I MOVED/shmaltz

Forgive the lapse in dynamic exciting info on my life — I’ve been moving and writing. Yes, I actually found a place in Santa Monica. I promptly pre-paid rent for a few months, and am getting situated. The neighborhood is dandy, quiet, and everything is close. No complaints — even free DSL.  Now, if I can get some sort of health insurance for old Jewish guys who are self employed and have a history of being full of shmaltz….

CHECK OUT THIS NEW BLOG

David Zarkin — one more relative with journalist/TV credentials — just started a cool new blog right up the media alley of my dedicated fan & family base: www.cheezymovies.blogspot.com.

If you are into old cheezy movies, this is your opportunity to be on the ground floor of sub-referenced discussions of substandard movies filmed on less than a shoe string — most of them pre-Velcro. Perhaps David will promote a John Agar film festival someday — hell, SOMEBODY should! Check it out.

My landlord was going to drop kick me out today because my dog was barking outside on the dog run. Dogs do that, as their verbal skills are tragically limited. Had it been a human yelling obscenities, it wouldn’t be an issue. But if a dog barks more than three times in twenty minutes, it’s a BIG DEAL.  The landlord relented however, giving me time to check out an affordable shared unit about ten blocks away from where I am now in Santa Monica, and closer to the main part of town. Right on bus line, too. I’ve become adept at mass transit. I’m so proud of myself!  You meet interesting people on the bus — they carry on elaborate conversations with people who aren’t there, and they don’t even need cell phones to do it.

WHERE TO LIVE???

I’m looking for a place to live, and the prices around here leave me drop jawed and dizzy.  Example: Studio apartment (no bedroom). $1695.  Okay, that’s in Venice and on the beach.  In Las Vegas, I paid $950 for a two bedroom apartment at the Country Club overlooking the green. When they raised the rent to $1200, I moved across the street to The Palms where 1,000 sq ft was $650. Of course, the place was flooded, the management refused to fix the door lock — and refused to fix the leak that flooded my apartment,then accused me of being a public nuisance for playing Mariachi music at full blast when I drove my truck home from work at 4am.  I NEVER HAD  A TRUCK. I DONT LISTEN TO MARIACHI MUSIC. I AM NOT THE PERSON WHO PULLED INTO THE PARKING LOT AT 4AM WITH THEIR CAR STEREO BLASTING MEXICO’S GREATEST HITS!! Despite my explanation that just because this person parked in front of my apartment (i didnt use the space because i had no car) didn’t mean that I were he, or he were I, or that I was the guy! They refused to believe me. When I insisted that they repair the leak that flooded the apartment, they refused, telling me to leave because I was a public nuisance. Before i left, I got signed letters from my neighbors confirming that I was never a problem, nor a nuisance. I was just informed that The Palms has referred me for collection for $1300.00.  Amazing! As I didn’t owe them money when I moved out, and they sold my bed and delivered it to someone off -property the day after I checked out,  how can I owe them money? Well, this screws with me being able to rent an apt. from any apt. management company.  Soooo…I’m searching Craigslist.org for sane possibilities. Sadly, I am not a vegan lesbian into yoga or I could share a lovely home, sleep on the futon, and grow my own yogurt for a mere $2300 a month. Anyone who has a clue about where I can live in the Los Angeles area for less than a grand a month, let me know.

RETURN OF THE PHONE

Amazing but true –my cell phone was returned! The maid (no, I don’t have a personal maid) found it somewhere and turned it in to the hotel manager. Were I still in Las Vegas, the maid would have used it for $900 worth of calls to Cuba before turning it in. Santa Monica has a higher moral standard than "Sin City."

JAPAN COMES THROUGH:  My Japanese publisher amazed me today by informing me that they will actually PAY ME — I was beginning to wonder.  According to them, money is forthcoming to my account on September 8th, 2005.  This is wonderful news. There will be celebrations in several states, provinces, and a few third world countries. Now I begin firming up a real apartment and HEALTH INSURANCE. I may live like a mench yet!  I found a delightful place here in Santa Monica that is only $16,500.00 PER MONTH.  Imagine that! That is a bit more than any sane person would pay for an apartment, and a scoche over my budget, but I think I’ll look at it jsut for fun — you know, to see how the other 1% lives.

