Monday, September 30, 2013

"EL DORADO WEST" [PG] - Chapter Four

The following is Chapter Four of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849: 

Chapter Four - Mr. Whitman's Legacy

March 9, 1849
The news shook me to my very foundations. As I had assumed, Mr. Whitman's family had inherited most of his fortune. But to my surprise, that wonderful old man also left me five thousand dollars. Five thousand!

At first, I had feared that the Whitman heirs would contest my inheritance. My fears proved to be groundless. As far as they were concerned, the five thousand dollars was my reward for keeping the old man company. Besides, the five thousand was mere chicken feed in compare to what they had inherited.

My family received the news in a state of shock. Especially Papa. He knew what the inheritance meant - at last I had the means to make the trek for California and the gold fields without his support.

March 18, 1849
After nearly a week of preparation, I finally departed Cleveland for California. Or should I say . . . "we" left? Sister Alice had decided to join me at the last moment, upsetting the family even further. Since her rejection of Charles Maxwell, the family has made life miserable for her.

From the moment I had received my inheritance until our departure, my parents desperately tried to convince Alice and me to stay in Cleveland. I simply could not oblige them. It was not that I did not love them. I simply had to leave Cleveland. The desire to see other lands and dig for gold continued to grasp my soul. Mr. Whitman understood.

It is our first night on the road. Alice and I found shelter at a small tavern near the edge of Yellow Springs. Pleasant town. Although its citizens did not exactly make an effort to make our acquaintance, they did not seemed to mind the presence of two Negroes.

March 31, 1849
After nearly two weeks of travel, Alice and I have finally reached Cincinnati and the Ohio River. We decided to head straight for the riverfront and acquire about steamboat passage to St. Louis, instead of search for local lodgings.

I have never seen so much activity in one spot in my life! Cincinnati teemed with all sorts of characters - local riff-raff, stevedores, complacent-looking farmers, and well-dressed travelers on their way to heaven knows where. We even had our first glimpse of those rustic-looking creatures called mountain men, with their unruly beards, Indian clothings and tanned faces. Whores - especially those of the worst kind - teemed the levee, looking for new customers. But if there is one thing I will never forget about this city is the pigs! I forgot that Cincinnati was the pork capital of the nation. A person cannot walk one block without encountering the pink-skinned creatures.

Recalling that Cincinnati was a favorite hunting ground for slave catchers, I began to wonder if I would see any of their black merchandise. In the end, it was Alice who spotted the first of them - three black men chained together in a coffle. A tough-looking white man wearing a wide-brimmed hat, led them. The sight sent a chill down my spine and for the first time since leaving, I longed for the familiarity of my father's home.

Another sight temporarily erased any fears that the slave coffle had produced. Since Cinncinati happened to be one of the major ports along the Ohio River, river vessels of every kind filled the spaces by the river. Flatboats, keelboats (rarely used these days) and canoes. But the vessels that dominated the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, along with the Great Lakes were the towering steamboats. And they nearly filled the riverfront.

Both Alice and I were at a loss. It would take us forever to discover which boat was destined for St. Louis. Someone would have to remain with the wagon, while the other searched for a vessel. And I did not look forward to leaving Alice by herself. She was young, pretty, female and colored - the perfect target for any man, especially a white one who might be interested in carnal pleasures or slave hunter. Fortune eventually appeared in the form of one Reverend Abraham Miller of a local Baptist church for Negroes. He allowed us to keep our wagon inside his barn, until our departure. He also invited us to join his family for supper.

Meanwhile, Alice and I scoured the riverfront for passage to St. Louis. Thankfully, we managed to find one within an hour. The name of the steamboat was the ALBERT P. SIMPSON. It was a white, three-story vessel trimmed in dark-blue. Its smoke stacks were painted in the same color. A uniformed purser informed us that it was scheduled to depart Cincinnati tomorrow afternoon at two o'clock. That left us with less than twenty-four hours in the city. When I had informed Reverend Miller, he suggested that we spend the night at a local boardinghouse two blocks away from his church. Cinncinati turned out to be slightly more friendly than I had orginally assumed.

