Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mickie's Flash Film Files

  Installation No. 1 

The Erudite Marvel Cinema

Black Panther

The Women Protect The King
It was my birthday, and the film I chose to see was Black Panther. My daughter had been lobbying for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. I prevailed, stating that I wanted to be immersed in something brilliant and uplifting on my special day.

I wasn't disappointed. I knew Black Panther was going to be good. I just didn't expect it to rise above the hype.

In the beginning of the film we learn about the creation of a mythical land, home to several tribes living harmoniously under one ruler, and achieving unprecedented advances in science, medicine, and technology, using an indestructible alien substance found buried in its hills. Remarkably, the land is cleverly shrouded and protected from the rest of the world by a hologram.

We've seen such mystical places before: Shangri-la, Xanadu, Arcadia, Eden. We've followed book and film heroes search for El Dorado or The Ark of the Covenant. Stories created by Europeans seeking to possess the 'otherness' of an exotic culture, usually Asian, South American, or African. This time the land of milk and honey is Wakanda. Created by black people for black people.

In Africa. 

And the El Dorado is Vibranium. Wow, we got ourselves a black myth. Now that's extraordinary. 

In America.

Traditional myths, such as fairytales and action stories help children develop critical thinking, because they teach them to appreciate social norms and values. Black Panther teaches children of all races, the value of a black heritage.

The King is Dead. Long Live the King.

Who knew that Marvel and Disney would spend $200 million on a film directed by a young black man, Ryan Coogler, written by black men, Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, starring mostly black actors, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danal Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and filmed by a woman, Rachel Morrison?  But they did and the result shattered box office attendance records during the slowest month of the year. That was February. It's March now, and the film continues to strut past lifetime totals of other blockbusters. 


Black Panther is a film that blends layers of stories about the past and present with kaleidoscopic action, pairs humor with FX, and delivers gorgeous set designs and costumes filled with and worn by unforgettable characters. The framework is as old as the world: good versus evil. But the events and scenes are nuanced by references to slavery, stolen art, Jim Crowe, and the need to protect something valuable: the idea of Wakanda. Imagine how we would look back on history if, in 1921, the black residents of the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma could have concealed their economic ascendency with a hologram? If you're black and you own treasures, how do you stop others from stealing or destroying them?

Okay, but if you're so powerful that you lead the world in science and technology, why aren't you at the forefront trying to alleviate suffering for the poor and disenfranchised, for people who share your skin color and ancestry. Oh, yeah, Greenwood.
Peerless Supervillain

Ironically, or maybe not, it's the isolation itself that creates a vacuum for evil to challenge the status quo. So here's the down and dirty of the story:

When Black Panther, King T'Chaka, dies, his son ascends the throne after defeating the leader of the Jabari tribe, the only tribe that has refused to unite under Wakanda. Soon after, Eric Killmonger enters the scene challenging T'Chala's leadership. As a child he was orphaned due to a decision made by T'chala's father many years before. Killmonger hasn't forgotten, and he is angry, powerful, and relentless. He claims he wants to to empower the oppressed, all of the beleaguered people of the world with Vibranium tools so they can destroy their oppressors. But is he righteous?

T'Chala and Killmonger are perfect foils for one another. Each makes an impassioned argument for what he believes is the truth of Wakanda, and the correct mission for his people. What is even more interesting is how the female leaders, once loyal to T'chala, behave after Killmonger defeats him. (Or does he?) First, Nakia, a former lover, who takes on social justice assignments in the outside world, currently as a spy fighting on behalf of kidnapped Nigerian women. Next, Okoye, the general of the all-female special forces unit that protects the king. Even though both women loved and respected T'Chala when he was king, it is Nakia who leaves with his mother to avoid Killmonger's revenge and to fight for another kind of justice. Okoye stays because she wants to honor the tradition of Wakanda, regardless of the ruler and his ethic. Sound familiar?

Viewers will choose their own sides, and in their hearts will engage in a vicarious fight for a just cause. If the supervillain grabs your heart as much as the hero, well that's called three-dimensional writing. In the final scene, T'Challa says, "The wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers." Yup, another reference to the man in the house.  

Black Panther is an allegory for tradition and ancestral pride. It convinces us that the deep roots of a sustaining culture are also strong enough to embrace the social demands of a changing world. Even the special effects serve as disparate characters, or side kicks if you will, which demonstrate dichotomy and strength. Nothing in the film, including the FX, is extraneous. Everything is a set up for an ambitious pay off. I would see it again, because despite walking away in wonder, I know I missed a lot.

Something SAD.
Roxanne Gay, writer of the comic book series, Black Panther: World of Wakanda, was NOT invited to the Los Angeles premier earlier in January. She said that she is thrilled for the movie and sad that her work was not acknowledged. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Needle In The Ice

by Mickie Turk

March 2000
Agent Needle followed the path of bombed out buildings with a vigor she didn’t feel.  More than once she’d had to crush her shoulder into jagged masonry to avoid stepping on dead rats and broken glass. Dimmed by dust and ash, early morning light glinted on the brim of the skyline. Soft breezes blew in from the north and lifted the haze, separating the world into dirty, swaying curtains. As she marched, she pulled a wind collar over her mouth and tried not to inhale the vapors of burnt wood and the rot of animal carcasses. For the moment, the crease-faced militia patrolling the neighborhood and bearing high-powered assault rifles ignored her. She was one of Malik’s assets. No one ever hassled Malik’s assets.
            To the Americans she was a false flag pretending to be a turncoat CIA operative, feigning to share and sell secrets to the Chechens. Today she was bait and, unless her backup showed up in the next few minutes, she would be trapped or killed. She needed a
Malik’s armored truck stood only a few short blocks away. A mere thousand yards. Where was Stryker? Was she really going to die here, in the place journalists were calling the most destroyed city in the world? After six years of war, comparisons of Grozny to Hiroshima were numerous. Before panic picked her mind clean, the agent forced herself to recall Chechnya’s recent history.
In the first war, all of the moderate leaders were assassinated and forty percent of the citizenry fled. In the second Chechen war, Russians carpet-bombed any visible structures, once even a maternity ward. One hundred thousand people, both Chechens and Russians, had lost their lives. 
            She despised the fact that her own country had helped finance President Boris Yeltsin’s shitty war, but she couldn’t change the past. She was here to help restore order and nothing more. And she’d done her job well, getting Malik to trust her and to meet out in the open. The last of the most dangerous extremists was close to being vanquished.
So where was everyone?
            A civilian with arms bandaged in duct tape and covered from head to toe in grey ash, sprang from an alley and ran in front of her. The man looked like he’d spent the night in one of the charred structures. She stopped long enough for him to sidestep her.
Nine hundred yards. Eight hundred. Seven hundred.
She conjured up Stryker. A big, fit man who wore a mask. For years she’d wanted to see his face uncovered but never asked. During their secret missions together, he’d gained a reputation for arriving at the last minute to win the day. Something that shortened her life span considerably each time he did it, but before they’d always had a plan. This time was different. He not only failed to show up and help scout locations, Stryker never sent word whether he’d gotten in touch with the Americans. It’d been more than a week since they met in the mountain city, Urus Martan. She’d explained then that Malik was softening but it would be at least a few more days before she could get him to Grozny. If Stryker wasn’t in the loop, how could he know which day of the week Malik would arrive and where? Maybe Stryker was here already. But if that were the case, why was he playing games with her?
            Five hundred yards.
After a lifetime of viewing the world from the trenches, Stryker was arrogant with serious character flaws. She knew she couldn’t continue working with him, but she understood and forgave Stryker’s limitations. It was their handler, Devon Distiche that The Needle truly despised. Devon was a bad leader. From his comfortable perch in DC he called rank and instead of connecting the dots, mired his agents in unclear expectations. Unable to consider anyone’s viewpoint but his own, Devon valued intimidation over critical thinking and intellectual curiosity. He dismissed her concerns about Stryker and allowed the rogue-ass to do as he pleased. As long as Stryker brought in results, it didn’t matter to Devon who else got hurt.
            One hundred yards.
She wanted to slow down, slow down time, but she couldn’t. A move like that would cost her. Malik’s goons would know instantly she had a reason to be afraid.
Never show fear.
            Twenty-five yards.
Now’s the time masked man. Come save the damsel in distress and all’s forgiven.
Twenty feet.
You’re not coming.
            “Malik.” The name barely escaped her lips before the barrel of an assault rifle grazed her cheek. For someone who was trained not to blink in the face of danger, she never got the hang of controlling her impulses when faced with bullies. Agent Needle knocked the barrel flat against the ledge of the truck’s open window. He glared at her. She knew what he was thinking. He should shoot her. She hoped the anger she projected was sufficient to mask the terror she really felt.
            “Too much caffeine?’ Malik lowered the window all the way, withdrew his weapon, and sniffed the air. “I think it’s going to rain.”
Needle looked around her. Two of Malik’s men sat sideways on the hood of the truck; they looked bored but she wasn’t fooled. These soldiers always had flight and fight responses ready for go.  Across the street, a projectile had blown out the windows of the building. But the blast hadn’t been strong enough to melt the carbon steel infrastructure holding the three stories together. She rested her arm on the window ledge, pulling her jacket sleeve casually over a threadlike tattoo wrapped around her wrist.
“Now where would I get coffee,” she snarled. I’ve been walking for eighteen hours. Your thugs drove me fifty kilometers outside of the city and dropped me off in the middle of a field. You’re lucky I’m so dedicated, and that I thought ahead to stash the documents before leaving. Those assholes would have stolen them before they kicked me out. Don’t you know you can’t just hire somebody you dragged out of a sewer? Trust isn’t free, it’s earned.”
            Malik threw the door open and jumped out of the vehicle, breathing heavily. “You didn’t bring the blueprints? Is this what you’re telling me?”
            The Needle jerked back and put her arms up in mock surrender. “You would’ve had them by now, comrade, if only you’d let me photograph the files with my camera. But nooooo! You’d rather let your stubborn, backwater paranoia lose the war. I mean look at this place.” She pointed at each building on the boulevard as if tallying the destruction for an office report. “Do you really think you have a spitball’s chance in hell of winning by doing things the old fashioned way?”
            He slapped her. A signal to his men.
She tore off running before they could grab her. She’d earned her code name, Needle. Her ability to get in and out of places before anyone noticed her absence was legendary. Speed and endurance were also at the top of a long list of talents and skills.
Anticipating the first barrage of fire from Malik’s lieutenants, she dove behind a burnt-out car and then snaked her way inside the three-story edifice—a skeleton of what once had been a behemoth apartment building.
            Shouts erupted from both sides of the streets. Rebels as young as twelve years old emerged from other damaged buildings firing, adding to the artillery bedlam. Needle ran in and out of rooms jumping over rubble and bodies. She calculated at least three live ones were inside now chasing and shooting at her. She didn’t know whether to be more afraid of a bullet piercing a vital organ, or of one of the structural supports collapsing, allowing the contents of the second floor to bury her.
            The shots stopped. She knew that the weapons the rebels carried needed only seconds to reload. That was exactly how long it took her get out and begin scaling the apartment wall towards the roof. Normally, Needle wouldn’t attempt to climb a building without gear, but this structure with its broken concrete blocks and blown out windows, provided a plethora of foot and handholds.
            On the street below, the rebels moved frantically trying to get a bead on her. One man ran back in the direction of Malik’s vehicle, the second scurried off into another building. The third stood still shaking his head. By the time he looked up, she was already out of sight, running across rooftops.
It got too quiet. She couldn’t resist and crouched-crawled across the roof until she reached the parapet. She leaned over just in time to see a man sidle up to Malik’s vehicle. He opened the door, leaned in, and dragged out a body. Then a second and a third. Blood pooled onto the street. She strained to hear. When no sound reached her ears, she knew.
About time asshole. Stryker’s preferred weapon was a knife. Guns were too noisy for the tardy trooper.
Moments later when she noticed the faint rumbling of vehicles, Needle let out her breath. She felt more than heard them because everything around her was vibrating. Shit, this building really could collapse, she thought. She sprang to her feet and ran down to the second floor across rows of rooms and until she found an open window and jumped.
She was on the ground sprinting when she felt a large shadow pass over her. He’d waited for her but now was keeping up. Her resting heart, always a steady fifty-two beats a minute, hammered nails into her temples and blood rustled inside her skull. Stryker must have been here for days because he seemed to know the terrain as well as any sewer rat. Two blocks later, he steered her down an alley into an abandoned house. They waited. An idea formed in her head. There could be no forgiveness this time.
They struck out again. At the corner she spied the convoy. Stryker had already disappeared. So what. He’d discover what she was about to do soon enough.

A parade of Russian tanks and armored trucks filled with Russian militia, American military, and CIA personnel stormed the street. Needle walked up to the first tank. She watched as a gaunt, sixtyish man climbed out with agility, jumped to the ground, and took off his helmet. He eyed her warily as she pulled down her wind collar. A stranger looked back at her from a side-view mirror. Her face smudged with dirt and white ash, set off high cheekbones and wide-set hazel eyes in high relief. It was like staring at a zombie. Hadleigh pulled off her knit cap, letting down a shock of dark hair over her shoulders. That’s when she looked up at him.
            “You bastards took your sweet time. And your wonder boy nearly got me killed.”
            Devon shrugged and turned his cold eyes to the sky. “You’re alive.”
“You always take his side. Did you know that he waited until the last millisecond to show? I’m through being his date with death.”
Devon took a step towards her. “Stop whining. That’s his style. He’d never let you down.”
“I could kill him. Right now I could kill both of you,” Needle said.
Devon’s eyes darkened and his usual ramrod straight shoulders and back slackened slightly. “Get a grip.”
“I want a new partner.”
“Never. There’s never been anything like you two before. You’re not changing anything. You’re staying together; nothing else is possible.
The Needle moved towards Devon. She got close enough that he could feel her breath on his chin. “Spies like us have to trust each other. I’ve never seen his face. I’m not sure I would know his voice.”
Devon, she knew, was on the losing side of an age-old argument and would try a different tack. He said, “Pull yourself together and think about all the good you do.” He moved his short arms expansively. The remaining local citizens had left their hiding places and were shuffling onto the streets. They hugged and shook the hands of Russian and American soldiers. “In places like this.”
Needle looked away. “It doesn’t matter anymore. I know about your promotion and you’re taking me with you. Yeah. Know why? Because I just quit. Get me stateside. All the fixins’. You owe me that.” 
Two soldiers standing next to another tank turned away from the people talking to them in a language they did not understand and began walking towards them, their weapons lowered. She threw them dirty looks and kicked Devon in the shin. The soldiers continued to approach with caution, hands stiffening around their weapons.
The sounds of new rumbling forced everyone to stop and look around. A second convoy of military vehicles drove down the boulevard from the opposite direction. It could have been 1945 with the 5th Royal Tank Regiment advancing on Hamburg, but without the Germans blowing up parts of the autobahn. The lead vehicle stopped a few hundred feet from the intersection. Two American soldiers jumped out of the back followed by a large teddy bear of a man in his fifties. Brigadier General Stanley Weston walked up to Needle and gave her a big hug.
“Agent Needle, on behalf of my regiment, the United States of America, Mother Russia, the Chechen people, and my own mother, I thank you.”
She straightened. “General Weston. Sir. Just doing my job.”
Weston like Devon earlier, but with mammoth arms, made wide, sweeping gestures indicating the vastness of the street, of the city. “Well, doing your job kept my men from falling into an ambush. Not only that, these citizens can start putting their lives back together. The war is almost over.”
“Thank you General, sir.” Devon motioned to the two soldiers standing next to her and they stepped back.
Weston’s eyes sparkled with mirth as he eyed her. “I didn’t realize that the famous agent known as Needle was such an itty bitty . . . gal.”
Needle slid a satisfied look at Devon. His face revealed nothing.
“Of course, my gratitude extends to your partner Stryker, as well. He had some trouble, but in the end was able to get us your Intel in time. Where is he anyway?” For the first time, Weston looked dubious.
            “Can’t say sir. He doesn’t like to stick around.”
Weston looked up and down the streets. He raised his eyebrows.
“I’m looking forward to working together again in the future, agent Needle.”
“Why General, sir, haven’t you heard? Devon just offered me a job at Langley, and I accepted. I start next month.”
“Well, you old coot,” he said nodding to Devon. “Nothing but the best for your new department, I expect.” Turning to Needle, Weston offered his elbow. “Ma’am, would you like to ride up front with me?”
“I would consider that an honor,” she said and took his arm. As she walked toward the armored vehicle she turned one last time to look back, down the street and up into the windows of the dismal, empty buildings.
At the passenger door, Weston watched as she climbed in. He looked concerned when he asked, “Are you sure you’re making the right decision? You two made a hell of a team, if I may say so myself.”
“Thank you sir. Very sure. I’m just glad it’s over.”
Was it really over? Which part? Needle’s adoptive mother, Solveig, flashed before her eyes as she always did when she found herself not only alive, but also intact after a mission.

