Killing Season was obviously too brutal for many Americans—even the critics

According to Box Office Mojo, Killing Season’s widest release was to 12 theaters for seven days and then it went to DVD. I think this decision was made because most film audiences in American prefer romance and fantasies—not the brutal, bloody reality of gory, brutal up close and personal hand-to-hand combat.

The film was released on July 11, 2013, and it was a flop at the box office earning a total of $39,881 in theaters. Peter Sobczynski reviewed the film and gave it less than one star. Sobczynski says, “The film is quite awful—badly written, ineptly staged, horribly acted, historically suspect and boring beyond belief—and fully deserving of its ignominious fate.”

Here’s the thing, I don’t agree with Sobczynski. I didn’t think it was a bad film—and was that because I have no taste, or because I’m a former U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam?

To me, this film reveals rather brutally what combat does to two men, and how war might leave mental scars that run deep. In fact, similar brutality appears in my novel, “Running with the Enemy”. If you have a weak stomach and lose sleep easily over reading about or watching extreme violence, this film and my novel are not for you.

Here’s a brief plot summary without spoilers: In Belgrade, Serbia, former Scorpions soldier Emil Kovač (Travolta) meets an informant to retrieve a file on American military veteran and former NATO operative Colonel Benjamin Ford (De Niro). Ford has fled to a cabin retreat somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, to forget the war. Now a recluse, he meets Kovač, posing as a European tourist, during a hunting trip. The two men become friendly, until Kovač reveals his true identity. Intent on revenge for something Ford allegedly did in Serbia, he initiates a gory game of cat-and-mouse with Ford. The latter is badly injured but is quick to rebound.

I find it interesting that the film had 257 customer reviews on Amazon, and 132 were 4-and-5 star reviews—that’s 51%.  Only 62 were 1-and-2 stars—that’s 24%. More than twice as many reviewers enjoyed the film, and I was one of them.

The Most Helpful Review said, “Killing Season is a movie that thrills and leaves you thinking. It is timely because the tension echoes many of the current situations going on in society. In their own right each of the two in the movie have their reasons (and justifications) for their points and places. In the end (sorry, no spoiler here) the stark realization of the view from the other side really brings home the powerful moral of this movie. De Niro is his usual amazing self and Travolta delivers a nearly convincing eastern bloc persona. Well worth seeing.”

I also scanned the 1-star reviews and the most detailed one I read ended with: “If you’ve ever wanted to see De Niro piss on his own leg to heal a gaping wound this is your chance. You won’t get another.”

I asked Google why it might have been a good idea for De Nrio to piss on his wound, and Wise Geek.org says, “As difficult as it might be for some to comprehend, the medical benefits of urine have been widely studied in many areas including, but not limited to, the effect of pee on wounds. Normal urine is not only pH balanced, it is non-toxic and is believed to contain many nutrients and healing compounds. Normal urine is both anti-viral and anti-bacterial, making it a potentially ideal treatment for cuts, abrasions, wounds, and skin infections of any kind.”

>>>Focus on the key word there: “normal” urine.<<<

I don’t know about you, but don’t expect me to pee on my wound if I was in the same situation. I’d rather use powdered cayenne. I keep some in the car, bathroom, kitchen and my wood shop. In fact, Earth Clinic.com says, “For stopping profuse bleeding, we eagerly recommend using powdered cayenne to speed up the coagulation process and close the wound.”

I learned about using powdered cayenne on wounds when I belonged to a wood-carving club. Every veteran wood carver in that club had some fine ground pepper/powdered cayenne stored in their tool box with their super-sharp carving knives—just don’t put powdered cayenne or black pepper in your eyes, mouth or nose. It burns really bad, but surprisingly doesn’t burn when sprinkled on cuts and gashes—at least that has been my experience.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Low-Def Kindle Cover December 11

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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Saving Art Treasures from the Nasty Nazis

I listened to the abridged audio version of The Monuments Men and learned something I didn’t know about World War II—something that has only happened once in history where a dedicated military team was organized [thanks to President F. D. Roosevelt] by the allies in World War II to save as much of the art looted by the Nazis as possible.

I first heard of The Monuments Men at the theater during all those [soon-to-appear] movie trailers before you get to watch the film you paid to see. Because I usually see a film at the local theater at least once a week, I’ve seen The Monuments Men trailer a number of times, and I admit that I’m eager to see the film.

Overview lifted from Barnes and Noble

“At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: ‘degenerate’ works he despised.

“In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.” (Barnes and Noble: Overview)

The film is scheduled to release February 7, 2014. Thanks to Costco—where I bought the audio book—I ended up listening to the book first. As I was listening, I thought I’d be ready to recognize when Hollywood’s version drifted from the facts—but maybe not. In case you didn’t know, Hollywood’s famous for revising history and true stories.

When I bought the CD’s at Costco, I had no idea it was an abridged version only 7.5 hours long. I usually avoid abridged versions but the fact that it was abridged wasn’t printed anywhere I could easily find. Publishers must know this and they are getting tricky just like Monsanto wants to hide the fact that the food we eat might be genetically modified by them. (Truth-Out.org)

I wanted to know how much I may have missed and discovered that audiobooks usually run 150-160 words per minute, the range people comfortably hear and vocalize words. I then dragged a few hardcover books off the bookshelf and came up with about 400 words a page. That means the 512 page Monuments Men hardcover probably has at least 205,000 words—equal to about 21 hours for an audio book.

Wow, that was a lot of story to miss out on, and I was disappointed.

But I did listen to the 7.5 hours and still enjoyed the story. The only full length audio version I found was sold by Barnes & Noble.

I guess it depends on what you want. If you’re willing to settle for the abridged audio version and miss two-thirds of the story, it’s probably worth the cost.

The full-length audio version at Barnes & Noble.com was listed at $19.08 when I checked (with a 17% price reduction from the original $22.99). I checked Amazon and they’re asking $6.89 for the Kindle; $22.37 for the Hardcover and $9.85 for the paperback.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

Rewriting history, literature and film to fit Popular Political Correctness

In the early 1980s, I was working toward an MFA and one of my courses was a self-directed project monitored by a faculty adviser. The project was my memoir of fighting in the Vietnam War. A few years after completing the memoir, I took it to UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program where the professor convinced me to convert it into fiction—a suspense thriller. The professor was a woman, who later helped find a literary agent to represent my novel.

I spent several years in the program with her as my advisor, and the final product after endless revisions and feedback from the professor and other authors in the program was “Running with the Enemy”. It was fiction but true to my experience of war and its horror.

Fast forward to publication and then June 11, 2013 when a reviewer by the name of “S” posted a 2-star review on Amazon—a review I’m actually proud of.

S concluded her review with:  “I was sucked in by the nitty gritty feng shui of the book, then repelled by the over use of sexual violence and testosterone dousing. Even though the ending was predictable, I still liked that the good guys won and the bad guys lost. However, the limited roles by the female characters left me feeling that half the story still lies buried and voiceless.”

I’m proud of that 2-star review because the book I wrote was about the war I fought in—not the story S wanted me to write that would have been a lie. In the 1960s, the only American women who served in Vietnam that I knew of were nurses and they did not serve in combat units. There were no women in my battalion.  Not one.

What I think S wanted was to see women kicking the shit out of men and beating the men at war. But that wasn’t my Vietnam. Tuyen, the only major woman character in the novel—the others were minor characters—was a half breed, a Eurasian, who had been sexually and physically abused by her half-brother since she had been a young girl.

If you have ever seen the film or the stage play of “Miss Saigon”, you might understand how women are still treated today in Southeast Asia and when that woman was a Eurasian like Tuyen, the treatment was worse, and the term for her was Bụi đời, the “dust of life”.

In fact, “Life was frequently difficult for such Amerasians [and Eurasians]; they existed as pariahs in Vietnamese society. Often, they would be persecuted by the communist government and sometimes even sold into prostitution as children.” [Benge, Michael (22 November 2005). “The Living Hell of Amerasians”. Front Page Magazine]

I think what “S” wanted from me as an author was to write a story that would fit a world she wanted—one that didn’t exist in my world.  She wanted a kick-ass female character.

The latest example of this popular political correctness demanding that history and literature be rewritten may be found in the film “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”. Tauriel is a female elf who is a kick ass super warrior. The problem is that in the original Hobbit written by J. R. R. Tolkien, there are no major women characters and another fire-breathing modern day feminist—another S—also wanted the plot of this novel rewritten when made into film.

This revisionist was Nicole Lyn Pesce writing for the New York Daily News who said, “The women’s rights movement has made it to Middle-earth. The first ‘Hobbit’ film was criticized by some—like me—for its testosterone-heavy cast, so director Peter Jackson has brought in a kick-ass chick for the sequel.”

Does this mean we should rewrite history due to a modern, popular, political-correct movement? I don’t think so.

My novel was a man’s story just like “The Hobbit” was written by a man. In fact, you may want to read an essay about how J.R.R. Tolkien’s service in the British Army during World War I may have influenced his fiction. [JRR Tolkien and World War I by Nancy Marie Ott]

If Tolkien were alive today, would modern feminists be criticizing him for not including kick-ass women warriors in his novels, who didn’t exist in his day as they didn’t exist in mine?

I have news for “S”. If she had read my novel to the end, she would have discovered Tuyen kicking some serious male ass in the Golden Triangle near the conclusion of the novel. In that scene, Tuyen is so violent she even shocks the kick-ass recon Marine who loves her. Maybe Tuyen just didn’t kick enough male asses to satisfy S or someone like Nicole Lyn Pesce.

Here’s a bit of advice for today’s modern day feminists. Don’t wish for something you know little to nothing about. Take it from someone who has seen war up close and personal, you really don’t want to go there. If men are willing to go to war and die to protect women from that horror, let them.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

The Fussy Librarian

My novel, “Running with the Enemy”, is being featured Sunday, November 10, at The Fussy Librarian, a new website that offers personalized e-book recommendations. Readers choose from 32 genres and indicate preferences about content and then the computers work their magic. It’s pretty cool — check it out! @ www.TheFussyLibrarian.com

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00034]

Literary Awards for this novel:

Runner Up in General Fiction
2013 Beach Book Festival

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2013 San Francisco Book Festival
2013 Hollywood Book Festival
2013 New York Book Festival

Praise for “Running with the Enemy”

“Obviously drawn from the author’s first-hand experiences as a Marine serving in Vietnam,Running with the Enemy is a rough but occasionally heartfelt war story. … The book is sometimes too obviously drawn from his experience. But ultimately that’s a small complaint about a book that, on the whole, is quite good and has a lot to say about the nature of the conflict …”
– 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards commentary from an anonymous judge

“The author definitely has inlcuded vivid, entrancing descriptions of the country, the people and the military who served there. … It is an action-filled, intriguing story I will not forget soon.”
– 5-star review from KMT through a Library Thing Giveaway

“From the first chapter to the end, it kept me going. Lofthouse writes from his heart and that always makes for a good story.”
– 4-star review from Mahree through a Library Thing Giveaway

“For those who would like to get a sense of what combat was really like, this is an excellent book, which began as a memoir of Vietnam.”
–  4-star review from Harvee L.   [an Amazon Vine Voice]

“The fight/combat scenes are stunning, very realistic. … Betrayal, revenge, murder, and desperation make this a must read! … Very highly recommended.”
– 5-star review from Great Historicals

“This was quite a riveting but cruel story, not for the faint of heart. Well written with very graphic language and violent scenes but all-over, a very good suspense book.”
– 4.5-star review from Lynelle of (South Africa)

A Review of “World War Z”

If you are into violent stories about war and destruction—suspense-thrillers/horror—and you haven’t read World War Z, you may want to think about it.

I saw the film before I listened to the book and the two are as different as night is to day. The only thing in common is the struggle between humans and zombies that hunger for human flesh due to a virus worse than EBOLA, MARBURG, HANTAVIRUS, LASSA, RABIES, SMALLPOX, DENGUE, SARS or HIV will ever be. A few always survive exposure to these viruses but no one survives exposure to the Zombie Virus. Once bit, you are doomed.

The Zombie Virus is our worst nightmare.

I enjoyed the film but reading the book left me admiring the author’s creative and vividly detailed imagination as the main character moves around the world interviewing survivors of the global war against the infected, hunger driven zombies.

Although the story is told through these interviews, the individual stories are attention grabbing—some more than others.

A number of themes run through the novel: one points out how governments are often incompetent; corrupt and how many of the people panic and make disastrous mistakes as a mob. Another theme focuses on survivalist and disaster preparation.

I bought and listened to the audio book and the cast of characters is incredible. I found the listening experience to be more powerful than watching the film and possibly more powerful than reading the book on paper. The cast of characters is long and their talent adds to the novel.

If you have a fascination with war, I don’t see how you can resist this novel.  The stories shared in this oral history of World War Z are as violent as they get.  World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan cannot compete with the combat that you will witness as a reader/listener of this novel.  Imagine an enemy that can’t die unless you cut off its head or blow apart its brain.  And all it wants to do is chew on living humans infecting them. Viruses find ways to spread and replicate just as the Zombie Virus does in this novel.

I awarded this novel 5-stars on Amazon because of the amazing imagination of the author that never failed to impress me. If there were awards for imagination, Max Brooks deserves one. In fact, the audio book—that I highly recommend—won an Audie Award in 2007 for the performance of a cast of more than forty that includes, for example, Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Carl Reiner, Bruce Boxleitner,  Rob Reiner, Jon Turturro, Masayori Oka [NBC’s Heroes], and Martin Scorsese [the award-winning film director].

I couldn’t find the complete edition Audio Book I bought of World War Z on Amazon. My copy had 10 compact discs running 12 hours, and I bought it at Costco.

Discover “The Hurt Locker” and IEDs in Vietnam

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Good News Twice in One Day

Early this morning—before I went out to work on the patio-fence with more than one gate project that I’m building from scratch—I checked my e-mail and discovered that my suspense-thriller, Running with the Enemy, had been awarded an Honorable Mention in General Fiction at the 2103 New York Book Festival.

A good way to start the day.

Fast forward several hours—I finished working on the project about 3:00 pm, took a shower, and then logged-on to check my e-mail only to discover that Running with the Enemy had been named Runner Up (2nd Place) in General Fiction at the 2013 Beach Book Festival.

A good way to end the day.

In twelve days on June 22, the 2013 New York Book Festival will be held at the Radisson Martinique on Broadway in New York City’s Midtown Manhattan—just steps from the Empire State Building.

When Running with the Enemy picked up its first honorable mention at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival, I attended the free seminars and the private award ceremony, but I’m not planning on buying a ticket to fly to New York at this late date. With the lowest nightly rate for the Radisson at $385.00 and flights to New York from San Francisco costing $583 – $2,072 (depending on the airline you book a flight with), I’m staying home. The grand prize winner wins $1,500, but an honorable mention and a runner-up do not come with a cash prize.

However, if you live near New York and you are a writer, poet, author and/or an avid reader, you may want to take advantage of the free seminars. The San Francisco event was well worth my time, and I’m planning on going next year. The price of a BART ticket to ride into San Francisco from where we live is about $10 round trip.

NEW YORK BOOK FESTIVAL DAY SCHEDULE
– this event is free –

  • 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. The Art of Marketing and Promotion – An examination of what it takes to get your book noticed in a crowded marketplace. 
  • 1:00 p.m.-2:10 p.m. Writing About Your Life – “Write what you know” is one of the most debated axioms of an author’s life. A panel that drew on their experiences and career paths discusses what it takes to put it all down in book form.
  • 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Children’s Books in a Modern Age – Authors/publishers of award-winning books from the San Francisco Book Festival talk about their books and the market.
    Panelists: 
  • 3:40 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Dr. Neal Hall – the poetry winner of the San Francisco/New York/New England/Paris and Los Angeles festivals reads from his work and answers questions.
  • 4:10 p.m.-4:45 p.m. The Future of Books – The rise of eBooks, the shrinking retail scene, the consolidation of big publishing and the explosion of the online world. A discussion on where everything appears to be heading and how you can leverage these developments.
  • 4:45 to 5 p.m. A Conversation with the New York Book Festival grand prize winner

The grand-prize winner of the 2013 New York Book Festival was Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora by Emily Raboteau (Atlantic Monthly Press). The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata was the winner of the general-fiction category and it was first published in Indonesia in 2005 selling more than five-million copies. The English translation of Hirata’s novel was published by Sarah Crichton Books (February 5, 2013)

The grand-prize winner of the 2013 Beach Book Festival was Inside Linda Lovelace’s Deep Throat by Darin Porter published by Blood Moon Productions, March 12, 2013. The winner of the general-fiction category was Rosi’s Time by Edward Eaton, published by Dragonfly Publishing.

The private-award ceremony will be held June 21 at the Grolier Club in Manhattan.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

“Divine Justice” reviewed

I’m a fan of David Baldacci’s Camel Club series, and I haven’t read one of his books with my eyes, but I’ve listened to them on unabridged audio books while driving. In fact, I’ve been listening to audio book for decades. I also read tree books at home. I’d like to read more e-books but the two Kindles I have bought keep telling me that I’m not who I am and won’t let me read the books I buy.

The Camel Club has four members who are obsessively loyal to each other, and if the group has a leader, it’s the man who goes by the name of Oliver Stone. His real name is John Carr and before he was reborn as Oliver Stone, he served in the US military and is a combat veteran who was recruited by the CIA to become a US government assassin—maybe the best assassin that ever lived, but as Oliver Stone he is a thorn in the side of men in the government who abuse their power.

Baldacci never served in the U.S. Military but that has not stopped me from enjoying his novels. The reason I enjoy these books is because John Carr aka Oliver Stone is a man with a conscience, and he is loyal to those who are loyal to him. He will die to protect his friends.

To date, I’ve listened to three of the five books in this series: “The Camel Club,” “Hell’s Corner,” and now “Divine Justice”.  The remaining two are on my—to listen to or read list—“The Collectors” and “Stone Cold”.

In “Divine Justice,” John Carr (aka: Oliver Stone) has become the most wanted man in America after he assassinates a powerful senator and America’s intelligence chief—these are the men who destroyed his life by murdering his wife years earlier and then taking his young daughter from him.

After the two-shot assassinations—one shot for each target—Carr is on the run. To escape, he takes an Amtrak train toward New Orleans, but his plans change drastically when he comes to the assistance of a young man who is being beat up by three bullies. Carr beats up the bullies and then befriends the young man, who seems to have a huge unfriendly chip on his shoulder.

This takes Carr to the remote coal-mining town of Divine, Virginia where he finds himself once again helping the victims of evil, powerful and corrupt men, but Carr also finds unexpected love—giving him a second chance at life—that is if he can stay alive and protect the woman he has fallen in love with, because she is a target too.

But Oliver Stone is not alone. The other members of the Camel Club are coming to help by shadowing Joe Knox, the government agent who has been sent to find Carr and deliver him to his executioner.

Will the Camel Club make it in time to save Stone/Carr? I’m not going to spoil the story, but I will recommend this series of books if you enjoy thriller-suspense novels that I think will keep you wanting more.

Discover A Night at the “Well of Purity”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”