Stephen Gyllenhaal's Grassroots heads to the 9th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival - December 6 - 9, 2012
Credits Director Stephen Gyllenhaal Screenwriter Justin Rhodes Producers Peggy Rajski, Michael Huffington, Matthew Brady, Brent Stiefel, Jane Charles, Gary Allen Tucci, Kathleen Man Gyllenhaal Principal Cast Jason Biggs, Joel David Moore, Cedric the Entertainer, Cobie Smulders Language English
Good News From the "Omega Point"
Has there ever been a more exciting time to be alive than today? With all the bad news that admittedly dominates the airwaves, our time is characterized by nearly hourly breakthroughs in the sciences and steady progress in outgrowing the ravages of organized religion like the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Libya and Egypt. As a former communications engineer for AT&T and professor of communications, to me the breakthroughs in communications are especially hopeful -- from Pinterest to Square, from GPS to Blu-ray, human beings are more in touch than ever previously imagined. Well, not quite.
In the 1930s a precocious Jesuit scholar Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in his The Phenomenon of Man, imagined and predicted the very world I believe we are now rapidly approaching -- the point in human evolution he called "the Omega Point."
Teilhard's basic premise is that evolution is all about the development and perfection of the nervous system toward maximum consciousness, as creation on earth moved from simple one-celled organisms to the stunning complexity of the human body.
The Omega Point, the end-point of this evolution of consciousness, was foreshadowed in the nineteenth century by the invention of telegraph and radio -- just when our need for information exceeded our internal capacity to extend our sensory collectors. We simply had to reach out. In terms of the human nervous system and its insatiable need to collect and process exterior information, these inventions allowed us for the first time effectively to communicate through time and space -- dramatically externalizing the internal nervous system. Years before its actual appearance, Teilhard predicted television, by which images as well as sounds and writing could be shared through space and time -- what Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy intimated in the visibile parlare, "visible speech," of the bas-reliefs on the walls of Purgatory.
At the Omega Point, Teilhard theorized, human beings, rising toward the consciousness that guides the universe itself, would be omniscient, ubiquitous, and eventually all-powerful -- the characteristics, not so coincidentally, ascribed by earlier Catholic theologians to God. Of course the ever-conservative Catholic Church took issue with the direction of Teilhard's thinking and placed his book on the index of forbidden books -- as though they'd forgotten that Genesis clearly proclaims that man and woman were created in "His image and likeness."
If we were created in the image of God (aka the consciousness behind the universe), why wouldn't we evolve toward being godlike? Isn't that the whole point of spiritual aspiration, as witnessed by the great mystics of Christian tradition from St. Thérèse of Lisieux to John of the Cross?
On a daily basis, when you're in danger of being brought down by all the crises and bad news, remember that we are fortunate enough to be experiencing the Omega Point all around us -- that time in human evolution when our consciousness as humanity becomes what Teilhard called "autonomous," or free from the limitations of space ("nonlocality") and time ("atemporality"). Most significantly, as we evolve in this direction we evolve beyond our restricted individual consciousness to a super-consciousness, in which the human species become a kind of "super person" transcending the individual persons it's comprised of. With any luck, that super person that is humanity will express -- and continue to strive for -- our higher values rather than our more demonic ones.
Dead Peasants. Thompson, Larry D. (Author) Oct 2012. 304 p. St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne, hardcover, $25.99. (9781250009494).
Jack Bryant is an übersuccessful lawyer who decides to retire after winning a huge wrongful-death case. Jack moves back home to Fort Worth where he can spend more time with his college-football-playing son. But he’s really too young to be retired, so he sets up an old RV in a bad part of town, offering free legal help to whoever needs it, and stumbles upon one of the biggest cases in his career. June Davis, widow, accidentally discovers that her husband’s former employer had a very large life-insurance policy, a “dead peasant” policy, on her husband, which made the employer the beneficiary. A string of seemingly unrelated accidental deaths are paying off handsomely for the financially strapped business. There isn’t much to the mystery that most readers won’t figure out in a hurry, but legal-fiction fans will still appreciate the courtroom scenes. The pacing is fast, the characters well developed, and the lawyer is likable. Grisham aficionados should be delighted with Thompson. — Stacy Alesi
By Lance Robbins, Story Merchant Book Marketing, former head of Fox Family Films
The first and most effective place to promote your trailer is on YouTube, as this will ensure as many readers see it as possible.