What if things had gone differently and Solveig never got to see her again? What if she’d died and Solveig found out? What would the woman do? Certainly not react in a conventional manner. Not grieve like other mothers—crying into the long night, bemoaning what could have been. Solveig would feel something—maybe loss—but it would be packaged differently. It might show up like a simple distraction of thought. Solveig was normally steely focused—if she couldn’t concentrate she might think about Hadleigh then, or the fact that Hadleigh was no more. Or it might take on the beat-beat flap-flap of a moth’s wings as they crashed into the light; Solveig might feel that strange sensation in her hands or in her feet. Maybe deep in her throat. Whatever form it took, ironically, Solveig would be at a loss to understand the fresh presence of a new sensation. It made Hadleigh sad to think that Solveig would have no one to soften the strangeness. If her daughter died suddenly and alone, far away in a war torn country.  

Above the street, in the corner of a tall, broken down house, Stryker’s hands shook as he pulled off his balaclava and mopped his forehead. From the cracked window he silently recited the words he’d heard during the heated argument between Devon and the Needle, and later, her conversation with Weston. He’d always known that the day would come when he’d have to pay for what he made her go through. Even though he couldn’t help how he did things. But it never once occurred to him that Needle had it in her to quit the spy game. The idea of never working together again, never being able to see that face again, was unimaginable. And yet . . .
He watched the Needle and General Weston each get into the truck, and when the driver finally pulled them out of view, Stryker turned around and leaned into the wall. Guns, knives, bombs, wars—none of these things scared him as much as the loss of the one person that defined his being, gave meaning to his life, and filled him with the hope that one day he’d become a better person.

“This isn’t over. Not between us.”

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mystery Writers Speakers Bureau

Join us Saturday, December 5 at 11 am to hear writers
Mickie Turk, Monica Ferris, John Sandfraud, Carl Brookins, and Susan Runholt for
Mystery Writers Speakers Bureau: Murder, Mayhem, and Mystery and Why Crime Writers Sleep So Well At Night.
They will discuss writing crime fiction, publishing, promotion and other aspects of author careers.
PicturePicturePicturePicturePicture  Carl Brookins is a crime fiction writer and reviewer. He writes three mystery seriesa sailing series (“Red Sky”) an academic series (“Reunion”) and a private investigator series (“The Case of The Yellow Diamond”). His website is He has reviewed mystery fiction for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press and for Mystery Scene Magazine and his reviews appear on his web site, on several blogs, and on various Internet review sites.
Susan Runholt is the author of the Kari and Lucas mysteries for middle grade readers, published by Viking. Critics have called the series "Nancy Drew books for the 20th century." She was named runner-up for the Debut Dagger Award by the Crime Writers' Association of Great Britain for THE MYSTERY OF THE THIRD LUCRETIA. In 2008 the book was named among the Top 10 Crime Fiction for Youth by Booklist; in May 2015 it was included among Booklist's lineup of the 100 Best Children's and YA Mysteries of the Past 10 Years. The second and third series titles, RESCUING SENECA CRANE and ADVENTURE AT SIMBA HILL, were published in 2009 in 2011 respectively. She is currently working on a fourth Kari and Lucas book, this one set in Venice at Carnival. A Minnesota native, Susan lives in Saint Paul with her dog, Piper.

Now writing as Monica Ferris, Mary Monica Pulver sold her first short story to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 1983.  Her first novel, Murder at the War, appeared from St. Martin's Press in 1987. Four in that series followed.  In 1992, the first of six medieval Tales, written in collaboration with Gail Frazer as Margaret Frazer, appeared, and was nominated for an Edgar.  In 1998, writing as Monica Ferris, she began writing a new series for Berkley featuring a needleworking sleuth named Betsy Devonshire.  The first was called Crewel World, the nineteenth is Darned If You Do.  She is working on Knit Your Own Murder.

 Mickie Turk has worked independently and commercially in photography, journalism, and film. She wrote, directed, and produced both short and feature-length narratives and documentaries. Her travels to Cuba produced a film on the religion Santeria and Havana Nights, a locally screened shorts film festival. Early educational and employment experiences included adult mental health services and juvenile community corrections. Mickie has written novels, screenplays, and a variety of short stories and memoirs. Most recently, she is an editor of the anthology, Festival of Crime
Karl W. Jorgenson is a non-practicing attorney and author. He is currently finishing a thriller. Under the pen name ‘John Sandfraud’, he published the satirical and humorous Fifty Shades of Prey. In his spare time he reads mysteries, thrillers, and history. 

​Flow Art Space is located in the Northern Warehouse in Lowertown at 308 Prince St., Suite 226 St Paul MN, 55101. Entry to the gallery is free. Metered street parking is free in the evenings and paid parking lots surround the building and are an easy 1- block walk. A passenger elevator is available.
Abstract Prints from Pamela Carberry and Mark D. Klotz is the exhibition on view during this author event. Twin Cities artists Pamela Carberry (printmaking) and Mark D. Klotz (photography) are featured. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

by Eve Thomas

Eve Thomas wrote a compelling, creepy good, long/short story. You can find it in an online contest. Click below, enjoy the story and help her win.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blessed Are The Dead

New Suspense Thriller by Kristi Belcamino

Check out Belcamino's Bay Area suspense thriller. 

You will not be able to put it down.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Minnesota Author 

Shines in Libary Journal Review

Library Journal review praised THE LIFE WE BURY as being a "well-crafted debut novel...with layers of suppressed memories and emotions." "Looking forward to more from this Minnesotan author."
Photo: Library Journal review praised THE LIFE WE BURY as being a "well-crafted debut novel...with layers of suppressed memories and emotions." "Looking forward to more from this Minnesotan author."

Friday, September 5, 2014


I'm SO excited to announce that “Festival of Crime” will be launched on Sept. 11 at Once Upon A Crime bookstore in Mpls. at 7:00. It’s the first anthology from Twin Cities Sisters in Crime. My story “Best of the Fest" was mentioned by Publishers Weekly. I was also one of the editors on this project. Most of the authors will be present to do signings. I would love to see my friends and family at this event!!

“…Most of the tales in this surprisingly diverse collection are about bad girls—cool, cunning, courageous, caring, sentimental, sly, sexy, wicked, and eye-poppingly bad girls. Story after story is a revelation, filled with devious characters, perfect twists, and writing that’s sure to rough you up a little.”
 ---David Housewright, Edgar Award winning author of the Last Kind Word