So I’m going to shoot a short film on the 11th with a few friends. Here’s the draft script.

Cascade: Early thirties but looks older; he’s spiritually exhausted from his day job, which is cheap small-town murder for hire. He’s killed hundreds over the last ten years, but he’s starting to have bad dreams and is overmedicating with dangerous new designed drugs. He’s a man of few words, descending into his own abyss.

Simone: Mid-thirties, attractive and conscious of it, a sharp strategic thinker with no moral compass whatsoever. She recruited Cascade when he was a warehouse worker at the fireplace store she inherited from her dad, along with the central valley’s #1 cut-rate down-and-dirty wholesale hitman business. She easily charms Cascade; they’ve never slept together, but he’s never been able to resist her until his recent decline began.

Dart: The new Young Gun, brought in by Simone because Cascade’s balking at a full family execution and seems to be breaking down. His drug choices keep him clear-headed and disconnected, and his girlfriend rules his soul. He’s read everything. A nerd, a gamer, a psychopath, an excellent killer. Happy.

Lacey: Sweet, smart, crazy and very cruel childhood-abuse victim who loves to watch Dart make human margaritas. She doesn’t kill, but she thrills to the show. Her mind is a million places at once, but it always comes together the same way: bloodily. She lives in her own graphic novel, and sticks to the dangerous edge of modern pharmacology.

Murder. Each pulse brings a new color and a half-seen image of P.O.V. ultraviolence — people running, people being shot, people being stabbed and beaten, people pleading — Cascade’s gloved hand holding a gun or knife entering the frame occasionally, along with quick shots of Cascade’s face in the bathroom mirror — businessmen, secretaries, clerks, bartenders. Cascade kills small people.
The images speed to a blur –

Two black cats, DEIRDRE and LELAND, watch as —

CASCADE wakes up and opens his eyes to look into the smiling eyes of LACEY lying in bed next to him on her side.
LACEY: He’s having a terrible nightmare.
She smiles at Cascade, ever so sweetly.
LACEY: Hullo.
CASCADE: Who are you?
She doesn’t answer for a beat.
LACEY: I’m Laaaaaaa-ceeeeeeeey.
CASCADE: I don’t know you.
LACEY: Caaaasss-caaaaaaaadian.

Off-camera — DART speaks

DART (O.S.): Such a cool name.

Continue reading “Cascade.”

Why I Hate President Trump

My only quibble would be with the first sentence. The rest is a beautiful summary of the atrocity that has befallen us.

For the record, I don’t hate Donald Trump the person. I hate Donald Trump the president.

I wish I didn’t. But I do. Here’s why:

He’s a pathological liar, according to Republican Ted Cruz.

He’s a fake, a fraud, and a con-man, according to Republican Mitt Romney.

He convinced 81 percent of white evangelical Christian voters to throw Jesus under the bus to vote for a man who bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

He fired the acting Attorney General in a Monday Night Massacre because she determined that the president’s executive order on immigration was constitutionally indefensible.

He’s created an environment in which a southern white man can shut down a northeastern white woman while she’s reading from the floor of the Senate the cautionary words of a heroic southern black woman about a southern white man, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who was deemed too racist to be a federal judge in 1986.

He disrespects duly-appointed, Senate-confirmed federal magistrates: “so-called judges.”

He’s offended our friends and allies, treating the Mexican and Australian governments in much the same way he’s treated John McCain and Megyn Kelly and a disabled reporter and Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz and the Gold Star Khan Family and Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and Rosie O’Donnell.

He hasn’t, as far as we know, paid federal income taxes in years, bragging that it’s smart on his part — meaning it’s dumb on our part to do so, thereby undermining citizen investment in shared governance. Nor has he released federal tax returns, as other presidential candidates have for the last 40 years.

His wife in New York City, his weekly trips to Mar-a-Lago, and his gallivanting children are costing us a fortune.

He’s sloppy with national security. Proof: Michael Flynn.

He’s given us a Secretary of Education who was born into and married into a billionaire family, has never attended a public school or taught in a public school, never taken out a student loan or applied for a Pell Grant, or even much supported our public schools.

He nominated a labor secretary (now withdrawn) who took advantage of an undocumented worker, pays his fast-food employees a shitty wage, and wants to replace humans with robots because they don’t take vacation days.

He’s put together an administration of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy.

He’s not kept his campaign promise to release documents and even hold a press conference to prove that the third Mrs. Trump never worked in the US illegally. (We know she lied about having a college degree and — knowingly or not — plagiarized part of Michelle Obama’s DNC speech.)

He said he’d negotiate lower drug prices from pharmaceutical companies. Now he says he won’t — but will give big pharma tax breaks and lift certain regulations on their industry.

He turned the nomination of a Supreme Court justice into the finale of a prime-time reality-show.

He knows little about the history of the United States, about our constitutional system, or about our institutions of government.

He has left millions of Americans who acquired health insurance via the ACA worried sick that this great benefit will be stripped from them.

His closest advisers have added to the chaos of the first weeks of the new administration: Kellyanne Conway and her universe of “alternative facts” — like the Bowling Green Massacre; Steve Bannon, who wants to play war with our military; Stephen Miller, who yells at the American people that the president’s views “will not be questioned!”; and Sean Spicer, period.

He uses Twitter to harangue and berate and demean individuals and journalists and companies that question his infallibility.

He’s rattled and incoherent, unfit and unqualified and unstable.

He uses fear and anxiety to bring out the worst impulses that lurk just beneath the surface to pimp for votes and deepen the crevasse between his America and the rest of us.

He has not drained the swamp, as he promised. It’s deeper. It’s wider. It’s even more dangerous.

The Russians. The Russians. The Russians.

Conservative Republicans would have crucified our former philosopher-president, Barack Obama, for behavior that even resembled that of our schoolyard bully president, Donald Trump. Where is their outrage now? President Turmp is not making America great again. He’s making America ugly again. But Republicans, who created this president in their laboratory of anger and resentment, will use President Trump as long as he’ll sign his John Hancock to their legislation.

He’s my tenth president. I’ve appreciated or admired something about all of them. Until now.


—Rodney Wilson teaches political science.


Justin Hayward

I’ve always loved the Moody Blues.  In the seventies we had a stereo system set up in the dining room that was used by several family members – by our dad for his Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, and Roger Miller 8 tracks and by all of us kids for our rock and roll addictions, in those days on 8 track and vinyl.  A lot of the vinyl had been left by the older sibs, Jack and Monica, now out of the house, and included some of my favorite selections – Chicago Transit Authority, pretty much all of the Doors studio records, Beatles, Stones, and scores of others.  Joel’s memory may say different, but I remember one of these albums being Days of Future Passed, the Moody Blues “first” album (there was actually at least one other that preceded Days, with a song called Go Now, that would go on to become a number one hit in England.   

I don’t know how Joel caught the Moody bug.  Maybe it was from hearing Days in our record stack, but I suspect it had something to do with the band’s soaring space age music, lyrical themes, and album art.  It just appealed to him, and I loved it, too.  He faithfully built on Days by acquiring each record as it was released, and by 1971 we had all seven original “classic Moody Blues” records:  Days of Future Passed, In Search of the Lost Chord, On the Threshold of a Dream, To Our Children’s Children’s Children, A Question of Balance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, and Seventh Sojourn.  We got to know each band member, too, as though they were close friends:  Justin Hayward, lead guitar, John Lodge, bass, Ray Thomas, flute and harmonica, Graeme Edge, drums, and Mike Pinder, keyboards. Each was his own man:  Hayward was simply awesome (my only gripe was that, as fantastic as he was on lead guitar, didn’t jam out often enough, which admittedly wasn’t really the Moodies “sound”); Lodge was capable of writing downright genius material as well as something that made one wonder why they’d let him in the band, although he didn’t really get sickly sweet and sentimental until after Seventh Sojourn; Thomas in some ways contributing the most creative, interesting material, Edge kicking ass on drums and contributing the several epic poems sprinkled throughout the albumtry; and Pinder, no doubt the spiritual father of the group, seriously hovering above the others on his own astral plane.

I of course had my favorite Moody tunes, among them Tuesday Afternoon, Gypsy, Eternity Road, It’s Up to You, And the Tide Rushes In, How Is It (We Are Here), When You’re a Free Man.  Many of these happened to be Justin Hayward compositions, so when I was driving through downtown State College yesterday to pick up my repaired amp from Rainbow Music, I did a double take when I saw the marquis at the State Theatre:  “Justin Hayward 8 PM”.  On one hand, I was grateful to have seen the sign and soon after acquired a ticket.  On the other, a little disconcerted at how close I had come to missing it – if I hadn’t driven by I surely would have.  This reminded me of 1990 when I missed Savoy Brown play at the Brick House.  Somehow, I never seem to miss the announcements for the likes of Billy Joel (never seem to attend the shows, either…).

I purposely sat deep in the balcony so I wasn’t blown away by the sound.  I hate loud music, it makes my ears hurt, like when Big Head Todd played at the State Theatre a few years ago.  The three piece band – Justin, another guitarist, and a keyboard player – emerged on the stage.  I was alarmed to note the absence of a drum set.  And a bunch of acoustic-electric guitars.  Hmm, acoustic show?  That would be a bummer.  How’s Justin going to rock out on an acoustic guitar?  To be fair, there was one electric guitar visible, but I was still concerned about the lack of drums.

I need not have worried.  It turned out indeed to be a quasi acoustic show, but excellent nonetheless.  The lead guitarist was awesome, especially on Nights In White Satin, on which he applied kind of a flamenco style (see link).  It was beautiful, an awesome remake of the original.  Yeah sure, I would have preferred Justin to have been playing his signature leads, holding a Strat or whatever the hell he played in the Moodies, but I’m adaptable.  The keyboard player played the hell out of the shaker egg, tambourine, backup vocals, and keyboards, making it sound like a mellotron in all the right places.  Mike Pinder would have been proud. 

Justin was amazing in all respects.  Still tall and thin, same hair as usual, same incredible vocals.  Didn’t seem to have lost much as far as range.  Started out with Tuesday Afternoon and ran through a combination of classic tunes and newer songs.  I’m not very familiar with his or the Moodies music in general after Octave, Long Distance Voyager, and The Present.  He did a lot of songs from more recent albums, including a few from Spirits of the Western Sky, perhaps his latest.  I loved almost all of them.  At one point I was tempted to yell out Question.  He must have caught the vibe, for he proceeded to play it soon after I thought it.  As far as the classic tunes, he also played Watching and Waiting (closest I came to crying), Never Comes the Day, and Lovely To See You.

Justin was also a storyteller.  His stories really added spice to the music.  He talked about growing up in Swindon in western England with his late brother.  It sounds like they were close, like Joel and me, in fact.  I never would have guessed it, but his hero was Buddy Holly.  He talked about opening shows in the sixties for Canned Heat and Cream.  He spoke of how he met the other band members.  I think he said he was in a record store in Swindon, already a professional musician playing with some band or other, when a call came through to the store from…Mike Pinder.  He had heard Justin’s songs and wanted to get together.  Justin credited Mike with giving his songs the direction they needed.  He next met Ray, then Graeme, then John, or something like that. 

Acoustic show or electric, searing lead on Higher and Higher or maybe not, I’d go see Justin Hayward again and would recommend him to anyone.  I’ve missed a lot of amazing musicians along the way, but I didn’t miss this one.