Next, you can add your video trailer to your Goodreads author profile page – this can set you apart from all the other authors on there, most of whom are not taking advantage of this. Amazon also allow you upload videos to Amazon Author Central – provided you stick to their rules.
Finally, make sure you embed the Youtube video trailer on your own author blog too. (You can even direct agents and publishers to it there, if you’re taking the traditional print publishing pathway – this will give you a huge advantage over most other authors seeking similar deals.)
THRILLER THURSDAYS PODCAST 3
The state of publishing and how it affects authors today
Special Guest: Ken Atchity, Story Merchant
With more than forty years experience in the publishing world, and twenty years in entertainment, Dr. Ken Atchity is a self-defined “story merchant” – writer, producer, career coach, teacher, and literary manager, responsible for launching dozens of books and films. His life’s passion is finding great storytellers and turning them into bestselling authors and screenwriters.
Today he joins Larry Thompson and Dave Dufour to talk about the changes in the publishing industry, along with his new venture, Story Merchant Books, which helps emerging writers get published electronically, among many other services. Join us for some stimulating conversation!
The Story Merchant & Story Merchant Books – http://www.storymerchant.com
Ken’s Blog - http://www.kenatchityblog.com/
Story Merchant Book Marketing - http://storymerchantbookmarketing.com/
Story Merchant News Desk – http://kenatchity.com/
NOVEL REVIEW: MESSIAH MATRIX
Messiah Matrix can be noted as a high- minded novel which draws readers into a world filled with corruption, murder, romance and history. The author, Kenneth John Atchity explores a highly controversial idea about the story of Jesus Christ.
Atchity’s extensive research manages to compel the reader’s attention within the first two pages as the novel kicks off with the murder of a monsignor, a confession from his killer and the discovery of a valuable artefact which might just change our understanding of Christianity as we know it.
Readers are drawn into the mind of Father Ryan, a young Jesuit priest who is obsessed in finding the connection between the murders, the message which was delivered by the assassin and his own personal doubts about his religious faith. By questioning the inconsistencies within the Catholic teachings his path crosses that off Emily – a spirited beauty who is the discoverer of the historical artefact.
Together they set off on a journey that not only unravels Christian history but also poses extreme risks for them in face of church authorities. Their findings cast them into a splendidly crafted net that lures readers through Roman History and the ancient story of Augustus. It ends with the truth revealed about the Christian Saviour—one which will come as a surprise to many.
In conclusion: This novel, in my opinion is splendid. The storytelling accelerates in momentum and grabbed my attention from the word go. Sure, there were times where my brain was in panic from all the revelations, but there were also times where the pages just turned themselves from the riveting adventure.
I’m sure the story will raise many questions for people who grew up in deep faith. What’s nice about Atchity’s writing though is the fact that he doesn’t force readers into believing in the book’s premise; instead he merely lays out his research, marvellously joining it together in a provocatively crafted romantic thriller.Not a light read at all but if you are up for intellectual entertainment - a must read.
Author: Larry D. Thompson
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Dead Peasants is part courtroom drama, part romance, and part thriller. Most of all, this is a well-written story that is hard to put down once you open the first page. Dead Peasants is the third novel by Houston attorney Larry D. Thompson, a partner at Lorance & Thompson, P.C., who draws on decades of his legal experience to construct this highly credible page-turner.
The thriller’s main character is Jackson “Jack” Douglas Bryant, an old-school plaintiff’s lawyer—one like so many plaintiff’s lawyers we have known or at least heard about. After a considerably large verdict, Jack decides to retire from his Beaumont practice and relocate to his childhood hometown of Fort Worth. However, it does not take long before Jack gets restless in retirement, and he begins taking on some pro bono cases out of an office he sets up in his luxury RV.
