Monday, March 18, 2013

"DRAGONS" Trailer

Here's the first trailer for "The Dragons of Alsace Farm." We're still tweaking. What do you think? Does it make you hungry to know more?

video


Thursday, March 14, 2013

A GREEN BERET'S THOUGHTS ON CURRENT EVENTS

I always enjoy Robert (no relation) Lewis's  point of view on life and politics. I interviewed this Green Beret/author back in January after the release of his soldier bio, Love Me When I'm Gone. Rob's star has really taken off since then with guest appearances on Adam Carolla's and Dennis Miller's podcasts as well as a host of others.

Once a Green Beret, always a Green beret, and though Rob dresses in civvies, he still fills his days with functions to benefit soldiers, vets, and their families.


His newest blog post is up, a long with links to some of his podcasts. He tackles the crazy shift the TSA is taking on the knife issues as well as other hot-button topics. It's good to see the world through a soldier's eyes. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

WHAT YOUR FAMILIES COULD TEACH HOLLYWOOD


It alarms and frustrates me that celebrities are driving every conversation from fashion and politics, to social morals and body image. Today a celebrity got a big byline on her mothering advice. The article read as if tingling fingers were poised above keyboards in anxious anticipation of the great wisdom about to be revealed by this paragon of motherhood--the celebrity mother. Really? How about featuring the wisdom of a six-time birth-er with a budget and four kids under seven? Now that's a woman with parenting advice.
 
Many of these entertainment figures are great human beings who do much good and who live admirable lives, but my beef is over the super-human influence we allow them to have over us. It's no longer art imitating life. It's art defining life. Sure, TV has always done that. (Refer to my link above.) But maybe it's time to take back the reins and remember that we are the experts at the average American life, not the other way around. 
 
Someone we love dearly moved to Los Angeles six years ago. He loves it out there. He works hard in the medical field, and when he's not working there are a thousand choices for entertainment. The city is one giant playground with the sun and the ocean mere minutes away, and plentiful offerings from the entertainment industry that turn even shopping center Christmas displays into back lot extravaganzas.
 
He was dazzled by it all at first, and he might be still be to some point, but his early innocence has turned to city-savvy. He's a strikingly handsome man--athletic, smart, a bit shy, a man of few words. He was invited to join a group of young A-Listers on a trip to a friend's retreat in some exotic place, and it proved to be a real eye-opener.
 
He knew a few of the other guests' bios. Most had been in the industry since childhood. In fact, work and preparation for success had been their childhood. Most had never stepped foot in a real high school, never had a prom, never attended a high school football game, never met a regular high school guy or girl and been asked out on a real date. One told this young man that he was the first person she'd dated who had ever gone to college. Many young stars speak from this narrow platform of life experience, while so many of our youth twist themselves inside out to be conform to their celluloid definition of what a teen should be.
 
Entertainment icons travel the world and have a myriad of larger-than-life experiences, but to a great extent, they do not portray their lives on screen. They portray ours. Lives many of them have never actually lived. Lives their writers create and feed to them. And yet somehow we miss those points, getting so caught up in the drama of their performance that we see the performance not as entertainment but as a model of how to be a parent, a wife, a husband, a lover, a child, or a teen. That's our mistake.
 
I watched some reruns of "Bewitched" a while back. Daron almost never entered the house without Samantha offering him a drink. I wonder how many homes actually ran like that, but then I wondered how many wives went out and bought decanters of alcohol because they bought into that portrayal of the sophisticated home.
 
Books fit into that entertainment niche where we go for escapism and thrill. I like a good moment of escape as well as the next person. As an author I try to write that kind of book. But when we lay the book aside, or turn the TV off, we return to our world, with our values, our budgets, our real supporting cast. We are the experts of our own real lives. The entertainment industry titans are the experts of theirs. The two worlds are rarely the same.
 
Tell your kids they know as much, and maybe more about the life of a real kid than any movie star. In fact, they could teach the movie industry a few things about real kids' lives. But when we want to escape to somewhere different, where life is perhaps bigger, seemingly brighter, or sometimes darker than our regular world, by all means pick up a great book or see a good flick. Applaud the writers' and actors' skills, and then go home and be the rock star of your own awesome world.  


Thursday, March 7, 2013

AMERICA NEEDS TO KNOW

I don't normally copy an entire news article and post it here, but I think this is a piece every American ought to read. The article came from the Fox News Web site, and it discloses the gamesmanship going on in Washington, and the real cause of any suffering brought on by the sequestration.
****************************************************************

A leaked email from an Agriculture Department field officer adds fuel to claims President Obama's political strategy is to make the billions in recent federal budget cuts as painful as possible to win the public opinion battle against Republicans.

The email, circulated around Capitol Hill, was sent Monday by Charles Brown, a director at the agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service office in Raleigh, N.C. He appears to tell his regional team about a response to his recent question on the amount of latitude he has in making cuts.

According to the partially redacted email, the response came from the Agriculture Department’s budget office and in part states: “However you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.”

The response noted that the administration had already told Congress that the APHIS would “eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry” without additional funds.

Arkansas Republican Rep. Tim Griffin said the administration’s response to Brown’s email shows a bid to undermine efforts to replace the cuts, known as sequester, with less onerous ones.

“This email confirms what many Americans have suspected: The Obama administration is doing everything they can to make sure their worst predictions come true and to maximize the pain of the sequester cuts for political gain,” Griffin said in a statement.

Griffin told Fox News on Wednesday that the bosses effectively said, “You can’t do anything that is inconsistent with the negative impact that we’ve told everybody these cuts are going to have.”

An Agriculture Department spokesperson told Fox on Wednesday that the email "has been completely taken out of context. The spokesperson said it references "cuts and impacts communicated to Congress as part of the FY2013 budget, not as part of a sequester plan."

Under the 2011 deal reached by Obama and Congress, the cuts are supposed to be across the board, meaning government officials have limited flexibility in moving around money.

The administration in recent weeks has made doomsday predictions about the impact of the cuts. And the White House so far has appeared unwilling to accept a Republican offer to give the president more autonomy in making the cuts, covering $85 billion this fiscal year, to help reduce the impact on some of the most essential or hardest-hit programs or agencies.

Some political strategists say the president hopes the cuts hurt enough to compel Republican lawmakers seeking re-election next year to end them by agreeing to more tax increases.

On Sunday, Gene Sperling, the White House’s top economic adviser, suggested Republicans would indeed make this decision.
 
“Our hope is, as more Republicans start to see this pain in their own districts, they will choose bipartisan compromise over this absolutist position,” he said.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, during a House hearing Tuesday, was asked by South Dakota Republican Rep. Kristi Noem about the Brown email.

Vilsack said he was unaware of the email, but denied the administration has a policy of being inflexible and maximizing the cuts’ impact.

“I wouldn’t say that we’ve said no to flexibility,” Vilsack said. “But there are certain circumstances where we don’t have flexibility.”

“I’m hopeful that isn’t an agenda that has been put forward," Noem said.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/06/leaked-email-adds-fuel-to-claims-white-house-playing-politics-over-impact-cuts/#ixzz2MsTBArnO

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

THE MORMON POLICE RAID

For you gluttons of punishment, another epic from the Lewis household's police files. All true, people, all true.

We're LDS, (Mormon), and every summer we invite the young, single adults (18-30) in our area to come over and have a barbecue. We've got a pool and a hot tub out back, and with five acres the singles can spread out and play softball and relax. (Surprisingly, Tom finds inexplicable reasons to be away on these days when the stereo streams the outdoor speakers with clean tunes and crooners like David Archulletta at ear-splitting decibels, but I digress . . .)

We spiff the yard and house up for our guests, and on this day, after running to the grocery for some odds and ends, I shoved my car keys in my pocket, slung my purse over my shoulder, and moseyed into the backyard to set my goods on the picnic table. On the way I saw some litter the mower had chewed up and spit out, so I picked it up and shoved it into the pocket housing my keys as I made my way.

Minutes later cars filled with tanned, sunglass-ed, bathing suit-clad water-warriors began arriving, toting beach towels, coolers, and bags of food. I greeted the first round of singles, and then, knowing that these young adults could manage their own party, I retired to the house to man the kitchen.

A few minutes later a young man knocked on my door. "Sister Lewis? The police are here."

"What?" I asked.

"An officer wants to talk to you."

I hurried outside and found a tall dubious trooper eyeing the scene.

"Are you the owner?" he asked.

"I am. Is there a problem?" (Duh, Laurie?????????)

"You're alarm reported a break-in fifteen minutes ago."

I tried to see the scene through the officer's eyes--an alarm going off at a house where a party is about to commence. He surveyed the young guests and their coolers which I assumed he presumed were filled with alcohol. I reached in my pocket and pull out my paper-littered set of keys which contain an alarm fob. "I was picking up some trash and shoving it in my pocket. I must have hit the alarm button by mistake. I'm so sorry."

He was not amused. "Can I see some ID?"

I raced back inside to produce my purse and my license and then back out before the kids started getting frisked. When I arrived I noticed a marked change in the officer's demeanor. He was smiling, and chatting with the young people. No bikinis, no speedos on the men. One opened a cooler filled with nothing more nefarious than root beer. The grocery bags produced chips and veggies, and a Tupperware container revealed a few dozen homemade cookies. While the pulse of the music was loud the tunes were innocent and cheerful.

I handed him the ID and he gave it a cursory glance.

"These kids (they hate being called that but at my age anyone under 35 is in kid-range), are from my church."

His smile broadened. "I kinda figured that out after a while."

"I'm really sorry."

One of the young men offered him a soda. A girl offered him a cookie. He declined both but stood amidst the scene, studying the group of returned missionaries, future missionaries, and clean cut twenty-somethings. For a moment I sensed that he wished he could stay and soak up the sweet innocence permeating the group. It's likely a far cry from what he would encounter as the day progressed.

"Nice place," he said, and then, as if needing to add something policeman-like, he adds, "Just be aware of that button the next time you shove your keys in your pocket."

"I will. And thank you again. I'm really sorry for dragging you out here."

"No problem," he added with a tap of his hat. "Have a nice day."

As he left I felt sad for him leaving this moment of peace to return to the real world. The young people seemed to sense it too. I wondered in that moment if they realized how wonderfully peculiar they must have appeared to that officer. How blessed they were that this was their normal.

If pride is a sin, I was guilty of it that day, for them, and for the good trooper who paused to soak up that sweetness for a moment.

And yes, this will be a chapter someday, in some very special book.




Monday, March 4, 2013

DON'T YOU JUST HATE IT WHEN THE POLICE RAID YOUR HOUSE AND IT'S A MESS?

I know I do.

What could possibly be the reason that we have had not one, but multiple visits from the police, you might ask? Our home security alarm.

I wish I could say that it's new and we're still adjusting to the thing, but it's now been in for over three years, and thankfully, it's not Tom and I who are setting it off anymore. It's everyone else we love, like the college kid from church we hired to trim  the shrubs while we were away, and who, being the son of very close friends, thought he'd go in the house and rest from the heat, but alas, the alarm was set and. . . well, you know the rest.

The most recent alarm drama occurred this weekend. It was a true comedy of errors. Tom and I were attending a church conference. I had Tom place my purse on a pew in the chapel to save our seats while he visited with friends and I cleaned up the church kitchen from helping host a dinner.

Tom comes rushing down the hall. "I just got a call from the neighbors. The alarm is going off!"

I remembered at this moment that I had given the okey dokey for our son-in-law to borrow a video but I had forgotten that we had set the alarm. Did he know the code? I wasn't sure, but I was assuming he did not. "It's our SIL," I confess.

"Are you sure it's him? Why didn't he turn the alarm off?"

"I don't think he knows the code. Call him and give it to him."

"I've tried dialling his phone. No one is answering. What are we going to do? I don't know our alarm company's number to report that it's a false alarm, and now the police have been dispatched!"

This is very disconcerting on many levels. First, our old alarm monitoring company who bought our contract from our first monitoring company had recently sold our contract to a new outfit whose name I barely remembered, let alone having any knowledge of their number. Darn capitalism!

Secondly, I began to run a mental inventory of the state of the house as I closed the door. I groaned inwardly at the thought of the police busting into my house and finding my unmentionables in the bathroom, or their conversation when they noticed Christmas lights still strung around the doorways. I knew in my haste to get my dish to the church on time I had left cupboards ajar, and a counter filled with tax papers. The laundry room looked as if my dryer had vomited, and the bedroom was a 911 call all its own.

Even more upsetting to me was the view of my normally calm husband unravelling before my eyes.

"Maybe he called your phone," suggests Tom.

I look for my phone but it's . . . oh yeah. It's in the chapel holding a front row seat for me for the conference that has now commenced.

"Call the police," I answer in the most rational voice I can muster considering the fact that a small crowd of church acquaintances are now apprised of our situation.

"Which ones? Who has jurisdiction? The State police? The county sheriff?"

Clearly, Tom's "roll-with-it" gene has been maxed out. "Give me your phone."

I snatch it and call the state police. A phone menu offering me several unpalatable choices begins.

"Press one if you are reporting an actual emergency. Press two if you are reporting a nonemergency situation and are requesting a call back. . . "

I begin a mental struggle over whether our alarm going off qualifies as an actual emergency. I decide that since a trooper is on his way to my house, we are a red alert emergency. I press one and get a female officer who asks for my address and informs us that we need to be transferred to the Sheriff's Department.

A click and a pause and we are connected.

I blurt out the situation and all my pertinent info and the officer commences a verbal pat-down to determine if I am indeed, Laurie Lewis. Satisfied that I am the crazy lady (who has prompted three other emergency 911 calls for a variety of reasons we will not go into at this time), he lets me know it is too late to call the officers off. They are at our house and entering the premises. Tom races back to defend hearth and home.

After determining that there are no thieves, murderers, or arsonists at our home, the officers exit the building. When I finally arrive back at home I survey the embarrassing mess the officers walked in to. Yes, it was as awful as I feared. Not only will we be slapped with a hefty fee for the false alarm and visit, I assume we will be the talk of the barracks for weeks.

I remember my mother telling me to wear clean underwear in case I got hit by a car. I never knew exactly who would care about that laundry detail if my body was bloodied and mangled on the pavement, but I do now. I would know. Likewise, I'll never be able to leave the house a mess again without asking myself this little question: Is this house prepared to host a possible police raid?

Think about it. You'll thank me. And yes, this will end up in a chapter someday.