Why Are You Here Anyway?

Welcome to the Wench's World--the A2 Beer Wench to be exact. I once owned a brewery. Also once learned a lesson from that! If you've stumbled upon me, cool. What follows may or may not be directly related to real estate, the publishing biz, craft beer, Ann Arbor, or sports, but it sure will be fun and many times profane as the circumstances warrant! Enjoy (or not) at your own risk!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Falling Off The Ladder--The Religion Post

Greetings Liz fans and others!
What follows is MY OPINION (See: "My Blog") about a TV series (see: "Pop Culture").

Feel free to disagree. But spare me your religious lectures.

Onward....


I want to share a few quick, albeit deep thoughts about a show I've been watching on Hulu, mainly because it stars "Jesse Pinkman" (ok, Aaron whatever his name is) and was developed by Jason Katims, the dude behind the wildly successful and long-running TV versions of two huge "relationship movies:"
Friday Night Lights and Parenthood.



At first blush THE PATH appears to be a fairly straightforward "Cults Are Bad Don't Join Them" kind of deal.

But there's a real subtlety to the narrative that I have found utterly captivating.

So, there's this dude, Steven Meyer, who's dying of cancer, literally, in Peru somewhere who came up with this "ladder" thing which seems to be nothing more than a personal awareness progression--a sort of all encompassing 12-step program only with fewer steps. "Meyerism" is kind of a clunky name for it, to my literary mind. But I kinda think (using the aforementioned Deep Thoughts) that's the point.



The "Meyerists" do good works--a lot of them. The series opens with scenes of post-tornado devastation they have rushed into to assist those left homeless, wounded, or both. Then we get to know the key families. "Jesse" (so sue me I cannot think of him as anything else and certainly not "Eddie") is a "convert" married to the daughter (Sarah) of one of the founding families of the Meyerist Movement. She obviously did a bit of a rebel move marrying him since there are plenty of hints about her past relationship with Cal, the current leader in lieu of the dying Stephen.


Cal is a hottie (with a super bad haircut) played by British actor Hugh Dancy whose past is littered with alcoholic parents (Honestly, you should watch this just to see Kathleen Turner disguised as Cal's druggie/boozy mother).  Cal has Seriously Serious Issues with the fact Sarah chose the heathen Eddie over him and that is clear from the start.

The Meyerists are vegetarians who drink wine, smoke the odd joint, and give birth in baby pools. They care about the plight of others, and take direct action to ensure that the homeless are sheltered, the hungry are fed and the unhappy are made to feel welcome ("Being a Part of Something" is a big theme---which is not new, religiously speaking). I don't know about you but I know plenty of folks who do that.

Where I am finding resonance, now that I'm about to watch the last episode of season 1 (I think/hope there will be a new season) is the clear insinuation that "Meyerism" is not that different from any other organized religion out there--from Holy Rollin' snake handlers, to lesbian team-preacher lead Unitarians. At least on the face of it.

Do not get me wrong here. I personally don't care what or how anyone worships. I myself was raised going to church every Sunday morning, many times Sunday nights and to youth group/dinners on Wednesdays. "Church" ordered my life growing up. Along the way I picked up the "dogma" of our particular brand which was "Southern Baptist" but the "high church" kind, not the snake handling sort.

My father was minister of music and so I experienced spirituality (and still do) through hymns and the Great Works by guys like Mozart and Bach. I've sung the Messiah (the alto lines--which are flipping hard) and maintain that unless "How Lovely Is Thy Resting Place" (Brahms--you know, "The Lullaby Guy") is played at my funeral I will rise up and raise hell.

But I digress....

Of course the Catholic church, or the local Church of Christ congregation, don't do things like hunt you down and accuse you of being "bad" if you choose to "leave" their fold. Unless of course you count the not-terribly-subtle guilt that is the main weapon of so many religions. Unless of course, you were one of the thousands of victims of abuse at the hands of a priest, or preacher/minister posing as a nice person. Oh, and unless, of course, you make the grievous error of falling in love with someone outside your religion.

And yeah, those weird "sessions" Meyerists put themselves through when they've done a no-no, like cheating on a spouse, or attempting to re-join once they've left the fold, those are pretty intense and brain-washy. But, um, there are plenty of humans walking the earth today who consider anything that passes the lips of a person calling themselves a "priest" or a "minister" or a "deacon" on behalf of the dogma they represent as 100% brain-washy. Case in point:


And if you honestly think that Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely (and apparently Forces Those In Power To Have Really Crappy Haircuts) only applies to the odd Scientology story, you aren't paying attention.

The Path has its fair share of verklempt dudes and over-wrought females--a Jason Katims speciality. But it also has a fairly compelling world wherein children are taught to be polite, eat healthily, respect their parents, and help those who need it. And it sure as heck isn't the only place where you might find a kookie, mystical set of origin stories to support itself. "Virgin birth" anyone?

As I watch this first season of The Path wrap up it has brought back all my near-50-year-old angst about organized religion in general. So for that, Jessie and crew, I thank you. If you are seeking something that can be taken, on its surface, as a classic Jason Katims, ensemble cast snapshot of Anywheresville, Suburbia with a bit of a religious bent OR as a very sly mirror held up to our own understandings--dare I say "personal acceptance"--of what it means to "be religious" then you really ought to check out The Path (on Hulu).


Carry on, I say!



P.S. Hugh Dancy is hot. Great casting. I'd do his religion




P.P. S. Also, I am 99.9% sure that Eddie is NOT the daddy of Hawk. Who, for the record is as close to a Heath Ledger, brunette doppleganger as likely exists in the universe. But that's just the novelist in me....



