Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Little Miss Sunshine Lets in the Sun While the Country Is in Post Katrina Mode

What I liked about the film Little Miss Sunshine is that ordinary Americans with their usual problems are portrayed not as cartoons but as real people with real hopes and aspirations yet life and circumstances get in their way.

The film co-directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and written by Michael Arndt takes that leap of faith that we Americans need at the moment. With Hurricane Ernesto approaching Florida and the rest of us in Post-Katrina/Rita mode, we need to see folks who might not have a chance but who believe they might just make it if they stay focused long enough.

Greg Kinnear who plays the father does a super job of making us feel for him; he wants so much to keep his family together, even if he has a very strange family, including his father, played by Alan Arkin. The mother, played by Toni Collette, who seems the most normal has the patience of an angel while still nurturing her children, played by Paul Dano and, of course, Abigail Breslin, Olive or Litte Miss Sunshine herself.

Though this is not a stellar film, it is one that will remain with the viewer because just as this family is trying its best to "make it" we are now viewing pictures of the destruction of Katrina/Rita and thinking: Why are these people still in such dire straits? Where was the government--the Office of Homeland Security--when dying people on the streets needed the attention of our government and our president.

No matter how many mea culpas Bush and gang state nothing will rub out the negative image he and his administration allowed to unfold. Some said and still say that because New Orleans was mostly Black that the administration simply didn't care: Hey, they didn't vote Republican. If Ernesto destroys Republican areas of Florida, will Bush and gang take care of their own who happen to be mostly White?

Could there be a double standard in this country? one based on one's skin color or how rich one happens to be?

Bottom line: Americans need to feel we are connected again regardless of whether one is Republican or Democrat.

Some of my own relatives and friends voted Republican but that doesn't mean I stop talking to them or don't care about them. Granted to keep the peace, we don't talk politics.

Politics in this country needs to return to being "American." We should not be followers of the Republicans or Democrats; we should be simply Americans wanting what is best for all Americans.

What is best for the USA and not what is best for political gain must be placed first! just like the family in Little Miss Sunshine came together to support Olive in her attempt to win the Little Miss Sunshine title, even if it was an up-hill struggle.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Dante Micheaux Wins the Oscar Wilde Award

Dante Micheaux of New York City has won the 2006 Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award for his poem Bread Boy.

Bread Boy
­ for Ruzdo Gasi

The weight of the loaves isn’t heavy enough
to break the sway of his hips
through the narrow alleys of Venice.

He is a local delivery boy
on his way to leave bread on the window sills
of the vecchiettas that run pensions for tourists.

The look over his shoulder and smile
tells me that, like the bread, he wants to be
kneaded, baked, dipped in oil and eaten.

Copyright © 2006 by Dante Micheaux.

The final judge for the contest was last year's winner Julie Marie Wade. Those who received Honorable Mention are listed below:

If my father dressed as a woman
by Teresa Stores of Newtane, Vermont.

Testing Abraham
by Julie R. Enszer of University Park, Maryland.

by Ed Madden of Columbia, South Carolina.

Kate's Pantoum
by Jennifer Pruden Colligan of Nassau, New York.


Boys, Lost & Found: Stories Is Released by Gival Press

Boys, Lost & Found: Stories by Charles Casillo has just been released by Gival Press.

According to Edward Field, "These fascinating, often funny, stories that engage the heart, lead us on quite a safari through the perils and joys of gay life. Casillo's characters--sexy Italian-Americans with operatic, roller coaster emotional lives--search unstoppably for love, from feverish New York to exotic Los Angeles. Congratulations for a fine-tuned, courageous performance!"

Felice Picano, a gay icon, describes the collection: "Casillo's surprising and accomplished collection reveals a heart-felt observer of life's emotional emergencies and indignities told with immediacy and feeling."

Casillo's stories, which could easily be used in a Gay Studies course because of its real-to-life portrayals, does not fail to entertain and keep the reader turning
each page to discover yet another provocative character.

Casillo is also the author of the biography Outlaw: The Lives and Careers of John Rechy, whose City of Night is a classic. Casillo who has a fascination about Marilyn Monroe also wrote The Marilyn Diaries.

Click here to buy a copy Boys, Lost & Found: Stories at Amazon.com

The book is available at local bookstores as well as by contacting Gival Press (703.351.0079).

Thursday, August 24, 2006


The Last Day of Paradise Is Released by Gival Press

The Last Day of Paradise by Kiki Denis has just been released by Gival Press.

