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One-Day Feature/Guest Blog - Please Welcome THOMAS KAUFMAN!

[ Edited ]
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Thomas Kaufman, mystery writer and cinematographer

When he’s not writing about DC private eye Willis Gidney, Thomas shoots movies for National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, A & E, the BBC, WGBH in Boston, WNET in New York, and WETA in his hometown of Washington, DC.

He’s also worked with cops, interviewed them and ridden with them on patrol, for TV shows like THE NEW DETECTIVES, THE FBI FILES, and THE PROSECUTORS.

The independent documentaries on which he’s worked include EYES ON THE PRIZE, COUNTDOWN TO ZERO, and PROMISES TO KEEP, an Academy Award-nominated feature about the homeless.   Mr Kaufman’s current film project is an independent documentaryINDIAN HILL SUMMER.  Here’s the trailer which includes an interview with Pete Seeger: www.indianhillmovie.org

Mr Kaufman has twice won the Gordon Parks Award for Cinematography, and an Emmy for his documentary about deaf children, SEE WHAT I’M SAYING.

 

Thomas Kaufman filming the movie "Unanswered Prayers"

Thomas Kaufman working as a camera operator on “Unanswered Prayers” for Lifetime Television, and using the Panavision Genesis HD camera.  Fun stuff!

If you’d like to see his film work, click here.

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Earth vs The Flying Saucers

Did disapproval of congress cause aliens to attack? Or was it simply a lack of parking?

 

There’s no shortage of weird information about Willis Gidney’s hometown of Washington, DC — but did you know that, during World War II, there was only one building in the continental US to be struck by an artillery shell?  And that the building in question was in DC?

Give up?  The answer is the Lincoln Memorial.  (It just so happens that the climax to “Drink the Tea” happens at the Lincoln — or underneath it, actually.)

Okay, I hear you asking how could that be?  When did the Axis of Evil have the opportunity to shell our national’s capitol?

Well, it wasn’t an enemy shell, it was one of ours.  It seems that, in the interest of national defense, the Army placed a number of anti-aircraft guns on the rooftops of office buildings in downtown DC.  So, during a routine lunch hour, an unnamed office worker was fooling around  with one of these guns, and accidentally fired a shell which hit the Lincoln Memorial, causing minor damage.

(The flying saucer attack came ten years later…)

Flying Saucers Hog the Road

 

 
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Re: One-Day Feature/Guest Blog - Please Welcome THOMAS KAUFMAN!

[ Edited ]

You can find Tom on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/thomaskaufman

 

And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.kaufman.353

 

And be sure to check out his YouTube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/kaufmanwriter?ob=0

F3_rooftopa (1).jpg
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Re: One-Day Feature/Guest Blog - Please Welcome THOMAS KAUFMAN!

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Re: One-Day Feature/Guest Blog - Please Welcome THOMAS KAUFMAN!

[ Edited ]

GUEST BLOG:

 

The Art of the Scam – foreign and domestic

By Thomas Kaufman

 

Crime writers are always on the lookout for material.  Take scams, for instance.  Very interesting.  Sometimes I think there are as many ways to scam as there are people.  Today I thought I'd tell you about two different scams – one in Africa, and one here in the US.

 

A few years ago I was in Ghana, shooting for a WGBH documentary called SCIENCE ODYSSEY.  The producer, Larry Klein, and I had spent about ten days filming in Tamale (pronounced TAH-ma-lay), about 120 miles south of the border with Burkino Faso.  Here's a clip from that shoot:

 

 

 

Ghana Journey from Thomas Kaufman on Vimeo.

Now our shoot was over and we were flying back home.  It took eight hours to drive south on roads that looked like they'd been used for mortar practice.  We finally got to  Accra, the capitol city of Ghana.  After a good night's sleep in a hotel, we had time to kill before our plane left.  It was Sunday morning, and at a local market I picked up two Dashikis that had Kente cloth from a village where we'd filmed.  I was walking back to the hotel with Larry, when a young man brushed past us. 

 

Larry took another step, stopped, looked at his wrist, then asked me if he'd been wearing a watch when we left the hotel.  Larry's wrist was bare, except for a tiny red dot in the center, just about where the metal prong of the watchstrap's buckle would be. 

 

So what we had just witnessed, without knowing it, was a young man adept at stealing watches.  When he brushed into Larry, he undid Larry's watchstrap so fast that the metal prong went into his skin.  By the time Larry knew what had happened, the kid was long gone, along with Larry's watch.

 

Now, do you need to go to Africa to get scammed?  Not if you live in Washington, DC. 

 

It's a great place to live, a small southern town of 800,000 hard-working people that happens to have the federal government squatting on top of it.  Kind of like the flying saucer that squats on a DC baseball field in DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

 

While that great movie had a lesson for all mankind, the only lesson I've found from living in DC is to watch your back.  This place has its share of scam artists, and not all of them are members of Congress.

 

Last winter, after I'd finished an outdoors film shoot, the producer and I went to a small place for lunch.  We'd been in the freezing cold for hours, and my hands and feet felt numb.  It was nice to get someplace warm.  What came next was classic DC: 

 

We paid the bill, and as we went outside a man intercepted us.

 

"Hey, man, I'm driving that cab over there.  Can you tell me how to get to New York Avenue and 7th?"

 

Was he serious?  I took a look at this guy – African American, about six feet, plaid shirt and jeans and green camo jacket.  "It's over that way," I say, putting doubt in my voice.   How could a DC cabdriver not know that?

 

"Thanks.  You got a twenty for two tens?"

 

Okay, let's stop a moment.  A twenty for two tens?  This guy doesn't want to break a big bill into smaller ones – just the opposite.  What was he up to?

 

"Sure," I say.  I open my wallet, find a twenty, and he gives me two tens.  We're done now, right?

 

Not quite.  The man takes a step away, a big giant step, kind of a cartoon step, it's that exaggerated.  Then he stops.  He makes sure I see him stop.  Then he says, "Hey. Wait a second.  I gave you two tens, you gave me a one." He shows me the one in his hand. 

 

It's the only bill there.

 

He had switched the bills when he took his cartoon step, palming the twenty and substituting the one.  Not bad, except that I hadn't had a one in my wallet to hand him. 

 

I take another look at this guy.  His shirt is thin, the plaid colors worn away.  His hands are hard and callused.  They wouldn't get that way driving a cab. 

 

And it's winter.  DC doesn't get really bad winters, but as the temperature drops, there's a rise in homeless deaths due to hypothermia.  Yes, we have homeless shelters in DC, but they can be dangerous places.  I've known plenty of homeless people who'd rather take their chances, sleeping outside on a heating grate, than risk the shelter.

 

Hence the scam – he gives up two tens, plus a dollar, and gets two twenties back, netting nineteen dollars.  For that much, he can get a meal, and find a warm place to hole up and sleep for two or three days.

 

I hand him a second twenty.  He gives me the dollar.  Now we're done.  I look him in the eye, I want to tell him it's okay. But to do that means I've seen through it, that his scam sucks (and it really does).  Instead, I nod at him.  He nods back and heads off to his imaginary cab.  I say goodbye to the producer and drive home, where my wife and kids are listening to music and playing a board game.

 

I'm nineteen dollars poorer, but I don't feel poor at all.  Just the opposite.

 

How about you?  Ever been scammed? 

 

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Re: One-Day Feature/Guest Blog - Please Welcome THOMAS KAUFMAN!


becke_davis wrote:

GUEST BLOG:

 

The Art of the Scam – foreign and domestic

By Thomas Kaufman

 

Crime writers are always on the lookout for material.  Take scams, for instance.  Very interesting.  Sometimes I think there are as many ways to scam as there are people.  Today I thought I'd tell you about two different scams – one in Africa, and one here in the US.

 

A few years ago I was in Ghana, shooting for a WGBH documentary called SCIENCE ODYSSEY.  The producer, Larry Klein, and I had spent about ten days filming in Tamale (pronounced TAH-ma-lay), about 120 miles south of the border with Burkino Faso.  Here's a clip from that shoot:

 

 

 

Ghana Journey from Thomas Kaufman on Vimeo.

Now our shoot was over and we were flying back home.  It took eight hours to drive south on roads that looked like they'd been used for mortar practice.  We finally got to  Accra, the capitol city of Ghana.  After a good night's sleep in a hotel, we had time to kill before our plane left.  It was Sunday morning, and at a local market I picked up two Dashikis that had Kente cloth from a village where we'd filmed.  I was walking back to the hotel with Larry, when a young man brushed past us. 

 

Larry took another step, stopped, looked at his wrist, then asked me if he'd been wearing a watch when we left the hotel.  Larry's wrist was bare, except for a tiny red dot in the center, just about where the metal prong of the watchstrap's buckle would be. 

 

So what we had just witnessed, without knowing it, was a young man adept at stealing watches.  When he brushed into Larry, he undid Larry's watchstrap so fast that the metal prong went into his skin.  By the time Larry knew what had happened, the kid was long gone, along with Larry's watch.

 

Now, do you need to go to Africa to get scammed?  Not if you live in Washington, DC. 

 

It's a great place to live, a small southern town of 800,000 hard-working people that happens to have the federal government squatting on top of it.  Kind of like the flying saucer that squats on a DC baseball field in DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

 

While that great movie had a lesson for all mankind, the only lesson I've found from living in DC is to watch your back.  This place has its share of scam artists, and not all of them are members of Congress.

 

Last winter, after I'd finished an outdoors film shoot, the producer and I went to a small place for lunch.  We'd been in the freezing cold for hours, and my hands and feet felt numb.  It was nice to get someplace warm.  What came next was classic DC: 

 

We paid the bill, and as we went outside a man intercepted us.

 

"Hey, man, I'm driving that cab over there.  Can you tell me how to get to New York Avenue and 7th?"

 

Was he serious?  I took a look at this guy – African American, about six feet, plaid shirt and jeans and green camo jacket.  "It's over that way," I say, putting doubt in my voice.   How could a DC cabdriver not know that?

 

"Thanks.  You got a twenty for two tens?"

 

Okay, let's stop a moment.  A twenty for two tens?  This guy doesn't want to break a big bill into smaller ones – just the opposite.  What was he up to?

 

"Sure," I say.  I open my wallet, find a twenty, and he gives me two tens.  We're done now, right?

 

Not quite.  The man takes a step away, a big giant step, kind of a cartoon step, it's that exaggerated.  Then he stops.  He makes sure I see him stop.  Then he says, "Hey. Wait a second.  I gave you two tens, you gave me a one." He shows me the one in his hand. 

 

It's the only bill there.

 

He had switched the bills when he took his cartoon step, palming the twenty and substituting the one.  Not bad, except that I hadn't had a one in my wallet to hand him. 

 

I take another look at this guy.  His shirt is thin, the plaid colors worn away.  His hands are hard and callused.  They wouldn't get that way driving a cab. 

 

And it's winter.  DC doesn't get really bad winters, but as the temperature drops, there's a rise in homeless deaths due to hypothermia.  Yes, we have homeless shelters in DC, but they can be dangerous places.  I've known plenty of homeless people who'd rather take their chances, sleeping outside on a heating grate, than risk the shelter.

 

Hence the scam – he gives up two tens, plus a dollar, and gets two twenties back, netting nineteen dollars.  For that much, he can get a meal, and find a warm place to hole up and sleep for two or three days.

 

I hand him a second twenty.  He gives me the dollar.  Now we're done.  I look him in the eye, I want to tell him it's okay. But to do that means I've seen through it, that his scam sucks (and it really does).  Instead, I nod at him.  He nods back and heads off to his imaginary cab.  I say goodbye to the producer and drive home, where my wife and kids are listening to music and playing a board game.

 

I'm nineteen dollars poorer, but I don't feel poor at all.  Just the opposite.

 

How about you?  Ever been scammed? 

 


I think it's easier to be scammed when you're away from home. The first time my cousin went to London she paid a so-called professional photographer to take a picture of her in, as I remember, Trafalgar Square. He charged 10 pounds which she (thinking in terms of dollars) thought was fairly cheap until I asked if he had her fill out a form with her address. She hadn't - so how was he going to know where to mail it??? *bangs head on desk*

 

And my grandmother was always buying magazine subscriptions so she could have a shot at winning the Publishers Clearing House big cash prize. She was CONVINCED she was going to win it!

 

These are pretty run-of-the-mill scams, though. I love the show HUSTLE because it features brilliant scams! Which makes me think of PAPER MOON, a book I loved years ago.

 

Paper Moon  

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Thomas has a new book out that isn't available at B&N yet. You can find out more about it at his website: www.thomaskaufman.com/author

 

 

ERASED and Other Stories is a new collection of mystery and suspense from PWA/St Martin’s Press Competition winner Thomas Kaufman.

 

Loosely based on Thomas’s experiences as a cinematographer behind the camera, ERASED and Other Stories is adapted from interviews Thomas has done with Holocaust survivors, policemen,  private investigators, con artists, and killers.  Filming interviews with Walter Cronkite, Charles Guggenheim, Barbara Kopple, Michael Moore, and other  filmmakers, Thomas has kept his ears open. Plus, his time shooting TV crime shows also gives his work the feel of what’s real.

 

‘Fast and funny, with a huge heart. Kaufman is clearly a writer worth keeping an eye on.’ — Steve Hamilton, author of THE LOCK ARTIST
 
Through Willis Gidney, Kaufman offers us one of the most compelling Private Eyes in mysteries today.’ — Examiner.com
 
‘Kaufman keeps the twists and one-liners coming.’ — Kirkus Review
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Re: One-Day Feature/Guest Blog - Please Welcome THOMAS KAUFMAN!

Tom - I have a question about your cinematography work. Have you filmed anything with a mystery theme, either real or fictional? Do your two lives intersect very often?

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I'm following Tom's instructions to...

 

Drink the Tea  

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maxcat
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Re: One-Day Feature/Guest Blog - Please Welcome THOMAS KAUFMAN!

Hi, Thomas, I can't say I've ever been scammed but there are quite a few here in North Carolina especially when a hurricane hits the coastline. Our state attorney general is very good at putting out alerts when there are scams in the area preying on the elderly. Thanks for your blog...it was very good.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Re: One-Day Feature/Guest Blog - Please Welcome THOMAS KAUFMAN!


maxcat wrote:

Hi, Thomas, I can't say I've ever been scammed but there are quite a few here in North Carolina especially when a hurricane hits the coastline. Our state attorney general is very good at putting out alerts when there are scams in the area preying on the elderly. Thanks for your blog...it was very good.


I think the worse kinds of scams are those that take advantage of people who have been hit by tragedies (such has floods, hurricanes and tornadoes) and those that target elderly people and often wipe out their life savings. Unfortunately, those scams seem to be all too common.

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Fictional private eye Willis Gidney first appeared in DRINK THE TEA in 2010, then inSTEAL THE SHOW in 2011. But last year? Nothing. Bupkis.  De nada.  I'm glad he's back for two stories in this collection.  While waiting for your download, you can listen to the jazz sounds of The Willis Gidney Quintet.
 
Thanks for reading,
 
Tom Kaufman
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From Tom's newsletter:

 

We've got cell phone watches and google glasses -- but when will we get flying cars? Glad you asked! I had fun filming for Incredible Flying Cars,a Smithsonian Channel program, with Pip Gilmour directing.  Up, up, and away. -- watch a trailer --  
 

 
Do you spend much time thinking about Giant Squid? Me neither, not until Creative Differences asked me to direct and shoot the opening sequence of their Discovery channel special.  Calamari , anyone?
  -- watch the segment -- 
 

Mayors Against Illegal Guns wants Americans toDemand Action, and that's what this spot is about.  Interviews with police chiefs from across the US reveal a truth: background checks make sense.  Directed by Julian Mulvey.
 
 

  BANKS is a BBC production about what goes on in the international banking system.  Scary stuff.  We interviewed retiring US Senator Carl Levin, who cautions us that another fiscal meltdown is not only possible., but likely.
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Re: One-Day Feature/Guest Blog - Please Welcome THOMAS KAUFMAN!

Tom - Thank you so much for an intriguing guest blog! I'm looking forward to reading ERASED - I'll post a link for it as soon as it's available on Nook!