babbling hysterically in Korean. A line of mucus ran down from one nostril. 

She fell to her knees. Barry couldn’t understand her words, of course, but he understood their import well enough: She was still very young, and she was begging for her life.

The gun went off yet again. 

The top of the woman’s head collapsed inward, in an explosion of blood, and her body fell forward. 

Now there were three dead bodies, their heads ruined by that terrible weapon that the guard wielded with such cold efficiency.

Life and death means nothing to these people, Barry thought. 

They’re going to kill me.

They aren’t kidding around. 

It’s really going to happen.

Unless…

Barry hated himself for what he had just decided to do, but he was still determined to go through with it.

The guard with the pistol probably didn’t speak a word of English. Moreover, he was obviously not in a listening mood. He was in a shooting and killing mood.

Barry looked in the other direction. He saw Jung-Ho, still standing at the edge of the courtyard, the massive Sgt. Park at his side. 

Barry broke out of the line and ran in the direction of Jung-Ho.  

What was the worst that could happen? They would shoot him?

Jung-Ho watched him approach, but he did not react.

A short distance from the edge of the courtyard, Barry tripped and fell in the mud. With his hands bound, he had no way to break the fall. He struggled to his knees, aware that the front of his body was entirely caked with mud. 

“Okay!” he pleaded. “You win! You want me to perform a task for you? Serve your Supreme Leader? I’ll do it!

Even as Barry spoke these words, he loathed himself anew for his desperation, this voluntary surrender of his dignity.

Without looking directly at Barry, Jung-Ho said something in Korean.

Sgt. Park stepped forward, into the muddy courtyard, and lifted Barry off the ground. The big Korean yelled something incomprehensible at him. 

“I—I don’t understand,” Barry said, as he struggled to his feet.

Sgt. Park punched Barry in the stomach. He doubled over, and fell back into the mud.  

Barry heard Jung-Ho say something else in Korean. Sgt. Park lifted him up again—but this time he spared him the punch. 

It didn’t matter. Barry’s stomach felt like it had been struck by a cannonball. But that pain was minor, compared to his terror of that guard with the pistol— the one who liked to shoot unarmed prisoners in the head. 

Jung-Ho looked past Barry, and summoned another guard. Barry turned and saw the guard running, double-time, in their direction. He was a young guy, looked like a new enlistee. 

Barry heard the pistol crack again. More cries of anguish. Behind him the killing continued.

What is wrong with these people? Barry thought. But he knew that he had other, more immediate problems of his own.

The young guard stood at attention before Jung-Ho, as Jung-Ho issued a set of instructions in staccato Korean.

“You will go with this guard and Sgt. Park,” said Jung-Ho in English, his words obviously intended for Barry.

“What?” Barry said. “Where are they taking me?”

Then a new prospect occurred to Barry: Maybe the North Koreans had an even more horrific means of killing him in mind—something worse than being shot in the head with a pistol.

Perhaps this nightmare was about to get even worse—if that were even possible.

Barry had a dreadful feeling that it was possible.

Jung-Ho walked away without answering him.

 

End of excerpt

Get The Consultant at Amazon!

 

Table of contents

Starvation wages and the CEO

A follow-up to my recent post about CEO pay: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has received a 66% raise. He’ll now be making $84 million per year.

I’m a capitalist. I believe in the free market. But you don’t have to be Bernie Sanders to agree that this current generation of corporate CEOs is taking greed to new levels.

They are also endangering the American way of life in the process, as they give ammunition to radical leftists on the fringes of the Democratic Party.

Southern Ohio’s Dead Man’s Curve

Not far from where I live, there is a stretch of Ohio State Route 125 that has been dubbed Dead Man’s Curve

The spot is just a few miles from my house, in fact. I’ve been by there many times.

According to the urban legend, if you drive this section of rural highway a little after 1 a.m., you might see the faceless hitchhiker. From a distance, this male figure may look relatively normal. Once you get close, though, you’ll see that he has no face.

Sometimes the hitchhiker isn’t content to stand there by the side of the road and watch you. There have been reports of the phantom actually attacking cars.

Creepy, right?

Yeah, I think so, too….

