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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Writer's Life 11/17 - To Err Is Human

This guy should have used Spell Check. A thief misspelled "robery" in notes in three separate bank heists in the Boston area. Once busted, he had no choice but to plead gilty. (From a NY Post blurb.)  Of course, spelling errors worry a self-published author such as myself. One should not shrug and dismiss them simply because they occur in the books of mainstream publishers as well. The goal is always zero mistakes, although it is darn near impossible to achieve. Here are examples of goofs in the first editions of famous works, gleaned from a list at
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser: " two small chips being tossed about on a rough but friendly sea.” Wise or Pringles?
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck: "... flees to a dog's back." A really big canine.
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller: "...“He listend to me incomplete bewilderment.” Ol' Hank may have been as excited as his readers by his content, so the errors are understandable.
1631 edition of the King James Bible: "Thou shalt commit adultery.” This has to be number one all-time.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: "...ripped a hole in the bottom of it with the was.” (Saw) "It was like this..."
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon: "...wall temperature and Nusselt heart-transfer coefficients...” (Heat) Tough read, though not as much Joyce's Ulysses.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer: “I ate breakfast cheerily, watching the dust moats stirring in the sunlight..." (Motes) Maybe she was conjuring Dracula's castle as she worked.

A 21-year-old Norwegian woman was fined the equivalent of $30,400 for drunk driving. The country bases its levies on a person's income. Her father gave her a 42% share in his company. Her net worth is estimated at $1.23 billion. She has also been banned from driving for 13 months. Sounds like a government of gangsters. Here's a pic of this hardcore criminal:

My thanks to Gina, who bought a Bible published by Good News, and to the woman who purchased Good in Bed and All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner, and to the gentleman who selected five books in Russian. The highlight of the session was the appearance of local Super, Mayor Mike, who was walking unsteadily. I was sorry to hear he'd spent the night in the hospital. He was seeing double and feared he'd suffered a stroke. As I suspected, it was due to diabetes. I handed him $25 the sale of Elvis vinyl albums had brought in thus far, and said: "I hope this makes you feel better." He smiled and replied: "I love you, man." I hope he doesn't spend it on those sugary treats he loves. 
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Writer's Life 11/16 - General Accounting

In his business column in today's NY Post, John Crudele puts a damper on the proposed cut in the business tax, claiming the current rate, 35%, is fake or, at least, a phantom figure, which I've dubbed the debt ceiling. He cites stats issued by the federal government's General Accounting Office that claim corporations receive deductions that lower their rates significantly. In recent years IBM has paid 10%, Apple 12.5%, GE 2.3%. Crudele cites Microsoft as good corporate citizen, having paid 34.2%. He concludes that lowering the rate will be meaningless. I have no problem with companies doing all they can - legally - to reduce expenses. My concern in this situation is that lowering the rate will be a dead end, which is a real bummer, as it seems America will never escape the economic doldrums it has suffered for a decade. According to articles I've read, the GAO is often wrong, although that seems unlikely in this case of simple math. In past articles Crudele has suggested a plan to boost the economy that seems sensible - allowing people to borrow from retirement accounts tax-free, which would subsequently incite a spending spree that would increase tax revenue. In 1981 the cut to the corporate rate led to a boom, but back then the rate was an astronomical 70%, at first reduced to 50%, eventually to 28%. That was radical change. I almost wish I hadn't read the article.

That was this morning. I just heard the news that iconic liberal Senator Al Franken has been accused of sexual misconduct by two women. That made my day, although I'm sure there will be conservatives who will be outed before all this blows over.

At least a quarter of last night's episode of Seal Team was devoted to the training candidates undergo. If it's akin to reality - wow! I went to IMDb to see if the series' creator, Benjamin Clavell, is ex-military. There is no information on it anywhere on the web, at least that I could find, nor is there any in that regard about the author of the teleplay, Corinne Marrinan. I was surprised it was done by a woman. She has an impressive list of writing credits in TV, also in production. I would be surprised if there are no consultants on the set, as the show seems authentic, at least to this viewer, who has no military experience.

My thanks to the couple who bought five books in Russian, to the woman woman who purchased one; to the one who did a two-for-two swap of them; to the gentleman who selected John Sandford's Rough Country and Mario Puzo's Omerta; and to Marty, who returned to pick up three more Elvis Presley albums on vinyl. He hooked up his phonograph and played the other two he'd bought, and said the owner took good care of them. Coincidentally, today I gave my record player to Andy, one of the MTA's go-to electricians for major problems. It was just gathering dust in my apartment. Later, I had a good laugh when Mountain Man and Mark, retired postal employees, discussed idiotic managers they endured on the job. Mark said one employee, chronically late or absent, who claimed he was unable to get to work on a stormy day, was asked to submit proof. The next morning he showed up with the branch of a tree, and was let off the hook. Alas, he was eventually fired.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Writer's Life 11/15 - Big Surprise

In the tradition of Cabbage Patch and Tickle Me Elmo dolls, the most popular Christmas gift of 2017 is LOL Big Surprise, a purse-like product that contains many little trinkets inside it. I noted a wide price range, ten bucks to $180, so I guess it comes in several sizes and variations. Unfortunately, it is currently sold out. Here's what one model looks like:

If new shipments arrive, I hope it doesn't lead to brawls similar to the one that inspired Frank Costanza to invent Festivus. As if holiday family gatherings lack for the airing of grievances.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking a lot of heat for his testimony before congress yesterday. My hope is that his vagueness and evasiveness was due to the fact that he is not yet ready to show his cards, and not due to a lack of nerve in going after Hillary, who has always escaped prosecution. I'm not thrilled about the prospect of another special counsel investigation, but the Uranium One deal seems so egregious that it warrants scrutiny. Whenever I read about it or hear talking heads discuss it, I'm stunned.

I've always been fascinated by sports stats. Today that spilled over into economic numbers revealed in a NY Post article by Richard Morgan. Research by Credit Suisse has found that an additional 1.1 million Americans became millionaires the past twelve months, one every 30 seconds. The average U.S. adult is worth $388,585. Those worth $76,754 and above are in the top ten worldwide. A mere $3582 places one above the world average, a reminder that Americans should kiss their lucky stars to live in a land of such wealth and abundance. I doubt I'll ever join the millionaires club, but I'm above the average.

The Fast Takes column offers this interesting tidbit: the first six presidents of Princeton University were slave owners. Let the statue-toppling and building-renaming begin.

My thanks to the sweet elderly woman who did a three for one swap of books in Russian, and to the young man who bought The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride. I'm always reluctant to point out books to minority customers for fear they will be offended, but if I hadn't spoken up that lone sale may not have occurred. At least the weather was beautiful.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Writer's Life 11/14 - Coming Clean

Radio talk show host Mark Simone made an interesting comment this morning. He is not a fan of Roy Moore, but pointed out that Jerry Seinfeld dated a 17-year-old while in his 30's. I must come clean. At the age of 41 I took an 18-year-old beauty to the movies. Dick Tracy (1991) was playing. Choose to believe whatever you wish, but nothing further came of it. There was no reluctance on her part. It was all me. As I am wont to do, I talked myself out of taking things any further - and it made me miserable, penance enough. When it comes to the fairer sex, it's not easy being me. For some guys...

So the UCLA basketball trio that stole sunglasses from a Chinese department store is on its way home. It will be interesting to see what the punishment will be. I wouldn't expel them - kids do stupid things - but they should each be sidelined for at least ten games, if not 20. I wonder if any of them, if not expelled, will stay in school beyond freshman year. LiAngelo Ball probably won't. His older brother, Lonzo, spent only one year on campus before being the second overall pick in the 2017 draft. If President Trump managed to free the trio, I wonder how it will be spun by the mainstream media. If he did have something to do with it, it will be surprising if he doesn't send out a tweet bragging about it. When I first heard about the incident, I was reminded of one from my youth. I stole a football that had been left on the large lawn outside Garneau Hall. It belonged to the dorm, available at the desk for check out. Someone gazing out a window saw me take it. I denied it, and was never busted. In fact, despite the theft, a year later I was selected as a Resident Advisor, which paid for my room and board. Apparently, the incident had been forgotten or forgiven. Looking back, I don't understand why people liked me. I wasn't a good person and I was so overwhelmed by life I wasn't much fun to be around. Anyway, I brought the ball back to Brooklyn. My mom noticed the markings on it and knew I'd stolen it. I was ashamed. Soon, it was stolen from me. I suspected Steve Oliva, who denied it.

My thanks to Marty, NYPD retired, who bought two Elvis vinyl records. His daughter, with whom he is having difficulties, is a big fan of the King. He intends to extend an olive branch in the form of music. My thanks also to the gentleman who purchased Dennis Lehane's Live by Night. During the session, a retired Super offered to sell me a box of books for $20, assuring me I would earn three times as much in profit. I had no doubt that I would, but I turned him down, as I have similar offers. I have more than enough inventory at present, and others will likely add to it at no cost.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Writer's Life 11/13 - New Territory

In an incident reminiscent of what went on at the Berlin Wall before it came down, an elite North Korean soldier stationed at the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone made a bold bolt for freedom Monday, defecting to South Korea despite getting shot twice. Live long and prosper, sir.

How dare Sean Hannity allow Roy Moore the presumption of innocence, one of the foundation's on which America is based.

Just when it seemed standards couldn't be any lower, GQ magazine has named Colin Kaepernick Citizen of the Year. Hillary must be fuming at being passed over - again!

According to an article at, high blood pressure has been redefined. It had long meant a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90. The figures have been dropped to 130 over 80 in an announcement by major heart groups. That covers almost half the population.

Remember the tag line from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969): "Who are those guys?" It applies to the formerly pass-happy New Orleans Saints. In yesterday's rout of the Bills in Buffalo, Drew Brees passed for only 184 yards, while the RB's rushed for a combined 278 yards. In watching the highlights at youtube, it seemed a mismatch physically. I guess the Saints are a genuine contender. Kudos to the coaching staff and players... The Rams also seem like the real deal. Hired early this year, Sean McVay, then 30, became the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, replacing Steve Fisher, whose stock has probably plummeted even further, to where he will never again lead another pro team. Obviously, the talent was there... Are the Giants' collapse and Jaguars' rise attributable to Tom Coughlin's absence from the former and presence with the latter? Or was it simply a matter of time for each team?... It's only one game, but the Cowboys look lost without RB Ezekiel Elliott. Given the way the franchise fought the suspension, which most believe is just, it deserves to lose all six games.

It was cloudy, damp and raw, but I managed to get in a full session of the floating book shop. My thanks to the gentleman who bought two books in Russian; to Wolf, who purchased Adventures with Rebbe Mendel: The World's Greatest Teacher! by Nathan Sternfeld; and to the gentleman who selected a paperback on the works of Galileo.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Writer's Life 11/12 - A Drug & a Kiss

An article in today's NY Post by Melkorka Licea highlights the controversy about a trendy herbal supplement. Kratom is being hailed by some as a miracle cure for heroin addiction, and assailed by others as deadly addictive. It's flying off the shelves at dozens of  smoke shops and cafes. Found in Southeast Asia, of the coffee family, the plant-based drug is currently in regulatory limbo, legal in New York and 42 other states, but on a federal watch list while the FDA decides whether to characterize it as dangerous or benign. For now the feds have labeled it a “drug of abuse” and a “drug of concern.” It costs five bucks per two-gram dose. It is used to douse addiction, dampen pain or as a party drug. It is estimated that 10% of users are addicted. Some people claim they had to go to rehab because of it, or lost all their money buying it. Now 67 and dreading that my aches and pains will go from very mild to severe, I wonder if it would be harmful to use once in a while. Here's what it looks like:

A book by Kiss frontman Gene Simmons will soon be available: On Power: My Journey Through the Corridors of Power and How You Can Get More. He is profiled in an article by Post music critic Hardeep Phull. The piece concludes with this quote. "If it wasn't for the rich, there wouldn't be jobs. There'd be no philanthropy. There'd be nothing. A poor person never gave me a job. The American Dream is not only alive, but it's better and stronger than ever." While I agree with the overall sentiment, small business owners, many of them not rich, also provide jobs. Given such bluntness, Simmons would be a refreshing voice in politics - and a natural target for leftists. I'd bet he's read and embraced the works of Ayn Rand.