End of Chapter Four

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Shifting Heirs and the Ferrars Estate"



I have been a fan of Jane Austen's 1811 novel, "Sense and Sensibility" ever since I saw Ang Lee's 1995 adaptation. In fact, the 1995 movie initiated my appreciation of Austen's novel and other works. But there is a certain aspect of Austen's tale that has confused me for years. And it has to do with Edward and Robert Ferrars and their family's fortune. 

"Sense and Sensibility" told the story of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood - the older two of three sisters that encountered love, heartache and romantic obstacles when their father's death and half-brother's lack of generosity left them in financial straits. Elinor had fallen in love with Edward Ferrars, the mild-mannered brother of her sister-in-law Fanny; before she, her sisters and mother were forced to leave Norland Park in the hands of half-brother John and Fanny. Unfortunately for Elinor, Edward's family was determined that he marry an heiress. Later, she discovered that he had been engaged for several years to another impoverished young woman named Lucy Steele, the cousin-in-law of Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Dashwood's cousin and the family's benefactor. The younger and more impetuous Marianne fell deeply in love with a young man named John Willoughby. Although the latter harbored feelings for Marianne, he loved the idea of a fortune even more. Willoughby eventually rejected Marianne in order to marry a wealthy heiress, leaving the Dashwoods' neighbor Colonel Christopher Brandon to console her.

The story arc regarding Marianne's love life proved to be problem-free for me. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Elinor's story arc. I still have a problem with that obstacle to Elinor's romantic happiness - namely Edward's engagement to the manipulative Lucy Steele. In the novel, Mrs. Ferrars disinherited Edward in favor of his younger brother, Robert, after the Ferrars family learned about his engagement to Lucy . . . and he refused to break said engagement. Mindful of Edward's financial situation and his ambitions to earn a living with the Church of England, Colonel Brandon offers him therectory at the former's estate, Delaford, for a low salary. This is where "Sense and Sensibility" becomes a bit tricky. The novel concluded Edward's visit to the Dashwoods' home, Barton Cottage, in which he not only proposed marriage to Elinor, but also announced that Lucy Steele had broken their engagement in order to elope with Robert. Only . . . the latter remained heir to the Ferrars estate by the novel's conclusion.

The financial fates of both Edward and Robert seemed to be tied with the character of Lucy Steele. Most of the Ferrars family and Lady Middleton seemed to harbor a high regard for Lucy and her sister, Anne. Yet, when Anne exposed Lucy's secret engagement to Edward, Mrs. Ferrars disinherited the latter in favor of her younger son, Robert. But after Robert's elopement to Lucy, he remained heir to the Ferrars estate. And to this day, I can only ask . . . why? Why did Mrs. Ferrars disinherited Edward after he refused to break his engagement to Lucy . . . and fail to disinherit Robert, after he had eloped with the same woman?

In the 1981 BBC adaptation, Edward (portrayed by Bosco Hogan) claimed that Robert's inheritance became irreversible, despite his elopement with Lucy. Frankly, the explanation given by Austen struck me as rather confusing. The miniseries' screenwriters Alexander Baron and Denis Constanduros failed to explain why Edward financially paid the price for refusing to break his engagement with Lucy. They especially failed to explain why Robert DID NOT pay the price for marrying her. Is there someone out there who can offer an explanation?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL" (1987) Review


"AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL" (1987) Review

Agatha Christie's 1965 novel is a bit of a conundrum for me. It strikes me as one of the most unusual novels she has ever written. When I first saw the television adaptation for it, I found myself wondering how the director and the screenwriter would handle it. 

"AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL" beings with Miss Jane Marple arriving in London to spend a holiday at Bertram's Hotel, a place she used to stay during her youth. Her first reaction to Bertram's is sheer rapture, as she realizes that the hotel has retained its late Victorian/Edwardian atmosphere after many decades. The plumbing and communication system may have been modernize. Otherwise, the hotel's atmosphere, interior designs, the food and the style of the hotel's staff has not changed a whit. But it does not take Miss Marple long to realize that the hotel's lack of change seemed unusual, considering that most long-standing hotels tend to change over the years. And thanks to an encounter with an old friend named Lady Selina Hazy, Miss Marple also becomes aware of a family drama being played out inside Bertram's, between an adolescent girl of good family named Elvira Blake and her estranged mother, a famous adventuress and socialite named Bess, Lady Sedgwick. Their relationship seems to be tangled with two men - a Polish-born race car driver named Ladislaus Malinowski, who seemed to be romancing both women; and Bertram's commissionaire, an Irishman named Michael "Micky" Gorman, whose conversation with Lady Sedgwick is overheard by both Elvira and Miss Marple. Everything comes to a head when one of the hotel guests, a forgetful clergyman named Canon Pennyfeather, disappears on the night the Irish Mail train was robbed; and on the following night, Bertram's commissionaire, Michael "Micky" Gorman, is shot dead in front of the hotel.

I might as well say it. "AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL" does not feature one of the best murder mysteries written by Christie. When I first read the novel, it did not take me long to figure out Michael Gorman's killer. Even worse, the murder does not occur until the last third of the movie. However, one must remember that the title of this particular tale centers around Bertram's Hotel. If one really wants to enjoy a good mystery in this tale, it can be found in the mysteries that surround the hotel itself - the "old-fashioned" atmosphere, the presence of freewheeling types like Lady Sedgwick and Malinowski in such an archaic establishment, and the sightings of hotel guests like Canon Pennyfeather at recent robbery scenes. The hotel itself proves to be the real mystery that not only captures Miss Marple's attention, but also the attention of Scotland Yard's Chief-Inspector Fred "Father" Davy.

I have to give director Mary McMurray credit for exploring the movie's rich atmosphere of 1950s London and Bertram's itself. There were other factors in the movie that contributed to its atmosphere, including Jill Hyem's screenplay, Judy Pepperdine's costume designs, and especially Paul Munting's production designs. However, "AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL" has its flaws. Aside from a lackluster murder mystery, the movie also suffered from faded coloring. Looking at the movie, I get the feeling that the actual television movie had been shot with inferior film. And as much as I liked the mystery surrounding the hotel itself, "AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL" also suffered from a slow pacing, thanks to McMurray's direction. But that seems to be the case for many of the Miss Marple films that starred Joan Hickson.

The strongest virtues of "AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL" seemed to be its cast. Joan Hickson was marvelous as always as intelligent and observant Miss Marple. Joan Greenwood gave an entertaining portrayal of Miss Marple's more elegantly dressed, yet gossipy friend, Lady Selina Hazy. I really enjoyed George Baker's warm, yet colorful performance as Chief Inspector Fred Davy, who not only proves to be just as intelligent as Miss Marple, but also appreciative of her sleuthing skills and a solid afternoon tea. Robert Reynolds' portrayal of Ladislaus Malinowski seemed like a cliche of Eastern Europeans, despite the sexy overtones. Brian McGrath practically oozed of Irish charm (of a slightly seedy nature) in his performance as murder victim Michael Gorman. Preston Lockwood gave a charming performance as the sweet, yet befuddled Canon Pennyfeather. But the two best performances - in my opinion - came from Caroline Blakiston and Helena Michell as mother and daughter, Lady Sedgwick and Elivra Blake. Lady Sedgwick has always struck me as one of the most colorful characters created by Christie, and Blakiston made the character even richer in her superb performance. And Michell did an excellent job in combining the two contrasting traits of Elivra's personality makeup - her passionate feelings for Malinowski and her cool, yet conniving ability to manipulate others for her own personal gain.

"AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL" is not exactly one of the best Miss Marple films I have ever seen. Then again, it is based on one of the oddest Christie novels ever. But if a viewer can overlook the movie's flaws - especially the disappointing murder mystery - that person might end up enjoying the movie's atmosphere, the mystery surrounding the hotel itself and especially the performances from an excellent cast led by Joan Hickson.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"THE BUTLER" (2013) Photo Gallery


Below is a gallery of images from "THE BUTLER", an adaptation of the real-life accounts of former White House butler, Eugene Allen. Directed by Lee Daniels, the movie stars Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo: 

"THE BUTLER" (2013) Photo Gallery



butler 2013 movie poster















Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 9.04.03 AM





Monday, September 23, 2013

TIME MACHINE: Battle of Chickamauga



This week marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga, during the U.S. Civil War. Fought in southwestern Tennessee and northeastern Georgia, the battle served as the last Union offensive in that region between September 19-20, 1863. It was the first major U.S. Civil War battle to be fought in Georgia.

Following his successful Tullahoma Campaign, General William Rosecrans, who commanded the Union's Army of the Cumberland, set out to force the Confederate Army of Tennessee, under General Braxton Braggout of Chattanooga, Tennessee. In early September 1863, Rosecrans consolidated his forces scattered around Tennessee and Georgia and forced the Army of Tennessee out of Chattanooga. Bragg and his troops were forced south of the city and the Union troops followed them. The two armies engaged in a brief clash at Davis's Cross Roads. Bragg became determined to reoccupy Chattanooga by meeting a part of Rosecran's army, defeat it and move back into the city. 

On September 17, his army marched north, intending to attack the Union's isolated XXI Corps. While Bragg marched north on September 18, his cavalry and infantry fought with Union cavalry and mounted infantry. The actual Battle of Chickamauga between the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of Tennessee began in earnest on September 19, 1863; near Chickamauga Creek in northwestern Georgia. This small body of water flows into the Tennessee River. Although the Confederate troops engaged in a strong assault, they could not break the Union line. 

General Bragg resumed his assault on the following day, September 20. In late morning, Rosecrans received erroneous information that he had a gap in his line. While moving units to close the alleged gap, Rosecrans had accidentally created an actual gap, directly in the path of a Confederate eight-brigade assault on a narrow front byLieutenant General James Longstreet. Longstreet's attack drove one-third of the Union army, including Rosecrans himself, away from the field. Other Union forces spontaneously rallied to create a defensive line on Horseshoe Ridge, forming a new right wing for the line of Major General George H. Thomas, who assumed overall command of remaining Federal forces. Although the Confederates launched costly and determined assaults, Thomas and his men held until twilight. The actions of Thomas earned him the nickname of "The Rock of Chickamauga. He led the Union forces to Chattanooga, while the Confederates occupied the surrounding heights and commenced upon a siege of the city.

Unable to break the Confederates' siege of Chattanooga, General Rosecrans was relieved of his command of the Army of the Cumberland on October 19, 1863. He was replaced by General Thomas. During the siege, General Bragg commenced upon a battle against those subordinates he resented for failing him in the campaign. This conflict led to General D.H. Hill being relieved of his command and General Longstreet's corps being sent to fight in the Knoxville Campaign against General Ambrose Burnside. These actions seriously weakened Bragg's army at Chattanooga. General Bragg's siege of Chattanooga remained in effect for two months, until General Ulysses S. Grant broke it during the Chattanooga Campaign in late November.

For more information on the Battle of Chickamauga, read the following books:

"The Chickamauga Campaign [Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland] (2010) Edited by Steven E. Woodworth

"The Battle of Chickamauga: The Fight for Snodgrass Hill and the Rock of Chickamauga" (2012) by Robert L. Carter

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"2 GUNS" (2013) Review


"2 GUNS" (2013) Review

I have been a major fan of both Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg for years. But when I first learned that the pair would be starring in one of those "cop buddy" action flicks called "2 GUNS", I did not greet the news with any real enthusiams. And I had a few reasons for my lack of enthusiasm. 

