DAILY ART FIX: New Painting “A Ghost from a Wishing Well” — THE REMODERN REVIEW

Richard Bledsoe “A Ghost from a Wishing Well” acrylic on canvas 16″ x 12″ Since my youth I’ve been haunted by a mysterious and beautiful song. I put those feelings onto a canvas. ************** RICHARD BLEDSOE is a visual story teller; a painter of fables and parables. He received his BFA in Painting from Virginia […]

DAILY ART FIX: New Painting “A Ghost from a Wishing Well” — THE REMODERN REVIEW

GHISLAINE MAXWELL: EPSTEIN’S SHADOW. (2021) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


GHISLAINE MAXWELL: EPSTEIN’S SHADOW. (2021) A 3-PART DOCUMENTARY SERIES DIRECTED BY BARBARA SHEARER.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. This story has it all. Tragic beginnings in Hitler’s Holocaust, two ridiculously wealthy and powerful self-made men dying in questionable circumstances, and the dramatic fall from grace of the beautiful, well-connected socialite who had been the right-hand woman to each of the two. I was glued to this utterly gripping ‘true crime’ documentary from start to finish.

Ghislaine Maxwell, now aged 59, is the woman in question. Her father, Robert Maxwell, most of whose family died in Auschwitz, was a sort of real-life Citizen Kane, a newspaper/publishing magnate who didn’t get to where he was in life by being a pushover. A polite way of saying that he completely lacked a working moral compass, according to some of the people who’d known him.

Ghislaine, the youngest of his nine children, was his pet, his princess, and, in later years, his social ambassador and the woman he preferred over his wife Betty to have on his arm at social functions.

Betty was, seemingly, a rather nondescript wife and mother who never stepped in to protect her children from their notoriously bullying father’s wrath. But no matter, Ghislaine was his everything, and he was hers.

Ghislaine, we’re told, lived the high life during her father’s ‘reign’ in a way we peasants couldn’t even begin to imagine. ‘Champagne lifestyle’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. Luxury yachts, private jets, holidays all over the world, clothes, jewellery, an address book stuffed with rich and powerful connections, you name it, she had it.

That particular era of her life came to an end when her almost universally loathed father was mysteriously found dead, floating in the Atlantic ocean near his yacht, the ‘Lady Ghislaine,’ in November of 1991.

Much is made in the documentary of the fact that when Ghislaine arrived at the yacht after the news of the death broke, she immediately started ‘shredding documents,’ supposedly related to Daddy’s ‘shady’ business dealings…

Maxwell’s publishing empire collapsed after his death. His name was utterly disgraced and blackened when it was discovered that he’d stolen millions of pounds from his own company’s pension funds to save himself from bankruptcy.

In the documentary, Ghislaine, a proper Daddy’s Girl if ever there was one, looks visibly shaken at his funeral in Jerusalem, but don’t worry, folks, she doesn’t remain down in the mouth for long.

She goes to live in New York and re-invents herself there, with the money from her trust fund (eighty grand a year), as a glittering socialite. Not exactly a huge leap for the woman of whom it is said in the film that, when she was greeting and air-kissing you at a party, she’d be busy looking over your shoulder for someone richer, more powerful, more influential than you. Nice lady, huh?

She hooked up with dodgy financier Jeffrey Epstein around this time. Some people maintain that she’d known him since the late ‘80s when she was introduced to him by her father in London, while most people seem to think she met him in the early ‘90s in America. It probably doesn’t really matter when she met him. What matters is what they became to each other…

Ghislaine quickly became a number of things to Epstein. Varying reports describe her as being everything from his Girl Friday, housekeeper and administrative assistant to his glamorous girlfriend, his entrée to social circles he might otherwise have been denied and his sort-of-wife.

He’s described her himself, rather unflatteringly, I think, as his ‘best friend,’ and, knowing what we now know about Epstein’s predilections for sex with teenage girls as young as fourteen, I’m not even convinced that they had a proper man-woman sexual relationship. He mightn’t have even been capable of such a thing.

