About RDH Great Stories

 

Ronald Hawkins is the founder of the RDH Great Stories business. He has been an award-winning reporter, writer, editor, columnist, interviewer, videographer and more for newspapers, trade publications and others in New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Mr. Hawkins also has given presentations on science fiction, the Beatles and other subjects at libraries and science fiction conventions. Most recently, he has written for Radius Indiana and Ready Set Quit Tobacco. He also has volunteered as a literacy coalition tutor.

RDH Great Stories can be hired for a variety of projects. If interested, he may be contacted at ronaldwritera1@gmail.com or by sending a written inquiry to:

Ronald Hawkins

c/o RDH Great Stories

1617 N Street

Bedford, IN 47421

Library of Congress names 25 more films to registry

One of our favorite things about the holiday season is that each December the Library of Congress announces the addition of 25 films to the National Film Registry.

In its announcement this year, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden stated that the film were selected because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage. The films in the class of 2019 range from Prince’s 1984 autobiographical hit “Purple Rain” and Spike Lee’s 1986 breakout movie “She’s Gotta Have It” to Disney’s 1959 timeless fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” and this year’s biggest public vote getter, Kevin Smith’s 1994 “Clerks.”

“The National Film Registry has become an important record of American history, culture and creativity,” said Hayden. “Unlike many other honors, the registry is not restricted to a time, place or genre. It encompasses 130 years of the full American cinematic experience – a virtual Olympiad of motion pictures. With the support of Congress, the studios and other archives, we are ensuring that the nation’s cinematic history will be around for generations to come.”

A musical biopic, a heartwarming tale about man’s best friend, early black cinema, a notorious real-life crime drama and the anatomy of war represent the diversity of the 2019 registry. They include blockbusters, documentaries, silent movies, animation and independent films. The 2019 selections bring the number of films in the registry to 775, which is a small fraction of the Library’s vast moving-image collection of more than 1.6 million items.

The list of 25 includes:

  1. Amadeus (1984)
  2. Becky Sharp (1935)
  3. Before Stonewall (1984)
  4. Body and Soul (1925)
  5. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
  6. Clerks (1994)
  7. Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
  8. Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island (1903)
  9. Employees Entrance (1933)
  10. Fog of War (2003)
  11. Gaslight (1944)
  12. George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute (1937)
  13. Girlfriends (1978)
  14. I Am Somebody (1970)
  15. Last Waltz, The (1978)
  16. My Name Is Oona (1969)
  17. A New Leaf (1971)
  18. Old Yeller (1957)
  19. The Phenix City Story (1955)
  20. Platoon (1986)
  21. Purple Rain (1984)
  22. Real Women Have Curves (2002)
  23. She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
  24. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  25. Zoot Suit (1981)

Swiatek-Hawkins picks contest continues

For nearly 40 years, writer Jeff Swiatek and Ronald Hawkins have shared competing picks regarding the upcoming Major League Baseball season. The person with the most correct picks is the beneficiary of a dinner from his opponent.

An opening day in Cincinnati. Photo by Ronald Hawkins.

This tradition began when the writers were working at a daily newspaper in Carlisle, Pa. Hawkins has moved many times and Swiatek a few times with both somehow ending up in Indiana. Despite the moves, the competition has continued unabated.

Hawkins has completed his 2019 predictions and has agreed to post them here. He confesses to being a lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan, but isn’t blinded to the challenges the team faces in the 150 anniversary of Cincinnati claiming the first all-professional team.

The predictions:

2019 Major League Baseball Predictions

Division/Pennant/world series winners

National League

East: Philadelphia Phillies

Central: Milwaukee Brewers

West: Los Angeles Dodgers

Wild Card: St. Louis Cardinals

Wild Card: Atlanta Braves

Playoffs

National League

Braves over Cardinals

Dodgers over Braves

Phillies over Brewers

Phillies over Dodgers

American League

East: New York Yankees

Central: Cleveland Indians

West: Houston Astros

Wild Card: Boston Red Sox

Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays

Playoffs

Red Sox over Rays

Houston over Red Sox

Yankees over Cleveland

Houston over Yankees

World Series

Phillies over Astros

Individual Honors

National League

Average: Jesse Winker

Home Runs: Christian Yelich

Wins: Max Scherzer

American League

Average: Mookie Betts

Home Runs: Aaron Judge

Wins: Corey Kluber

ODDITIES

Reds win 87 games and barely miss the playoffs

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado each miss 26 games

Machado benched for failing to hustle.

Christian Yelich hits for the cycle again, the third time in two years, but this time it isn’t against the Reds.

Winker has a six hit game.

Harper hits six homers over two games.

