Experimenter (2015)

Experimenter (2015)
Director: Michael Almereyda
Writer: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder, John PalladinoAnthony EdwardsJim Gaffigan 

Peter Sarsgaard plays Dr. Stanley Milgram who in 1961 performed a series of experiments where unwitting subjects asked another person questions and shocked them with up to 450 volts of electricity for each wrong answer. The fact was, that no one was actually shocked. The “shockee” (or learner) was behind a wall and the “shocker” (or teacher) was instructed to continue to shock the learner as long as they got the answer wrong.

In the experiment, the “shockee” would complain loudly of pain, even begging for help. If Experimenter_Posterthe “shocker” asked the director to stop, they would be blithely asked to continue. The conclusions of the test were that people would do what they were told in the face of authority.

The show is shot in a unique fashion. They purposely used flat murals and old 16mm backgrounds to simulate driving giving the film a period-piece feel by using period filming techniques. Also, there’s a scene where Milgram is talking to the screen while walking the halls of Harvard – with an elephant walking behind him. Possibly that’s the “elephant in the room?”

Experimenter re-raises some old questions about using human subjects in psychological experiments. Since the subjects were “fooled” into the situation, they had no control over how they were treated. And, they may have suffered adverse affects due to the stress of hurting another person under perceived duress.

This film went to great pains to show that “no one was harmed” in the study. They even went so far as to show Milgram enjoying an episode of “Candid Camera” where people faced the back of an elevator to induce conformity. (Interestingly, there was no mention of his friendship and collaboration with high school chum Philip Zimbardo of the famed Stanford prison experiment from 1971. The two were fans of Alan Funt’s show).

In the end, Experimenter is an interesting look at the work of a man who uncovered startling truths about the psychology of modern man. It begs the question – is there a ‘banality of evil’ in each of us. Unfortunately, the story is told as a fictionalization that makes us very aware that we’re looking at a movie. Ironically, it casts some serious shade on a 1975 fictionalization of Milgram’s work staring William Shatner (The Tenth Level). Milgram was apparently so upset with the work that it threatened his marriage.

To this day, Milgram’s work is required reading in psychology curricula – despite the fact that modern standards would never allow their reproduction. Many scientists dispute the results – despite Milgram’s repetition of the experiment in several countries which all come to the same conclusions.

Is there a “banality of evil” in each of us? This film doesn’t try to answer that question. It only attempts to set the record straight on Milgram’s research methods and their benign effects on its subjects. However, it is notable that Philip Zimbardo who came to similar conclusions as Milgram after his Stanford prison experiment, now proclaims a “banality of heroism” in each of us and is a leader in the Heroism Science community.

From a storytelling point of view, Experimenter is very non-standard. It straddles the line between documentary and fiction. Having the protagonist talk to the screen gives us an immediacy you don’t normally get in a movie. But it also opens the opportunity for Milgram to be an “unreliable narrator”. So, it comes off as a sort of “Milgram apologetic” – validating his work.

  • Recommendation:
  • See it now
  • ✔️See it eventually
  • Good cure for amnesia
  • Skip it

Agile Writer Ken Hubona Does it Again: Shades Released!

David Quinn isn’t about to get drafted into the Army. Let someone else slog around the jungle to fight Lyndon Johnson’s war. But his student deferment is about to run out, and the Navy and Air Force recruiters are already swamped with panicked college boys in the same pickle. He can’t run to Canada. That would kill his dad. And getting a conscientious-objector deferment practically requires being a priest. So when a recruiter shows up on campus pitching the sizzle of naval aviation, Dave is seduced by the golden wings, ultra-cool aviator shades, and the promise of a jumbo jet career as a Pan Am captain. It is both his way out and the glamorous career he deserves.

 

But he lands in a remote outpost, where he struggles against a demanding superior, aging aircraft, and his own fears. When his dogged ambition inflicts devastation, he has to face the kind of man he has become, profiting from war while others suffer. Now, he must make an agonizing choice.

 

SHADES is a story of ambition and friendship, sacrifice and loss, and ultimately, discovery and hope. In the worst of times we find the best in ourselves.

 

Author Bio:
Ken Hubona earned his Navy wings in 1969. Stationed in the Philippines, he deployed to bases throughout the Far East, including Da Nang and Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, and logged carrier landings aboard the USS Constellation, USS America, and USS Shangri La. This novel was inspired by that experience. He now lives and writes in suburban Richmond, Virginia.

 

Get the Paperback or Kindle at Amazon.com.

