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Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/25 - The Shaft & More

From Yahoo's Odd News, edited by yours truly: Activists are collecting money to repair a penis-shaped rock formation in southern Norway after the popular tourist attraction was found badly damaged. Joggers discovered that the Trollpikken rock formation had cracked and noted holes drilled into the rock — which experts believe suggests vandalism. So far more than 500 people have donated nearly 90,000 Norwegian kroner ($10,600). Why would anyone give this thing the shaft? Here's a pic:

From Yahoo Sports, edited by yt: The Oakland A’s made history yesterday, becoming the first MLB team to have three different players hit their first career home run in the same game. Rookies Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman and Franklin Barreto all went deep against White Sox starter James Shields, who reached a milestone of his own, despite the 10-2 loss - his 2000th career strikeout. I guess those three hitters gave Shields the shaft... Also in baseball, future hall of famer Ichiro Suzuki, 43, is now the oldest man ever to have started a game in centerfield.

Pop quiz: Who wrote these 1930's lyrics? "You thrill and fill this heart of mine, with gladness like a soothing symphony, over the air, you gently float, and in my soul, you strike a note."It's from a song titled Humoresque by none other than Al Capone. The handwritten copy sold at auction yesterday for $18,750. Who knew Scarface was really a sentimental softy? I wonder if anyone will record it. (From an article in the NY Post, in my own words.)

I just looked at an email from designed to lure me into again becoming a paying member, as I was way back in 2007. It was once a good site but it has been made irrelevant by Facebook. Anyway, four former classmates from St. Mary's elementary have allegedly visited my profile and each selected a word to describe me: charming, sweet, athletic, kind. Shucks.

It looked like another day of brutal returns at the floating book shop. Since it was such a beautiful day and I was under a tree and a cool breeze was blowing from the direction of Gravesend Bay, I forced myself to stay an hour longer than usual. For the first 3:55 I sold only a book in Russian to an elderly woman, a regular customer. Fortunately, a Russian gentleman dropped off a cache of marketable books equally divided between his first language and English, and Monsey swapped a bunch of pictorials, including four on photoshopping, for a college lit tome, so it wasn't a complete waste of time. As I was packing up, another Russian woman bought a translation of The DaVinci Code, and a young mom overpaid for two young adult books. My thanks, folks.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/24 - Light & Color

Although it is a fine film, The Light Between Oceans (2016) did not generate much buzz upon its release. It is the heartbreaking story of a laconic World War I combat veteran who takes a job at an isolated lighthouse off the coast of western Australia. The day before he leaves for the tiny island he meets a woman. They begin a correspondence that leads to marriage. They are happy until the wife suffers consecutive miscarriages. Fate intervenes when a dinghy washes up on their shore. Inside are a crying infant and a dead man. The woman convinces her husband to pass the child off as theirs. After much anguish and contrary to his rigid sense of right and wrong, he agrees. Four years later he stumbles upon the birth mother. Germany's Michael Fassbender, one of the hottest actors in the world at present, is outstanding in the lead, as are Sweden's Alicia Vikander as his wife, and the great Rachel Weisz as the birth mom. America's Derek Cianfrance was at the helm and also adapted the screenplay from M.L. Stedman's best-seller, which must be a heck of a novel. I'd seen one of Cianfrance's previous efforts, the highly regard The Place Between the Pines (2012), which I was not crazy about but respected because it was different. I hope he continues to do different. Worldwide, The Light Between Oceans was modestly successful at the box office, returning $25 million+ against production costs of $20 million. My guess is that it is too downbeat for most moviegoers. I'd bet most of its take came from those who'd read the book, and also that it appeals primarily to females. Aussie screen vets Jack Thompson and Bryan Brown lend their considerable talents in support. The pace is leisurely and the running time exceeds two hours. The location photography is breathtaking. 28,000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 7.2 of ten, too low in my estimation. It is an old fashion story about good people in unfortunate circumstances. Life is so unfair to a young woman filled with love, married to a moral man whose character is his destiny. Here's a still:

I had no luck selling books on the street today. I had a visit from B.S. Bob, who told me about another of his screenplay ideas. The main character is a big fan of Fred Astaire and devotes several floors in a building he owns to scenes from the great dancer's movies. In one scene Bob would have the lead, either Hugh Jackman or Jean DuJardin from The Artist (2011), dancing on the keys of a huge typewriter. I hated to reveal that this had been done in Absolute Beginners (1986). Of course, there's no reason it couldn't be done again. Here's a still of David Bowie from that colorful flick:

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Friday, June 23, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/23 - Pressed

Think your Iphone costs a lot? Get a load of this one:

It was created by Alchemist London, which specializes in adding designer gold and jeweled cases to laptop computers, tablets and smart phones. It claims this is the world's most expensive iPhone, worth a cool million. Only two exist.

In an op-ed piece in today's NY Post, Charles Gasparino renders an opinion on why the stock market keeps climbing despite the weak economy. My view is that there is nowhere else to get a decent return, so investors keep pouring money into it. I'd not heard one of the reasons Gasparino gave, but it makes a lot of sense. In 1996 there were about 800 stocks listed. Today there are about 400. With less options, more dough goes to the high quality stocks such as Apple, Netflix, etc, which drive the market.

I have no idea if the Republican health care bill, if passed, will begin to correct the brutal costs people are paying. I am naturally skeptical of plans drafted by politicians. I am happy the individual mandate will be eliminated. I find it disgraceful, wholly un-American. I did not see any mention in the Post of consumers being allowed to cross state lines to purchase insurance, although I thought I heard on Hannity that it was part of the bill. It is essential. Competition has always led to lower costs. One sign I'll use to gauge the bill will be the reaction of the conservative wing of Congress. If those folks are not happy, it will indicate that it's just more of the same.

RIP Bronx boy Gabe Pressman, 93, longtime local reporter for NBC in NYC. His career spanned 60 years. During World War II he served in the U.S. Navy from 1943–46, taking part in the Philippines campaign, serving as a communications officer aboard a submarine chaser. After earning a Master's from Columbia in 1947, he worked for short period for the Newark Evening News. Columbia awarded him a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship, and he spent the next 15 months in Europe as a freelance journalist, contributing feature stories for various outlets. He was a pioneer of TV news and has been credited as the first reporter to have left the studio for on-the-scene reporting at major events. Along the way he won a Peabody Award and 11 Emmys. He was an icon. Well done, sir. (Facts from Wiki)

My thanks to Kinesha, who bought two more paperback thrillers, and to Susan, who purchased non-fiction on domestic violence and finding one's purpose in life; and also to the gentleman who purchased a hardcover in Russian. The humidity was high, although I dared not complain, as one of the men working on the refacing of the huge apartment building surrounding my nook passed countless times, pushing a wheelbarrow filled with bricks to a dumpster. I timed one of his runs. It was less than five minutes - and he was a skinny guy. I hope his boss appreciates how hard he works. I was embarrassed by my own work "load," standing there like an idiot hoping people will buy books.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/22 - Short Shorts

In his op-ed piece in today's NY Post, Seth Lipsky suggests Donald Trump do what no president has done since Harry Truman in 1948 - order congress to forgo its August recess. He points out that Truman's approval rating at the time was even lower than Trump's is now, 36% compared to 38%. Do it, sir. It's what a true outsider would do.

A Post blurb informs that the CIA has fired several of its contractors, who rigged vending machines to surrender free food worth a total of $3314. How were they busted? Hidden surveillance cameras were set up in the break room. Watching the watchers, as is often said these days.

I chuckled when I came upon a friend's Facebook post regarding the special election in Georgia. He quoted a source from Fox News, who said Democrats "colluded" to spend $31 million on the race. Of course, Republicans "colluded" to spend $20 million. After winning in South Carolina, Republicans have swept all five of the special election races of 2017. I neglected one factor in the Georgia race. Trump carried that district by only two percent on election day. Karen Handel won by nearly five points. Does that indicate that approval of the President's job performance is rising in that district, where two years ago the Republican won by 19%? Does it even matter when circumstances can change so quickly?

Boys at a British high school in the city of Exeter have found a novel way around strict uniform rules banning shorts, as the country sweltered through a heatwave that has now ended. They donned skirts instead of officially mandated gray slacks. None was punished. Meanwhile, in the western French city of Nantes, male bus drivers reportedly wore skirts this week to protest the fact that they are not allowed to wear shorts. I know the school might not be air-conditioned, but aren't the buses? Couldn't the drivers change from shorts to work pants just before beginning a shift?

My thanks to Romanian born artist Andu, who plans to make a collage of the pictures in the the 75th Anniversary pictorial of Time magazine he bought today. My thanks also to the middle age woman who purchased a thriller in Russian, and to the one who bought four romance novels, and to the two women who donated a slew of paperbacks. Here's one of Andu's creations:

Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/21 - Relief

What is to be gleaned from the result of the special election in Georgia, won by Republican Karen Handel? The Democrats poured a record $30 million into capturing the seat, which is in a heavily Republican district. I suspect they will focus on the fact that the margin was 19% lower than in 2016, that they are gaining ground. The right should be happy, but it would be wrong to gloat, despite its 4-0 record in such elections since President Trump took office. The country is in flux and power will be determined by performance. If the economy continues to stall, few politicians will be safe, especially the commander in chief.

A blurb in the NY Post informs that the NY state senate is preparing a bill that will allow those drivers unsure of gender identity to select X. Oregon is the only state to have done it so far. One wonders if other categories will be added.

Modern love: A Brooklyn woman participates in a three-way and freaks out when the resident of the apartment starts filming. She flees and calls her boyfriend, who was not part of the menage a trois. He kills the would-be auteur. Now the story is in the popular NY Post and most likely other sources as well. She has brought the exposure she wanted to avoid onto herself. Writers love irony.

In his eighth big league season, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is on a phenomenal tear. Check out these numbers: 15 saves in 15 opportunities, 4-0 record; 29 2/3 innings pitched, 17 hits, 0.91 ERA; 50 strikeouts, 0 walks; 15.2 strikeouts per nine innings; .160 batting average against; 107 batters faced, only six three-ball counts; one immaculate inning – three batters, three strikeouts, nine pitches. Are you kidding me? Awesome, dude.

Three months ago I was told I was at risk for glaucoma. Since then I've been using prescription eye drops each night before bed. I went for a check up this morning and received excellent news. My numbers have returned to near normal. Last time they were 25, 26. Today they were 17, 18. Normal is 15.16. I was so relieved. Now I can stop worrying about going blind, at least until the next visit in October. One of my main concerns was not being able to get the last three of my manuscripts into print. I plan to self-publish one in each of the next three Januaries. I had a hop in my step upon leaving the office.

My thanks to the sweet elderly woman who donated six books in Russian and insisted on paying for the six she selected from me. My thanks also to Ira, who purchased the Beverly Sills bio titled after her pet name - Bubbles.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/20 - Slants

The Supreme Court voted 8-0 to allow Asian-American rock band The Slants to keep its name, which some find offensive, a victory for common sense.

I came across a new term in today's NY Post: Triparenting, which is when a child has three legal parents. Do I hear four? How 'bout five?

RIP comedian Bill Dana, who in the '50's & '60's had folks laughing through his character, a Latino of limited English. His tagline, offered whenever he was confused by a question, was imitated countless times: "My name .... Jose Jimenez." I remember a sketch when he wore a baseball uniform. The interviewer, who I believe was Steve Allen, asked something like: "What do you throw when Mickey Mantle comes to bat?" And Jimenez replied: "When Mickey Mantle comes to bat ------- I throw up." He had an eponymous sitcom, which shot 42 episodes, and had 22 credits as a writer, including the famous meeting of Archie Bunker and Sammy Davis Jr. on All in the Family. These days his act would probably be deemed offensive by the thin-skinned. Thank you, sir.

I woke at 2:30 AM and immediately realized my mind was on a negative jag. Knowing I wouldn't get back to sleep, I turned on the TV, which always helps in that situation. At one point while channel surfing, I chuckled as I spotted Hollywood stalwart Gale Gordon, whose specialty was curmudgeonly characters. I looked him up at IMDb. There are only 46 titles listed under his name, but he was a regular on many series. He did 130 episodes as Eve Arden's foil on Our Miss Brooks, 44 of Dennis the Menace as the replacement Mr. Wilson when Joseph Kearns passed away, 111 of The Lucy Show, 140 of Here's Lucy, and 13 of Life with Lucy, as well as multiple appearances on other sitcoms. In the 1930s he wrote two books: Nursery Rhymes For Hollywood Babes, co-authored with Gloria Gordon, who I assume was his sister, and Leaves From Story Trees, two one-act plays. He was married to wife Virginia from 1937-'95, when she passed away. He followed her a month or so later. He was 89. Kudos, sir.

The NY Mets have been struggling mightily this season, so things did not bode well last night when they faced Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw, perhaps the best pitcher of his generation. They hit four home runs, the first time the superstar has allowed that many in a game. Alas, they'd fallen into a 0-7 hole, and lost 6-10. Kershaw got the win and is now 10-2, ERA only 2.61 despite last night's uncharacteristically weak performance. The game was especially notable for the accomplishments of rookie Cody Bellinger, who has split time in leftfield and at firstbase for LA. He socked two homers, bringing his total to 21 in his first 51 major league games. That betters the mark of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who had 20 in the same span last year.

I hadn't seen two of my best customers for months - and both showed up today and bought a bunch of books. My thanks to Jimmy, who took a lot of weight off my hands, and to Kinesha, who wheeled along the new edition to her family, a beautiful baby boy. As usual she selected an eclectic mix, including Billionths of a Lifetime. My thanks also to Ira and Arlene, who purchased three books between them, and to Tanya, who donated four, including a collection of Saul Bellow's short stories. And to top it off, Red Berries Special K and Wild Cherry Pepsi were on sale at CVS.
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Monday, June 19, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/19 - Inspired

Brooks Koepka's excellence stripped the U.S. Open of its usual high drama. He didn't give anyone a chance to snatch his first major title from him, cruising to a four-shot win, tying Rory McIlroy's all-time mark of -16 for the tournament. And he earned two million plus. Kudos, sir.

Here's a list of interesting literary facts from the Huffington Post. I pared it from twelve, and edited heavily: Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust features a character named Homer Simpson. It was not the inspiration for Matt Groening's iconic character... Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury was a descendant of a Salem witch, Mary Perkins Bradbury, who was sentenced to be hanged in 1692 but managed to escape before her scheduled execution... Ernest Hemingway once took home the urinal from his favorite bar, arguing that he’d pissed so much of his money into it that he was entitled to ownership... Sting wrote Every Breath You Take at the same desk that Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond novels - at the Fleming Villa at GoldenEye in Jamaica... D. H. Lawrence liked to climb mulberry trees in the nude to stimulate his imagination... Before he was famous, Kurt Vonnegut managed America’s first Saab dealership. It failed within a year... As a schoolboy, Roald Dahl was a taste-tester for Cadbury’s. Is it any wonder he went on to write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?... Aristophanes’ play Assemblywomen contains the longest word in Greek - 171 letters. It's the name of a fictional food dish: Lopado­­temacho­­selacho­­galeo­­kranio­­leipsano­­drim­­hypo­­trimmato­­silphio­­parao­­melito­­katakechy­­meno­­kichl­­epi­­kossypho­­phatto­­perister­­alektryon­­opte­­kephallio­­kigklo­­peleio­­lagoio­­siraio­­baphe­­tragano­­pterygon. As for English literature, it is believed that James Joyce is responsible for the longest word - 101 letters, used in Finnegan's Wake: Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhoun-awnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk. It refers to the thunderclap associated with the fall of Adam and Eve.

Where's D.H?

It was quiet at today's session of the floating book shop. My thanks to the gentleman who bought two books in Russian, and to those who stopped to chat.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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