WHERE THE HELL IS MY PHONE?

i CANT FIND MY CELL PHONE — AGAIN!  No, i wasn’t mugged and robbed. No, i didn’t have burglars crawling through the windows — I don’t live in Vegas anymore. I had the damn thing in my hand. I went outside and got Isis. Went to the bathroom.,worked on the computer, and then decided to plug the phone into the charger. I reached for it and ?????? where is it??? I CANT FIND IT!!! I called Verizon and had them call my number and listened for a ring. NOTHING!  I retraced my steps. Did I set it down outside when I unhooked Isis from the dog run? Did someone walk off with it? Did I set it down in the men’s room and someone walked off with it? Did it simply get burried under some clothes that I was tossing around and the ringer is muffled? Not wanting to risk it — i had verizon suspend my cell service until i replace the phone or find it — I have a Kyocera that will work but it needs a battery. The phone is insured, but it is $50 deductible and shipping. In the meantime  people get the message that my phone is disconected. IF YOU NEED TO CALL ME, and my cell still isnt working, call me at:

310-452-1469 EXT> 332

There is no message feature on that number — either i answer or i don’t. I will start the process of getting cell service again tomorrow. Ironically, my bill is paid and up to date at Verizon — no service and I dont owe them a dime!

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

PRIDE: The advance reviews of Lee Goldberg’s new novel,THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE, are spectacular, impressive, praise-packed, and uplifting. Well, perhaps not as uplifting as that new high tech bra from Victoria’s Secret displayed on well-endowed billboards all over Los Angeles, nor uplifting in the gag-reflex manner of the umpteenth "CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE …" compendium, but uplifting in a positive pride inducing manner. Lee is my nephew, and he’s been crafting clever capers and witty literature since childhood. His brother, Tod, is also a professional writer with a new collection of short stories, SIMPLIFY. Their sisters,Linda and Karen, also have a book forthcoming, and a family tour trading on the media-worthy novelty of four siblings in print. Of course, their brilliant author uncle Burl has a book forthcoming as well, but it is only coming out in Japan (in Japanese). Happily, my true-crime publisher, Pinnacle (part of the Kensington Publishing Group) keeps re-releasing my previous books with two additions to the covers  (1) the designation "TRUE CRIME CLASSIC" (2) a price increase.

Right now, Lee and I are both missing THE WORLD MYSTERY CONVENTION in Chicago. This is the 3rd year I’ve missed it, and I really wish I were there. Known as BOUCHERCON, this is the BIG CONVENTION for mystery fans to meet their favorite authors. This is a convention that is intentionally "fan based" — or was intended as "fan based" in its conception. Lee wrote an excellent statement on why he likes BOUCHERCON, and I share his view.

I go to Bouchercon as a mystery fan first and a mystery author second. I love buying books. I love meeting the authors I admire. I love meeting people who’ve read my books and have enjoyed them. I love discovering new authors and new books to read. I love getting all those free books in my book bag. But most of all, I love the camaraderie of fellow writers, talking shop and learning from shared experiences….It’s not Bouchercon that I’ll miss this year, it’s the authors and readers I won’t get a chance to see. And the books I won’t buy.

PREJUDICE: The current mounting tide of insane prejudice against Muslims is horrific. American Muslims outnumber Christian Scientists, Unitarians, Seventh-day Adventists, Quakers, Mennonites, and Jehovah’s Witnesses combined. The American Muslim population is also larger than that of the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, and the Mormons. Now that Islam has replaced Judaism as the "minority religion to hate" in America, we can see that the level of prejudice in the good ol’ US of A is just as repellent as ever. Even the flood in New Orleans is being used as an excuse to insult and defame fellow American citizens on the basis of religious affiliation. The latest smear campaign is the nonsense that no Muslim has given a donation to help the victims of the New Orleans tragedy. I was not aware that donations to relief organizations required reporting of ones religious affiliation, and that an accounting was made based on your method of worship. Strange thing is, of course, that the same people who rant and rage against those who embrace the Faith of Islam are also big fans of famed boxer Muhammad Ali, basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabar, and think Queen Noor of Jordan is an exotic international Oprah.

HOOOO-RAY FOR WA-HI

Wwub0901 My sister is off at her High School Reunion. In case you never had one of those, it’s like a pop-up from Classmates.com that lasts for three days.  What’s special about Jan’s reunion is that it is the FIFTY YEAR version. Yes, 50 years since my sister was a cheerleader, waving her pom-poms and screaming "push em back push em back, waaaaaaaaaaaay back!"  My brother was "YELL KING" — that’s a male cheerleader. There is no truth to the rumor that Yell King was an honor bestowed upon him as consolation prize for not being allowed in National Honor Society because he was Jewish. No, it was consolation prize for not being ROTC Cadet of the Year because Eddie Epstein won the award the year before, and "we can’t have two of you people win twice in a row."  Just kidding, friends. Stan was Yell King based on his natural sense of rhythm and ability to do interesting things with a megaphone. I was only 8 when Stan was 16 and Janice 18, but they didn’t leave me out — I was official Wa-Hi Blue Devil MASCOT!!!  Yes, I had a cheerleading (yell prince?) outfit just like my big brother’s, and I did all the yells.  Somewhere there exists a great picture of me with my protruding front teeth, crew cut, and blue cords assuming the stance of proud member of the WA-HI Yell Squad.  If i find it, I’ll post it. I’m not ashamed of my childhood.  I did attend my own high school reunion — the ten year and twenty year versions.  At the ten year reunion, everyone wants to see who has loot, and who married whom. At the twenty year reunion, everyone is simply happy that you are still alive. At Jan’s 50 Year Reunion, the memorial list is longer than the one at the ten or twenty. Happily, once again, Jan is NOT on the memorial list. I’m sure she will return with fun stories and some cool pics. Check out her blog in the future (Curran Events) for full nostalgic details.  While Jan is living it up in Walla Walla, Isis the Dog and I are sweltering in Santa Monica. Could be worse — we could be in the valley.

BRAIN DEAD PETITION

Today I received an email petition to President Bush asking him to lower gasoline prices.

Gas_1

After staring drop jawed at the list of several hundred people who typed their names on this "petition," I had a long conversation with my dogie, Isis, about the absurd markup on dog food. The highest profit margin at your supermarket is on pet food. The stuff is cheap to make, and absurdly overpriced. Let’s all send an email to the Executive Branch of the United States Government and bitch about dog food prices. Women’s shoes are also overpriced. I’m sure the President can fix that too.   Perhaps more devastating to the economy is the recent increase in ticket prices at 93% of America’s movie houses.

I’m sure the President of the United States has control over movie prices, dog food prices, and gas prices. He IS a dictator, isn’t he? Oh, you say we have a democracy and a free market system? Private enterprise?  Gee, I guess if we want to complain about the price of goods or services, we might complain to the company that supplies the goods or services.  Seriously folks, our beloved President Bush describes himself as "the war president — I wake up every morning with war on my mind."

While that is reassuring for the arms industry, It doesn’t mean much for federal support of other matters — be they education, arts, science, or price controls of private industry.  NOW : If the President of the United States is ever empowered to dictate the prices of goods and services in the marketplace, please inform me immediately — and alert the world that America is America no more.

ROYAL CROWN COLA

Lee GoPicserveldberg recently mentioned "Caffeine Free Diet-Rite Cola." When he was 15 years old, this product had a different name: "RC 1000"  Yes, that was a stupid name for it, as "1000" didn’t reveal much about the product’s features or benefits.  It was test marketed under that name in Washington State when Britt, baby Anea and I were living in Woodinville, Washington, and I purchased a sixteen ounce bottle at Zip’s Market on the Woodinville-Duvall Road.  I have always had a soft spot in my stomach lining for RC. Soldhere

Royal Crown Cola was always innovative. Back in the "real old days," Royal Crown was "The King of Colas," and it was caffeine free. By the time I drank RC from glass bottles, ice cold from Duff’s Creamery on Alder Street in Walla Walla, it had caffeine again. Maybe I preferred RC for the same reason people gravitate towards Dr. Pepper — most people drank Coke or Pepsi, so swigging RC made you "different."  Then again, so did being excused from school for Yom Kippur. Nehi

  The other soft drinks that we guzzled with glee were from the same company that created Royal Crown Cola — NEHI. There was NEHI Grape, of course. NEHI just about everything. 

Notice that gas was 17 cents, not $3.17. When my sister Janice would have me plead "Mercy" for my dad to give her the keys to the car so she could take me to the A&W Root Beer stand on East Isaac’s, a gallon of gas was only 7 cents more than a Poppa Size Mug (LARGE) of Root Beer. Amazing the things that come to mind at 4:50 am. I can see so clearly my brother, Stan, proudly washing his recently painted 1954 Buick. It had been green, but Stan customized it to glorious black and white. That made sense — Stan is color blind.  The ’54 Buick was a wonderful family car. If you didn’t have a family, there was enough room in the back seat to start one.

And when it came to cream soda, it had to be Nesbitt’s Cream Soda in a glass bottle. There were some strange brands to which we became attached — DOUBLE-COLA at Loon Lake was one of my favorites, too.  In fact, the only place I ever had DOUBLE COLA was Loon Lake. The last time I was there, they still had the DOUBLE COLA sign on the door to the store’s little "cafe."  Don’t bother asking for one, expecting it to be served with your JUICY-RAY Beef Sandwich — meat kept horrifically overcooked by infrared heat lamps, ’cause neither is available. I just tell myself they are on back order, and will arrive the same day that the ROYAL FLASH pinball machine is repaired and the songs change on the jukebox. Circlerc

INSOMNIA & TYPISTOLARIA

insomnia: The best time to chat on line with most of my relatives is about 3:15am–4:45am, or 4:45am–6:57am because we all get insomnia about the same time and after exhausting TNT (naw, I’ve seen that episode of Angel/Charmed/Pretender five times already), AMC, (Imitation of Life, AGAIN? Okay, I love Claudette Colbert, but any movie that ends with "I want my quack-quack" gets stale eventually), TCM (My God! When Turner bought EVERYTHING in the catalog, he sure as hell did buy EVERYTHING — who the hell is that playing Philo Vance THIS TIME? And how can a full length feature film have a running time of 57 minutes, counting credits?) — well, you get the idea: when we’ve seen it all, we turn to our primary addiction. No, not the internet, the keyboard.  I dont have a notebook computer with me here at the luxurious Garden Hilton Hotel in Milpitas, CA where the future of hospitality meets the aroma of the landfill, and my daughter’s computer is designated "WORK ONLY" by the fine folks who paid for it — her employers.  In the middle of the night, when personal demons are more ubiquitious than Law and Order reruns, it’s the kinetic sensation of touchtyping that calls to me. I don’t know if there is an official name for it, but i’ve termed it a "personality adjustment compensation strategy" comprised of distinct stages and attributes:

TYPISTOMANIA — the channeling of one’s nocturnal manic phase into productivity via typing.

TYPISTACAUCUS — this is several nocturnal manics commiserating together while typing.

There are subgroups, of course, such as "TypeATypingTrype" and there are even a few of the rare "OralSubmissivesFingering" which is very dangerous — obsessive fast talkers using voice recognition software,   I think my nephew Tod falls into this catagory, as voice recognition software will render "Sally, you are fondly regarded," as ‘Sadly, you’re a fuctard."  Then again, Tod speaks with exceptional clarity. Maybe Sally is sadly a "fuctard" after all.  At this stage of the conversation, (or monolog), my weariness amazes me, I’m branded on my feet. (For God’s sake! Don’t sing THAT TV theme!) I think it is time for me to take a nap — after all, it is 6:11pm and I’ve had my keyboard fix.