Ten games are showed out in March and the first week of April

Reds beat the Pirates in a snowball fight

And the Oscar winners are:

Best Picture: Green Book

A scene from “Green Book,” the 2018 Best Picture winner. Actor Mershala Ali, right, won the Oscar for Best Supporting actor.

Outstanding Achievement in Directing: Alfonso Curon, “Roma”

Best Actress: Olivia Colman, “The Favourite.”

Oscar winner Olivia Colman in “The Favourite.”

Best Actor: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Supporting Actress: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

Best Supporting Actor: Mersela Ali, Green Book.

Best Foreign Language Film: “Roma.”

Best Original Screenplay: “Green Book.”

Best Adapted Screenplay: “Blackkksman,” Spike Lee, et al.

Spike Lee.

Best Original Score: “Black Panther.”

“Black Panther” won the Oscar for Best Original Score

Best Original Song: by Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born.”

Best Animated Feature: “Spider-man, Into the Spider Verse.”

Best Documentary: “Free Solo.

This is a partial list of the awards announced at the Feb. 24, 2019, Academy Awards ceremonies.

2018 Oscar nominees listed

In case you haven’t read about them elsewhere, here are the nominees for the top 2018 Academy Awards:

BEST PICTURE

“Black Panther””

BlacKkKlansman”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“The Favourite”

“Green Book”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

“Vice”

Amy Adams, “Vice”

Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Adam Driver, “BlackKKlansman”

Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me”

Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

“Capernaum”

“Cold War”

“Never Look Away”

“Roma”

“Shoplifters”

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

“Black Sheep”

“End Game”

“Lifeboat”

“A Night at the Garden”

“Period. End of Sentence.”

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“Free Solo”

“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”

“Minding the Gap”

“Of Fathers and Sons”

“RBG”

ORIGINAL SONG

“All The Stars” – “Black Panther”

“I’ll Fight” – “RBG”

“Shallow” – “A Star Is Born”

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” – “Mary Poppins Returns”

“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

“Incredibles 2”

“Isle of Dogs”

“Mirai”

“Ralph Breaks the Internet”

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

“BlacKkKlansman”

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

“If Beale Street Could Talk”

“A Star Is Born”

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“First Reformed”

“Green Book”

“Roma”

“The Favourite”

“Vice”

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Christian Bale, “Vice”

Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”

Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”

Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”

Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

DIRECTOR

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”

Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

Adam McKay, “Vice”

PRODUCTION DESIGN

“Black Panther”

“The Favourite”

“First Man”

“Mary Poppins Returns”

“Roma”

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“Cold War”

“The Favourite”

“Never Look Away”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

COSTUME DESIGN

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

“Black Panther”

“The Favourite”

“Mary Poppins Returns”

“Mary Queen of Scots”

SOUND EDITING

“A Quiet Place”

“Black Panther”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“First Man””Roma”

SOUND MIXING

“Black Panther”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“First Man”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

“Animal Behaviour”

“Bao”

“Late Afternoon”

“One Small Step”

“Weekends”

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

“Detainment”

“Fauve”

“Marguerite”

“Mother”

“Skin”

ORIGINAL SCORE

“Black Panther”

“BlacKkKlansman”

“If Beale Street Could Talk”

“Isle of Dogs”

“Mary Poppins Returns”

VISUAL EFFECTS

“Avengers: Infinity War”

“Christopher Robin”

“First Man”

“Ready Player One”

“Solo: A Star Wars Story”

FILM EDITING

“BlacKkKlansman”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“Green Book”

“The Favourite”

“Vice”

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Border”

“Mary Queen of Scots”

“Vice”

Readers review best SF film books

(Editor’s note: In  the recent https://rdhgreatstories.com/2019/01/19/authors-books-differ-on-top-sf-film post, the picks of outstanding SF films by the authors of “Must-See Sci-Fi: 50 Movies That Are Out of This World,” “Top l00 Sci-Fi Movies” and “101 Sci-Movies You Must See Before You Die” and this writer were listed.)

Following the posting of a story about three books authors’ choices for the outstanding/best/favorite science fiction movies of all time, we asked a couple dozen people what they thought about the lists and what they might add or subtract.

We received some fascinating responses:

Joel Zakem, a currently retired attorney, is  a longtime SF enthusiast who has been attending conventions for more than 50 years.

“Even though I have not seen any of the books, I will make a few observations. None of the lists appear to have mentioned ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ which, in many ways, is a stronger film than the original,” Zakem said. “On the TCM list, I would not included ‘Barbarella’ and I thought ‘Terminator 2’ (mentioned in both other books) is a better film than the first one.

“Other than that, I have no real problem with what TCM included, but I would have added ‘Quartermass and the Pit’ and ‘The Road Warrior.'”

