Thursday, December 7, 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

         “Toto, I know we’re not in Kansas anymore after we
          crossed over into Missouri, but this sure doesn’t
          look like Branson.  Damn it, I think we're lost again!”

                                                    Review by Ken Burke
                 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
                 (Martin McDonagh)
“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): A woman’s furious that her daughter was raped and murdered 7 months ago but so far the cops have no clue who was responsible so she takes it upon herself to rent 3 billboards just outside of her town condemning the local police chief for the lack of progress on the case; initially unbeknownst to her, though, he’s not only serious about trying to solve this brutal homicide but is facing his own major problems battling terminal cancer, despite the impact his death will have on his wife and 2 small children.  Angry confrontations intensify as a racist local policeman isn’t afraid to challenge the distraught mother over her billboard strategy, but he’s got his own problems trying to deal with his miserable excuse for a mother, a vile woman who’s usually about as drunk as her hot-tempered son.  What comes from all of this hatred is an intense study of humans pushed to their limits, desperate to find some acceptable response to the horrors life can burden any of us with.  I can’t say anything further here without violating the no spoiler pledge, but I can enthusiastically encourage you to seek out Three Billboards … which is expanding into considerably more theaters as Oscar buzz continues to grow about several categories, especially the superb acting by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.

Here’s the trailer:  (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)

Be forewarned that this is a Red Band trailer complete with R-rated language.

Here’s another trailer with somewhat-more-sanitized-speech (not completely).

If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who want to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify any give-away sentences/sentence-clusters like this: 
⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.⇐ OK, now continue on if you prefer.
What Happens: After some opening eerie-yet-ethereal shots of dilapidated billboards in diminished light or fog we move into our increasingly-grim-story set in (fictional, as best I can determine) small-city Ebbing, MO where friecely-angry, divorced resident Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand)—almost always dressed in work-functional-coverallsnotices that 3 billboards on an infrequently-travelled-road near her property aren’t being used so she scrapes up $5,000 to rent them for a month (with more months intended), using them as statements (the way Burma-Shave shaving cream used to put a series of signs advertising their product along state highways many decades ago [example: “If our road signs” “Catch your eye” “Smile” “But don’t forget” “To buy” “Burma-Shave”]) to publically express her frustration with the local police for not yet finding the rapist/murderer of teenage daughter Angela (Kathryn Newton) 7 months ago (Mildred’s misery’s enhanced by a flashback conversation between mother and daughter the day the girl died in an argument over whether she could go out that night, with Angela insisting she would; as she storms out, Mom snaps “I hope you get raped on the way!,” to which daughter replies “You old cunt!,” with Mom’s comeback of “I’m not that old,” typical of the occasional humor here).  Mildred’s billboards are a blunt attack on local Police Chief Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson)—“Raped While Dying,” “And Still No Arrests?,” “How Come, Chief Willoughby?”—for not having even been able to turn up any clues.  He’s furious with her actions (drawing the attention of a local news team) because he’s sincerely tried to find the criminal, but there’s no clue through a DNA match.  He can do nothing legally to force her to take down the signs, although most of the community—including her sullen son, Robbie (Lucas Hedges)—sides with him instead of her (despite their sympathy for the tragedy she’s suffered, without even knowing Willoughby’s own tragedy: he’s dying from pancreatic cancer).

