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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/17 - Remembrance

Here's an excerpt I recently added to Present and Past, the novel I plan to self-publish in January. It's about lifelong friends who are very different from each other. They embark on a cross-country car trip and, along the way, have long conversations:
“She was older than us. She had tits already. I don’t think I ever saw her any place but in school. Richie Finn was always teasing her.”
“Tall kid from the Avenue?”
“Right.” Freddie chuckled. “One Saturday in winter I was at the Benson for the matinée when he comes strolling down an aisle, swinging his arms, singing: ‘Oh, he’s the son of Robin Hood ‘cause he’s the son of Robin Hood,’ or some such nonsense.”
“Why was he singin’ that?”
“That was one of the flicks in the double feature. I was so impressed by how bold he was. I could never do something like that.”
Tony made a face. “Why would you wanna?”
“It was silly, harmless kid stuff. The last time I saw him was during our high school English regents’ exam. He walked out after fifteen minutes. It took me almost two hours to finish. I never found out if he was just fed up with school or if he had the answer key. I wonder if he went into acting. He seemed a natural for it.”
Tony shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe he got it in ‘nam.”
Freddie froze. “Wow – you just blew my mind.”
“You got a lotta junk floatin’ around in your head.”
“Junk? These are parts of my life, parts of the fantastic voyage we’re all on – how could I not love them?”
“Fantastic,” Tony sneered. “How d’you know you’re even rememberin’ ‘em right after all this time? My family’s always arguin’ like idiots about how things went down.”
“The memories may not be exact, but the essence is right on. I know what you mean, though. Whenever I watch a scene from a movie I think I have down pat, it’s always a little different than I remember.”

It was a second straight sandwich-type session at the floating book shop, two sales immediately, then three while I was packing up. My thanks to the woman who bought two young adult novels, one of which was Once Upon the End by James Riley; to the woman who bought two Danielle Steel romances translated into Russian; to the young man who bought a cook book; to the one who purchased The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz; and the two young ladies who bought Asi Es Venezuela 2000, a huge pictorial on their native country. Each gave me a high five before departing. Sadly, much has happened since then to destroy the economy of that once prosperous, oil-rich nation. Although it was a beautiful day, it was cold under the scaffold. I walked to the corner repeatedly to warm myself in the sunshine.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Monday, October 16, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/16 - Forces

For those who are contemplating a Star Wars theme for Halloween decoration, it will be hard to top what a guy in Parma, Ohio has done:

As of October 13th, President Trump has signed 49 executive orders. How does this compare to others in that span? IKE: 60, LBJ: 58, JFK: 56, Obama: 29.

Botox may be on the way out. A dermatology clinic on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is offering an alternative - platelet rich plasma injections - taken from one's own blood. The blood is first purified, in 15 minutes, by an in-house device. Each shot costs $1000. Maybe the frozen face of of those men and women who use Botox will be eliminated from society, which is a good thing. (From an article in the NY Post.)

How often has it been said that the ice-caps are melting? If so, explain the following, which I gleaned from a blurb in the Post and will put into my owns. Thousands of penguin chicks died of starvation in the Antarctic last summer. The catastrophe wiped out nearly all of them. An ecologist attributed the cause to unusually large amounts of sea ice, which forced the parents to travel farther for food. A similar event occurred 40 years ago.

Here's a neat bit of trivia: There was a first in NFL history yesterday - a Harvard-to-Harvard TD connection between QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and TE Cameron Brate of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fitzpatrick entered the game when starting QB Jameis Winston was injured. He rallied the team from a deep hole, but it still fell short. There's an inside joke in the league dubbed the "Fitzgerald Curse." Several times he has ascended to the throne due to a season-ending injury to the #1... As for the rest of the league - parity is its hallmark, the results unpredictable from week to week. This seems to indicate that New England will again be the last team standing. The call that overturned the Jets TD was especially galling because it benefited the Patriots. The Raiders have regressed, the Chiefs lost their first game, at home, to what heretofore appeared to be a weak Steelers squad; the Falcons blew a 17-0 lead at home to the Dolphins, who are led by Jay Cutler, one of the biggest underachievers in league history; the Broncos lost at home to the 0-5 Giants.

My thanks to Wolf, the kind elderly gentleman who has been so supportive of the floating book shop, who bought the massive paperback Natchez Burning by Greg Iles. It looked like that would be the only sale of the day until the final moments of operation when a tall gentleman pulled his SUV to the curb and bought five thrillers, among them The Forgotten by David Baldacci.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/15 - Matters

In an article in today's NY Post, Larry Getlen addresses potential advances in technology that rival science fiction. A Chinese company has become proficient in the 3-D printing of houses. It has created ten homes in 24 hours at a cost of $5000 each. Detractors wonder, if the practice becomes widespread, what it will do to the construction industry... Another development is Augmented Reality, with which video gamers are already familiar. The intention is to make helmets that make complicated tasks easy. The drawbacks would be the potential for hacking... Scientists are working on a cannon that would blast a craft into space, eliminating the need for costly fuel. It would be used only for cargo transportation, as the rate of acceleration would be fatal to humans. The downside - what if rogue nations or terrorists got hold of one?... Programmable Matter seems something out of Star Trek. One example - a bucket of goo that, at voice command, would transform into a tool such as a wrench or hammer. Naysayers imagine bad actors hacking into it in the middle of the night, commanding the goo to be naughty. 

From the Post's Weird But True column, in my own words: Sign of the times: Northern Michigan University has begun a four-year program on the science and business of growing and selling pot. To show how much society has changed in this regard, here's something that happened in 1967 while I was a freshman at Western Michigan. My buddy Bruce, who was on a football scholarship, smoked a joint in his room, so naive about the stuff he didn't realize the aroma would travel beyond his cinder block walls. He didn't get busted, as he came down to the TV room and sat beside me, exaggerating the effects, smiling broadly. Mike, a nice red-haired kid who lived across the hall, did not fare well. Dorm staff assumed he was the source of the odor, entered his room, and held a flashlight to his eyes, searching for symptoms of drug use, scaring the bejesus out of him. If I recall correctly, Bruce eventually became one of the prime suspects, but there was no evidence to pin the rap on him or anyone else. I don't remember if he had more of the stuff and had to dispose of it. That's the way it was, Fall 1967. Bruce is now a doctor, an internist, in the Detroit suburbs. I lost track of Mike after freshman year.

My thanks to the teenage boy whose mom allowed him to select Stephen King's It, the only sale of the afternoon. At least it wasn't a total loss, as I scored a favorable parking spot upon my return home. I won't have to move the car until after Thursday's session.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/14 - Teamwork

Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling are great actors. Any film in which they team is worth seeing. Such is the case with The Sense of an Ending (2017), the type of movie made only independently in the States, a quiet slice of life. I watched it last night courtesy of Netflix. Broadbent plays a divorced, technically retired owner of a shop that sells only used Leica cameras. One day he receives a letter informing him that he has inherited the diary of his former best friend, who committed suicide while they were college students. It was bequeathed by the mother of the girl he lost to that friend. That woman is in possession of it and refuses to relinquish it. Emily Mortimer, another great Brit talent, plays the deceased mom. The story moves back and forth in time. There is a subplot about a lesbian daughter having a baby on her own. Whether one considers that just another politically correct teaching moment or poignant dramatic addition will depend on the individual. I know it happens in real life, but I'm always skeptical of it in the arts. I read underlying motive into it. Anyway, the rest of the narrative is infinitely more interesting, the characters genuine, the dialogue intelligent, the actions plausible. 2600+ users at IMDb have rated The Sense of an Ending, forging to a consensus of 6.3 on a scale of ten. Its appeal is limited to folks who prefer subtlety, serious work that explores the mystery of life, that does not move very far from the every day. Nick Payne adapted the screenplay from the novel by Julian Barnes. It was directed by Ritesh Batra, who was born in Mumbai, India, his second stint at the helm of a full length feature.   