 

Public Library Shuns Writer

From Publishers’ Weekly:

“YA author Julia Watts has been removed from the slate of authors participating in LitUp, a teen literary festival sponsored by the Knox County (Tenn.) Public Library that was inspired by a teen book festival of the same name launched last year in the Kansas City area. Knoxville’s inaugural LitUp festival is scheduled to take place on October 13 with a full day of programming, including appearances by 10 YA authors, a mix of regional and national names.

“According to Watts, a local indie bookseller who is involved in the LitUp festival’s planning65133-v1-245x asked her in July to be one of its featured authors. “My name and photo went up on the website,” she said. Last Friday, however, that same bookseller called Watts to tell her that she was no longer slated to appear, as, after Googling her name, a member of the organizing committee had expressed concerns that she has also written erotica.”

I’ve seen this before. When a public organization or non-profit decides they don’t like what an author has written, they withdraw support. In this case, Julia Watts is in every way a “legitimate” writer. While she’s written erotica (which is essentially pornography in print), she was not presenting that content. She was presenting her traditionally published YA/LGBTQ fiction.

This is a case of confusing the author and the art. There is no law against writing pornography. Generally speaking there is a difference between erotic romance and erotica.

While I don’t allow erotica in my workshops (I tell the writers no worse than “R-rated” content, please), I have never turned an author away for their content. I wonder if this library would have turned Shel Silversteen away for writing for Playboy? I certainly think not.

Shunning authors for any reason is unacceptable. Content does not maketh the man*. If an author has a catalog that includes works that are essentially illegal, that is one thing. But shunning an author for artistic expression is the worst form of censorship.

Read More at Pubisher’s Weekly

* I hope you will forgive my appropriation of the cliche and its associated gender bias.

Some Definitions

“Erotic romance, according to a definition from the Romance Writers of America, refers to “novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the love story, character growth, and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline.”

“And erotica? “Erotica is just people doing it,” says Cordelia Logan, who has written 19 stories under five pen names and is beginning to focus on BDSM. (To maintain privacy, she declined to reveal her pseudonyms.) “[Characters] are having sex in interesting ways and with interesting people,” she says. “There’s not a lot of character development. The plot revolves around how these people are going to do it, and what’s getting in the way.”

From Publisher’s Weekly

Good vs. Bad book? Don’t Judge

(loudandcleargraphics.co.uk)

K.M. Weiland is an excellent resource for writers of all types. Her website Helping Writers Become Authors should be on everyone’s short list of helpful websites. Also, her books on writing are excellent and merge well with Agile Writer theory. But, in a recent site article by Katherine Marsh entitled “Why Do So Many Bad Books Sell on Amazon?” steps over the line from advice to judgement. Let me explain.

In the article Marsh explains that Amazon has started promoting eBooks that are newer – like only 30 days old. This has allowed ‘ghost writers’ to churn out new stories using a template from a previous book (replace princess with enchantress, replace castle with mansion, etc…). Thus, these writers are producing a book a month and getting (presumably) good sales.

What Ms. Marsh argues is that this promotes ‘bad books’. At Agile Writers the definition of success is getting your book into the hands of readers who want them. If readers are buying these copycats, then they are probably satisfied. Otherwise, they’d return them (you *can* return eBooks, you know). Therefore, these are not bad books. They are finding a home with people who crave the same plot lines with different characters and locations. The Romance genre is rife with this sort of churning.

And that’s, Okay.

It’s the responsibility of the author to work the system – to play the game – to get their work into the hands of readers who want to read it. Knowing how the game is played and then playing the game well does that.

Ms. Marsh goes on to lay out a plan to deliver *good* books (in her estimation) by splitting a novel into segments that are released every 30 days. This is a brilliant strategy the uses the Amazon system to the author’s benefit. There is no need to qualify ‘good’ vs. ‘bad.’

The READER determines what is good or bad, not the author – and not the algorithms at Amazon nor the publishers in the ivory towers of the Big Four publishing houses.

I heartily recommend Ms. Marsh’s article because it lays out the information you’ll need to get your book in front of more readers’ eyes.

However, this should be only one arrow in your quiver of promotional tools. Remember – Amazon is a *destination* site. People go there because THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR. Impulse buys on Amazon are far less likely than in a bricks-and-mortar store like Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. People go to bookstores, newsstands, drug stores, and others without knowing precisely what book they want – if any.

But because the self-published author doesn’t have the advantage of in-store sales, we have to rely on self-promotion. And by self-promotion I mean social media and search advertising.

Learn the rules of the game. Then play the game well. The definition of a ‘good book’ is one that finds its reader. Make sure your book finds its home in the hands of the reader waiting for it.

