Tag Archives: crime

TV Review – Mindhunter – Season 1

The 1970s!  The FBI!  Sex with decapitated heads!

BQB here with a review of the new Netflix series, “Mindhunter.”  (BEWARE SPOILERS)

Hey 3.5 readers.  I heard a random recommendation for this show on a podcast the other day and had I not heard it, I would not have known this show even existed.  I’m not sure it’s getting the credit that it deserves because it’s well done, dramatic, smart, good timing, pacing, writing, acting, the whole she-bang.

I have no pull in Hollywood but I hope I can at least push the 7 eyes of my 3.5 readers to this outstanding series.

So, what’s it about?  It’s the late 1970s.  Watergate, Vietnam, and a series of 1960s political assassinations have left the public with what President Jimmy Carter once referred to as a “malaise” (although he never actually used that word but I don’t want to veer too far off track.)   Essentially, the institutions society depended on were breaking down and people started losing faith, accepting that life kinda blows and there’s not much to be done about it.

Against this backdrop, a new form of criminal emerges.  While the FBI was born in the name of stopping the likes of Dillinger and Capone, i.e. crooks with a clear motive (profit), there are now killers whose crimes are inexplicable – Charles Manson, Son of Sam, et. all.  Murders that are bizarre, disturbing, gruesome and incomprehensible.

Young, late 20s FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathon Groff), an instructor of hostage negotiation tactics at the FBI training academy at Quantico, wants to understand how humans become monsters and sees potential in applying psychology to criminology.

Alas, Unit Chief Shepard (Cotter Smith), a typical gear clogging government bureaucrat, sums up the FBI’s thoughts on psychology – it’s bunk, hippy dippy nonsense, pointless prattle about thoughts and feelings that are not worth the bureau’s time.

Enter Agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), a stereotypical gruff and grizzled, buzz cut sporting G-Man.  He believes he’s found a golden gig in the FBI, teaching “road school,” i.e. each week he visits a different city, trains local law enforcement with a condensed version of FBI tactics, finds a lot of free time to hit the local golf courses, then heads home on the weekend to the wife and kid until he turns around and does it all again the next week.

Alas, Holden is assigned to work with Tench and as you might expect, he becomes a real turd in Tench’s punch bowl.

Holden sees a lot of potential in the road school’s downtime.  During a visit to California, he talks his way into a prison visit to interview serial killer Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton), a 6’9,” 300 pound man who infamously killed his grandparents as a juvenile, only to be released as an adult, where he turned around and killed a number of women, cut off their heads and well, did unsavory things to said heads.  He even did this to his own mother before finally turning himself in.

Holden arranges for multiple interviews with Kemper and slowly but surely, talks the skeptical Tench into believing that locked away in the minds of serial killers is the information needed for the FBI to develop the new science of “criminal profiling” i.e. looking at traits held by certain people and determining the likelihood they might kill based on those traits, perhaps maybe even one day being able to stop such gruesome murders from happening.  Even further, they hope to be able to look at aspects of a crime, determine what kind of traits would be in a potential suspect and from there, be able to find the killer that much easier.

Thus, the FBI’s first behavioral science unit is born and soon enough, it grows in the form of Dr. Wendy Carr (Ana Torv) a professor turned FBI consultant.

As season one progresses, more serial killers are interviewed.  Although Holden and Tench are amalgamations of the real life pioneers who convinced the FBI to incorporate psychological profiling into its box of detection tricks, the killers interviewed are all real, i.e. actors doing their best imitations of said murderers.

Britton steals the show as the socially awkward Kemper, who blames his mother for all his problems, and is apparently so lonely that he starts to live for Holden’s interviews.  A crazy giant who kills people and fornicates with their heads is not exactly someone you want on your speed dial.

Happy Anderson plays Jerry Brudos, a hulking beast who murdered young women and stole their shoes (also blames his mother, it’s sort of a running, I don’t want to say joke but maybe a point that all the killers blame their moms).

Other killers include Montie Rissell (Sam Strike) who killed his female rape victims because he wanted them to be quiet and Richard Speck (Jack Erdie) who committed perhaps the most horrific acts in serial killer history, kidnapping a house full of nursing students and murdering all eight women in a single night.

The dynamic between Holden and Tench makes the series not just watchable but bingeable.  Holden is fascinated by what he sees as psychological tidbits being mined from the brains of these madmen – aspects of their childhoods, experiences, upbringings, things that can be looked for when hunting murderers.

Tench reluctantly admits the research will be helpful and yet, the research disgusts him.  While Holden views the interview subjects as victims of their own psychiatric circumstances, Tench views them as scumbag losers who couldn’t handle life so they flipped out and then blame everyone else but themselves for their own evil doings. At times, the buddy cop dynamic is fun and humorous.

From a writing perspective, it’s an example of how good writers can incorporate infamous figures from a history (here, a dark history) and incorporate fictionalized interactions to create something that is interesting.