Dead Man’s Curve on Ohio State Route 125 has a long and macabre history. Route 125 is the main road that connects the suburbs and small towns east of Cincinnati with the city. But much of the road (including Dead Man’s Curve) was originally part of the Ohio Turnpike, which was built in 1831. (Andrew Jackson was president in 1831, just to put that date in perspective.)

That section of the Ohio Turnpike was the scene of many accidents (some of them fatal), even in the horse-and-buggy days. The downward sloping curve became particularly treacherous when rain turned the road to mud. Horses and carriages would sometimes loose their footing, sending them over the adjacent hillside.

In the twentieth century, the Ohio Turnpike was paved and reconfigured into State Route 125. In 1968 the road was expanded into four lanes. 

As part of the expansion, the spot known as Dead Man’s Curve was leveled and straightened. (As a result, the curve doesn’t look so daunting today…unless you know its history.) This was supposed to be the end of “Dead Man’s Curve”.

But it wasn’t.

In 1969, there was a horrible accident at the spot. The driver of a green Roadrunner—traveling at a speed of 100 mph—slammed into an Impala carrying five teenagers. There was only one survivor of the tragic accident.

Shortly after that, witnesses began to report sightings of the faceless hitchhiker during the wee hours. (The hitchhiker is said to be most active during the twenty-minutes between 1:20 and 1:40 a.m.) There have also been reports of a ghostly green Roadrunner that will chase drivers late at night. 

Oh, and Dead Man’s Curve remains deadly, despite the leveling and straightening done in 1968. In the five decades since the accident involving the Roadrunner and the Impala, around seventy people have been killed there.

Is there any truth to the legend of Dead Man’s Curve?

I can’t say for sure. What I can tell you is that I’ve heard many eyewitness accounts from local residents who claim to have seen the hitchhiker. (Keep in mind, I live very close to Dead Man’s Curve, and it’s a local topic of discussion and speculation.) Almost none of these eyewitnesses have struck me as mentally imbalanced or deceitful.

I know what your last question is going to be: Have I ever driven Dead Man’s Curve between 1:20 and 1:40 a.m. myself?

Uh, no. But perhaps I’ll get around to it someday, and I’ll let you know in a subsequent blog post!

***

Hey!…While you’re here: I wrote a novel about a haunted road in Ohio. It’s called Eleven Miles of Night. You can start reading the book for FREE here on my website, or check out the reviews on Amazon.

You can also start reading my other two novels of the supernatural in Southern Ohio: Revolutionary Ghosts and 12 Hours of Halloween. 

Check out my FREE short stories, too….many of them have macabre elements.

And stop back soon! I add content to this website every day!

China: “in another 30 years”

This has been the hopeful litany from American business interests since at least 1989, when I started seriously watching China. 

That was the year the Chinese government killed several thousand of its citizens in Tiananmen Square, in case you don’t remember. 

Wishful thinking on China

The hopeful refrain on China is based on two pillars:

1.) “If we could just sell one of our widgets to every hundredth Chinese citizen, we’ll be rich!”

2.) “China will be a fully developed country in another 30 years!”

Thirty years after Tiananmen Square, the American business community  continues to hold out hope…for another 30 years.

“China will be a fully developed nation in 30 years. Its economy is going to be as big as the US,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Bloomberg in March. While he cited a litany of challenges — including corporate corruption and a lack of transparency — he also pledged his bank’s commitment to doing business there. “We’re all in. And so we’re not slowing down,” Dimon said at the time.

CNN

The reality of #1) above is: Your widgets will probably be pirated in China.

The reality of #2) above is: That’s what they said 30 years ago. 

“Sexy Mister Rogers” Halloween costume

This one almost makes me long for those mind-numbing debates of a few Halloweens ago, about costumes and “cultural appropriation“. 

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired for the first time in February 1968, just months before I was born, and aired for the last time in 2001. So yes, I’m among the multiple generations who grew up with the show.

That said, I was always more of a Captain Kangaroo kind of guy, personally.

Fred Rogers was, by all accounts, a wonderful man. But even by the television standards of my 1970s youth, the red sweater-wearing Mister Rogers lacked a certain pizazz. 

Which makes me shake my head at the hubbub over the “Sexy Mister Rogers” Halloween costume, nearly 20 years after the show went off the air.

