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Friday, June 30, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/30 - MIA

Here's a brief excerpt from Five Cents, my most recent novel. It's a few minutes read:

  On the final day of the fall semester, he was seated in his office, working on grading. He hadn't even looked at the most recent papers he’d assigned. He evaluated each student by previous work, giving the benefit of the doubt to those who fell in between a B and C, still stingy with A’s.
  The door was slightly ajar, kept so for a measure of privacy. The crack informed others he was present and available for discussion, provided the matter was of importance. Finished, he removed his glasses, leaned back, and closed his eyes, hands behind his head. He was dozing when someone knocked politely.
  A young woman stepped into the room, furry coat draped over her arm. She was tall, lean, sharp-featured, her chin, cheeks, nose and elbows rather pointy. Her short, sandy hair was cut in a becoming shag. Neither plain nor pretty, she projected a robustness that made her attractive.
  “Hi, Cathy,” said Tom warmly. “What can I do for you?”
  “I’m dropping off my final paper. I’m sorry it’s late. Things have piled up in my personal life.”
  "No need to worry. You’d already earned an A. Besides, anyone who wears an MIA bracelet gets special consideration from me.”
  She lowered her head, obviously troubled.
  “What’s wrong?” he said softly.
  “My brother’s MIA,” she choked.
  “Have a seat.”
  He stepped past her and closed the door, then poised himself beside her at the edge of the desk. Tears were pouring from her eyes. Tom caressed her shoulders, ashamed he’d fantasized about her sexually. When are you gonna grow up? he said to himself, recalling how he’d almost lost Kitty.
  “He was a helicopter pilot.”
  “Those guys saved our butts so many times.”
  She looked up, face brightening momentarily. “Really? You were there?”
  He nodded. “Just about all of sixty-nine.”
  She took a tissue from her bag. “I’m sorry. I've just been holding it back for so long. We love him so much.”
  “I’m the last guy in the world you’d have to apologize to about this. To me, anyone who served there’s a hero.” Except you, he said to himself.
  He let her stay as long as she needed to gather herself. He didn't know what to do other than to let her cry. When finally she rose she kissed his cheek, said “Thank you,” and hurried away. Eyes glazed, hands shaking, he wondered why he had survived and more worthy men had died. It seemed ridiculous to believe it was God’s plan.

My thanks to the kind folks who bought books today. June's take was less than half of May's, which was unusually high. I had a long conversation with a young man named Joshua, who purchased Sex: A Man's Guide by Stefan Bechtel & Laurence Roy Stains. He buys only self help books and wants to write his own. I encouraged him to give it a shot, to start slow and trust his instincts. Good luck, sir... Boris donated two works of non-fiction, one freakishly timely: All Things At Once by Mika Brzezinski, the victim of one of President Trump's latest tweets. I laughed out loud. And a fellow resident of Atlantic Towers, who has done three prison stretches for selling marijuana, bought a People magazine 1997 annual that had JFK Jr. and his wife on the cover. And when I returned to the apartment there was a bag o'books at my door, courtesy of a young man who approached yesterday, whose family lives on the top floor. Each of the blend of fiction and non is eminently marketable. My thanks.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/29 - Authors under Fire