There were two shocking upsets last night in college football. Defending national champs Clemson lost at Syracuse, 24-27. Its chance of repeating appear slim, as its starting QB, who played on a gimpy ankle, was injured. Washington lost at Cal, which is surprising only in that it was a complete drubbing 3-37, as the boys from Berkeley have pulled surprises before. The Tigers and Cougars are now 6-1, the Orangemen and Golden Bears both 4-3. It was Syracuse's most significant victory in many years. At the moment it appears no team is even close to being in Alabama's class.

My thanks to the young Latina who purchased the entire Twilight series, the only sale of the day. A lot of folks passed on the Russian translations of Danielle Steel. It was frustrating. There was a light moment when an Asian woman who spoke no English forced a shopping bag into my hands. I caved, accepting it, and thanked her. Inside were a Minicci handbag and a black winter coat. I wonder if the woman thought I'd need the latter this winter. I left the bag in the lobby of our co-op. A similar one lists for $12.99 at Ebay. I'll put the coat in a charity bin tomorrow. I hope the items make the recipients happy.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Friday, October 13, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/13 - Obsession with a Classic

NY Post film critic Sara Stewart devotes a full page article, words and pictures, to a new documentary by Alexandre Philippe: 78/52, based on the shower scene in Psycho (1960), which starred Janet Leigh and Tony Perkins. The numbers in the title refer to pieces of film used and cuts done. The scene is only three minutes. Philippe estimates he's viewed it thousands of times. I believe it. There's a lot there. Most people know that Bosco was used for the blood. There are other interesting aspects. The director says it was the first time a belly button was seen in a Hollywood movie. I have no evidence to the contrary, but I'd be surprised if that were true. There were so many comedies, such as the Hope-Crosby Road pictures, set in exotic locales that it seems an umbilicus had to have made an appearance in one. Philippe notes the unprecedented killing off of the star only 40 minutes into the movie, which runs 109. That, indeed, was shocking way back then. It still doesn't occur very often. The only example I can think of off the top of my head is The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), in which the lead role changed three times in that long (2:20) flick. I'd guess I've seen the shower seen at least 20 times through the years. In fact, I have it on videotape among a slew of clips I recorded from televised movies during the '80's and '90's. I went well beyond the three minutes, beginning just before Norman peers through the peephole at Marion and ending after the disposal of the body as the car is swallowed by the swamp. If I recall correctly, it spans about 20 minutes, without dialogue. It is absolutely riveting. I understand why a cinephile would become obsessed with it. The documentary runs 91 minutes and features commentary from admirers and people who were involved in the picture, including Marli Renfro, who was the body double in the scene. She was an original Playboy bunny and appeared on the cover of the magazine in September 1960. Here's that and another:

From Yahoo Sports, edited by yours truly: Were the bogus African-American Studies courses at the center of the scandal at the University of North Carolina strictly an accreditation issue, given that they were available to all students and not just athletes? Or does the disproportionate number of men’s basketball and football players enrolled in those classes show that athletic department personnel provided extra benefits by steering academically at-risk athletes to courses where they would receive passing grades doing no work? Today the NCAA, after a four-year investigation, ruled it could not conclude the school violated academic standards, and did not levy any significant penalties against the Tar Heels. Is anyone surprised? Major college athletics are a joke.

My thanks to the kind folks who bought books, videos and music on this cool day. Two people commented on President Trump's executive order on health care. Dave, a chef in a Manhattan hotel who is covered through his union, approves. An online book-seller, whose name I don't know, disapproves, despite the fact that he is in the midst of a dispute regarding his ACA plan and its high premium, and his belief that Obamacare has been a disaster.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/12 - Free to Choose

I've been eagerly awaiting this move since I heard of it a couple of weeks ago. President Trump has signed an executive order that will allow small businesses and individuals to form associations to sponsor coverage that can be marketed across state lines. The new policies also do not have to provide the 10 “essential health benefits” covered under ObamaCare, including maternity care, emergency room visits, mental health treatment and others. Members would be paying only for the coverage they choose. It will likely attract the most healthy individuals, those who need the least care, particularly the young, many of whom have chosen to pay the abominable ACA fines rather than be coerced into expensive coverage they don't need at this stage of their lives. The hope is the move will incite free market competition that will eventually lower costs for every American, not just those in enrolled in the new plans. Do I know that it will? Of course not, but at least the idea errs on the side of freedom. No doubt it will incite a firestorm from the usual swamp suspects, many of whom receive massive donations from insurance companies. Don't back down, Mr. President.