Who in the marketing department thought that this was going to be a winner, for a holiday targeted at young people, who were all (in 2019) born in the post-Mister Rogers era?

Social media’s format problem

The very nature of social media is biased against text. Hence the neurotic obsession with video on these platforms.

This bias is based on format, rather than anything specifically ideological.  (The ideological biases of Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and other social media oligarchs is certainly an issue worth discussing, but this is another matter.)

Ezra Klein mentioned this 4 years ago, when the whole “blogging is dead” conversation began in earnest:

And I think this is a problem, or at least a manifestation of a problem. The incentives of the social web make it a threat to the conversational web. The need to create content that “travels” is at war with the fact that great work often needs to be rooted in a particular place and context — a place and context that the reader and the author already share.

Ezra Klein, “What Andrew Sullivan’s exit says about the future of blogging” (2015)

The point here being that you really can’t have an in-depth conversation on Twitter. For that matter, you even can’t go on an in-depth rant on Twitter.

Twitter is good for shouting one-liners and posting inflammatory news bites. (“Hey, did you see what so-and-so said today!”)

And I tend to think that’s intentional on Big Social Media’s part. The Twitter business model is based on convincing users to scroll from one quick snippet to another. 

That may be good for clickbait and pageviews. It isn’t very useful for an in-depth discussion about anything more complicated than the weather. 

Ever-free stories: online or in Kindle Unlimited

Thanks to those of you who purchased 12 Hours of Halloween during the recent $0.99 sale. The sale was a big success, when combined with the promotions that I ran for it on several sites.

I’ve got some more fiction in the works for Amazon/Kindle Unlimited publication. Remember that I also have a new story here on the site, “I Know George Washington”. 

“I Know George Washington” will eventually find its way into one of my upcoming anthologies. My plan, though, is to keep this story–along with many others–ever-free here on Edward Trimnell Books (or in Kindle Unlimited)

For me, publication is about more than just Amazon. I am also a big fan of the ezine/webzine concept. That means lots of stories and other content here on Edward Trimnell Books, for you to read online.

The Brown Bess

For those of you following the snippets of  I Know George Washington: a video about the Brown Bess, the musket used by both sides during the American Revolutionary War.

This weapon, like other smoothbore muskets, did not have a rifled barrel. The lack of rifling made the Brown Bess considerably less accurate than modern (mid-1800s onward) weapons.  

The limited accuracy of the smoothbore partly accounts for the 18th century’s formation-based style of warfare.

 Soldiers in formations typically lined up in open fields, and fired in rows at their opponents.

Postcasting is the new blogging? Not so fast.

Well, it must be, right? Because Seth Godin says so.

I don’t want to beat on Seth Godin here. (Well, not too much, anyway.) I’ve read a few of the glorified PowerPoint presentations that Seth Godin publishes as books. They contain a few worthwhile nuggets. The guy has been saying stuff about marketing for 20 years now. It can’t all be wrong. But let’s not forget that Seth Godin mostly markets himself.

The obsession with audio/video

And of course, Seth Godin isn’t alone in his obsession with noise, and his relative disdain for text. Many of the marketing gurus are telling us that in this short-attention span, post-literate world, you have to hit them with some form of electronic noise. No one has the time for text anymore! If you must use text, make it an emoji! That’s the way Gen Z does things, after all!

(Twenty years ago, these same gurus were telling us to ape the Millennials, until the Millennials lost their luster.)

It depends.

Text or voice/video? It depends on what you’re selling, and whom you’re selling it to, of course… If you want to demonstrate the performance of a new sports car, then video is perfect for that. Likewise, a vacation spot. No one can describe the beauty of Hawaii like an image or a video can show them.

But there are many marketing situations in which the current obsession with yammering in people’s ears, or bombarding them with video, can be counterproductive. If I’m going to invest in a stock, for example, I’d rather read a prospectus. If I want to learn about the causes of World War II, I much prefer a well-written text to a YouTube video, or even a podcast.

I do listen to podcasts, because they’re a handy way to consume certain kinds of information when reading is impractical (such as when I’m driving a car).

But if I need to absorb something complicated, I prefer text.

Text also permits us to skim, and easily backtrack–something that is much more difficult with audio and video.

I still read print magazines, too–and I’m not the only one– because they provide a depth of information that you simply can’t get from a 5-minute YouTube video, or even a 1-hour podcast.

Audio and video can be annoying.

While we’re on the subject of print versus audio/video: I know you’ve had this experience: You navigate to a website that you’ve found in a search result, and the website contains one of those autoplaying videos that immediately starts talking at you. Shut the #$@! up! you shout, and hit the mute button on your computer.

But what do the gurus preach? More audio! More video!

Text: more “high-tech” than talking

There is nothing wrong with podcasting. (There is nothing wrong with video, either.) There is something wrong with the sudden trendiness of declaring text obsolete, as if forgetting how to organize one’s thoughts into text somehow represented an advancement.

Remember that verbal communication is nothing new.  On the contrary, it is the oldest, most primitive form. People have been yammering at each other, and yammering before crowds of others, since the invention of language.

Written language (text) developed because it allowed more complex ideas to be expressed in more systematic ways. If we must be trendy here, then it is text that is more “high-tech”. We should not be too eager to let text go, in the pursuit of more primitive noise.

I Know George Washington: Part 5

As he drove home, Tucker savored the triumph of the job offer. But he couldn’t shake the eerie feeling left over from that conversation with Joel French. 

Why couldn’t Joel have told him the truth? 

The mere fact that the firm had been founded by a man named George Washington was an interesting tidbit, but nothing extremely unusual. In the more than two hundred years since the real George Washington had died, countless American men had been named for him, after all. 

One of the most famous of these was George Washington Carver. Born a slave in the waning days of the Confederacy, George Washington Carver had become an accomplished botanist, and carried out groundbreaking experiments on the cultivation of peanuts and soybeans. 

Carver’s connection to his namesake had been merely incidental. The George Washington who had founded George Washington Investments, by contrast, had obviously wanted to turn the associations of his name into a commercial gimmick. 

Joel, the general manager of the firm, had gone along.

Fine and good. But why carry an inside joke so far? Tucker had been led to believe that that sort of pranking was for teenagers and college kids. 

“Grown adults” didn’t do that sort of thing.

Except…some apparently did. 

When Tucker arrived back at his apartment, he immediately started googling George Washington Investments. He was able to find a bare-bones corporate presence website, with Joel French listed as the general manager. There was an obligatory portrait of the Father of His Country, but nothing that hinted at the strangeness that Tucker had seen and heard during his interview. 

On a whim, Tucker started googling the real George Washington. He thought he already knew much about the man, but apparently he hadn’t known everything. 

He came upon an article entitled “Washington’s firing squads”.  Apparently, Washington had been responsible not only for the deaths of British soldiers—but for some of his own men, as well. And not only deaths on the battlefield.

Washington had been a stickler for 18th-century standards of military discipline. Continental soldiers who were charged with gross insubordination, assault, or desertion were subjected to drumhead trials. Those found guilty were sentenced to death by firing squad. 

Anyone charged with treason, meanwhile, was sentenced to hang.

Those were hard times, to be sure, and Washington had been fighting a war. Nevertheless, this presented a portrait of Washington that belied his image as the almost saintly, fatherlike figure.

“I wonder if Joel French knows about all that?” Tucker said aloud into his empty apartment. 

Part 6

Table of contents

I Know George Washington: Part 4

The George Washington Investments firm occupied a sprawling, converted plantation mansion. Joel’s first-floor office, with its high ceiling and Persian rug floor, had at one time been one of the mansion’s multiple parlors, Tucker supposed. It wasn’t like any corporate office that Tucker had ever seen. 

But then, neither was the rest of the building. 

The doorway of Joel’s office was just a wide open space, with no physical barrier. Tucker stepped across the threshold, off the Persian rug, and onto the hardwood floor of the main hallway of the mansion. 

He came immediately upon a large staircase with an ornate balustrade. He had briefly noticed both on his way in. 

He was about to walk past the stairs, when the sound of footfalls came from directly above him, on the second floor.

Two distinct thumps. Then silence. 

Tucker paused, feeling a slight chill in the stuffy air. 

He glanced up the staircase. He could see only to the first landing, where a large antique mirror permitted a partial view of the next landing up. 