The novel by Greek-born, now an American citizen, Kiki Denis won the Inaugural Gival Press Novel Award in 2005. Chosen by Richard Peabody, writer and editor of Gargoyle, who served as the final judge, the novel for adults depicts the coming-of-age story of the main character whose name is Sunday.

Peabody describes the novel as "slippery in-your-face accelerated rush of sex, hokum, and Greek family life. A little bit Eurydice, a little bit Chick-lit, with
non-stop riffing on reality, time shifting, and the sheer punk roar of wordplay." Denis, according to Peabody, "possesses the bent prowess of a metallic panther."

Dean Bakopoulos, author of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon states that it "is a novel with wit and attitude to spare...her debut is a captivating and
wild-tongued tale.

Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Tetched characterized the novel as if "watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding with commentary by Roseanne Barr."

The novel is available at click here for The Last Day of Paradise at Amazon.com, local bookstores as well as by contacting Gival Press (703.351.0079).

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Time to Leave or Time to Control the GOP Fear Tactic

François Ozon's 2005 film entitled Le temps qui reste (The time that remains) but translated into English as Time to Leave, which he both wrote and directed, starring Melvil Poupaud in the lead role as Romain and Jeanne Moreau in a cameo role as his grandmother, hit a nerve when I saw it today.

The lead character, Romain, is a young gay photographer who is told he has a few months to live because he has cancer. Surprised it is not AIDS, Romain has to deal with what to do with the knowledge, including how to handle his love affair with Sasha, played by Christian Sengewald.

It is beautifully filmed, with Jeanne Lapoire as cinematographer, and the music enhances without making the film a Hollywood syrup. Instead this film makes one think about how one should or can confront death.

In light of wars going on and the liquid terror on airlines, Luke Mitchell's article entitled A Run on Terror which appeared in Harper's Magazine in March of 2004 and which is mentioned in John Dean's book Conservatives without Conscience somehow all came together for me after watching the film.

In 2001 sadly 553,768 people died of cancer in the USA and 27,801 children died in their infancy, yet on 9/11 only 2,978 people were killed in the attacks.

Which is worse? To know you are going to die (as with the Romain character) or to be killed in a sudden attack be it on a plane, building, or train by a terrorist? It is better to know when one is going to die (at least one can get his/her life in order) or should doctors not tell terminally ill patients the truth? Of course, no one wants to die but unfortunately no one has found a solution in order to avoid it, lacking immortally of the gods.

One of Dean's points is that the GOP has and continues to keep the USA in a state of terror frenzy and of course the media does it share to scare us all for the ratings--always the ratings to produce cash. The sad reality is perhaps the GOP and gang have realized that if they simply continue to keep Americans in a frenzy state, they will simply ignore the realities of life in the USA, the economy, the pollution, the killings in our streets, the poor educational system that seems to perpetuate itself perhaps because sadly Americans are too comfortably ignoring that we are losing our competitive edge in the world market and that corporations have recognized this and are simply going overseas to find competent and cheaper workers. Are we all going to hell in a hand basket that the GOP is hoping the terrorists will continue to re-supply? Be afraid, be afraid! Now there are Snakes on a Plane to keep us afraid.

Should we be afraid for the thousands who are losing their lives in the USA in car accidents, due to cancer, heart disease, AIDS, kidney failure, or due to fatal workplace injuries, etc.? All of these deaths a year alone out number the causalities lost in any war the USA has been involved in yet as Dean mentions in his book, there is no government office such as the US Department of Homeland Security to prevent any of these annual deaths.

Yes, the government should do its share to help prevent deaths be they caused by terrorists or diseases that are ailing Americans due to what corporations are
pouring into our rivers, in the air we breath, or chemicals that are put in our food, but when the government such as the GOP uses the terror to keep Americans in a frenzy state of terror for the sake of political gain, then we must not only question their authority but we must become aware of what our government is doing because as Dean states there are people out there who are "without conscience" and who are using the fear for their own political and monetary gain. And in the process we are losing/destroying our country and its democracy.

Friday, August 18, 2006


There Is Still Hope for Democracy in the USA

The judgment by Federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of Detroit yesterday has placed the Bush Administration's policy of spying on Americans' phone calls and email without warrants where it should be: Does the president have the right to abuse our constitutional rights without following the law of the land?

I do not want any one to die in this country or elsewhere if there is a way to avoid it; however, the president and Congress are bound by our Constitution and democracy.