 Tensions continue to rise, including from Mildred’s abusive ex-husband, Charlie (John Hawkes), concerned not only for his own reputation-by-association but also fuming she got the $5,000 by selling his tractor (although he’s moved on regarding relationships by taking up with sweet-but-not-so-sharp-19-year-old Penelope [Samara Weaving]—he’s also unsupportive of his ex-wife’s after-death-devotion to their daughter, informing Mildred that Angela asked to move in with him just a week before her demise).  Mildred even gets some insults from her dentist, which she responds to by jamming the drill into his thumb.  Normally, this would get her arrested, but during questioning by Willoughby (she bluntly denies doing what we’ve just witnessed) he accidently coughs up some blood on her so she’s released in a show of mutual sympathy.  No such understanding comes from local cop Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), a poorly-educated racist (although he’s learned enough protocol to know when she accuses him of “n_____ torturing” he haughtily tells Mildred the correct term is “African-American torturing,” another example of how the ferocious conflicts in this film are sometimes softened with some unexpected-yet-disconcerting/hilarious uses of comedy), egged on by miserable Momma Dixon (Sandy Martin) to maintain the constant errors of his ways.  ⇒Even Sonny Dixon’s got a soft side, though, as we see him break down in tears when he learns of the sudden suicide of Willoughby, who took his life to spare wife Anne (Abbie Cornish) and their young twin girls the agony of watching his inevitable deterioration (his shot to the head especially comes as a shock after he’s spent a lovely day with the family, seemingly now at peace with his awful fate).

 Willoughby’s presence remains in a manner of speaking, though, because he’s written letters combining humor with blunt realities; Abbie finds the one left for her (explaining the reason for his drastic choice), with others to Mildred and Dixon delivered later.  In a move intended to agree with/confront Mildred, her letter contains $5,000 to pay for another month’s rent on the billboards so as to convince the community to keep the investigations going while Dixon’s letter encourages him to find his calling as a respected detective if he'll let go of the hate festering within himself.⇐

 Dixon’s got a ways to go to release that hate, as his response to Willoughby’s death is to storm across the street from the police station to the office of Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones), who rented the billboards to Mildred.  In a rage (fueled by the misunderstanding Willoughby took his life out of remorse for the billboards’ accusation), Dixon beats up Red, throws him out of a 2nd-story-window-story-window, witnessed by new Chief Abercrombie (Clarke Peters) who immediately fires Dixon (he gives up his gun but needs some time to find his badge).  Based on a conversation we see with Dixon and his gruesome Momma, we assume he’s the instigator of the next act of vengeance, the billboards set on fire which Mildred encounters as she drives home one night with Robbie. Using fire extinguishers they put out the blazes but the messages are destroyed, only to soon be replaced because the guy who hung them had a second set.  ⇒But that’s not enough for Mildred so she goes into town one night, throws Molotov cocktails at the police station, setting it ablaze, not knowing Dixon’s inside finally reading his Willoughby letter.  He manages to struggle out through the flames, badly burned but saving Angela’s case file.  Mildred once again escapes legal action when she’s suddenly given an alibi by car-dealer James (Peter Dinklage), who asks for a date as repayment; she begrudgingly goes to dinner with him but insults him enough that he leaves, although Charlie and Penelope are also at the restaurant with the ex obliquely-admitting he set the billboards on fire even as he wants to call a truce with Mildred, which she shockingly accepts.⇐ 

 ⇒A bit later (after some recovery but still scarred—although when in the hospital he surprisingly finds some comfort from also-recovering-sign-guy-Red) we’re back with Dixon again as he’s in a bar sitting in a booth behind a guy from Idaho bragging about a rape (this creep also showed up in Mildred’s tourist-trinket-shop one day, implying he might be Angela murderer); Dixon’s convinced he’s stumbled onto the mysterious killer so he starts a fight that goes badly for our newly-awakened-crusader (in a touch of mild sarcasm, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” [Joan Baez version, where she inadvertently messes up a few of the lyrics, but that’s probably appropriate in the context of this film] plays on the soundtrack*) but does allow him to scrape off some skin from the guy, hoping for a positive DNA match.  Sadly, there’s no match (besides, this jerk was on active duty in the Middle East when Angela was killed), but Dixon’s ready to drive to Idaho to kill him anyway, convinced he’s guilty of some other rape even if not Angela’s, so he asks Mildred if she wants to go along even after she confesses to Dixon she bombed the police station.  She agrees; though. as they drive away they admit to each other they’re not fully ready to go through with this act of second-hand-vengeance, so they’ll decide later if they’re really going to shoot Mr. Idaho.⇐

*You can hear it here (from her 1971 Blessed Are … album; fittingly, the printed lyrics aren't always fully accurate to what she's singing so confusion continues) but I prefer the original version from The Band (on their 1969 album The Band; the video’s from the documentary of their farewell concert, The Last Waltz [Martin Scorsese, 1978]).  These images of Civil War-era Confederate defeat on the Baez video may give Jeff Sessions and Roy Moore fits, but that's the least I can do for them.