I had another visit from Mountain Man today. He has an interesting take on the Weinstein scandal. He believes the brother initiated it in order to save the company, which would have faced massive lawsuits with Harvey as its head. Given how easy it is to sue anyone these days, I doubt the ouster will prevent the suits. Will it minimize the damage, however, and allow the company to survive and eventually thrive again?

Happy Birthday, Mark, 69, retired postal worker and Vietnam veteran. His age hasn't stopped him from trying to find a companion. He's been communicating online with an Air Force officer who has been assigned to Australia, where she's living in a tent in the jungle. She hates it.

My thanks to the burly gentleman who bought Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, Invisible by James Patterson and David Ellis, The Scorpio Illusion by Robert Ludlum, and The Lazarus Vendetta by Robert Ludlum and Patrick Larkin. The biggest surprise of the day was the lack of action on the Danielle Steel translations into Russian.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/11 - Savior of the World

The painting above was done by a master approximately 500 years ago. The title is Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World). If it reminds one of the Mona Lisa, it is because it is by Leonardo da Vinci. It was once owned by England's Charles I, then went missing. It is believed that it was painted over in 1900. Despite this, it sold at a 1958 Sotheby's auction for $60. In 2005 it was brought to an expert. It was restored, the paint covering it removed. It was then verified as an original, one of only 20 of da Vinci's paintings known to exist. In November it will be auctioned by Christie's and may fetch as much as $100 million. Maybe it will inspire another best seller from Dan Brown. (Facts from an article in the NY Post and the Christie's web site.

As the Harvey Weinstein scandal gets uglier, I wonder what finally incited the all-out attack after decades of abuse, of others looking away at his behavior. As far back as 2004 the NY Times was ready to publish an article of his sins, but backed off. Who did he piss off or betray to have suddenly become the target of such intense vitriol? I don't feel sorry for him, but I am curious. Why now? Is it simply a matter of an inevitable tipping point having been reached?

The first hour of the floating book shop turned into a political forum of old-timers. Mountain Man delivered his usual screed against everyone in office. We were soon joined by Political Man, who tried to turn the conversation into a partisan attack on President Trump, which MM wouldn't allow, driving PM away. Soon Alan joined us. Although he is non-partisan, he made some vicious comments about Trump, blaming him entirely for things not getting done. He and MM believe that there is no fixing America, that it is doomed. I'm not as pessimistic as they, but I am worried what needs to be done to revive the economy will stall, and that the window of opportunity for meaningful change will slam shut permanently. Fortunately Mike, pushing his shopping cart, arrived. He is apolitical, a breath of fresh air. The three quizzed each other on tenants they hadn't seen in a while, and commented on the high rate of turnover in the three apartment buildings on the street, which are owned by Lefrak, which charges $1800 a month for a one-bedroom. Fortunately, all three enjoy rent stabilization rates. They have lived in their apartments more than 40 years. It got awful quiet when they departed. My thanks to the young couple, my only customers of the session, who purchased three books in Russian, two of them translations of Danielle Steel novels.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/10 - A Quarter Each