Aspiring authors dream of book signings. Here are six that went wrong, gleaned from, edited by yours truly: Christina Oxenberg, author of Royal Blue, was feeling marginalized during a 2013 event in East Hampton. She was seated next to Gwyneth Paltrow, who was publicizing a recipe collection, It’s All Good. Fans of the actress blocked Oxenburg from the view of passersby. After taking a break, she returned with "a plate of miniature sloppy hamburgers, stinky steak sandwiches, and the like..." in an attempt to annoy her neighbor...  While Scottish crime writer Val McDermid was lecturing at Sunderland University in 2013, she noticed a peculiar woman wearing a wig and glasses, an obvious disguise. When the signing began the woman approached with a copy of the 1995 nonfiction work, A Suitable Job for a Woman. She then doused McDermid with ink. She was dismayed at a paragraph in the book she believed was directed at her that described a person named Sandra being shaped “like the Michelin Man.” The two had never met... In 2005 Jane Fonda was hawking her autobiography, My Life So Far. A Vietnam veteran waited patiently in line - then spit tobacco juice in her face. Despite being charged with disorderly conduct, the man told the press he didn't regret his action and labeled Fonda a “traitor.”... Former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland published a parenthood, Whoa, Baby, in 2017. At a signing in Ridgewood, New Jersey, several animal activists entered the store. They whipped out signs and began chanting “Fur trade, death trade,” and accused Rowland of having “ blood on her hands.” Rowland had been photographed wearing fur. Patti LaBelle experienced a similar incident while promoting  at a Barnes and Noble in NYC... In 1958 Martin Luther King Jr. was signing copies of Stride Toward Freedom in the shoe section of a Harlem department store. A woman stabbed him with an eight-inch letter opener. Surgery saved his life. Doctors feared that if he had so much as sneezed, he might have died, as the weapon's edge settled on his aorta. While in the hospital, he told a reporter his attacker was in need of mental help. “I’m not angry at her,” he added... While Sara Palin was signing copies of Going Rogue in 2009 at Minnesota’s Mall of America, a man positioned himself on a balcony near her table, and lobbed tomatoes in her direction. He was off-target, hitting a security officer instead. Preoccupied, Palin didn't even notice. She was told about it later. The attacker was arrested.

How the mighty have fallen. It seems most Knicks fans are rejoicing at the firing of GM Phil Jackson, who won a record eleven NBA championships as head coach of the Bulls and Lakers. During his three-year tenure, the team was a woeful 80-166. He leaves with the organization no better off than when he arrived. Why did he fail? I don't believe it was managerial inexperience. In Chicago he had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, in L.A. Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Pau Gasol. The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony, who despite being an excellent scorer does not elevate the performance of teammates. Anthony should have been traded, and still should be traded as soon as possible. He deserves a shot at a ring, and the Knicks need to rebuild. Too bad Dolan can't hire Bill Belichick.

This author had no need to fear the wrath of irate readers at today's session of the floating book shop. My thanks to the gentleman who bought a book in Russian, to the woman who purchased a pictorial on JFK Jr., to Candy, who bought Going Home: A Novel of the Civil War by James D. Shipman, and to the kind folks who donated a slew of books.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/28 - Off the Rails

There have been a lot of breakdowns in the NYC subways lately, and commuters are not happy. The system is the responsibility of the governor. Critics accuse him of focusing on the grandiose, such as the opening of new stations, rather than on the aging infrastructure. He is, after all, preparing a run for the presidency. In an op-ed piece in today's NY Post, John Podhoretz offers statistics that reveal the strain the system is under. In 1982 there were 898 million rides; in 2015 there were 1.7 billion. In 1980 the city's population was 7.07 million; in 2016 it was 8.5 million. In 1990 13 million tourists visited NYC; in 2016 it was 60 million. Shouldn't the massive increase in ridership have provided enough funds to keep the trains running smoothly, despite the hefty wages, benefits and pensions of MTA employees? Then again, if the powers that be insist on extravagant cosmetic changes, revenue can disappear in a hurry. Joe Lhota, who led the restoration of the system after the 9/11 attack, has been hired to fix the situation. Perhaps he can work another miracle. The political hacks appointed to the board by Governor Cuomo have been useless.

