Don’t Miss Jack Goes Home

Thomas Dekker’s new delightfully creepy psychological thriller, Jack Goes Home, is an intriguing dive into a young man’s overwhelming grief. It was a favorite at the 2016 SXSW and is being released today, October 14, 2016, to selected theaters, and on Video On Demand and iTunes. Don’t miss this one. Here’s a link to the trailer via iHorrorTV.


Dekker has learned his craft well and mastered the art of storytelling. Watching this film is like crossing a stream and trying to keep your feet dry by stepping on the rocks. When you get to the rapids, it’s impossible to keep from getting swallowed whole and being completely immersed in the horror in Jack’s mind. You lose track of which way is up, and what is real and what is not.

As the film begins, Jack Thurlowe (Rory Culkin) is at work. He seems normal, if a bit eccentric and acerbic, and we find he and his fiancée are expecting a child. After his parents are involved in a horrific car accident, Jack is forced to return to his childhood home. Being there stirs up memories, real or imaged, in Jack’s mind.


Jack’s mother, Teresa—played impeccably by Lin Shaye, queen of the horror genre—vacillates between nurturing and terrorizing. I found myself wondering how much of his mother was real and how much a projection of Jack. And what really happened up in that creepy attic.

The one thing that seems real throughout the story is Jack’s best friend, Shanda (Daveigh Chase), a large rock for Jack to cling to when the turbulence in his mind threatens to overcome him.


Dekker shows a keen ability to get his actors to create believable characters in an horrifying story. Culkin was mesmerizing as Jack, sometimes vulnerable, sometimes stoic, sometimes chaotic. His life-long career as an actor—he’s been acting since he was three—shows in the maturity he brought to this role. When the director needed her to oscillate between a loving, caring mother and a vicious, vindictive villain, Shaye was able to do this with ease. Chase captured well the concern of a friend trying to hold Jack in the real world throughout his rejections and violent attacks. Louis Hunter gave a sinister quality to the horny boy next door, Duncan, making me question his motivations.


Jack’s demons were reminiscent of the ones in The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014), Tale of Two Sisters (Kim Jee-woon, 2004), and Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2004). The element of a traumatized mind trying to make sense of nightmarish events is there in all of these.

The lovely and peaceful setting in Kingston, New York, provided a stark contrast to the turmoil in Jack’s mind. The outdoor cinematography, by Austin F. Schmidt, was very impactful—making Jack look small and insignificant as he enters the enormous family home, and later, at the funeral. The score, by Ceiri Torjessun, added ample creepiness and tension—even the soft, lyrical numbers had edgy undertones. It’s available on iTunes.

Dekker invested a lot of himself in this story. He, too, was a victim of child abuse, and has had to deal with the grief of losing his own father as a young man. Life experiences like these help a writer find real emotions to portray. I recognized my own reactions to people around me trying to make sure I was all right after the death of my husband—their awkwardness, my reassurances, were all there in Jack’s interactions with the people he encounters.


I’m very impressed with Thomas Dekker. Like Culkin, he’s been acting since he was a young child. He’s worked with the likes of John Carpenter (Village of the Damned, 1995), Gregg Araki (Kaboom, 2010) and Robert Hall (Fear Clinic, 2015), all of whose influences are seen in Jack Goes Home. Dekker wrote and directed his first film, Whore (2008), at the tender age of nineteen and has also released two music albums.

Jack Goes Home was produced by Yale Productions and SSS Entertainment in association with Isle Empire Pictures, and distributed in the US by Momentum Pictures.

Dekker and Culkin worked together again this year on Welcome to Willits (Trevor and Tim Ryan), which will be out in 2017. It’s nice to see these young men continuing to create creepy horror films.

Photo credits: Jack Goes Home

Copyright ©2014-16 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

Posted in Horror, Independent films, Indie Film, Thomas Dekker | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Boy with the Broken Zipper

It’s been a year since I wrote this short fictional story. I wrote it after meeting the boy in the story. It was a cold October night in 2015. I was helping a charity collect clothing and sleeping bags to distribute to youth shelters.

As I sat on the bumper of big old Ford pickup at the corner of Pike and Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, feeling as out of place as the truck, a boy approached. He couldn’t have been older than twelve or thirteen—I’m short and he was smaller than me. He was looking for a sleeping bag. The shelter where he normally stayed—PSKS, which has been open seven nights a week only since December—was closed for the weekend.

Here’s the story:


The young teen stopped and peered through the large glass window at the people eating inside. It looked warm in there. As two people left, a waft of air followed them, bringing the smells of the food out to the empty sidewalk. His stomach growled.

Tonight was the first night he was really cold, and he wasn’t sure where he would sleep. The shelter where he stayed most nights was closed on Fridays and Saturdays—not enough funding to keep it open every night. The boy moved on, stuffing his hands deeper into his pockets and holding the jacket together at the bottom where the zipper had broken.

Coming around a corner at Pike and Broadway, he saw a big Ford pickup truck with a couple of people sitting on the open tailgate. Banners hanging from the truck said something about clothing for youth shelters. The boy went closer, looking in the back where there were garbage bags bursting with clothing, hoping someone would offer him a hat or maybe even a blanket.

“What are you doing?” he asked the older, grey-haired woman. She seemed nice, smiling and looking him right in the eye.

“Collecting clothing for youth shelters.”

“Which shelters?”

After she listed several, he responded, “Oh, PSKS! That’s where I stay. But it’s closed tonight. Do you know if Value Village is still open? I want to try to get a sleeping bag.”

“I don’t think so,” she replied, “It’s pretty late.”

“I’m not sure where I’m staying tonight,” the boy continued, rapid-fire, “The place where my friends and I usually stay—the guy is out of town this weekend. And tonight we might stay with another guy, but he doesn’t get off work until ten or eleven. If we stay there, I’ll be sleeping on a hardwood floor with no blanket.”

The woman looked at him with concern, but seemed at a loss for words.

Smiling, the boy turned and left her.

After crossing the street, he headed up to Cal Anderson Park to see if he could find Joe and Timmy. Maybe they’d had better luck finding blankets.

One of the crazy homeless men tried to stop him, “Hey, kid. You got any money? Give it to me!”

The boy ran across the street to where there were more people—normal people—on the sidewalk. No one paid attention to him, or even looked at him. He felt invisible as he wove his way through the crowd. Breaking through them at the end of the street, he waited for the light. Didn’t want the attention of a cop hassling him about jaywalking.

As soon as the light changed, he dashed into the street, zigzagging along the rainbow crosswalk. He remembered a song about ‘somewhere over the rainbow’, but he didn’t think this was the one it was about. This one just led him to more junkies and garbage and hustlers—more things to avoid.

Finally, he made it to the park. The bright lights in the courts, where older boys on bicycles were playing polo, lighted a lot of the rest of the park. He skirted the edge, near the trees and shrubs, going down a ways before peering around cautiously, then slipped through a small opening into the bushes. Timmy was there, but no Joe.

Crawling into the small, cleared area inside the shrubs, he sat close to Timmy on the cold ground. “Where’s Joe?”

The other boy looked away.


Timmy nodded.

“Well, he won’t find us here.”

Photo credit:

Copyright ©2014-16 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

Posted in Homeless Youth, Homelessness | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Four Years Gone

Today is the anniversary of the death of my husband, Shinko Mondori. If you’ve read some of my earlier writings, you know he died from pancreatic cancer, which is one of those cancers that is a death sentence. He surprised his oncologist by surviving two-and-a-half years after his diagnosis. He was a fighter.


I was torn about writing about this, today. After four years, it’s hard to consciously dive into the place of grief. Well, I did. What I found was, it’s not quite so unbearable as it was, but it still fills me to overflowing with tears.

On March 4, 2014, I published my first blog post about Shinko, “‘Bones’, Cancer and Real Life,” where I paralleled Shinko’s illness  with a character on the TV show, “Bones.” The young intern, Wendell Bray, learns he had Ewings sarcoma, another seriously nasty bit of cancer. I was still very much in grief when I saw this episode, and it really struck home for me. Appropriately, this post hit it’s 15,000th view just now.

A few days later, I published “Remembering,” which was from a letter I wrote to my friends and family about Shinko, and read at his life celebration seven weeks after he died. This one is more raw. It was from that grey time after a loved one dies. Emotions shut down. You just move, like an automaton, from one task to another, from one day to the next.

I had forgotten that post was from a letter until just now, when I read it again. Letter writing is powerful. Unlike conversations, you have time to think carefully about each word. They allow you to express emotions and thoughts that you would never do in a conversation.

On my book blog, I recently wrote about letter writing, “Lessons from the Fledgling Author: Sharing a Character’s Feelings,” after a class lesson had us students write one from the perspective of one of our characters. In it, I describe how surprised I was by the result. I was able to have my character speak from his heart. He’s a vampire, so is pretty stoic, in general. It turns out, I’m a lot like him in that way.

This morning, I wrote a letter to Shinko, to tell him I miss him, what my life is like without him, and to tell him I’m OK. I’ll share it with you.


Dear Shinko,

Well, it’s been four years since you’ve been gone. It’s a cliché, but not a day has passed when I haven’t thought of you. It’s hard not to—I still live in the same house, our home.

I miss you. Your gentle touch. The way you could make me smile.

There are a lot of things I don’t do anymore. They were things we did together.

I almost never cook—really cook. The pleasure in creating and eating a fine meal was in sharing it with you. I remember eating such good food. Sunday morning French toast or pancakes with fresh blueberries, maple syrup and lots of butter. Dinner. Dinners were amazing. Never just a steak. No. The barbecue always had mesquite to give the meat that wonderful, smoky flavor. The vegetables were chosen with care, both for quality and color. Presentation was a big part of preparing the plate. Fresh green beans, steamed to perfection, next to bright orange mashed sweet potatoes. And always, a sprig of parsley from the garden outside our front door.

The garden is another place where I don’t spend much time. A lot of that has to do with how extremely busy I am, but there’s another part that’s really just avoidance of something I took pleasure in sharing with you. I finally hired someone to clean up the two years of neglect. It’s looking pretty good again, and I’m finding enjoyment in spending time there, pruning and pulling weeds.

I still play the piano—and I can tell you, I’m getting better. Sometimes, when I finish a piece (ta-da!), I look across the room for you, where you used to sit in that overstuffed chair by the front window and watch me play. You’re not there to clap for me.

One thing I very rarely do anymore is sing. Or play the guitar. That was something that became very tied to you. I sang simply to make you happy. I remember the emotional release it gave me. There’s something about filling your lungs and making noise that is very restorative. I miss that. I might get out that old guitar.

The other major thing missing from my life is travel. I’ve done very little, aside from family things—going to Japan to inter some of your remains with your parents, and going to Hawaii for Alissa and Corey’s wedding. I’m glad your family still includes me. I love them.

I might go on more trips if I my business actually made some money. Big sigh. I’m looking for gainful employment now. I’m tired of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and baked potatoes so often. I’ve become very frugal. Hopefully, I’ll find something soon. I worry that my age will be a factor against me, although, being a woman might be an asset.

Overall, I’m pretty happy. Aside from a few aches and pains, I’m healthy. I’d like to lose some more weight, but I’ve plateaued—this year has been frustrating.

And, I discovered a passion. Or an addiction. I started writing. It began with blogs to support my business, but that led me to write about a variety of topics. Once I got started, it took over all my free time.

About two-and-a-half years ago, maybe getting closer to three, I tried to write down that story that I carried with me all those years in my head—you know the one, about wizards and magic—just to get it on “paper” so I wouldn’t lose it again. As soon as I did that, the story grew. And grew. I now have major parts of several books written. I have one almost ready to publish. I’m hoping by the end of the year. After getting feedback from my editor on my first draft, I’m deep into the first major revision.

Writing the stories, especially about my main protagonist, Coltan, allows me to express my grief. His story is tragic. I grieve with him. He grieves when I grieve. And we get through it together. He’s strong. And so am I.

The dedication for Tishta the Crystal Orb, my first novel, is:
“For my husband, Shinko Mondori, who always encouraged me to try new things and to never be afraid.”

I love you, with all my heart.

Sharing can therapeutic. It can also help others through similar situations. That’s why I’m sharing now. I feel better all ready.

Copyright ©2014-16 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

Posted in #cancer, #heroes, family, Pancreatic Cancer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Turns Violent

Over the last several weeks, I have been watching the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline story unfolding. I will wager not too many of you are aware of the situation—the major new media are not covering it (except, surprising to me, Fox—at least, yesterday. You can find the other side of this story on their website, and, as of an hour ago, on NBC. These are verbatim from Associated Press).

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Lastrealindians has been my main source of information. Yesterday, things became violent between unarmed protesters and pipeline security. Here’s their account.

“We ask that supporters keep the attention on the fact that Energy Transfer Partners feels justified in using this level of force against unarmed and nonviolent water protectors AND the state officers that are sworn to protect the people allowed it.” -Red Warrior Camp

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The confrontation was covered by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! on film, which you can view at this link.

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The Native Americans and other protesters want to prevent the pipeline from crossing the Missouri River and its estuaries, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. They are trying to protect the water as well as sacred sites being bulldozed by pipeline workers.

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I wasn’t there, so all I know is what the video shows, and I’m sure it’s biased. The protesters definitely crossed a fence onto the private land where the bulldozing was happening. They have filed paperwork to stop construction after finding burial and sacred sites on the unsurveyed land. The court system has promised to review it by September 9. By then (and even by yesterday), the damage will already be done.