I've completed the first of what I hope will be only three phases before I submit my next novel to Create Space for self-publishing. This morning I added two segments. There are a few thoughts among the notes I'd taken since March that still have to be inserted somewhere in the narrative. That won't be hard. I will now let the file sit until November 1st. Here's one of the reminisces I added today. The two characters are riding in a car during the conversation:
“Oh – I almost forgot. Sal Barrato came into the bar last night.”
Tony reflected a moment. “His father was a police captain?”
“Right. He’s divorced and just started seeing a girl who lives nearby.”
“What’s he doin’?”
Tony smirked. “Figures.”
“I was dying to bring up the incident in the lot, but I didn’t have the nerve.”
Again Tony pondered. “I don’t remember.”
Freddie twisted in his seat. “Come on! He never lived it down. We were all hangin’ out in that lot we used to call the Rocky Mountains. He was a little younger than us. He must’ve been twelve at the time. He had a little box of stick matches with him. It was hot as hell. The stalks were taller than we were and dry as tinder. The knucklehead set fire to one and pretty soon the whole lot was up in flames. I almost crapped my drawers.”
Tony’s eyes brightened. “Yeah? Now I know I wasn’t there. I would’ve remembered that.”
“He turned white as a ghost and begged us to help him put it out. We balked and he started crying. He looked at us and pleaded: ‘I’ll give yous a quarter each. My father’s gonna lose his job.” Freddie stamped his foot for emphasis the way Sal had so long ago. “We were laughin’ our asses off.”
Tony smiled broadly. “So what happened?”
“The fire burned itself out. I hadn’t seen him since I left for college. His family moved while I was away.”

Football coach Gary Anderson left Wisconsin despite a very respectable 20-7 record, irked that its tight academic standards hampered recruiting. He took the head job at Oregon St. and failed miserably, the team going 7-23. He was fired yesterday. In an unprecedented move, he waived the remaining $12 million of the salary due him. It's a noble gesture, but also points how highly (overly?) compensated major college coaches are.

RIP Jimmy Beaumont, 76, of the Skyliners, the beautiful lead voice of Since I Don't Have You, recorded in 1959, a great listen to this day. Surprisingly, given its popularity, it rose only to #11 on the pop chart. I'm sure it's sold millions through the decades, especially in digital downloads. I hope the group's members received royalties. The music industry was notorious for stiffing artists during the early days of rock n roll.

Spasibo to the three elderly folks, two gentleman and a lady, who bought four books in Russian between them, and to the middle age guy who purchased E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime, which he'd read in Russian while living in the old country. My thanks also to the woman who donated ten Danielle Steel novels in Russian.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Monday, October 9, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/9 - Picture This

Lasst night Movies!, channel 113 on Cablevision in NYC, showed another winner in its Sunday Night Noir series - The Lineup (1958). I was surprised to learn it was spun off from a popular TV series of the same name, which ran from 1954-'59, 193 episodes. Warner Anderson and Marshall Reed reprised their roles as cops. Emile Meyer stood in for Tom Tully, who was unavailable for the shoot. The criminals were played by Eli Wallach, Robert Keith and Richard Jaeckel. The most surprising aspect was the violence and acute sense of menace, although the bloodletting was minimal. The film was directed by Don Siegel, two years after he did Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and 15 years before Dirty Harry (1971). The prolific Stirling Silliphant wrote the screenplay. Here's a shot of the outlaw trio up to no good:

It seems the NFL term "Any Given Sunday" applies to all teams except the Giants and Browns.

RIP legendary NFL QB Y. A. Tittle, 90. He looked a lot older than his age in his playing days, but that belied his ability, particularly in the latter part of his career. He once threw seven TD passes in a game, a feat not equaled even in this pass-happy era where almost all the rules have been designed to aid the offense. In his long NFL run, he passed for 212 scores and threw 221 interceptions, a ratio that would have a QB relegated to the bench these days, although he probably would have feasted in today's game. His record as a starter was 78-50-5. He was All-Pro seven times. He led the league in TD passes three times. He came to the Giants from the 49ers in 1961 and guided them to three straight championship games, losing twice to the Packers and once to the Bears. Here is one of the most iconic sports photographs ever taken, shot by Morris Berman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1964, Tittle's last season, when the team won only one game. The hit left him a bloody mess.