Tucker looked in the mirror for any sign of movement. He held his breath. All he could hear, though, was Joel talking to a client in his office across the hall. 

Seeing nothing and hearing no more, Tucker continued on toward the main exit.

The main foyer of the house had been converted to a small lobby. There was no receptionist or security guard. There were two chairs and a sofa for visitors. A glass-topped coffee table was covered with recent copies of Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated, arranged in a fan pattern.

Tucker heard a creaking sound, and looked up. High above his head was a large crystal chandelier. 

The chandelier was moving, just a little, from one side to the other.

A house this size would have drafts, Tucker thought, its own interior weather patterns, practically.

There was a rational explanation.

Without lingering any further, Tucker hurried out the main exit of the building. 

On the other side of the front door, Tucker found himself on a long covered portico. A series of four doric columns supported a white wooden awning, two stories above his head.

The air out here was humid in the late May sunshine. Also thick with the scent of pollen. 

No wonder. A row of blooming magnolia trees lined the front perimeter of the main yard, just before the rural highway that connected the old plantation with the present century. Blooming rose bushes rimmed the front porch. Bees and wasps buzzed everywhere. 

Hay fever weather. 

Tucker started as something thumped against the front door, from the inside of the house.

Joel, perhaps? Had the general manager followed him out, for some reason?

Tucker stood still, waiting for the doorknob to turn, waiting for another thump.

Nothing.

It was just the old architecture settling, he decided. Nothing more. 

The parking lot was a cleared and blacktopped rectangle beside the mansion. It didn’t take much suggestibility to imagine this space being used as a parking area for horse-drawn carriages in another era. From the carriages there would have emerged men in frock coats and top hats, women in crinoline dresses and whalebone corsets.

Attended by slaves, of course. This had once been a plantation, and Virginia had been the heart of the old Confederacy.  

A lost world, Tucker thought. He started his car, and reached for the knob that controlled the air conditioning. 

Although he would be back here in two weeks, he had had enough of George Washington Investments—and this plantation house—for a single day. 

Part 5

Table of contents

Libra: Zuckerberg’s pipe dream

An article in Yahoo! Finance rather puts the kibosh on the latest example of Zuckerbergian hubris, “Libra”, otherwise known as the “Zuck buck”.

From the beginning, Libra was a solution in search of a problem.

Or no, scratch that…But the problem is Zuckerberg’s–not yours.

As Facebook becomes increasingly irrelevant (people under 35 barely know it exists), Zuckerberg has been scrambling to reinvent his website as something that people will care about in ten years.

His solution? Turn Facebook into an alternative bank/mint of sorts.

Although Facebook attempted to sell Libra as a humanitarian project, everyone saw through Zuckerberg’s smoke screen, to his true motives. Libra was always about making people more dependent on Facebook.

One additional point of interest from the article: Libra briefly united left and right in disdain for Zuckerberg. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers slammed the Libra initiative as a boon for terror networks, and fraudsters of every conceivable kind.

Why I avoid social media like the plague, reason #1,769

Teddi Mellencamp poses topless to show off baby bump

Teddi Mellencamp is baring it all in her pregnancy.
The “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star, 38, took to Instagram on Friday with a topless mirror selfie and got candid about body confidence.

“I am loving the skin I am in and feeling damn proud about it,” she wrote of the photo where she donned just heels and nude underwear. “Proud to be unapologetically me; a woman who works hard and believes the best is always yet to come, for my mind, soul and yes, body.”

Fox News

I’m all for fitness. But explain to me again why anyone wants to “bare it all” on social media? 

(Hey, I’m from the 1980s. I have some filters.)

I promise the readers of this blog that I will never “bare it all” in this space….even when I’ve been going to the gym and watching my carbs with particular dedication.

Robert De Niro’s vocabulary deficit

Robert De Niro has some choice words, and a couple f-bombs, for his Fox News critics

Okay, I get that Robert De Niro really, really doesn’t like Donald Trump. All fine and good.

But what is this guy really adding to the conversation? He isn’t even making an argument. He’s just ranting in public.

“F– Trump! F– my critics on Fox News! F—you, little people, if you dare to question Robert De Niro! … I am from Hollywood, and I am one of your betters. Now listen to me curse like a drunken sailor!”