How strange is it that Bush wants to spread democracy in the Middle East while at the same time he and the GOP have done major damage to our Constitution and civil rights?

Either we are a country of laws that everyone has to follow, including Bush, or we are not. It is that simple.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Of Late: Allen, Lieberman, Cheney & the Middle East

The news is filled with plenty to keep one busy reading these past few days.

Of late in Virginia, Senator George Allen has been caught calling an American of Indian descent a "macaca." How Allen thinks folks will take his freedom of speech as not insulting is beyond words. A quick search on the Internet shows that "macaca" means "a monkey" and the French version "macaque" means "an ugly person." In today's The Washington Post Kim Naoroz of Richmond, states in a letter to the editor that Allen's mother is a speaker of French and Arabic (she's originally from Tunisia) and would know that "macaca" is in fact derogatory.

This reminds me of when Vice-President Dick Cheney told Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor on June 22, 2004 to "go fxxx yourself" and what is appalling is that Cheney then was reported by The New Times as saying that he "felt better afterwards."

What is not only insulting about these two examples is that both Allen and Cheney think of themselves as being self-righteous people, holding up religion when election time is near and then displaying actions that are not only anti-Christian but arrogant and utterly disrespectful. It appears that certain people who belong the GOP are "allowed" to do what they want, make excuses, sometimes lie about it, and then get pleasure from their actions.

Would a Democrat or an Independent get away with what the media and public allow the GOP leaders get away with? Where is fair play?

Now, with regard to defeated Senator Joe Lieberman, I believe most are overlooking that many folks are angry with Lieberman not only because he was too close to the Bush Administration for comfort but that he also did very little to help the Gore / Lieberman ticket. Lieberman has simply been caught showing his true colors, and regardless of a recent poll (the trouble is: How can one believe any poll, any convenient Red Alert, any "Be Afraid, Be Afraid' which is used to scare the drugged public into voting Republican these days?) that now puts Lieberman in a slight lead against Ned Lamont, Lieberman has lost the respect of many which he will never regain. Who knows who will win in Connecticut but what goes around comes around.

Thank God France and the United Nations pushed forward a cease fire in the Lebanon-Israel conflict. If the world would only recognize that both Israel and Palestine need to exist as sovereign nations, the Middle East would be a better place. Let's pray that the cease fire will prevail.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Mini Boot Camp for Writers in New York on 9/30

For writers who wish to take a workshop on editing, I recommend the one coming up with writers and editors Eileen Robinson and Marcela Landres in New York on September 30th.

Read the details from their flier:

First Pages Mini Boot Camp: Old Forge, NY 9/30

WHAT: This day-long workshop will include editing advice, active writing exercises and one-one-one critiques. All participants will receive personal feedback on their first pages. (The first 15 to sign up will have the privilege of having an experienced editor read their first two pages ahead of time, with thorough feedback. Call now to reserve a spot.) Presented by the Adirondack Center for Writing.

WHEN: Saturday, September 30, 9:30 am-4:30 pm

WHERE: Old Forge Library, 220 Crosby Blvd., Old Forge, New York

Eileen Robinson, a children's book editor/reading consultant and CEO of F1rst Pages (http://www.f1rstpages.com/), edits manuscripts for both children's and adult audiences, garnering high praise for her ability to bring out the best in every writer. For more than 10 years, she has acquired, developed and edited children's books for both Scholastic and Harcourt publishers. Publishing many new authors, Eileen believes in helping both newcomers to writing and experienced, unpublished authors get their feet in the door. Eileen has taught several workshops for SCBWI and JWKC and is an editorial consultant and writer for several major publishers.


Marcela Landres is an Editorial Consultant who edits manuscripts, critiques proposals, and advises on how to launch a writing career. She publishes Latinidad®, an e-newsletter for Latino writers, and was formerly an editor at Simon & Schuster where she acquired and edited the bestselling authors Karen Rauch Carter and Dora Levy Mossanen. A member of the Women's Media Group, she is on the Literature Panel for the New York State Council on the Arts and has acted as a judge for the PEN/Beyond Margins Award. She speaks frequently for organizations such as the Learning Annex; for more information visit http://www.marcelalandres.com/.

TO REGISTER: Contact Jennifer White, Adirondack Center for Writing, (518) 327-6278 or adkwriting@gmail.com


For a list of my upcoming workshops, please visit Marcela Landres.com and then click on "Workshops".