My thanks to the elderly woman who did a two-for-two swap of Russian books; and to the middle age gentleman who bought a Star Wars novel; and to the young one who purchased two books in Russian and an Elvis compilation on vinyl, which he handled delicately while checking its condition. Special thanks to the ex-Marine Vietnam vet who bought Five Cents, whose main character is a just returned Vietnam vet. There was a second highlight to today's session. A stunning young blond, dressed in casual chic, climbed out of the rear of a new, white SUV and headed toward the Chase ATM. As she ascended the ramp leading to the door, she hacked up a clam and spit it toward the sidewalk. I chuckled aloud. A third highlight was the ease with which I found a perfect parking spot going and coming. I won't have to move the car until after Thursday session. Yay! 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Writer's Life 11/11 - Crazy Ladies & E

I don't watch much comedy other than Seinfeld reruns. When a nine-o'clock show I'm watching is in commercial, I frequently tune to Rowan and Martin's Laugh In reruns broadcast on Decades, 112 on Cablevision in NYC. I ignored it during its heyday in the late '60's, early '70's. I was surprised to learn it ran six seasons. I would have guessed three. I don't recall exactly why I was turned off by it, but it probably had something to do with my being repressed and the show being free-wheeling, which reveals how far I had to go as a human being. Every participant, even the arch-conservative John Wayne, seemed to be having a blast. I have the strangest attraction to Ruth Buzzi and Joanne Worley, hardly beauties but wonderfully energetic, madcap souls whose singing was powerful. It reminds me of my most bizarre attraction - to wrestler Sherri Martell, who was similarly over-the-top yet far more vulgar than the aforementioned. The three had at least one thing in common - they gave it their all when in character. I guess my attraction reflects a desire in me to bust loose, which I never really learned to do, at least other than in writing. I'm sure there are books that reveal what went on backstage at Laugh In. I wouldn't have the patience to read them, but, given the era, I bet things were as wild and woolly as they were on screen. I'm also impressed with Dick Martin's perfect form phantom golf swing. I googled for info on his handicap and came across an excerpt from a book, Golf Hall of Shame by Bruce Nash and Alan Zullo. It claims Martin was the best hustler at his club. When asked why he didn't run pro, he said: "Because I can't afford it." That was back in the day when purses were very modest. Or maybe he was just a bit less talented as the pros. Whatever. Of all the celebrities mentioned in this passage, only Worley and Buzzi survive. Both are in their 80's. Here's Worley:

And Buzzi, an Italian-American:

And Sherri:

What a glorious day. The wind subsided and the sun was shining, taking a lot of bite out of the cold. My thanks to Gina, who bought Jackie Collins' Thrill!, to the young woman who purchased two paperback romances[ to the young man who selected a Daphne du Maurier bio and Ann Tyler's Breathing Lessons; and to Bill Brown, author of Words and Guitar: A History of Lou Reed's Music, who decided to make The Human Stain his introduction into the work of Phillip Roth. The highlight of the session was the delivery of Elvis on vinyl by local super Mayor Mike. There must be at least 20 records in the box he brought, the majority from the latter half of Presley's career, but several from his early years, and the soundtracks to at least five films. The covers are all in good condition and each disk has a jacket. The few I looked at closely do not appear to have any scratches. I would describe the overall condition as good. One cover is of Elvis at perhaps one or two years old.There were also two Johnny Cash compilations and one of oldies rock n roll in the box. I will ask for ten bucks and work from there. I will turn all the money over to Mike. What I'm hoping is that one buyer will want many or all of them. It should be interesting.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works: