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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/31 - Boo!

Of my novels, the five in print and the four that eventually will be, I believe only one, Rising Star, has the potential to be a big seller, although that is not proving to be the case, The nine took about 20 years to write. In the mid '90's I decided to take a crack at screenplays. I wrote a romantic comedy and a horror story. It was great fun. I failed to get anyone with clout to evaluate them, but that no longer stings. Here's the first two parts of All Hallows, a roller coaster thriller that pays tribute to many of the films and TV shows that entertained Americans for decades. The excerpt may seem long, but many of the sentences are very short. My guess is it's no longer than a 15-minute read. Happy Halloween.
   Part One: Nightfall. The outer, fog-shrouded grounds of the Bates-Myers Institute, a sanitarium on the outskirts of Bela, a small town in America. An overweight nurse waddles past the security gate, which has been left open. Her name tag reads: "Voorhies." She approaches a small security booth, which appears empty. Its light is on. A Jack-o-lantern sits on the window sill. On the second floor of the building, in a dark room, a shadowy figure peers through the blinds, tittering. He sings quietly to himself.
   Titterer, singing: “I don't want her/ You can have her/ She's too fat for me.”
   Outside, Nurse Voorhies gazes about.
   Nurse: Otis?
   She waits for a response, harrumphs.
   Nurse: Drunk again? You'll be a patient here soon yourself, you old fool. Stop hiding. Come out. Wait'll I tell Doctor Brooks.
   She closes the gate, which locks securely, and walks along the path to the sanitarium. Blood begins to trickle from the crack at the bottom of the door of the security booth. She does not notice it. At the front steps she encounters a trail of blood flowing from the bottom of the door to the path. Her breath catches in her throat. Nearby, a foot in a bloodied sock protrudes from the bottom of a bush. Concerned with the trail of blood, she fails to notice it. Someone has scrawled 666 in blood on the door. She opens the door tentatively and peers inside. Seeing nothing but the trail of blood, which winds out of sight, she enters, carefully avoiding the red river. No one is at the reception desk.  In a recreation room nearby, a television is tuned to a talk show featuring dysfunctionals: "Killers and the Women Who Love Them." The room appears empty.
   Nurse: Lulu?
   Nurse: Joe?
   Nurse: Doctor Brooks?
   Nurse: Anybody?
   A titter is heard. The nurse whirls, spots no one.
   Nurse: Who's that?
   The titter is prolonged. A smug look comes to the Nurse's face.
   Nurse: Nothing a little shock therapy won't cure.
   The Titterer, out of sight, feigns fear.
   Titterer: Nothing a little liposuction won't cure.
   She smirks. Wary, she follows the trail of blood along a corridor, passing a blood-stained sneaker. The red river diverges into two tributaries leading under doors that face each other across the corridor. She pauses.
   Titterer, imitating Monty Hall: Now, Miss Voorhees -- will it be Door Number One or Door Number Two?
  She whirls but fails to spot him, although, apparently, he is nearby. She stands mulling the options, finally chooses the door to her left. She opens it tentatively. Inside, a male orderly lies decapitated on the floor, blood now only trickling from his neck. His severed bead rests on his chest. The nurse backs away, terrified, her throat locked.
  Enter the Titterer, sliding down the corridor in stocking feet along the river of blood. His face, arms and smock are stained with blood.
  Titterer: Herrrrrre's, Johnny!
  He bumps into the nurse, whose voice box unlocks in a piercing scream. The Titterer imitates the scream, tears at his long, stringy hair, pulls locks from it, tosses them into the air. He grabs the nurse by the scruff of the neck.
  Titterer: What's behind Door Number Two, Jay?
  He forces her into the room.
  Titterer: Monty, it's another lovely dead person with his head cut off!
  A decapitated body sits at the desk, legs crossed, cigarette burning between its fingers. The head stands at the center of the desk, cigarette burning between its lips. The uniform is covered with blood.
   Titterer: There's your shock therapy, Nurse Blob. The inmates have taken over the asylum. "Revenge of the Psychopaths" -- film at eleven.
    He releases her. She flees screaming. At the reception desk she reaches over the counter for the phone, pulls the receiver up, and finds a bloodied, severed hand clinging to it. She screams and lets it drop. The Titterer reappears, guiding a severed head along the corridor with a broom, as if he were playing hockey.
   Titterer: He's got a breakaway. He skates in, shoots...
   He rolls the bead at her. She scrambles to avoid it. Bouncing erratically, it manages to find her feet. She screams.
   Titterer: He scores!
   He celebrates as a hockey player would.
   Titterer: They're going crazy!  They're going crazy! Hey-ho!
   He imitates a cheering crowd.
   The nurse runs outside and toward the security booth. As she opens it, the guard's headless body, which was propped against the door, falls backward at her feet, splashing her white shoes with blood. She backs away in terror, knocking the Jack-o-lantern from the sill. As it strikes the ground, it breaks and reveals a severed bead. She flees the grounds, screaming as she plods off into the dark night. The Titterer comes races past the gate after her, carrying a severed bead by the hair.
   Titterer: Hey, you forgot your lovely parting gift.
   He overtakes her and, running backward beside her, holds the head up to her face. She is screaming as they fade into the distance.
   Part Two: The security gate. A Sheriff's car skids to a halt at the security booth. The officers exit and approach the corpse.
   Deputy: Geez.
   He draws his gun and looks about. His name tag reads: "Fife."
   Sheriff: Put that away, Andy.
   Deputy: How do we know he's still not around?
   Sheriff: Would you stick around if you did somethin' like this?
   Deputy: No, but I'm not crazy.
   The Sheriff looks at him askance.
   Sheriff: Sometimes I wonder.
   The Deputy stares, unsure of himself. The Sheriff chuckles, squats and examines the body.
   Sheriff: And how d'you know it was a man?
   Deputy: No woman'd ever do somethin' like that.
   Sheriff: Does the name Lizzie Borden ring a bell -- or Lorena what's her name?
   The Deputy smirks.
   Sheriff: Well, I guess I shouldn't expect somebody who married the girl next door to know what some women'll do.
   The Deputy fidgets. The Sheriff chuckles.
   Deputy: Geez, Barney, how can you laugh at a time like this?
   Sheriff: If.... Never mind.
   He looks at the body.
   Sheriff: Poor Otis.  At least I think it's Otis. Does it look like Otis to you?
   The Deputy is appalled at the humor.
   Deputy: C'mon, Barney.
   The Sheriff scrapes blood from the name tag. It reads "Campbell."
   Sheriff: Yep, it's Otis all right. Get an ambulance out here. And tell Angel to call Elly May and tell her not to wait up for you.
   As the Deputy goes to the car, the Sheriff makes his way to the door of the sanitarium. He notices the blood-stained sock, peers around the bush, and grimaces. Suddenly he is staggered by a flashback to Vietnam, his finding a G.I. dead behind a bush. Grasping the railing, be shakes his head to chase the image.
   He enters the building and sees the severed head and hand.  He looks toward a stairway. Blood is now winding its way down and also trickling from the landing. He experiences another flashback, the carnage in the aftermath of an explosion. He blinks several times to restore himself to the present, mutters to himself.
   Sheriff: Gonna be one of those nights.
   The Deputy enters and immediately grows pale.
   Sheriff: If you're gonna heave, go outside. Don't taint...
   Too late. The Deputy spews into the red river. The Sheriff smirks, then grows compassionate.
   Sheriff: Not like it is in the movies, is it? You lost your innocence now. You got a close up of the savage side of life.
   The Deputy is leaning against the desk, gathering himself. A glimpse of the legs of the dead body behind the desk jolts him into recovery.
   Deputy: God, I know her. What is this?
   Sheriff: Hell. I saw it in 'nam.
   Deputy: That musta been fun.
   Sheriff: A barrel of laughs. At least it got me ready for this. Matter of fact, life's been kinda boring since then. Guess you can't hide forever. Better ring up the FBI. This's way over our heads. And don't touch anything.
   Deputy: You don't hafta worry about that.
   The Deputy leaves. The Sheriff enters the recreation area. Jeopardy is airing. Several inmates are slumped in their seats, apparently poisoned.
   Sheriff: Lord save us.
   He follows the river of blood, peers into the two rooms, winces at the sight. He experiences a flashback of severed heads impaled on long sticks. He shakes his head to chase the image.
   Sheriff: Damn.
   He approaches a door upon which a plate is affixed: Dr. Melvin Brooks, Chief of Staff. The Sheriff finds Dr. Brooks face down on his desk, an eyeball driven into a fountain pen resting in a stand. A pool of blood soaks the blotter. Beside his head rests a folder. Atop the folder sits a note. The Sheriff lifts and scans it. He notes a large X on the cover of the folder.
   “For the past year I've been treating select patients with various doses of a drug I developed, hoping, believing it would cure them. While the initial results were promising, the final results have proved disastrous and appear irreversible. The files of the five subjects are in the folder beside me. Rather than endure the inevitable scandal and humiliation that will ensue, I have chosen to take my life in the hope that Bates-Myers will be spared and be allowed to continue its vital service. I alone was responsible for this catastrophe. No one else knew of the experiment, although several of the staff had grown suspicious. I ask the forgiveness of my family, colleagues, friends, and the fine citizens of this community, who have been so supportive of our efforts.”
   Melvin Brooks
   Sheriff: Rest in peace, Doctor Moreau.
   The Deputy calls from the corridor.
   Sheriff: In here.
   The Deputy enters, leading the Titterer, who is cuffed. The Deputy's uniform is stained with mud and grass, the Titterer's smock with mud, grass, and blood.
   Deputy: I got him, Barney.
   The Titterer titters.
   Deputy: Chased him down outside the grounds.
   Sheriff: And people said you couldn't make a tackle if your life depended on it.
   The Deputy smirks, offended.
   Sheriff: What's your name, son?
   Titterer: Cody -- Cody Jarrett.
   The Sheriff raises an eyebrow.
   Sheriff: No, no, Ma, listen to me.
   The Titterer titters.
   Sheriff: A classic.
   Titterer: Personally, I prefer Red River.
   The Titterer raises an eyebrow. The Sheriff, who has gotten the quip, represses a smile.
   Sheriff: Nothin' like a man with wit.
   Titterer: The chemistry between Monty and the Duke is riveting, Michael.
   Sheriff: Been watchin' a lot of Sneak Previews?
   Titterer: It's our video find of the week, Roger.
   The Deputy is annoyed, puzzled.
   Deputy: What?
   Sheriff: My grandma always said watchin' too much TV'd make you nuts. Here's livin' proof. I imagine that's about all these people do here.
   Titterer: Not at all. We have wonderful arts and crafts.
   The Deputy looks at Dr. Brooks, grabs the Titterer by the smock.
   Deputy: Did you do that?
   Sheriff: Easy, Andy. Don't jump to conclusions.
   He hands him the suicide note. The Titterer, standing on his toes, reads over the Deputy's shoulder, tittering.
   Deputy: What a way to off yourself. Why not O.D. on pills? This place must be loaded with 'em.
   Sheriff: Maybe that's what he had in mind.
   He nods at a little bottle standing on the desk.
   Deputy: Somebody beat him to it?
   Titterer: Amazing Holmes!
   Sheriff: Elementary.
   He looks at the Titterer.
   Sheriff: Whatta you know 'bout this, guy?
   Titterer: Since he didn't kill himself, his soul is still eligible for the kingdom of heaven.
   Deputy: You're gettin' on my nerves, weirdo.
   The Titterer feigns fear. The Sheriff lifts the folder. Its edge is stained with blood. He looks at the first page, looks at the Titterer.
   Sheriff: You in here, son?
   The Titterer screws his face up in mock contemplation.
   Titterer: All mankind is.
   The Deputy raises a fist, resists the temptation to strike.
   Sheriff: Are you a philosopher? My grandpa said philosophers are loony.
   Titterer: I just finished Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. Fascinating. You should see our library.
   Sheriff: My Uncle Earl said readin' was worse for you than television.
   Deputy: Geez, Barney. You're gettin' loony yourself.
   Sheriff: Sorry, partner. Habit I picked up in 'nam. Our outfit felt like we had to joke to deal with it.
   Titterer: Of course -- black humor. Haven't you ever seen MASH?
   The Deputy stews.
   Sheriff: Funny how it came back to me so fast.
   He puts down the folder, takes the suicide note from the Deputy and places it atop the folder. He pauses, sniffs. The Titterer titters. The Deputy reacts defensively.
   Deputy: Don't look at me. It had to be him.
   The Sheriff looks at the Titterer, who smiles diabolically. He seizes a chair and hurls it against the lone window of the office. The glass shatters but the chair rebounds, as the window is barred. The Titterer howls with glee.
   Deputy: Are you crazy?
   Sheriff: Run!
   Deputy: What?
   The Sheriff seizes him by the arm, pulls him along.
   Sheriff: Run, dammit!
   The Deputy pulls at the Titterer. As the Sheriff reaches the door of the office, he   realizes he has left the folder and suicide note behind. He goes back for them. As he's running along the corridor, he slips on the river of blood and falls. The folder opens. The files scatter. The Deputy lets go of the Titterer and scrambles for the files. Files gathered, the officers race outside. The Sheriff kneels on the lawn and counts the files.
   Sheriff: Damn, one's missin'.
   The Deputy bolts toward the entrance.
   Sheriff: No, Andy, it's too dangerous!
   As the Deputy clears the doorway, the Titterer trips him. He tumbles head first along the river of blood, sliding along it. As luck would have it, he slides right to the missing file, which is stained with blood. He grabs it and heads for the exit. The Titterer blocks the way. The Deputy lowers his shoulder like a fullback. At the last instant the Titterer moves aside. The Deputy goes racing past him. The Titterer whirls about.
   Titterer: Top of the world, Ma!
   The explosion occurs as the Deputy is just outside the door. The force projects him into the air and onto the lawn, face down. Debris flies everywhere. Flames shoot throughout the building. The Sheriff looks up and has a flashback of a helicopter exploding. Coming back to the present, be crawls toward the Deputy. In the background, a lone, dark figure stands with his hands on his hips, watching the blaze, as if admiring it. The Sheriff covers the Deputy's body with his own. When the debris has stopped falling, he turns the Deputy over. The Deputy is clutching the file, which is torn in half. Dazed, he looks at the Sheriff.
   Deputy: I got it, Barney.
   A siren is heard approaching.
   Sheriff: Good job, partner. You looked like you did the night you scored your touchdown.
   Deputy: We shoulda won that game. Damn, Barney, we were the only senior class not to win a game. People still don't let us live it down. It's been ten years.
   Sheriff: Eleven. Some things you just have to learn to live with.
   The ambulance is heard stopping, its doors opening and closing.
   Sheriff: You hang on. Help's here.
   The attendants approach.
   Charley: Judas, Barney, what happened?
   Sheriff: Forget everything else and get Andy to a hospital.
   Charley: But there may be other people who need help.
   Sheriff: Dammit, Charley. Do what I tell ya. I don't want you wastin' a minute. I doubt anybody's alive in there, anyway.
    He hurries to the police car, shines a flashlight on the files, scans them.
William Castle: Pyromaniac.
Spec Richards: Serial Rapist.
Mary Shelley: Devil Worshipper. Animal sacrifice. Suspected of human sacrifice.
Jeffrey Bundy: Serial Killer.
George Romero: Paranoiac. Delusions of grandeur.

Both my screenplays are part of the Billonths of a Lifetime short works collection, the first link below.

My thanks to Ralph, who bought three works of non-fiction, and to the Hassidic gentleman who purchased a book on Beginner's Arabic.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:
Read Vic's Stories, free:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/30 - Good Stuff

The NY Post is chock full of good stuff today. A blurb reveals how banks these days profit enormously from a shady procedure. Overdrafts on debit cards average $24 or less and most are paid within three days. The fee is $34. Annualized. that's a lending rate of 17,000%. How is it legal?... Emma Marano of Verbania, Italy is the world's oldest woman, 117. For 95 years she has been consuming three eggs per day, She says: "...and cookies. But I do not eat much because I have no teeth." Her Doctor says she eats very little fruits and vegetables. She is a genetic marvel, like her mom, who lived to 91, and two sisters who also cracked the 100 mark... South Hampton Hospital in Long Island has instituted a ban on political arguments for cardio-rehab patients using their gym. Given what I hear on the street, wise decision... During intermission of an opera at the Met, a Dallas man scattered the ashes of a friend in the orchestra pit. The rest of the show was canceled and NYPD counter-terrorism personnel were summoned. Police aren't sure what to charge the guy with. If audience members don't get at least a partial refund, they should band together in a class action suit to teach the jerk a lesson... Michael Ramirez has won a Pulitzer for Editorial Cartooning. Here's another brilliant one, at once timely, intelligent and funny:

And in more important matters, here's Brazilian beauty Alessandra Ambrosio in Halloween garb as Jessica Rabbit:

The topsy turvy election has made another turn. Weeks ago FBI Director James Comey was hailed by the left and excoriated by the right for his decision not to pursue action on Hillary's email scandal. Having reversed course in light of the release of the emails of Anthony Weiner and his wife, Clinton confidant Huma Abedin, he is now a pariah to Democrats and a hero to Republicans. The late playwright Samuel Beckett would have had great material for an addition to his theater of the absurd. What will happen next?

Not much action at the floating book shop today in Park Slope. My thanks to the woman who bought a science pictorial on climate and Art Through the Ages, a text book copyrighted in 1934; and to the woman who purchased the book on controlling sugar consumption.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:
Read Vic's Stories, free:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/29 - From Barcelona to New Hampshire to a Dream

Post apocalyptic films are usually fun even when totally silly. Last night, courtesy of Netflix, I watched The Last Days (2013), a Spanish production filmed in Barcelona. Its tone is serious and it offers a slight variation on the theme. The world is struck by agoraphobia, the fear of going outside. No explanation is given, although several possible causes are suggested. That doesn't matter. Such fare is all about accepting the premise. I did and enjoyed the flick. A bit confusing at first as it moves back and forth in time, the situation becomes clear about halfway through the narrative. I was completely unfamiliar with the cast, a plus, as one brings no preconceived notions of the actors to the work. The main story line is simple. The protagonist tries to get back to his wife, undertaking a dangerous underground odyssey through subway stations and sewers. The most intense scene is a battle over a supermarket's supplies. Brothers David and Alex Pastor, Spaniards, collaborated on both the screenplay and direction, as they have for several other movies. It runs an hour-forty minutes. 5800+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 6.1 of ten. On a scale of five, I say three. Although there is violence, it is not graphic. I doubt it would appeal to anyone who isn't a fan of the genre. Whenever I hear Barcelona, my mind flashes back to a line from Fawlty Towers wherein the ever frantic hotel owner Basil (John Cleese) says about the ever-harried Manuel, the waiter bellboy (Andrew Sachs): "Never mind him. He's from Barcelona."

From Yahoo News, edited by yours truly: A message in a bottle sent out by a New Hampshire man more than five decades ago has been returned to his daughter. It was discovered by Clint Buffington of Utah, who was vacationing in the Turks and Caicos. The Coke bottle was half-buried in the sand. The note inside read: "Return to 419 Ocean Blvd. and receive a reward of $150 from Tina, owner of the Beachcomber." The Beachcomber was a Hampton motel owned by the now-deceased parents of Paula Pierce in 1960. Her father had written the note as a joke and cast it into the Atlantic Ocean. Buffington flew to New Hampshire to deliver it to Pierce, who made good on the promised reward. I sent one out circa 1979. It read something like: "Life I love you, but you break my heart." It was motivated by my desire for a co-worker, whom I wanted for all the wrong reasons, namely sex, a fact I was unable to admit to myself back then when I couldn't separate sex and love.

I had a vivid dream just before waking from my afternoon nap. An old friend, deceased, was atop a tall, slender, pointy tower, shouting to me. The structure toppled and struck a house. I began weeping uncontrollably, knowing he'd been slammed to his death on the other side of the house. Does it express my fear that Trump will lose the election? I certainly wouldn't weep if the Clinton power structure came crashing down. That would be the wish fulfillment Freud believed was behind dreams.

After great luck yesterday, the floating book shop had none today. Back at 'em tomorrow.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:
Read Vic's Stories, free:

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/28 - Songs Controversy

NY Post music critic Hardeep Phull devoted his column to an interesting topic. He profiled Edward Carter of the UK, who recently asked this question on Twitter: "What is the song you most detest...?" Carter received thousands of replies, and then compiled a list of the most frequently mentioned, 337 in total. I whittled it down to those below, songs I'm comfortable commenting on. Many of the cited will draw the ire of fans, but it's nice to know one is not alone in an opinion. Besides, a "Kryptonite List" of the 337 at Spotify has increased the sales of many, which is the best revenge on the detractors. I will state where I believe the hatred is nonsense, which is really the case for just about every entry.

10cc — I’m Not In Love: Mopey but good. "Big boys don't cry."
ABBA — Dancing Queen: Why hate something so innocuous?
Aerosmith — Janie’s Got a Gun: Unlistenable.
The Animals — House of the Rising Sun: Great vocal, interesting lyrics.
The B-52’s — Love Shack: Fun track from my favorite party band of all-time.
Barry Manilow — Mandy: Nice, excellent vocal.
The Beatles — Hey Jude: Don't mind the first few minutes, but the "na, na, na, na" part is so annoying.
The Beatles — She’s Leaving Home: A shrug, not hatred.
The Beatles — When I’m 64: Charming ditty.
The Beatles — Yellow Submarine: Silly fun.
The Beatles — Yesterday: Beautiful melody, so-so lyrics.
Belinda Carlisle — Heaven Is a Place On Earth: Not for cynics.
Billy Joel — My Life: Middle of the man's great canon.
Billy Joel — Piano Man: Tour de force.
Billy Joel — Uptown Girl: Bottom of his canon.
Bj√∂rk — It’s Oh So Quiet: Love it.
Blondie — Heart of Glass: Meh.
Blondie — Rapture: Give Harry credit for being one of the first white artists to incorporate rap.
Bobby Pickett — Monster Mash: "Mash good."
Bon Jovi — Livin’ On a Prayer: Chorus is too shrill, but the rest is solid.
Bryan Adams — Summer of ’69: Like it.
The Byrds — Mr. Tambourine Man: A bit poppy but still a good listen.
Carly Simon — You’re So Vain: The mystery surrounding the subject is more interesting than the track itself.
Cher — Believe: Good club song.
Chumbawamba — Tubthumping: Same as above.
The Cranberries — Zombie: Weird as it is, I like it.
Cyndi Lauper — Girls Just Want To Have Fun: Lively tune, entertaining video.
David Bowie — The Jean Genie: Not sure what it means, but it rocks.
Dead or Alive — You Spin Me Round: Fond memory of dancing to it.
Deee-Lite — Groove Is in the Heart: Atomic funk, great record.
Dexys Midnight Runners — Come on Eileen: Like it.
Dire Straits — Money for Nothing: Knopfler has created so many better tracks than this.
Don McLean — American Pie: Great song.
Doobie Brothers — What a Fool Believes: Never listened as closely as I should have.
The Eagles — Hotel California: Overplayed but still a fine track.
Elton John — Candle in the Wind: I've always had trouble warming up to his stuff.
Elton John — Crocodile Rock: Catchy nonsense.
Elton John — Your Song: I change my opinion every time I hear it. Used to great effect in Moulin Rouge (2001)
Elvis Presley — Return to Sender: I play it on guitar, so it's impossible for me to dislike.
Frank Sinatra — My Way: My least favorite of all Ol'Blue Eyes tracks.
Gerry Rafferty — Baker Street: Irresistible sax riff. Never listened closely to the rest.
Guns N’ Roses — Sweet Child o’ Mine: Rocks.
James Brown — I Feel Good: Who would hate it?
Janis Joplin — Mercedes Benz: The voice is grating but the anti-materialism is interesting.
John Lennon — Imagine: Not bad, merely over-rated.
Joni Mitchell — Big Yellow Taxi: She went on to write several phenomenal tracks.
Journey — Don’t Stop Believin’: Harmless.
Katrina and the Waves — Walking on Sunshine: Simple fun.
Kings of Leon — Sex On Fire: One of the few modern rock songs that caught my attention.
Led Zeppelin — Stairway to Heaven: Sounds unbelievable when I haven't heard it in a while.
Little Eva — The Locomotion: Of all the songs to choose to hate, why this?
Los Del Rio — Macarena: Had people all over the country dancing.
Lou Bega — Mambo No. 5: Fun.
Madonna — Like a Virgin: She loves to shock; some people love to hate her.
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band — Blinded by the Light: Good record.
Meat Loaf — I’d Do Anything for Love: I wonder if this was cited by those burned by love.
Men at Work — Down Under: Still hear it often on radio. Still like it.
Phil Collins — In the Air Tonight: The only Collins song I like.
Phil Collins — You Can’t Hurry Love: His Motown adaptations suck.
The Prodigy — Firestarter: Rocks.
Queen — Bohemian Rhapsody: Clever take off on opera.
Queen — We Are the Champions: Yuck.
Queen — We Will Rock You: Infantile.
Red Hot Chili Peppers — Under the Bridge: I play this one too.
Richard Harris — MacArthur Park: I like its bizarreness.
Ricky Martin — Livin’ La Vida Loca: Great dance tune.
The Righteous Brothers — You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling: I've sung along to it thousands of times.
Robert Palmer — Addicted to Love: Intelligent lyrics.
Cast of the Rocky Horror Show — The Time Warp: True show stopper.
Rod Stewart — Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?: I don't think he's sexy, but I like the record.
Roy Orbison — Oh, Pretty Woman: I play this one too.
Run DMC ft. Aerosmith — Walk This Way: Better than the original. Terrific video.
Santana — Smooth: Good, but is dwarfed by his duet with Michelle Branch on Game of Love.
Starship — We Built This City: Drivel.
Steve Miller Band — Abracadabra: Miller is fine as long as one doesn't listen closely to the lyrics.
Stevie Wonder — I Just Called To Say I Love You: The epitome of nice.
Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney — Ebony and Ivory: Sincere but treacly.
Survivor — Eye of the Tiger: First few chords hit the mark. Not sure about the rest of it.
Tammy Wynette — Stand by Your Man: I wonder what Hillary thinks of it.
Terry Jacks — Seasons in the Sun: Catchy but lame.
Tom Petty — Free Fallin’: Good record.
Traditional — Little Drummer Boy: Sentimental, certainly, but I've always loved it.
U2 — Beautiful Day: Far from their best, but not bad.
UB40 — Red Red Wine: Never got into it.
Ultravox — Vienna: Enjoyed the drama of it.
Van Morrison — Brown-Eyed Girl: Great pop tune.
Whitney Houston — I Will Always Love You: A great vocalist elevates a mediocre song.
Wings — Mull of Kintyre: Never gave it a close listen, but why would anyone hate it?

The wind was whipping at my usual book nook, so I took the show elsewhere and got very lucky. My thanks to Nancy, a fellow Lafayette H. S. alum, who bought Killing and A Hitch in Twilight. My thanks also to the kind folks who made other purchases. The Chase bank at Bay Parkway and 85th has provided a shield so many times on blustery days.
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/27 - Movie House Fun

Tax revenue in NYC from April-August was down. Expect a new blitz of nuisance tickets.

James Kallstrom is the former Assistant Director of the FBI. Here's short clip of his emotional view on the election:

Here's a fun article appropriate for Halloween from It was written by Jay Serafino, edited by your truly: In order to become a true classic, a horror flick can't just work on the surface; it has to get inside the head. That's what a technique dubbed "Psycho-Rama" tried to achieve. My World Dies Screaming, later renamed Terror in the Haunted House (1958) introduced audiences to subliminal imagery designed to have the scares sink in more deeply than in a conventional film. Skulls, snakes, ghoulish faces and the word "Death" appeared on-screen for a fraction of a second—not long enough for anyone to consciously notice, but enough to make folks uneasy. Psycho-Rama didn't really catch on with the public or the film industry, but directors like William Friedkin, The Exorcist (1972), have used the technique.
William Castle didn't make a name for himself in the film industry by directing classics. He relied on shock and shlock to fill theater seats. His movies were full of what audiences craved at the time: horror, gore, terror, suspense and a heaping helping of camp. But his true genius was marketing—and the gimmicks he used are legendary amongst horror fans. His most famous stunt was a life insurance policy he purchased for every member of an audience that paid to see Macabre (1958), a real policy backed by Lloyd's of London. The family of anyone who died of fright in his/her seat would have received $1000. Of course, the policy didn't cover anyone with a preexisting medical condition or someone who committed suicide during the screening.
Then there was Hypno-Vista. James Nicholson, president of American International Pictures, suggested that a lecture by a hypnotist precede Horrors of the Black Museum (1959), whose plot focused on a hypnotizing killer. For 13 minutes, Dr. Emile Franchel talked about the science behind hypnotism -- and then tried to hypnotize the audience in order to have them feel more immersed in the story. Nowadays it comes off as overlong and dry, but it got people into theaters back then. Screenwriter Herman Cohen claimed the lecture had to be removed whenever the movie aired on TV, as it did, in fact, hypnotize some people.
Alfred Hitchcock's insistence that no audience member be admitted into Psycho (1960) once the movie started garnered a lot of publicity. The Master of Suspense's reasoning was less publicity and more about audience satisfaction. Because Janet Leigh is killed off so early in the picture, he didn't want people to miss the murder and feel misled by the marketing. The tactic wasn't completely novel. The groundbreaking French film Les Diaboliques (1955) had a similar policy. This was an era when people would stroll into a screening at any point in the running time, so to have a director insist on showing up at the outset was a novel way to pique interest.
Another classic William Castle gimmick was the "fright break." While Homicidal (1961) was hurtling toward its gruesome climax, a clock would appear. Audience members had 45 seconds to leave and get a full refund. There was a catch, though. Those who left were shamed into a "coward's corner," a yellow cardboard booth supervised by a theater employee. And they were forced to sign a paper reading "I'm a bona-fide coward," before getting their money back. The risk of such humiliation kept most people seated.
The most interactive of William Castle's schlocky horror gimmicks put the fate of the film itself into the hands of the audience. Dubbed the "punishment poll," Castle devised a way to let viewers vote on the fate of the character in the movie Mr. Sardonicus (1961). Upon entering the theater, people were given a card with a picture of a thumb on it that would glow when a special light hit it. "Thumbs up" meant Mr. Sardonicus would be given mercy, "thumbs down" meant … well... Audiences never gave ol' Sardonicus the thumbs up. Although Castle claimed the happier ending was filmed and ready to go, no alternative ending has ever surfaced.
Most horror fans are masochists. They don't want to be entertained—they want to be terrified. So when the folks behind Mark of the Devil (1970) gave out free vomit bags, how could any self-respecting horror fan not be intrigued? It wasn't just the bags that the studio was advertising; it also claimed the film was rated V for violence—and maybe vomit?
Duo-Vision was hyped as the new storytelling in cinema—offering two times the terror for the price of one ticket. Of course Duo-Vision is just fancy marketing lingo for split-screen. Audiences saw a film from two completely different perspectives side-by-side. Wicked, Wicked (1973) was shot from the points of view of both the killer and his victims. Seems like a perfect concept for the horror genre, right? Well, Duo-Vision wasn't just employed during the movie's most horrific moments -- it was used during its entire 95-minutes. Brian De Palma used it to better effect in Sisters (1973) Alas, it soon fell out of favor.
Jay Serafino is a writer and editor for mental_floss. He has written extensively on movies, television, comic books and history.

The floating book shop was rained out today. My thanks to Frank, an old friend, who rated Close to the Edge five stars at Amazon.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/26 - Sal, Michael & Jonathan

The most interesting item in today's NY Post comes from a letter to the editor by Sal Bifulco of New Jersey. He writes: " politics, all lies matter." Kudos, sir.

This morning, talk radio host Mark Simone said liberal icon Michael Moore has endorsed Trump, which should trouble each side, a double whammy so to speak. I just listened to the four-minute excerpt and it sure sounded like an endorsement: Judge for yourself:

Here's a list of lost literary pieces compiled at by Jonathan H. Kantor, heavily edited by yours truly: Euripides was one of the most famous tragedians of Athens. 19 of his works remain. Unfortunately, it is believed he wrote between 92–95.
Another playwright whose work has largely been lost is Sophocles, who may have written as many as 120 plays, of which only seven have survived, along with fragments of others.
Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey were preceded by Margites, which is referenced in surviving works that suggest it is a comic mock-epic about an unintelligent man so stupid he doesn’t know whether his mother or father gave birth to him. Margites also refuses to lie with his wife for fear she might give a bad account of him to his mother. Aristotle referred to it as ” . . . an analogy: as are the Iliad and Odyssey to our tragedies, so is the Margites to our comedies.” Only five fragments referencing the original text have ever been found -- in the writings of Plato, Aristotle and others.
One of the greatest Roman historians, Livy, wrote Ab Urbe Condita, a detailed history of Rome. Of the 142-volume set, 107 have been lost. The only ones that exist today are 1–10 and 21–45.
Those familiar with Shakespeare know of the lost play Love’s Labour’s Won, a sequel to Love’s Labour’s Lost. This wasn’t the only one of the bard’s works to be lost. Cardenio has not surfaced since first performed in 1613. It is believed to be based on an episode in Cervantes’s Don Quixote.
Cicero’s Hortensius is a philosophical dialogue named after a friend, politician Quintus Hortensius Hortalus. Only fragments and references remain. Missing is a dialog between Hortensius and two others. The discussion teaches that happiness is found through the embrace of philosophy. The remaining fragments have been preserved and can be read online.
The Classic of Music is a Confucian text that may have fallen victim to the burning of books and burying of scholars, an event in 213 BC where the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty ruled that all Confucian texts be destroyed and that Confucian scholars be buried alive. References remain in other works. The Classic of Music may have been an interpretation of the Book of Songs, also compiled by Confucius. It may have been the sixth of his well-known Five Classics.
Sozomen was an important historian of the Christian Church. His history of it from the ascension of Jesus to the defeat of Licinius in 323, comprised 12 books, all of which have been lost. His second consists of nine books, the last of which is incomplete. It covers the conversion of Constantine I in 213 to the accession of Valentinian III in 425 AD. The loss of the first 12, following the persecution and death of Jesus, leaves a significant gap in the history of the development of the early Church.
Jean Racine was considered one of the greatest French playwrights of the 17th century. His works were reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedies. He is known for Alexandre le Grand, Esther, and Athalie. His first play, Amasie, never produced, has been lost.
One of the greatest works of English literature, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, may have come from an unfinished, lost one, Adam Unparadiz’d. He likely abandoned the project due to the Puritans’ closure of London’s theaters. He wrote only two acts, both of which have been lost, but many of his notes and outlines remain. From what wasn’t lost, it appears to tell the same or a very similar story as Paradise Lost.
Edward Gibbon was a celebrated British historian of the 18th century whose most famous work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, is still studied. Another was lost by the writer’s own hands. After starting his work on Rome, he diverted his attention to a history of the Swiss. He read part of it to a literary society in London and received criticism he must have taken to heart. He threw the nearly completed manuscript into the fireplace. Given the scope of his work on Rome, the world lost what could have been another great, historic masterpiece.
Mr. Kantor is an illustrator and game designer through his company, TalkingBull Games. He is an Active Duty Soldier and enjoys writing about history, science, theology, and other subjects. Kudos, sir.

The floating book shop received donations from four sources today. The inventory is now even more impressive. My thanks to those kind folks, and to the gentleman who purchased a beautiful pictorial on the art of Edward Hopper, to Barry, who bought a pictorial on 50's rock n rollers, despite its poor condition, and to the woman who selected a pictorial on Princess Di.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/25 - Life & Death

From the NY Post, edited by yours truly: Manhattan celebrated its own Forrest Gump on Monday, when 29-year-old Pete Kostelnick reached City Hall, setting the Guinness Book of World Records on a cross country run. He started on the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall on Sept. 12, his birthday. The Iowa native, who now lives in Nebraska, said he had been to Manhattan before and felt right at home running on Sixth Avenue, where he'd once chased a bus down. He reached City Hall at around 5:45 p.m,, 42 days, six hours, 34 minutes, six seconds after he'd begun, shattering the previous record of 46 days. As he crossed the line, he quipped, “Well, I’m definitely not going to run back. All I want is a beer and my wife." Kudos, sir.

The music world has lost two singers. Pete Burns, who founded pop group Dead Or Alive, has died of cardiac arrest at 57. He rose to fame in the 1980s with the band’s hit song You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), which I fondly remembering dancing to at a company Christmas party, holding my right index finger above my partner's head and spinning it as if it were a record needle, and she spinning in turn... Bobby Vee, 73, a teen idol in the late 50's and early '60's fondly remembered by baby-boomers, has succumbed to the effects of Alzheimer's. According to Billboard magazine, he had 38 Hot 100 chart hits, ten reaching the Top 20. His career began in the midst of tragedy. On February 3, 1959, "The Day the Music Died," Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, were killed, along with the 21-year-old pilot, Roger Peterson, in that infamous crash. Dion DiMucci, the second headliner, had opted not fly. Vee, born Velline, then 15, and a hastily assembled band of Fargo schoolboys calling themselves the Shadows, were given the unenviable task of filling in for Holly and the Crickets. The performance was a success, setting in motion a chain of events that led to Vee's career as a popular singer. His best known songs are Rubber Ball, Take Good Care of My Baby, Run to Him, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, and Come Back When You Grow Up. His wife, the mother of his four children, died in 2015. RIP, gentlemen, and thank you. (Facts from Wiki)

I don't know why Donald Trump's comments about Mosul haven't aroused more ire. It is by far his most egregious campaign comment. It's a sin to badmouth an operation when American lives may be at stake. It has affected me so much I'm seriously contemplating sitting out the election. A vote for Gary Johnson would be tantamount to one for Hillary, so I wouldn't do that... There's an interesting article on the region at the NY Post website. Here are excerpts, edited by yt: A renegade sniper has been striking fear into the hearts of terrorists in Mosul, picking off local jihadis, including an ISIS executioner moments before he was able to behead a teenage boy. The mysterious marksman, dubbed the “Sniper of Mosul,” is believed to be behind shootings in four separate neighborhoods. Despite his efforts, sources said ISIS fighters shot and killed the boy before he was able to escape. Some believe the sniper may be part of an elite, special forces team, though it is unclear whether they would be Iraqi or allied soldiers. In January, another mysterious marksman, dubbed the “Daesh Hunter,” had extremists on the run in Libya after he assassinated a few terror chiefs. At least three were killed by the lone gunman over a span of 10 days, sparking a state of terror in the ranks.

The Rasmussen  and Investor's Daily polls show Trump with a slight lead. Now the Post has found someone else who predicts victory for the Donald -- Helmut Norpoth, political science professor at SUNY Stony Brook. He developed a model that, applied retroactively, would have correctly predicted the winner of every presidential election since 1912 — with the exception of 2000, when predicted winner Al Gore barely lost to George W. Bush. The model looks at which of the candidates performed better in the primaries and caucuses and concludes that the stronger performer there will enter the White House. Potential Trump supporters who are feeling demoralized by other numbers should look at these and vote. Conversely, Hillary's supporters should take nothing for granted.

The Oxford University Press' new edition of Shakespeare's works gives co-credit to Christopher Marlowe on the three plays on Henry VI. There has long been speculation about the "true" author of the plays. I don't know that it really matters, since the works are now and always will be part of the universal voice of mankind.

The floating book shop got its first taste of winter today, as a stiff breeze and cloud cover made it feel the temperature was a lot lower than 50. My Tuesday benefactress showed up despite the cold, bringing along beautiful pictorials on old Rock n Roll performers, and Barbie and Edward Hopper, as well as two novels by the ever popular Sidney Sheldon in hardcover, which a woman bought, along with a cookbook, about an hour later. My thanks, and to the gentleman who purchased Beverly Sill's bio, Bubbles, and The Jewish Connection by Hirsh M. Goldberg.
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Monday, October 24, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/24 - Yoga

In 1973 Maura Moynihan moved to New Delhi when her father, New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, served as the United States Ambassador to India. She graduated from the American International School, New Delhi, known as Hindi High, and learned to speak Hindi, Urdu and Tibetan. She has also traveled to Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, China and Japan. She studied the music and arts of each country, which inspired her songwriting, and the creation of three albums: Yoga Hotel, Bangkok Taxi and Bombay Superstar. She has appeared in four films and written four books, two for children, a novel, and a short story collection, Yoga Hotel, which I just finished. It is smooth, skillfully written. The 282 pages seemed like a lot less. The six tales, ranging from 20 to more than 100 pages, depict life in India, particularly Delhi. The focus is more on character than story, and the players, natives and westerners, cover a wide range of types: the sincere, charlatans, the self-absorbed, the desperate, the lost, the catty, the true seekers of spirituality. She allows the reader to judge, although it is impossible to like certain characters, especially a rich British woman. I found the portrayal of middle class Indian women, their competitiveness, eye-opening. The clash of cultures is interesting. The infusion of many Indian terms lend authenticity to the work. The main drawback is the similarity of the pieces. They are unconventional compared to classics of the genre, which isn't necessarily bad. Anyone interested in India would likely enjoy the book. I've never enjoyed travel, so it is hard for me to relate to those who roam so far from home. I love America and never want to leave. A few of the characters speak harshly of it, but that isn't something certain individuals wouldn't do, so it's fair game. If the author hadn't been the daughter of the man who coined the term "Defining Deviancy Down," I probably would not have read the book. I'm glad I did. I found the following sentence particularly illuminating: "...It was so humiliating to know a mistake when in the midst of making it..." Been there. Late in the book a westerner-turned-sort-of-priest renders this gem: "...Now I have a human body which takes  8,400,000 rebirths in lower life-forms to attain..." Who knew? Only three readers at Amazon have rated Yoga Hotel, two gave it five stars, one only one. I rate it three.  

I was pleased with Trump's proposals for his first 100 days in office, then he spoiled it with his inane tweets on the battle for Mosul. His knee-jerk reaction was exactly what one would expect from left wing radicals. We want the Iraqis to win! Whether the fight was launched to help Hillary or not is irrelevant. Unfortunately, a retraction will seem phony. I'm a hairsbreadth from sitting out the election.

My thanks to Conspiracy Guy, who bought a Fish & Fowl cook book, to Gina, who bought Jackie Collins' Lovers & Players, to Jack of Chase, who bought Dick Francis' To the Hilt at my recommendation, and to the woman who bought Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street.
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/23 - Code

New York parents are insisting tots as young as two learn the basics of coding — the instructions used to create Web sites, software and apps. They’re snapping up tech-teaching toys and paying hundreds of dollars for computer-programming classes for the pre-K set. One toy, made by Fisher-Price, is Code-a-Pillar, which retails for $39.99. Kids get to take the segments apart and rearrange them to send it moving in different directions and cause it to light up and loudly beep and buzz. An owner of academic-enrichment centers in Connecticut and on the Upper East Side says there has been an explosion of 4-year-olds being enrolled in programming classes, which cost between $299 and $599 for a slate of six. Here's a pic of the toy:

25 years ago today Clarence Thomas was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice. Since then he has written more than 500 opinions, earning the praise of the fair-minded. A pillar of strength and dignity, he has endured the slings and arrows of his detractors for his opposition to liberal orthodoxy. Thank you, sir. Long may you live and serve.

Rasmussen isn't the only poll that has Trump in the lead. The one with best track record in the last three presidential elections, Investor's Business Daily, has him leading a four-way race by two points, 42%-40%. In a two-way race, he leads by a half-point -- 42.2% to 41.7%. In total contrast, Reuters/Ipsos says Hillary has a 95% chance of winning. I haven't conducted any polls, but my gut feeling is Clinton will win, possibly in a landslide. I hope I'm wrong. The NY Post, which has a conservative bias, publishes pictures of Trump that may only be described as Angry White Male. The tabloid's owner, Rupert Murdoch, is said to hate the Donald. I doubt the op-ed writers do, but all their articles have a doom and gloom resignation about them. Given the aforementioned polls, Trump's supporters should not allow demoralization to keep them from voting.

Hail to the Chicago Cubs, who will return to the World Series for the first time since 1945. They have not won it since 1908. Their opponent, the Cleveland Indians, have not won since 1948. They lost to the Braves in 1995 and to the Marlins in 1997. The fans of one of these great American cities will be ecstatic, their opposites disappointed. Either way, it will be a great story. Since Cleveland recently won the NBA championship, I'm rooting for the small bears, even though Hillary is a fan.

It was a blustery but beautiful day. I set up the floating book shop in a recess that shielded it from the direct blast of the wind. My thanks to Charles, a 60ish jazz musician, who bought A Hitch in Twilight. My thanks also to the woman who bought the complete set of the Twilight series, the woman who overpaid for two paperbacks, and the young man who purchased a pictorial of Robert Pattinson, the heartthrob of the Twilight films.
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Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/22 - Hollywood Stalwarts

I love Hollywood trivia, especially that from the sound era until circa 1970. Last night, courtesy of Netflix, I watched a movie that had slipped through the cracks for me, Deadline USA (1952). Written and directed early in the career of the esteemed Richard Brooks, it stars Humphrey Bogart, Kim Hunter, Ethel Barrymore and a host of talented Tinseltown supporting players: Warren Stevens, Ed Begley, Paul Stewart, Parley Baer, Willis Bouchey and Jim Backus, the latter marvelously cast as a gossip columnist. It is a good film, solid from start to finish. The paper in question sticks to the highest standards, which, of course, had me thinking of the woeful state of journalism today. The story is simple: a newspaper in its last days tries to take out a mobster, played by Martin Gabel. James Dean may have had a cameo as a copyboy, but that, according to IMDb, has not been confirmed. In researching the cast, I wondered if this flick holds the all-time record for cumulative credits among its cast. Of the six actors I researched that accumulated more than 300 credits, five were not not even vaguely familiar, which is particularly rankling to someone who considers himself a movie buff. Dabbs Greer, who I recognized, rang up 312 credits, Forbes Murray 355, Joseph Crehan 372, Harry Tyler 374, Selmar Jackson 429 and Harry Harvey 444 -- those numbers list only titles, not multiple appearances on TV shows. Here are pictures of these stalwarts:






A blurb in today's NY Post led me to a search about a product designed to prevent bicycle and motorcycle theft. 1.5 million are stolen each year. Skunk Lock carries a unique chemical deterrent that is released when the device is compromised. The only way to expose the chemicals is by trying to cut through the device with an angle grinder. Could a thief wear a mask or protection? Technically, yes, but the formula is detectable through even some of the most robust gas masks. More importantly, the chemicals create a scene that makes people take notice, and it has economic implications for the thief, ruining the clothes or any protection he/she may be wearing. Replacing such items is likely more expensive than the resale value of a stolen bike, which generally is only one-tenth of the retail price. The device will be available in June of 2017. Prices range from $99 to $529 for a family pack.

The floating book shop was rained out today.
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Friday, October 21, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/21 - Grass Roots

Here are excerpts, pared and edited by yours truly, from an interesting article by James Covert in today's NY Post: NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, eager to add scalps to his resume in order to make a run for governor, has been trying to put the kibosh on fantasy sports betting sites, arousing the ire of the millions who use them. A grass roots movement has sprung up to challenge the AG and politicians in favor of a ban. The man at the center of strategy is Bradley Tusk, a high-power political Mr. Fix-It., a 42-year-old veteran of back-room battles, best known for leading Michael Bloomberg’s controversial, successful bid for a third term. I won't hold that against him, although I thought it was criminal. Tusk’s master plan — a mix of tech-savvy guerrilla campaigning and good old fashioned celebrity hand-shaking, has produced more than 100,000 emails and 5,000 phone calls into the state capital, winning over reluctant lawmakers. He says: “You go to your average state senator and say, ‘Look, there’s 2,000 people in your district who don’t know who you are, but they really love fantasy sports — and if you take it away from them, we’re going to make sure they know who you are, and then they might start to vote.” Tusk’s scorched-earth methods were on display last summer when he coordinated Uber’s smackdown of NYC Mayor de Blasio’s bid to curb the size of its ride-hailing network. In that battle, officials and city council members were barraged with more than 100,000 emails and tweets from concerned customers, many of whom were sparked into activism through prompts on Uber apps. Tusk met with FanDuel brass and outlined a strategy centered around the fact that the combined five million customers of FD and DraftKings was equal to the membership of the NRA. Another part of the strategy was pointing out that Schneiderman had taken “so much campaign money from so many casinos.” In the early hours of June 17, lawmakers passed a bill supportive of fantasy betting by an overwhelming margin. I do not gamble, but I support the right to do so. To shut down such sites because a handful go overboard sets a bad precedent. There are people vulnerable to excess in every endeavor, legal and illegal.

I've said it so many times -- there is nothing more discouraging than politics. The grass roots tea party movement has faded. Despite noble intentions, it didn't accomplish much. One particular triumph has been blown to smithereens. NY's Nassau County Executive, Ed Mangano, who, to everyone's surprise, won election over an incumbent, is in hot water, accused of massive corruption. Among his sins, he appointed his wife to a $450,000 position as a food taster. He's another example of why I will never again refer to myself as a Republican. Even more infuriating -- he's Italian-American. Disgraziato.

Hondo's droll football picks column contained its typical commentary on what's in the news. A friend of his suggests that the term "Crooked Hillary" also applies to "Peyronie Bill." He notes, given that STD's are at an all-time high, that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is ironically named. He points out that Obama's recent take down of Trump for pointing fingers at others when things get tough completely ignores the fact that O has been blaming Bush for eight years. He also claims that 96% of journalists have made political contributions to Hillary, although he does not cite the source of the info. Curiously, he didn't have much to say about the Donald for a change.

For the second straight period of time, the Rasmussen poll has Trump in a two-point lead. All other polls show Hillary with a comfortable lead.

Here's an eye-opening stat from across the pond, noted in a Post editorial: Of 594 non-terminal patients Belgian doctors have euthanized, nearly 21% had been diagnosed with mental illness. Some were in their 20's or 30's. From beyond the grave, Nazis are smiling.

Because of rain, I opened the floating book shop five hours later than usual, and it went well. My thanks to the kind folks who made purchases.
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/20 - Down the Stretch

I did not watch the debate, but I've read numerous articles on it in today's NY Post. The overwhelming consensus is that it was not a game-changer. The only question now is what Hillary's margin of victory will be. Jonathan Podhoretz made the most salient point, citing Trump's "Best of luck" statement as an inadvertent concession. Trump's unwillingness to accept the final vote tally, should he lose, will only make sense if it is as close as the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon numbers. I doubt more than a million votes, if that many, can be rigged. Ann Coulter has pointed out that this matter was the only mistake made by moderator Chris Berman, whose performance has been universally praised. He neglected to ask Hillary if she would accept the results. Democrats have a history of contesting them, especially at the state level. When propositions they favored failed to pass, they frequently turned to the courts to overturn the will of the people. And who will ever forget the spectacle of 2004 and the hanging chads? Yet all that will likely prove irrelevant. Even the coming dirt on Hillary's sex life - ugh! - is unlikely to change anything. The only surprising aspect is that she actually had sex with men. Some guys will nail anything that moves. I get the creeps thinking about it. I look away when I come upon pictures of her in the newspaper and online. People know what she is. Despite that, a significant majority believe she is more fit than Trump for the presidency. I disagree. I believe I just received an indication about the election's direction on Sean Hannity's radio program. Several weeks ago Coulter was brimming with confidence about the Donald's chances. Today she said she isn't sure who will win. Gamblers would call that a tell.

Here are two great stories from Yahoo's Odd News, edited by yours truly: Ally Bank is hoping to encourage Americans to look for opportunities to save through its "Lucky Penny" promotion, launched this week. The pennies are copper-colored like the genuine article, but feature the bank's logo instead of Abe Lincoln's head. The flip side lists its value at 100,000 cents. The pennies have been placed in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Miami, Denver, Detroit, San Diego, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas. The coins can be redeemed online until the end of the year... A couple shopping at a store in the Finger Lakes region found around $9,800 in an envelope Monday morning, along with a checkbook. The two turned it over to staff and left without giving their names. A local restaurant owner called the store saying she'd put a week's worth of her restaurant's receipts in the envelope and mistakenly left it in a cart. The woman would like to find and reward the couple, whose honesty automatically bars them from running for political office.

When NYC mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, there were 50,689 people in homeless shelters. There are now 60,017. Leftists see this as progress.

My thanks to the kind folks who bought books today, especially, Barry Spunt, author of Heroin and Music in NYC, who purchased historian Alfred Kazin's New York Jew.
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