Marcela Landres
Editorial Consultant
Marcela Landres.com
Helping writers get published.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Follow the Fleet and Escape

In light of the world going mad (i.e. Lebanon and Israel and the recent liquid scare on airlines), a light film was what the doctor prescribed. To this end, Follow the Fleet, directed by Mark Sandrich who is best known for Top Hat), with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the leading roles, allowed me to escape just like the Great Depression audience of 1936.

The music and lyrics by Irvin Berlin are charming.

A Nebraska by birth, I have to say that fellow Nebraskan, Fred Astaire (Omaha; now don't forget Marlon Brando who was also born in Omaha) who was born on my birthday, was also my idol--confession time: I wanted to be a dancer and truth be told the closest I got was one who loves music and in my salad days could dance for four hours straight, stopping only to quench my thirst.

The most famous scene from this film is the dance number "Let's Face the Music and Dance" with Ginger Rogers wearing a beaded dress which supposedly weighed 30 lbs. Oddly, both the characters played by Rogers and Astaire were contemplating suicide for different reasons and thankfully dance saved them from the act. This scene was redone 20 times but the first take--all in one shot--was one that is used in the film.

If you decide to rent this film, look for Betty Grable and Lucille Ball in minor roles.

After seeing this film, I realized that of late I have begun to shy away from violent films and highly negative ones. Even though I am quite aware of what is happening in the world (I read both the Washington Post and the New York Times, occasionally listen to Radio Madrid, and watch France 2 and the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart religiously), I do feel the need to escape into musicals and science fiction films because I like everyone else need balance in my life.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Paul Klee's Work at the Phillips Gallery

Paul Klee (1879–1940)
(Youth) Actor’s Mask, 1924.252
Oil on canvas, mounted on board, 14 ½ x 13 3/8 inches
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection.
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York /
VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Photo © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

Those of you who love art will truly enjoy the current exhibit at the Phillips Gallery in Washington, DC. Klee and America is bound to stir the emotions, especially given that Klee never visited America, yet his work truly influenced America. The timing for the exhibit nicely coincides with the attention Gustav Klimt, another German painted has received lately.

The change in Klee's style intrigued me as I passed from one section to another, but I found the very last section the most appealing.

Take an hour or more and head to the Phillips Gallery before September 10th, when the exhibit ends. To visit the website, click here:
The Phillips Gallery

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Gival Press Books Available on eBay.com

Gival Press books (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) are now available on eBay.com at the Buselin International Press Bookstore. PayPal makes it easy for book buyers to make purchases.

Click below to visit the site:
Buselin Bookstore

Friday, August 04, 2006


Arlington Salon Turns 15

The Arlington Salon, a group of individuals who like to meet and have good discussions is about to turn 15.

Back in 1991 when the Utne Reader was in its hay day, the salon was promoted. Basically, the concept is to meet in each other's homes to share food (always a pot luck) and drink and then actually sit around in a circle to practice the art of conversation about a variety of topics. Taking this concept, Ken Schellenberg (who continues to edit the website), Kevin Spitler, and Marian Flynn met and decided to start an Arlington Salon which has continued to meet for the past 15 years. During these years, people have come and gone. Some members have married and now have children while others have moved away from the area, and some even come back to visit, as the Salon usually meets twice a month (first Thursday and third Sunday, with the summer schedule often reduced to once a month).

We have found that the food and drink are crucial before we sit down to discuss a topic because the sharing helps create a sense of community among members, though not all live in Arlington. This also gives folks a reason to prepare food and the compliments afterwards are appreciated.

The topics have varied over the years; some have been repeated as the culture has changed over the past 15 years. These have included, for example: art, music, poetry, politics, immigration, what we should have been told by our parents, aging, health, travel, cherised items, etc.

If interested in participating, visit the website and register:
Slouching Towards Consensus

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Munich by Spielberg in Sync with the Times

Steven Spielberg's film Munich (2005) in light of recent developments between Israel and Hezbollah is both interesting and troubling at the same time.

I was impressed that Spielberg has stepped away from his Hollywood formula for films; this is perhaps his most dramatic film both in terms of its harsh reality but also because of the despair that the viewer has to process.

The script by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth is good because they did not cop out in trying to gloss over a disturbing topic. What we get as the viewer is perhaps
only a glimpse of what actually is happening between the various camps and as suggested in the film perhaps our own government; all in the vain of trying to
protect the innocent.

The sad fact is that the innocent are also casualties in this raw reality of ethnic hatred that is only going to increase as the hostilities continue in the Middle

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