“The Great Escape” (1963): Why This Film Couldn’t Be Made Today

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Promotional poster for the 1963 film “The Great Escape”

This movie is firmly listed under “films we couldn’t make today” or “films we couldn’t make today unless we included a lot more diversity.”

The Great Escape (1963) is one of my all time favorite films. It features an all-star cast which includes Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, among many, many others. The film is based on a 1950 non-fiction book written by Paul Brickhill chronicling a firsthand account of the mass escape by British Commonwealth prisoners of war from German POW camp Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Żagań, Poland).

The film is a highly fictionalized version of those events and made numerous compromises which departed from fact, including the addition of three Americans to the cast (McQueen, Garner, and Judson Taylor) to accommodate U.S. audiences.

Here’s the plot summary from imdb:

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“Magical Reality” In My Hand

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© James Pyles

Yes, it arrived in the mail yesterday. I’ve been out of town with my wife visiting my Mom about an eight-hour drive away. Even though we got back a day early, we were occupied all day yesterday and into the evening with grandchildren/family, so I haven’t been online much. It was a real pleasure to finally see a story of mine in physical print. I’ve been a published author of information technology textbooks and self-study guides for about fifteen years, but this is the first fiction story I’ve been able to see and touch. Hope this is just the beginning.

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© James Pyles

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© James Pyles

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© James Pyles

The Back Door Out of the Wizard’s Saloon

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© Sue Vincent

Long centuries ago, when “The Wizard’s Saloon” had first been established, the population of its visitors, many but not all from Britain and the European nations on Earth, were illiterate, or read and spoke languages not native to the proprietor. The sign, a conical wizard’s hat mounted in a frame atop the roof, communicated very well across cultures and species just what sort of proprietorship was within its gray stone walls, and behind the large, oaken door, and stained glass windows.

Kyle Logan, a refugee from the realm of Nightmare, and a minor vassal of Dormammu before that, cautiously gripped the tarnished brass handle and pushed in. He looked human enough, just shy of six-foot tall, tangled brown hair draped over his forehead and ears, sharp green eyes scanning left and right looking for any hint of trouble, dressed in mismatched jacket and trousers (gray and brown didn’t go well together) over a wrinkled black t-shirt. His Air Jordan 13 Retro shoes were the only thing that was new, but only because he had stolen those last, having gotten lucky enough to materialize momentarily in a 1984 Los Angeles shoe store.

“Greetings, stranger.” The figure behind the bar at the other end of the room was almost a head taller than Kyle, but also three times as wide as the skinny youth. Amazingly, the body-length apron over the long-sleeved gingham shirt (because of the bar, Logan couldn’t see below his waist) managed to obscure the man’s abundant girth. “Welcome to the Wizard’s Saloon. Come for lodging or just a drink?”

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First Review of “Magical Reality” Anthology

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Screenshot of goodreads review

My short story “The Dragon’s family” is featured in the Pixie Forest Publishing anthology Magical Reality and guess what? It got its first review, both on Amazon and on goodreads. Yes, five-star review praising ALL of the stories within its pages, which includes mine. Yes, I’m thrilled.

Keep ’em coming, readers.

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Screenshot of the “Magical Reality” page at Amazon

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Screenshot of Amazon’s “Magical Reality” page including author’s list and review details

“1929: A Zimbell House Anthology” is Now Available for Pre-Order!

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From cover image for “1929: A Zimbell House Anthology”

I’ve been checking periodically, and the Zimbell House Publishing anthology 1929, which features my short story “The Devil’s Dilemma,” is now available for pre-order at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble for delivery March 26, 2019 (that’s for digital books, the paperbacks will take a little longer).

I’m really excited about this story since it’s one of my more ambitious projects.

Sixteen-year-old Timothy Quinn grew up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, working as a “printer’s devil,” an apprentice in a newspaper print shop since age twelve. One day, the teen and would-be boxer starts hearing strange news announcements on the radio that seem to come from the future. Then he learns that in the next seven weeks, a ten-year-old girl will be kidnapped and murdered by a notorious serial killer. No one believes his wild tale, so he sets out to confront the killer himself, but will he succeed in saving the life of an innocent child only to sacrifice his own?

My story is one of only six appearing in “1929.” Be the first to buy, read, and review this unique anthology.

Author Pages Update

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Screenshot of my Amazon author’s page

As you can see, I’ve had my Amazon and goodreads author’s pages updated to reflect my current publications in the World War Four and Magical Reality anthologies. The one for goodreads is a little deceptive since goodreads doesn’t let me sort my books by most recently published, so in reality, they are way at the bottom of the list. Not only that, but getting my name listed as a contributor on goodreads is a tad more difficult than doing the same thing on Amazon, since I’m not the editor or lead author. Still, it’s a nice little piece of marketing. Now I can’t wait for people to start reviewing these books in both venues (hint, hint).

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Screenshot (edited) of my goodreads author’s page

Why What Brie Larson Says Matters to “Captain Marvel”

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Promotional image for “Captain Marvel” (2019).

I’ve been watching the Captain Marvel (2019) controversy for a little while and I think I’ve figured out what’s going on, though I’m not sure most people have stumbled onto this idea.

As you probably know, news outlets such as The Mary Sue believe that all of the negative pre-release and now release reviews of the movie are all by men who can’t stand the thought of a powerful female superhero (hello Wonder Woman). Others, such as Bounding Into Comics say this is a total lie and it’s just that the movie isn’t very good and shoves a feminist, social justice agenda down the audience’s throat.

Fortunately, neutral reviewers such as the Associated Press give a much more accurate picture of the film, calling it rather “average”. In fact, on her twitter feed, AP reviewer Lindsey Bahr stated:

Captain Marvel can be the victim of an insane trolling and also an underwhelming movie.

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Screenshot from twitter

Bahr is right in that since the movie was released to theaters, there’s been a tremendous amount of trolling of “Captain Marvel” on Rotten Tomatoes. Now I can’t trust any of the reviews that either pan the film or praise it.

But the problem isn’t the movie. The problem is Brie Larson. Okay, let me explain.

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My Short Story “The Dragon’s Family” Now Available in “Magical Reality”

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Promotional poster for the my short story “The Dragon’s Family” published in the Pixie Forest Publishing fantasy anthology “Magical Reality.”

Available now!

A modern fantasy anthology from Pixie Forest Publishing featuring thirteen fantasy-related tales set in the modern world includes my short story “The Dragon’s Family.”

Aging retiree James Monroe finds a small, injured dragon in a vacant field behind his house, and taking the creature home, discovers that the grief and loss he, his son, and grandchildren are suffering from is mirrored in the existence of the mythical being. Together they learn how to demonstrate great sacrifice, healing, and love.

Magical Reality, edited by Jensen Reed and Donise Sheppard, is available now on Amazon.

Here’s what it looks like on my Kindle Fire:

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Image of my short story “The Dragon’s Family” as seen on my Kindle Fire.

Book Review: “Red Mars”

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Cover image for Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel “Red Mars.”

When reading author Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1992 Nebula award-winning novel Red Mars, I made a decision I rarely consider. I stopped reading before I finished. Yes, it was that dull.

The book is actually the first in the Mars Trilogy describing the colonization, terraforming, and the final result of turning the fourth planet into an Earth-like environment over several centuries.

So what was so dull about the novel? I mean, the first part deals with passion, jealousy, and murder, so you’d think it would be exciting.

It has to be Robinson’s writing style. Even during “the action,” the presentation and characters were about as thrilling as watching grass grow (especially in early March in Idaho). The story is told through the points of view of several of the 100 initial colonists of the red planet, but their lives, even aboard a spacecraft and on the surface of Mars, is so ordinary. I didn’t particularly like or relate to any of them.

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Why is Reviewing the “Captain Marvel” Movie So Hard?

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Promotional image for the movie “Captain Marvel” (2019).

I didn’t want to do this. I still don’t have to, but then again, there’s more hype about this movie than even last year’s Black Panther. When I was anticipating watching and reviewing that film, I was “irrationally” afraid that if I didn’t like something about it, I’d be forever labeled a “racist.” Fortunately I thought it was one of the better Marvel films, and that although it told a story of significant meaning to African-Americans, it also transcended race as the epic tale of a Prince confronting the realities of becoming a King.

However, Captain Marvel (2019) which will have its general release to theaters this coming Friday (March 8th), seems to be getting a lot more press than Black Panther, at least to the best of my recollection.

First of all, according to The Mary Sue (which leans pretty far to the left), the movie is getting tons of bad reviews pre-release, but it’s only being reviewed by misogynistic white males who hate the idea not only of powerful women, but of Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) being the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe, even more so than Thor or the Hulk (okay, I’m exaggerating slightly).

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