As much as I admired the two, I could not envision the both of them as an effective screen team. I thought they would either cancel each other out or simply lack any real screen chemistry. There have been less and less "cop buddy" movies in the past decade. The genre is not as popular as it used to be during its heyday from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. Also, the movie was released during the month of August, which the Hollywood studios use as a dumping ground for their second-rate summer fare or for movies they are uncertain of any success. And if I must be brutally honest, the movie's title - "2 GUNS" - did not particularly ring with any originality or zing. I did the math and concluded that this movie would be, at best, a sample of cinematic mediocrity. But . . . this was a movie with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg and decided to see it anyway.

"2 GUNS" began in the middle of the story with the two main characters - criminals Robert Trench and Michael Stigman - plotting the robbery of a local Texas bank that holds the money of Mexican drug lord named Papi Greco. The story rewinds back a few days to Trench and Stigman's meeting with Greco in Mexico, where the latter fails to give Trench the cocaine that he wanted. As it turned out during a stop at the U.S.-Mexico border, Trench is an undercover D.E.A. agent who needs the cocaine as evidence to convict Greco. Trench decides to continue his cover and assist Stigman in robbing Greco's $3 million dollars from a Texas bank. Unbeknownst to Trench, Stigman is an undercover U.S. Navy Intelligence agent who is ordered by his commanding officer, Harold Quince, to kill Trench and take the $3 million so that the Navy can use it to finance covert operations. Upon robbing the bank, both Trench and Stigman discover that Greco had $43 million dollars in the bank. Even worse, the money actually belongs to a C.I.A. official named Earl, who has been using the money given to him by Greco for C.I.A. black operations. Stigman finds himself in trouble with Quince for failing to kill Trench. And before the latter is framed by Earl for his superior's murder, he is instructed to get the money back or face prison. Trench and Stigman team up to find the money.

Just as I had expected, "2 GUNS" proved to be a typical "cop buddy" movie that was prevalent during the late 1980s and the early 1990s. However, I was surprised how complex it proved to be. Instead of two police officers already established as partners or being forced to become partners, "2 GUNS" featured two intelligence agents unaware of each other's profession and mission, and forced to become partners when they find themselves ostracized. I was also surprised to discover that both Washington and Wahlberg managed to produce a first-rate screen chemistry. Not only did they work well together as an action team, but also proved to be quite funny. And thanks to Blake Masters' screenplay, the movie featured some top-notch action scenes that included the actual bank robbery, Trench and Stigman's encounter with Quince's shooters at Trench's apartment, and an encounter with Grego's men at the home of Trench's fellow DEA colleague, Deb Reese. Apparently, Masters and director Baltasar Kormákur saved the best for the last in a blazing shoot-out between the pair, Quince's shooters, Earl's killers and Greco's men at the latter's ranch in Mexico. Despite my observation that the movie evolved into a complex story, both Masters and Kormákur made it clear for me - aside from one or two scenes.

One of those scenes that confused me centered around Trench's DEA colleague and former lover, Deb Reese. I understood that she was involved in a scheme to get her hands on Greco's money with Quince. But after she found herself a hostage by Greco, she immediately gave up on the idea of Trench and Stigman finding the $43 million she had hidden, despite giving Trench a clue to its location. It seemed as if her character seemed to be in some kind of conflict over the issue . . . and an unnecessary one at that. Another scene - or I should say plot line - that confused me concerned Stigman's position with the U.S. Navy. He managed to infiltrate a naval base in Corpus Christi and informed an Admiral Tulway about the mission, Quince and the missing $43 million dollars. Although Tulway declared Quince a wanted man, he also disavowed Stigman from prevent the scandal from tarnishing the Navy's reputation, which would have required Stigman's arrest. Does that mean by the end of the money, Stigman remained wanted by the Navy, while he helped Trench take down the C.I.A.'s other bank stashes at the end of the film? Why did end Stigman's situation on such a tenuous note? And why would Trench even bother to go after the other C.I.A. money stashes? Were they connected to Greco's drug operations? If so, the screenplay failed to make the issue clear.

The cast gave first-rate performances. This is not surprising, considering the names in the cast. Both Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg were not only excellent as the two leads, but also seemed to be having a lot of fun. Paula Patton made a rather subtle femme fatale as Trench's double-crossing colleague. Bill Paxton proved to be a very scary adversary as the malevolent C.I.A. official trying to get his money back. Edward James Olmos proved to be equally effective as the ruthless, yet soft-spoken drug dealer, Greco. And I was surprised to see James Marsden portray an unsympathetic role as the ruthless Harold Quince, whose scheming got the two leads in trouble. And he was damn good.

I might as well say it. Aside from a rather complex plot, "2 GUNS" is not exactly a memorable action movie that will rock your world. It is also marred by some vague writing in its second half. It is entertaining, funny and has plenty of exciting action scenes, thanks to director Baltasar Kormákur. But the best thing about this film proved to be its cast led by the dynamic duo of Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Dear Orry II" [G] - 1/1



SUMMARY: A view of Charles Main's life as an Army officer on the Texas frontier between the fall of 1857 and the winter of 1858, via a letter written to his cousin, Orry Main.
FEEDBACK: Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: Charles Main, Orry Main, Elkhannah Bent and all other characters related to the "NORTH AND SOUTH Trilogy" belong to John Jakes, Wolper Productions, and Warner Brothers Television.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is a continuation of Charles Main’s experiences in Texas, first started in the story, "Dear Orry" and continuing with "Dear Billy". The story is a combination of canon from the trilogies of both John Jakes’ novels and the television adaptations.



January 23, 1858
Camp Cooper, TX

Dear Orry,

I am fortunate to be alive to send this to you, for reasons I shall shortly describe. I know you will find it startling, but know that I am being truthful when I say I am now almost certain that my company commander wishes to see me come to harm because of fancied slights and incidents of insubordination which exist more in his own mind than in fact. Orry, I have somehow become mixed up with a damned lunatic, and since he is about your age and an Academy man, I hasten to ask whether perchance you know him. His name is Elkhanah Bent.

I realize I should have written about Captain Bent a lot sooner. I had mentioned him in a letter to Billy Hazard last summer. But my struggles with the captain and some of the men in my company has kept me occupied for the last six months. However, this latest event involving the rescue of stranded passengers from the Overland Stagecoach Line proved to be the last straw. Let me explain.

Conflict between myself and Captain Bent has been brewing ever since he took command of Company "K" nine months ago. I had been slightly aware of some deep emotion on his part toward me, when I first introduced myself to him. The more I got to know Captain Bent, the more I began to realize that he might not be completely sane. During mess, he would espoused his view on the future on military strategies and tactics and on the war that was bound to come. I swear Orry, the man seemed to revel in the anticipation of a new war. Captain Bent even tried to drag me into this unnatural love for warfare by inviting me to examine his copy of the French General Jomini's "Summary of the Art of War". I'm afraid there was something in the Captain's eyes that led me to reject his offer. Either Captain Bent has a slight preference for young men or he had another reason to invite him into confidence. But I excused myself on the grounds that I was coming down with the grippe. I also added that military theorizing was not very appealing to me. 

Perhaps I had made a mistake in rejecting his offer. From that moment on, Captain Bent found fault with everything I did. The following day I had assisted an old Indian in pushing his cart out of the mud. The captain criticized me in front of the others because the Indian happened to be Katmuse, the leader of those Commanches on the reservation. This incident turned out to be the first among many times he criticized me in front of the entire company. Not long ago, he found fault with the girth for my mouth. When I dared to suggest he might be wrong, Captain Bent ordered me to saddle and unsaddle my horse . . . fifteen times. And he forced me do in front of one particular noncom who happened to dislike me at the time, Sergeant Breedlove.

It was not until this latest incident that led me to question Captain Bent's sanity. A few days ago, the company's first lieutenant, Lafe O'Dell woke me up in the middle of the night to inform me that the captain had ordered me to lead a detachment of troops to rescue any surviving passengers from a Butterfield stagecoach that was four hours overdue . . . during the middle of a snowstorm. Lafe . . . I mean, Lieutenant O'Dell had suggested I wait until the storm pass, but Bent insisted that I leave immediately. The detachment and myself left Camp Cooper around one in the morning. It took us at least seven to eight hours before we discovered the missing stagecoach. The storm had caused it to fall on one side and the surviving passengers were trying to stay warm by burning one of its doors. Sergeant Breedlove's roan had been injured during our journey and I had to shoot it. While we escorted the survivors back to Camp Cooper, I gave Breedlove a lift on my roan, Palm. Needless to say, Palm buckled under the weight of two men a half mile before we reached the post and I was forced to shoot him. The sergeant and I were forced to walk the rest of the way. According to the post doctor, I had come pretty close to losing three toes to frostbite. 

What am I to do, Orry? I did consider writing a letter to the regiment's headquarters in San Antonio. But what can I say? My company commander is insane and might harbor a grudge against me? Who knows what the Army commander might do to me if I officially make such an accusation. Lafe has picked up a rumor that a few at regimental command were not pleased by Captain Bent's decision to send my detachment on the search for that stagecoach during a snowstorm. If this is true, I doubt much will come from any criticism on their parts . . . except for more harassment from the captain.

I hate to relay such disturbing news to you, Cousin. But since Captain Bent seemed to be around the same age as you and was a veteran of the war in Mexico, I wondered if you knew him. Other than my conflict with the captain, I am faring well. Please give my love to Aunt Clarissa, Brett and the others . . . even Ashton.


Your Cousin Charles

Friday, September 20, 2013

"ELYSIUM" (2013) Photo Gallery


Below are images from the new science-fiction thriller called "ELYSIUM". Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the movie stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster: 

"ELYSIUM" (2013) Photo Gallery












Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Top Five Favorite Episodes of "LOIS AND CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN" (Season Three)


Below is a list of my top five (5) favorite episodes from Season Three (1995-1996) of "LOIS AND CLARK: The New Adventures of Superman". The series starred Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher: 


1 - 3.17 Seconds

1. (3.17) "Seconds" - In this finale of a three-episode arc about Clark Kent and Lois Lane's aborted wedding, Clark races to find Lex Luthor and an amnesiac Lois before the former billionaire can convince her to kill Clark and leave Metropolis forever.

2 - 3.13 The Dad Who Came in From the Cold

2. (3.13) "The Dad Who Came in From the Cold" - A visit from Jimmy Olsen's father to Metropolis prompts a revelation of the latter's profession as a spy.

3 - 3.22 Big Girls Dont Fly

3. (3.22) "Big Girls Don't Fly" - AFter successfully passing the tests set by Kryptonian survivors Zara and Ching, Clark learns that they want him to leave Earth and go back with them to rule New Krypton, or the planet will be ruled by the evil Lord Nor. 

4 - 3.04 When Irish Eyes Are Killing

4. (3.04) "When Irish Eyes Are Killing" - In an effort to make Clark jealous, Lois dates her old boyfriend, Patrick Sullivan. But she and Clark eventually learn that he is planning to use her as a Druidic sacrifice.

5 - 3.01 We Have a Lot to Talk About

5. (3.01) "We Have a Lot to Talk About" - While Clark and Lois deal with the ramifications of her discovery of his Superman identity, Intergang leader Bill Church's attempts to go straight are hampered by his new wife and his son.