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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

LIE CATCHERS NAMED AS A WHITNEY AWARD FINALIST

2015 WHITNEY AWARD FINALIST
PRESS RELEASE
 
LIE CATCHERS NAMED AS FINALIST
IN 8th ANNUAL WHITNEY AWARDS
 
WHITNEY AWARD WINNERS TO BE ANNOUNCED
AT THE PROVO MARRIOTT HOTEL ON MAY 7
 
February 9, 2016—The novel Lie Catchers by Paul Bishop, has been listed as a Finalist in the Mystery/Suspense category in the 8th annual Whitney Awards celebrating excellent fiction by LDS authors.
 
The Whitney Awards program honors the best novels published by Latter-day Saint writers each year. It was founded in 2007 by novelist Robison Wells and named after 19th century Mormon apostle Orson F. Whitney—a writer who preached of the importance of literature, including his famous prophecy stating “We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.”
 
More than 300 books were nominated for consideration in eight categories: General Fiction, Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Romance, Speculative, General Youth Fiction, Speculative Youth, and Middle Grade. Paul Bishop’s novel Lie Catchers is a finalist in the Mystery/Suspense category.
 
A novelist, screenwriter, and television personality, Paul Bishop spent 35 years with the Los Angeles Police Department where he was twice honored as Detective of the Year. He is the author of fifteen novels, including the Whitney nominated Lie Catchers—the first in a new series featuring top LAPD interrogators Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall.
 
The Whitney Awards differs from other literary awards in that they are reader-based. Novels can be nominated by any reader (via the Whitney Awards website). Once a book receives five reader nominations, it advances to the judging round. The top nominees in each category become finalists, and are then are voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including authors, publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others.
 
“The competition grows fiercer every year,” 2015 Whitney Awards president Jaime Theler said. “LDS authors are making their mark—their books on NYT Bestseller Lists, at the top of Amazon sales, and winning other literary awards. Being named a Whitney Finalist is an important achievement. It means these books are the cream of the crop.”
 
“Clearly, it is an honor to be nominated for any award, but the Whitney awards are special. Not only do they support LDS writers, but the nominated novels and the winners are decided by a vast array of readers and industry professionals. The nomination is prestigious and I am humbled to find myself on a list with such distinguished company.”—Paul Bishop
 
Winners will be announced and the awards presented at the Whitney Awards gala held at the Provo Marriott Hotel on Saturday, May 7, 2016, at 7:30PM, following the annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference. 
 
Details about the Whitney Awards and the list of Finalists in all categories are available at http://whitneyawards.com

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

NEVER DOWN FOR THE COUNT

NEVER DOWN FOR THE COUNT
 
Last week, I reviewed my low points (Spectre) and satisfactory entries (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) from 2015’s movie franchises. There were a number of other franchise blockbusters from Terminator Genisys to Jurassic World to Star Wars—which was clearly the biggest, most high profile, most profitable 2015 franchise entry. However, Terminator Genisys and Jurassic World didn’t egister on my personal radar and, as I’m only a casual Star Wars fan, the excitement generated by The Force Awakens left me mostly unaffected…It was a fun film…I’m glad the hardcore fans enjoyed it…But one viewing was enough for me…
 
So, in the spirit of self-centric exposition, I now share my personal choice for the hardest-hitting franchise entry of 2015, which has nothing to do with dinosaurs, unstoppable machines with artificial intelligence, or X-wing fighters and Death Stars. The film, which moved me unashamedly to dampened eyes on several occasions, while stimulating a major release of endorphins by delivering the perfect high of goosebumps and emotional thrills carried one name—Creed.
 
Using Mr. Peabody’s WABAK Machine, we first need to return to 1976 and a little film that believed it could go the distanceRocky. Deftly detailing the underdog story of a boxer on the last train to Palookaville capriciously matched against the heavyweight champion of the world, Rocky touched something deep inside the American psyche. In the film’s emotional epiphany, Rocky realizes he can’t win, but he is determined to go the distance. This difficult, but possibly achievable goal tapped into the subconscious, but core desire of the everyman trapped in an everyday mundane life. 
 

Filmed in a record twenty-eight days with a paltry $1 million dollar budget, Rocky ultimately grossed well over $100 million. The movie poster's tagline—His whole life was a million-to-one shot—emphasized the lowly, simple-minded status of the working-class hero, a good-natured individual who lacked basic intelligence, but displayed gutsy, optimistic perseverance while fighting for his dignity. 
 
