Did You Know?   U.S. Time Zones

Before the 1800’s, people judged the time of day by the position of the sun, but railroad builders saw that the sun’s position changed depending upon what part of the country you were in—thus time zones were established in the U.S.  “The expansion of transport and communication during the 19th century created a need for a unified time-keeping system.”

The program covered railway travel of every kind from city subways to mountain rail lines—from the Atlantic to the Pacific through 4 time zones.   A 3,000-mile journey that was traveled in 6 months, now takes only 5 days.

The program showed how the building of train routes affected everything:  the traveling “towns” which followed the trains, mining, the contributions of the Chinese, the harm to the lifestyle of Native Americans, the effect of the outcome of the Civil War, etc.  In 1846 Truckee, California, there was a winter so bad that the travelers (Donner and Reed wagons) through their mishaps and mistakes (starting late, taking a shortcut, etc.) had to resort to cannibalism to make it.

“Tough Trains:  The Transcontinental Railroad, USA”, traveler Zay Harding, Globetrekker,  http://www.globetrekkertv.com, (2017), WETA UK

Evan Andrews, “10 Things That You Should Know About the Donner Party”, April 14, 2016, http://www.history.com

“Why Do We Have Time Zones?”, http://www.timeanddate.com.

“Railroads Create the First Time Zones”, November 18, 1883, http://www.history.com

Written by Rosa L. Griffin


Review of Movie The Shape of Water


Guillermo del Toro has gone to the heights of fantasy and love in his new movie, The Shape of Water.  He directed and co-wrote the script for this adult Grimm’s fairy-tale-like story of interspecies love.   There is full frontal female nudity and violence.   The special effects are wonderful.   The movie begins with everything in Elisa’s room floating underwater with her napping on the sofa as if she lives underwater.   However, this was more a movie about bullying.

Sally Hawkins plays as Elisa Esposito who is one of many cleaners of the military labs at a base in 1962 Baltimore.   She delivers a heartfelt performance of a mute woman whose signing can’t always be interpreted to her satisfaction.   Elisa starts a relationship with the creature simply by being kind.  She imagines the Amphibian Man could exist in a world where all creatures are accepted.  Also, I did notice that none of the lab cleaners at the military base wore gloves in what could have been very contagious circumstances—blood, pus, etc.  But, there is a secret about Elisa that I will leave to you to find out by watching the movie.

Doug Jones plays the Amphibian Man, who, like “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”, gets a bad rap for being himself.   The creature was where he was supposed to be.   It’s not an attack when you’re in his turf.  However, his novelty would be worth millions in the right hands.   The very sexy and majestic creature is considered a monster especially when he gets mad, rips out a throat, and tears off a few fingers where before he was only trying to communicate with the humans.  Amphibian Man is bullied and tortured daily by Strickland.   His only fault was to get captured in South America.

Octavia Spencer plays Zelda Fuller, a cleaner of the labs who interprets Elisa’s sign language for others.   Zelda didn’t bully anyone.   However, her husband (played by Martin Roach) did not go to see who was at the door at night nor did he defend her in any way when she was attacked in her own home by Strickland.

Richard Jenkins (one of my favorite actors who adds to any movie in a supporting role) plays Giles, the unstereotypical gay man, talented in art, but who probably lost a cushy job because of his sexual persuasion.   Giles is looking for love and attracted to young men who are not attracted to him (Morgan Kelly as the Pie Guy).   Giles was bullied twice.  First, by being made to produce art work unpaid in hopes of getting his job back, so he was afraid to help Elisa with the Amphibian Man.  And, secondly, even mute Elisa, his best friend, grabbed Giles by the collar in frustration of his not getting the full impact of her signed argument.

Michael Shannon plays Richard Strickland—a man in a prison of his own making and the biggest bully of all.  He is the newly appointed military project head who even put the security chief (David Hewlett as Fleming) out of his own office.   Even in sex with his wife (Lauren Lee Smith), he is vicious and doesn’t like the sounds that women make during sex.   I believe he doesn’t like women at all, and he is the kind of guy who is unlikely to have friends.   He has worked toward the status quo of getting a job in which he can advance, getting married, owning a home, and having children (who seem to be invisible to him).  Strickland caused the most violence in the movie using cattle prods, guns, words, unsolicited touching, etc.  He was truly an “Ugly American”, the real monster.  His cruelty almost caused me projectile vomiting.  You see the horror but you can’t stop looking at it.  Strickland must have had a troubling childhood.

Michael Stuhlbarg plays as Dr. Robert Hoffstetler.  He gives a great performance as a man who is a humanitarian scientist torn in loyalty to both the Russian (Nigel Bennett as Milhalkov) and American (Nick Searcy as General Hoyt) governments who both let him down with their fatal decision to carve up the creature.   Hoffstetler is a good man with the best of intentions.

Cleaner Yolanda (played by Allegra Fulton) was always in a hurry to get home every morning, as the cleaners cleaned at night.

The secretary for the security department, Sally (played by Wendy Lyon) had a great many facial reactions to her new temporary supervisor’s actions.

Marvin Kaye was funny as the Russian bodyguard who ate wherever he went.

John Kapelos was great as the enthusiastic theater owner, Mr. Arzoumanian.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Filmmakers’ Presentation

On Saturday, December 2, 2017, from 1-3 p.m., the Black Writers’ Guild of Maryland, Inc., (www.blackwritersguild.org) hosted the panel discussion “Lights, Camera, Action:  Journey from Book to the Big Screen.”  The event was held at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, 4330 Edmondson Avenue, Baltimore, MD  21229.

The panelists were:

  • Odessa Rose, author of Water in a Broken Glass, and In the Mirror
  • Jamelle Williams-Thomas, filmmaker of the movie Water
  • Devin J. Ricks, filmmaker and mogul
  • Teresa Davis, author and filmmaker
  • Leonard Coleman, filmmaker

The facilitator was Wilma Brockington-Parker, BWG Communications Officer and the author of books:  Cinnamon Girl Blues, Office Politics, and Been There, Done That.    The presentation concluded with a 3-minute pitch from individual BWG author/members, a question-and-answer period, and networking.

Author Odessa Rose uses Baltimore City as the backdrop for her fiction.  She was influenced by her mother, who is an avid reader of horror authors, especially Stephen King.   Odessa received her B.A. in English from Coppin State University and her M.A. in Literature from the University of Maryland at College Park.  She is nearly finished her film, “Water”, being produced by Jamelle Williams-Thomas.  On her website, http://odessarose.com/, tickets can be purchased for the March 1, 2018 premiere of her movie, “Water”.   See also http://www.amazon.com/Odessa-Rose/e/B001KC6HBS,  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5038298.Odessa_Rose, and https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/water-a-dc-love-story#/.

Jamelle Williams-Thomas is a D.C. filmmaker and Digital Engagement Specialist.  She specializes in developing winning social engagement and marketing strategies through channels like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.   As a child, she would create characters and make stories from anything.  Jamelle studied Film Production at Chapman University in Orange, CA where she met screenwriters Mildred Lewis and Jeff McCracken.  They challenged her to rise above the adversity of being one of the only Black female film students at a predominately white institution.  Right out of college she founded her production company, Lodge Street Films.   As a filmmaker, she manages full-scale film production services for Lodge Street Films and strongly advocates for the representation of all facets of the Black diaspora in film and media.  Lodge Street also strives to give those stories a place in the light.  Jamelle has served in several positions in all aspects of film and video projects including production management, location scouting, writing, editing, and directing.   She has experience in fictional shorts, features, and corporate videos.   Her previous work includes Transplant and trailers for Odessa Rose’s critically acclaimed novel, In the Mirror.   George Bernard Shaw is the person from whom Jamelle gets her favorite quote, “Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life’s about creating yourself.”   https: //www.indiegogo.com/projects/water-a-dc-love-story#/, http://m.imdb.com/name/nm2059616/bio?ref_=m_mn_ov_bio and https://www.lodgestreetfilms.com.

Devin J. Ricks, a filmmaker, is also a videographer, director, editor, producer, and radio/media personality.  He creates music videos, commercials, weddings, tutorials, and stage plays as well.   Devin graduated from Morgan State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Broadcasting and Integrated Media/Video Production.  He has released over 70 episodes of his online reality show called “Dev TV”, has 3 films under his belt and is working on more to add to his Love Cycle Saga.  Devin also has a clothing line titled “No More Apologies” under his brand The DJR Experience.  The young mogul is on the rise and ready to inspire, motivate, and further our humanities.  He can be contacted at Devydev092@gmail.com.  His website is https://www.TheOfficialDJRP.com.

Teresa Davis, author and filmmaker is a Baltimore native with five self-published novels to her credit:  Ghetto Misery Uncut, Ghetto Misery Uncut: Street Land Lords Part 2, and co-authored Pistol Whipped, Hysterectomy of the Hood and Dope Dick.  As a filmmaker, Teresa’s work has earned her the 2014 Titan Arts Awards Best Film Director.  She is also the Titan Arts Awards 2015 two-time nominee for Best Film Director of the DMV and Best Film of the Year.  Her films include Laced, which stars Love and Hip Hop’s Momma (Nancy) Jones, The Last Laugh, and the anticipated movie Perkaset.  Teresa also directed and co-filmed the documentary No Hands King, Lor Dev Story, which won first place at the 2017 Born in Baltimore Film Festival Audience Choice and is also up for Best Film of the Year 2017 Titan Arts Awards.  Teresa was also featured in the magazine, Courbe’e Revolucio’n.  https://m.facebook.com/Author-Teresa-Davis-657395994352053/

Leonard Coleman, videographer, rapper, and actor partnered with Teresa Davis five years ago and has worked on such projects as Laced, a film starring Momma Jones of Love and Hip Hop, The Last Laugh, and Teresa Davis’ anticipated film, Perkaset, which was inspired by Leonard.  Teresa wrote the film after Leonard developed cellulitis of the skin, which left him wheelchair-bound for a year.  In an effort to lift Leonard’s spirits, Teresa created the character “Little Head” for Leonard, who did a lot of the scenes from his  wheelchair.  He also filmed from that very same wheelchair.  Since regaining his ability to walk, Leonard has worked on other great projects, such as Ghetto Misery Uncut and the documentary No Hands King, Lor Dev Story, which was the Born in Baltimore Film Festival Audience Choice Best Film of the Year 2017.

Rosa L. Griffin