So What? I usually try to get to at least 2 options in the local moviehouses for my almost-weekly-postings but various logistics* gave me time for only 1 new offering this week; however, that’s no problem because of the high quality of Three Billboards …, which I see as having potential for Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress (McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell), plus maybe others in technical categories I don’t always pick up on as much except cinematography and editing (neither of which are all that unique in this case, but I fail to be surprised at some of the nominees emerging from the various technical guilds although I think often they come as aspects of bandwagon-effects from the more-publicized-categories).  In retrospect, if you're a film producer you know you’ve got something impactful going for you when your cast also includes people such as Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, and Peter Dinklage, even though they all have relatively minor supporting roles because there’s so much going on with the primary presences of McDormand and Rockwell—we’d all assume Harrelson would've had more of a physical presence in this story, although the clarifying/inspirational one he offers in his letters (voice-overed by him with poignant effect) gives us an indelible sense of him even though he’s not on screen too often; were it not for Rockwell’s powerful contributions Harrelson might even be up for Supporting Actor consideration himself.⇐

*Including finally setting up a personal website, after the one I’d had for so long at Mills College (Oakland, CA) was retired, along with me, about 4½ (an auspicious number for me this week; see further comments in the next review section below) years ago. This one’s housed under so it’s focused on research and résumé, as opposed to the much-more-informal-tone of this blog (although I’ve maintained a bit of that attitude with the photo I chose to use), so if you’re interested take a look at I have to admit some semblance of my academic writing’s been creeping in here as well with the increasing use of these footnotes, but I’ve got to find some strategy to keep these reviews at their ungodly length, don’t I?)

 ⇒Another striking aspect of this new film is how unpredictable it is not only in aspects of plot development (I’d never have anticipated Willoughby’s suicide, especially as quickly as it came, nor Mildred’s attack on the police station; the burning of the billboards was unpredicted by me as well, but given what I know first-hand about oppositional attitudes in smaller towns in the South and Midwest [with Missouri straddling both areas as it’s geographically in what’s considered U.S. Midwest but also was recognized in the 1860s by the Confederate States of America as part of their rebel territory even if it never declared itself in secession] I’m not at all surprised to find someone in Mildred’s community would finally take action against her protest, although plot circumstances initially lead us to assume it was Dixon [whose name—Jason Dixon—certainly evokes the Mason-Dixon line, literally the boundary between Pennsylvania and Virginia/Maryland/Delaware but a cultural-signifier of the demarcation between U.S. slave and free states, again putting Missouri into the realm of the Confederacy] who started the fires) but also in terms of character development or general lack thereof regarding Mildred.⇐  Even when we understand her anguish at the horrid fate of her daughter and her seething frustration at the lack of justice for Angela’s abuser, those facts still make it hard to just accept she’d imply an innocent priest is part of a gang like the Crips and Bloods because of the atrocities committed by perverted members of his profession, then kick 2 high-school-students in the crotch for throwing some liquid on her windshield when she drops Robbie off one morning (no charges again, as if everyone’s but Dixon’s afraid to try to confront her).

 ⇒Further, Mildred (personifying "dread") seriously demands Willoughby keep checking the DNA of every man on the planet if necessary to find Angela’s killer, then takes it upon herself to set fire to the police station (not knowing Dixon was inside) because she also assumes Jason is her arsonist.  She’s a sympathetic-but-scary-character brought to effectively-troubling-life by the controlled fury of McDormand, just as Dixon’s a hell of a lot more complex than he initially seems, with nuances slowly shown by Rockwell’s grand performance.  We definitely have reason to empathize with Mildred’s anger over the lack of progress in arresting Angela‘s rapist/killer, but when she turns to her own acts of violence against the dentist, the high-school-kids, then the police station we have to wonder just how far we’re willing to go with her desperate need for revenge (even Penelope notes “This anger just begets greater anger”—of course, she saw that on a bookmark when she was reading about polo, mistakenly remembering the content as polio, so we’re back to including grains of salt in our respect for her insights), with our hopes Mildred and Dixon will reconsider their vigilante quest against Idaho-guy, especially when they have no proof beyond his bragging he’s actually harmed anyone (and may be suffering from some form of PTSD after his combat experiences).  In Dixon’s case, it might seem like a bit of a fictional stretch that Willoughby’s encouraging letter to let go of his hate would so quickly set him in motion to aid Mildred by saving Angela‘s police file, then risking great bodily harm in the bar just to collect DNA from the assumed perp, but in some of the scenes with Momma we can see how this grizzled, drunken, social outcast has added to the daily warping of her son, an influence he desperately needs to turn away from.⇐

 This film’s so good that even though one of my regular weekly viewing companions had already seen it she eagerly agreed to go again with my wife, Nina, and me last weekend; afterward, she said it was easily as compelling upon a second viewing, although that didn’t really help her (or us) always understand what Dixon’s saying, but he’s drunk a good bit of the time (even in the mornings) so I chalk that up more to Rockwell’s splendid portrayal of this noxious-but-miserable-man than to poor delivery.  However, one plot element our friend understood the first time but we didn't (until I read a mention of it later in a couple of reviews, then discussed it with her) is that Angela died from being burned alive (for me, it greatly complicates the “Raped While Dying” billboard as I can’t imagine even the most demented assaulter violating a woman while she’s on fire); now this is verified, though, I see it as an even more tragic end for this girl, furthering the literally-hellish-nature of this extremely intense story.  It’s a marvelous triumph of narrative presentation although not always that easy to neither watch nor ruminate on later.  However, don’t be dissuaded by its lean take at the domestic (U.S.-Canada) box-office of just $13.5 million so far after a month in release as its reach has just now expanded to about 1,430 theaters (including my suburban home of Hayward, CA, not a likely location for such a troubling-film).  If you can stomach the serious subject matter being masterfully explored—or just want to be aware of what seems to be a sure-Oscar-contenderthen Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri should definitely be on your must-see-it-soon-list.

Bottom Line Final Comments: Over the 3 months of our current autumn season (now approaching winter except here in sunny California—although that has its own drawbacks with concerns over further disasters from our wildfire season when high winds, dry grasses, and random sparks can take their terrible toll, as is the case now in areas in and around the Los Angeles metropolitan sprawl where fires are raging, not much under control) I see my recent 20 reviews from Dolores (Peter Bratt; review in our September 6, 2017 posting) through Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Dan Gilroy; review in our November 29, 2017 posting) don’t always match up with the general critical consensus (I frequently go higher than my colleagues, especially regarding what’s still my #1 film of 2017, Loving Vincent [Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman; review in our October 26, 2017 posting], earning my extremely-rare-5-star-rating while those surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic gave Vincent ... positive reviews but in the 78% and 62% range respectively). While only 8 of my 20 analyses were notably different from the “norm,” even regarding 7 others I was in agreement with only 1 of those collective sites, not both (although that’s as much their “fault” as mine, because their scores often have as much as a 20-point-gap, with the Metacritic reviewers usually turning in lower totals [not that difficult to do, given their reviews are assigned a number, then averaged while all you have to do at RT is offer positive comments to be “certified Fresh”*—although there’s still some argument over how much positivity you have to display to gain such notation from RT’s staff]).

*Exploring a temporary tangent to see if you can stay focused, I'll note RT’s new all-time-Fresh-champ is Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig; review in our November 23, 2017 posting), maintaining its perfect 100% positive set of responses through many dozens of reviews (it’s still expanding to a larger range of markets, surely helped by snagging the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Picture with star Saoirse Ronan as their Best Actress; in fact it now has 189 positives as I go to post), topping Toy Story 2’s previous record of 163, with both at the 100% mark, so in our statistically-obsessed-culture we even find ways of measuring degrees of perfection.  I debated going up from 4 to 4½ stars for Lady Bird (which managed to get through its entire running time with nary a single mention of either President Lyndon Johnson’s wife or TV animated character Hank Hill’s dog) but held back as I’m very cautious with those higher numbers; still, I’m hopeful Oscar nominations will be forthcoming, as it’s one of the year’s best along with Three Billboards … .

 However, in the case of Three Billboards … there’s little disagreement with my 4½ stars from the critical collectives, clearly marking it as not only one of the best of this year (although I did also award 4½ stars to Lucky [John Carroll Lynch; review in our October 19, 2017 posting], along with that tightly-guarded-5 stars for Loving Vincent) but also across the grand sweep of recent cinema (in my 6 years writing reviews for this blog I’ve given only six 5 star-ratings and now six 4½’s), with concurrence from RT offering 94% positive reviews,* MC a lofty-for-them 87% average score for Three Billboards ... .  It all works wonderfully in this film, from the foundational concept to the ever-elusive-script-developments to the all-powerful-acting, all held together by a firm directorial vision.

 As I bring this review to a close, I’ll offer you my standard use of a Musical Metaphor to give a concluding perspective on what’s occurred in the film under critical-consideration (but from the obscurely-related-viewpoint of the aural arts), this time with Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”* (from his 1970 album After the Gold Rush), at (a performance with Crosby, Stills, and Nash at NYC’s Fillmore East, 1970) with its acknowledgement the pain of losing love can push you into states of mind that prevent you from comprehending reality because your “head is inside a dream.”  (Although I did consider for quite awhile to instead use Young’s “Down by the River” [from his 1969 album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere] because of its surreal mixture of ecstasy, death, and assaultive-guitar-riffs reminding me of Dixon’s fierce attack on Red in response to his grief over Willoughby’s suicide but decided to go with the quieter “Only Love …” in keeping with what I hope is Mildred and Dixon’s eventual decision to not commit murder in Idaho, in what would be a wayward act not unlike how “Down by the River” mixes love with alienation, connection with rejection; still, I always enjoy listening to "Down by the River" so if you’d like further immersion in my musical indulgences this week, here’s a version of one of Young's lengthy standards [21:39, Although I wish whoever recorded this had panned over to the video screens more often; as shot it seems to be about as far away as I’d have to sit at such an expensive concert, with tiny musicians.  I’ve never seen Neil do “… the River” live but this is as close as I can get, from the 1st weekend of the Desert Trip festival {October 8, 2016}; my marvelous companion, Nina, and I were at the 2nd weekend where his epic “long song” was “Cowgirl in the Sand” and another song from that night was “Harvest Moon,” which is now an ongoing link almost at the very end of each Two Guys posting, along with my new personal website noted here above].)

After such total immersion in the travails of Three Billboards ..., you should take a break with Bing
in an attempt to re-capture some of the intended holiday spirit of the times before finishing this review.
*Not to be confused with Gene Pitney’s "Only Love Can Break a Heart" (on his 1962 album of the same name) with its odd use of background whistling, reminiscent, to me at least, of Bing Crosby's “White Christmas” (written by Irving Berlin), where he doesn’t actually sing as much as you expect him to, a good bit of the song’s running time taken up with repetition of the lyrics by his background chorus and his casual whistling; given that Bing’s recording (a hit single, found 1st in album form [literally, a collection of six 78-rpm discs] in 1942 with Song Hits from Holiday Inn [songs in a movie directed by Mark Sandrich, starring Crosby and Fred Astaire, now a perennial favorite], the tune winning the Oscar for Best Original Song) is considered by the Guinness Book of World Records (even though I’m more impressed by the Guinness pour of world-class-beer) as the best-selling-single of all time with estimated sales of Crosby’s version somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million copies worldwide (not to mention the multitude of other singers’ recordings) and with the holiday season we’re now in you might be ready to give it a listen (supposedly the 1942 original, but the master was damaged from all the reproductions so this may be the 1947 remake, intended to reproduce the original as much as possible).  See, when I have only 1 film to review, I wander to infinitesimal regions of trivia, so you’d better hope I get to the movies more frequently next week.

Just to be clear, Sam Rockwell's sharing this couch with "Momma" Sandy Martin, not Christopher Walken
 As for "Only Love ..."—I realize it's been awhile since I gave you the link so I repeated it for your benefit(supposedly written by Young in sympathy for bandmate Graham Nash’s spilt from Joni Mitchell) and its resonance to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, I find its soft approach to heartache (in melody as well as lyrics) with the question “When you were young And on your own How did it feel To be alone?” becoming a haunting query for now-not-so-young Mildred, Bill, and Jason, all of them alone, at least regarding their heads “inside a [bad] dream [with our hopes that] Someone should call [them] and see if [they] can come out Try to lose the down that [they’ve] found [because] only love can break your heart,” whether it’s the love from now-deceased-relationships (including not only Angela but also whatever connection Mildred might have had with Charlie, long gone now, with her link to Robbie ever-more-tenuous as well), love of relationships soon to be severed (Bill’s physical pain is exceeded by the sort of emotional pain he hopes to spare his family even as he inflicts another version of it on them), or the aching for love probably never experienced (Jason’s briefly acknowledged as suffering from the unspecified loss of his father, damaged by the ongoing relationship with his mother).  Although these characters, like all of us, might “Try to be sure Right from the start” that what they hope to invest in will produce their desired results, yet how will they respond “if [their] world[s] Should fall apart?”  No one gets off easy in Three Billboards … as fate’s made it difficult—if not impossible—to “make the best of [their] time,” yet what would any of us do in these soul-draining-circumstances, with hopes of finally finding some form of redemption?  It’s probably worth a trip to Missouri (at least the Missouri of your mind) to find out.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.*  Overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepage If you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

*A Google software glitch causes every Two Guys posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to this Summary page; from then forward, though, this link is accurate.

Here’s more information about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: (Take note: when I first opened this site it was playing the Red Band trailer with the film’s salty language so Close the video if you don’t care for such; also I initially had troubling opening it on Safari but it worked better after a couple of tries, worked fine on Chrome to begin with.) (28:20 interview with writer-director Martin McDonagh and minor-character actors Caleb Landry Jones, Abbie Cornish, Clarke Peters; begins with that R-rated Red Band trailer so skip ahead to 2:41 if you like but you’ll find the audio’s a bit low overall here) and (11:14 interview with McDonagh and actors Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell which I've included if for no other reason than the irony of McDonagh and McDormand discussing the film’s main character, Mildred, talking about the anger of this woman left behind by the justice system yet we see that they’re being interviewed by Charlie Rose, now dismissed by PBS and CBS for his alleged sexual misconduct—as McDormand says in this discussion, “Justice is larger,” although not in the context of Rose and the many other politicians/celebrities being accused by the now-speaking-up-women [and some men] who are taking action in the same way Mildred does in this film, with a bit more irony that the longer version of this interview aired on PBS before the Rose scandal broke)

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If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my email address of  (But if you truly have too much time on your hands you might want to explore some even-longer-and-more-obtuse-than-my-film-reviews—if that even seems possibleacademic articles about various cinematic topics at my website,, which could really give you something to talk to me about.)

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"

—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come.
Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 15,270; below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week (the total monthly responses declined again—I suspect Russian collusion, even though they're part of my audience—but I’m back to 5 continents this time, excluding as usual Africa and Antarctica):

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