The Pearl : 6 April 2015

hunter-s-thompsonMarch is a month without mercy for rabid basketball fans. There is no such thing as a ‘gentleman gambler’ when the Big Dance rolls around. All sheep will be fleeced, all fools will be punished severely… There are no Rules when the deal goes down in the final weeks of March. Even your good friends will turn into monsters. — Hunter S. Thompson

The Wisconsin Badgers and the Duke Blue Devils will play for the NCAA basketball championship tonight, bringing an end to the tournament nicknamed “March Madness” in particular because of the frenetic nature of the early rounds, when television networks frequently switch coverage immediately upon the conclusion of one game in order to broadcast the final moments of another game headed for a thrilling conclusion.

Even casual college basketball fans consider the NCAA tournament “must see” television.

Speaking of madness, Hunter S. Thompson wrote the infamous memoir titled Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Anyone interested in learning about the dangers of abusing serious drugs without risking their own life would do well to read that book, as well as the biography of Hunter S. Thompson, a remarkably talented but unhappy man who invented what he called “gonzo journalism.”

Bill Murray played the writer in a movie loosely based on his life story titled Where the Buffalo Roam. Johnny Depp also starred as Thompson in film adaptations of both Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary.

While Thompson was famous, the antics captured in his prose became legendary. Even the Doonesbury character “Uncle Duke” is routinely associated with Hunter S. Thompson.

But the writer paid a high price for many long years of dangerous living and serious drug abuse. Thompson’s health declined over time, and he finally committed suicide in 2005.

In a bizarre but oddly appropriate gesture considering how Thompson lived his life, his ashes were shot from a cannon while Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tamborine Man” played — a song about a drug dealer.



A review of The Lone Ranger

Full disclosure: I was a huge fan of The Lone Ranger when I was a kid. Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels could do no wrong, in my eyes. Now, fast-forward forty years.

As a writer, I know it’s strictly forbidden to speak poorly of your critics. But then it occurred to me that these aren’t critics of my novels, so I should feel free to speak my mind.

So I must ask professional critics who gleefully savaged Disney’s The Lone Ranger: did we watch the same movie?

The Lone Ranger has been described as a “clunky two hour grind“, a “runaway train“, an “unholy mess with slapstick antics“, something that “not even Johnny Depp can rescue.”

Only the guy at Forbes got it mostly right: The Lone Ranger is a “fun summer ride.”

His only mistake was to say Pirates of the Caribbean was a better film.

Let’s face it: Pirates was a lot of fun but in reality the first movie had no plot. The entire movie was literally based on a two-minute ride in an amusement park.

Johnny Depp plays Tonto.

Johnny Depp plays Tonto.

I never bothered watching any of the sequels. Johnny Depp wasn’t just the best thing going in that quartet of movies; he was all Pirates had. And yet, that was more than enough to sell tickets.

By comparison, The Lone Ranger actually tells a story.

No, it wasn’t perfect. The scene with the rabbits was bizarre and disturbing, and the little kid dressed as the Lone Ranger could have been edited out with no harm to the main story.

No, it was nowhere near as brilliantly conceived as Memento, not flawless executed like LA Confidential, or as quite as funny as The Princess Bride.

But it didn’t have to be. The movie only had to be entertaining, and it was. Very entertaining.

And after all these years, I finally know that “Kemosabe” means “wrong brother.”

My wife’s first words after the final curtain dropped were “that was excellent” and “I definitely want to see it again.”

This same woman said of Pirates that considering the money it grossed, she expected it to be better.

So these aren’t merely the jaded words of a lifelong fan, but the opinion of a woman who’s hard to please when it comes to movies.

The Lone Ranger


Johnny Depp plays Tonto.

Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger.

When I was a kid, my superheroes were mostly dark and troubled.

Even my favorite Western crime fighter, the Lone Ranger, wore a mask.

From those days of black-and-white television, there has been only one person who was The Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore.

And one, and only one actor could play Tonto: Jay Silverheels. That was then; this is now.

If the new Disney Lone Ranger movie starring Johnny Depp as Tonto proves to be half as good as the trailers suggest, I’ll be a happy camper when it comes to theaters next month.

Of course the trailer to Skyfall looked great, and that movie itself only mediocre.

Hopefully, that won’t be a problem with The Lone Ranger.

It was  a Ranger…riding a white horse. Got some lunatic Indian with him. They’re coming for you…

Yes, they are. I’m ready.

After piquing her interest with a few priceless Johnny Depp scenes as Tonto, my wife has agreed that can be my birthday present, only a few days early.

The last time Lisa watched a movie that was not on DVD it was the final installment of Lord of the Rings, so getting her to agree to go to the theater was no small achievement.

In the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Johnny Depp was an absolute delight as Captain Jack Sparrow. In that movie, Depp single-handedly turned a somewhat mediocre script loosely based on the two minute ride at Disney World into a two hour movie that was actually worth watching, at least in his scenes, mainly using his uncanny talent as a comedic actor.

I didn’t bother with the sequels to Pirates; after all, the ride itself was only two minutes long.

But now Disney is looking to create the same magic with the same producer, director and lead actor, though with a whole new franchise.

And I think it’s gonna be huge. I can’t wait to hear the William Tell Overture once more.

Johnny Depp has a particular talent for producing brilliant facial expressions, even in the midst of an action scene for comic effect.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, Johnny Depp is going to make a great “lunatic” Indian.

He’s so good, he’s already been named an honorary Comanche.

The horse that plays Silver might might even deserve an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor.

The face of evil

It isn’t every day that you gSecondhandSight_Frontet an email with “The Devil” as the subject.

I almost didn’t recognize that the source was the production company filming the commercial for Secondhand Sight. We’re about to start an advertising campaign on Comcast, to see how things go.

Until this point, the focus has primarily been kept on writing new books. Technically, my tenure as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner was both marketing and writing material for another book.

After all, much of the content developed for the Examiner was also incorporated into Counterargument for God.

Now, the focus is almost entirely on finishing Premonition, the sequel to Coastal Empire.

There are even sketchy plans for a sequel to Secondhand Sight.

I have plans for many future books. I only need to live long enough to write them all. However, we’ve decided that it’s time to try to develop a readership.

When it comes to the characters in my novels, I know my heroes.


I can tell you exactly what, or more specifically who private detective Robert Mercer looks like — actor Jim Caviezel.





His sidekick Nick Mason reminds me of a young Johnny Depp, when I try to describe him for the reader. depp_1





The first person that comes to mind when I think of John Sutlive will always be Denzel Washington. Denzel_Washington






I also really like Anthony Mackie — loved him as Harry in The Adjustment Bureau, but I think he might be a little too young to “be” John Sutlive.



On those rare occasions that I allow myself to go as far to fantasize that one day my novels could be made into movies, I tell myself that it’s okay to accept that my first choice for every character may not be available.

Sometimes the backup plan works out really well.

Director Jonathan Demme originally didn’t want Jodie Foster to play Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. In retrospect, it’s difficult to imagine anyone playing the role any better, and it’s really tough to argue with the fact Foster won the Oscar for Best Actress, and the film swept the remaining major awards for Best Picture, , Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Director.












When I tried to visualize the face of Secondhand Sight hero Dan Harper it was easy–Keanu Reeves kept coming to mind, as he looked when he appeared in the movie Speed.







I find myself having trouble when I try to describe the face of evil, especially when the guy is supposed to blend in like a Ted Bundy–the idea is that you don’t recognize the face of evil until it changes, once inside your house.


So what does the Devil look like? I still not sure that I can tell you.

But it does appear that the people filming my commercial have figured out who the killer in Secondhand Sight resembles…

This is very exciting stuff!