It seems to be generally accepted now that Ghislaine procured underage girls for sex with Epstein and a ‘ring’ of his rich, powerful male friends. The private plane that flew girls to his idyllic island hideaway, nicknamed ‘Paedophile Island,’ was itself dubbed ‘the Lolita Express’ by the local Virgin Islanders.

Jeffrey had an insatiable sexual appetite, it seems, and at least three young girls a day were required to give him the infamous ‘massages’ that ended in sex, or in his ‘pleasuring’ himself in their presence. Eeuw, seriously.

When the girls left his fabulous 71st Street Manhattan apartment in tears, Ghislaine would explain to their ‘door-lady’ Maria Farmer, herself a victim of the pair, that they’d failed an audition to model for Victoria’s Secret, a company with which Jeffrey was connected through his billionaire mentor, Leslie Wexner.

It’s mentioned in the documentary that Ghislaine often had to hang around school gates in order to recruit these girls. She apparently targeted girls who didn’t look ‘rich,’ because rich girls had nannies and au pairs and were picked up by chauffeurs and had people who checked up on them and what-have-you. Poor or working-class girls, not so much.

This fact is extremely significant. If these girls had been rich or connected, the authorities might have worked a little harder to put Jeffrey Epstein behind bars when reports of assaults and sexual irregularities began to trickle through to them. Maria Farmer, an artist, is extremely articulate, presentable and likeable, and, in the film, her frustration with law enforcement comes through loud and clear.

Money talks, and we all know it. Money is what ‘saved’ Jeffrey Epstein from the worst effects of the first tranche of allegations against him in the ‘Noughties. It didn’t save him, however, from a lonely ‘suicide by hanging’ in a prison cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in August, 2019. There are reasons to suggest he died under questionable circumstances, but we, the reading public, are unlikely to ever be privy to the real truth.

Ghislaine languishes now in a Brooklyn prison cell, awaiting trial on charges relating to the sex trafficking of minors. The trial is set for this November and she’s denying all the charges. Her lawyers will probably try to use an immunity-for-Ghislaine clause in the Jeffrey Epstein ‘sweetheart deal’ of the late ‘Noughties to get her off.

Failing that, they’ll probably claim that she was as much a victim of Epstein’s depravity as the girls he raped. That would be so hard for the victims to bear. I feel sure they’re dreading the prospect of Ghislaine slithering off the hook like, in a way, Jeffrey Epstein did, by utilising the ultimate cop-out of suicide.

The film makes much of the fact that Ghislaine went from the arms of one uber-powerful alpha male, i.e., her dad, to another such man, Jeffrey Epstein. Does the fact that this is the kind of man she gravitates to excuse her behaviour? I doubt if the victims would think so, but it’s almost a certainty that her lawyers will bring this up at trial and try to make it count for something.

Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew are all pictured with Ghislaine and Jeffrey in the documentary, in the photos we’ve come to know so well by now. After the photo of him with the underaged Virginia Roberts Giuffre went public around the world, Prince Andrew tried to rescue his reputation in that disastrous television interview of late 2019, but even Lady Victoria Hervey, one of Ghislaine’s former friends, thinks he’d have been better off keeping his trap shut.

So, what will happen to Daddy’s Little Princess, who once said of the victims, ‘These girls, they’re nothing,’ in her trial of November, 2021? How will the story of Ghislaine Maxwell eventually pan out? Will there even be a trial?

Will her lawyers get her off on a technicality, or through a spectacular loophole that we haven’t even thought of yet? Will justice be done, or will money kick justice’s arse yet again? One thing’s for sure. We’ll all be watching…  

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

SPACED. (1999-2001) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


SPACED. (1999-2001) DIRECTED BY EDGAR WRIGHT. CREATED AND DIRECTED BY SIMON PEGG AND JESSICA STEVENSON. STARRING SIMON PEGG, JESSICA STEVENSON, NICK FROST, MARK HEAP, KATY CARMICHAEL AND JULIA DEAKIN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a very British sitcom, of both the satirical and surreal kind, about a group of twenty-somethings who have watched a huge amount of television and films and played an enormous number of computer games in their time. Ditto their creators. It’s only just come to my attention, twenty-odd years after its conception, and I’m glad it has.