Is Agile Writers a Good Value?

A nearby writer’s group is offering the following:

Category Local MFA Offering Agile Writers
Instructor: MFA Grad/Novelist Agile Writer Coach
Price $1,399 $160 ($5/week)
Entry Requirements 10-page sample None.
Start Date September 9, 2019 Any time you’re ready
Class Size Limit 10 students Limited by Space
Length of Program 39 weeks
(9 months)
32 weeks
(6 weeks Storyboarding + 26 weeks writing / critque)
Meeting Frequency 1-2x per month Every Week
Number of Mtgs 13 32
Time with Coach 30 minutes 6+ weeks Agile Storyboarding
Critique Style Individual Study Groups of 3 Critique Partners
Number of Critiques 2 (from teacher and peers) 32 (6 from Agile Coach on Storyboard, 26 from peers)
Total Hours In Class 13*3 = 39hrs 32*2 = 64hrs
Cost / Hour $1399/39hrs = $35.87/hr $160/64hrs = $2.5/hr

Agile Writer Ken Hubona Publishes First Novel “Brewing Justice”

Agile Writers’ Ken Hubona has published his debut novel, Brewing Justice. Ken came to Agile Writers in 2014 to convert a work-in-progress screenplay to a novel format. Since then Ken has been a constant presence at Agile Writers informing the method and contributing valuable inputs to our study of rewriting and critique.

Ken finished his first novel “Shades” (a semi-autobiographical story about fighter pilots in Viet Nam) and put it on the shelf to cool off. He then picked up with a new story he called simply “Bob.” Over time “Bob” developed into what Ken has now released as “Brewing Justice.”

Please share us in congratulating Ken Hubona on his achievement. And take a minute to go to Amazon.com and read the first few chapters for free:  https://www.amazon.com/Brewing-Justice-Ken-Hubona-ebook/dp/B07KSNGWTQ

Legal dynamo Bob Baldwin forges corporate mergers that reap millions for CEOs, investment bankers, and law firms. Meanwhile, rank-and-file workers watch their jobs disappear, families suffer, and communities crumble. Bob soothes his guilt with the balm of a grand salary and beautiful wife. But when an act of betrayal claims his woman, his income, and even his health, he learns the pain of an indifferent world and can no longer ignore the carnage of his work. In a defiant rage, he steals millions from the law firm and flees to start a new life in a remote village where the values of honesty, loyalty, and community still survive.

Despised by a tyrannical boss, deceived by a manipulative trophy wife, and pursued by a dogged but conflicted detective, Bob struggles to rebuild the town that corporate “right-sizing” has destroyed—before his ex-employer can track him down and exact revenge. As the hounds close in, Bob realizes that war is not won by hiding in the trenches. He must take the battle to the citadel.

Brewing Justice is a story of greed and betrayal, sacrifice and loss, and ultimately love and redemption. In the worst of times, we find the best in ourselves.

Ken Hubona has been a naval aviator, attorney, engineer, and bureaucrat. He lives and writes in suburban Richmond, Virginia. He can be contacted at KenHubona@comcast.net

 

Brewing Justice is available on Amazon at

https://www.amazon.com/Brewing-Justice-Ken-Hubona-ebook/dp/B07KSNGWTQ

Speaking at “Awesomize Your Life”

I just found out about Shawn Furey’sAwesomize Your Life” seminar next week (March 23rd, 2019) in Augusta, Maine. Shawn is a leader in the heroism science community and applies his special knowledge of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to help facilitate psycho-educational groups and provide one-on-one counseling to people in recovery from opioid addiction. He’s a true hero.

So, he asked me if the Agile Writer Method could be used in autobiography and memoir to help recovering addicts and others tell their stories. And I said yes, and many people at Agile Writers have done just that. The Hero’s Journey is superbly attuned to just such stories.

So, I signed up for Shawn’s conference and wouldn’t you know it? He asked me to speak. I’ll be presenting alongside other hero science luminaries as David Rendall, author of the book “The Freak Factor” and Dan & Carrie Chavanne who stopped a shooting at a Wal-mart in Augusta, Maine.

I’ll be talking about how we use the hero’s journey to write autobiography and memoir at the Agile Writer Workshop. I hope you’ll drop by Shawn’s web page to learn more and take a look at his Facebook group “The Hero Science Think Tank” where many people in the hero science community gather to share thoughts, opinions, and research on heroes and heroism.

 

 

https://success4.com/blog/the-hero-forge-shawn-fury/