Zakem said that he would not have included Star Trek  and isn’t sure he would have included any Star Wars movies, even though he says they are important.

Keith Bradbury, owner of the  Who North America store in Camby, Indiana, said he was disappointed that “Tron” wasn’t included in the TCM book.  “I consider it to be one of the best Sci Fi movies because it contrasted faith vs. statism in a computer context,” he said.

Others he felt worthy of inclusion were “The Island” and “They Live.”

Bradbury said, “I do agree with much of the list. If I were going to do a rundown of my favorites (skipping the Flash Gordon serial), I would go: Metropolis, Things to Come, Forbidden Planet, Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Tron, They Live, The Island, Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Logan’s Run, Planet of the Apes (original ONLY), Interstellar, 2001 (off the top of my head).”

Leanna Rogers, a nurse, said,  “I really enjoyed your writing on this. I especially enjoyed that you included a lot more modern Sci-Fi films as well.

“I feel like the two lists that are compared really glossed over sci-fi films from 2000-present. I also really enjoyed the segment about era specific sci-fi and how the films’ themes reflect the fears/concerns of the times in which they were made, especially for young(ish) fans like myself who didn’t experience those eras firsthand.”

Rogers said if she were adding films one would be “Battle Royale” and a  “Scanner Darkly. “I believe it wasn’t very well received so it might not be as iconic as the other films on this list … I’m biased because I love Philip K. Dick.”

Brian Culp, longtime SF enthusiast and former newspaper editor, questioned the  way “The Matrix” was listed.

Culp said, “I  have a hard time with the TCM people including ‘The Matrix,’ but not the full Matrix series (assuming that is the case). The first one can stand alone, but it is really helped along by the other two installments.”

Mike Rittenhouse, a musician in the band Five Year Mission and the owner of Hero House, said, “I believe I have the ‘101 Sci Fi’ book. And I agree that there are many films that are included/not included that I disagree with.

“But, in the end, it is just an opinion by the author. Not a definitive list. I find it interesting that the first book you mention completely overlooked Star Trek. Seems like a blatant use of author’s opinion vs. common opinion. Overall, an interesting article about the difference in books and opinions.”

Tracy Canfield, a published science fiction author and linguist capable of translating and speaking Klingon,  said, “I’m glad Schneider mentioned ‘Primer’ – it’s rare to see hard SF in movies, and Primer is a great film from beginning to end. I’d also include Shane Carruth’s second film, ‘Upstream Color,’ on my list of great SF movies.  … I recommend Upstream Color, but I have to warn you, it’s a lot of work.”

“Gattaca” is a great science fiction film too, she said.

” I wonder, though, if I’m thinking about this a little differently than De Forest (author of the TCM book) – if I were making a list of great science fiction films, I’d be thinking of films where the science fiction is great and not necessarily great movies where the science is just there to make exciting things happen (‘Jurassic Park,’ for example). …

“At the risk of contradicting myself, I might include ‘The World’s End’ on my own personal list. It’s a science fiction film by Edgar Wright and Sean Pegg, who are better known for movies like Shaun of the Dead. …’Dark City’ is a wonderful movie that didn’t seem to make anyone’s list. It would certainly make mine, though.”

Canfield said she would pick “Looper” over “Arrival,” which she says “has an equally implausible premise, and a distractingly weird idea of what linguistics is. …

“If I were making a list, I’d include a movie none of the other authors did: ‘Being John Malkovich.'”

Dr. Robert Pyatt, a college professor in South Dakota and presenter of fascinating science-related programs at science fiction gatherings, said, “I think the TCM book needs to define science fiction. Is Frankenstein sci-fi? The horror crowd would disagree.”

Wendy Carson and John Belden, co-hosts of PlaysWithJohnAndWendy.com, issued a combined response to the lists.

“I agree that it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to come up with a top-100 science fiction films of all time list,” they said.  “All I can do, in seeing the attempts cited, is list some ‘what-abouts.’

“If we can list Charlton Heston’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Soylent Green,’ what about “Marathon Man,” the original film version of “I Am Legend.”…

“The ’80s had more than just Star Wars knockoffs. ‘Enemy Mine’ should be counted among the greatest SF films of all time — two excellent actors at the top of their game, and a timeless message. If you looked beyond the comicbook-pulp fun of the original ‘RoboCop,’ there was timely and biting social satire that elevated the whole work. ‘Alien Nation’ was such a great allegory that it was spun off into a TV series.

Carson and Belden said the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Rock and Rules,” “Heavy Metal” and “The Black Hole” deserve consideration.

“And despite SF gadetry, no one is mentioning ‘Ghostbusters’ or ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.’ And let’s also note that if it weren’t for its MCU ties, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ would definitely be on the lists. “

Dan Carroll, director of media engagement at Dragon Con, said, “I am not one to impose my views on someone else’s list. I mean…lists should always be about favorites…not ‘best'”

Martin Ross, a retired journalist, said, “I liked the Gerani/Schneider list better, but then I’m a big fan of ‘50s-60s British sci-fi/horror, especially the Quatermass films, Five Million Years to Earth, and the original Village of the Damned (TMC’s preference for the sequel was a head-scratcher).

“I’m glad they also added more obscure oddballs like ‘Primer’ (I’m a sucker for time travel, though not always a found footage fan — the Statue of Liberty scene in ‘Cloverdale’ being an exception). …One of my personal favorites, though a bit slow in places, is ‘The Medusa Touch’ with Richard Burton, which leans toward horror but that offers a couple of semi-blower apocalyptic sci-fi touches.”

 

David Ross, actor, movie maker and former library director, said, “Some of my favorites are usually not the most popular or acknowledged, but I have no real argument with those chosen since Sci-fi has such wide fringe areas and people’s opinions may differ from mine, but I don’t care enough to argue. …

” I do think that George RR’s ‘Nightflyers’ movie was not as bad as the critics said. I actually found it more engaging than the Sy-Fy channel’s big budget interpretation.”

John T. Adams, a longtime association executive and former newpaper editor, said, “I haven’t seen all the films you mention, but I agree with you about the omissions of some of the more recent films. But maybe they’re too recent to make any of the published lists.

“I think one of the landmark films, since you mentioned the Cold War, is ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still,’  which is forward looking for its time. The alien is a good guy (not a space invader), and after failing to detain him the Americans mount a chase through D.C. and try to kill him. That’s not a typical Cold War plot. …

“If a flying saucer arrived today, would we try to shoot it down? Of course, there’s always ‘Men in Black’ and ‘Independence Day,’ where the aliens ARE the bad guys. And don’t leave out the zombie movies. Instead of the undead running down the streets, think of a horde of Mexican rapists, murderers and gang members. One could argue the zombie movies are inherently racist because we demonize The Other. “

Author John F. Allen said, “I think the choices are appropriate for their eras, although, I agree with certain ones you mentioned, which were excluded.”

Randy Porter works at IUPUI and has been very involved in SF-related events for decades including Gen Con.

Porter says he thinks a film has to be at least 20-years old to be considered a classic.

One of the films on the lists that caught his attention was “The Forbin Project.”

Porter said, “I haven’t seen it in forever. I love it. It would be worth a remake.”

“La jetee,” a short film that chiefly uses still images and narration to tell its story, is listed in two of the three books.

“It’s better than the ’12 Monkees’ remake,” Porter said.

Other films that Porter might put on his favorites list include “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Buckaroo Bonzai,” “Demolition Man,” Ghost in the Shell” (Japanese/UK verion), and “Dune.”

“My favorite right now is ‘The Fifth Element,” Porter said.

“Delicattessen” and “Zog” also are worthy of attention, he said.

Porter would like to see more movies where science isn’t the bad guy.

“There are few movies where science isn’t the bad guy,” he said. “In Hollywood, the idea seems to be that technology is bad. Most people writing movies in Hollywood have no experience in technology.”

For many people, SF films, however, have been increasingly impressive.

Canfield said, “Even if I disagree with some of their picks, I think we’re living through a wonderful time for science fiction movies. When I was a kid, science fiction movies were rare – and, looking back, a lot of them were terrible.”

 

 

Finding the ‘golden fleece’

Since RDH Great Stories moved to Lawrence County, Indiana, we have been trying to track down the site of the abandoned pyramid and Great Wall of China models project.

The project began in the late 1970s and was abandoned in the early 1980s, left incomplete. It was the beneficiary of federal funding, but became the subject of considerable criticism.

It was awarded U.S. Sen. William Proxmire’s Golden Fleece Award. The Wisconsin senator issued the awards from 1975 until 1988, when he retired. He presented 168 of the awards.

The Taxpayers for Common Sense in 2000 listed the Bedford project funded by the Commerce Department as the second most classic example of “wasteful, ridiculous or ironic use of the taxpayers’ money.″

How much federal and other government funds were invested in the project is unclear. However, when the plug was pulled, there were insufficient funds to complete, according to published accounts

.

Over the past 35 years, the site has gradually deteriorated and is marked with no trespassing signs. The remains are located at the end of a state road near Judah, Ind., surrounded by a quarry, farm land, a cemetery, and homes.

On our third visit, we determined we had found the site. We observed the “no trespassing signs,” but took pictures from the road.

If you know who owns the property, please have them contact us. We’d like to take a closer look and ask a few questions.

All photos by Ronald Hawkins.