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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Writer's Life 10/17 - Personages

How disappointing that President Trump resorted to name-calling in his battle with Stormy Daniels. He had her down on the mat - metaphorically speaking. She won this latest round.

Artist Jeffrey Koons creates balloons worth moons. Here's one that sold for $58.4 million:

An article in the NY Post informs that personal items of Marilyn Monroe will soon be auctioned. One is a Jewish prayer book. She converted before marrying playwright Arthur Miller. The opening bid is $4600. It is expected to fetch as much as $12,000. Here's a pic. The address is the temple at which Miller worshiped:

From the Post's Weird But True column, edited by yours truly: Preston Edwards tends goal for London's Dulwich Hamlet FC, which is in the sixth tier of English football. During a recent match there was an announcement that a car faced towing. It belonged to Edwards. Fans began shouting: "... move your car... move your car." A fan moved it for him.

A literary problem was solved during my morning walk. At one point in the novel I plan to self-publish in January, the woman learns her lover is a guitarist and asks him to play a song. I left it unnamed. Somehow I got to thinking of Joni Mitchell and it occurred to me to use Help Me, a natural fit because of the line: "We love our lovin' but not like we love our freedom." And it lent more fodder for the blurb, to which I will add: "Can a person love and be free?"

My thanks to the gentleman who purchased three books, among them The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Souls on Fire by Elie Wiesel; and to the sweet elderly woman who bought bios of Moshe Dayan and the young Golda Meir, which she plans to donate to a shul; and to the Frenchman, who chose a collection of six short American novels... Just about every day the floating book shop is passed by the new owner of the Chinese bakery from which I buy two hot dog buns each Wednesday. He always says hi. I think he feels sorry for me. This morning he included a mini pastry to my purchase at no charge. Xie xie ni, sir.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Writer's Life 10/16 - Karma & Irony

A short NY Post article had me chuckling. A federal judge has tossed a defamation suit brought by Stormy Daniels against the President - and ordered her to pay Trump's legal fees. The case stemmed from Daniels' claim of being threatened on behalf of Trump, and the composite sketch of the man who allegedly confronted her. In a Tweet, Trump dubbed it "a total con job." The judge deemed that normal discourse. This morning radio talk show host Mark Simone weighed in on the issue, noting the irony that those who contributed to Daniels' GoFundMe account are now, in effect, giving that money to Trump. Karma. Hilarious. I doubt this is the end of the sage, though.

From Yahoo's Odd News, edited by yours truly: A 47-year-old Massachusetts man who went by the nicknames Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Man has pleaded guilty to 60 charges stemming from a string of thefts of ATMs. He faces eight to twelve years in prison. More than $300,000 in goods and cash were stolen in four states. Authorities dubbed the investigation Operation Golden Ticket in reference to the pass needed to gain entry into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

There's an interesting op-ed piece by Joe Nocera in today's Post. It's about the demise of Sears and the creative destruction of capitalism. To illustrate his point, he cites the original Fortune 500 list. 90% of the once powerful companies on it no longer exist. As Sears has been supplanted by Walmart and other companies, someday the latter may also be on the losing end.

For the third straight session the floating book shop had only one customer. My thanks to Ira, who bought a history of the I Love Lucy show and an instructional on casino gambling; and to my constant benefactress, who donated about 20 works of marketable non-fiction and one novel. Tomorrow's customer will have a lot of great stuff to choose from.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Writer's Life 10/15 - Found Money

It's a TV staple, usually in crime shows - valuable stuff found in a storage unit. It happens in real life too. A Manhattan gallery owner took a chance, acquiring the contents of one in New Jersey for $15,000 - and hit the jackpot. It belonged to a woman who passed away in 2009. She'd inherited the stuff from her husband, an art conservator. Inside were a cache of paintings by famous artists, including Dutch abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning, and Swiss/German Paul Klee, simply an expressionist. de K's Untitled XXIII recently sold for a million bucks, a second of his works brought in 60 G's. Klee's Vorhang 129 went for a measly $26,000. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a pic of it. Here's the big winner:

NFL: If Pittsburgh spotted Cincinnati 21 points, the Bengals would still find a way to lose. Bettors must have made a tidy sum on that matchup the past five years or so... Wonder if Jon Gruden regrets having left the easy money of the broadcast booth to coach the Raiders. What the heck's happened to that team, which seemed on the verge of greatness a year-and-a-half ago?... All those who thought New England was finally in decline have had their hopes crushed... The Chargers seem to have finally shed their yearly early season doldrums... After last season's stellar campaign, the Jaguars appear to be in complete collapse... J-E-T-S - Jets! Jets! Jets! Fans finally have hope.

From Yahoo Sports: Mike Scioscia managed the Angels for 19 years. Candidates to succeed him will face a two-hour written exam that tests analytical, interpersonal and game-management aspects of the job. I can't help but wonder how someone like Billy Martin would have reacted to this. Will an A+ insure wins? I doubt it, but big money is at stake and management obviously wants to do all it can to find the right man. The media grades them, often harshly.

Here's a puzzle only residents of Sheepshead Bay may solve. The bus shelter pictured below is near where I set up shop each day. It will soon undergo repairs. I noticed an oddity involving the yellow tape. Don't rack your brains trying to figure it out. I don't know if abstract is the right word, but it's along those lines. Answer below:

The alternative language used is Spanish -  Cuidado. In this area, it should be Russian. 

The floating book shop was again saved by the scaffold, which easily kept out the light rain. The returns were paltry but nonetheless found money. My thanks to the guy who calls me Irv, who segued from the liquor store, which he visits each day, and bought three more sci-fi paperbacks.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Writer's Life 10/14 - Thunder

In a fun article in today's NY Post, Reed Tucker touts a new book on the origin of popular phrases: Watch Your Tongue: What Our Everyday Sayings and Idioms Figuratively Mean by Mark Abley. Of the eight examples he highlights in the piece, the following is my favorite: In 1709 London playwright John Dennis came up with an innovative way to mimic thunder in his production Appius and Virginia. The show folded quickly. The author was later startled to find his technique used in a production of Macbeth. Allegedly, he said: “Damn them. They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder.” (Edited by yours truly.)

A Post blurb about the results of a poll shows that most Americans don't share the paranoia of many environmental zealots. 84% believe the air quality is good. 86% believe the same about water. I don't doubt that drinking water is safe. I'm more concerned about what it picks up in the pipes, many of them decades old, that deliver it. That's why I don't drink from the tap, although I wash dishes and rinse my mouth with it - after letting it run a while.

I took the show to Park Slope today and the results were disappointing, not clearing nearly enough room for this week's expected donations. My thanks to the young man who bought three pictorials on the work of specific photographers. One was Alfred Kane, who often shot celebrities. He passed away in 1995 at 69. Here's one of his pics:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Writer's Life 10/13 - Brilliance

Except for certain scenes here and there, most movies are not worth a full second look except to cinephiles and those in the business. In Bruges (2008) is an exception. Martin McDonagh wrote and directed this exceptional downbeat crime drama, leavening it with occasional humor. It is the story of two hitmen sent to the Belgian city, pronounced Broogs, that has preserved its medieval look. They are portrayed brilliantly by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, and are matched by Ralph Fiennes as their angry boss. The dialogue is first rate, perhaps too clever at times for such characters, but that's what writers, including myself, do. It is not an action film, although it contains violence. It is an examination of criminal mentality geared to adults. 350,000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 7.9 on a scale of ten. I would go higher. Although it was not a box office smash, it was financially successful, returning $33 million worldwide on a budget of $15 million. I bet it has raked in loads of cash in DVD rentals and sales, and streaming. Those offended by profane dialogue, political incorrectness, and bloodletting should pass. McDonagh does not have an extensive resume. He has directed only three full length films. I look forward to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and soon should be arriving in my mailbox, and I've added Seven Psychopaths (2012) to my Netflix list. This Londoner seems a major talent. Here's a still from In Bruges:

RIP NFL Hall of Fame FB Jim Taylor, 83, who played for the Packers during the Vince Lombardi era. He was a member of four championship teams with Green Bay, including the first two Super Bowls. In five straight seasons, 1961-'64, he gained more than a thousand yards, leading the league in '62. In nine seasons, the last with the Saints, he averaged 4.4 yards per carry and had 83 TD's. Awesome, sir.

My thanks to Monsey, who bought Symptoms: The Book That Answers The Questions: Am I Sick? Is It Serious? Should I Call My Doctor? by Isadore Rosenfeld M.D., and Dealing With People You Can't Stand by Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner; and to Sasha, who selected two books from the Young Adult section with the approval of her grandma, who chose Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain and Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago; and to the woman who purchased Danielle Steel's Answered Prayers; and to the elderly woman in the company of her attendant, who picked out three books from the Russian sector; and to the woman who bought Philippa's Gregory's The Queen's Fool and The Other Boleyn Girl. This put a little dent in the inventory. I hope tomorrow's session will make more room for the deluge I'm expecting beginning Monday.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Writer's Life 10/12 - Minor Matters

I consider my computer skills to be a bit above intermediate, but sometimes I wonder if I'm giving myself too much credit. I transferred a copy of the PDF file of my next novel to google docs, hoping I'd be able to edit there without any of the problems I've been having with Word. The transfer wasn't perfect but has been easily amended so far, as I experimented with the title page and the About the Author blurb. One aspect troubled me. There was no down arrow on the page. Clicking bit by bit on the side was taking me past the desired point. I searched the FAQ's for help and, sure enough, the solution was simple - the down arrow on the keyboard. Duh! I'm so encouraged I have to fight to not to begin the next phase immediately. I think it's best not to rush.

Amazon is merging Create Space with KDP, which previously handled only Kindle books. I made the transfer last night. One aspect puzzles me. I was told to select distribution channels and didn't find anything on either site to address the issue, even after entering the phrase in each search box. I sent out an email but have yet to receive a response. I bet they're being bombarded by people like me at present.

I visited the doctor this morning. Good news: my cholesterol is 225, not high enough to warrant medication. Bad news: I'm 180, five pounds overweight. Smaller portions on tap, especially of my dinner time soda fix. Everything else is fine. I have the paperwork to set up the dreaded colonoscopy, which I will schedule for winter.

Since I was in Bensonhurst, I set up shop on Bay Parkway, which enabled me to dodge any book donations that may have come at my usual nook. I'm way overstocked. My thanks to the gentleman who bought five thrillers in Russian, and to the woman who selected another; and to the woman who purchased Nora Roberts' Hot Ice and another novel; and to Mr. Conspiracy, who purchased a book on the basics of electricity. I hope he doesn't short out his whole house.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Writer's Life 10/11 - Squeeze 'em

In The Godfather Part II (1974) Nevada Senator Geary says to Michael 
Corleone: "I intend to squeeze you." As everyone knows, a lot of that 
happens in every walk of life.

If anyone needed any more proof that America was wise to pull out of the 
Paris Climate Accord, Stephen Moore provides it in an op-ed piece in
today's NY PostHere's a summary: In 2017 the country that reduced its 
greenhouse-gas emissions the most wasn’t Canada or Britain or Germany 
or Australia or France. It was the USA. That’s right — the one country that 
pulled out of the phony Paris Climate Accord reduced its carbon emissions 
by 0.5%, the most of all major countries. President Trump predicted other 
nations would cheat and all the costs would fall on the U.S.. He was right. 
According to a 2018 report from Climate Action Network Europe, “All EU 
counties are failing to increase their climate action in line with the Paris 
Agreement goal.” Only five of the 25 major nations have even managed to 
reach 50% of their pollution-reduction promise. Moore concludes the piece 
with: "If we have to depend on the United Nations and global politicians, the 
planet really is doomed." Amen. 

Here's a telling headline from Yahoo Sports about a budding superstar 
3B: "Kris Bryant turned down $200M extension from Cubs." What a 

The scaffold did the trick again today for the big squeeze that is the 
floating book shop. While the side at the curb got wet, the one close 
to the building stayed dry. My thanks to the woman who bought a 
thriller in Russian early in the session, which I was sure would be the 
only sale; and to the gentleman who pulled up on his bike and found 
three to his liking from that same box; and to the guy who calls me Irv, 
who purchased an entry in Dee Henderson's sci-fi The Protector series; 
and to the guy who donated his fourth large bag of books this week, 
which included a lot of marketable paperbacks and non-fiction; and to 
Barry, who overcompensated me for two from that batch, a collection of 
short stories by Jewish writers and Yiddish Wisdom: Yiddishe Chochma 
by Kristina Swarner.