Here's a picture, taken by Patti Sapone of, from yesterday's 10th Annual Zombie Walk in Asbury Park:

The floating book shop was rained out today.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/8 - Steps Beyond

On Friday Iowa St. announced that its starting quarterback had taken a leave of absence to address “personal medical concerns.” On Saturday the Cyclones were a near four-touchdown underdog at Oklahoma. It would have been understandable if the team had folded after falling behind by 14 in the second quarter, and trailing by eleven at the half. It rallied big. Backup QB Kyle Kempt, making his first start, threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns, leading the season's most shocking upset, 38-31. He wasn't the only star of the game. Joel Lanning, who began the 2016 season as the team's starting QB, is now its starting middle linebacker. During the game, he played LB, QB and on special teams. He was 2-of-3 passing for 25 yards and had nine carries for 35 yards. He also had eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. The victory breaks an 18-game win streak the mighty Sooners had against the Cyclones. Kudos... Also on the college gridiron, my alma mater, Western Michigan, won 71-68 in a record tying seven overtimes at Buffalo. After going 13-1 last year, the Broncos are a respectable 4-2 in 2017... And Columbia is 5-0! Isn't that one of the signs that the end times are near? 

Last night Decades, channel 112 on Cablevision in NYC, ran a marathon of One Step Beyond, an anthology of the paranormal that ran from 1959-'61, 96 episodes, all directed by series host John Newland. I watched two that first aired in '59: The Aerialist, which starred Mike Connors as an Italian-American trapeze artist, and The Burning Girl, which starred Luana Anders as a fire-starter. They were solid. The show had a great tag: "What you are about to see is a matter of human record. Explain it: we cannot. Disprove it: we cannot. We simply invite you to explore with us the amazing world of the Unknown..." Newland was prolific. In 1947-'48, he acted in nine films. He then switched to TV. He has 38 titles listed under his name at IMDb as an actor, but it was as a director that he made his mark. Although "only" 61 titles appear under his name in that category, he did multiple stints at the helm of popular shows. For instance, 24 of Peyton Place, 23 of The Loretta Young Show and 21 of Dr. Kildare. He created The Man Who Never Was, a cold war espionage series that ran only 18 episodes in '67-'68. He passed away in 2000 at 82. Here is the distinguished and accomplished auteur:

It looked like light rain would put the kibosh on the floating book shop today, but luck was with me. When I drove home the most favorable parking spaces were filled. I worked for a while on my next novel, took a nap, then went out to see what was what. One of the two prime spots was available. And since it wasn't raining, I decided to open for business, knowing the wares would be protected by the scaffold if it started pouring. My thanks to the mom and two adolescent daughters, three blonds, who purchased one of Rachel Renée Russell's Dork series, and to the middle age couple who bought a book in Russian and one in Ukrainian. It only amounted to a few bucks, but it got me out of the apartment for a couple of hours.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/7 - Games

Kenyon Martin played 15 years in the NBA, averaging 12.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game as a Power-Forward, occasionally a Center. He was miffed by Brooklyn Nets Point Guard Jeremy Lin's new haircut, dubbing it "cultural appropriation." Here is Lin:

And here are tattoos on Martin's arm: 

RIP NBA Hall of Famer Connie Hawkins, 75. Born in Bed-Stuy, he was a playground legend and led Boys High to back to back NYC championships. While a freshman at Iowa in 1961, he was implicated in a point-shaving scandal. He was blackballed from the college game even though freshman were ineligible for varsity play at the time. The implication saw him banned from the NBA as well. He toured with the Harlem Globetrotters for four years. During that span he initiated a lawsuit against the NBA, which he won. He played two years in the ABA, showcasing his awesome talent, winning a championship with the Pittsburgh Pipers in 1968, named MVP of both the regular season and the playoffs. In 1969, when he was 27, the NBA came to its senses and lifted its ban. He was an all-star four times. In seven years he averaged 18.7 points per game, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. Known as The Hawk, his athleticism was stunning, his style similar to that of Dr. J, Julius Erving, who entered the league in 1972. Well done, sir.