The issue isn’t that he’s using the f-word. Big deal. Most of us hear the f-word all the time. The issue is that some people actually think that what Robert De Niro says is significant.

It isn’t.

Why is the media still giving this guy a microphone? Who cares???

Oversharing on Twitter

I’ve freely admitted before that I don’t “get” Twitter, and don’t much care for it. I mostly use Twitter as a signal booster for Edward Trimnell Books. I have no interest in the platform itself.

One of the things I have never liked about (all) social media is the “oversharing” phenomenon.

I grew up in the 1980s. I have a filter. I assume that you’re not interested in what I ate for breakfast today. (I had a protein shake and oatmeal, though, just in case you are interested.)

Sharing the sexual details of one’s life–and other people’s lives–is another fixture of social media. Or one’s random thoughts about sex. Which brings us to today’s trending Twitter hashtag: #SayNoToSexUntil

This elicited not so much oversharing, but random, unsolicited thoughts regarding how that sentence should best be completed.

The responses ranged from the conservative…

…to the virtue signaling:

…to the snarky:

I’ll admit that the one with Weinstein is somewhat clever. I chuckled.

But someone tell me again: What is the point of social media….and what is the point of Twitter, in particular?

MeWe: the next Facebook?

MeWe’s CEO is going out of his way to position his platform as the “anti-Facebook”:

“Social networks were never invented to be what we call now surveillance capitalism, which is what Facebook is. Their members are not customers to serve, they are data to sell and data to target,” 

Mark Weinstein, MeWe CEO

MeWe’s Mark Weinstein is talking a good game…for now. Mark Zuckerberg used to talk a good game, too. 

Like most of you, I still maintain a nominal presence on Facebook. It’s the only place where I can contact most of my high school classmates and old work colleagues from a single location. 

I don’t mind using it for this purpose, basically like a Rolodex. But I spend as little time as possible on Facebook. It isn’t a place where I “hang out”.

And I’ve noticed that more and more of my friends (who used to spend hours on FB), now access it only when they want to message a specific person. 

Once again, I have no qualms about using FB as a glorified email system…which is the extent of what I think it’s actually good for.

Get ‘Luk Thep’ FREE on Kindle 9/16 & 9/17/2019

A supernatural thriller ripped from the headlines…

If you haven’t read my novella Luk Thep, this is your chance to read it for FREE.

An American woman is terrorized by a Thai ghost. A supernatural thriller ripped from recent headlines.

I wrote this novella in early 2016, after I read this article in The Economist.

I haven’t promoted Luk Thep as aggressively as some other titles, but readers have generally liked it. Check it out on Amazon!

The best H.P. Lovecraft collection?

I own several HP Lovecraft collections, but this one is my favorite: The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre . This volume was published in 1987.

I’ve bought it twice: Once in 1988 (that copy is long since gone); and I bought a replacement copy about two years ago. 

This collection has all the stories that the newcomer to Lovecraft really needs, including “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and “The Dunwich Horror”.

Another feature of this collection is the excellent introductory essay by Robert Bloch.

Marvel’s Trinh Tran: ideology before story

Marvel executive producer Trinh Tran announces that Marvel will continue to place ideology before story:

“This is the first step to more diverse characters and franchises. I am hoping for more down the line. We have so many characters in the Marvel Universe, it’s a matter of picking which one makes sense to the MCU.”

Trinh Tran

Many of these self-appointed mavens of diversity seem to believe that they discovered the concept.

Let us not forget that Wonder Woman dates back to the 1940s. There were numerous black and female characters on the original Battlestar Galactica of the 1970s.

Diversity is all fine and good when it’s a natural outgrowth of story. Organic diversity, in other words. 

But when diversity (or any purely ideological goal) becomes the focus, then story descends into agitprop.

Agitprop seems to be what Ms. Tran plans for Marvel.

Autumn skies in Ohio

Over the past week or so, the weather here in Southern Ohio has been growing gradually cooler, after a brutal heatwave throughout most of July and August.

Today we had a delightfully cool, overcast morning.

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and the time when I tend to be most productive. (My most sluggish time of the year is the dog days of high summer.)

Let summer end, and let fall begin in earnest.

Only 54 days until Halloween!