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Monday, October 31, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/31

Thanks to the kind folks who bought books today. Here's an excerpt from Triple Witching Hour, part of the A Hitch in Twilight collection:

   The studio apartment was shrouded in darkness except for the light cast by a lone burner, whose blue flames engulfed the bottom of a large pot. The glow illumined the faces of three women standing naked before the stove, staring down at the rank stew coming to a boil. The one in the middle, a head taller than her companions, was pale and slim, her long straight hair the color of a raven. The one to her right was several shades darker, hair of a similar length and color but frizzy, the last upper incisor on each side of her mouth sparkling golden. The third was as dark as a human being could be and had long, shiny, straightened black hair and enormous breasts.
   They repeated a soft chant several times:
                                                   "Fair is foul, and foul is fair.
                                                   Hover through the smog, the filthy air."*
    Thick black drapes hung before the lone window, keeping out the rays of a nearby streetlight. A dark towel was stuffed into the bottom of the door, beyond which voices were murmuring. Soon there came an angry knock.
   "What's goin' on in there?" a male gruffly demanded. "It's the middle of the night. People wanna sleep."
   "Another menage a trois, no doubt," a woman returned smugly.
   "They've moved beyond that to orgy," said another male. "And they don't even have the decency to invite their neighbors."
   "I could care less," said the first male. "I just can't take that stink. What is that - some Spanish fly? I come across dead bodies that don't smell that bad."
   Again he knocked and called out  - in vain.
   "Has anyone seen my cat?" said a concerned female voice.
   The trio at the stove looked at each other. The tallest whispered:
                                                    "And thereto a cat's entrail
                                                    To the ingredients of our pail."**
   "That's it, I'm callin' the cops," said the gruff male.
   "You don't think...?" said the cat's owner, pausing, then breaking into a sob that faded along the corridor.
   The tallest woman spoke:
                                                     "Fair is foul, and foul is fair.
                                                      Hover through the smog, the filthy air."
   She pulled a long pin from her hair, plunged it into her thumb, and pressed to stimulate the flow of blood, which seemed black in the sparse light.
                                                     "By the pricking of our thumbs,
                                                      Something wicked this way comes."*
   She allowed her blood to drip into the cauldron. It hissed as it mixed.
   "Now, my sisters, Dolores and Santa."
   Soon the blood of all three flavored the stew.
   "The day of our triumph is at hand, Great One, adopted father. Five long years we've waited and hatched. Now the ides of March have passed once again without care. The fools are ripe for the plucking. No one suspects the havoc of the coming triple witching hour. We, the heirs of your Weird sisters, gladly do thy will. You have show us the true way through the foulness of existence - darkness. Soon civilization's brightest light will be extinguished and the world will fall into the eternal, blissful void from which it emerged so long ago - and you will have won, become lord over your master."
    The three chanted in unison:
                                                     "Triple, triple, milk of third nipple,
                                                      Wall Street burn, America cripple."*
   By the time the police arrived the apartment was ablaze. By the time the fire was extinguished the six story building was a relic.

*Adapted from Shakespeare's Macbeth
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/30

On Halloween our thoughts turn to Hollywood horror. Here’s a haunting quiz on cinema dialogue. Guess which tale of terror each line is from. Anyone who fails to score 50% will be visited by the ghosts of the deceased directors at the stroke of midnight. Degree of difficulty will be in parentheses. Answers follow. No peeking - you’re being watched.

1. “What’s the boogie man?” (1)
2. “It’s alive! It’s alive!” (1)
3. “Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers by night can become….” (2)
4. “You are very wise, Professor Van Helsing - too wise to live.” (1)
5. “Dimi, why you do this to me, Dimi?” (8)
6. “I’m the monster’s mother!” (9)
7. “I see dead people.” (1)
8. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” (2)
9. “Watch the skies!” (8)
10. “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!” (3)
11. “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” (2)
12. “This is the freshest body we could come across save from killing one ourselves…We can bring him back to life.” (9)

What storm? Almost all traces of snow have disappeared in my end of Brooklyn.  Yesterday’s ugliness was replaced by brilliant sunshine. There was only the slightest chill in the air. I left my heavy jacket in the car.
Thank you to the young man whose books choices were impressive: Selected Works of Ben Johnson, a contemporary of Shakespeare; Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan; and two horror novellas of RL Styne I’d put out because of the season. And thanks to the young woman who purchased a little book on psychic children, and to Frank, who bought A Hitch in Twilight, the perfect book for Halloween.
1. Halloween (1978) directed by John Carpenter
2. Frankenstein (1931) James Whale
3. The Wolfman (1942) George Waggner
4. Dracula (1931) Tod Browning
5. The Exorcist (1973) William Freidkin
6. Alien Resurrection (1997) Jean-Pierre Jeunet
7. The Sixth Sense (1999) M. Night Shyamalan
8. The Shining (1980) Stanley Kubrick
9. The Thing (from Another World) (1951) Christian Nyby
10. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Don Siegel
11. King Kong (1933) Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack
12. Re-Animator (1985) Stewart Gordon

How’d you do? Liars will be taken to a la-bor-a-tor-ee and used as test subjects.
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/29

When the weathergirl on Channel 12 said it would snow today, I scoffed - in October in New York City? Come on, get real. Well, it started as rain and began changing over on my way back from McDonalds, Crispy Southwest Salad in hand. By the time I gave my sister a lift at noon, visibility was as bad as it gets. Traffic was slowed to 40mph on the Belt Parkway. My windows refused to de-fog, although I had the blower blasting. Thank goodness for taillights. I just went to CVS for some milk, 5PM, and things aren't much better, although there isn't a lot of accumulation. I don't get it - it's not that cold. I assume it is in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. I'd hate to be north of the city right now. Global Cooling sucks. I know, I know - it's called Climate Change these days. The best thing about all this is that the slush will melt quickly. The forecast is for sun and temperatures in the 50's the next two days. I plan to set up the floating bookshop on Bay Parkway tomorrow.
There's one good thing about such weather, I can put in a lot of time editing Bob Rubenstein's second novel, The White Bridge. It looks like I will get through it before it kills me. I wasn't sure about that for a while. I stayed with it because the story is so good. The telling of it must be improved. By the end of the night, I should have less than 50 pages to go, then I will be able to concentrate on posting my next novel, Killing, on amazon's Kindle. Why wait? I can multi-task on most things, but my literary efforts mean too much to me. I refuse to divide my concentration.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/28

Two weeks ago a beautiful young woman who lives a floor below me asked if I wanted books, as she was moving to London. She donated a bunch, and some DVDs, most of them dedicated to achieving financial success. I waited a week to display any at the floating bookshop, wanting to make sure she was serious about such a life altering move. I saw her the other day. For some reason she was deported immediately. Her name is Svetlana, but she has adopted a business persona, Vivian. I didn't ask why she was deported, but I did ask if she wanted her things back. I'd only sold two. She said no. I learned she and her boyfriend own a house in San Diego, so I guess her persona is a lot smarter than a writer's. I don't know why, but my instincts suspect she is fantasizing. I tell myself it has nothing to do with her spinal ailment, which causes a pronounced limp, but I wonder. Anyway, today I put out three more of her books: How I Retired at 26, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and How Successful People Think, and sold all of them, despite the cold. Fortunately, the brilliant sunshine took some of the edge off the icy wind. Thanks, folks.
Speaking of finances, I had a little luck in the stock market. I went on a buying spree late in 2008, thinking the worst was past. It was only half past. Intel was one of the those stocks. It finally climbed to the plus side. I made $600 on 400, which summarizes my trading career in a nutshell - small gains. I'm in positive territory on only one other of those stocks, Verizon. I placed an order to sell my 300 at 38, which should net me a grand, on top of the $500 I earned when they acquired Frontier. I'm embarrassed to name the other stocks in that parlay: Citibank, Bank of America, AIG and General Electric, which has become a government subsidiary under Jeffery Imelt, who is closing factories here and opening others in China. I'd bought shares in the 90's when the legendary Jack Welsh ruled the roost. I was a proud owner then. I'm ashamed now. I should sell, take my handsome profit on the first batch and bite the bullet on the second.
I recently received a Halloween e-card from Lorraine, a Bay 37th alumnus. Here's the link. Hope it works:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/27

The floating bookshop was rained out today, so it's a perfect opportunity to introduce one of our All Things That Matter Press family, one of America's best imports. She's the cat's meow.


Healing through laughter is not a dream, but a recipe for survival.
If you were to read a book about Oana's life, you might easily decide it was a work of fiction.
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Oana lived twenty years under the grotesque dictatorial regime of Ceausescu. After the fall of communism in 1989 she studied languages at the University in Bucharest, then received her Master’s degree at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. English is her third language.

She has worn many hats, working as a translator, as a teacher, and eventually caring for animals both domestic and wild. Volunteering in both the U.S. and Canada, she worked for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers.

Currently residing in Arizona, Oana continues to dedicate most of her time to her animals and to writing. 
Her first book, The Healings, debuted in November 2010. It is a hard-to-put-down, laugh-out-loud series of adventures of an eccentric duo: a man and his feline partner walking from ‘healer’ to ‘healer’ and hoping to achieve awareness.
Oana’s take on depression is simple and effective: witticism and laughter coupled with the understanding of the frailty of human nature help us heal. An animal companion, real or imaginary, can be very therapeutic as well.
Many a reader – depressed or not -- will recognize the insanity of most of our daily routines and the elusiveness of Truth.
Oana’s current projects include a memoir titled, Romanian Rhapsody, a children’s book, Dr.Schnauzer and Nurse Lhassa, as well as other stories, all written in the same witty humorous style.     
She is also an active member of Central Phoenix Writing Workshop and a co-host of Two Unsychronized Souls Radio Show
To learn more about Oana, visit her author’s website  
To read excerpts from The Healings go to
The Healings is available in paperback on Amazon
In Kindle:
And Nook format:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/26

Political Man stopped by the floating bookshop today, as usual excoriating Republicans. Minutes later he was telling me he spends $500 a month on pot, which he has been smoking since 1962. I wonder if he wants the cost covered under Medicare. I've probably done less drugs than 99.5% of the public. I worry when I take Ibuprofen two days in a row. It's just not my personality to be cavalier with health. Many of my friends have dabbled, almost all recreationally. Some still do. People will do them, as they will drink alcohol. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better to make them all legal rather than fight the war on drugs, which seems so hopeless. I suppose the number of addicts would increase and treatment would have to be provided for those who wished to kick the habit. Would it be more cost effective in the long run? If drugs were legal, would the incentive of the traffickers and dealers be wiped out? The new providers would have to sell the products at a lower rate, and government would have to refrain from taxing them, otherwise we'd have the same fiasco we now have with cigarettes. Of course, there is also the moral and psychological question. Would legalization seem like a surrender to the dark side and, consequently, erode the psyche of the nation? It didn't happen with the repeal of prohibition. Many would argue that it has happened in the wake of the permissiveness of the '60's, which led to Roe vs. Wade. Our culture has certainly coarsened, if that's any evidence, although some would say it has simply grown more honest. Like all great questions, this one could be argued to death.
Thank you to the Russian woman who spotted the Danielle Steele translation as I was setting up shop, and to William, local security guard, who purchased a Tony Robbins motivational DVD; and the young woman who bought The Fat-Burning Workout, who must have been thinking of the distant future, as she was positively svelte; and to teenage male who bought Patricia Cornwell's Book of the Dead.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/25

My buddy Bags worked his magic on Powerpoint and came up with a back cover for my latest novel, Killing, which I plan to publish directly and exclusively to Kindle. Again, any comments, positive or negative, will be appreciated. Click to enlarge.
The floating bookshop is now visited daily by Viktor the Ukranian. When I ask how he's doing, he says: "Good now that I see you." Today he was on his way to return a coat his wife of 35 years said made him look like a pregnant bear. He described the missus as a nasty snake, and his marriage as unhappy. Too bad. He's so nice.
I am no fan of Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa, although he's Italian-American. He seems like a conceited jerk, but he is as good as managers get. It's amazing how rabid the press is when someone of such stature commits a gaffe. No one knows how the game would have turned out had he summoned the other pitcher, but I do know the Cardinals failed to hit in several opportunities with runners in scoring position. A manager can make a team a contender, but he cannot win a championship. That is is up to the players. What will the press say if the Cards come back to win the Series? As for me, go Texas.
I knew it would be a good day when Cabbie pulled his hack up to the curb, climbed out, and bought three paperbacks, including Harold Robbins' The Pirate. And a woman bought two of the novels in Russian donated yesterday. The one she left behind, she explained, was a translation of a Danielle Steele book set on the Titanic, which she'd already read.
Thanks, folks.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/24

I was not surprised when Jack approached the floating bookshop wearing an Occupy Wall Street t-shirt. He is an odd duck and I doubt he works. He has regaled me with his theories, which I have real difficulty following, the past two years. He's been spending a few days a week in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan. Before he left, I said: "Don't get arrested." I just read a piece at Yahoo News on the hated one-percent. Only 14% work on Wall Street. 31% are executives and managers in other industries. Nearly 16% are in the medical profession, which should surprise no one. Eight percent are lawyers - now there's a group that should be protested. I don't know where the remaining 33% are earning their money, and I don't care - that's their business. The one percent paid 37% of the taxes the year of the study, 2010.
I hate smoking, but I hate government's dishonest crusade against it even more. My dream is that every smoker quit at least for a month just to see the politicians pull their hair out at the lost tax revenue. I just read, also at Yahoo, where New York pays a half million dollars annually, to a firm in North Carolina that provides surveys on smoking, in order to figure out how to allocate the 40 million it spends on anti-smoking measures. Advocates argue that health costs fall with each reformed smoker. Detractors claim that smoking is a wash in terms of cost, as thousand of smokers die prematurely, never collecting Social Security or Medicare.
It looked like it was going to be a barren day at the floating bookshop until a woman speaking on a cell phone paused five minutes from closing time. My guess is she was speaking an African language. She purchased three hardcover thrillers. And, a few minutes later, a woman who lives a few floors above me donated about ten books, several of them in Russian. I run into her many mornings, as she goes on power walks every day, rain or shine. Lately, she has been wearing ankle weights. I'm embarrassed to say I don't know her name. I'll have to ask Arlynn, who knows everybody in the place.
Thanks, ladies.
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/23

My niece Luci visited the floating bookshop on her way to mass at St. Mary's. Just as she arrived two guys began cursing each other from their cars as they waited under the ell for the light to change. One got out and approached the other, tire iron in hand. Fortunately, it didn't escalate beyond words. Luci came up with the line of the day, saying: "They're probably on their way to church."
A while later my friend Andrew came down from his office in the Dolphin Fitness Center, which he owns. The place is doing well, despite the economy. His venue about two miles further up 86th Street is on life support, although the landlord is begging him to stay, lowering the rent from ten to five thousand. He is paying $20,000 at the 24th Avenue venue and making back three times as much. He deserves it. He is as hard a worker as there is. He had splotches of paint on his massive arms. "He's got all those workers to do it and he never stops," said Vinny, the owner of the property, stopping by later. That's the way Andy was on the football field when I had the privilege of coaching him. His class reunion is in early November.
Actor-singer extraordinaire Johnny Feets also visited, bearing a gift - a copy of The Tablet, a Catholic newspaper distributed free these days. I remember students standing outside the church long ago, chanting their sales' pitch: "Tablet - ten cents a copy - Tablet." Feets observed his first mass ever at St. Mary's. He grew up in upstate New York. He hasn't had much luck on the acting front lately, but he's been getting enough work modeling for art students to pay his bills.
This morning my buddy Bags sent me a proof of the back cover for Killing. I won't post it on Kindle until I take a last look at the file, which I will do once I finish the third round of editing Bob Rubenstein's The White Bridge. Some days it beats me to a pulp similar to what one of his characters, legendary Jewish champion boxer Barney Ross, does/did to many opponents. Oy!
Thanks to the kind ladies who purchased thrillers by Lee Child and Lisa Jackson, and to my man Feets, who bought Leon Uris' epic Irish novel, Trinity. He is half blarney.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/22

Thank you to the gentleman who purchased three books today on Bay Parkway, including a heavy tome on The Arts, and to the young lady who bought JT LeRoy's controversial The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. A friend of hers recently won a novel contest at amazon, where the prize was publication. I am green with envy. I've entered a few contests through the years and never even rated an honorable mention. Unfortunately, I've forgotten the title, although Cannibals was part of it, used metaphorically. It's not a thriller. I had no luck running a search on it.
I took some pictures with my brother in law's camera, trying to come up with a cover for a novel I hope to put on Kindle. Since it's about an Italian-American family and takes place in the heart of Bensonhurst, I thought that famous street sign might work. My buddy Bags worked some magic with PowerPoint, and here are the results. Feel free to comment positively or negatively:
Here's another:
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/21

There was an interesting editorial in the New York Post today by Jonathan Tobin, explaining why Israel would trade 1000 terrorists for one of their captured soldiers. In short, he believes the peace process is dead for the foreseeable future. Concession after concession has failed to bring the enemy to the bargaining table. Muslims have not stopped killing or trying to, so what does it matter who will be doing the murdering, even those among the 1000 who choose to resume their evil ways. How do you negotiate with those who have vowed your destruction? I wouldn't have made the trade, but an overwhelming majority of Israelis supported the move, which came with a hawk, Benyamin Netanyahu, in power. I suppose they want to prove their superiority morally. I doubt it will change many hearts and mind.
Congratulations to the President on the success in Libya. The former dove has become a hawk. His remaining supporters have trumpeted his gains in the War on Terror as proof of his fitness for office. I think I have it right now: the terrible economy is still Bush's fault, and all the success in fighting terrorism is attributable to Obama. The eight years of groundwork laid by the previous administration has had nothing to do with it. Such is politics. Well, at least we can be happy that a lot of monsters are being killed rather than brought to trial. The responsibilities of the presidency will bring even the most liberal of men face to face with cold reality. Well done, Mr. President. Syria, anyone?
Thanks to Mr. Chow, long-time mailman, who purchased a book on Warren Buffett, as I knew he would. And thanks to the young woman who purchased Marek Halter's Sarah, a novel based on the biblical figure.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/20

A few questions about the Occupy Wall Street protesters: Given the price of tickets, why aren't they occupying ballparks and concert halls? If they stormed a gridiron, would they suffer the same fate as the cretin who long ago dared to interrupt a Colts game and was blind-sided by MLB Mike Curtis? I hope they try, just to see what would happen. Given the cost of college and the silly modern curricula, why aren't they occupying the administration buildings of so-called higher learning? Given that Washington DC, according to an editorial in today's New York Post, now has the highest average pay, $126,000, of any major metropolitan area, why aren't they occupying Congress? Given that many of Apple's products are made in China, why do so many of protesters have them? Shouldn't they be destroying them or occupying Apple's headquarters until those jobs are returned to America? It seems they practice selective outrage.
I'm slogging through round three of the editing of Bob Rubenstein's The White Bridge. I should finish by the end of the month. His next book has a great title: Howdy Doody and the Atomic Bomb. His dream is to have all three of his books available in one 1000 page volume. As soon as I finish the job, I will work on getting my best work, Killing, on Kindle. Steve, the poet laureate of Sheepshead Bay, may post an excerpt on his website:
I hope it doesn't get him in trouble with the left, although the excerpt will be neutral politcally. If you are thinking of checking out the site, be warned - the writers are on a higher intellectual level than the rest of us.
Thanks to the young women of color, who purchased another handful of novels, stocking up for winter. An elderly woman dropped off three thrillers, and a perfectly-groomed Russian woman donated a mix of paperbacks and pristine hardcovers, and was even nice enough to buy John Grisham's The Summons and Michael Connelly's Echo Park. I wanted her to have them gratis, but she wouldn't hear of it. I assume she does not lack for cash. Even casually dressed she looked like money. Herbie came by minutes later and bought three of those books. Thanks, buddy.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/19

The floating bookshop was rained out today, which makes it the perfect opportunity to introduce one of the All Things That Matter Press family of authors.

Tom Averna, author of The Once and Future Wizard: The Awakening from All Things That Matter Press, is used to the weird and unusual in his life. At seven, he was saved from death by a Jacob’s Ladder type dream. By nine, he was being sought out by his mother’s friends for life advice. At 11, he had chosen to sleep outside in a nearby woods in a sleeping bag and woke up the next morning with a family of skunks resting comfortably near him. At 12, he was approached by one person who claimed to be a psychic and told that he was not from this planet. Shortly after that, another psychic told him he had been a great king in Ancient Greece discovering many secrets and also that he came back in this life for a special purpose. At 17 he was attacked by a possessed friend wielding a sword and saved himself and delivered his friend by semi-consciously speaking in a language unknown to him. Three times he was on the verge of drowning until he followed inner guidance to find his way to the surface and then safely to shore.

Averna’s life has also been filled with reading biographies, histories, classics but most of all sci fi and fantasies. Early on, he cut his reading teeth on Greek and Roman mythologies and then the entire Edgar Rice Burroughs series of Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Pellucidar and the rest of the Martian sagas. He moved from these to sci fi devouring the classics from H.G. Wells and Jules Verne to the modern Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein and Herbert. Two books and one series of books, though, truly changed his life in high school. Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda both awakened in Tom a desire to explore new ideas and spiritual philosophies. He became a seeker and a student of life. These avocations have remained a part of his life still four decades later. The series of books were written by J.R.R. Tolkein. This awakened in Tom a love of wizards, dragons, elves and anything Middle Earthish.  His spiritual quest would involve books about the weird and unusual like Van Daniken, Sitchin, Ralph Ellis and others.

But there was a third component to Averna’s life that dates back to the powerful dream he had at age 7. His life was filled with vivid and amazing dreams. Some prophetic, but most action and adventure dreams that almost felt like a double life for him. Some he wrote down as stories that would later be woven together as part of his first novel. Others were just a fascination. One in particular was an invention that might have made him rich had he chosen to follow through with it. Shortly after his 30th birthday in 1982 he had a particularly vivid dream set in the future, but it was an old west kind of town. In a saloon, some people were playing a card game and as an observer Tom realized that this was a way used in these times to settle differences. The winner of the game won the judgment of whatever was being contested. Upon a closer look at the cards on the table, it became apparent that this was no ordinary card deck. These cards contained images of fantasy characters and the players would role play with them using dice to allow an element of chance. Upon awakening Tom immediately began writing about the game and set up the rules and thought he should try to market the game. But instead, as many other dream opportunities presented to him, he kept them filed away. About eleven years later, he began to hear stories of a new role playing card game called Magic: The Gathering and it was very similar to what he had envisioned. He still has those scribbled sheets of the game as a reminder to believe in his dreams and be willing to take a chance.

The writing of The Once and Future Wizard series began, as  mentioned, as a group of dreams, but really took form after reading Oedipus at Colonnus by Sophocles. In this account, Oedipus meets King Theseus in a cave just before death and there is some mystery surrounding it. This combined with dreams that Theseus and Merlin were one started him wondering if Oedipus had been the link to that transition. From there over several years, he began to craft the story. The veil between fiction and reality became blurred for Averna in the writing of it as at times it felt like recording a dream and at times it felt like taking dictation. So this novel became an accurate reflection of his life containing the three main parts of it. It is weird and unusual, it includes his dreams and it combines elements of his favorite books.

The Once and Future Wizard: The Awakening is the first of three books to come and it feels a bit like a roller coaster. The first book sets the stage and is like the climb up the tracks knowing the fall is coming. The second book will be like the first drop and the third will be a combination of the two. Join Tom on this journey and discover for yourself the truth and magic of who you are and the powerful being you were meant to be. Along the way you’ll also discover the truth about the ancient gods, the creation of the universe, what happened to the elves and the truth behind many other  mythologies.

The Once and Future Wizard: The Awakening from All Things That Matter Press is available in print at Amazon
Or as an e-reader download for the Kindle at
Or on the Nook at
OR at ATTMP at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/18

Susan, a grandma whose son has settled in Thailand, has been my most faithful customer. She spends the cold months overseas. I thought I'd seen the last of her until the spring, so I was happily surprised when she showed today. I'd put aside two books on Jewish culture for her. She bought them, along with Monica Ali's Brick Lane. I didn't expect it, as I'd figured she was packed and ready to go, as she is leaving next week. She showed me a picture of her family, her five grand kids. Chauvinist pig that I am, I immediately noticed how beautiful her daughter in law is.
"She's also a beautiful person," she said, "which means more to me."
"Forgive me," I returned, flushing. "Men are dogs."
She got a big laugh out of that, our separate reactions, hers being so much like a mom's and mine so typically male. God speed, Susan, and thanks.
I got a call from Arlynn this morning, putting me on standby. She employs an attendant a few hours each week, who cleans and accompanies her shopping. Ann Marie, whose roots are in the South, has had a tough life. She has little education and seems years older than 50. She spent yesterday in the court system. Her oldest son is accused of pistol whipping a woman. He is a moron, in the least. Just months ago, he was jailed for another offense. The judge let him off, as the young man made a false promise to get a job and an equivalency diploma. It was just another case of a liberal judge reaping what he has sowed, not personally, of course. The young woman suffered that. Ann Marie has two other sons. Neither works. She was so happy when her youngest was hired as a security guard. He lasted two weeks. Their father is absent, and Ann Marie's companion, who faces deportation to Haiti, seems like another sponge, not a father figure. She supports them all. Time for some tough love, Ann Marie. Kick them all out. Of course, being a mom, she will hold out hope until the end. Hopefully it will not be a tragic one.
The 84-year-old veteran dropped off two books, James Patterson's Lifeguard, co-written with Andrew Gross, and a four-in-one hard cover featuring Maeve Binchy and Michael Crichton, both of which a young woman of color pounced on minutes later, along with four other books. Thanks, ma'am, and thanks to the elderly couple who donated three pristine hardcovers, including John Grisham's The Summons.
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/17

Viktor, a Ukrainian immigrant, paid a visit to the floating bookshop today. He ran a postage shop in his country until the collapse of the Soviet Union put him out of business. He did well compared to most folks in the eastern bloc. Only professionals, doctors, architects, etc. were making more rubles than he was. "Things change," I said. He agreed, shrugging. He asked what I thought of his English. I had to listen closely to understand him. The only thing I didn't get was a term he was searching for that describes people who share the same first name. He was unable to come up with its Russian equivalent. I've never heard of such a thing, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were an obscure English word for it too. There are so many words, so many things we will never know.
Steve stopped by again. A poetry magazine that has published his work many times has extended its deadline by a week to accommodate him. The theme of its next issue is American History. He is working on a poem about the Kent State shooting, which always brings to mind the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song, Ohio: "Ten soldiers and Nixon coming...Four dead in Ohio." It was an ugly time in America. I hope we are not headed there again. Eventually, I expect the Marxists and Anarchists among the naive protesters to incite violence.
A kind Russian woman bought a couple of books on needlepoint and another on wild flowers. She is a friend of Peter Benchley's brother. Naturally, we got to talking about our mutual admiration for the film adaption of Jaws (1975). My buddy Bags and I were on a long line outside the Marboro Theater, beside one of the side doors. We could hear the audience inside screaming. 36 years later I still remember it. When the film finally made it to TV, and the famous head scene aired, my mom jumped and let out a "Mamma, Maria." I laugh about it 'til this day. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Spielberg, and thanks to that woman.
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/16

Thanks to the young intellectual who bought books by Samuel Beckett and Herman Melville today in Bay Ridge.
In the mood for a mystery? Check out the profile of an up and coming writer:

Dave Hoing lives in Waterloo, Iowa, with his wife Joni, a dog named Tree and a cat named Toro.  In real life he’s a Library Associate at the University of Northern Iowa, where he has worked in one capacity or another since 1978.  In his artistic life Dave is primarily a short story writer.  He’s a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, but now he concentrates mostly on literary, historical, and mystery fiction.  His historical novel Hammon Falls, co-written with Roger Hileman, is his first published full-length work, although he has written (or, ahem, started to write) five others.
When not toiling in the library or sitting at the word processor, Dave likes to travel, compose music, collect antiquarian books, and read.  His interests include virtually everything except internal combustion engines, with which he has a hate/hate relationship.
His short story experience came in handy when writing Hammon Falls.  Short fiction deals in nuances and succinctness.  At its best it observes and describes human behavior in few words, finding depth in brevity.  That technique serves well in a novel with short chapters and a large cast of characters.
Dave’s love of history and travelling was also useful for the sections of Hammon Falls set in Paris, Dublin, and Buffalo, because it allowed him to write from experience and memory.  Oddly, though, while he grew up in Iowa, where the bulk of the novel takes place, he’d never cared much about his own hometown’s past until Roger got him involved in the research for Hammon Falls.  Rather like the prophet who is honored everywhere but his own home, Dave was interested in the history of every city but his own.  After having done the research, though, he learned a valuable lesson: if a book has great characters and the story is well told, every place is interesting, be it Paris, Dublin, Buffalo, or, yes, even Waterloo, Iowa.  It’s people who make the history, and the story, and people, wherever they are, are fascinating creatures indeed.
So why should anyone buy Hammon Falls?  Quite simply, it’s got a lot of the stuff readers like—deep characterizations, interesting locations, and universal themes.  It’s got war.  It’s got crime.  It’s got spirituality, betrayal, and redemption.  Above all, it’s got a strong plot with explosive family relationships and a sweet, if tragic, love story.  Add to that an innovative structure, and you have a book that’s both fun and challenging to read.  Finally, it was written by two guys who love to write.  They are not tortured artists. They are not driven to create.  They don’t write as therapy.  They don’t write to exorcise demons.  They write for the sheer joy of it—and it shows.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/15

The skies finally cleared but a strong wind has kicked up. The floating bookshop was in danger of blowing away today, but it was a case of "where there's a will, there's a way." Thanks to Chase employee, Jack, who continued his patronage, buying Michael Curtis Ford's epic of ancient Greece, The Ten Thousand. Thanks also to the woman who purchased two Amy Tan novels.
I'd set up a few feet from one of the new-fangled parking meters that spit out a slip of paper drivers must display on the dashboard. An old-timer stood before it today, totally baffled. He asked my help. He thanked me, shaking my hand with an iron grip. We got to talking and, eventually, he showed me a medallion he uses for a key chain. He received it for his work on the Verrazano Bridge, which was completed circa 1961. Before that, anyone who wanted to get to Staten Island from Brooklyn had to take a ferry, which accommodated cars back then. I remember making the trip in my brother in law's Rambler. Now 79, the gentleman is a widower, having lost his wife to cancer two months ago. It's always tough to hear something like that, even though we know life does what it does.
Speaking of old-timers, I ran into Morty as I left the recycling center yesterday. 75, a retired salesman, I imagine he is very wealthy. He knows all the ins and outs of the art of the deal and frequently relates his success stories. I see him almost every day. He is constantly on the go, searching for discounts. It's been in his blood since he was a kid. During WWII he collected newspapers for recycling and was paid by the weight. Sly fox that he is, he soaked the middle of the stack with water, making it heavier. I was still laughing a block later. What a character.
Thanks to the young man who purchased Cormac McCarthy's The Road yesterday just seconds before the sky opened up. Fortunately, I had hefty bags to cover the books. I, on the other hand, got soaked.
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Friday, October 14, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/14

Just who is Jean Rodenbough, anyway?

Let me tell you:  I was eight years old and we were in Honolulu, Hawaii.  My father was an Army doctor.  Early one morning in December our family woke up to loud sounds that first seemed like the Navy practicing their firing.  But it was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The days following were the beginning of a time that changed everything for me.

Many years later, I thought of that time, of the effects on my psyche from the nearness of that war.  I wondered then what must it have been like for children who were living in the midst of war?  And I began researching stories, gathering stories from friends I had known recently, and those from my own childhood, about how they experienced World War II.

The book that resulted, Rachel’s Children: Surviving the Second World War, was published in 2010 and has been read by those who lived through those times, and those who were born long after such a war.  The book describes the tragedy and outrage that wars carry in their paths.  My stories are commented on by brief poems and reflections, to provide some distance from the pain of those years. 

Now in my late 70’s, I feel some release for my own emotional reactions.  It is in telling our story and reliving the experience not only of our own lives, but the stories of others which verify our own, that make us whole.  I am glad to have made the effort, and appreciate All Things That Matter Press for publishing it.

Now I work on another collection of stories, this time of animals who have been tragically abused, mistreated, abandoned.  The stories tell of the caring human beings who have taken these animals into their own lives and made pets of them.  Poems will be the commentary for the situations that at last have given peace and love to these creatures: dogs, cats, birds, and all four and two-legged beings.

Read more:
Rachel's Children is highly recommended by my friend Bob Rubenstein, author of Ghost Runners and the forthcoming The White Bridge.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/13

It was another gloomy day, occasional mist in the air. I set up the floating bookshop at the viaduct, but got so lonely that I decided to give my usual spot a shot. It was the right move, even though I had to cover the goods in plastic a few times and had only one sale. I was visited by two of my favorite customers, whom I hadn't seen in a while. Steve, the poet laureate of Sheepshead Bay, has been keeping busy teaching adult education classes on world music while his muse eludes him. He recently covered an American opera version of Sophie's Choice and the Argentine tango, and will next present the work of Russian composer Prokofiev. He has also won a case against the IRS and will be refunded the money it wrung from him. Yay for the good guys!
Laura, a sweet, lovely Romanian, is in her senior year of college and has decided to follow her dream of a medical career. She is cracking the books and has no time to read for pleasure. I also learned she is fluent in French. Bonne chance, mademoiselle.
Al, who is a month removed from knee replacement surgery, stopped by to donate a couple of books: a beautiful hardcover edition of Jack London's The Sea Wolf, and Michael Ford Curtis' The Ten Thousand, which follows the Greek army as it fights its way from misadventure in Persia to its homeland. Al said he will always remember that book because it got him laid. He was at a party and a tipsy woman asked him to read to her. She was so turned on by the Greeks' exploits that the next thing he knew he was in the garage en flagrante - in sub-freezing temperatures! Thank you, sir. I myself will always remember an aspect of The Sea Wolf, wherein London describes the captain, Wolf Larsen, as unmoral, that is, without conscience, primitive, as if he'd been born before there were such a thing as morality. If you've never read any London, look for a version of The One Thousand Dozen, a short story. As Spock would say: "Fascinating."
Thanks to the little old lady who is a big fan of fantasy, who purchased a huge Piers Anthony reader, Double Exposure.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/12

It was the toughest kind of day for the floating bookshop - scattered raindrops that didn't even wet the sidewalks and streets. Knowing I'd be dogged by guilt if I didn't give it a shot, I headed for the exile of the viaduct, and ended with nothing to show for it.
Meanwhile, here's an excerpt from a novel I hope to put on Kindle soon:

Dante Gentile, a carpenter, is quietly proud to have served in Vietnam. 20 years later he faces psychological warfare on the home front. His son, Junior, is off fighting the Gulf War. He suspects his wife, Deanna, of infidelity. His daughter is a mystery to him. His father, a WWII veteran, is growing more embittered by day. One night he has a dream...

He soon found himself in a familiar place thick with foliage, damp with dew, and smelling of the Fourth of July. The moon, although full, provided little illumination. The blackness was vanquished occasionally by the flight of a roman candle and the passage of bottle rockets. The noise was deafening, cherry bombs exploding everywhere, aerial bombs overhead. Oohs and ahs arose from the darkness. A huge crowd was observing the display. He was a much younger man now, smiling, enjoying the pyrotechnics. Soon he was afraid, however, as someone called out something about birds on the wire. He looked up at the phone lines, a sparkler in each hand, and saw nothing. He was alone amongst the crowd, heart pounding. His pores opened. Perspiration coated his flesh. He could feel the grime on his face. Suddenly he was older, middle-aged. And it dawned on him that it wasn't a fireworks exhibition he was watching, although it bore the aspects of one. "Here they come," someone shouted, raising up and firing a rifle. He crouched in a hole in the ground, the shooting so intense he dared not lift his head lest it be blown off. Tiny, fiery projectiles, not bottle rockets, peppered the sand bags around him. "Open up, Genteel, open up!" someone shouted urgently in a southern drawl. Suddenly he realized it was he who was being addressed. How he hated the mispronunciation of his name. Would they ever get it right? Angered, he sprang erect and joined the fray, crying out as he sprayed the shadows ahead. Phantoms were running everywhere in different directions. "Chinese fire drill," said Mr. Mitko, his ninth grade gym teacher, observing from the platform from which he conducted the class. He was constantly whirling and firing, whirling and firing, the phantoms no longer directly ahead but all around him. He held his ground, standing tall as fiery missiles whizzed past him like thousands of cigarette butts flicked into the night by a thousand Deannas. There was no sense crouching or laying low - he was going to get it, anyway. He would not allow it to happen to him while he was on his belly. And he was going to take as many of the shadows with him as he could. There was no front, no unit. It was every man for himself in separate, decisive engagements. Spinning, he nailed one in the hip and saw a weapon fly against the moon. Turning in the nick of time, he put a burst into a belly and barely flinched as a bayonet grazed his calf and stuck in the ground beside his boot. "C'mon!" he said. "C'mon!" He yelled like a cowboy as a flare, not a roman candle, tore through the night, illuminating the swarm. To his right, a few yards away in another foxhole, a shadow was inserting the tip of a rifle into the mouth of someone who lay wounded, helpless. "Nooooo!' he cried, squeezing off a round a fraction of a second too late to make the save yet striking the target, which fell, then struggled to rise, to regain its form. He raced toward it and knocked it flat with the sole of his boot. Foliage was growing from the top of the phantom, which lay at his feet, at his mercy. Was it antlers? Why would a deer be in disguise? He gazed more closely and found a pair of slanted eyes riveted in terror. Suddenly everything became clear. He knew exactly where he was. He inserted the tip of his weapon between the thin lips and past teeth that fought defiantly against violation, and fired repeatedly, shouting at each burst: "Deah!" "Deah!" Suddenly the face was a different one. It was Junior's. "Nooooo!" he cried, too late, having fired. He crumpled to the earth, wailing.

"We are much beholden to Machiavel and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do." - Francis Bacon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/11

I don't care if the NBA contract is settled. I don't watch more than a minute of a game here and there. The dispute manifests the disconnect between the parties and the average working stiff. The players don't care how much ticket prices rise. They'll do some charitable work to atone for their greed. The only people who can afford to attend games are the wealthy, criminals and long-time unionists like New York Jets fanatic Fireman Ed. I wonder if he has a PSL.
On a lower economic level, the TWU would rather see transit fares rise and service cut rather than make concessions, which proves greed is not restricted to the rich, also recently proved by the 56,000 strong Public Employees Federation. Threatened with layoffs by Governor Cuomo if benefits were not scaled back, they refused to relent, selling 1500 of their union brothers down the river. And in another example, the New York Post cited a man whose salary is $90,000 as a recipient of tax-payer funded representation from the Legal Aid Society. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse Five: "So it goes."
Svetlana, a beautiful, intelligent young woman in our building, donated about 30 books and Cds, all but two, a Bible and a large, beautiful copy of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, concerning wealth acquisition: Trump, Buffett, Robbins, etc. She adopted a web persona, Vivian, and hawked health items. I guess it didn't work out too well. She is moving to London on Monday to start her life over. I asked how her mom was taking it, and she evaded the question. I resisted the urge to ask if she were fleeing a broken heart, although she did not show any of the signs of failed love. She has a defect of the spine, which causes a severe limp. I've always wondered if this affected her romantic life, if, despite her beauty, men did not view her as a potential wife. Who knows - maybe she simply believes she will have a better chance to earn her fortune in the UK. I told her she can have the stuff back if she changes her mind. I won't put out any of it until she leaves. I hope she stays.
Thanks to the folks who bought and donated books today, especially Kim, who gave me five pristine hard covers. Her husband Dave, a cook at a Manhattan hotel, donated a lot of popular novels in the past, all of which I sold. Kim is part of a community of Asians who have lived in a corner of Russia for centuries. I've occasionally heard Asians speaking Russian on the street and wondered about its root. Now I know.
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/10

If "taxation without representation is tyranny," as James Otis claimed in 1765, what is taxation with poor representation? That's where we are these days.
I've figured out what the Occupy Wall Street crowd wants thanks to a Hollywood classic. Key Largo (1948) contains a simple bit of dialogue that has remained with me since the first time I saw it decades ago. In it, a gangster once on top, on the run, takes over a small resort hotel, where he must wait out a hurricane so that he can make a score that will restore him to prominence. Edward G. Robinson played the gangster, Lionel Barrymore the wheel-chair-bound proprietor, and Humphrey Bogart a down on his luck WWII veteran. I apologize if the dialogue isn't 100% accurate. The screenplay was adapted by Richard Brooks and the film's director, John Huston, from the play by Maxwell Anderson.
Barrymore: "What d'you want, Rocco?"
Robinson is stumped.
Bogie: I'll tell you what he wants - he wants more."
And Robinson smiles broadly and says: "Yeah, that's it - more."
Greed is not restricted to corporations. There is also the greed for entitlements, which the protesters personify. The former at least creates wealth and jobs. The latter only consumes wealth, although some of it does good. When the Tea Partiers gathered, there were almost no arrests, no blocking of traffic, no drinking or public urination, and they left the venues as clean as they found them. Once they made their points they quickly went back to their lives. As I see it, the protest should be in Washington, the root of most, if not all economic problems. Its members should be called The Johnny Rocco Party.
It was back to normal today at the floating bookshop after a nice ten day run of luck. I sold only three Ed McBain thrillers. I did get a donation of two Bibles, one in Russian, from different men. Don't know if there was a message in that.
Now playing on 57 Radio - Sue Thompson's heart-tugger, Have a Good Time, a far better record than her biggest hit, Norman.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/9

I caught up with the Coen brothers' remake of True Grit (2010) last night courtesy of Netflix. Although it was solid, I don't understand why it was made. It wasn't that different than the original. And it didn't contain many of the wonderfully bizarre touches that make the Coens' films such fun. Jeff Bridges was his usual rock solid self. Matt Damon was outstanding in the Glenn Campbell role. How sad that his politics isn't a tenth as intelligent as his acting. But the show belonged to Hailee Steinfeld in the Kim Darby role. Her command was so convincing it was downright scary. She's only a teenager, for God's sake, home-schooled according to her bio at IMDb. She is currently before the cameras in yet another adaption of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
I love hearing about the unique ways in which people earn money, the entrepreneurial spirit. An article in today's New York Post told how some residents of The Big Apple are subletting their apartments, sometimes nightly, to tourists, although it is against the law. In other words, they're offering hotel space on the cheap compared to Manhattan rates. Some have turned a yearly profit of $60,000.
Congratulations to my friend Bob Rubenstein, whose first novel, Ghost Runners, has been picked up by the New York City Public Library, a hard nut to crack.
I set up the floating bookshop outside the Dolphin Gym on 24th Avenue and was rewarded by Tom, a book lover, who purchased Adjustments. Retired, he was one of the first civilian employees of the NYPD. He grew up in the Marboro Projects, right across the street from Lafayette High School, from which we both graduated, he five years before me in 1962. Thank you, sir.
In a post on Facebook yesterday, a friend who lives in Maine cited the warm temperature as proof of Global Warming - this after three weeks of abnormally cool weather. I'm loving this run of beautiful days, which acolytes would probably dub Climate Change. They have all the angles covered.
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/8

So the teams with the best records in baseball, the Yankees and Phillies, have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. Except for statistics, all but the last month of the season seems irrelevant in the wild card era, much like hockey.
RIP Al Davis, 82, controversial owner of the Oakland Raiders. Although his teams won three Super Bowls, he has been vilified by fans for the team's recent struggles. His reputation for ruthlessness is legend. He made many enemies, burned a lot of bridges. Although born in Brockton, Massachusetts, he grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, and graduated from Erasmus Hall High School, which also counts Barbra Streisand and 76ers great Billy Cunningham as alums, to name just two.
Yesterday Michael donated another crime novel in Russian, which Grandma bought, and a dozen translations of children's classics, which a young mom pounced on. Thanks, sir. The Floating Bookshop is enjoying its best stretch of business in a long time. I hope it's a sign of an improving economy, but it's more likely a fluke. Today on Bay Parkway Jack, employee of Chase, bought five more thrillers, including Trevanian's spy novel Shibumi. A lady who lives in the Atlantic Towers complex said it is the best book she has ever read. She re-reads it every few years and urged me to give it a shot. Unfortunately (no - fortunately), my plate is full right now. I'm again editing Bob Rubenstein's The White Bridge, which has been accepted by All Things That Matter Press, and I will soon have to go over the file of Killing, which was too controversial for ATTMP, before I issue it on Kindle. I have a feeling I'll come across another copy of Shibumi in the future.
Thanks to Bad News Billy, who purchased How to Clean Almost Anything, the huge pictorial Texas, and Fat Flush. He has gained at least 30 pounds since I first met him a couple of years ago. And thanks to Bob, who purchased Cats for his feline-loving girlfriend.
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/7

There's so much in life to be positive about, so it's not hard to ignore things that arouse negativism in oneself. There is one way I fail miserably at this: I hate the Yankees so much I'm almost ashamed of it. It was with great joy when I woke after midnight last night and found out they had been ousted from the playoffs. I've been giddy all day. I suppose my hatred stems from how easily success comes to them, while the rest of the human race struggles mightily. They are the richest American sports franchise and are able to buy contention every year, which means eventually the cards will fall right and a championship will occur. I read with glee in this morning's paper that Alex Rodriguez struck out twice in key situations, including the last out. If he is truly in the decline his second half performance indicates, I am thrilled, as he is under contract for several more years at a salary no other team would assume. Last month Catcher Russell Martin, in his first year with the team, said he hated the Red Sox. He should have hated the Tigers. Yankee fans exulted in the Sox's collapse and used the word: "Choke." Well, their stars gagged in the clutch last night.
Contrary to all this is the fact that as a kid I idolized Mickey Mantle. I had several pictures of him, cut from sports magazines, on the wall of my bedroom. They surrounded a crucifix. I rationalized that Jesus was at the center and therefore more important. My brother in law, 20 years older, saw the truth and, in his inimitable way, remarked: "Mickey Mantle is your God?" He was. My enthusiasm was tempered when I learned he was not nice to fans, even kids. Many years later Tony, a gold trader at the Commodity Exchange, told me of his friendship with The Mick, who visited his house, where one room was a shrine to the Yankees. Tony did not understand my hatred of the Yankees. "You call yourself Italian?" he'd say. He was teased for his resemblance to Rocket J. Squirrel of the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon. He was lucky enough to get close to Mantle, to see the superstar's true self.
Kudos to the Tigers. The way things are going, maybe the Lions will contend for the Super Bowl this year. Maybe the Motor City's steep decline, brought on by perpetual liberal rule, can be reversed.
So I will begin the celebration by paraphrasing the radio voice of the Yankees, John Sterling: "Thhhhhhe Yankees lose - the Yankees lose!" And I'll throw in the words of their TV voice, Michael Kay, as the players get ready to hit the golf course: "See ya!" And top everything off with Marvelous Marv Albert's signature call: "Yes!" And do an encore with the pet phrase of The Great One, Jackie Gleason: "How sweet it is!"
In a sidebar concerning yesterday's blog, it was fun to read in today's New York Post, mentioned by several pundits, how many in the crowd of Wall Street protesters are using the products of the ultimate capitalist, Steve Jobs. Life never ceases to fascinate.
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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/6

RIP Steve Jobs, just 56. His wonderful innovations made the world a better place. Despite his enormous wealth, the miracle of modern medical science was unable to save him. It reminds everyone of the fragile nature of life and shows why every breath should be appreciated and every day celebrated. Thank you, sir.
Late yesterday afternoon the 84-year-old veteran donated several more books, among them two by the American Bible Society: Mysteries of the Bible and The Life of Jesus, the latter of which I sold today to a woman of color. I also learned more about the gentleman. I figured he was in the Korean War. Not so, he entered WWII as an 18-year-old in 1945 and was stationed in Paris, out of which the Nazis had been driven by then. I fought the temptation to ask if he'd seen any action. He found the City of Light beautiful, despite the ravages of war. To my surprise, he said the women claimed they were treated better by the Germans than Americans. He was an exception to the rule. He would take a girl to the movies and hold hands, in the dark as to most of the dialogue. Thank you, sir.
I can't explain it, but people have been buying more books since last Friday. Dawn, a poet, and Brent, an ex-Texan, purchased A Hitch in Twilight. I gave Dawn the url to, where she can find places to send her work. The books they chose as gifts showed eclectic taste: Hamlet, Robot, an intellectual's theory that machines will one day rule, and a fantasy epic Brent had read as a teenager. Good luck, Dawn.
I also sold the last of Michael's four-book donation of crime novels in Russian - to Grandma, who doesn't speak much English and cracks up when I say "Spasibo." I also sold two books on needlepoint to a young man buying for his mom, and two mysteries to a family of four. Thanks, everybody.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/5

So the left is trying to incite its own grassroots movement. Good, that's what free speech is all about. Now how about trying to articulate some ideas. Blocking traffic is not a solution, nor is saying corporations are evil. In my mind, the protests should be in Washington, where the real enemy is. The most evil acts in history have been perpetrated by governments, including the confiscation of wealth by the Soviets, and we all know how that played out - the murder and repression of millions. You can look it up.
Roseanne Barr has said anyone who is worth a hundred million or more should be sent to a re-education camp and, if he/she does not repent, should have his head cut off. Of course, that would leave the millions she has earned safe from confiscation.
Enough politics. On a light note, the name of the kid running Waj's gyro stand is Ali Baba - at least that's what he told me. Sometimes I wonder if it's Al Qaeda. When I step up to the truck I'm so tempted to say: "Open sesame." I wonder if he would recognize it. He may not have heard it in any form but his native tongue. I haven't heard it in decades myself. I can still picture Jon Hall and the luscious Maria Montez on their stallions in Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves (1944). The squeaky-voiced Andy Devine played Abdullah! Remember his show (this goes back to the 50's, kids)? I will always remember him saying: "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy," which introduced a talking frog. There was also a theme song: "I've got a gang, you've got a gang - everybody's gotta have a gang - but there's only one gang for me - good ol' Andy's Gang." Of course, this was way before the Crips and Bloods.
A few days ago Michael, a young grandpa who lives on one of the upper floors in our building, donated four crime novels in Russian. Today I sold three of them. Thanks, sir. And thanks to the gentleman who purchased The Microwave Cookbook, though why anyone would want to cook with that device is beyond me. I use mine only to warm items.
It looks like the gloomy weather has finally broken. Hooray!
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/4

I had a hop in my step the past two days, as I've been researching how to place a novel on Kindle at amazon. To my surprise, there is no fee. I wouldn't do it if there were. I'm a little deflated right now, as I've been unable to find out how to create a cover for free. I thought I had the problem licked when I found an article detailing how easily it can be done with Powerpoint. Problem is, my program is read only, and the full monty is $119. There are sites that offer it for free, but I'm leery of a virus. I'm going to contact some friends for ideas.
The manuscript in question is controversial in a couple of aspects. The first is not uncommon and would be offensive only to adherents of political correctness. It involves the despicable words and actions of some of the characters, but isn't any different than what is seen and heard in the films of Martin Scorsese. Only the narrow-minded would see it as advocacy of bigotry. The second aspect would be controversial even though the planned event is abandoned. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if, should someone at amazon read it, it were taken down, even though the part in question is only one-tenth of the narrative and does not occur until the next to last chapter. I actually self-published it through AuthorHouse as an ebook months after 9/11. Since I consider it my best work, I wanted it out there in case the worse happened. I even allowed a website to serialize it. I eventually pulled it from AH, and the website went bye-bye. All that remains of the book on the web is an excerpt at, which has pulled 80% of what I've posted there, but not that.
The name of the novel is Killing. It explores the theme in every aspect I was able to conjure. While writing it I was intent on making it as true as possible, thus I employed strict Brooklynese, which made it unreadable for many. It wasn't 100% Brooklynese, but very close, possibly 95%. Perhaps that compromise alone should have showed me how wrong I was. I have since amended the dialogue. It remains miles from standard English. I also believe is true to the characters. I use a lot of the bastardized Sicilian terms I grew up with, and include a translation key ala Anthony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange. I believe the open-minded would be engrossed. Stay tuned.
The floating bookshop did not open today. I accompanied my friend Arlynn to the doctor and it turned into a marathon of waiting. She got her money's worth out me. Usually, I feel as if I'm stealing.
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Monday, October 3, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/3

P Diddy, formerly Puff Daddy, formerly Sean Combs, has a son playing football at Iona Prep, which is in the New York City Catholic league. The kid is a talented defensive back who has drawn several scholarship offers from BCS schools. He is also the backup QB. An injury to the starter the previous week elevated him and he did great, scoring three touchdowns, according to an article in today's NY Post by Joseph Staszewski. When the team got off to a slow start this week with its regular quarterback at the helm, Diddy approached the coaches and demanded his son be put in charge of the offense. He dubbed himself the team's "most hated parent." Eventually, his son was put in at QB and rallied the team, which still fell short, 16-37, its first loss of the season. I coached in the 70's. Dealing with parents was the second toughest part of the job, a pain in the butt but way behind race relations. I don't envy Iona's coach, and the kid is stuck in the middle.
Also on football - kudos to Alabama coach Nick Saban, who was infuriated at the stupidity of one of his players, who risked a personal foul penalty by getting in the face of an opponent. According to the Post's Lenn Robbins, Saban bolted from the sideline, grabbed the young man and pushed him off the field, screaming. How refreshing in this era of in your face nonsense and the losses such behavior sometimes cause. I dub it the Jimmy Johnson legacy. Alabama is bucking the trend. It is second in the nation, drawing only three penalties per game. That is a sign of superior coaching. I've been critical of Saban in the past, calling him a whore for bailing out on a program as soon as a higher offer came along. I may have to change my opinion.
Also on the sports front, or should I say pseudo sports? - the floating bookshop got a visit from a regular today who describes his taste as "all over the place." He is currently simultaneously reading a book of essays on terrorism and the autobiography of wrestler Brett The Hitman Hart. I laughed, as just last night I did a quiz at which required the identification of caricatures drawn by Hart. I recommend the site, which has scores of quizzes on a wide range of topics. I take them to try to keep my memory from deteriorating. They're also great fun. Now - what was I saying?
Go figure - I went through a 49 day period without selling any of my own books, and I've now sold three copies of A Hitch in Twilight the past nine days. Thanks to lovely, young Tatyana, who impressed me further with the selection of books she chose as gifts: one of the first feminist novels by an American, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, and books on the philosophy of Aristotle and Plato. There is hope for America! No doubt Hitch will be too light weight for her. Thanks also to Giggles Pulaski, who bought Barbara Taylor Bradford's Three Weeks in Paris, and to the young Russian gentleman who opted for a pictorial on the opening of the American west.
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/2

Harlen Coben has written 20 novels in the mystery genre. They have been translated into 40 languages and sold 50 million worldwide. His last four have debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. He has won the Edgar, the Shamus and the Anthony awards - the first to win all three. So I looked forward to reading The Woods. I was not disappointed. It is superior to all the mysteries I've sampled save one, Tami Hoag's A Thin Dark Line. It is what's called a stand-alone novel, one that does not involve his usual main character. The protagonist is a lead prosecutor working out of Newark, where Coben grew up. I was hooked immediately and was not disappointed at the resolution. The book also offers deeper insight into humans than most in the genre. The French recognized Coben's ability, adapting Tell No One (2006), an excellent thriller, to the silver screen. I added it to my list at Netflix for a re-watch. On a scale of five, I rate The Woods three-and-three-quarters.
Unless one suffers some sort of deep psychological trauma, one's personality doesn't change much over the course of a lifetime. I've changed in one way. I used to be a sports fanatic. I'd watch way too much. These days, if a game is not at night, there is almost zero chance I'll watch. I'd rather be selling books or online. Last night there were two excellent college football match-ups airing simultaneously. While both were in commercial, I stumbled into Ingmar Bergman's Shame (1968), running on the City College station. As bleak as it was, I preferred it to the games. It was time well spent, as the games became blow-outs. And they seem to go on forever these days. I miss the crisp two hour forty-five minute event that used to be college football. I guess there's a lot more money to be made in a three-and-a-half to four hour broadcast. I just don't have the patience for it any more. A lot of my old friends would be shocked at this.
Thanks to the kind folks who purchased books today on Bay Parkway. One, a 20-year-old who had an Ayn Rand novel poking out of a pocket of his hoodie, brought a smile to my face when he bought Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and a Cervantes reader.
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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 10/1

 I have a confession to make - I love McDonalds' crispy chicken salads. I'm a philistine, I know. Substitute balsamic vinegar for the regular dressing, and even a twelve ounce can of Coke doesn't take the calorie count cover 1000. It's a little pricey at $5.65 - hey, I'm Sicilian - but there's no guilt involved. If one caves to the temptation of the two for one breakfast sandwich, there is much guilt later - and tremendous flatulence. Then again, gas is a way of life after a certain age. Walking the streets these days, I'm constantly gazing behind me, holding a bomb in check lest there be a woman, especially an attractive one, at my heels.
It was another day and another case of it looking like it was about to pour any second. Fortunately, I took a shot and was rewarded with an unusual bit of word of mouth. Every time I set up shop at Bay Parkway and 85th, a senior citizen strolls by with his wheeled walker and two dogs on long leashes. We always greet and wish each other well. My only concern is that one of the dogs will take a tinkle on some of the books. The gentleman is aware of this and takes extra care when passing, as he did today. A short time later a woman approached and introduced herself as the man's wife. Lo and behold, she loves the paranormal. I described A Hitch in Twilight, and she bit. She had been skeptical of my wares, as her husband is clueless as to her literary preferences. She was going to go to CVS and pay eight bucks a pop for their paperbacks. She did a lot better with me. I thanked her with thrillers by Dean Koontz, V.C. Andrews and Joe Hill, and suggested she check with me periodically. Thanks, ma'am. And no sooner did she leave than it began sprinkling. I covered up the wares for a while, uncovered when it looked like the rain had stopped, and left when it started again minutes later. It's not nearly as annoying when you've made a sale.
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