After placing second in 2016, Jake and Kirsten Barney of Lexington, Virginia, won this year's North American Wife Carrying Championship. The award for hauling the Mrs. on his back through water and jumping over logs? $630 and 12 cases of beer. Skoal.

My thanks to author Bill Brown, who purchased a John Le Carre thriller; to Monsey, who bought an Italian-English dictionary; to the gentleman who overpaid for young adult books by R. L. Stine and Jeff Kinney; to the gentleman who purchased two Jewish-themed works of non-fiction; and to the two ladies who did book swaps, one in Russian, one in English. Special thanks to whomever downloaded Five Cents to Kindle this week.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Friday, October 6, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/6 - Turnabout

In an event rich with irony, the head of the Virginia chapter of the ACLU was shouted down during an address at the College of William and Mary by the student chapter of Black Lives Matter, which shouted: "...liberalism is white supremacy." One of them also said: "Where is the freedom of speech of the oppressed protected?" Right under your nose, obviously and, given the lyrics of some hip-hop records, just about everywhere.

How refreshing that women are attacking, for a change, a liberal icon, Harvey Weinstein, for sexual harassment. I'm shocked - shocked - that a powerful man would try to persuade women to have sex with him. Who ever heard of such a thing?

Sign of the times: There is 24/7 police presence at Columbus Circle in Manhattan, protecting the statue against vandalism.

NY Post film critic Sara Stewart has rated Blade Runner 2049 two stars. The large caption accompanying the review reads: "It's a Man's World." I didn't read it, as I don't want to know anything about a film until I view it. It's been a long time since I've been tempted to see a movie in a theater. The last one I saw, at the now defunct Kingsway, was Dick Tracy (1990), and that was only because a pretty young thing I was crazy about wanted to see it. 

The floating book shop sold a wide array of works today. My thanks to John Jay College professor of criminology Barry Spunt, who overpaid for Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer by Ann Rule; to the woman who purchased The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison; to the one who bought a geography pictorial for her grandson; to the couple who selected The Man from St. Petersburg by Ken Follett and a Nora Roberts thriller; to the gentleman who purchased Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger; and to the old-timer who bought three 30 Rock DVDs donated by a gentleman only minutes earlier. My thanks also to the woman who donated a Russian literary translation of a Brazilian soap opera.
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Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/5 - Mortal Sin

Here's an amusing item from the Weird But True column in today's NY Post, in my own words: NYC rats are showing genetic signs of diabetes and obesity attributed to a diet of fast food and other unhealthy delights discarded by residents. Researchers at CUNY and Fordham are on the case.

So far I've amended 100 pages of Present and Past, the novel I plan to self publish in January. I'm not spotting many errors. Most involved spacing. What are its possible drawbacks? It may be too talky for some readers. I'd guess it's 75% dialogue. I've added about a third of the notes I'd taken since March. Most of the narrative is episodic. I'm reminded of a term I learned in a college lit class - "picaresque," which is defined by Wiki as "a genre of prose fiction that depicts the adventures of a roguish hero/heroine of low social class who lives by his or her wits in a corrupt society." The two protagonist are of the lower middle class. There is a lot of sex, but it's not too explicit. Since I've decided not to do a memoir, I'm injecting parts of my life that are meaningful to me, and hope they'll be interesting to readers. For instance, Helena Leavy, a Catholic school classmate, spoke with a lovely Irish brogue. We, the boys mostly, were charmed by her pronunciation of "mortal sin" and tried vainly to imitate it. Her name popped up on a couple of years ago. I sent her a note saying how fond I was of that memory, but she didn't respond. Perhaps she didn't remember me or was suspicious of my intent. Or maybe she recalled what a terrible student I was, particularly in the seventh grade. Whatever. For the rest of my life I'll feel a glow whenever I recall her pronunciation. I changed the character's name to the more common Leary. She was the only Leavy I'd ever heard of.