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From what I could see, the protesters did nothing more violent than yell before being thrown to the ground by security personnel. After that, many people were sprayed with mace/pepper spray, and several were bitten by vicious security dogs. Throughout the video, I didn’t see any protester do more than yell, even after this brutal treatment. They are true warriors.

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It presents a powerful “David and Goliath” image reminiscent of civil rights marches in the 1960s. It is important for all of us to pay attention to things like this. Powerful American corporations can do just about anything they desire to increase their profits—and our laws support them, since our lawmakers are supported by the same corporations.

Photo credits:
Democracy Now!

Copyright ©2014-16 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

Posted in Dakota Access Pipeline, Environment, Native Americans, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Music Program at First Place School

Do you remember your first musical instrument? It was likely a recorder, which is what I learned on when I was in fourth grade.


There is a new music program, Music Matters, starting this year at First Place School, led by their new principal, Chris de Leon. They need recorders and music to help make the program a success.


My little business, Who’s Giving, is featuring this program for September. We would like to put a recorder in the hands of each of the sixty children in the program. A ten dollar contribution is all it takes.


Yes. That is Russell Wilson. He attended Breakfast on the Beach, the annual fundraiser for First Place, that took place July 18th this year. He’s with some of the kids that will learn to play recorders this year.

Find out more about Music Matters, First Place, how to donate and other ways to help on the Who’s Giving website.

Photo credits:
Flanders Recorder Quartet
Russell Wilson via First Place School
Ramona Ridgewell

Copyright ©2014-16 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

Posted in Childhood, Music, Non-profits | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time Lapse of DSCOVR’s First Year

Too cool for words. Here is National Geographic‘s article about the time-lapse video of Earth taken over NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory‘s (DSCOVR) first year in space. (SKIP THE SHORT VID at the top and go to the middle of the page.) The images were recorded from Lagrange point 1, a gravitational balance point (a Lissajous orbit) 1.5 million kilometers away. Jay Herman, EPIC Lead Scientist (what a cool title!), does a good job narrating.

There was an epic battle to get DSCOVR launched, and scientists waited seventeen years, from 1998, when then Vice President Al Gore proposed it, until early last year, to finally see the satellite’s launch. On July 6, 2015, they released their first image. It is the first image in the time-lapse that ended last month, at the end of the first year.

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First image of Earth from DSCOVR on July 6, 2015

DSCOVR’s intent is to report on variable solar wind condition, warn us of coronal mass ejections, and monitor the things we and our planet do to impact the climate (hence, the link to Gore).

Photo credits: NOAA’s DSCOVR

Copyright ©2014-16 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.


Posted in Al Gore, Astronomy, DSCOVR, NOAA, Science, Space | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Last Days of Summer” Premieres at Rhode Island International Film Festival

You may know Michael Rosenbaum from his Lex Luthor portrayal in the TV series, “Smallville.” Dark and sinister.

Rosenbaum has done a lot of comedy, as well, including his current TVLand show, “Impastor,” where he plays a conman who has taken on the identity of a gay Lutheran pastor in the fictitious small town of Ladner, Oregon. He plays opposite some well-known comedic talent—Sara Rue, Mircea Monroe and Mike Kosinski. Rosenbaum also produces this show.

What you may not know is Rosenbaum has acted in—and also directed, produced and/or written—a number of indie films, both shorts and feature length. These include his own films, “Back in the Day” (2014), “Ghild” (2011, Outstanding Achievement in Short Filmmaking at Newport Beach Film Festival) and “Fade into You” (2012) as well as “The Visitant” (2014), “Two-legged Rat Bastards” (2011), “Urban Legend” (1998) and “Sorority Boys” (2002).

His most recent indie film is “Last Days of Summer“—an Oliver Ridge/Blood Moon Creative  film directed by Aaron Harvey—where he plays against William Fichtner, Jessica McNamee, Jean Louisa Kelly and Colin Woodell. Its world premiere is August 13, 2016, at the Rhode Island International Film Festival (August 9 – 14, 2016) in Providence.

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It is a story about Mike (Fichtner), who feels life is passing him by, and Jenna (McNamee), the young woman next door, who is trapped in a tumultuous marriage to Scott (Rosenbaum). Relationships start to ravel when Mike becomes attracted to Jenna. It looks to be an intense view into obsession and dissatisfaction with life.

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Here’s the trailer and ticket info. Hoping to catch this one.

Photo credits: Blood Moon Creative, Inc.

Copyright ©2014-16 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

Posted in Independent films, Indie Film | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment