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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Writer's Life 12/12 - Me, Irv

My gut feeling is that Roy Moore will lose the senate race. The polls are in conflict. Former NBA star and Alabama native son Charles Barkley, who has frequently backed Republicans, is campaigning against Moore. I expect Democratic turnout to be huge, and many Republicans to stay home or write-in someone else. If Moore goes down, expect the sexual harassment charges against the President to intensify. Now that the Russia collusion probe seems dead, Trump's opponents will change course.

I've avoided saying anything about LaVar Ball. His bluster turns me off. His oldest son, Lonzo, spent only a single year at UCLA, was the number two pick in the 2017 draft and is a potential star. His middle son, LaMelo, was caught shoplifting in China, released from incarceration with President Trump's help, and suspended indefinitely by UCLA. His father pulled him out of the school - right move, wrong reason. Any college that has a one-and-done player should be penalized, perhaps a forfeit of one of the scholarships each program is allotted. Now the senior Ball has arranged for his two younger sons - LiAngelo is the third - to play professionally in Lithuania. At this point neither is considered an NBA prospect. It will be interesting to track, and surprising if the move is successful. I wish all one-and-done players would choose such a course, whether stateside or overseas. The current system is bogus.

Through the years, certain viewers of golf have spotted violations and immediately telephoned to report them, often costing a player a win. The PGA has finally come to its senses and enacted a rule against busybody tattletales.

There ought to be a box score in news reporting, a separate line for retractions. This week alone has seen several. Is it sloppy journalism or simply the mainstream media using carte blanche in its effort to derail Trump?

As I was driving home yesterday, I was thinking the only way I'd be able to run the floating book shop today was if I landed the most favorable parking spot, which sits beside the scaffold that hovers above my regular nook. There used to be two of equal value. One is now occupied by a dumpster.  To my surprise, the other was available and I told myself: You gotta be the luckiest so-and-so there ever was. I didn't do a lot of business, but I was protected from any rain that may have fallen, and it got me out of the house for more than three hours. My thanks to the sweet elderly woman who bought a book in Russian, and to the gentleman who purchased Ann Rice's The Queen of the Damned. For some reason he thinks my name is Irv. I've never corrected him. For one, I find it funny. Later, I was speaking to Mike, an old-timer who frequently stops to chat, usually about gambling. He spotted Political Man approaching and said: "Uh-oh, here comes meshuggah." PM still dubs Donald Trump a Nazi, despite the fact that the President recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Egypt. He is certain impeachment is imminent.

Happy Hanukkah to Jews everywhere. Long live Israel.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Monday, December 11, 2017

The Writer's Life 12/11 - Mix & Match

NYC has dodged another terrorist bullet. Unfortunately, the failed attack shows how vulnerable the subway is, and there's not much the authorities can do about it.

In an op-ed piece in today's NY Post, retired Army Colonel Ralph Peters called the protests of President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel rather tepid compared to those of the past, and called out the mainstream media for its extreme bias toward the Palestinians, who have rejected umpteen offers for their own state since 1948. Here's a brief excerpt from the piece that is right on the money: "... Israel... an island of civilization amid vast deserts of barbarism." Kudos.

One set of highlights from yesterday's NFL games stood out, the Colts and Bills playing in deep snow in Buffalo. It was falling so fast all the ground crew could do was clear the boundaries and hashmarks. The Colts tied the score late in regulation, tried to win with a two-point conversion try, but suffered a major penalty that forced future Hall of Famer Adam Vinatieri to kick a 46-yard extra point. He later missed from a similar distance in OT. The Bills won on a long run by LeSean McCoy, who had more than 100 yards rushing. Kudos to both teams for their professionalism... Besides the Giants, the most precipitous fall by a team in 2017 seems the Raiders, who last season seemed like genuine Super Bowl contenders until Derek Carr was injured. Even with the QB back, the Black and Silver have been less than mediocre, putrid yesterday... It will really suck if Eagles QB Carson Wentz is lost for the season, although Nick Foles is an experienced backup... Right now it seems as if the Patriots will waltz to another title.


This morning I did a quick scan of the novel I will be self-publishing shortly. I asked the Word program to highlight errors. It found three or four. I then converted the file to PDF and added page numbers. I will check it to see if everything seems in order and, if it does, submit it to Create Space, which will send me a proof copy. I usually find a few more mistakes in the first proof. If that occurs, I will make corrections and request another.

It was a beautiful day of sunshine and negligible wind, and the floating book shop had a second straight good session. My thanks to the gentleman who bought six Danielle Steele paperbacks for his Mrs., and to the sweet Russian grandma who purchased three novels in her first language, and to David, a young man who went to town, selecting not only Killing but Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, Frank McCourt's 'Tis, two novels by Chaim Potok, a short story collection Sholem Aleichem, and The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Writer's Life 12/10 - More Stalwarts

Last night the Svengoolie program on MeTV, channel 33 on Cablevision in NYC, ran the very forgettable The Mummy's Curse (1944), the third entry in the series. All but two of the cast were unfamiliar to me, despite extensive appearances on the big and small screen. Addison Richards has 405 titles listed under his name, not including multiple appearances on popular TV shows. Here's a pic of this Hollywood stalwart, who passed away at 61 in 1964. How many credits would he have amassed had he lived another decade?:

The director, Leslie Goodwins, also was unknown to me, despite a career that spanned 1924-'67. He began as a writer (60 credits) and actor (10 credits), mostly in shorts, then helmed many B movies, and finally segued into TV in the early '50's. He has 164 titles listed under his name as a director, a figure that does not include multiple stints behind the camera for shows such as My Favorite Martian (19 episodes), The Cisco Kid (14) and Sugarfoot (12). He passed away at 69 in '69. Here's a great pic of him between the stars of The Mummy's Curse, Lon Chaney Jr. in costume and Virginia Christine, who eventually became the spokeswoman, Mrs. Olsen, in Folger's coffee commercials:

Gaze on the middle of the batting order and despair, fellow Yankees-haters: Judge, Sanchez, Stanton. Ten years of agita ahead.

My thanks to the gentleman who bought Five Cents. Having read Killing, he said we appear to be in tune. Thanks also to the young man who selected Dean Koontz's The Good Guy, and to the middle age one who purchased a Solomon Burke vinyl LP. Several people had taken a close look at it the past two weeks. I was unable to place the name to a song, so I scanned his extensive bio at Wiki. Here's most of the first paragraph, edited by yours truly: "Born in 1940, he was an American preacher and singer who shaped the sound of rhythm and blues as one of the founding fathers of soul music in the 1960's, a key transitional figure. He had a string of hits including Cry to Me, If You Need Me, Got to Get You Off My Mind, Down in the Valley and Everybody Needs Somebody to Love. He was referred to as 'King Solomon,' the 'King of Rock 'n' Soul,' 'Bishop of Soul' and the 'Muhammad Ali of Soul.' Due to his minimal chart success in comparison to other soul music greats, he has been described as the genre's 'most unfairly overlooked singer' of its golden age." I listened to snippets of several songs, and none was familiar. Here's the album the gentleman bought:

And here's a live clip of him doing a song Ray Charles made famous:
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Writer's Life 12/9 - Film, Money, Music

Alien Convenant (2017) is the sixth film in the series. I caught up to it last night courtesy of Netflix. It's not a bad flick - it's just more of the same. The only aspect that distinguishes it from its predecessors is Michael Fassbender's creepy turn as an android. As expected in the age of CGI, the effects and sets are first rate. Ridley Scott was at the helm, so fans know going in that it will be, in the least, watchable. Despite its predictability, I was never bored during its two hour running time. There is more gore than I've seen in a while. A malevolent being bursts from several members of the crew, just as it did from John Hurt's gut in the original way back in '79. Of course, the screenplay leaves room for a continuation, and the seventh son is in pre-production. And why not? Made on a budget of $97 million, it returned $240 million worldwide. I'll probably watch the next installment when it's issued on DVD. 174000+ users at IMDb have rated AC, forging to a consensus of 6.5 on a scale of ten. Those squeamish about blood splatter should pass. Its appeal is probably restricted to fans of the series. While viewing I was reminded of a tag line used in the trailer for the original Poseidon Adventure (1972): "Who will survive?" Here's a shot of Fassbender from the opening sequence:

Snow put the kibosh on the floating book shop today. It gave me a chance to catch up on chores. I hit the ATM and while in the bank decided to see to something I'd been putting off. Fortunately, my account manager was free. I asked about long term insurance. Since I'm 67, the plan the bank and a partner offer requires a deposit of $100,000. It's best to begin such a policy at age 50. I don't have that much free cash. I would have to draw funds from my retirement accounts, which I've yet to touch. I have $140,000 in an annuity at the bank. I suggested using that and was told the taxes would be 40 grand - those thieving bastards! I would suffer similarly if I withdrew money from my two IRA's, so I probably won't be doing it. I'd always looked at my retirement plans as insurance, anyway, and so it will remain. The woman said she'd send details of what the insurance company would require. I doubt I'll go for it, but at least I got it out of the way.