My thanks to the elderly woman who bought three books in Russian, and to the middle age one who purchased a paperback romance. I received another donation, only three books, two in Russian. The one in English is a massive medical dictionary weighing five pounds. One of the others seems a physiology textbook, parts of it underlined. I left those two in the lobby of our co-op. Another woman told me the third is about politics. Since it's a light-weight paperback, I put it among the inventory, although I'll be surprised if it sells.
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/4 - Bread & Circuses

Here are two paragraphs from Michael Goodwin's op-ed piece in today's NY Post: "Chicago has an ongoing mass murder problem, even as it has among the nation’s strictest gun control laws, to little effect. Yet the Democratic media rarely mention the slaughter there or in Baltimore or Detroit, all of which take place under Democratic mayors with very restrictive gun laws... Murder carried out daily by illegal handguns, and involving mostly the death of black males living under liberal mayors, doesn’t motivate the national media. Could it be that there is no political advantage to be had, and thus no business interest in the carnage?"

Affluent New Yorkers are buying an artisanal bread at $20 a loaf. It must taste a lot better than it looks:

I wonder if California politicians are closely monitoring the secession attempt of the Catalonia region in Spain.

A blurb in the Post reports that the percentage of millionaires among white males has doubled (one in seven families) the past 25 years. Among blacks it remains frozen at two percent. I'm stuck halfway there and doubt I'll ever move higher. Fortunately, it's more than enough - barring catastrophic illness.

Anyone who watches Antiques Roadshow knows that the market for ancient items made in China is through the roof. At a Sotheby's auction yesterday, someone paid $37 million for a 900-year-old porcelain artist's brush bowl. The 20-minute bidding was intense. I think he/she may have paid a buck or two too much. Here it is: 

My thanks to the kind folks who bought books today, which made up a bit for yesterday's shutout. Early in the session, a woman approached and asked if I wanted books. I asked her to bring only ten. She brought about 40, 30 eminently marketable across a wide spectrum. I discarded a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula that had many pages missing, and left the most obscure of the lot and a few pamphlets on health in the lobby of our co-op. Fortunately, I was able to fit everything into the trunk and back seat of the old Hyundai.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Writer's Life 10/3 - Sore Loser

It's sad how so many people jump to conclusions before facts are verified. As great as Facebook is, it is ripe for misinformation from partisans and sick practical jokers, and the naive who share their posts.

Sign of the times: An article in today's NY Post details the opening of a Shake Shack in Manhattan's East Village. It will be entirely automated except for "hospitality champs," paid $15 per hour, who will assists customers with any problem that may arise. Cash will not be accepted. Payment will be by credit card or through apps on phones and tablets. I assume the cooks will be actual humans.

Also in the Post, from the Fast Takes column: Liberals cheered in 2003 when the naval bombers training site at Vieques Island was closed. If it had remained in operation, nearby Puerto Rico would have a lot more help right now.

There were no sales at the floating book shop today. My thanks to Herbie, who donated a paperback copy of Stephen King's It, the adaptation of which has been the most popular film by far in America the past month. Justin, a local porter, informed me of a cache in the backyard of the building he serves. Since business has been so slow, I didn't want to add more stock, even though I was sure the stuff would be eminently marketable. Not wanting to be an ingrate, I checked it out. I again have the full set of the Twilight series, of which I must have sold at least five the past few years. There were also a couple of novels each by R.L. Stine and Neil Gaiman, as well as a bunch of other attractive works geared toward children eight and up, including a huge pictorial. I left behind a quarter of what was there, although the books were appealing. I didn't recognize the authors. The trunk and back seat of the old Hyundai are again filled to the max. I have such a large inventory that I've been leaving the more obscure works stored in my apartment in the lobby. I set out four each morning, and they have all disappeared by the time I return in mid afternoon. Apparently, free is fine, paying a buck or two is not. I have to remind myself that I sold a copy of one of my novels Sunday. That is the primary purpose of the floating book shop, so I shouldn't be so bummed about today's goose egg. It's similar to the feeling I'd get after losing a sporting event, even the meaningless stickball games in the street or two-hand touch in the schoolyard. "Sore loser" was the term we used.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works: