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Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/30 - Wayward Sons

Some days I have no idea what I'll blog about, as world news offers nothing more than old hat. I then post an excerpt from one of my works. I thought that was what I'd be doing right now, but a couple of interesting visits to the floating book shop gave me plenty of fodder, and reminded how lucky I am. While I was setting up I heard a blower being operated on the next block. Mike, the Super of the building that stretches from 84th to 85th Street on Bay Parkway, was cleaning his sidewalk. He stopped by on his way to Burger King. He got to talking about his step sons, grown men. He doesn't live with their mom any more, but he gives them work maintaining the huge building, which he is unable to oversee entirely on his own any more. One or the other will show up drunk. One has four kids. He doesn't know what to say to them any more. And what could he say, really? They are at an age where they must reform themselves.
Later, a young man showed who'd purchased a few books a couple of weeks ago, a garrulous sort who I guessed also had a drinking problem. He said he was a liberal, a supporter of Green Party candidates, and asked if I thought the 2004 election were stolen and if 9/11 were an inside job. He complained about lower back pain and I demonstrated an exercise I do each day to ward off the problem. Passersby gazed at him warily, although I sense he's entirely harmless to everyone but himself. He thanked me for listening to him go on and on, saying it showed I was a good person. What right have I to shoo him? He tests my patience in the same way Ol' Smoky does when I operate the business at my usual nook, but I don't have it in me to tell either to take a hike even when their visits turn into marathons. It's obvious they are tormented souls who have major issues. This guy said he has a Bachelor's in Psychology and a Master's in Sociology. He then backtracked and said he was actually a few credits short, as he got sidetracked by the drug life. I have no trouble believing he has a degree, as his vocabulary is good and he is familiar with many authors. He then laid a bombshell on me -- he's HIV positive, diagnosed in 2010. I guess he was doing heroin. I tried to show no emotion. To my chagrin, I immediately thought of the transfer of fluid through spittle, although I doubt that is one of the ways the infection is passed. I think he said he was 30, although he looks a lot older than that. When he picked out three books to buy I felt guilty and said he didn't have to pay. He insisted and I asked for three bucks. I'm certain he isn't working and money is tight for him. Fortunately, he lives in a three bedroom house with his brother. The third bedroom is filled with books and art, he says. I thank him for the purchase, and also thank the gentleman who purchased Javier Sierra's The Secret Supper, the one who bought the textbook on Business Ethics, and the couple who asked for information on my own works. Their eagle-eye elder son, pre-teen, I'd guess, spotted the portion of my sign that says they are available electronically.  So far only one person, the Lady Eve, has followed up a street inquiry and made a purchase on Kindle. I tell myself not to get my hopes up, but I'll be disappointed if no sale ensues.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/29 - Secret Supper

I haven’t read The DaVinci Code. The movie version put me to sleep. It just seems like hokiness without the humor that creates silly fun. I recently came across a similarly-themed novel, The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra, a Spaniard. It is pretty much what I expected. The action takes place in 1497. Many of the characters are based on actual historical figures. The great master is working on The Last Supper or Il Cenacolo, which a spy, who dubs himself The Soothsayer, believes contains heretical coding. He suspects DaVinci of being a Cathar, a member of a Christian offshoot which believes the Church is antithetical to the teachings of Christ. An inquisitor is summoned from Rome. The story is told from his point of view, decades after the events, including several murders, have taken place. Several interesting issues about the painting are brought to light. The one I found most intriguing is the knot in the tablecloth on the lower right hand side, from the viewer’s perspective, which symbolizes Mary Magdalene. Detailed analysis is rendered, oddities pointed out, a riddle solved. Although they seem plausible, I am skeptical. I think of snapshots, which are instants frozen in time that seem to portray its subjects in unflattering poses that may give a false impression that encourages speculation. On the one hand, the book is an easy read, only 317 pages, wonderfully translated by Alberto Manguel. Unfortunately, I found it tedious and unsatisfying. Perhaps this simply reflects my lack of faith. Do I believe Jesus Christ existed? Yes. Do I believe He was the son of God, the product of a virgin birth? No. Do I believe the Church suffers from excess? Yes. Is the Cathar way truer or more reasonable? I don’t see it. This was the author’s fourth of six books. He has been a NY Times best seller. 74 users rated the novel at Amazon, forging to a consensus of 3.5 of five. To my surprise, that is comparable, 3.7, to Dan Brown’s wildly popular book. I wonder if devout Catholics attack these works, lowering the ratings. Anyway, on a scale of five, I rate The Secret Supper 2.5. Here is a picture of the masterpiece, a mural on a wall of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. I notice that there are knots in each corner of the tablecloth, unlike the illustration in the book. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the painting hadn’t been finished at the moment in the narrative when the knot is mentioned.
My thanks to the gentleman who purchased two romance novels in Russian today on Bay Parkway.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/28 - Young & Old

Yesterday I drove my sister and two nieces out to the house of another of my nieces in Jersey. I looked forward to it more than usual because my great nephew, Ronnie, was in from the University of Kentucky, where he is a freshman who will eventually major either in pre-med or pharmaceuticals. He loves it. He has attended SEC football and basketball games, and occasionally plays guitar for meals in the area. I teased him briefly about the co-ed situation. He puts in 16 hours a week studying biology alone. He’s doing a lot of research on cows. He is sporting a full beard that makes him look more like a philosophy major. His sister, Danielle, a high school junior, is involved in mock trials, with an eye to a career in law. Her friend Nikki joined us for dinner. She has signed up for the Marines, and everyone at the table wished her well. She seems powerfully built and more like a Brooklyn girl than one who grew up in south Jersey. We were also joined by Kerry and Robin, who have six dogs. I don’t know how they do it. I can’t imagine caring for even one. They are good people and I always look forward to seeing them. I didn't overeat, and I had only a mini connoli and sliver of apple pie, topped with vanilla ice cream, for dessert. I stepped away from the table to keep myself from the temptation of more. It was a great day, and the drive home was as smooth as can be. I remembered to stay out of the right lane, NYC bound, of the Staten Island Expressway.

RIP PD James, 94, the “Queen of Crime,” author of 19 novels that intellectualized the genre. I read only Innocent Blood, published in 1980, and found it difficult. Perhaps it is time to give it another shot. James' work, translated into many languages, sold ten million copies. She received many awards and honorariums. 15 adaptations of her books have made it to the small and big screen. One of her characters, Adam Dagliesh, was a staple of productions that appeared on PBS. In her profile at Wiki she is quoted as thinking of Humpty Dumpty as a child: “Was he pushed?“ Well done, madam.