Of course, no science is perfect and the ethical ramifications are explored.  Is it possible to use profiling to stop crimes before they start?  If a person is law abiding but exhibits strange but legal traits, should that person be deprived of a job, of a livelihood, cast aside from society, treated as a criminal before committing a crime?  Holden wrestles with these issues as his research causes him to start seeing potential psychos everywhere.

As the buddy cop duo continue their research, they often get called into the field to help local police departments catch killers, giving Holden and Tench a chance put what they have learned into practice.

SIDENOTE: Congrats to McCallany, who is one of those actors who has long played tough guys in movies, one of those actors who is in a lot of stuff but you never know his name…until now.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I can’t wait for season 2.

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review – The Enforcer (1976)

Lady police officers!  What’ll they think of next?

I promised you 3.5 readers a review of all the “Dirty Harry” movies and I’ll get there slowly but surely.  BQB here with a review of the third installment of the series.

It’s a shame that Dirty Harry gets stereotyped in the annals of movie history as a close minded, chauvinist pig…when in reality, he (or perhaps I should say his real life alter ego, Clint Eastwood) made what could very well be the movie that makes the case for women in law enforcement.

Our tale begins when Harry is taken off the street and forced to serve on the department’s hiring committee (punishment for foiling a store robbery by driving a car, well, into the store, and over the hoodlums in the process.)

Here, he meets Officer Kate Moore (Tyne Daly in an early role).  It becomes clear that the rest of the committee wants to push Moore through the process and get her on the street as a full fledged detective pronto in order to fill a quota mandated by the Mayor (i.e. the force must have so many female detectives).

Clint, on the other hand, is repulsed by the idea – not that a woman might be a detective but that a green, inexperienced woman might become one.  Moore has only ever worked in the police’s records department and while the other members of the committee throw her softball questions, Clint, in his trademark, teeth gritting, vein bulging out of his forehead way, holds out his hand as if it were a gun and asks Moore, “What are you going to do when somebody points a gun at you and says, ‘Hit the deck, you son of a bitch?'”

Ironically, while Dirty Harry is often thought of in the public eye as the poster boy for racist cops, he works with partners of different races throughout the series, never blinking an eye.  The only thing he cares about is if they get the job done.  Typically, they do, and it’s made clear Harry appreciates them for it.

Meanwhile, Harry despises incompetence.  He has no patience for it and doesn’t suffer fools lightly.  Ergo, there’s a chubby white detective who, throughout the first three films, Harry nicknames, “Too Much Linguini,” lambasting the cop for eating himself to the point where he can’t do his job effectively and gets worn out if he has to climb a fence or chase a bad guy.

In short, if you’re a good cop, Harry’s happy to have you as his partner.  If you suck, he’d rather not have you around.  Race or sex doesn’t matter.

As the film progresses, Harry and Moore partner up to take the terrorist group down.  Slowly but surely, Moore proves herself to be effective and competent.  What she lacks in experience, she makes up for in heart and a drive to succeed.  She wants no special treatment from Harry which is good because he isn’t giving any.

I hate to give away a spoiler, but the most heroic scene in the film goes not to Eastwood, who could have demanded it, since he was a bankable box office draw at the time, but to Moore who saves the day.  I assume the point is if you lack experience, then you at least have to have the guts to throw yourself into the fray and risk life and limb even though you don’t know what you’re doing.  Fake it till you make it.

Conversely, the saddest part of the movie proves Harry to be prophetic – Moore could have used more training on the street as a beat cop, getting some experience going up against petty crooks before being promoted to being a homicide detective, a job that requires going after some of the worst killers and psychopaths imaginable.

The movie definitely sparks a debate.  Women should be able to be cops and should be considered for detective positions.  However, the desire to be able to say “We have women detectives because we’re so PC!” shouldn’t trump basic common sense – i.e., Harry most likely was a beat cop for many years.  He probably had punks take swings at him, take shots at him, dealt with all kinds of low level scumbags and learned to keep his cool and be on the look out for danger around ever corner.  When he scoffed at Moore in her interview, he wasn’t trying to say she shouldn’t be a detective ever because she’s a woman, but that she shouldn’t be a detective today, because she should be on the street awhile first.

Then again, there’s room for the argument, “Well, if you don’t let women get the experience then how can they ever move up?”  That’s true, and perhaps Harry could have calmed down a little and said something like, “Hey hiring committee, I know you want to have women detectives, but there’s no sense putting greenhorns out there, so perhaps we can make an effort to get more police women on the beat and into cruisers, give them experience before they take on the worst.”

But alas, Harry doesn’t always find the right words when he’s mad.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  It splits the women in the workforce argument in half – yes, they should be able to do what they want, but no, they shouldn’t be waved on through, especially when its a job where lives are on the line.

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What Can the Original Death Wish (1974) Movie Tell Us About the Gun Debate?

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal BQB here.

So, here’s the deal.  Every new generation, for some reason, truly and sincerely believes they are the very first to discover an issue, as though prior generations had never considered it before.

For obvious and tragic reasons, the gun debate is raging all over TV and over the Internet these days.  Funny though, are you aware that a 44 year old movie pretty much sums up the arguments for and against gun control in one fell swoop?

No, I’m not talking about the recently released reboot starring Bruce Willis, although I do want to see it.

I’m talking about the original Death Wish, which by now, is roughly the same age as a middle aged man.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  I rented it last night and dated as the film is, it still hashes out all the talking points about guns that are being bandied about today.

You see, 3.5 readers, in the early 1970s, there was a crime wave in the inner cities.  Nixon actually won the presidency due to promises to get tough on crime.  People were fed up by the fact that they couldn’t walk down the street without getting hassled by hoodlums and Hollywood cashed on in this development, producing all manner of films where tough guys, fed up with the system’s inability to protect them, take law into their own hands and blow bad guys away with big ass hand cannons.  “Death Wish” was the most notable of these films, though it runs neck and neck with Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” series.

The plot?  New York City architect Paul Kersey is a mild mannered liberal professional and family man.  He loves his wife, his daughter, and abhors violence, having even been given a medical corps position during the Korean War to avoid having to kill anyone.

All this changes when his wife is killed and daughter brutally raped by a pack of hooligans led by none other than a young Jeff Goldblum.  “Life uh..finds a way.”

While some hero tales provide an instant transformation i.e. the main character instantly gains powerful skills overnight, Kersey’s progression from frumpy dad to badass killing machine is a slow one.

Kersey’s informed there’s not much the police can do.  His son-in-law, Jack, laments that to the government, his wife and Paul’s wife are little more than statistics, a certain number of crime victims that the powers that be deem acceptable, even normal, and that they’ll just have to suck it up and get used to it.

Pissed, Kersey starts carrying a sock full of quarters to protect himself.  When a mugger attacks him, he gives the mugger a sock knock and sends the ne’er-do-well running.   He learns an interesting lesson – if criminals are made to fear for their lives, they’ll run.

Our hero then takes a sojourn to Arizona for work, we he meets Aimes, a business associate who can only be described as a walking, talking caricature of a died in the wool NRA member on steroids.  Frontier justice, Aimes says, is the name of the game in the West.  Everyone’s packing heat and criminals know they’ll be instantly bagged and tagged, so crime rates are low according to the cowboy.

Aimes takes Kersey to a range and we can see Kersey feel like he’s regaining control of his life as he takes aim at targets and fires.  He reveals that he did some hunting in his youth and had to qualify as a marksman in the Army, so he has some skill.  The cowboy gives the city slicker a present, a rather menacing looking revolver.

When Kersey returns to NYC, he starts carrying the pistol.  Oddly, he’s accosted by another mugger.  Kersey keeps his cash and puts a bullet in the bad guy instead.  He runs home and is so horrified by what he’s done that he throws up.

But soon…Kersey becomes addicted to murdering criminals…or does he?  It’s sort of an up for interpretation part of the film.

Fun fact – although he’s portrayed as an out of control vigilante, Kersey technically never does anything illegal.  He just takes a lot of walks in the middle of the night in dangerous neighborhoods, on subways, in parks, and is sure to flash a wallet full of money in seedy establishments and/or look like a bumbling old man by carrying groceries.  He never attacks anyone who doesn’t attack first.

Maybe he really is just an old bumbler with a lot of bad luck…but most likely, he’s out trolling, just waiting, nay wishing that some mugger would attack him so he can shoot them in self-defense.

And that’s the rub.  Kersey never shoots anyone who didn’t draw a pistol or a knife on him first.

The overall theme of the movie?  If people arm up, bad guys will pussy out.  Not really a popular message today.

The alternative argument, that society will descend into chaos if everyone is carrying a gun, is briefly explored, but ultimately, it’s suggested that bumbling politicians are to blame.  During one such meeting of incompetent NYC bureaucrats, it’s noted that “the vigilante’s” hijinx have cut muggings down by half, but they’ll never tell the public for fear that the city will become a war zone.

But what’s the alternative?  Better governance?  More police?  A better economy?  More social welfare programs?  A better world where the poor have no need to rob and steal?  Nah, the politicians aren’t going to do any of that.  They’d really just prefer it if families of crime victims like Kersey would shut up, accept their statistic status and go along as if nothing happened.

Is it an awesome film?  In many ways, yes.  The gradual progression from pacified weakling to macho asskicker is fun to watch.

Is it open to criticism?  Yes.  In the past, criminals were portrayed as cartoon characters, bums who made a conscious decision to avoid the honest pay that a hard day’s work could provide and to seek a quick buck by hassling the law abiding instead.  Ergo, they deserved the new holes that Kersey gave to them.  And sure, that often happens but in today’s cinema, criminals are usually given a heartwarming backstory that makes you feel as though the person could not have helped becoming a criminal (often the case, though not always.)

Is the film racist?  Well, I mean, yeah, Kersey does shoot an awful lot of black dudes.  But he shoots white dudes too.  And there are many law abiding African-American characters, from a police officer that assists Kersey in the investigation into his wife’s death, to a working class couple who see a duo of white crooks enter a subway train and decide to get off at the next stop rather than deal with them, to an old black lady who, inspired by tales of the vigilante on the news, whips out a hat pin and stabs the shit out of two reprobates who try to run off with her purse.

I mean yeah, to borrow an SJW term, a white character gunning down so many black characters is “problematic.”  You could argue that perhaps there is a universal code of right and wrong, that no matter what color you are, if you point a gun or a knife at anyone of any color, then you’re getting what’s coming to you if the threatened person takes you out.  It’s a daily war against crime, with law abiding people of all different colors and backgrounds vs.  crooks of all different races and backgrounds.  White Paul Kersey and black old lady with the hat pin are on the same side – two good people who just want to walk home without getting accosted for the money they worked for.

But still, yeah, an awful lot of black dudes buy the farm in this movie so…how to rectify that?  I don’t know.  Maybe if there’s ever another reboot of this film, a black actor could play the Paul Kersey role, gunning down a rainbow of hoodlums from all different backgrounds, or just white guys, or really, does it matter what color the shooter or the person shot is as long as the shooter was being attacked and the attacker was, in fact, a threat to life?  Bruce Willis is one of very few conservative actors willing to touch this franchise, though I think Hollywood missed a real opportunity to hold a coup if they would have cast, say, Denzel Washington or Jamie Foxx as Paul Kersey.

Oh well.  Don’t picket my blog.  I liked the movie though I realize in many ways it’s un-PC, hokey, tacky and well, probably doesn’t hold up today.  I mean, sure if you stand out in NYC in the middle of the night for long enough, you might get robbed once, but no one is as unlucky as Kersey, getting robbed over and over, even if you are out walking around, wishing that someone would rob you so you could kick their ass.  (Note:  just give them the money.)

All in all, what does this old movie tell us?  Does it have any relevance to today’s gun debate?  Basically, the politicians of this movie, just as the politicians in real life today, are as clueless and inept as ever.  Gun control is a sensitive issue and no matter what side you’re on, government officials appear clueless and inept when they fail to make us all safe…and citizens must keep pressure on politicians to make the world a safer place because at the end of the day, they’re lazy and happy to just let victims become more statistics, more faceless victims, more deaths to be expected as just a matter of fact of life.

Overall, depending what side of the fence you’re on, you’ll hate or love this film.  And honestly, I can see why you’d hate or love it.

 

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 18

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As Sharon entered the lobby of the sorority house, Cole’s heart did backflips. Sharon was walking normally, but it had been so long since Cole had seen his ex-wife that he felt as though he was staring at her while she was walking in slow motion. Every hair flip took forever, every step seemed like it was a thousand years. It was almost as if his mind was slowing the image of his long lost love down on the premise that he better drink in a good view of her now before he never sees her again.

“Hello Cole,” Sharon said as she gave her ex-husband a brief, polite hug. Cole didn’t return it. He was so surprised to see Sharon that he just stood there in a daze. Oddly enough, he could even hear his favorite romantic cowboy song. He thought that was strange, and wondered whether or not he was losing his mind.

“Oh my old lady…done got up and walked out on me.
And now I’m so lonely, I can hardly even see,
What’s the point of not drinkin’ from now until infinity?
Oh drink, yes I’ll drink, till she’s gone right out my mind.
Toss back that whiskey, till the barkeep calls quittin’ time.
But no matter how much damage I do to my liver,
I’ll try my best to forgive her,
But Lord knows I’ll never forget her.”

Rusty’s voice broke Cole out of the trance. “Sorry,” Rusty said as he poked a button on his phone. “I bumped into the wall and my ass turned on my radio app.”

“Rusty,” Sharon said as she gave the red headed a lawman an equally quick hug.

He threw Cole a confused look. “Sharon.”

“How are you?” Sharon asked Cole.

Cole found a little spot on the floor to poke with the toe of his boot, a tactic that he used to stall for time. “Oh, fine, fine.”

Gordon had been standing off to the side for awhile. He coughed to remind his partner he was still there.

“Where are my manners?” Sharon said. “Cole, meet my partner, Gordon Bishop.”

Gordon and Cole locked eyes and traded angry glares. Neither of them knew why, but they instantly did not like one another. Their hands launched out like two angry sharks, consuming one another in a handshake. Gordon squeezed Cole’s hand tightly. Cole returned the gesture with a hard squeeze of their own. The faces of both men turned red. They gritted their teeth, waiting to see who would bow out first until finally they both caved at the exact same time.