I really enjoyed it and found it entertaining, except where they were basing storylines on things I hadn’t personally watched and didn’t care for, like ROBOT WARS. Also, believe it or not, I don’t much dig the whole STAR WARS franchise, although I did laugh at the bits where Simon Pegg’s character had been traumatised by the ‘90s trilogy of prequels, was it, that kicked off with THE PHANTOM MENACE. I know a lot of die-hard fans had trouble accepting Jar Jar Binks into the STAR WARS family.

Oh, and I hated the bits of SPACED that were all about guns and paintballing and masculine pursuits like that, although I loved the character of Mike, who’s in the Territorial Army and positively lives for guns and tanks and military manoeuvres and such-like. But let’s go back and start at the beginning, shall we? I’ve heard that that’s a very good place to start…

Simon Pegg (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, WORLD’S END, PAUL) plays Tim Bisley, an occasionally unemployed graphic artist who works in Bilbo Baggins’s comic book shop. Bilbo is played by Bill Bailey, by the way, the co-star, along with Dylan Moran, of the superb BLACK BOOKS which came along shortly after SPACED.

Tim is very boyish-looking and even more boyish in manner. All he really wants to do is go on the Play-station with Mike, his best buddy who’s in the TA’s, and simulate battles with him, whether on the computer or physically, on and around the couch.

Mike is played by Nick Frost, by the way, Pegg’s partner in the Cornetto trilogy of movies, and he- Mike- once stole a tank while in the TA’s and tried to, ahem, invade Paris. Yes, I said Paris, and, no, I don’t know why…

Tim puts Mike and their comic-book-and-movie-related conversations and re-enactments ahead of anyone or anything else in his life, and yet he’s still surprised when his girlfriend Sarah dumps him for his supposed friend, Duane Benzie. Duane is a real man, as opposed to Tim’s very obviously still-a-boy-and-likely-to-remain-so-unless-he-gets-some-kind-of-rude-awakening persona.

Maybe Sarah doesn’t want a boyfriend who takes recreational drugs until he hallucinates and puts skateboarding and science fiction conventions ahead of her in the pecking order. I can’t say I blame her. There comes a point in every woman’s life when she needs a man, a real man, and not a lad who wants to make a working robot to impress his mates more than he wants to be with you

Daisy Steiner, played by comic genius Jessica Stevenson (THE ROYLE FAMILY, BLACK BOOKS), is an unemployed wanna-be writer living in a squat when she meets Tim by chance in a café. Tim is homeless now too after being dumped by Sarah, so the two of them, Tim and Daisy, decide to get a flat together, which would solve their immediate housing problems.

They end up pretending to be a ‘professional couple’ in order to rent a flat owned by their new landlady, Marsha Klein, a game old gal who’s got two ex-husbands and a bit of a wild past life under her belt. She hasn’t too much to do these days and so takes a keen motherly interest in the lives of her tenants.

Marsha has a bolshy teenage daughter called Amber whom we never properly meet, and she’s (Marsha) a chain-smoking alcoholic who’s almost certainly had sexual relations with Brian, her younger lodger; he’s a conceptual artist who specialises in painting his own angst, lol, and possesses very little in the way of social skills.

Marsha is probably my favourite character, next to Daisy. She’s been there and done that- just ask Mick Jagger and the lads!- and wouldn’t mind finding a little love again before she’s tossed unceremoniously onto the romantic scrapheap, as happens to us all at some stage. Could love in fact be right under her nose, in the form of a certain Mike…?

Daisy and Tim quickly settle into their new surroundings. They get an adorable Scottie dog called Colin, Mike is round all the time calling for his soulmate Tim to come out and play, and Daisy’s shallow fashion victim bezzie mate Twist falls for Brian, much to poor Marsha’s distress.

Tim gets fired from his job at the comic book store for refusing to accept THE PHANTOM MENACE into the STAR WARS franchise, and Daisy also becomes unemployed after writing a few pieces for magazines. She wants to be a writer, but she can’t seem to just get her arse in that chair in front of that typewriter (typewriter???) and bloody well write something.

I feel her pain, lol. I’ve hardly typed a word myself since this wretched heatwave began. Any excuse to bunk off. First it was the pandemic, then it was the American presidential election, now it’s the ruddy heat, haha. What will it be next? Global warming…? Could be, could be…

Tim gets a new girlfriend called Sophie, but, typical bloke that he is, he fails to notice the feelings that Daisy clearly has for him, bubbling away just under the surface of her bright ‘n’ breezy exterior.

Will he see what’s so obviously right under his nose, or will he blow it and just stand by and watch Daisy as she slouches sadly off to Colwyn Bay to a job she doesn’t want, because she thinks there’s no future for her at the house in Meteor Street…?

The series is bursting with references to films and popular culture, everything from PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK to THE SHINING, from THE ROYLE FAMILY to TRAINSPOTTING, from THE MATRIX to, of course, the much-mentioned STAR WARS and all its bright shiny constellations, including THE PHANTOM MENACE and the despised Jar Jar Binks, lol. Some references I didn’t get because I’m not a bloke who spends his life playing computer games or reading graphic novels, but the ones I got I loved.

The familiar faces you might recognise popping up as one-off characters include Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith from THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN, Ricky Gervais, David Walliams, Bill Bailey- him that won STRICTLY COME DANCING in 2020!- Kevin Eldon and, of course, Peter Serafinowicz as the deliciously deeply-voiced Duane Benzie. Remember when he talked Fran to orgasm in BLACK BOOKS once? He’s one of those blokes about whom it is said that they could recite the phone book and birds would find it sexy…

SPACED is a lovely warm nostalgic comedy with some very clever writing from two people who clearly love films and the horror genre, and, quite honestly, it livened up an exceptionally dull week in this rather confusing post-Covid (or, are we post-Covid yet?) world we’re inhabiting at the moment.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m taking my entertainment where I can get it these days. Every day could be your flamin’ last. So head off to Meteor Street and see who’s about. At the very least, there’ll be a bottle of something cold and wet standing open…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

CRAWL. (2019) A TERRIFIC CREATURE FEATURE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CRAWL. (2019) DIRECTED BY ALEXANDRE AJA. WRITTEN BY MICHAEL RASMUSSEN AND SHAWN RASMUSSEN. CO-PRODUCED BY SAM ‘THE EVIL DEAD TRILOGY’ RAIMI.

STARRING KAYA SCODELARIO AND BARRY PEPPER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. Note to self. Never, ever go to Florida, for any reason. Florida has two things I can well do without in my life: Category 5 hurricanes and giant alligators. The movie CRAWL contains both these elements. It’s a film about a young woman called Hayley Keller, her injured father Dave and their adorable bow-wow, Sugar, who are all trapped in the crawl space of their house during a hurricane.

Thanks to the hurricane, their town’s levees have burst their banks and the town is flooded. Ergo, the crawl space in question is rapidly filling up with water. They might have known this would happen; their town is rather tellingly called ‘Coral Lake.’ Coral Lake, people? Lake equals water equals flooding in a hurricane equals, well, drowning.

What makes Hayley and Dave’s situation even worse- trust me, it can get worse- is the fact that their crawl space is also rather swiftly filling up with giant alligators, nature’s most amphibious predators.

I mean, sharks are scary but you’re not likely to meet one in the Walmart car-park, are you, whereas alligators… You see what I mean? Stay the hell out of the water and JAWS won’t get you. (Yes, I call the shark Jaws, lol; do your worst, JAWS purists!) But alligators are a double threat.

Things Hayley and Dave have going against them: the hurricane, the flooding, the giant alligators, Dave’s injury, the fact that the giant ‘gators have broken Hayley’s phone, the little blighters, and eaten the one person who might actually have helped/saved them. The peril/danger/tension has been ratcheted up to the highest level, pretty much.

Things in Hayley and Dave’s favour: Hayley is a superb swimmer, the ‘apex predator,’ whatever that is, of the school swim team. Also, Hayley is courageous to the max and as resourceful as MacGyver trapped in a pressure cooker with only a woman’s brassiere and a stick of gum about his person to help him find a way out of his predicament.

Hayley is gritty and determined. She’s going to get her old man out of the crawl space and away from the giant ‘gators if it costs her every limb on her body and, judging by the way the ‘gators are snapping and chomping on her like she’s the piece de resistance at the buffet table, it just might come to that.

Also, she and Daddy have been somewhat estranged since Daddy broke up with Mummy- it’s not really either of their faults; sometimes this shit just happens- and she’s not going to let him die before she’s had a chance to properly thrash out her unresolved feelings of guilt and anger towards him. Can she save both her father and their troubled relationship…?  

The alligator action is superb and consistent. Unlike in JAWS, where you only catch glimpses of the shark before the grand finale, there’s no shortage of toothsome action, which I like.

CRAWL will deservedly take its place amongst other terrific croc-and-shark creature features such as ROGUE (2007), BLACK WATER (2007), 47 METERS DOWN (2017) and BAIT (2012), DINO CROC AND SUPER GATOR (2010), THE REEF (2010), OPEN WATER (2003) and OPEN WATER 2: ADRIFT (2006).

The addition of dozey looters Marv, Stan and Lee (geddit???) is a nice touch and, of course, the movie is co-produced by Sam ‘EVIL DEAD’ Raimi. Kaya Scodelario is an excellent actress and she has no trouble at all carrying off her leading role with grit and panache.

It’s been suggested by some that the climate change element of the film is more troubling than the alligator storyline. Given what’s happening in Europe at the moment with the flash floods that have actually destroyed homes and taken lives, and the unaccustomed heat here in Dublin, Ireland that has me confined to the chaise-longue all day, one could well believe it. But, credit where credit’s due, the giant ‘gators steal the day.  

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Thirteen Stops – Sandra Harris

Eatwell Reads-Well

Before I even started reading this book, I was really taken with the concept of examining the lives of different people along the route of the Dublin tram. It felt like an admonishing reminder to us all, that we have developed into a people that often live our life by rote, with little thought about what we are doing and even less thought for those around us.

I tried to feel sympathetic for Laura at stop 1, although it seemed to me as though she was in a classic no-win situation that was destined to end in tears – her tears. It is of course all too easy to make that assumption from outside of the relationship. Ultimately I think I did feel for Laura, perhaps more sadness at her naivety, than anything else; I also felt sad at the ‘chip’ that she seemed to have on her shoulder with…

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Thirteen Stops by Sandra Harris – Blog Tour

Herding Cats

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this tour and to Sandra Harris for a copy of this novel in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.

Synopsis

There are thirteen Luas stops between Sandyford and St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin and vice versa. The passengers all hunker down, folded tightly into themselves, eyes fixed on their phones, interminably scrolling, terrified of connecting with each other. Except . . . Except, who’s that good-looking guy in the long dark coat who’s eyeing up selfie queen Laura? Could he end up as one of her terrible choices? Hang on, isn’t he the same guy who was ogling glamorous working-mum-with-a-secret Maroon before? And why is Jamie over there telling his life story to a complete stranger? What’s Fauve hiding in her handbag? It must be the crown jewels or an unexploded bomb at the very least, the way she’s…

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💡 Spotlight of Thirteen Stops by Sandra Harris

Books Lattes & Tiaras

About the book:

There are thirteen Luas stops between Sandyford and St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin and vice versa. The passengers all hunker down, folded tightly into themselves, eyes fixed on their phones, interminably scrolling, terrified of connecting with each other. Except . . . Except, who’s that good looking guy in the long dark coat who’s eyeing up selfie queen Laura? Could he end up as one of her terrible choices? Hang on, isn’t he the same guy who was ogling glamorous working-mum-with-a secret Maroon before? And why is Jamie over there telling his life story to a complete stranger? What’s Fauve hiding in her handbag? It must be the crown jewels or an unexploded bomb at the very least, the way she’s hugging it so tightly to herself. And why does Becks from two seats down look out the window so anxiously? Is she worried that Barry could…

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