Sylvester Stallone was immediately inseparable from his onscreen Rocky persona. In an underdog story to rival Rocky’s fight fiction plot, Stallone fought for his original screenplay (after 32 previously rejected scripts) and insisting on starring in the role the studios wanted to fill with Robert Redford, Ryan O’Neil, or James Cann. 
 
When the studios were finally swayed by Stallone’s intractable belief in himself, they did so without much support or enthusiasm. However, in true Rocky fashion, confronted by giant opponents—All the President's Men, Network, and Taxi Driver—and against all studio odds, Rocky garnered ten nominations and three Oscars, including Best Picture, and a franchise was born.
 
The first four Rocky sequels were hits and misses with the critics, but winners with the public. Rocky spoke to us—reflecting our own impossible struggles. As the lines between the hype of real world fights and fictional boxing movie fireworks blurred, the fiction of Rocky became truth...
 
 
While Star Wars fans often disparage the three Star Wars prequels, Rocky fans reserve most of their ire for Rocky-V. While, I personally have a soft spot for this problematic Rocky outing, I completely understand how it appeared to bury the franchise in a pauper’s grave. But anyone who believed Rocky-V would put the Rocky franchise down for the count never understood the lesson at the heart of every Rocky movie—It’s not how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
 
I always get choked up whenever I hear Rocky passionately deliver the full Shakespearian soliloquy: 
 
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. 
 
But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. It’s How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.  
 
Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not point fingers and blame other people. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!
 
Rocky-V was the equivalent of Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago, and Tommy Gunn all ganging together to beat Rocky to the canvas. Rocky-V left the film franchise bloody and broken…The critics and naysayers were convinced of their victory…The franchise couldn’t possibly get back up…Cue Bill Conti’s iconic brass intro to Gonna Fly Now (the Rocky theme)…But it did…Like Rocky himself, the franchise rose from the ashes of defeat on guts alone—and it was ready to deliver an extra-large serving of Rocky-style whoop-ass!
 
In 2006, sixteen years after Rocky-V seemed to put the franchise down for the count, Rocky Balboa lifted the film series off the canvas one last time to deliver a knockout punch. Anyone who ever doubted the power or sincerity embodied by the character of Rocky—whose statue in Philadelphia  has always been a touchstone and a pilgrimage destination for the faithful—got a fist in the face and a very loud, “Take that!”
 
From the very start of Rocky Balboa, the transition back to the beating heart of the original Rocky rings clear…The undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, Mason The Line Dixon cannot get a fight with any challenge who the public considers worthy.
 
When a controversy over a video game simulation between Rocky, the former champ, and Dixon (based on an actual Rocky Marciano-Muhammad Ali video game simulation) ends with Rocky victorious via TKO, Dixon needs an actual match to regain respect. The thread of the audience’s suspension of disbelief is pulled tight, but Rocky fans are completely forgiving because they know what’s coming next.
 
The set-up is ridiculous, but we don’t care. We depend on Rocky never backing down—if he does, we are all lost. No matter how old he is, Rocky is going to punch his way into an inspiring training montage and the key element of the original Rocky—the hopeless underdog against the undefeated champion—is ready to play out again. 
 
Rocky Balboa (not Rocky VI, because apparently the studios didn’t think Rocky fans could count higher than five or figure out Roman numerals beyond V) restored the luster and returned the franchise to its glory days by adding a fitting, perfect, ending…
 
It was over…Done…Rocky and the franchise had gone the distance, exiting the ring with head held high and Bill Conti’s music swelling tears in all our eyes…
 
But then it wasn’t done…
 
Somebody, somewhere, had a rejected boxing movie script, which could have been the storyline for Rocky Balboa, but had thankfully never risen to the level of consideration. However, with the success of Rocky Balboa, this script now promised an easy payday—and the embarrassment of Grudge Match became a reality…
 
Of course, nobody connect to Grudge Match would ever admit to a Rocky connection. Just because it starred Sylvester Stallone as a retired boxer finally agreeing to a rematch with his greatest opponent (Robert DeNiro) why would anyone connect it with Rocky
 
Sure…okay…right…
 
Imagine what would have happened if Rocky and Apollo Creed had never agreed to a rematch until they were both over the hill and you have the whole misguided premise of Grudge Match and why it is essentially—if unofficially—Rocky 6.5.
 