“Gordon,” Sharon said. “This is Officer Rusty Yates.”

Before Rusty even knew it, his hand was being crushed by Gordon’s giant hand.

“A pleasure,” Gordon said.

As soon as Rusty’s hand was released, he shook it to and fro until the feeling returned. “Oh shit…likewise, big fella. Likewise.”

Cole scratched the back of his head. “What brings you big time city folk to our little old neck of the woods?”

“Take a wild guess,” Sharon said.

Cole was too busy sniffing the air. It smelled of Eau de Price Town, the cheap perfume that Sharon had always worn. How he missed it. It was as if each nostril full brought him nourishment.

“Countess Cucamonga,” Rusty said.

Sharon tapped the side of her nose with her finger. “You got it.”

“You got any leads?” Rusty asked.

“Just an idiot who’s cooling his heels in lockup,” Sharon said. “But other than that, not a one. Frankly, we were hoping you’d have some.”

Cole kept staring at Sharon. Suddenly, he realized he’d been staring for too long, so he looked around the room, anywhere he could to avoid eye contact.

“Cole?” Sharon asked.

“Huh?” Cole asked as he stared at the ceiling.

“You got anything?” Sharon asked.

“Oh,” Cole said. He half-looked at Sharon. He couldn’t bring himself to look her in the eye, so he focused on the wall just to the right of her. “Not much. Bunch of college kids in the bathroom. The male’s dead. The four females were knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital.”

“Well,” Sharon said. “We’ll have to talk to them as soon as they wake up.”

Cole nodded.

“What about that old timer in the nursing home?” Rusty asked. “Saw one of the Hot Ass Blonde Chicks with Big Titties talking about it on NN1.”

“Yeah,” Sharon said. “And frankly, I was surprised the media found out about that so quickly. Pretty much the same situation. Man sits on the toilet, ends up all over the walls. No one knows how. No one knows a damn thing.”
Rusty cracked his knuckles. “Sounds like we got the case of the century here.”

“Sure does,” Sharon replied.

“Well, as soon as the state crime lab boys grace us with their presence, we might know more,” Rusty said. “We’ve been cooling our heels waiting on them awhile.”

“Oh,” Sharon said. “I probably should have called ahead and filled you two in. I called the state crime lab off.”

Cole was useless. Still looking around the room. Still smelling the perfumed air.

Gordon chimed in. “Because we can’t trust a crime scene of this magnitude to a bunch of backwater hayseeds, Opie.”

Rusty stepped up to Gordon. “Opie? Who are you calling Opie?”

Gordon was at least five inches taller than Rusty and had fifty pounds of extra muscle. He looked down at his challenger. “You, Opie.”

Rusty’s angry face disappeared. A fake smile emerged. “Oh! Because of my red hair! I get it. Hilarious, man.”

Sharon turned to Cole. “Thank you for everything. We’ll take it from here.”

Cole nodded.

Rusty was irate. “What?”

“The FBI will be running with the ball on this investigation,” Sharon said.

“The hell you are!” Rusty said.

“You got a problem with that, Opie?” Gordon asked.

Rusty gulped a big helping of fear down his throat, then looked up at Gordon. “As a matter of fact, I do, Gigantor. Cole and I have been patrolling this town for going on twenty years now and the one time something happens worth investigating and you two hot shots with your fancy suits think you’re going to waltz right in here and take it away from us?”

“Damn right, Ritchie Cunningham,” Gordon said.

“Ah, hell,” Rusty said. “That doesn’t even count.”

“It counts,” Gordon said.

“No it doesn’t,” Rusty said. “Because Ritchie Cunningham and Opie were played by the same person, so it’s not like you thought of a new insult.”

“You know I did, Ron Howard,” Gordon said.

Rusty pointed a finger at Gordon. “Now, see! That doesn’t count either!”

Sharon inserted herself between Gordon and Rusty, largely because she saw Gordon was getting a crazy look in his eye, a look she’d seen before her partner had gone off on people larger than Rusty and crushed them with his pinky finger.

“Boys!” Sharon said. “That’s enough. Rusty, this case is bigger than all of us. We’re not going to shut Sitwell PD out of this. You and Cole will be a very important part of the task force.”

“Task force?” Rusty said.

“I’ve got a team on the way to set up shop in your department HQ,” Sharon said.

Rusty couldn’t believe it. It was like every word out of Sharon’s mouth was worst than the last one.

“You’re taking over our department?” Rusty asked.

“Don’t be silly,” Sharon said. “Just the building. Miami’s become a madhouse with all the media coverage, so we need somewhere quiet to work. But don’t worry, Cole will still run Sitwell PD.”

“Oh,” Rusty said as he folded his arms. “That’s very kind of you, Your Highness.”

“I don’t like your attitude, Rusty,” Sharon said as she looked to Cole. “Are you going to say something to your boy here?”

Rusty also looked to his longtime partner. “Yeah, Cole. Say something to these carpetbagging bottom feeders. Kick their asses outta here.”

It took a few seconds for Cole to realize he was being spoken to. When he saw Sharon and Rusty staring at him and waiting for a response, he started to walk away.

“Sounds good, Sharon,” Cole said as he pushed the lobby door open. “Let me know if you need anything.”

As soon as Cole was out the door, Sharon stuck her tongue out at Rusty.

“Succubus!” Rusty shouted.

“See you later, Ron Howard,” Gordon said.

Rusty flipped out. “I’m not Ron Howard! Ron Howard is bald! I have a thick, luscious mane of hair!”

The redhead stormed out onto the campus and caught up to Cole.
“What are you doing?” Rusty asked.

Cole walked faster than his feet had ever taken him before, putting as much distance between himself and the crime scene as possible.

“Aww, who gives a shit, Rusty?” Cole said. “They want it? Let ‘em have it. I got more important things to do. I don’t need to be marching all over God’s green earth looking for the fat ass pop star killer.”

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A Note On Toilet Gator

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Writing a book is a lot like running a marathon.

I’m not talking about stamina.  I’m talking about dealing with mishaps along the way.

Suppose you’re running a marathon and you drop your keys.  You don’t realize until your five miles away from where you dropped them.

Are you going to circle back and look for them or are you going to keep going?

You’ve got to keep going if you want to get across that finish line.  Cross the line, then take a breath, get in the car and go back and look for them.

Same with writing.  You think of something that would have been good after you write certain chapters.

Should you go back and change those chapters?  Not necessarily.  You could…but you might realize other changes need to be made down the line.  You’ll be rewriting chapters forever.

So here’s my note.

I didn’t think at first how Natalie finds out that there are other “murders” with similar circumstances.  I decided too late that she would be getting mysterious text messages.  So, in the rewrite, I’ll have to add that earlier.

This note is more or less for me…though if you are one of the 3.5 people actually reading the chapters, there’s some info for you.

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Movie Review – Patriots Day (2016)

Wacky Boston accents.  Explosions.  Mark Wahlberg wants you to say hello to your mother for him.

BQB here with a review of Patriots Day.

It’s not easy to make a movie about real, tragic events.  First, there’s the possibility that people might be offended by the idea of Hollywood making a buck off of other people’s misery.

Second, real life often does not provide cookie cutter storylines.  Thus, movies like these often come across as well-acted documentaries instead of an actual cinematic story.

Mark “I’m From Boston So I Have to Be in All of the Boston Movies that Ben Affleck Isn’t In, Kid” Wahlberg leads the cast as Sgt.Tommy Saunders, a chronic pain sufferer forced to work crowd control on the Boston Marathon as a punishment.  Saunders is in the dog house with the department for unspecified reasons, but he’s assured this assignment will return him to good standing.

What begins as a fun event quickly turns tragic when bombs go off.  Scenes of mayhem, carnage, responders assisting people who have lost limbs, blood, body parts etc.  Personally, I could have done without seeing that, though I understand the overall goal was to explain to the viewer the pain, both physical and mental, that people experienced due to this attack.

Throughout the film, we are introduced to various people from all walks of life, from a young studious couple who end up losing their legs, to the poor unfortunate MIT police officer who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, to the dude who’s just checking his text messages when he gets kidnapped by a pair of terrorists and forced to go on a scary ride as their hostage.

Things get more interesting as the hunt for bombers/terrorist brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev gets underway.  Kevin Bacon and John Goodman are among the actors who play the assorted suits in charge.

One part that caught my attention was how technology made a big impact on the investigation.  Officers collected cell phones from the scene and were flooded with emails from citizens who had been recording footage.  Based on all that data, the authorities were able to find images of the two suspects.

It all concludes in a frightening chase/stand-off in Watertown, where the Tsarnaevs shoot at and hurl homemade bombs at police officers.  The scenes rival any action packed summer blockbuster.  Intriguing to watch until you realize…this actually happened.  Dun dun dun.

Overall, I felt the film treated the event with respect, though there has been some controversy.  For example, there have been some reports that Dennis Simmonds, a black police officer who was injured during the Watertown shootout, then died a year later from his wounds, was not granted any screen time.  Way to go, Hollywood.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  It runs long.  You could wait to rent it, though the Watertown shoot out scene is pretty intense on the big screen.  Again, I do say that reluctantly, as this stuff actually happened.

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Movie Review: Live By Night (2017)

Tommy guns!  Dizzy dames!  Ben Affleck in a white suit mumbling incoherently.

Youse guys better check out this movie if youse know what’s good for youse, see?

BQB here with the 1930s period piece/screen adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s historical crime novel, Live By Night.

Ben “Look At Me, I’m From Boston So I Have to Be in All the Boston Movies, Kid” Affleck stars as stick up man Joe Coughlin, a petty thug/World War I veteran who, despite being Irish, rises up through the ranks of the Italian mob on a mission of vengeance against the rival mobster who killed the maul he loved.

It’s a great premise.  It’s fun to see the past brought to life on the big screen.  Historic films rarely do well at the box office anymore, so it’s great to see Hollywood sticking up for them anyway.

Further, we’ve seen gangster era New York on screen, but its rare to see somewhere like Boston in the thirties.

My main complaint is the film tends to wander.  The whole point of the film is Joe seeking revenge, but he takes a roundabout zig zag approach to it instead of a straight line.  Halfway through the film you start to forget what Joe is up to.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Probably the best you’re going to see on screen in January.

 

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Should Amazon’s Alexa Be Forced to Help with a Murder Case?

“Alexa, can you under me new socks?  Alexa, can you order me more toilet paper?  Alexa…can you help solve a murder case….DUN DUN DUN.”

Yes, 3.5 readers, Amazon’s Alexa, the little voice on an Echo Dot that you can put in your home and ask to order you shit and do stuff for you has become the focus of a murder case in Arkansas, where authorities believe Alexa may have heard (i.e. recorded) incriminating evidence or may have been used to order something incriminating.

I don’t know.  On the one hand, Amazon can be a big help.  You can order things as you realize you need them and if you have Prime, they’ll come in a day or two.  Otherwise, if you are busy, you might have to suck it up and go without it until you can get to the store, and then what if you go to the store with your shopping list and you forget?  Plus, you have to drive to the store, walk around all the aisles, carry all the shit into your house…bleh.

I can see why prosecutors might want the information in order to help put a murderer away.  As a conspiracy theorist though, I wonder if there’s a slippery slope where government agents in black helicopters might start collecting info on when I order new underpants or whatever.

I don’t have an Echo Dot.  I have mixed feelings on Amazon.  The ease of ordering is good.  Sometimes it is too good and then you end up ordering crap you don’t need.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

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Man Robs Bank to Go To Jail So He Can Get Away from His Wife

As reported in today’s Washington Post and other media outlets, a 70 year old, apparently fed up with his wife after an argument, robbed a bank and as he stated to police, to go to jail because he felt that being in the hoosegow would be a better fate than having to live with his wife.

Well…my first thought is maybe he’s just exaggerating and maybe he and his wife just had a really bad day…but then again, I’ve never met his wife.

I guess he could get a divorce but then again a) if that led to her getting the house and b) he’s not a young stud muffin who could rebuild his life and get another house and c) he’s not wrong about her being that bad then…hell, maybe his scheme was almost understandable.

DISCLAIMER: Understandable, but obviously not advisable. Surely there are public programs, charities and services one could turn to if you’re old and you hate your wife and don’t want to live with her anymore.

At any rate, this fine blog and its proprietor do not advise you to rob a bank under any circumstances and especially as a ploy to get away from your wife, no matter how horrible you believe her to be.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

 

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Let’s Talk Making a Murderer

Thanks Netflix.  Thanks a lot.

Got no work done this weekend, ended up binging on Making a Murderer instead.

SPOILERS!  SPOILERS!  SPOILERS!

Don’t read on if you haven’t watched it yet.  This post is meant to be a discussion for people who want to talk about the series…WHO HAVE ALREADY WATCHED IT!!!

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I have no idea if any of the crap I am about to say is accurate.  I am just opining on the show.

So here we go.  BQB’s thoughts:

 The First Case – Penny Beernsten

So it’s clear Steven Avery is innocent here.  Testing that occurred years after his conviction due to advances in DNA testing methods indicated that the culprit was in fact Gregory Allen, a guy in the area who physically looked like Avery (same hair color, body type).

Allen, according to the documentary, had been known to local law enforcement, so much so that they kept him under surveillance.

Did the police act with malice?  (i.e. did they intentionally try to put Avery behind bars because they didn’t like him?)

There was the argument that one of the deputies was friends with a woman that Avery had run off the road and so on.

Personally, I think the issue might have been more about negligence – i.e. they found a suspect, they made it stick, and it was just too much of a pain in the ass hassle to go after someone else.

Is negligence better?  Well, it’s not great, and it thoroughly sucks that someone was wrongfully convicted.

At any rate, its impossible to deny the wrongful conviction.  The court set the conviction aside, Avery was released, even the victim acknowledged the mistake.

The Second Case – Teresa Halbach

A tougher case.

First, as the documentary starts to get into it, your gut begins to tell you maybe something’s up.  What are the odds of a guy wrongfully convicted of a crime being accused of another major crime?

  • Avery had become a public hero and a symbol for a justice reform.
  • The state legislature had been in the process of working on a bill that would compensate him $450,000.
  • A civil case was underway that’d likely have gotten him millions.

BUT…as much as the wrongful conviction sucks…people who have had sucky things happen to them don’t get a free pass or an excuse to commit a terrible crime.

In other words, your gut, or at least mine, began to tell me to keep an open mind on both sides:

  • Yes, it is odd a wrongfully convicted person got convicted again but…
  • It isn’t impossible for someone to be not guilty of a first crime and then be guilty of a second crime.

The Frame Defense

Hmmm.  This was a tough one.

This is where some may disagree with me but…

I don’t believe the officers framed Steven Avery.

Why?

  •  You see a hole in Avery’s blood vial from his first case.  You, like Buting, start to think, “Oh well, maybe that could have been used to put Avery’s blood in Teresa’s RAV4.”
  • OK…BUT – what about the fire pit with all the bone fragments?  And the barrels with all the bone fragments?

Someone tell me if I’m wrong but for the police to have framed Avery, they would have had to…

  • Dig into Avery’s life until they discovered that a photographer for Auto Trader was coming to the Avery property on a regular basis to take car photos.
  • Kill her.
  • Plant Avery’s blood in the car
  • Dump her car on the Avery property without the Averys noticing.
  • Burn her body somewhere else but then scatter bone fragments in a pit and in barrels on the Avery property, AGAIN without the Averys noticing.
  • Plant Avery’s DNA on the car key and plant it in Avery’s room.

BUT – Could someone else have killed Teresa and the police just took advantage to railroad a guy they didn’t like?

In my opinion, where the “Frame Defense” gets weak is the bone fragments.

Did the police have access to Avery’s blood? Yes. However, the FBI did run a test that showed some of the blood in the car did not have the testing chemical that would have been in the stored blood sample.

But ok.  Say you still think they planted the blood in the car.

How did the bone fragments get onto the property then???

I think if you accuse the cops of planting the blood, then you practically have to accuse them of planting the bone fragments too because if Avery didn’t do it then how else would the bone fragments have gotten there?

You could argue well some mysterious other murderer did it, then dumped the car and the fragments on the Avery property and then the cops were like “Yahoo!  We hate Avery so lets plant some shit to make this stick” but between accusations of cops planting a RAV4, putting blood in the RAV4 and then ANOTHER party dumping bones and making it look like a burning took place in the back yard…

…well, with all that happening I have to feel like the Averys might have noticed.

Was there a civil case?  Yes?   Were two cops deposed?  Yes?  Does that mean they’d go to the lengths of framing a guy?  I find that doubtful.  Cops, public officials, office holders, etc are sued all the time.

I’m sorry, but I just can’t envision cops being worried about a lawsuit enough that they’d frame a guy, plant evidence and somehow manage to either sprinkle the victims bones on the Avery property or benefit from some mysterious evildoer who did so.

So what the hell happened?

What made us all agree Avery was off the hook in the first case was the identification of another perpetrator.

Here, no other alternate suspect was found.

Brendan Dassey

Well, here’s where the case gets really complicated.  There’s another suspect and I suppose that means there’s room for theories that a) Avery did it and the nephew’s just a sap that got roped into it b) They did it together as the state alleged or c) maybe the nephew did it and Steven didn’t and well…while never Steven or Brendan came across as rocket scientists, I’m not sure Brendan could have pulled this all off on his lonesome.

The confessions are troubling.  Perhaps there should be a rule that kinds under 18 should always have a lawyer present during police questioning no matter what.

As a cautionary tale, if you’re a parent and your kid gets charged with something, insist you be there for any interviews and insist a lawyer is there too.

As for – is Brendan innocent?  I mean, he made statements he did it, and that he didn’t do it. He was clearly, for lack of a better description, not the brightest bulb, so yeah, he was probably manipulated into confessing and certainly the part where his own lawyer’s investigator is badgering him into confessing is troubling.

From the documentary itself, just as a pure question of whether or not he did it, I can’t tell.  What makes it hard for me is at one point he tells his mom something like he had to because Steven was stronger than him and then at another point he tells his mom basically that he just said what the cops wanted him to say.

In other words, in a very cloudy mind, his statements to his mother seem to provide the most insight into his head, and he made conflicting statements to his mother.

So who did it?

I think the bones on the property is the piece of info I can’t get away from.    The RAV4 on the property, the key in the room, the bullet in the garage, explain them all away but I just fail to see how the bones could have gotten there otherwise.

Does the documentary reveal a lot of things that law enforcement can do better? Yes.

But…absent evidence that someone carted a bunch of bones and spread them around Avery’s backyard, my gut tells me he did it.

Anyway, keep in mind I’m no expert and I’m just shooting my mouth off on a series.  Don’t take anything I wrote above to be accurate or correct.  Watch it yourself.

What are your thoughts?

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