Please Join Me For a Signing At Barnes and Noble This Sunday (Yes, It’s Really Happening!)

I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be at Barnes and Noble in Bloomington, IL, this Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.  (Yes, it’s really happening this time!)

Join me for a discussion regarding my 2010 novel, Andropia, followed by a signing.  Books will be available for purchase.  In fact, if you’re going to have a copy signed, I suggest you buy it.  Barnes and Noble might not be too happy if we deface one of the books and then leave it on the table.

You may remember we had to cancel the event last time due to complications with my publisher.  However, my friend Jacob P. at Barnes and Noble sent me this picture as proof of the event’s legitimacy …

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It will be my honor to see you this Sunday at Barnes and Noble at 2:00 p.m. I hope you can make it!

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Back In Touch With An Old Friend …

A few days ago I struggled to make a dent in a book that will remain unnamed.  As it happens, a student in my class raved about an old Stephen King book he’d just finished — Pet Sematary.

Like you, I know about his classic novel, Pet Sematary.  I seen bits and pieces of the old movie on TV throughout the years.  However, I’ve never actually read the thing.  If you’ve visited this site for awhile, you know I’m a Stephen King fan.  His nonfiction is always sublime.  I could read his thoughts on all manner of subjects day and night.  He’s one of the few contemporary writers who strikes me as both present and wise.

His fiction, though, it a little hit or miss with me.  I’m not an admirer of his work past the year 2000 (with the exception of his Dark Tower books).  Much of it strikes me as inflated and meandering.

The classics, though?  You know it.  For the most part, those babies are tight, fast, and going places.  Unfortunately, I haven’t read as many of his classic titles as I would like.

So anyway, as I listened to a student rave about Pet Sematary, I thought to myself, “Yeah, let’s do this!  It’s October; a trailer for the new film adaptation recently released; I’m not enjoying the book I’m currently reading — this is perfect timing!”

I literally put the book down that I was not digging and picked up Pet Sematary.

Ah, as soon as I started reading, it felt like I’d just reunited with an old friend.

I know the Pet Sematary years were a rough patch for King.  He’s very much on record with his addiction struggles.  I’ll be darned, though, if he wasn’t at his peak during those tumultuous days.  I’m in no way suggesting he should go back under the influence — absolutely not.  His style and voice during that time, though, were just so easy to get lost in, and remains so to this very day.  (That voice is still present in his nonfiction, by the way.)

Pet Sematary, like his other works from that era, connect with me in a way his current work does not.  I’m having an absolute ball reading it.  King’s appeal is obvious — there’s a reason he’s been a best selling author for almost fifty years!

It’s wonderful to pick up a book, start reading, and feel instant comfort.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Mother! – A Movie Review

Though this film came out in September of 2017, I just got around to watching in on Amazon Prime Video.  I remember the reviews were mixed at best with most unable to pinpoint the exact nature of the movie.  This controversy, along with the fact that Darren Aronofsky wrote and directed it, made it required viewing in my mind.

I knew things were going to get interesting as soon as the title appeared on screen with the exclamation point appearing a few beats after the word “Mother” with an emphatic sound effect.  The punctuation seemed almost comedic in delivery, which gave me the sense that things were going to get a little crazy.

I was wrong.

Things got a lot crazy.

The premise is that a young unnamed woman, played by Jennifer Lawrence, lives in a huge house in the middle of the countryside with her older, also unnamed, husband.  Played by Javier Bordem, he is a writer suffering block.  As he struggles to create, she busies herself with repairing the house bit by bit due to a horrendous, and mysterious, calamity that occurred at some previous point.

A stranger soon appears at their door, played by Ed Harris.  He brings general chaos with him as a bad house guest after Bordem’s character, the husband (none of these characters are given actual names), invites him to stay.  Michelle Pfeiffer plays Harris’ wife, and she’s the next to show up.  She too brings bedlam.

Lawrence says very little in this film, but her facial expressions tell the viewer everything they need to know.  She is a doting wife trying to appease her husband at every opportunity, yet it’s obvious she is irritated to no end with the rude interlopers.  As are we.

As the movie continues, more and more strangers appear with the husband inviting each and every one of them in.  The wife cannot understand why he’s inviting insanity into their lives as she constantly strives for self-control.

The film next shifts into a higher gear as it somehow grows even more surreal.  It really captures the helplessness of a nightmare — it felt very much like some bad dreams that I’ve had.  Lawrence’s character can only accept impossible events as normal occurrences even though her eyes endlessly scream, “This cannot be happening!”  As we watch, we are saying the exact same thing to ourselves.

There are many theories as to what this film is about.  I personally feel that it is about the creator’s need to constantly destroy those things created.  Or maybe it’s about purgatory, and Lawrence’s character is trying to atone for mistakes made in life.  Or maybe Bardem’s character is the devil, intent upon making people suffer in their own personal Hell, one person at a time.  Or maybe it’s about the fact that no matter how much control we think we have, no matter how hard we fight to build the perfect life, the discord of the world outside will always disrupt our harmonious existence.

Or maybe it’s about none of that.

Who knows for sure?

I will say this, though — the sound effects in this movie are amazing.  I watched it on my Kindle with earbuds which enabled me to enjoy every anxious breath, every creaking floorboard, and every conversation from the next room.  I’ve never felt such impact by sound in a movie.

The camera movement also impressed me.  I love the way the camera follows characters around the house, up and down the stairs, through shortcuts from room to room.  It’s very fluid, yet also sometimes dizzying.

Finally, Lawrence absolutely portrays a sympathetic character trying so hard to deal with the pandemonium surrounding her.  Bardem plays a likable husband who infuriates us nonetheless.  Harris and Pfeiffer manage to irritate us from the moment they walk on screen until the moment they walk off.  There’s also several surprise appearances that I won’t spoil for you.

I don’t really know if I actually liked Mother!, to be honest.  It certainly captivated me.  It absolutely demanded my active engagement.  However, I’m not sure I would recommend it to the casual movie goer.  It’s definitely aimed at those with a lot of patience and a high threshold for ambiguity.  It’s a strange movie.

If you give it a watch, or if you’ve already seen it, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you.

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s latest books HERE!)

 

 

The Regretful Reason I Love Chick-Fil-A

When Chick-Fil-A first came to Bloomington-Normal, people were, shall we say, enthusiastic.  I lived in North Carolina for two years almost twenty years ago, where Chick-Fil-A abound.  I ate it a few times during my tenure in the south, but didn’t find it particularly special.  I mean, chicken is chicken, right?

So, if we’re being honest, I didn’t understand the Central Illinois fervor.  People were literally counting down the days until it opened.  And once it finally unlocked its doors to the public, oh boy, the lines were legendary.

In fact, to this day, if it’s anywhere close to mealtime, you’re going to see their drive-thrus (yes, they have two lanes) crammed with cars.

Apparently, the BLO-NO passion for Chick-Fil-A has not weakened.

And even though I am among the Chick-Fil-A faithful now, it’s not because of the food.  I still maintain that chicken is chicken.

Whenever we decide to do fast food, I’m the first to suggest Chick-Fil-A for an entirely different reason — a regrettable reason.

The first time we went to Chick-Fil-A here in town (which was long after everyone else paid it a visit), I was astounded.

They were so nice.

They were polite, courteous, warm, engaged, gracious, and just … nice!

The whole experience satisfied me in a way I had not expected.  Was I really so starved for good customer service?

We’ve been back three or four times since, and every time we are treated the same way.  Clearly, exceptional manners are part of their business model.  I have no idea if they hire only those who are predisposed to affability or if they have to train their employees to be considerate, but it totally works on me.

I don’t go to Chick-Fil-A for the food, I go for the experience.

Isn’t that sort of sad?  Is our general customer service so poor that we are surprised when workers present themselves professionally with a smile?  Honestly, I never paid it much attention at other places, particularly fast food places, because I know the employees aren’t making much, don’t have the opportunity for a tip, and probably don’t have a ton of job satisfaction.  But then Chick-Fil-A came along and blew my whole paradigm.

What’s it say that Chick-Fil-A rose above the fast food competition by encouraging their employees to be nice?

By the way, if you want to argue with me that their manners are fake, that they aren’t being sincerely nice, that they are just trying to keep their jobs, that’s fine.  I’ll take fake nice over authentic grumpy with my (waffle) fries any day of the week.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Ruby Rose Is Batwoman In All Her Glory

Perhaps you heard the news several months ago that Ruby Rose had been cast to play Batwoman in a crossover event on the CW.  She will appear on The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl as the three shows dive into a combined story line that introduces us to a Gotham City presumably without a Batman.

Believe it or not, Batwoman has been around since 1956, but this current iteration debuted in 2006 and has been wildly popular from that moment on.  She’s regularly carried her own title off and on during the last eight years!

Today, the CW released an official look at Ruby Rose in the Batwoman costume, and it is exceptional.  Generally speaking, the CW costumes are breathtaking, but this one in particular is already by far my favorite.  That’s probably because it’s also the most accurate to the comic book depiction.  They even got the red wig just right!  (Yes, it’s a wig in the comics, too.)

I love that they really seem to be honoring the character.  In the source material, Batwoman is a former member of the armed forces who received a dishonorable discharge due to her homosexuality.  Feeling purposeless, while wandering Gotham City, Batman inadvertently inspired her to take control of her life by becoming Batwoman.

Interestingly enough, judging from the photograph, Batwoman may be Gotham City’s only bat-themed vigilante.  The bat-signal mimics her emblem, not Batman’s.  The CW has been hesitant to use Batman in any capacity, though they did go ahead and include Superman during a few episodes of Supergirl.  If they want to put all of their chips on Batwoman, that’s fine with me!  She’s a rich character full of story potential.

Of course, to be totally honest with you, I’ve quit watching all of the CW/DC Comics shows.  I loved them all in the beginning, especially The Flash.  Unfortunately, because it’s the CW, they got a bit too melodramatic for my taste.  When Arrow devolved into Felicity crying every episode with Oliver endlessly proclaiming everything is his fault, it got to be too much for me.  The Flash fell victim to similar tropes.

I will definitely come back for Batwoman, though.  The costume alone has piqued my curiosity in this crossover event.  I wish Ruby Rose and the CW the best of luck!

If you’d like to learn more about Batwoman, click HERE.

To learn more about Ruby Rose and the controversy surrounding her casting as Batwoman, click HERE.

(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Cougars Care: Prairieland Elementary Donates To the Red Cross

I’m so proud of our Prairieland Cougars!  Thanks to their donations, the American Red Cross can provide 100 blankets to those suffering after a disaster.

In the midst of Hurricane Florence, our daughters grew extremely concerned about their cousin, aunt, and uncle who live in North Carolina.  To help appease our six-year-old’s worries, my ten-year-old came up with the idea to hold a fundraiser in order to help the victims of the hurricane.  Her logic was that instead of being afraid, they should try to take helpful action.

After discussing it as a family, we decided that our oldest should ask her teacher and principal if she could initiate a school-wide fundraiser.  The staff and administration at Prairieland are excellent, so it came as no surprise when they fully embraced the venture.

Our daughter really wanted to see the entire project through to the end, therefore she asked permission to handle the creation of the fundraising jar, the announcement to the student body, the counting of the money, and the actual deliverance of the donations to our local American Red Cross chapter.

Again, to Prairieland’s credit, they allowed her full autonomy in this endeavor.  We are so thankful they trusted our daughter to handle this responsibitliy.

The Prairieland Cougars really came through!  In just one week’s time, with another fundraiser going as well, the students donated $487!  That amount of money astounded our daughter, and me, too, frankly.

Today we drove her to the Bloomington, Illinois, Red Cross building to deliver the cashier’s check in person.  The friendly staff at the Red Cross treated her like gold!  I’m sure they get much bigger donations on a regular basis, but they absolutely made my daughter’s efforts and Prairieland’s donations feel just as important as any other donation.  Coleen particularly made a point to give our daughter so much of her time, showed great interest in both our daughter and Prairieland, and truly made our daughter feel appreciated.  Coleen and the wonderful team at the Red Cross made it an incredibly personal, authentic experience, which provided the perfect conclusion to this adventure.

The personnel at Prairieland Elementary and the Red Cross serving Central Illinois went above and beyond in helping our daughter achieve this goal.  But none of it could have been possible without Prairieland’s student generosity.  Children’s capacity for good never fails to impress me.

Principal Scott Peters always says it’s a great day to be a Cougar, and that’s because Cougars always care about others!  Thanks so much to everyone involved!

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Experiencing The Lion King At Peoria Civic Center

I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Lion King, so I absolutely agreed with my wife when she said we should try to see it after tickets became available at Peoria Civic Center.  After all, according to LionKing.com, over 90 million people worldwide have experienced the world’s number one musical over the last twenty years — surely they can’t be wrong about its quality?

Our day finally arrived, so after church we hit the road headed for Peoria.  Though forty-five minutes from our house, the drive to Peoria is always incredibly quick.  We zipped along Interstate 74, crossed over the Illinois River, and we were there.  I’m pleased to say that parking could not have been simpler.  We pulled into the lot about thirty minutes early with many spaces still available.  I can’t complain about the fee either — just seven dollars!

The walk to the Civic Center took maybe … three minutes.  Once we entered the facility, we moved rapidly through a security check, and then we were in!  With a ten and six-year-old child in tow, I felt elated by the ease of the entire adventure up to that point.  I was almost giddy when we took our seats.  I love it when venues are easy to negotiate, and Peoria Civic Center proved about as convenient as possible.

Because we were so early, we used the bathrooms before getting some drinks and cotton candy — you know, the basics.  The theater itself impressed me, too.  I found it visually appealing and entirely comfortable.  We were in the twentieth row, about right in the middle, which afforded us a wonderful view of the stage.  My wife did a fantastic job selecting our tickets!

As for the show itself … those 90 million other people weren’t wrong!  I loved it, my wife loved it, and my children loved it.  If you’ve seen the movie from 1994, you know the basic plot, dialogue, and songs — it doesn’t deviate much from the source material.  However, the singing, the dancing, the costumes, the makeup, the puppets, the sets, the props — they’re amazing.  Seriously.  You might remember that my main complaint regarding Hamilton centered around the fact that, visually speaking, not much happened.  That’s not the case with The Lion King.  The senses are constantly stimulated between the nonstop music, movement, and changing scenery.

That scenery — wow!  The sets were gorgeous and, most importantly, innovative.  They displayed creative genius in portraying grassland plains, raging rivers, and ominous caves.  I realize I sound a little excessive, but I sincerely haven’t seen anything quite like it.  Wait a minute, I actually have seen something a little bit like it — Disney’s Festival Of the Lion King.  (If you want to read about that equally astounding show, click HERE and scroll down a bit.)

I don’t want to sound utterly devoid of objectivity, so I do have a few criticisms.  Namely, I didn’t think the acoustics were exceptional in the theater.  I found myself struggling to understand the dialogue at times because the audio didn’t strike me as terribly crisp.  This wasn’t a problem during the singing, but the speaking generally sounded a little garbled.  This in no way diminished my enjoyment of the show.  Even if I didn’t understand every word being said, the physical action, facial expressions, and my general knowledge of the movie more than informed me as to the happenings.  I also noticed that the dancers weren’t quite synchronized with each other.  A few were just a second ahead or behind the others.  Do I care?  No, not in the least.  I can’t dance, know nothing about the art, and am regularly in awe of those with the talent.  Nonetheless, I wanted to share my observations.

If you’re even mildly interested in The Lion King, I highly recommend you take a chance on it.  I know you won’t be disappointed.  Hurry, though.  I believe October 13th is their last date.  If you live in the Central Illinois area, you can see what’s available here: Disney Presents The Lion King (Touring) Tickets at Peoria Civic Center.

Enjoy!

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)