P.P.P.S.
I love this show. It pisses me off AND makes me think. If you're into that, get into it.



P.P.P.P.S.
Having sex on the kitchen floor does NOT solve things. Sheesh, everybody knows that, Jessie!

P.P.P....whatever....Meyerism has Scary Imagery. But have you ever seen some of the "classic crucifixion" art?

And so...yeah:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Thriller Novel Feature: Hand Over Fist



Hand Over Fist
by Michael Ross

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GENRE: Thriller

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:


When an old friend disappears, Martin learns nothing is what it seems…

Martin Russell can barely face the future. With dismal life prospects and an estranged family, he is at the end of his rope. When an old friend, Hannah, elbows her way back into his life, Martin’s luck begins to turn around.

Hidden within the shadows of evil, there must be some good…

Ex-policeman Bobby Tanner lost everything one rage-filled night. Now he runs a reading group for alcoholics where he meets a young drug dealer, Zack, who disturbs him in a way that’s hard to define. Bobby soon discovers the teenager is in over his head and has been dealing with a despicable individual known as The Chemist.

The roots of evil run deeper than we imagine…

Martin’s lucky streak begins to unravel when Hannah suddenly goes missing, and he turns to a friend of a friend, Bobby, for help. Thrust into an underworld empire of corruption and half-truths, he learns his friend may not be who he thought she was.

In a shadowed world of deception, stalkers, and despicable drug dealers, Bobby and Martin must uncover the truth, and fast…

Several lives depend on it.



Excerpt:

…but there was something gnawing away at him; something about Zachary Jackson that was just not right. He seemed like a good kid, a good son to a troubled mother and a dying father. But now Bobby stood in the shadows watching Zack leave The Chemist's house and he cursed his sixth sense.

The Chemist's house was one of a pair of semis that were angled at the end of Shortcross Drive. The area was the roughest part of the city, an independent borough with its own self-administered terms of crime and punishment. The crimes that carried the heaviest forms of punishment were those that affected The Chemist negatively. Punishments ranged from being forced to cut his lawn for a month to having both your knees smashed by a crow bar. And even worse penalties if you failed to insist to A&E staff that you'd been hit by a car.

By the time the local police force had recognised The Chemist's power, it was easier to leave him well alone than to face the cost of breaking down his power base. The semi detached council house was fortified more strongly than a clearing bank's vault. Over the years, every door and window had been replaced and so heavily reinforced that it would take a tank to force entry into the property.


From the Author:
My writing space

After undertaking a “blog tour” for the release of Hand Over Fist I was surprised to note how many times I was asked about my writing space, which led me to realise that over the last year or so I have spent a quarter of my life in that writing space.
All the bad luck and harsh times I endured for many years have now had a happy ending, because I cannot think of anywhere I would prefer to work at my writing than this writing space.
A dozen or so years ago I went from being a millionaire to an insolvent within an eighteen month period. A period much too painful on which to dwell, but as one example I lost over $300,000 just in lawyer's fees. With hard work I managed to fight my way through it and avoid bankruptcy, but I was left with no choice but to leave the vibrant, exciting and historical city of Bristol and move to the Welsh Valleys, where property prices were one third of those in Bristol.
It was not something I wanted to do, it was a financial imperative, and to start with I hated living in the back of beyond. However my partner Mari was enthusiastic about the new house and the new beginning. I always had faith that she knew best, and she did. The builder was halfway through constructing the house when he came to us and said that it would not take much to add an extra floor to the building and create a large room at the top of the house. The extra cost was minimal and my writing space was born.
The room has skylights on all four sides with fantastic views of the hills and mountains around us. I have space for my desk, a couple of armchairs and a bed settee. And importantly I am out of the way, so I can have my music blasting away without upsetting Mari; she is a professional musician (violinist) and hates background music of any kind. I know I don't get it either.
So, at the end of the day, the events that conspired to nullify my life, have actually led me to the perfect writing space, with the freedom and views which most authors could only dream about.




AUTHOR Bio and Links:


It was a strange and twisting road that led to the publication of my first novel. From my humble beginnings, as an office clerk, to ownership of a multi-million dollar business I always maintained my love for literature.

Born and raised in Bristol, England. I spent most of my life in business, my companies turning over in the region of $500 million. The majority of that time marketing cars, eventually owning the largest Saab specialist in the world, before a bitter divorce forced me rethink my priorities. Particularly between 2003 and 2005 when I had to accept that I was no longer a millionaire but literally penniless. I avoided bankruptcy by the skin of my teeth and slowly rebuilt my life.

This led me to the life changing decision to leave the bustling city and move to live halfway up a mountain in the Welsh valleys. At the same time I started a part time six year English Literature course at Bristol University, and attended creative writing classes at Cardiff University. I left school at sixteen and this was my first taste of further education and an immense challenge.

I eventually adjusted my thinking to the academic life, and on 30 June 2015 had confirmation of my 2.1(Hons) degree from Bristol University. At the same time I also won the prestigious Hopkins Prize for my essay on Virginia Woolf and the unsaid within her text. Now the university courses are finished it will, with any luck, gives me plenty of extra time that I can devote to my fiction writing.

Thanks to the university experiences, my interest in English literature has flourished over recent years. Hopefully I have evolved as a writer from my earlier work in short stories (over ninety of them.) Although interestingly my first three novels have all been developed from a long forgotten short story.

Life is, once again, very good, and I live very happily halfway up a mountain, in the Welsh Valleys, with my wonderful partner Mari, and our rescue dog Wolfie.

Twitter         @mikerosswriter
Website        www.michaelrosswriter.com
Blog             http://mikerosswriter.wordpress.com. 
Goodreads    Mike Ross