Here's a list of facts about the NYC subway systems, gleaned from, text edited by yours truly. I whittled it down from 33 and combined a few: If all the tracks were laid end to end, they would stretch from New York to Chicago... Only 60% of the system is underground... Times Square is the busiest station, more than 63 million riders per year... Believe it or not, the system is only the seventh-busiest in the world. Tokyo, number one, has nearly twice as many riders... The deepest stop is 191st Street, the platform 180 feet below street level... The Smith-Ninth streets station is the highest, 88 feet above street level...There is a fairly accurate economic principle known as the New York Pizza Connection, which states that the average price of a slice matches the cost of a ride on the subway. A slice at Delmar in Sheepshead Bay is currently $2.75, same as a single fare... In 1916 a worker excavating under the East River survived being sucked through the river and shot up into the air after the pressurized tunnel he was digging cracked... The first female subway conductor was hired in 1917... The worst accident occurred in 1918 when a conductor filling in for a striking motorman lost control of his train while entering a tunnel on Brooklyn's Malbone Street. 97 people were killed, 200 injured... The subway started taking tokens in 1953 when the fare was raised to 15 cents. Turnstiles were unable to accept two different types of coins... In the days of tokens, criminals would often intentionally jam turnstiles and then use their mouths to suck tokens out of the slots. In response, booth clerks would often sprinkle chili powder or mace into the slots to deter thieves. Tokens were made obsolete after 50 years by the Metrocard... MetroCard swipes are tracked and have successfully been used as an alibi to acquit people of crimes... The first air-conditioned subway cars were introduced in June 1967... In 2008, 44 old subway cars were dumped into the ocean off of the coast Maryland to serve as an artificial reef... Michael Jackson filmed the music video for Bad at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station. The MTA has rejected several proposals to install a memorial to the King of Pop at the station... Due to the popularity of the book and movie The Taking of Pelham 123, dispatchers avoid giving trains leaving Pelham Bay Park a 1:23 departure time... The MTA maintains a fake building in Brooklyn Heights. The brownstone actually contains electrical equipment and a secret entrance to the subway system... There is a secret train platform underneath the Waldorf-Astoria that the rich may use. FDR used it to help hide the fact that he needed a wheelchair... The MTA will email or fax a late letter if a delay causes one to be late for work... The A train travels the longest route, 31 miles from 207th Street in Manhattan to Far Rockaway in Queens. It also has the longest gap between stations, 3.5-miles from the Howard Beach/JFK Airport stop to the Broad Channel station... NYC subway cars traveled 344.9 million miles in 2013.

The floating book shop had only two customers today, but they bought in bulk. My thanks to Eileen, who purchased The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty and Eyes Only (Sisterhood) by Fern Michaels, and to Natalia and Bendict, who bought five books in Russian, stocking up for their annual summer sojourn to their daughter's house in Monticello.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/27 - Econ 101

The following items were gleaned from today's NY Post: John Crudele devotes his business column to the fall in the price of gasoline, attributing it to both high supply and a slow worldwide economy. I have one thing to say: Drill/Frack, baby, drill/frack... An op-ed piece by Joseph Strasburg reveals numbers that wouldn't surprise the few conservative New Yorkers there are, such as myself. 162,000 residents who have an annual income of $100,000-$$150,000 live in rent-regulated apartments, while 172,000 families who have an income of $25,000 or less can't get in. To me, that's government in a nutshell... A blurb informs that in July of 1986 57% of those 16-19 had summer jobs. Last year it was 36%. Does that reflect laziness or politicians' insistence on job-killing high minimum wage - or both?... Speaking of which: an article reveals analysis done by the University of Washington. Since Seattle raised its minimum wage to $13 per hour, there has been a 9% reduction in hours worked, a 6% drop in pay. Workers are taking home an average of $125 less per month. 5000 jobs have been lost. For those folks, the minimum wage has become zero.

I've suffered reverse stock splits in the past. AIG and CITI both did it during the banking crisis. I have only five shares left of the former, but it's back to even for me. I sold the latter at a loss of $1400. Now Xerox has done a one-for-four reverse, leaving me with 61 shares. The value remains the same. I'm down a little less than $2500, factoring in the 48 shares of the Conduent offshoot I picked up when the company sold part of itself. I'll keep it for now. Xerox has paid dividends regularly, despite the depressed price. What is the strategy behind a reverse split? According to, "... usually driven by an underlying motivation to avoid being de-listed from a major stock exchange, to avoid being removed from a stock index or to avoid the general negative impression of being a penny stock."

It looks like the Democrats and networks are giving up on the Trump-Russia collusion angle, realizing it's not working and may be damaging them. Also, since they determined to open the can of worms, the party's own people, Lynch, Pelosi, Obama, Clinton, Wasserstein etc., may be be drawn into the line of fire. I'll say it again: Find a viable candidate, rally behind him/her, enumerate policy. Of course, as a fiscal conservative, the left seems to me to have only one policy: More "free" stuff, deficit be damned.

As for the business of the floating book shop, things improved dramatically today. My thanks to the kind folks who bought, donated and swapped books, especially my Tuesday benefactress, who showed up with five pictorials, several hardcover novels, and a few works of non-fiction. She asked for a copy of Rising Star, which I gladly surrendered, as she has put so much money in my pocket the past two years. Two gentlemen asked if I wanted to buy books. I declined, stating that people bring them to me all the time and ask nothing in return. Many even refuse my offer of free books as a thank you. One guy was understanding and picked my brain on the endeavor in case he succumbs to the madness of giving it a try. The other guy was rude, huffing that I was eschewing guaranteed profit, which is no doubt true but beside the point. My main objective is to sell the books I've written. Everything else is gravy. Whenever an extended slowdown occurs, I question whether the operation is worth it and consider curtailing it significantly.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/26 - Cleaning House

I've read several books that have the following stamp on the cover: Advance Reader's Edition, Not for Resale. All were clean and ready for publication - until the latest came across my path. Cleaning Nabokov's House, the 2011 debut novel of Leslie Daniels, was chock full of errors I'm sure were caught by the editor assigned by Touchstone. Despite the mistakes, I enjoyed it. At first I was leery it would be as difficult to read as Lolita or Ada. It was a piece of cake. The story is told from the point of view of a 39-year-old woman who walked out on her husband, a successful inventor. The move cost her custody of her two children, who she sees only one weekend a month. The action is set in the fictional town of Onkwedo, NY, which I would guess is based on Ithaca, as the nearby college is said to be Ivy League, like Cornell. She buys a run down house once occupied by Nabokov, and finds index cards on which a novel about Babe Ruth has been written. She contacts a lawyer, and the verification process begins. Frustrated by the time it takes and eager to win custody of the children, she comes up with an outlandish scheme to supplement the meager income she earns answering a dairy company's mail. She rents and renovates a lodge, and opens a spa catering exclusively to women. She hires the members of the university's rowing team to fully service the ladies. Enjoyment of the novel depends on how one reacts to this move. I went with it, although it seemed, if discovered, it would lead to further charges of the woman being an unfit mother. That possibility, the risk, is not at all addressed. The writing is lively. I enjoyed the woman's wit, especially as she begins dating after a long hiatus. The most fascinating character is the five-year-old daughter, a goth girl in the making fascinated by fashion. The book is still selling modestly at Amazon. Daniels has yet to follow it up. She has edited a literary magazine and had stories published in the likes of Ploughshares, which is not easy to accomplish. I had about ten stories rejected by it before giving up. 44 readers at Amazon have rated Cleaning Nabokov's House, forging to a consensus of 4.1 of five, too high in my estimation. Still, it is a debut of which to be proud. Anyone expecting a work in Nabokov's style would be disappointed. It wouldn't be a stretch to categorize the book as chick lit, but it also has universal appeal. According to Wiki, Russian, English, and French were spoken in the Nabokov household in St. Petersburg. After fleeing the homeland, he eventually made his way to England and earned a degree from Cambridge. He spent 15 years in Germany, fled to France before the outbreak of WWII, and finally emigrated to the USA in 1940, becoming a citizen in 1945. He was on the faculty of several colleges besides Cornell, where he taught from 1948-'59. He died in 1977 at 78. His work endures. Here's a pic of Nabokov and his wife Vera:

The floating bookshop's tough stretch continued today despite ideal weather and great selection. My thanks to the young mom who bought the runaway best seller The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and to the elderly gentleman who donated two works of sci-fi, and to the woman who donated several novels and children's videotapes in Russian. So much inventory - so few customers.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 24, 2017

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

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

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

Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/23 - Pressed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/22 - Short Shorts

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

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

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

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

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

Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/21 - Relief

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

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

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

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

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

My thanks to the sweet elderly woman who donated six books in Russian and insisted on paying for the six she selected from me. My thanks also to Ira, who purchased the Beverly Sills bio titled after her pet name - Bubbles.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/20 - Slants

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Writer's Life 6/19 - Inspired

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

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

Where's D.H?

It was quiet at today's session of the floating book shop. My thanks to the gentleman who bought two books in Russian, and to those who stopped to chat.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/18 - Personages

For the first time in a while the Sunday NY Post is chock full of interesting items. Here's a summary of a few: Larry Getlen devotes his article to a new book: The Invention of Celebrity by Antoine Lilti. He cites four historic personages who were as wildly popular as the stars of the present. Artists capitalized on the popularity of Voltaire (1694-1778), the subject of countless paintings showing him doing everyday things such as drinking coffee - and the buying public ate them up. A French chocolatier made an item called "Bonbons ala Washington" in honor of America's first president. Medallions were minted with the image of Benjamin Franklin, of which he told his daughter: "... made your father's face as well known as that of the moon." Marie Antoinette was the subject of explicit erotic fan fiction... Nick Poppy's piece introduced a name completely unfamiliar to me - Georgia Tann. As head of the Tennessee Children's Home Society she was responsible for the abduction of an estimated 5000 white babies, many of them blue-eyed blonds, which were sold to well-to-do families. She collaborated with doctors and nurses. It is the subject of a new book by Lisa Wingate: Before We Were Young... Continuing on the path of there one day being an app for everything, Kevin Sebili, a young Brooklynite frustrated by the failure of his friends to show up for pick up basketball games, has created Flakex to attract the attention of anyone interested in some roundball. It was named in honor of his unreliable friends.

There was no action at the floating book shop until I began packing up. I wasn't surprised, given that it's Father's Day and folks are spending on gifts or visiting. My thanks to the elderly woman who bought two thrillers in Russian, to the middle age one who purchased a collection of women's writing about mothers, and to the ever gregarious Carmine, who said he owed me a dollar. It had been months since I'd seen him and I'd forgotten about it. My thanks also to Mr. Conspiracy, local super Mayor Mike, and B.S. Bob, who stopped to chat. Bob said talk of the financials has begun regarding his screenplay, Christmas 1945. Not many writers get that far when it comes to the movie business. Kudos.

Thanks for everything, Dad:

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Writer's Life 6/17 - Nocturnal

Some movies are downright puzzling. Such is the case with Nocturnal Animals (2016), a story within a story. I caught up to it last night courtesy of Netflix. Things did not bode well during the opening credits, which features a fat, naked woman from start to finish. She is part of an art exhibition run by Amy Adams' character, whose career takes a back seat to two other plot elements: the affair her husband is having, which goes nowhere, and the arrival of a manuscript from her ex, whom she left 20 years ago, presumably because of his refusal to give up writing. He has dedicated the book to her. The novel is about a family of three that crosses paths with the vilest of criminals, a standard story told so many times. Jake Gyllenhaal plays both the writer and the novel's victim. As far as I can see, the book has no correlation to the couple's past, which is made manifest by the fact that Adams imagines another woman in the part and that she herself has a college age daughter. And therein lies the rub. What is this film about besides the obvious? Adams is fine in her role, her third in 2016. Gyllenhaal has never been better. The flashbacks to the marital difficulties hit home for me. Why would any woman stick with a failed writer? It's a question I've asked myself many times. The film is notable for the performances. Two others are first rate. The ubiquitous Michael Shannon was nominated for a supporting actor Oscar as a cop in the "fictional" part of the scenario. He was in ten movies in 2016! Laura Linney is as terrific as usual as Adams' mom. Unfortunately, before her five minute scene, she is needlessly identified as a Republican - as if a Democrat couldn't be as cold and calculating. Anyway, 130,000+ users at IMDb have rated Nocturnal Animals, forging to a consensus of 7.5 of ten, way too high in my estimation. Seeking a better understanding of the film, I ran a search, and was relieved that Anthony Lane of the New Yorker reacted similarly, although a lot more harshly. I didn't feel quite as dumb after perusing his thoughts. I don't think it's a bad film. I just think it would have been more interesting if Gyllenhaal's character would have based his fiction on his relationship with his ex-wife. Based on the novel by Austin Wright, it runs just short of two hours. Tom Ford adapted the screenplay and directed, only his second stint at the helm. It did not do well at the box office, its worldwide take falling short of the production's overall budget. It probably turned a slight profit after DVD rentals and streaming. I'm not sure anyone but those curious to see how the novel was adapted to the screen, and fans of the actors would find it interesting.  

The top ranked golfers in the world are Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. Each missed the cut at this year's U.S. Open.

An article in the NY Post warns of a future scam - theft of finger prints, which would be used to open phony accounts. It never ends.

The floating book shop was open about 15 minutes when it began raining. I'm now contemplating setting up just as soon as I'm done with this evening's shift on the computer. It would depend on finding a parking spot near the scaffold at my regular nook. I'm not optimistic.
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