Since I had plenty of time on my hands when I got home, I decided to do what I've done for many years now - download a list of songs I've jotted down the past six months or so, and burn a CD for each of my four nieces. After downloads at Amazon, paid for with the gift certificate money I've accumulated doing surveys, the list has 17 songs, 64 minutes worth of great music. The first four come from a disc my buddy Bags burned for me last Christmas:
Just Dropped In - 1st Edition
Sangria - Blake Shelton
Mama's Broken Heart - Miranda Lambert
Thunderstruck - AC/DC
Reelin' & Rockin' (Live) - Chuck Berry. Heard for the first time this year. It's a riot.
Yakety Yak - The Coasters
Sunshine Superman - Donovan
Riders on the Storm - The Doors
You Can't Sit Down - The Dovells
 As Time Goes By - E. Humperdinck. Also heard for the first time this year. Beautiful!
I'm Walkin' - Fats Domino
By the Time I Get to Phoenix - Glen Campbell
If You Could Read My Mind - Gordon Lightfoot
You don't Mess Around with Jim - Jim Croce
My Baby Just Cares for Me - Nina Simone
Ya Got Trouble - Robert Preston. Don't know how I overlooked this one for my Showstoppers disc.

My thanks to whomever downloaded Exchanges to Kindle. Unfortunately, the publisher, Wheelman Press, has yet to pay royalties for the 40 or so copies that have sold.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:


Friday, December 8, 2017

The Writer's Life 12/8 - Autographs

The weatherman said it would be cloudy with a high of only 40. I usually don't operate the floating book shop in such conditions, but with snow in the forecast for tomorrow I thought I'd give it a shot. It was the right move, although I didn't make a lot of money. The clouds were often thin enough to allow some warmth through them, so I was able to put in a regular session. My thanks to the woman who overpaid for a Che Guevara bio in Russian, and to the other who bought a compilation of mystery short stories.

I have 32 pages left to proof of the novel I will be self-publishing shortly. I anticipate submitting it to Create Space on Monday. The only thing that might delay it is an oddity I spotted in looking over the excerpt I posted below. There were three unusual punctuation marks separating words. I wonder if that will happen when I transfer the manuscript from Word to PDF. That would be a big problem, as the latter file will be read only, unable to be corrected. The reason such a problem may occur, I presume, is because the manuscript was scanned from a hard copy into my previous PC, and Word did not recognize many of the characters my old typewriter banged out. It took a lot of work to get it into shape. It's always something. Anyway, the following is one of the many reminiscences that characterize Present and Past. It was recounted to me in real life by the character name Laro, which is shortened from his real name:

Freddie chuckled as he scanned the menu.
"Wha’?" said Tony, smiling.
"The Yankee Bean Soup reminds me of something. I was at a game with Philly."
"Laro or Scungille?"
"Laro, the Yankee Clipper, who else? A customer gave me a couple of box seats near the Yankee dugout. Philly was in his glory. You should've seen him smiling. While we were sitting there watching BP, two teenage girls came down the aisle and started calling out to Bucky Dent."
"Who's that?"
"The shortstop back then. Anyway, they were wearing 'I Love Bucky' buttons and T-shirts. Dent saw them, came over, and gave them a ball each and autographed them. Meanwhile, Philly's standing there with this stunned look on his face. He was hurt, insulted that Dent didn't have anything for him. He was already tanked and the game was still a half-hour away. He looked at Dent with a seriousness you wouldn't believe, and said: 'Where's mine, Bucky?' And Dent looked at him as if he was nuts. And Philly said:  'D’they get sick every time the Yankees lose? D’they lose sleep over it like I do? I been a Yankee fan all my life. Don't I get anything?'"
"Get atta here," said Tony, eyes wide with mirth.
Freddie raised a hand and said: "I swear to...."  He caught himself, realizing it was Tony's phrase.
"What a moron. What'd the guy do?"
"He just walked away. I was dying trying not to laugh. Talk about the poor soul. It ruined his day. It must've been the only time in his life he didn't enjoy a Yankee game in person. And they lost too, so he was really depressed."
"He was always an idiot."

Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Writer's Life 12/7 - Words & Images

Did you know there was a co-creator of Batman? I didn't. According to an article in today's NY Post, Bob Kane and Bill Finger used to sit in Poe Park in the Bronx and exchange ideas. For years Kane had a clause in his contract that prevented anyone else from sharing credit. Finger's name was left off every issue of Detective Comics except the first in which the Caped Crusader appeared, #27. Supposedly, Finger came up with the Dark Knight's cowl, cape, gloves and his real name - Bruce Wayne. He died in 1974, and it wasn't until 2015 that his contributions were acknowledged in DC Comics. The TV series Gotham has cited him in its credits. Now a street will be named after him, East 192nd and Grand Concourse, near Poe Park. The ceremony will be tomorrow, 12/8, at 10 AM. There is a book about Finger: Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman by Mark Tyler Nobleman, and a Bill Finger Appreciation Group, which will host the ceremony. Ka-pow!

Brooklyn subway commuters who travel into Manhattan may gaze at the skyline and ask themselves what's missing. The Jehovah's Witness' Watchtower sign has been removed. The letters were 15 feet high. The organization sold the building on which it stood to Kushner Companies, a group headed by President Trump's son in law. Here's a pic:

Down goes Franken! Next!

Given the wind whipping through my usual book nook, I made a mistake in not taking the show to an alternate site. Fortunately, four ladies bailed me out. The first donated two hardcovers in Russian, the second donated a whole bag's worth, and the third and forth bought seven of them. My thanks. The abundant sunshine did not negate the effects of the wind. Late in the session I gave the bus shelter a try. I stood gazing through the glass that makes up its left side. There was no sunshine there, but, since the temperature wasn't the problem, it was fine there. I'll remember that next time conditions are similar.
  Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Writer's Life 12/6 - Too Far?

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller had to fire an assistant for anti-Trump bias - only because he was caught. I still believe if the President goes down it will be because of financial shenanigans uncovered during the investigation, and not Russia collusion. Liberals are gloating, thinking the Trump's been got, despite the arguments of one of their icons, attorney Alan Dershowitz, to the contrary. How odd it is that A.D. has come to Trump's defense, although I'm sure it's grudging. Radio talk show hosts Mark Simone, a libertarian, and Sean Hannity, a conservative, believe the investigation is a mere partisan witch hunt, and that the Hillary campaign is the one that colluded with Russia. I didn't get a visit from Political Man, who spews anti-Trump venom as he strolls, claiming he's an anti-semite, despite the fact that Trump's three oldest children are married to Jews. I wonder how PM will spin Trump's endorsement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Where will all this end? Stay tuned.

How often has it been said that Republicans are the party of the rich? According to the Fast Takes column in today's NY Post, Democrats hold 19 of the 25 congressional districts with the highest median income. 

I'm now settled in with my new Samsung 24 inch Smart TV. At present the only aspect I don't like about it is that the close captioning is too small and, for some reason, the ability to enlarge it is listed as "unavailable." As far as its compatibility with the cable box, the picture still breaks up occasionally. Last night it wasn't as constant as it had been with the old TV.

All the silly sports leagues leery of opening a franchise in Las Vegas take note: according to an article at ESPN, attendance at the NHL's Knights' home games has been 102.7% of capacity.

I'm more than halfway through the latest sweep of the novel I plan to self-publish, my ninth book. I've made a lot of minor changes, a few corrections. I anticipate sending it to Create Space for approval in a week or so. I will not endorse its publication until I'm satisfied the proof copy is clean as I can get it.

My thanks to Cabbie, who did a swap of paperback thrillers, and to Barry Spunt, author and professor of Criminology at John Jay College, who overpaid for bios of basketball coaching titans John Wooden and Bobby Knight; and to the gentleman who purchased yet another vinyl album, this one a compilation of rock n roll oldies. The most interesting visitors came back to back. Like me, Jeff is a former commodities trading floor employee. While I worked data entry for the Exchange, he was a clerk and trader. He has read several of my books. Today he had questions about Killing, in which it seemed to him the protagonist took a sudden leap from family man to psychopath. It is a perfectly legitimate critique. The first question I ask people who read the novel, which I believe is my best, is if he/she thinks it goes too far, even though the main character does not carry out the deed he'd planned. Jeff is only the second to have thought so. I tried to explain why the character acts as he does. Perhaps there is no interpretation other than Dante is a potential psychopath. If that's the case, I failed miserably. Before leaving, Jeff said he really enjoyed my books and looks forward to others. Minutes after he left, as I was packing up the wares, eager to get out of the cold, Mikhail showed up. I hadn't seen him in months. When his wife was placed in a hospice, his son didn't want him living alone, so he has been living in Jersey. I knew immediately from the expression on his face that his wife had passed away. All I could do was shake his hand, give him a hug, and say I was sorry. I don't know when the death occurred but it's clear Mikhail is still emotional about it. They were married 50-60 years. Rest in peace, madam. And my thanks to her beautiful human being of a husband, who purchased a fantasy in Russian. I hope it provides a pleasant distraction.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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