June Davis, one of Jack’s pro bono clients, is a recent widow, who had lost her husband, Willie, of over 50 years. One day June stops by the RV with a check in hand for $400,000, made payable to Willie’s former employer, a car dealership. The post office had accidentally mangled the cover letter and delivered it to her because hers was the only name that they could make out. June and Jack think the large check is quite odd, considering that Willie had retired 15 years earlier, and earned only $20,000 a year as a porter for the car dealership.
With the post office’s help, June unwittingly discovers what the insurance industry calls a “dead peasant policy.” In their heyday, from the 1980s to early 2000s, some employers would purchase life insurance policies on their low-paid rank-and-file employees without ever telling them. The employers would frequently keep paying the low premiums even after the employees retire or quit. When the covered person dies, the company would cash in on the insurance proceeds, with frequently no money from the payout going to the grieving family. When the public became aware of dead peasant policies, there was such an outcry that many companies stopped buying the policies and most states, like Texas, outlawed them.
Jack quickly puts his litigation skills to work and the stakes literally turn into life and death. His initial thought that the case involved only one policy proves wrong, as he uncovers that Willie’s prominent former employer had actually taken out policies on hundreds of other former employees. Further investigation reveals that several of these “peasants” turned up dead over a few short months with unexplained circumstances. When Jack starts turning over too many stones, he is threatened and finds himself amidst a plot that reaches far more than his own personal security and threatens his paramour’s life.
Revealing much more of the plot line will compromise the suspenseful aspect of this story. Suffice it to say, this is a must-read for lovers of legal thrillers. And the fact that it is set in the familiar settings of Fort Worth and Texas law makes it all the more enjoyable.
Robert Painter is a trial lawyer with the Painter Law Firm PLLC, where he handles medical malpractice cases for plaintiffs. He is an associate editor of The Houston Lawyer.
Former Secret Service agent talks about N.D. & Jacqueline Kennedy
By ELOISE OGDEN - Regional Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Minot Daily News
Former Secret Service agent Clint Hill, third from left, shakes hands Monday with David Fuller, president of Minot State University, after Hill stepped off a plane at the Minot International Airport. David Reiten, president of the Norsk Hostfest Association, is at far left. At right are author Lisa McCubbin, who co-wrote with Hill the book, “Mrs. Kennedy and Me,” and Myron Thompson, Minot. Hill will be inducted in the Norsk Hostfest Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame Wednesday. Fuller is Hill’s host while in Minot.
This week, the North Dakota native is in Minot for Norsk Hostfest activities. He'll be inducted Wednesday into the Norsk Hostfest Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame.
Hill and Lisa McCubbin, who accompanied him to Minot, are the co-authors of the new book, "Mrs. Kennedy and Me."
Hill's parents homesteaded in the Roseglen area. Hill, 80, was born at Larimore and then placed in an orphanage in Fargo. He was adopted when he was 3 months old by Chris and Jennie Hill, who brought him to Washburn. There, he attended school, graduating from Washburn High School. He went to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.
Hill has fond memories about his North Dakota upbringing, including visits to Minot.
He said his mother's birthday was July 4 and that month he remembers the family would come to Minot to the State Fair.
"All of her family all of her sisters and brothers whoever lived in the area would meet us here at a park near the fairgrounds. Everybody would bring something and we'd have a big picnic and then everybody would go to the State Fair," he said in an interview Monday afternoon.
After his father died, Hill said his mother moved to Minot. At the time of her death, she was living in a nursing home in Northwood because his sister lived on a farm near there. The funeral was held in Minot.
Hill's Secret Service career included working for several presidents.
Hill said when Vice President Spiro Agnew visited Minot he also visited Hill's mother here. He recalled it was during the campaign of 1972 when he was the assistant director for all protective forces for the Secret Service in Washington, D.C.
"One of the advance agents for the vice president was here in Minot setting up the trip and he called and said, 'Would it be OK if the vice president stopped by and saw your mother?' I knew the Agnews. I had been with the Agnews for awhile," Hill said. He told the agent that was fine if the vice president paid a visit to his mother.
"I arranged for my mother to be at my cousin's house, Paul and Olga Froemming, and vice president Agnew came here and met my mother there. It was on the front page of The Minot Daily News," Hill said.