Grudge Match was not pretty—more parody than homage. The bad taste it left in the mouth of critics and Rocky fans alike demanded recompense. But wasn’t it far too late? Wasn’t Rocky over, done, finished? 
 
Are you kidding me?
 
This is Rocky we’re talking about…The hell with going the distanceRocky was ready to fight back, to even name the round for the knockout—and the name of the round was Creed
 
In a major change from the Stallone written and directed Rocky entries, wunderkind director Ryan Cooglar takes control of Creed in both capacities. What is even more interesting is Cooglar brought Creed to Stallone as opposed to Stallone wanting to do another Rocky film and seeking out Cooglar to direct. Why is this important? It means Creed was Cooglar’s vison from the start…Cooglar’s love of the Rocky franchise was clear making his commitment to Creed personal…Cooglar had a complete understanding of what makes Rocky tick and exactly where the story needed to go in order to become compelling to a new generation.
 
The storyline for Creed is a natural next step—Adonis Johnson is boxing champion Apollo Creed’s bastard son. Adonis never knew his famous father, who died before Adonis was born, and is resentful of his linage. However, boxing is in his blood, and the ring is the one place where he can release all the anger he carries. Forced by circumstances, he seeks out Rocky, asking the retired champ to be his trainer. The rest of the story is quickly apparent—Rocky will be reluctant…Rocky will see much of Apollo in Adonis…Rocky will give in…Rocky will train Adonis…A fluke of circumstances will give Adonis a title shot…Adonis will be a huge underdog facing certain destruction in the ring at eh hands and fists of an undefeated champion…
 
But Creed is not content to settle for this simple storyline. Like Adonis and Rocky before him, Creed has heart…There is more here than cliché, there are humanistic, heart rendering twists, which not only add to the luster of the Rocky franchise, but show Sylvester Stallone—Rocky himself—to have more depth, more heart, than he has ever been given credit. Any and all nominations and awards given to Stallone as a result of his performance in Creed are more than deserved.
 
Creed does everything right. The film touches all the legacy points Rocky fans expect, while also bringing a new legacy into reality. When the strains of Bill Conti’s original Rocky theme are finally allowed to blast from the theatre speakers, the audience is wound so tight they invariably burst into spontaneous applause…and from that moment on, throats tighten, tears well, hearts thump and chills reign in the emotions of every Rocky fan.
 
Creed is not the perfect ending for the Rocky franchise…It is the perfect beginning…
 

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

AT THE MOVIES 2015

AT THE MOVIES 2015

2015 provide some excellent movie entertainment. I was riveted by Spotlight, detailing the Boston Globe’s exposé of the Catholic Church scandal. Spotlight featured a cast of A-list actors all keeping their performances reigned in to allow the audience to focus on the importance of the story. The writing was superb, handling difficult subject matter while balancing perspective and dramatic integrity.

Joy was a revelation. Based on the career of Joy Mangano—a self-made millionaire who created her own business empire during the early days of cable shopping channels—the writing in the opening ten minutes was word perfect. Within this short time span, the dysfunctional relationships and interactions of every family member in relation to each other was highlighted and referenced back to Joy, who is caught in the eye of the cyclone. As Joy, Jennifer Lawrence again displayed her immense talent, transitioning emotionally and physically though the demands her character arc without an off note.

Brooklyn was a beautifully filmed, understated, and layered love story. With a screenplay by the great Nick Hornby, Brooklyn details the journey of Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), an Irish immigrant  who lands in 1950s Brooklyn where she is confronted by choosing between two countries, two great loves, and the lives existing within each realm. What could have been nothing more than a chick-flick, becomes elegant, engaging, and emotionally involving.

The Big Short had to have been a very difficult screenplay to write. This is an important story detailing the events surrounding the 2008 housing/market crash—but how do you take something so financial and numbers heavy, with numerous financial terms the average person couldn’t define if their life depended on it, let alone understand and make it entertaining? I’m almost falling asleep thinking about it—but I did not fall asleep in this film. Like Spotlight, I was completely engrossed in the narrative and the inevitable, criminal, ‘unthinkable’ outcome. The acting here is more showy than in Spotlight, but it needs to be in order to keep the audience on board. Christian Bale and Steve Carell do the heavy lifting (brilliantly) while Ryan Gosling pulls everything together…The Big Short also breaks the fourth wall on numerous occasions to great effect.

There were a number of other highly rated films I chose not to see in 2015 because of the level of violence. I have no doubt The Revenant and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi were excellent, but aimed at an audience with different tastes than my own.

2015, however, also premiered a number of new entries in established movie franchises. I am very happy Star Wars fans/fanatics appear to be delighted—despite gaping plot holes—with The Force Awakens. While I enjoyed the latest entry in the Star Wars saga, I am a casual fan unconcerned with minutia and finding all the hidden Easter eggs. Despite being gobsmacked and outraged by the marketing idiocy of leaving Rey out of the Action Figure—Star Wars Monopoly—Millennium Falcon line-up, my personal Star Wars-style fandom has always been reserved for other film franchises. As such, 2015 held low, satisfactory, and high points for me.

Let’s start with the low…

After Skyfall rebounded positively from the dreck of Quantum of Solace (Quantum of Crap in my opinion), I held high hopes for the latest James Bond film, Spectre. Unfortunatley, those hopes were dashed against the rocks of a clunky, derivative, mess of a screenplay (basically a rip-off of Quantum of Crap), and an insipid villain who couldn’t even bother to wear socks—how can you take over the world wearing carpet slippers?

Spectre disparaged fans by leaving their willing-suspension-of-disbelief in tatters with too many scenes of overblown, obviously ridiculous, action—like blowing a helicopter out of the sky by firing a handgun at long range while plowing down the Thames in a bumpy speedboat. I love James Bond, but Spectre did little to endear me to the franchise’s current detour into an imitative, derivative collection of CGI heavy action scenes connected by thin to non-existent plotting.

The other franchise crushing aspect of Spectre is the lack of witty dialogue—or any dialogue with more than two-syllable words. My understanding is this change was made to satisfy the foreign markets—in particular the ever growing and money important Chinese market. Apparently, English wordplay and quips lose their humor when translate into foreign languages (especially Chinese) for dubbing or voiceovers.

And would Daniel Craig please just take his millions of dollars and Bond created worldwide stardom and stop whining to the media about hating James Bond. Get over yourself or get out…Let Idris Elba have his shot in the role…

Deep breath…Deep Breath…Smile…

Leaving the trainwreck of Spectre behind, let’s move on to the satisfactory category…

I’ve been waiting fifty years for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to be rebooted. Despite fan howls over the casting and abounding naysayers, I enjoyed this big screen version of my favorite childhood television series. It wasn’t a great film, but in my opinion it was an entertaining film—much more satisfactory than the more than triple budgeted Spectre. I would have appreciated more nods to the original series, but I enjoyed the romp.

Directory Guy Ritchie’s reinterpretation of the original series, via this origin story, changed a number of things about the character’s backgrounds. While purists wrung their hands and gnashed their teeth, I felt Ritchie honored the original characters’ relationship while making each character more three dimensional than was ever required by ‘60s television.

Both Henry Cavil and Armie Hammer appeared to be having a good time on screen. Their chemistry worked well for me, especially when played off Alicia Vikander’s rookie agent character. And Hugh Grant was perfect in his limited appearance as Mr. Waverly.

The film was filled with the witticisms missing from Spectre, but the humor went deeper than quips. The original show had a unique drollness, which is hard to describe let alone reproduce. Whether by design or luck, the U.N.C.L.E. big screen reboot somehow captured the original series balance of dry humor, character, and plot, which made U.N.C.L.E. the standard for all other ‘60s spy series—even if it did lose the magic in its heavy-handed third season. U.N.C.L.E. regained its footing in season four, but it was too late to save the show from cancellation.

With its brilliantly captured ‘60s setting, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie is a satisfactory romp, but hope for a sequel is nothing more than a failed THRUSH plot.

As for my movie franchise high point for 2015, you’ll have to check back next week…But to give you a hint, it’s the hardest hitting movie of the year…


Saturday, January 16, 2016

KEVIN STAKER—STAKER LAW

KEVIN STAKER—STAKER LAW

I know this post is way off the usual topics I post about on Bish’s Beat, but I want to give some well deserved credit to Kevin Staker—who is a large part of my life not only as my best friend, but also as a professional from whose financial and legal advice I have greatly benefited.

I admit to not following financial news as much as I should. However, Kevin Staker’s Deficit Reduction Blog always provides me with a common-sense lifeboat when navigating seas of conflicting financial information.

StakerLaw—Ventura County’s top tax and estate planning firm—is also my go to source for those things I know are important, but would procrastinate handling without trustworthy, ethical, understandable legal advice.

Kevin Staker’s involvement in Ventura County’s legal and public service communities has always been an inspiration. He has willingly donated so many resources and—more telling of his character—so much of his time to serve whenever asked.

I’ve relied on Kevin Staker’s knowledge and experience for over thirty years. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been able to retire in a legally confident, financially secure position without him…Yes, he’s my friend, but he’s also a top professional.



Please check him out via the below links and know he comes with my highest recommendation…

KEVIN STAKER
WEBSITE
DEFICIT REDUCTION BLOG
TWITTER
LINKEDIN
FACEBOOK
XING

MR. ROBOT

MR. ROBOT

If you haven’t yet caught this subversive series, it’s worthwhile seeking out.

Young, anti-social computer programmer Elliot works as a cybersecurity engineer during the day, but at night he is a vigilante hacker. He is recruited by the mysterious leader of an underground group of hackers to join their organization. Elliot's task? Help bring down corporate America, including the company he is paid to protect, which presents him with a moral dilemma. Although he works for a corporation, his personal beliefs make it hard to resist the urge to take down the heads of multinational companies that he believes are running—and ruining—the world...

What caught me in the pilot episode is the many parallels to the themes and approach of one of my favorite movies, Fight Club (no, I am not going to talk about it, but the pacing, tone, and narrative of the voiceovers in Mr. Robot are existential proof Tyler Durden and Elliot Anderson are twins separated at birth), but I was kept watching by Rami Malek's spot on performance...

USA Network has scheduled a couple of season one marathons in the last month and may do again. If not, Amazon would be happy to have you stream it for a nominal fee. And while you’re there check out another quirky show you probably missed—Eli Stone staring a pre-Sherlock Jonny Lee Miller...




Sunday, January 3, 2016

LIE CATCHERS SAMPLE

Venture Galleries has put their spotlight on the first chapter of Lie Catchers. If you would like a preview of my latest cop novel, please click the link below to check it out...
 
VENTURE GALLERIES
 
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Monday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Lie Catchers by Paul Bishop. It is a hard-boiled mystery that reveals the insights and inner workings of two police interrogators.
 
As one reviewer wrote: The book becomes almost like a textbook in an advanced psychology course. There are, of course, the players who make up the world of the detectives – criminals, victims, other cops and police administrators. But “Lie Catchers” really zeroes in on these two partners and how they use their special psychological gifts to literally get into the heads of the people who exist in their work. Rarely will you find the kind of insight that Bishop demonstrates in this truly 5-star book.
 
THE STORY
 
With her special abilities, top LAPD Robbery-Homicide detective “Calamity” Jane Randall thought she knew all about interrogation until she met detective Ray Pagan. Wielding a suspect’s vocal intonations, emotions, and physical gestures like a scalpel, Pagan’s empathetic lie catching abilities are legendary.
 
Both detectives are scarred by past tragedies, but when paired together, they threaten to tear the city apart searching for a duo of missing children – a search where the right answer to the wrong question can mean sudden death.
 
Ripped from the experiences of thirty-five year veteran LAPD detective and nationally recognized interrogator, Paul Bishop, Lie Catchers takes the reader inside the dark and dangerous mind games of the men and women for whom truth is an obsession.
 
THE SAMPLER

CHAPTER ONE
“Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Nose as long as a telephone wire.”
Author Unknown
 
Paul Bishop
When I first crossed swords with Rycovic Ray Pagan, he was already an LAPD legend in the interrogation room. Detectives would take bets on how long it would take Pagan to break a suspect wide open. It was said, he never missed – always coming out of the box with something to advance an investigation. He was revered, feared, and jealousy being what it is, despised.
 
I was a bit of a legend myself. Twelve years on the job, five as a detective, currently assigned to Robbery Homicide’s elite Rape Special unit, and I still couldn’t get away from the Calamity Jane Randall moniker hung on me during my rookie year.
 
I’d solved my share of major cases, putting various villains in prison for more years than they had left on earth, but Calamity I’d been tagged, and Calamity I remained. A series of escalating coincidences while I was still in uniform – involving the accidental discharge of a shotgun, a sergeant’s squad car with a blown tire, and a urine soaked PCP suspect – were hard to live down.

FOR THE COMPLETE FIRST CHAPTER CLICK HERE