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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Writer's Life 11/13 - Mavens

Looking for a change of career? According to Forbes magazine, Dutch DJ Tiesto earned $39 million last year.

RIP Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, 95, whose colorful characters entertained millions. Here's a pic of his legacy:

RIP actor Douglas Rain, 90, the voice behind the rebellious Hal 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). That's not all the Canadian native did, of course. He has 35 titles listed under his name at IMDb, and not all are voice-overs. He was highly successful on the stage. He made his Broadway debut in Tamburlaine the Great in 1956. In 1972 he was nominated for a Tony as Best Supporting or Featured Actor in a dramatic role for Vivat! Vivat Regina! He performed in a host of Shakespearean plays at the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, of which he was a co-founder. Well done, sir. Here's what the voice of Hal looked like in real life:

Another bonus of cutting the chord seems to be a lower electric bill. I read recently that a cable box consumes a lot of energy. The reporter suggested it be turned off when not in use. My bill has certainly gone down.

The forecast was on the money, the rain stopping in the afternoon, allowing a full session of the floating book shop. My thanks to Angelo, who overcompensated me for two works of non-fiction, one of them How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes; and to the two ladies who combined to donate three books in Russian.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Writer's Life 11/12 - Singles, a Myth, NFL, Triple F

China's Singles' Day is a holiday among the young that celebrates pride in being single. The date, 11/11, was chosen because the number "1" resembles an individual who is alone. Oddly, the holiday has also become a popular date to celebrate relationships. Many marry on it. It is also a colossal shopping day comparable to Black Friday. Sales on Alibaba topped $30 billion this year.

Here's a myth buster from the Weird But True column in today's NY Post: Spain's University of Granada has determined that the nose actually shrinks when one lies, due to a two-degree drop in body temp. We still love you, Pinocchio.

I thought the Jets would improve as the season wore on - they've regressed... I've always believed Matt Barkley is a good QB. I'm not surprised by what he accomplished yesterday after only a few days of practice. I don't understand why he was out of the NFL... The Saints have replaced the Rams as the team to beat in the NFC... What's happened to the Eagles? What a dropoff!... The Buccaneers were the first team in league history with more than 450 yards and three or fewer points in a game... Always great to see the Patriots routed, but never count them out... Anyone still questioning whether the Browns made the right choice at the top of the draft?

My thanks to Ira, who bought pictorials on Trains and Autos, and to the woman who confessed to being shy, who purchased The Gentle Art of Verbal Written Self-Defense: Letters in Response to Triple-F Situations by Suzette Hadin Elgin. I googled Triple F. In this context it probably means fears, flaws and failures and not the slogan sex-obsessed teenage males ravaged by hormones often spouted. Wait  - that was a quadruple... Despite today's meager returns, there were three moments that made the session worth it. Mike, who is pushing 80, said he got a drug bill from Aetna for sixty-seven cents, which says a lot about the state of health care in the USA... While daydreaming about customers buying books, I was returned to my senses by the distinct chords of a song and turned around and saw a middle age guy sporting a crewcut sitting in an SUV, waiting for the light to change. As Tony Iommi's familiar guitar lead began, the driver mimicked it with his lips. Soon the unmistakable voice of Ozzy Osbourne burst from the speakers: "Is it the end, my friend?" Sounded great... Finally, the little guy in the pic below jumped off his scooter, climbed the pole and had to be coaxed down by his mom. That durn car had the audacity to get in the way.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Writer's Life 11/11 - Vets, a Cover & a Monster

Yesterday I worked on the cover of the novel I will self-publish in January. Fortunately, a red template was available. I wanted it for two reasons: the characters are on fire with sexual desire, and none of the covers of my other nine books is red. I'd had the blurb in my head for days, perhaps weeks. I don't think this will change much:

From various sources: A record has been set in Miami's Dade County. A 17-foot-five-inch python has been caught. It weighs 120 pounds. The hunter's hands were swollen from the bites he suffered during the capture of the female. The South Florida Water Management District pays eligible hunters $8.10 an hour to hunt Burmese Pythons on its vast landholdings, which encompass much of the Everglades, although not Everglades National Park. They get a $50 bonus for every beast measuring at least 4 feet, and $25 for each foot beyond. If my math is correct, the bonus here was $325. The creatures are not native to the region. They were dumped there and have multiplied, and have virtually wiped out all the raccoons, foxes and other small mammals that once thrived in the southern part of the area. PETA has complained about the way some have been killed - shot more than once. Maybe the organization should send its own members out to capture the beasts. Here's a pic: 

Why are wildfires so common to California and recounts to Florida?

I know better than to let myself believe that immediately landing the most favorite parking spot is a good omen for the floating book shop, which today was in Park Slope, allegedly the most literate neighborhood in Brooklyn. My thanks to the old-timer who bought two DVD's as I was setting up the display, and to the young man who purchased a Brain Busters puzzle book as I was breaking it down. I hardly put a dent in the inventory this weekend. I dread the thought of people dropping off more wares to my usual nook. Then again, I've yet to secure parking there, so I may have to go elsewhere manana

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Writer's Life 11/10 - French, Russian, American

Michel de Montaigne, 1533 – 1592, was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for his skeptical remark which translates as "What do I know?" His ideas have influenced not only many authors but the field of psychology. I've just finished Selections from the Essays, a 135-page edition, perfect for lazy-bones like me. It is largely self-examination, something I've been doing since at least the age of 25, when I began writing. Philosophy is even a more difficult read for me these days than in the past. My mind wanders. I did get something important out the book, however, a thought that found itself into the novel I plan to self-publish in January: "Nothing is harder for me than to believe in men's consistency, nothing easier to believe in than their inconsistency..." I gave my adaptation of the line to the female protagonist, who is addressing the main character, her lover. I doubt it will change much from this: "Nobody's completely consistent - not even you, although you come ridiculously close. I may change my mind about all this ten to fifteen years from now. And why not? I'm allowed."

Last night I attended the wake of the best boss I ever had, affectionately known as Fat Joe, who rose to Floor Supervisor at the Commodity Exchange. He was a sweet guy who had a big heart. He knew the atmosphere was charged and often volatile, and that people occasionally went overboard in venting. He let me get away with behavior that easily could have gotten me fired. There were times I completely forgot I was low on the totem pole, and really ripped into a few brokers. They may have been jerks who deserved it, but I was out of line, no doubt my ego inflated by the fact that I was a college grad and a writer, albeit a failed one. Anyway, my fondest memory of Joe occurred away from the trading floor, on the softball field. During our three-year reign as Wall Street champs, he would often coach third, score-book and pen in hand. One game we were really rocking, scoring a bunch of runs, going first to third several times in a row. I was third in line. Although I was slow, I was a smart base-runner. When a grounder made its way into right-field, I knew where I was headed. The grounds were not maintained well. The ball would bounce erratically. There was a chance it would be bobbled momentarily. As I was sliding safely into third, I heard Joe laughing uproariously: "Hee, hee, hee." I'll never forget it. It captured his joie de vivre perfectly. His cousin, an lit' prof, delivered a wonderful eulogy that included commentary on their grandmother's atomic potato balls, which were served at the family's bi-monthly Sunday dinners. When the priest asked who'd had Joe as best man, several hands shot up. Here's a pic that also captures his personality perfectly. I took it with an old Instamatic in the mid 80's. Joe's holding the football. If it offends you, tough noogies.

Rest in peace, sir. Thank you.

Spasibo to the gentleman who reminds me of Nikita Khrushchev, who bought four books in Russian, and thanks also to the one who purchased Danielle Steel's Fine Things, claiming the author an easy read for someone of his immigrant background, which several people have remarked through the years; and to Lou, who donated three pictorials.

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Writer's Life 11/9 - Interesting Day

Our national curse has struck again - another mass shooting, and the same arguments follow. I don't know what the solution is. The anger is understandable and justified, but would a total gun ban work any better than Prohibition did or the War on Drugs has?

Broward County, Florida - SMH. Even the panhandle, which was devastated by the hurricane, submitted its election results on time.

I've completed the second of three scheduled proof-readings of the novel I plan to self-publish in January. It shrunk by about a page. Almost all of what I removed was from the female protagonist's point of view, and it wasn't much, so I decided to eliminate those instances entirely. Just about all of it remains in dialogue, anyway. My next move is to begin work on the cover. I have red in mind, but that may not be doable because using the free templates restricts options. Whatever - it's what's inside that counts, and I'm happy with it. After the first round on the cover, which will probably take less than an hour, I'll put the book aside until about December 1st. If it looks good after that proofing, I'll add page numbers and submit it to KDP. Then I will review a print copy. If there are errors, I will correct them and resubmit. I'll repeat that process until I'm confident most of the errors have been flushed.

Matt, the principal of a private school that caters to many special needs kids, stopped to chat, as he often has. Older than 70, a Vietnam vet who took a bullet there, he has worked in many fields and has been a money magnet, and generous to me. He owns a pizzeria and a cigar bar in Philadelphia. Today he shocked me by saying he is a recovered alcoholic. His low point was his early sixties. His weight dropped from 320 to 170 because he often went days without food. When I asked if he knew what was at the root of the problem, he shrugged and said his mom, who lived into her eighties, had the same problem. His dad is 101.

It was sprinkling throughout today's session of the floating book shop, which was again salvaged by the scaffold. My thanks to Ira, who gushed about the books he bought yesterday, and who today found four on home repair to his liking; and to the burly ex-con who purchased James Paterson's Quickie, co-written with Michael Ledwidge, and Mario Puzo's Fools Die, and three DVD's; and to the gentleman who selected a thriller in Russian; and to the local home attendant who chose a book on Italian cooking; and to the woman thrilled with an opened CD compilation of classical music and one strictly on Beethoven. Special thanks to the other ex-con, a co-resident of the Atlantic Towers co-op, who is reforming, becoming a drug counselor. He dropped off about 100 DVD's, half of the them karate movies. I always suspected he was the person who several times vandalized one of my former cars, as he often ridiculed me unprovoked. I never took the bait. I haven't had many physical altercations in my life, and challenging a burly guy like that, 20 years my junior, would have been disastrous. Anyway, I get the feeling he's atoning for past behavior. I still don't trust him, but I wish him the best.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Writer's Life 11/8 - Suffering for Art

From a fun article at, edited by yours truly, here's what four famous actors did in certain movie roles:
Emma Stone had to wear a corset in The Favourite, which will soon be released. She said: "After a month, all my organs shifted - it was gross and if you don't have to, don't do it!"
Ashton Kutcher adopted a fruitarian diet while preparing for his role in Jobs (2013), the bio of Apple's founder. The choice to eat only fruits, seeds and nuts, and no animal products landed him in the hospital two days before shooting began. He said: "I was like doubled over in pain, and my pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which was completely terrifying,.."
Dissatisfied with the cuts makeup artists applied to his face for the WWII film Fury (2014), Shia LaBeouf sliced his face with a knife and kept opening the wound throughout filming. He also had a tooth pulled for the role. Here's Hollywood's bad boy:

Even crazier than the above: Christian Bale shed 60 pounds for his part as someone suffering insomnia in The Machinist (2004). Of the experience, he said: "When you’re so skinny that you can hardly walk up a flight of stairs … you’re, like, this being of pure thought. It’s like you’ve abandoned your body. That’s the most Zen-like state I’ve ever been in my life. Two hours sleep, reading a book for 10 hours straight without stopping … unbelievable. You couldn’t rile me up. No rollercoaster of emotions... As soon as you start putting the food back in your stomach, the rollercoaster comes back.”

A Florida cop reached a speed of 142 MPH during a high speed, parked on the side of the road. The vehicle's heat ignited the grass, and the flames quickly spread to the car. Here's a pic:

My thanks to Ira, who bought two large books: A collection of the front page of the NY Times from 1920-1986, concentrating on the most famous stories in that span, and an almanac; and to the gentleman who purchased a thriller in Russian; and to Andy F-Bomb and Marie, who each donated a bag of very marketable books. Mountain Man, aka Steve, stopped for a visit for the first time in a long while. Despite his contempt for politicians, he voted on Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Writer's Life 11/7 - Let There Be Spin

I'm disappointed but not surprised. It would have been so much fun to see the left shriek and whine. Wait - that's still the case because of the half-victory. So what do the results mean? Some say gridlock, which would be refreshing given congress' spendthrift ways, but don't be surprised if those 500+ reprobates continue their irresponsibility. After all, many Republicans might as well be Democrats. In my view it's a temporary stalemate. As I've believed all along, the path to socialism is inevitable. People always want more - especially if somebody else is paying for it. Once President Trump leaves office, the major road block will be gone. The House's Freedom Caucus is fine, but its influence is minimal and will be be even less now that the Dems have retaken the lower chamber. The fact that radicals won many seats and came close in many races seems to be another indicator of a leftist tilt in the nation. I would like to be wrong, but I've always been a pessimist when it comes to politics. Given the deficit and the national debt, I don't see how anyone could be optimistic about it. On the positive side, here's some historical perspective: In Slick Willie's first midterm, he lost 52 House seats and eight in the Senate; B.O. lost a record 62 & 6. Both were re-elected. All conservatives should want Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker, as her approval rating is 32%. I don't think anything will ever sum up politics in a nutshell better than the fact that Maxine Waters will be chairman of the financial services committee. The worst aspect of all this is that the mood in this divided but still great country will remain ugly, which was demonstrated immediately today by Trump's exchange with the CNN "reporter." Your move.

To no one's surprise, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned. His service was surprising and extremely disappointing.

I had another "Duh" moment last night. There was a big band stream playing in the background while I was online. A familiar melody was cued, the same that played during the closing credits of '50's-'60's sitcom Make Room for Daddy. It was Glenn Miller's version of Danny Boy, a song I was unaware of back in the day. I was shocked. I never realized the instrumental theme, arranged by Earle Hagen, and the Irish standard were one and the same, and so appropriate given that Danny Thomas was the star of the show, which ran from '53 - '64, 344 episodes. The lyrics were written in 1910 by English lawyer Frederic Weatherly. After his Irish-born sister-in-law sent him the music of Londonderry Air in 1913, he modified the lyrics to fit its rhyme and meter.

I've been a Giants fan since I was a kid. I'm not happy that they are not suspending backup QB Kyle Lauleta, who was arrested after an incident in New Jersey in which he ignored a cop directing traffic, made an illegal turn, and allegedly almost struck the officer. He was charged with eluding police, reckless driving, and other charges. It was the second straight day he pulled the illegal maneuver. Another athlete with an inflated sense of entitlement has been given a pass. Shame on the organization. It's doubly irksome given the apparent Italian last name.

After a two-day hiatus, the floating book shop was back in action. Apparently, it was not missed. My thanks to Cabbie, who purchased James Patterson's Double Cross, and to the gentleman who bought a book in Russian; and to the guy who bought the Oliver Stone director's cut DVD of Alexander (2004); and to my constant benefactress, who brought more books and movies.