He recalls being in North Dakota on official business once with Agnew to Fargo. Another time he did an advance trip through here for Lyndon Johnson but the decision then was made that Johnson wouldn't stop here. Hill recalls that trip was so secretive that Hill couldn't even go see his mother.
McCubbin said Hill talks about his boyhood in North Dakota in the book to show how different his upbringing was in contrast to Jacqueline Kennedy.
The book contains photographs of his family and his boyhood home, which was in the east end of the Washburn.
"There were 912 people living there at that time," he said.
McCubbin, who now lives in Alexandria, Va., where Hill has lived for many years, said they became acquainted when she was working on another book, "The Kennedy Detail." She said that book was with another Secret Service agent who had been with President Kennedy.
"We needed Clint's help for the book," McCubbin said. She said the other agent introduced her to Hill.
"Clint was very hesitant because he hadn't provided any information to any other books, but he trusted this other agent and then he slowly began to trust me. He revealed a lot of information for the other book. We became very close and then throughout the course of the next year we were together a lot promoting the other book. I'd asked him if he would ever consider writing a book and he said, 'No way, never, never.'" McCubbin said.
"I vowed I'd never write a book," Hill added.
"But then the publisher came to us and asked if we would do this book together," McCubbin said. "He decided it was historical information as long as we would do it in such a way that it was a tribute to Jacqueline nothing salacious, gossip or rumors but a tribute to the woman that he admired and respected, then he would agree to do it."
The book was released April 3 and was on the New York Times bestseller list for 14 weeks, McCubbin said.
"It's been very well received," she added.
Hill talked about Jacqueline Kennedy and how they addressed each other.
"Mrs. Kennedy and she called me Mr. Hill, with never any variation," he said.
"She was extremely intelligent, very athletic. She was an expert horsewoman, loved to play tennis and water ski. She was a hands-on mom, really dedicated to those two children, Caroline and John, and she was a devoted wife to her husband. (She) tried everything she could to give the president a relaxing atmosphere whenever possible so that he could get away a little bit from the stress and strains of the office. That was her goal and to really keep things private as much as possible. She emphasized that all the time," Hill said.
"She was just a wonderful lady. She had a wonderful sense of humor and she was a pleasure to be around to work with," he said. "She was a down-to-earth human being."
McCubbin said Hill also agreed to write the book because he realized that people didn't really know who Jacqueline Kennedy was.
"He knew her like nobody else did. There had been so many books written about her with lot of falsehoods," McCubbin said.
He said many people who wrote about Jacqueline Kennedy never knew her. "They were friends of friends of friends they got information from," he said.
Hill said he knew Jacqueline Kennedy from after the election of 1960 until after the election of 1964.
"He was with her constantly," McCubbin said.
From this book, Hill said he wants people "to understand who she was and what she was really like. That she was someone they could really relate to and be proud of."
"It's really his memoir of really happy times and tragic times that changed America, and he was right there in the middle of it," McCubbin said.
"One thing that I wanted to do in the book was give people a sense of who he is. He talks about how his North Dakota roots really contributed to everything he did in his life," McCubbin said.
"The values that I learned as a child, they're the ones that I still have today," Hill said.
In regard to Oswald, who shot President Kennedy, Hill said Oswald was a loner and loser "because he just couldn't get along with people, couldn't keep a job, couldn't even successfully defect to the Soviet Union. They didn't want him either. He was just someone trying to make a name for himself apparently, and that's want he did, but he didn't live to relish in his fame, so to speak."
Hill and McCubbin have been traveling since April on a book tour. They recently returned from Italy. They'll go to Australia in February.
"So it's international," Hill said of his book.
He said Jacqueline Kennedy always was international. He accompanied her to France, Greece, India, Pakistan and all over South America.
Will they write another book?
"Maybe," Hill replied, adding, "There's always more stories."
"We're really honored that Hostfest has invited us and is honoring Clint," McCubbin said. She said many North Dakota people have contacted them, asking him to return to North Dakota to speak. They said Norsk Hostfest is a great opportunity for them to be here.