I just heard that former Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice has won his appeal and is free to sign with any team. Prediction: it will be the Patriots.

As I was on the home stretch of my morning walk, I came upon a line of about 25 young women waiting for a local boutique to open on Sheepshead Bay Road. It was about six-thirty. There must have been really good deals promised to get them out of bed so early on a school holiday. I had my own Black Friday deal at the floating book shop. I recently found a 40-piece ratchet set gathering dust in the basement. I planned to sell it for $20. Since it was so cold, I wanted to make sure the effort paid off, so I offered it for ten bucks. My thanks to the young man who bought it, and to the two gentlemen who purchased books.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/26 - Thanks

Let’s focus on positives today. Here’s a list of things for which I’m grateful:
Our armed forces, living and dead, who allow us to enjoy the fruits of liberty.
Those who do the dirty work most of us would never do.
The support of family and friends.
Publishers who have taken a chance on my work.
Customers who have patronized the floating book shop, especially those who have bought my books. Also those people who simply stop to chat.
The websites that carry my books, especially Amazon, which allows writers the incredible privilege of publishing to Kindle for free.
The social networks that allow me free advertising, and to connect with old and new friends.
Artists of all genres who entertain and enlighten us.
Corporations that provide millions of jobs and medical benefits, especially Walmart, the left’s favorite punching bag, which hires thousands, provides affordable products, and whose valuable stock is included, directly or indirectly, in the portfolios of many of its detractors.
The integrity of the Ferguson grand jury, which knew what would unfold after its decision.
The few things government gets right.
My former employer, NYMEX, whose hours allowed me ample time to write, and which allowed me to build a nest egg that has become my insurance against catastrophic injury or illness.
The great variety a free society provides.
Voters who gave the boot to incumbents on Election Day.
The staff of the building at the corner of E. 13th & Av. Z, and of the Chase bank at Bay Pkwy & 85th St., who allow me to set up the floating book shop and always wish me well.
Netflix, which allows a movie buff like me to enjoy films from around the world at low cost.
Those who have made the internet a valuable resource and economic force.
The survey sites that allow me to earn money and gift certificates I use to buy copies of my books.
Those who take the time to read my blog.
Sites like Wiki, IMDb and Yahoo, which allow me to research things I blog about.
The New York Post, my favorite newspaper, and all its op-ed contributors.
Tripod, which allows me a free website, and Fictionaut, which allows me to post short stories readers can sample for free.
To anyone I may have overlooked, my thanks.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/25 - Dangerous

The actions in Ferguson and a few other places in the nation are as predictable as they are unfortunate and irrational. Given the possibility of rioting, would the Grand Jury, comprised of nine whites and three blacks, have reached a decision not to indict?

Networks come up with annoying tags to promote their shows. A rerun is now an “Encore Presentation.” The latest ridiculous tag? - “Fall Finale.” Gotham did its episode last night. The soon-to-be Poison Ivy was finally given a few lines. I chuckled when Selina Kyle, the future Catwoman, dubbed her “dangerous.” I’ve failed to mention two of the regulars of this fun series, each excellent: Richard Kind, who seems the personification of a career bureaucrat, as the corrupt Mayor, and grizzled screen veteran Sean Pertwee, a Londoner, as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s Butler. Actually, he is as much a mentor to the Batman in waiting. The role must be easy to play. I cannot recall anyone who wasn’t endearing in it. This version is a bit younger and much more physical than the others, suggesting a background in the military or secret service. Here are pictures of Kind, whose face will be familiar to film and TV buffs, and Pertwee:



For a change there weren’t many surprises in the NFL this week. The Patriots still seem the class valedictorian by a wide margin. The  coaching staff simply plugs in replacements that do as well as those replaced. Their only irreplaceable player is Tom Brady… The Chiefs crashed back to earth one week after looking like contenders, losing to the previously winless Raiders… Remember how the media went on and on about how head coach Sean Payton made such a difference in the Saints? His magic seems to have evaporated. They are 4-7 and are alive for the playoffs only because their division is so weak… Have the Seahawks regained their championship form?… The 49ers look like the worst 7-4 team ever. Are they simply playing down to the competition or has their Super Window closed?… The Giants must find a defensive alternative to the Sieve formation… The Jets must find one to offensive incompetence. Please, Santa, bring our local teams better personnel.

My thanks to the kind folks who made purchases today, especially Gary, who bought a discounted copy of A Hitch in Twilight. Now we wait to see how much snow we will get.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/24 - Rookie

Back in the day, early 1960's, I used to play softball after school at P.S. 101. I was the youngest kid, so Mr. Kaufman, who ran the show, called me The Rookie, and he continued calling me that for years. I loved it. I just read about another rookie at Yahoo Sports, LPGA's Lydia Ko, 17, who earned $500,000 for winning the weekend's stop on the ladies' tour. She also won a million dollar bonus. Ko, a New Zealander, had quite a season, highlighted by 14 top ten finishes and three wins. She is the first rookie to earn two million dollars. While an amateur, her mom would give her ten bucks for each stroke she finished under par. Kudos, young lady. Here's a pic:
This morning at the deli section of Stop n Shop I bought onion rings and mozzarella sticks. All day long I looked forward to dinner. Now I feel the makings of a belly bomb. We must pay for our sins.

Mother Nature cooperated beautifully today, the rain ceasing before eleven, the temperature mild. The floating book shop was open for a full session, three-and-a-half hours. Unfortunately, I sold only one book, Hillary's latest pseudo-effort, Hard Choices, which tanked. Scanning the sparse content, I was not surprised. It seems nothing more than a cynical money scheme. And the cover, her bloated face in profile, was a colossal marketing blunder. Anyway, my thanks to the woman who bought it, and to the one who donated a book in Russian, and the Fed-Ex Guy, who donated three books, two winners and a loser, an Oscar Pistorius memoir that preceded his shooting his lover to death. I left it in the lobby of our building, the same as I did with a pre-scandal Lance Armstrong bio.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/23 - Deaf Ears

As the nation awaits the Grand Jury's decision about the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and people of good faith pray that violence will not ensue, other incidents manifest the racial divide America suffers. Here's an article from today's NY Post that confronts the issue directly. I've blogged about it several times myself. Unfortunately, it will probably fall on deaf ears:

In April, a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed mentally ill black resident Dontre Hamilton. Though the cop was fired for the unjustified shooting, protesters last week in a hearing told Police Chief Edward Flynn it wasn’t enough. Outside, reporters asked Flynn why he was on his phone for part of the hearing. His response: "I was following developments with a 5-year-old little girl sitting on her dad’s lap who just got shot in the head by a drive-by shooting. And if some of the people here gave a good goddamn about the victimization of the people in this community by crime, I’d take some of their invective more seriously. The greatest racial disparity in the city of Milwaukee is getting shot and killed. Hello! Eighty percent of my homicide victims every year are African-American. Eighty percent of our aggravated assault victims are African-American. Eighty percent of our shooting victims who survive their shooting are African-American. Now they know all about the last three people who’ve been killed by the Milwaukee Police Department over the course of the last several years. There’s not one of them that can name one of the last three homicide victims we’ve had in this city. Now there’s room for everybody to participate in fixing this police department, and I’m not pretending we’re without sin. But this community’s at risk all right. And it’s not because men and women in blue risk their lives protecting it. It’s at risk because we have large numbers of high-capacity, quality firearms in the hands of remorseless criminals who don’t care who they shoot. I’m leaving here to go to that scene . . . and I take it personally, OK? We’re going there and there’s a bunch of cops up there processing the scene of a dead kid. And they’re the ones who are going to be out there patrolling and stopping suspects who may have guns under the front seat. They’re the ones who are going to risk their lives to clean this thing up. All right?
We’re responsible for the things we get wrong and we take action. We’ve arrested cops, we’ve fired cops, and so on. But, the fact is, that the people out here, some of them, who had the most to say, are absolutely MIA when it comes to the true threats facing this community."
A few days ago a rookie NYPD officer mistakenly shot an innocent man in a dark stairwell in a housing project. My first reaction was not "What a shame" but "The agitators have more ammunition." Black leaders do not speak out enough against the violence men of color perpetrate against each other. In fact, they hardly do so at all. I sense they are so flabbergasted by the problem, so helpless and embarrassed, that they deflect attention from it by harping on those rare instances of police malfeasance or deadly mistakes, which often dominate the headlines, while the typical murder is forgotten the next day. It's a shame.

And on to insignificant matters: It all broke right for the floating book shop today. An advantageous parking spot became available as soon as I rolled up to Bay Parkway, which made the physical aspects as easy as can be. And people, perhaps invigorated by the warmer temperature, were in a generous mood. I even broke out the Armor All and cleaned my car while waiting for customers. My thanks to the buyers, especially the gentleman who purchased four boxes of nails. Recently, I found a whole cache gathering dust in the basement. And while I was packing up, B.S. Bob approached and asked if I'd take him to Home Depot, saying he would rather give the money to me than a car service guy. He's building a desk for his grand-daughter, a pre-teen aspiring writer fascinated by old typewriters. The news isn't all good. A young Polish immigrant I hadn't seen in a couple of weeks is now homeless and looking for a roommate. That didn't stop him from buying one of those thrillers he enjoys so much. If I'd been thinking right, I'd have given him a copy of A Hitch in Twilight. Next time I see him. 
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/22 - Renaissance Man

John Sayles is a modern renaissance man, film-maker, screenwriter, editor, actor, novelist and short story writer. His films are challenging, almost as un-commercial as can be. Last night I watched Go For Sisters (2013), the story of a parole officer’s search for her missing son. The pace of Sayles’ work is usually leisurely. He is more interested in character than action. Lisa Gay Hamilton, Yolonda Ross and Edward James Olmos are the stars. Olmos, looking every bit his 67 years, is outstanding as an ex-cop hired to help find the missing man. There is a lot of tension, suspense and dark foreboding. I had no idea how it would end, and that's a good thing. The film seems to have been largely ignored. Only 267 users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 6.1 of ten, which seems too low, although I realize it is unconventional fare likely to attract only fans of the director. He keeps it real, grounded. Those who prefer explosive action should pass. There is barely any commentary on the film, either positive or negative, at IMDb, which is most unusual given the delight some take in criticism. Sayles has received many awards and has been nominated for a couple of Oscars. His most praised film is Lone Star (1996), his most accessible Eight Men Out (1988), a re-creation of the infamous Black Sox baseball scandal. He has 29 credits listed as a director, 35 as a screenwriter, 29 as an actor, and 15 as an editor. He has also written four novels, two short story collections, and a book about his experience making Matewan (1987), which concerns a dark moment in America history regarding unions vs. management. His short story, I-80 Nebraska, won the O Henry Award. His novel, Union Dues, was nominated for the National Book Award. What an impressive canon.

The impossible has occurred seven days apart. Last week Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon had 408 yards rushing on 25 carries vs. Nebraska, a good team. Today Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine ran for 427 yards on 34 carries vs. Kansas, a very bad team. Obviously, college football defenses have a long way to go to catch up to the offenses. It's ridiculous, as is reflected in the basketball-like scores of some games.

Taking to the streets each day to sell books, one is bound to see interesting events. In yesterday's bitter cold, there were two incidents that had me chuckling. A woman in sandals, who had just had a pedicure, came rushing past me, obviously anxious to get home. Across the street, a young man, who I assume had just had a haircut, was swatting at his bare torso with a T-shirt, then ran his fingers through his scalp to cast loose hairs into the stiff wind. Nothing like that occurred today, but I thank Jack of Chase, who purchased yet another thriller, and the genteel Asian man who bought three hardcover books. 
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Writer's Life - Veins

RIP Mike Nichols, 83, one of the world’s great creative artists. He is among a rare club that has won an Emmy (4), Grammy, Oscar and Tony (14). His Grammy was shared with his partner, Elaine May, during their brief, meteoric run as a comedy team circa 1960. She would later write two screenplays he directed. He was a founding member of the famed Second City troupe, which has launched the careers of so many performers. He was awarded an Oscar for direction for The Graduate (1967), a landmark work that had such buzz, which I saw my freshman year. His films are mature, targeted toward adults. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff (1966) preceded The Graduate and was part of an impressive run that includes Catch 22 (1970) and Carnal Knowledge (1971). Catch 22 doesn’t approach the excellence of Joseph Heller’s madcap novel, but it was a bold, honest effort. Nichol’s last two films: Closer (2004) and Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) are under-rated, the latter, based on fact, notable because its hero is at once a liberal and staunch anti-communist. It is set in the pre-Vietnam era when Americans were a lot more united than today. Nichols was a naturalized citizen, born Mikhail Pavlovich Peschkowsky in Berlin in 1931. His family had the foresight to flee the Nazis. He was married to Diane Sawyer, his fourth wife. Here’s a quote attributed to him: “I love to take actors to a place where they open a vein. That's the job. The key is that I make it safe for them to open the vein.” I've tried to do that in every serious work I've done. (Facts culled from Wiki and IMDb)

I had a scare this morning when I clicked on a survey link and my PC malfunctioned. I immediately shut it down, waited a few minutes, and turned it on. A message came up that repair was needed. I followed the prompts and was up and running again in about ten minutes. So far everything seems okay. I had run a virus scan a couple of hours earlier, so I doubt the problem was caused by something hidden on the hard drive. I'd never had any real trouble doing surveys, which bring in money I use to buy copies of my own books. I attempted a few more and each proceeded smoothly. Whew!

My thanks to the kind folks who stopped by the floating book shop despite the icy wind, especially the elderly woman and the gentleman who purchased four paperbacks between them, and the Jewish Meals on Wheels guy, who donated a hardcover thriller.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/20 - Only the Beginning

I made some dough accompanying a handicap friend to the doctor and got back in time to run the floating book shop, where I, like Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name, made a few dollars more. My thanks to the buyers, especially Steve, who bought a discounted copy of Killing.

I've proofed 79 pages of my rock n roll epic, Rising Star. I've found seven misspellings and such, made several minor changes, and added a line here and there. Here's how the novel begins. It's only a couple of minutes read:

1 "...I know it's only rock 'n roll, but I like it...."*

   The small crowd huddled before the stage, which was but a platform that rose a foot from the floor, tucked into the corner of the dark, smoky club. In design the place was like a roughly finished basement. The people cheered as the band capped its number with a deafening flourish.
   "Awright!" howled the singer, a tall, athletic, bearded blond whose locks fell well beyond his shoulders, whose taut flesh glowed with perspiration. "You're beautiful -- at least some of you are. All you pretty girls now, don't forget to leave your name and number. You ugly ones take care of my fat friend back there on drums."
   He was bombarded by tiny paper balls. Laughing, he tried to avoid the barrage. The bassist bent, gathered as many of the papers as he could and stuffed them into the pocket of his shirt.
   "We're gonna do one more before we go, but before we do let me introduce the rest of the guys. On drums, fatboy himself -- Richie DeSalvo." Richie banged out a crisp flourish and clash of cymbals, his dark mane whipping about. "On keyboards, our token Jew -- Mitchell Weinstein." Slim, clean-cut, fair-skinned, Mitchell smiled as he sent out an eerie riff. "On bass -- nervous Mike Scarpa." Mike bowed his short, compact frame over the fretboard of his Rickenbacker. "On guitar, the ice man -- Paul Ranga." Tall, thin, bespectacled, Paul struck a chord on his Les Paul that reverberated throughout the club. "And on vocals, last but certainly not least, the only non-ethnic, non-New Yorker in the group -- meet John Doe."
   Doe received the most applause and let out an appreciative howl. "You have such great taste. This one's called Star Chaser. You better like it."
   He counted time and music burst from the stage. The audience was immediately infected with the energy. Fists flew into the air. Heads bobbed. The sound was hard and fast yet light, accessible. John's voice, as strong as it was, was lost in the volume. He compensated with movement, gyration, gestures. He spun, dipped and danced in place, overcoming the trappings of the tiny stage. The others provided the pace. Mitchell smiled as he worked at his keys. Richie pounded relentlessly on his drums. Mike eyed his fretboard intently, as if fearful of making a mistake. Paul glanced at Mitchell and laughed.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/19 - This n That

The senate vote for the Keystone Pipeline was 59-41 in favor, yet it didn’t pass. It needed 60 for approval. I don’t understand it, but I’m encouraged that in January there may be enough votes for passage, perhaps even for veto-proof. Am I wrong, but didn't Al Gore as VP once cast a vote to break a tie to get a law enacted?

I find politics exasperating 99% of the time. I got a chuckle out of it today reading an article in NY Post. Yesterday protestors attacked NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for not appointing Hispanics to positions in his administration. They shouted: “One-term Mayor, one-term Mayor. ” Love it. I doubt de Blasio will be forced out of office, despite the debacle his early tenure has become. I can't see Democrats turning on him, and there is no viable Republican opposition, at least not currently.

A study by Princeton University has found interesting facts. It is common knowledge that colleges lower  entrance standards to allow a more diverse school population. This is true even of the Ivy League. Of the applicants who meet the grade point average requirement to enter these elite schools, the requirement for SAT score is: Asians 1460, Whites 1320, Hispanics 1190, Blacks 1010. This looks like discrimination in reverse. I’m sure academics would argue it is justified, given what Blacks have suffered. I guess Asians have suffered the least of all groups, including whites.

Here’s a link to the latest interview I’ve done: http://bookgoodies.com/interview-with-author-vic-fortezza/ My thanks to the folks at Book Goodies. Lately, I’ve taken advantage of a lot of free publicity at Twitter, following sites that allow an author to tweet about his books. I’m sure thousands, if not millions of writers are doing the same, so it may be just more time on the literary treadmill. But it only takes a minute, so why not do it?

I left the apartment at eleven AM, fully expecting it to be too windy to run the floating book shop. To my surprise, conditions were benign but, of course, frigid. I made hay while the sun shined on the corner of E. 13th & Avenue Z. My thanks to the Asian gentleman who purchased two books on gardening, the Russian who bought a thriller in his own language, and Alan, who bought a discounted copy of A Hitch in Twilight. I also sold a box of nails. There were about 30, including boxes of screws, gathering dust in the basement of the old house. At a buck apiece it's a good deal.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/18 - Potpourri

In an article in today's NY Post, John Crudele points out that Americans used 7% less gasoline last year compared to 2007. He attributes the drop in consumption to hybrids, which I believe approach cost effectiveness only for those who drive a lot. Then again, even vehicles with traditional engines are not fully cost effective. A car’s value is in its convenience, and its ability to make those who use one for work more productive. It’s worth the investment, I’d guess, for 99% of owners. My trunk is filled with books.

Last night Gotham introduced another of its future villains, Harvey Dent, who will become Two Face. So far the future Catwoman, Riddler and Penguin have been used to great effect. Only Poison Ivy awaits more development. She has been entirely in the background. I may be omitting the presence of others, as I’ve read only one Batman comic since the ‘60’s, loaned to me by a friend. It was beautifully drawn and as hardcore in its violence as Gotham and the Christian Bale series are.

NFL Review: The Patriots seem the best team by far, having drubbed two contenders, the Broncos and Colts, back to back… The Cardinals are the most fun, finding ways to win with a backup QB… The Chiefs have been impressive lately, but I don’t believe they will get to the Super Bowl if they have to play a playoff game in New England… The Rams are the league’s most enigmatic team, having a losing record despite wins against some of the league's upper echelon… I don’t know if there has ever been as big a drop off in an athlete’s play as that of the Redskins’ RGIII, a sensation his rookie season, a bust since, hampered by injury… Big Blue is just about right where I thought they’d be. Ex-Giant Tiki Barber, now a broadcaster, ever desperate for attention, has called for Tom Coughlin's firing. I wonder if he's bitter that the G-Men won the Super Bowl the year following his retirement in 2006 and another a few years later.

My thanks to All Things That Matter Press, which sent a royalty check for the six copies of A Hitch in Twilight I recently purchased using gift certificates at Amazon. It’s nice to have money come into the house on a day the weather makes it impossible to run the floating book shop. AuthorHouse, publisher of Close to the Edge, does not pay royalties on copies bought with a GC, which is really petty. I complained once and was compensated. It seemed the firm had learned its lesson, as I was paid the next time I did it. Now its back to shenanigans.
I've proofed 57 pages of my rock n roll epic, Rising Star, and found six errors. 
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/17 - Ups & Downs

God Bless America -- Giancarlo Stanton, 25, right-fielder of the Florida Marlins, has signed the richest contract in sports history: 13 years, 325 million. That's about 25 mil per season. Last year he hit .288, had 37 HR's, 105 RBI, and scored 89 runs. I think such contracts are insane, but that's not up to me. It's up to the owners and agents, and the people willing to pony up at the box office. As long as there will be no taxpayer bailout, more power to them.

Coaching at the major college level is a cold, tough business. A friend who played at a mid-level school once overhead an assistant say to another: “He’s dead wood,” referring to an injured athlete who could no longer help them win. Yesterday the University of Florida, winner of three football national championships, fired its head coach, Will Muschamp. He was hired, in part, to clean up the program, which suffered great embarrassment by the miscreants the previous staff recruited. He did that, but he didn’t win enough games, his record 27-20, just 17-15 in the SEC, the toughest conference of all. He will coach the Gators' final two games of the season. He took his dismissal nobly, citing his failure to live up to expectations. I suppose the school will go back to recruiting thugs, as Florida St. has so successfully done.

Since the weather will put the kibosh on the floating book shop for at least two days, I decided to begin what I hope will be my final flush of my rock n roll epic, Rising Star. I proofed the first two chapters, 27 pages, and found three of those ornery errors that escape attention. I also made some minor changes and additions. Since the Rising Star TV show came to my attention, I've considered changing the title, as any internet search for my novel will be swamped by info about the show. Now I'm leaning back the other way. I'm presuming there will be great interest in the book, which has not happened with any of my others. I've also not come up with a catchy alternative. Use of the word "rock" would conflict with the marketing phrase I will put on the cover: Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll. I have plenty of time to make a decision. I will work on the file only on days the weather confines me to the apartment. If it's not windy Wednesday, the floating book shop will be back in operation under winter hours.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/16 - Creative Bookkeeping

Happy 213th birthday to my favorite newspaper, the NY Post.

Michael Goodwin mentioned a troubling fact in his column today. Only 20 citizens signed up for part-time soldiering in the UK last year. The maximum age has been raised to 51 in an effort to boost the numbers. At times it seems Europe is on the road to suicide. I hope this impression is just the misinformed opinion of someone living thousands of miles away.

Certain feats seem impossible, such as what occurred in yesterday’s game between Wisconsin and Nebraska. Badgers RB Melvin Gordon, a junior, ran 25 times for a total of 408 yards, a new NCAA major college record. That’s an average of 16.3 yards per carry. And he did not even play in the fourth quarter, the outcome having already been decided.  He might have had 500. Unbelievable. The previous record, 406 yards, was set by future NFL Hall of Famer Ladanian Tomlinson, who did it in 1999 for TCU.

Also in college football: Florida St. may have several douche bags on its roster -- most teams do -- but one cannot help but be impressed by their resilience and on the field excellence. How many times have they come from behind this season? It seems as if it is every game. I wonder how the Seminoles would fare against Alabama, which seems to have regained its mojo. The championship quest should be more interesting come bowl time, given the four-team tournament, but eight teams would be better. As currently constituted, as many as four deserving teams may be left out of the mix. With eight teams, it might be one or two.

Sales of my own books has been so dismal, both on the street and online, that I've decided to offer one a day at a steep discount, two bucks, to someone I'm confident will read it. I sold one in such a manner two weeks ago and another this afternoon to a young man who donated three works of science fiction. I'm not happy about it, as it makes the sales seem phony, but there seems to be little choice at present. I just apply the money I make selling other items to cover the loss. My thanks to that young man and the two other kind folks who made purchases today.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/15 - Torture

Torture is an issue that inspires passion, as well it should. It is horrible, of course, but is it ever justified? These days I would hope it would be used as a last resort if credible information surfaced about an attack designed to inflict mass casualties. I would never have the stomach or moral certitude to do it myself, but I’m grateful that others do. Last night I viewed The Railway Man (2013), adapted from a memoir by Eric Lomax about his suffering at the hands of the Japanese. It echoes The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), set in the same places, Burma/Thailand, where British POW’s were forced to build a railroad, many losing their lives in the brutal conditions. The narrative begins years later. Lomax has married. Unbeknownst to his wife, he suffers PTSD. Eventually, he returns to the site, where the Japanese officer responsible for the atrocity is working as a tour guide. The confrontation offers the film’s best moments. In the commentary section at IMDb, there were several complaints that the actions diverged from those in the book. If the filmmakers were trying to establish a moral equivalence between the tortured and the torturers, I think it’s a mistake. The British Empire advanced civilization, not always gently, but it vastly improved the world. The Japanese Empire, had it and the Nazis succeeded, would likely have created an era that would have made the dark ages seem mild. Their atrocities, the Rape of Nanking, the Holocaust, the carnage of WWII, are documented, fact. Lomax wrote a letter to President Bush, denouncing methods used at Guantanamo. Like John McClain, he has spoken out against torture. Who can blame them, given what they suffered? Any rational person prefers a world where there is no torture. Unfortunately, there are sub-humans out there willing to kill thousands, if not millions at a time. 16,000+ users at IMDb have rated The Railway Man, forging to a consensus of 7.1 of ten. That seems about right. Anyone squeamish about graphic depictions of atrocities should pass. Anyone who has read the book should expect changes, as several commentators pointed out. It runs two hours. Although it moves slowly and the story is familiar, I did not pause the DVD even once. Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard bring their usual excellence to their roles, and Jeremy Irvine is outstanding as the young Lomax. The title refers not only to the construction project but to Lomax's fascination with trains.

I had the good fortune of immediately finding a parking spot today, which proved fortuitous for the floating book shop. As I was setting up shop, a young woman exited the bank. She needed something to read for a long drive, chose a thin paperback romance by Nora Roberts, and grossly overpaid. My thanks, and also to the middle aged woman who bought Rebecca Wells' smash chick-lit hit, The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. She read a couple of chapters while seated in a nearby sunny nook, enjoying coffee and a cigarette as well. Thanks also to Jack of Chase, who purchased David Baldacci's The Whole Truth, and the elderly woman who included a Sandra Brown mystery to the stack she intends to take on a six-week stay in F-L-A. Conspiracy Guy stiffed me again -- twice. For weeks he's been promising an eleven-book donation, which he's keeping right beside his front door so he won't forget it.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/14 - Brrrrr!

Remember the disarray Republicans suffered in the second term of George W. Bush? It seemed they would never recover. Who would have dreamed that a similar plight would befall Democrats just six or so years later? And it didn't end on Election Day. They keep shooting themselves in the foot. Jonathan Gruber is getting hammered for admitting the architects of ObamaCare were banking on “the stupidity of the American voter” and a deliberate “lack of transparency” to muscle the president’s signature law through Congress, and Nancy Pelosi has been caught in a lie of pretending not to know him. Many politicians -- on either side of the aisle -- share that same elitist opinion of voters, but liberals have a lot harder time concealing it. They also have a forgiving media who share their beliefs to help them through storms. I doubt Gruber will suffer any kind of punishment, though he richly deserves it. Maybe a riled voter will simply slap him silly. The way society has been moving, he will probably be handed myriad opportunities to make vast amounts of money. Just when it seems those in politics could not become more contemptible, the bar is lowered.

Hondo, the NY Post's satiric football prognosticator, had plenty of ammunition for his weekly column, given the antics of Gruber, Kardashian and Hizzoner Bill deBlasio. Here's how he sees one particular game: "Packers over Eagles: Mayor de Blasio blamed a rough night’s sleep for being late to a memorial service for victims of Flight 587, which crashed in Belle Harbor, Queens 13 years ago. Possible causes for the bout with insomnia include: An extra-long meeting with co-Mayor Sharpton; re-reading favorite chapters of Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto,” or a late-night game of stop and frisk with co-Mayor Chirlane McCray. Siciliano, aka the Bronx Bomber, says the reason de Blasio is always late is because his clocks are set to Moscow time. Emailer Peter Salvato suggests the Mayor would have been on time, but his driver was adhering to the new 25 mph city speed limit." Love it!

There was a surprise cameo last night on Elementary. Holmes frequently makes a study of odd expertise. In the first few minutes of the episode, he had a champion knife-thrower demonstrate his skills. The part was played by former Giants QB and current no-nonsense CBS game analyst Phil Simms. He was on screen for about a minute and acquitted himself surprisingly well. The segment had nothing to do with the main plot. I wonder if the creators needed to fill time. Still, it was fun.

I broke out the gloves and thick socks, and wore six layers for today's session of the floating book shop. Fortunately, brilliant sunshine provided relief from the bitter wind. Still, I pared back to two-and-a-half hours, leaving when the shadows overtook my usual nook. When Crazy Joe said it was too cold to stop, I thought I'd go home empty-handed. Then an elderly Russian woman I hadn't seen in months approached and my heart filled with hope. She has never passed without making a purchase. She bought three books in Russian and Cynthia Freeman's No More Tears and, as usual, overpaid. She bought my pizza. Spasibo, madam.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/13 - Navigators

Even though my dad was a commercial fisherman and owned a little boat, I have no fondness for life on the sea, but I do enjoy entertainment set there. Das Boot (1981) is a great film, Master and Commander (2003) rousing. I was fascinated by Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast. So I looked forward to Richard Woodman’s maritime adventure, Under False Colurs. It is solid work. The action takes place in 1809-1811 and involves a British plot to have Napoleon believe his ally, Russia, is double-dealing. It is the tenth of a series of 14 novels that feature Nathaniel Drinkwater, a minor historical figure, as are many of the characters. The work is speculation, fiction, the author admits. That makes no difference in terms of enjoyment. The narrative smacks of authenticity -- in fact, too much so. It is filled with nautical terms I was too lazy to look up. I was interested solely in the story. Although by no means an easy read, it is aided by its brevity, 244 pages. I was not surprised to find that Woodman is a naval historian. He had a 37-year nautical career, mostly in the private sector. He has been prolific, having written 18 novels besides the Drinkwater series and 18 works of non-fiction. Eight users have rated the book at Amazon, forging to a consensus of 3.9 of five. I rate it three. I was impressed by its Kindle ranking, 336,940th, given that it was published in 1999. There are at least two million books available electronically. There may be a lot more. I’m gauging by the rankings on my own books, the print copies of which at times have crossed the ten million mark. Digital copies are said to be 50% of the market these days, which doesn’t jibe with the numbers I just mentioned. Whatever. (Facts culled from Wiki.)

A huge solar panel structure in the Mojave Desert is incinerating birds at a rate of one every two minutes. Operators shrug it off, citing that cars alone kill millions each year. So far, there has been no benign form of energy invented. All have drawbacks. I’m partial to the most cost efficient, oil and natural gas. Environmentalists believe their use is the major factor behind climate change and therefore makes the higher cost of alternative methods irrelevant and just. In defense of President Obama’s record, many liberals cite falling price of gasoline. I guess the left loves fossil fuels when they make a leftist him look good.

Fortunately, it wasn't wind, which made the lack of sunshine irrelevant and operation of the floating book shop a snap today. My thanks to the four kind folks who made purchases.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/12 - 6PM Special

My thanks to the kind folks who donated books today, and to the woman who purchased a Nora Roberts romance. Here’s an excerpt from one of my unpublished short stories, Change, which may have been written as long ago as the mid 80‘s. It’s about working the Christmas season at Gimbel’s, which no longer exists, and which was once the world’s second largest department store after Macy’s. I’d worked there as a stock boy the summer of ‘68. I got the jobs with the help of my late friend Billy Costakes, the thought of whose untimely death two years ago still pisses me off. It’s a few minutes read.

   I'd previously worked in the bargain basement division of men's clothing. Mr. Gold, or "Two Horns," as Metz, the regular stockman, called him, was the "buyer." According to the salesgirls, he'd earned in excess of $50,000 in '67, a lot of money in those days. I immediately had evidence of his shrewdness.
   "Take the price tags off these shirts," he told me my first day. "They're goin' on sale."
   The tags read $1.47. The shirts went on sale at $1.99. I was not sure if this was dishonest, as the shirts seemed a bargain even at the higher price.
   Another of his ploys was the 6PM Special, which was advertised in bold type in the Daily News. Pajama tops and bottoms were sold at $.99 each. A few shirts were tossed in to sweeten the pot. A table was cleared and customers gathered about it, sometimes five deep, almost all female. At six, Metz and I would carry a large cardboard box filled with the items and dump them onto the table. In the ensuing frenzy, we were often knocked aside. Although these events did not bring out the best in human mature, they were always successful. I recall only one item being left -- a soiled white shirt that looked as if it'd been used to wipe the floor.
   Mr. Gold, 60, was not the devil Metz claimed. He was simply a hard-worker who expected hard work of others. I respected him and, to my surprise and delight, he respected me. Metz, on the other hand, did not respect Mr. Gold or Artie, the assistant buyer, nor was he respected by them. In fact, the sight of Metz, or his disappearance, as was often the case, often sent Artie ranting and raving with a furor I feared would kill him.  He'd suffered a heart attack a few years earlier, shortly after having been named a buyer. It motivated him to lose 50 pounds. He was now in good health and again hoped to become a buyer. Normally soft-spoken and kind, the sight of Metz often transformed him into a maniac. I'd never heard anyone addressed with such harshness. It was a wonder Artie's voice box didn't explode. I sensed Mr. Gold and Artie were ashamed Metz was a Jew. Metz reacted to the tirades with calm annoyance, saying, in an accent prevalent throughout the city: "Vot? Vy are you yelling?"
   No one called him by his given name. I cannot recall if he'd ever even told it to me. His appearance put one off. His facial features were large, including his beaverish teeth, which protruded whenever he squinted behind his wire-rimmed classes, which had small lenses. He was always mumbling to himself inquisitively. He had problems with his feet, the result, he claimed, of "pooshing and pooling, pooshing and shahving." He wore odd black shoes that had thick rubber soles. He rarely smiled or laughed. He was unmarried. I assumed he was about 50, although he gave the impression of being much older. I wondered if he'd always been odd or if his oddness had been engendered by a particular hardship, perhaps the Holocaust. If the proletariat were ever to rise to power in America, I pictured Metz as a willing executioner.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thw Writer's Life 11/11 - Veteran's Day

Today we thank our veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. They have made the fruits of freedom possible.

According to an article in the NY Post, a group of veterans of the Iraq War has filed a lawsuit against five European banks, claiming the institutions processed funds used to finance attacks. I hope they win, but I wonder if this will set off a number of retaliatory suits against American banks, and result in unforeseen consequences.

Also in the Post: Kudos to CBS reporter Lara Logan and her crew of four, who interviewed Ebola patients in Liberia, then put themselves in self-imposed 21-day quarantine. How refreshing in light of the cavalier, arrogant attitude of a couple of medical “professionals.”

NFL Week Ten: Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger set a record, throwing 12 TD passes in back to back games. Logic dictated he would have a field day against the 1-8 Jets. Gang Green dominated in all aspects save the final score. Go figure… Former Jets QB Mark Sanchez, run out of town by angry fans and a hostile press, has played beautifully the past two games for the Eagles, standing in for injured starter Nick Foles. Although I still believe he would never be more than average, it’s nice to see a maligned player rise to the occasion… The Cleveland Browns, a doormat since the early 90’s, are in first place after a surprisingly easy win at Cincinnati. I guess this proves that things get better in time, albeit a long time in some cases… Last week Carson Palmer signed a three-year contract extension worth 50 million. On Sunday he blew out his knee. The Cardinals, the league’s second most surprising team, have won several games without him this year. I’ve never been impressed with Palmer’s pro career, but I’d be surprised if the Cardinals continued their current pace with Drew Stanton at the helm. The NFL has skewered its rules to make passing easier. A QB is now more important than ever. Stanton seems nothing more than an adequate, temporary stand-in -- but he has the opportunity to prove his detractors wrong.

I had a long visit, more than an hour, from ol' Smoky today. He parked his butt on the ledge that surrounds the garden of the apartment building where I set up shop, and opened up his new toy, a cell phone. Soon he was cursing up a storm, unable to retrieve a number from information. As usual he complained of being hounded by unseen forces, including the FBI. It was at once sad and comical.

My thanks to the middle aged woman who purchased Sidney Sheldon's Morning, Noon and Night, and the gentleman who bought the self-published Wolfe-Arama, a collection of puns and jokes by Ira, a guy from the neighborhood.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/10 - Disappointment

Here are excerpts, edited by yours truly, of an article by Hugh McIntyre on the Forbes magazine website:
"Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin brand fame was apparently behind an effort to reunite Led Zeppelin, offering the band an obscene amount of money for a few dozen concerts. The contract was reportedly for 35 shows in three cities: London, Berlin, and an unnamed location in New Jersey. Each of the three surviving original members would have earned somewhere over $200 million each, and another $100 million in merchandising profits was to be shared between them. Branson was reportedly also ready to supply the group with its own private jet and planned to re-brand it 'The Starship'. The contract also had an extension option to add 45 shows in additional venues. Legendary guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones apparently signed on immediately, and Jason Bonham, the son of late drummer John Bonham, was set to step in for his father, as he has done on several occasions. Lead singer Robert Plant apparently met with promoters to discuss the deal, and during the meeting actually ripped the contract in two, ending any chance of a regrouping. While $800 million is certainly a lot of money, it’s not like Plant, or any of the other members, really need the money. Led Zeppelin is one of the most successful groups of all time, having sold around 112 million records in the United States alone. That figure is three or four times greater when the entire planet is counted. The band is the fourth best-selling music act in American history behind The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Garth Brooks. Robert Plant has also had a successful career outside Led Zeppelin. He has released 14 albums, selling additional millions and making his chart history that much more impressive. His collaborative album Raising Sand, with bluegrass/country singer Alison Krauss, may not have been his most commercially successful, but it was adored by critics, and won he, Krauss, and producer T-Bone Burnett five Grammys, including Record of the Year and Album of the Year in 2009. The band’s last album of original music, Coda, was released back in 1982. Its recordings have continued to sell well throughout the years, making millions in re-packagings, reissues and live album releases. The group’s last show was in London back in December of 2007, a tribute to legendary music executive Ahmet Erteg√ľn. The concert is thought to have had the most ticket requests of any show in history. When it was announced, 20 million were submitted online."
I'm sure the shows would sell-out, but I doubt they would be of quality. Zeppelin's best live years were in the late 60's and early 70's. After that, it was hit or miss, and sometimes downright awful. I find the live The Song Remains the Same, filmed in 1973, released in '76, almost unlistenable. These days Plant cannot approach the amazing highs he hit as a young man, and Page has not grown as a musician the way many of his peers have. Then again, Black Sabbath rocked and surprised the world recently. Here's a clip of Zeppelin from 1969. It's 15 minutes:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeDdp6q-AkQ

My thanks to the woman who purchased reality TV star Bethenny Frankel's A Place of Yes on Avenue U today, my only sale. I visited a Mexican food restaurant nearby, experiencing a craving for tacos. It was run by Asians. The meat was pork instead of ground beef. It was very disappointing and most unsatisfying. But there's reason for good cheer -- Gotham airs tonight at eight, and I get another crack at selling books tomorrow.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/9 - Collaboration

Last night PBS in NYC ran the classic film noir The Big Sleep (1946), starring Bogie and Bacall. As the opening credits ran, I noticed that William Faulkner, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, co-wrote the screenplay, which is based on Raymond Chandler's novel, which introduced iconic private dick, Phillip Marlowe. Bogie is his usual solid self in the role, but I believe Robert Mitchum is the definitive Marlowe. Anyway, I was curious as to how many screenplays Faulkner did. Most of his Hollywood work was uncredited, one of those films the great Gunga Din (1939). On those for which he received credit, he collaborated with others. The only original works he did are the largely forgotten The Road to Glory (1936) and Land of the Phaoroahs (1955), distinguished these days only by the presence of the bodacious Joan Collins. Wiki lists eleven un-produced scripts on which Faulkner had a hand. How amazing is it that such a literary icon never soloed in Tinsel Town? Back then, I'd bet 99% of screenplays were tweaked by several writers. These days I'm seeing a lot of flicks with only one screenwriter listed, although I'd bet the majority still pass through so-called script doctors. Here's a quote attributed to Faulkner: "Hollywood is a place where a man can get stabbed in the back while climbing a ladder." He had 19 novels and more than 100 short stories published. Several of his works were adapted to the silver screen. I'd guess that only The Reivers (1969), starring Steve McQueen, was successful commercially. Having died in 1962, he was not involved in the screenplay.

There's an interesting tidbit in an article by Jonathan Trugman in today's NY Post. The current price of a barrel of crude oil is $78. Russia needs it to be $90 just to break even. I guess their extraction technology hasn't caught up to modern standards, which really isn't surprising. The Saudis, who seem to be in full panic mode at the prospect of USA energy independence, have been the biggest driver of lower prices. Even where the price is now, they clear a profit of ten to 15 bucks per barrel. I do not weep for the king of the Russian Kleptocracy, Vladimir Putin. It's great to see capitalism at work.

My thanks to the young man who bought two classics today on Bay Parkway, and the woman who regrets having given her copy of A Hitch in Twilight to a friend, who never returned it. "It was so good," she said. Shucks, ma'am.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Writer's Life 11/8 - Lock

I did not recognize the name Tom Hardy, actor, although he is in the midst of a distinguished career. He is the sole character to appear on screen, driving to London, in Locke (2013), which I viewed last night courtesy of Netflix. It is the story of a straight-laced man determined to rectify a rare mistake. During the trip, he is constantly on the phone, trying to coach his underling through a massive construction project,  communicating honestly with his wife and sons, calming a near hysterical woman with whom he shared a one-night-stand, and speaking to his dead father. The danger with such a narrow narrative is tediousness. This is avoided by keeping the film brief, a mere 85 minutes. Despite its intelligence, such fare has limited appeal and is suited only for the most patient viewers. Steven Knight wrote and directed it, his third time at the helm. He has 24 credits as a writer, among them the screenplays for the outstanding Dirty Pretty Things (2002) and the chilling Eastern Promises (2007). However, he is best known as the creator of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? But Locke belongs to the gifted Hardy, whose credits are impressive. His first was Band of Brothers (2001), his next the same year, Black Hawk Down. He has played Bill Sykes in a BBC production of Oliver Twist (2007) and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (2009). He had a major role in Inception (2010). He played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Kudos. More than 37,000 users at IMDb have rated Locke, forging to a consensus of 7.1 of ten. As usual, the contributors in the commentary section were largely negative. Some people would rather bash than simply state: “It’s not my type of movie.” On a scale of five, I rate it 3.25.
I heard the dreaded term Polar Vortex twice today. Will winter arrive even sooner than it did last year, and last as long? Not according to the five-day forecast I just searched, which lifted my spirits considerably.

My thanks to Jack of Chase and Ralph, who bought books today on Bay Parkway.
Vic's 4th novel: tinyurl.com/bszwlxh
Vic's 3rd Novel: http://tinyurl.com/7e9jty3
Vic's Short Story on Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/k95k3nx
Vic's Short Story Collection: http://www.tiny.cc/Oycgb
Vic's 2nd Novel: http://tiny.cc/0iHLb Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kx3d3uf
Vic's 1st Novel: http://tiny.cc/rP7o9
Vic's Rom-Com Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/kny5llp
Vic's Horror Screenplay: http://tinyurl.com/cyckn3f
Vic's Web Site: http://members.tripod.com/vic_fortezza/Literature/