Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Random Top 10 List Halloween Edition: Favorite Movie Monsters

Not doing favorite cute monsters (sorry Muppets and Monster Inc.) I'm even leaving out Hellboy because he was meant to be the hero. Only monsters that were meant to be scary.

10) SNAKEMAN (Tommy Ray) in "Dreamscape" (1984) Creepy, cheesy and smart-mouthed, the stuff bad dreams are made of.

9) The ID (Evil Dr. Morbius) in "Forbidden Planet" (1956) Disney animation makes its first of two appearances on this list as cartoonists drew an alter-ego run amuck in this MGM Science Fiction classic.

8) DRAGON (Maleficent) in "Sleeping Beauty" (1959) Disney could truly scary, and not just for the tots. The other great film dragon was in "Dragonslayer", but that was just a creature trying to get a good maiden meal and this one was truly evil.

7) LITTLE GIRL ZOMBIE (Karen) in "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) I decided to pick just one zombie, so I had to go with the undead tot in the basement.

6) CREATURE OF THE BLACK LAGOON in "Creature of the Black Lagoon" (1954) - The last of the classic Universal monsters. Was happy to get to see this in old school 3-D.

5) ALIEN MOTHER in "Aliens" (1986) - Tough between this one and the one in the first House of Horrors film, but love its battle with Meca-Ripley.

4) FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER in "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935) - Karloff in this film edges out his debut as the creature (and the also great Universal monster, Mummy) because he is so eloquent in this film ("Friend!")

3) GODZILLA in "Gojira" (1954) - Because who wouldn't want to stomp through cities like the big guy.

2) KING KONG in "King Kong" (1933) - As Dino said, "No one cries when Jaws dies... But when Kong dies...People cry."

1) THE WOLFMAN (Lawrence Talbot) in "The Wolfman" (1941) - Sure, he looks nothing like a wolf (unlike the great wolf people in "The Howling" and "An American Werewolf in London"), but I love the way the poor guy looks. Can't explain why I've always loved the guy, and he's always been not just my favorite Universal monster, but overall monster. (Someday, I want a cane with a silver wolf head. Is that so much to ask?)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monologue for Ruth Chapter 4: The Man With No Name

We all want to be remembered, don’t we? Is there anything you hate more than having someone forget your name? And the person calls you “Buddy” or “Pal” or “Guy”
because you know he can’t remember your name.

So is it so wrong that I tried to do what I could to preserve my name. I suppose I should tell you my story so you can decide for yourself.

I believe you already heard about Naomi. She went to Moab with her husband and sons. Her sons married Moabite women. Her husband and sons died, and one of her daughters-in-law returned with her to Israel. And that daughter-in-law, Ruth began gleaning in the field of a relative of mine, Boaz.

Boaz brought me into the story. I was walking through our hometown, Bethlehem, by the city gate and Boaz called out to me. He was sitting with the town elders.

The elders are the old men who sit around all day long telling each other how much better things were when the Israelites were out in the wilderness.

Boaz told me he had good news. That the land of Naomi’s son’s land was for sale and I had the first option for redeeming it. I had been looking for ways to build my estate. I’ve always said you can’t lose with real estate. So before the elders, as witnesses to the transaction, I said, “I will redeem it.”

But then Boaz went into the fine print. I figured there would be more to the deal. Perhaps some kind of finders fee to Boaz for alerting me to the deal. But it was more than just a finders fee.

Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”

Now this was more than I bargained for. To take a foreigner, an alien as my wife. And not only that, the property would still be under someone else’s name. Legally, the land and my first son would take this other man’s name. I thought this deal would help me make a name for myself, but it would do nothing of the sort.

So I said, “I can’t redeem the land if it will endanger my own estate. Why don’t you redeem it yourself, Boaz?”

And then I saw a big smile on Boaz’ face, like this is what he had been hoping for all along. Which confused me. He was a man of property as well, wasn’t he concerned with his good name.. Marrying some Moab stranger. Maybe he knew something I didn’t, maybe there was an angle I hadn’t considered. But it was too late. I had yielded the opportunity to Boaz and the elders witnessed it.

So we made the transaction, as we did in our time. I took off my sandal and gave it to Boaz, the equivalent of signing a contract in your time. You have the stock exchange, we have the shoe exchange, it’s a whole deal.

Boaz said before the elders, “You are witnesses that I have bought the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon, and I will take Mahlon’s widow as my bride to
preserve the name of the dead with his property so it will not disappear from the town records.”

And the elders blessed Boaz and prayed for prosperity for him and his new bride.

So Boaz married Ruth, and it wasn’t long before she conceived and than had a son, name Obed.

And everyone in town made a big fuss over Naomi saying, “Praise be to the Lord who this day has not left you without a kinsman redeemer. May he be famous in Israel. He has renewed your life. For your daughter-in-law (who is better than seven sons) has given birth.”

Now you would think this was the end of the story. But that son of Ruth and Boaz, Obed.. He had a son by the name of Jesse. And Jesse had a son by the name of David. Maybe you’ve heard of him? King David?

It just isn’t fair. I was the one concerned about my good name, I don’t think Boaz could have cared less. But when the account of this was written, Boaz’ name was spelled right, even Naomi, even Ruth the alien, but my name wasn’t even mentioned.

And when the account of King David’s descendant, Jesus of Nazareth, was written by Luke, he lists Boaz in the family line, and Matthew mentions Ruth as well
as Boaz.

But no one remembers my name.

We all want to be remembered. Don’t you?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Monologue for Ruth Chapter 3 (and a bit of 2): Ruth

You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not used to talking in front of people like this. It’s not that I don’t like to talk. I love to talk. Naomi and I used to talk long
into the night. I’m just not used to talking like this, in front of a lot of people.

Oh, I should tell you about Naomi. She was my mother-in-law, and for a time my dearest and only friend. She was a foreigner from Israel who came to my homeland, Moab. I married her son, Mahlon. But then my husband died. That was very hard for me, or course. But it was even worse for Naomi. She lost her husband and both of her sons. I can’t imagine that kind of pain.

Naomi wanted to go home, to Israel. She needed me, I had to go with her. She tried to persuade me to go home, but I couldn‘t. So I went with her to her

When Naomi had left Israel, it was a time of famine, but it certainly was not when we came back. Everywhere, workers were harvesting rich crops. But we still had nothing.

Naomi told me that the laws of her people, now my people, allowed the poor to follow harvesters and gather the grain they left behind. We certainly were
poor, that’s what I needed to do.

I was afraid how I would be treated when I went to glean. But I was treated with kindness and generosity. I came home that first day with an abundant baskets of barley.

When I told Naomi I had been in the field of Boaz, she smiled. I hadn’t seen her smile like that for months. She said that Boaz was a kinsman of hers, or my late
husband’s. She praised the Lord, saying it was no coincidence I went to that field, that God was showing his grace to us.

Boaz himself asked me to work his field for the remainder of the harvest. It was toward the end of the harvest that Naomi asked me to do something
frightening. She asked me to do something that made sense in their culture, but was alien to me, as I’m sure it would be to you.

She said it was time for me to again begin a home of my own. And she thought perhaps the man I should marry was Boaz. I said Boaz was a good man, but wasn’t it for him to ask me?

She said that Boaz would that night be winnowing barley on the threshing floor, and would then be sleeping there to guard the grain. I was to wash and put on my best clothes and perfume. She told me to go to a place where I could see the threshing floor, and watch Boaz. After he would eat and drink, he would lie down, and I should note where he lay down. And after it was dark, I was to uncover his feet and lie down as well. And then I should wait till he told me what to do.

I know to many of you, to do something like this sounds absurd, mad. But Naomi was a wise woman, I knew I could trust her. I told her I would do whatever she said.

And I did. I went to the threshing floor that night and did all that Naomi told me to do. I found Boaz sound asleep on the threshing floor. I lay down by his feet, but I could not sleep.

After what seemed like an eternity, Boaz woke with a start and cried out, “Who are you?”

“I am you servant, Ruth.” Then I said what Naomi had told me to say, “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are my kinsman-redeemer.”

Then Boaz amazed me. He said, “The Lord bless you, my daughter. This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier. You have not run after younger men, rich or poor. And now my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know you are a woman of noble character. I am a close relative of your late husband, but there is someone more closely related. Stay here for the night. If in the morning he wants to redeem your husband’s land, buy it back, and marry you, then so be it. But if he will not, as surely as the Lord lives, I will. Stay here till morning..”

I slept then, but before the sun was up, Boaz woke me. He gave me grain and sent me home to Naomi. We then had to wait, as Boaz and a man I did not even know, would decide my future.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Monologue for Ruth Chapter 2 from Boaz

Good mornin’! My name’s Boaz, I’m a farmer.

I’m someone who always enjoyed the simple things: watching the sunrise, the smell of rain, the heft of a bushel of grain, these were the things that brought me joy. That’s why I so loved Pentecost, the celebration of the end of harvest.

When I was young, I dreamed of more in life, but I’d given up on expecting anything extraordinary, like, say, love. But life has its surprises. I’ll never forget the day my life began to change. I went out to one of my fields to watch my workers. I
greeted them with the same greeting I always use, “The Lord be with you!” Probably the same way you good people greet your co-workers. And they responded, “The
Lord be with you!”

I noticed someone new in the field that day, a young woman. I asked the foreman of the harvesters who she was. He said she was the woman from Moab, the
daughter-in-law of Naomi.

I knew who she was, of course. Bethlehem is a small town, and the arrival of a woman from Moab was news. My country, Israel, had been at war with Moab many times through the years, though we were in a time of peace. Still, town gossips were not inclined to think kindly of an immigrant from Moab, but all were impressed with her faithfulness to Naomi.

What the foreman told me next impressed me even more. He said the young woman had asked permission to glean behind the workers. It wasn’t necessary for her to ask, God’s law made it clear it was the right of the poor to search for grain after a farmer had harvested a section of a field. Most didn’t ask; she was quite well mannered for a Moabite. And he said that she had been working hard and steadily for hours, taking only one short break.

Oh, I’m sorry. Some of you might not be farmers. I should explain a few things. Among other crops, I grow barley. My harvesters bring in the barley at harvest time and we then thresh it, separating the good grain from the chaff, the useless parts. And some glean after the harvesters, finding the good bits and pieces the harvesters might have left behind.

I knew I had to meet this remarkable woman. I found her in the field and introduced myself. Then I told her, “My daughter, don’t go and glean in another field. Stay here and harvest with my girls,and my men will not bother you. And drink from our water bottles.”

I didn’t want her to risk going anywhere else. I lived in evil days, and who knows what dangers a young, beautiful woman might risk among some of my

She bowed before me and asked, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes, especially since I am a foreigner?”

I told her the truth, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband - how you left your parents and came
to a strange land. May the Lord, the God of Israel, grant you His protection.”

And she said, “May I continue to find favor in your eyes. You have given me comfort and kindness, though I am not even one of your servants.” And she went back
to work.

At meal time I asked her to join me. I gave her bread to dip in wine vinegar, and roasted grain. She didn’t eat it all, but then hurried back to work.

I brought in some of my men and told them to make sure this young woman went home with a full load of grain. I told them if she should harvest among the whole sheaves, then don’t tell her not to. And I said, perhaps, if they were working ahead of her, they could leave some whole stalks for her to find.

After all were done harvesting (and gleaning), it was time to thresh, separate out the good grain. I watched the young woman, her name was Ruth, thresh her grain.
Though her hard work, and the intentional carelessness of my workers, she must have collected an ephah of grain. Now ephah in your measures would be.. Oh ..Um .. A lot of grain.

I went home smiling that night imagining the look on Naomi’s face when Ruth brought home from one day’s work enough grain to feed the two of them for weeks to

At home I thought in delight about the joy that Ruth and Naomi must be experiencing in their unexpected windfall.

I mentioned earlier the simple pleasures that God gives us in life. You know, I think that one of the greatest of those pleasures is the chance to serve others. But you must be ready when God brings those opportunities along. I am still so thankful that I didn’t miss the chance to serve Ruth, when God brought her into my life.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ruth Monologues

At Healdsburg Community Church, we presented the four chapters of Ruth as 4 monologues in four weeks.

Here is Chapter One from the perspective of Naomi:

It’s awkward when a name doesn’t fit a person. Have you ever seen an ugly baby? And let’s be honest here, there are such things as ugly babies. And then you
find out they named it “Beauty” or “Belle” which I understand means “beauty”. So you try to keep a straight face, but it’s not always easy.

I know what it’s like to not have a name fit. My name is Naomi, and I will tell you how my name came to seem so very wrong. But first I’ll tell you about some
other names that are important in my story.

You also should know, I lived thousands of years ago, in the years after Joshua brought God’s people out of Egypt and to the land of our father Abraham. My
husband’s name was “Elimelech”, which means “God is King”. My husband’s name was fitting because we lived at a time when Israel had no king, but God. But many
people did not acknowledge God or his laws, but instead did what was right in their own eyes. Most in the land were morally blind. But Elimelech was a good man in bad times.

We lived in Bethlehem, a city that at the time seemed misnamed. You see, Bethlehem means “house of bread” and this was a time of famine. The barren fields, the hunger, drove us from our home to a foreign land, the land of Moab, where there was food, and work.

We took our two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. My son’s names proved unfortunate, and over the years I wondered whether some of the grief that we experienced was because we named our sons too well. I know that sounds silly and irrational, but part of me always believed that. You see, “Mahlon” which can mean “crown” because we thought he would be our crowning joy. But Mahlon can also mean “ill or weak”. And “Kilion” can mean “Finish”, because I thought he would make our family complete. But it can also mean weak. We hadn’t thought much of the darker meanings of our children’s names, but as children, of course, their playmates did and teased them.

My life changed greatly in Moab. My husband passed away, but I still had my boys. My sons grew up there, and began to work, they were farmers like their father. And in Moab, they were both married. That was hard for me, because I would have liked for them to have married among our people. But they did find such wonderful wives in Orphah and Ruth. We made do, the five of us. But then my sons… They were weak. They died as my husband did in a foreign land.

So there we were. Three widows alone. But then there came good news from my homeland. The Lord had visited my land with bounty, there was rain again, the famine
had ended. I knew I needed to go back home. When I told Orphah and Ruth, they said they would go back with me.

We packed, and started on the road. But it seemed wrong to be taking these girls from their home. I said Orphah, Ruth, this isn’t right. You should go to your
own homes. I can’t promise that there would be anything for them in my homeland. I couldn’t promise there would be work. But they still insisted they
wanted to be with me.

I had to be blunt. I was not going to be able to bear children again to be their husbands. Even if I married again and there was a Abraham and Sarah miracle, there was no way they could wait till they were old enough to marry and then they’d be my age. When I put it that way, they didn’t seem to know whether to laugh or cry.

But then Orhrah did cry and said I was right. She said she would miss me, but she would go home to her family. I said I would miss her, and she left.

But Ruth wouldn’t leave. I told her to go, but she wouldn’t. She then spoke words I’ll always cherish. She said, “Don’t ask me to leave again. I will never
leave you. Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I’ll stay. Your people will be my people. Your God, my God. I will die where you die and I will be buried where you are buried. May God punish me if I ever let anything separate us.”

I looked in her eyes and knew she meant every word she said. Because Ruth, like so few people in this world, lives up to her name. Her name means, “Friend”.

So Ruth returned with me to Bethlehem. I had left Bethlehem with a husband, sons, some land and a little money. Back then I had my youth, my beauty. I said before how I hated it when a name doesn’t fit.

When I returned to Bethlehem, I heard people saying to each other, “Is this Naomi?” I could tell that even my kinsmen didn’t recognize me. You see, “Naomi” means “lovely”. My name might have fit at one time, but it didn’t anymore.

I said, call me “Mara”, which means bitter, because God had dealt bitterly with me. I had lost everything I once had. I felt God had taken it all away. Maybe
some of you feel the same way.

But I did have Ruth. And it was the time of harvest. And though I felt hopeless, part of me still knew that there was hope. Just as God had made my land barren and then made it fruitful again, maybe there was a chance he would restore my name.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Memories are like weed darts: Some of them don't stick (Originally in San Francisco Chronicle 9/16/06)

Walking my 9-year-old daughter home from school, I notice the great delight she takes in throwing weed darts. You may know what I'm talking about; it's a prolific weed throughout Sonoma County. She puts her thumb and forefinger together at the base of the weed and pulls up, plucking the darts to throw. She then flicks them at the back of whomever she is walking with (her sister, her brother, her father) to see how many darts will stick in the back of a shirt or in someone's hair.

I used to do the same thing as I waited at the bus stop when I was her age (as well as when I was a few years younger and a few years older). My family lived in a rural area of the county on an unpaved road with a dozen or so houses. Some mornings I waited 15 or 20 minutes at the stop for the bus. Of course, there were also mornings I saw the bus as I left the house and ran, hoping it wouldn't leave without me.

The following are the top five memories that come to mind when I think of our bus stop on Fulton Road and Raplee Terrace:

1) The weeds mentioned above.

2) Another weed with a head that would pop off when you twisted the stem just right.

3) Dark mornings. Because President Richard Nixon extended daylight-saving time, there were cold winter mornings when we wouldn't see the sun coming up till the bus was approaching Mark West Elementary School. I really couldn't have cared less at the time about breaking into the opponent's campaign headquarters -- making kids wait in the dark seemed the true impeachable act.

4) Kicking the bigger rocks on our gravel road from my house to the bus stop (and, of course, from the bus stop to my house). If the rock went in a ditch, it was lost. And, of course, I didn't want any other kid kicking MY rock.

5) Karen Cameron and Rachelle Merian repeatedly asking me to tell them whom I liked. I didn't tell them for a very long time. This was highly classified information that couldn't fall into the wrong hands. But day after day, they asked. It seemed their duty to collect all the data in our class about who liked whom. They needed this information because, well, I'm not sure why they needed to know, but it certainly seemed important to them.
Day after day, they asked, at the bus stop and on the walk home, with the promise that they would keep this information to themselves. No one would know. Their persistence paid off. Eventually, I told. And they told. The very person I most dreaded being told. The girl I liked.
So I had no choice to tell this, the cutest, funniest and kindest human being on the planet at that particular time, that I liked her, "You know, as a friend."
This was obviously a traumatic incident in my young life. That's why this memory had stuck with me. But I became curious. Would Karen and Rachelle remember this tumultuous event? Surely, something of this magnitude, they must. I decided to find out.

I had no problem getting in touch with Rachelle. After the bus stop years, in high school, I had driven her to school. Ever since our 20th high school reunion, we have kept in touch with Christmas cards and the occasional e-mail. I sent her a note asking for her bus stop memories.

In a phone call, she responded with these top five memories:

1) Her mother not walking with her to the bus stop.

Rachelle was much farther down the street than I, and she would have liked company for some of that walk, but her mother had to stay home with her younger brothers.

2) All the other kids that waited with us various times throughout the years: her older brothers, Randy and Ricky, and her sister Renee; my brother, Dale; the twins, Ronnie and Gary; and too many others to name, but the list would include Jack, David, Eddie and, of course, Karen.

3) The many times her grandfather driving along Fulton Road would slow down and wave. That made her feel quite special.

4) The mornings it rained and we all would take cover under the garage overhang of the last house on the street. But we would already be drenched from the walk.

5) The morning she had money to buy "The Boxcar Children" from the Scholastic Book Club. She wasn't usually given money to buy when book-order time came around, so this was a big deal. She had two quarters to pay for the book, and was playing with the money.
And what happened was what parents always warned would happen if you play with money. She dropped a quarter -- into the weeds. She didn't know what to do, so she threw the other quarter into the weeds, hoping it would find its companion. And it did. She heard them click and she found the quarters and bought the book.
This coin-finding trick never worked for her again.

You may notice that this list of memories makes no mention of her pleas to know my beloved (or more appropriate to the time, my "beliked"). When I asked her about the incident, she had no recollection of it.

(And upon further questioning, she was unable to recall the name of the girl her inquisition had dragged out of me, though she did remember some of the girls I liked in high school.)

It took a little more work to get in touch with Karen. After elementary school, she had gone to a different junior and senior high schools, and during that time moved off Raplee Terrace. I hadn't talked to her for decades. I checked with my mother for Karen's married name and her assurance that Karen was still in the area. After a calling a few wrong numbers, I finally reached her.

These are the memories that first came to her mind:

1) Our bus drivers, Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Albritton. (Both were moms of students at our school, Susan and Stephen, respectively, as I recall. Both were always threatening to give "tickets" for misconduct. I was never sure what these tickets would do, but it couldn't be good.)

2) Also the dark mornings.

3) Also the rainy mornings.

4) Being chased by chickens. Karen was also farther down the street than I was. I never encountered this fowl problem (there was a particularly nasty rooster, she recalled). She dislikes birds to this day because of these chickens.
5) During her kindergarten year, Karen broke her leg. She recalls struggling to get on the bus with the cast.

You might note once again, a glaring omission. When asked specifically about the afternoon when she and Rachelle implored me to share my heart, the moment my resolve broke and the consequences of it all, Karen had no recall.

I now know something more about those little weed darts my daughter throws, and that I used to throw (all right, I still throw them on occasion). They are wild oats. They are not indigenous to Sonoma County, but were brought long ago from Europe. The weeds with the pop tops are plantains.

These little factoids may stick with you, they may not. Like memories and wild oats thrown at the back, you just never know what will stick.

And you may wonder who it was that I had a crush on in the sixth grade. You're not hearing it from me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


These poems were written for contests and did not win. But I would hate to think of the world losing these artistic wonders forever.


Whales, beavers and swans
Don't need divorce attornies
Or even pre-nubs


A Stage of Alert
In a World of Terror or
Contemplate Navels

Swimming Pool

All the pool signs say-
"Please do not expectorate"
What about Mark Spitz?

Western Analogy for Science Fiction


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yet another piece that was submitted to "Absolute Write": SEMINARS TO AVOID AT YOUR NEXT WRITER'S WORKSHOP

Attending a writer’s conference can certainly be a helpful spur to your writing career. Few things are entertaining as keynotes by best-selling authors bad-mouthing the editors that rejected their early work. There is encouragement to be found in being part of reading groups (listening to other writer’s pathetic samples, can bolster confidence in your own work). But the most practical advice and counsel you will receive at a writer’s conference will probably be
in the seminars and electives.

In these smaller meeting times you often can pick the brain of an experienced talent, extracting golden nuggets of wisdom often topped with the delectable spicy tidbits of wit on such topics as economy in writing and the dangers of mixed metaphors.

But you may choose unwisely and find yourself wasting hard earned conference tuition dollars (or even easily earned tuition conference dollars). There are some
seminars that drain not only time and money, but precious brain cells. Here are some such seminars Iwould heartily recommend avoiding:


(This writer for a variety of direct-to-video projects for Pauly Shore and the Coreys from the 80’s explains the difficulties of writing for marginal, chemically
addicted talent without accepting the blame, and hating yourself less as you cash the check [and the difficulties of cashing a check written to an alias].
Most of us don‘t have these particular problems.)


(OK, if you want to use an hour of your life for the glories of Courier, you’re welcome to it.)


(I’m sorry, the role of explanation marks in reports on the wonders of science just didn’t do it for me.)


(The only thing I learned in this one: “birthday” is too big a word. There, now you know it, too.)


(I hear this used to be a rather different presentation, before recent security procedures were enacted. And it wouldn’t be so bad now, if they had edited what we’re not supposed to hear with silence or beeps rather than Orrin Hatch’s rendition of patriotic favorites.)


(Hey, if you’re dumb enough to use John Wayne stamps to send manuscripts to “Mother Jones”, you probably shouldn’t be using your writing to spread your ignorance.)


(Apparently, you can’t write anything too shocking on the back of Special K or you might meet Judge Wapner’s real world equivalent.)


(Editors, they love the precious stuff.)


(No need to stoop to this level to become a professional writer. Especially when you can always freelance humor columns on the internet. Very lucrative.)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Don’t Waste That Second Job!

It’s true: most of us can’t make our living solely on our writing. But if you need to take on another job, take advantage of it. Don’t think of it as a job, but as another avenue to promote your career as a writer!

Sure, we all do this in small ways. Who among us doesn’t use the water cooler and break room to promote our work? We subtly drop into conversations with co-workers such bon mots as “You know, I’m a writer; would you like to read some of my work?” or “Hey, Christmas is coming; a great idea for a gift would be one of my self-published books available at my website. Here’s a card with all the information!”

But surely we can use our jobs to greater advantage. While working for a popular department store chain, I learned from someone in the PR department that they slightly over-posted their flyers to insure safe and prompt delivery. I saw in this little piece of trivia an opportunity. I offered to deliver store flyers to the post office. And it just took a few hours to stuff in those flyers a flyer of my own for my (at the time) newest self-published work, "I Was a Shopaholic: How I Overcame My Addiction".

Not long after that, I found myself working in the fast food industry. Again, a little creativity allowed me to turn this job into a marketing opportunity! This particular chain of restaurants serves specially bagged meals for children -- let’s call them “Joyous Meals.” I, of course, would fill the bag with the appropriate food and franchise toy, but for extra fun for the kids, I began to include a sample chapter of my children’s picture book on nutrition, "Why Is Mr. Cow So Sad?"
Soon, I was again devoted fully to my writing career. But when a more lucrative option became available, I couldn’t pass it up.

Even on jury duty, I found ways to promote my writing career. When the lawyers asked questions, I found ways to slyly sneak in plugs. When asked if I had ever been the victim of identity theft, I said, “No, because the unique writing style I possess, exemplified in such works as "Be the Tiger: Establishing Authority in Dating Relationships" or "Revealing the Croak: If There’s Global Warming Why Are My Toes Numb?" (both available at my website) is unique and I believe unmistakable.”
Once on the jury, I positioned myself to become the foreman. Thus, I was able to read the verdict thusly, “We the jury find the defendant guilty of two counts of fraud and one count of assault. If only his parents had been able to read my book, "Raising Your Children Crimefree By Exposing Them to Procedural Dramas On Television.” That piece of promotion made the local papers and NPR’s weekly broadcast of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”.

Then came the greatest promotional opportunity of my career. A temp agency landed me a gig in a branch of the Internal Revenue Service. I was able to gain access to a marvelous database for sending out e-mails and mailings for perhaps my personal favorite of my non-fiction works, "Loopholes, Loopholes, Loopholes: It’s Not a Lie If You Can Deduct It With a Straight Face".

Even in my current position, I have found ways to promote my work. I have found a way to attach to the license plates a card to promote, "Don’t Always Insist On Your Own Way: How I Learned to Let My Cellmate Choose His Bunk and Room Décor".

(I can't remember if this was published in Absolute Write or not. If not, I hope the writers who used to depend on that website were able to muddle on without this masterpiece.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Lost Vinton and Helga Files

Can be found here:

Another story that was in Absolute Write: NECESSARY WRITER’S FANTASIES

Imagination is vital for a writer’s life. At no time is this more the case than when you find that rejection letter in the mail box. What can keep you writing and submitting even after letter after form letter? (You know, the letters that seem to say: “We don’t want what you write, and by the way, we hate you.”) You must believe there is more to it than that. If you need help to keep going, perhaps you can convince yourself the real reason they turned down your story is because… There was “something more” more going on in those editorial offices.

1) If you receive a letter that says, “Does not meet our current editorial needs” perhaps this is the real story:

“I know this, ‘Diamond to the Head’ story is brilliant, but I am not putting it in North South Literary Journal! Everything else in the issue will pale beside it! You know our current editorial need is mediocrity!”

2) “It isn’t appropriate for our age group” really means;

“If we allow children to taste the rich flavor of literature in this story, ‘Buggy the Squirrel, and His Favorite Nut’ they won’t be satisfied with Kid’s Funnanza Magazine anymore, they’ll want to go straight to Shakespeare!”

3) “Nearly all our stories of this type are staff written” translates as:
“This article ‘Everything A Bride Needs To Know’ is so comprehensive, with its how-to-guides for doing your own flowers, food, dresses, and cake, nothing more can be added to the subject… Publishing this would mean the end of Brides Forever.”

4) Don’t feel too bad to receive “Does not meet our standards”, because, well…
“Why should we make room for ‘Shades of Existential Meaning in the Works of Ingmar Bergman’ in Movie Times? We would have to cut either ‘Adam Sandler: Is the Comic Genius a Hunk, Too?’ or ‘Why I Really Like Gigli’. Who is this Bergman chick anyway? Is she a hottie?”

5) If I were you I wouldn’t even be bothered by “Not sufficiently edited; too many grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors”, because there is probably more to the story:

“Dude! Like how does this person know the code? She used ‘effect’ for ‘affect’, spelled ‘difficulty’ with an ‘a’, and check out all the dangling participles! This person must know that High and Seek Magazine is a front to send messages to the contacts in our smuggling operation! I’m telling you this person is probably a minion of John Ashcroft! Try to blow her off with a rejection letter!”

So before you lash out again at your postal carrier, remember: the rejection letters aren’t about you. Find a way to tell yourself that and keep writing.

(Dean Anderson is still baffled by the rejection letters he receives from The New Yorker, Punch, and Ferret Monthly. He has received letters of another kind from Breakaway, Brio and Beyond, and Games Magazine. He can be reached at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Article from Absolute Write

The links to the articles published at Absolute Write no longer function, so I'll post them here. This was the first humor item they posted, many years ago:

Writer's Guidelines
By Dean Anderson

As you scan this website, you may be thinking, “What is life like for the writers of Absolute Write? What isn’t Jenna telling us about her day-to-day life? Is it a life of wealth and privilege, celebrity-filled parties and romantic conquests?”
If that’s what you think, you are dead-on correct. Further, you may be thinking, “I never could myself aspire to be a writer for Absolute Write.” And if you think that, you’re still batting a thousand. Writers of Absolute Write were born with prodigious talent and attended prestigious writing schools.
If, however, you think you are forever excluded from the entire glamorous world of writing, then you have lost your bid to join the Psychic Network. You can be a writer, if you can find a publication desperate enough.
All you need is access to some writer's guidelines. Then you, too, can know the glories of publication. Read the following excerpts, which are just samples from a new e-book, "You Can Be Published! A Guide to Literary Bottom-feeders."

Candyland Afficionado - We appreciate your interest in the official publication of the United Candyland Association. We purchase from freelancers on a wide variety of subjects, including game strategies, players of the game (past and future), equipment (such as the recent article entitled, “Bringing Your Own Cards - Kosher?"), profiles, recipes using game candies (“Lord Licorice Lasagna”), etc. Articles range from 100 to 200 short words ($.01 for every fifth word). Enclose SASE. Send to Candyland Aff., 302 Candy Forest Lane, New York, NY. Please note: we will not use or return any Elf-related material.

The Eskimo Catholic Arizonan - The ECA newspaper serves the Roman Catholic Eskimo community of Southern Arizona. In general, we are looking for Catholic Eskimo material with a tie-in to Southern Arizona. Don’t be afraid to submit material that is fun, yet somber. Enclose SASE. Send to ECA, Nanook
Neighborhoods, Deadwood, AZ

Electronic Can Opener Repair Journal - Most of our features are assigned to professional writers, but we are always looking for filler material: poems, anecdotes, jokes and riddles related to can openers (electric or manual) or electronic can opener repair. Enclose SASE. Address: ECORJ, 555 Finder Way, Junesburg, AL

The Hudson Brothers Fanzine - We all love and remember that musical sensation of the '70s, the Hudson Brothers and their tremendous but all too short-lived television show, but only one publication continues to honor their career on a bi-monthly basis. Please send a query letter describing your proposed article. Past articles have covered such topics as: “Wasn’t the Hudson Brothers’ Show the Greatest TV Show Ever?,” “Ritz Brothers or Hudson Brothers? A Critical Appraisal,” and “Is That Kate Hudson an Ungrateful Little Tramp or What?” and the like. Note: though we share the same address as New Kids on the Block Quarterly and The Archies Newsletter, submissions to those publications must be sent separately. Include SASE. Address: HBF, 111 Vine, Hollywood, CA

Potatoe Bug - The Magizine for Underacheivers - PB publishes material by incomptent writers of fiction and poetry as an encoragement to young person who stink at scool, so they won’t feel bad about spelling everything not wright and good grammer like the people who know that stuff are so special cause they know how to use “whom”. You can show that second-grade techer who thought lurning spelling was so all-fired important that you got held back and kids made fun of you that you are now in a national magizine which you can try to sell and make a few bucks. (I guess we need a SASE, whatever the heck that is.) Address: PB, 433 Dead End, Little Rock, AR

SASE Quarterly - Every publisher wants you to include a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope, but are you sending the right SASE? This is the only publication for writers utterly devoted to an anal-obsessive compulsion to choose an envelope with the size and shade and even the scent that will give a manuscript an edge with prospective publishers. Certainly send your submission with a SASE. Proper postage vital. Address: SASE, P.O. Box 7, Rayjevik, Iceland

So start writing and submitting. This could be the beginning of reaching your name-in-print dreams.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review of “Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir” by Susan Isaacs

When I was a junior in High School, my drama teacher wanted to put on Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”. The play would have been quite a stretch for us. The show can be a stretch for anyone, Miller was said to have not been pleased with the original Broadway production (though it was the Tony for Best Drama.) It’s a moving show. I remember reading retelling of the Salem witch trials in the bath tub and crying at about the tortured fate of John Proctor. But just as Miller had intended the play to be an allegory about McCarthyism, my teacher intended the play to be a statement about the Briggs Initiative, a piece of legislation that sought to keep homosexuals from teaching in the public schools. It bothered me that a school production was being used for political ends. I was uncomfortable with what the play itself was saying about the church and Christianity. So I decided I just couldn’t do it. I went to talk to my drama teacher and tell him I wouldn’t be trying out. He reminded me that there weren’t many guys available and that if I didn’t audition, the show might not go on. He also indicated he was thinking of using me in the lead role, as John Proctor. But I said no, and he didn’t do the show................ If I had it to do all over again….hmmmm. John Proctor is a great role, and given the opportunity, I would probably leap at doing it now (though I’m probably too old.) The play is critical of the church, but much of the criticism is valid. And if the Briggs Initiative was on the ballot now, I’d vote against it. But at the time…. I did what I thought God would have me do. My faith and understanding may have been limited, but I did what I believed right at the time. And you learn to live with your choices................... A long time talking about me to bring up a moment in Isaacs’ memoir; she was offered a role in Barry Sonnenfeld’s film version of “The Addams Family”. But she refused the role because she was afraid that the film would be too dark and perhaps mock the Christian faith. This decision ended a key relationship she had with a casting director and had a devastating impact on her career. She made a decision for God, and as she saw it, God didn’t bless her for it. So she was mad................... In fact, when Isaacs reached her forties, she looked at her life; her career (such as it was), her romantic life (which was not) and her sense of fulfillment (not full) and decided that God had some explaining to do. In the book, Isaacs looks back through her whole life and asks God to explain to her why she hasn’t been given the deal she thinks she deserves. I suppose she could have laid out this book in the form of lawyers arguing in a court case. She could have put it in the form of doctors seeking the diagnosis of a difficult case. I suppose as a screenwriter and actor, she could have examined her life in the form of a difficult script with structure difficulties........................... But she takes a different approach. The book is written in the form of a couple seeking marital consulting. Isaacs writes about herself as a wife who just isn’t getting what she thinks she should be getting out of her marriage…to God. Being past middle age (unless I break the century mark), I certainly related to much of Isaacs’ dissatisfaction with life. Many of us get to a point in our life when we realize that many of our dreams of youth haven’t been fulfilled and are unlikely to be fulfilled. We look back at choices made, at what could have been and think, “Was it my fault? Or was it your fault God?”.............................. I know many (Most? All?) of my complaints about life are petty, especially when compared with your average persecuted citizen of the African subcontinent (a comparison the author often returns to.) But they are my problems and I can’t help aching from them, feeling them. First world problems is the phrase (“White girl’s problems” Isaacs writes), but that doesn’t mean they are real to first worlders (and white girls.) Sure, Job had it worse. But since I’m not Job, does that mean God won’t hear my complaints?.............................. Isaacs is sarcastic when talking to God. Sometimes, God talks back sarcastically. Isaacs argues that sometimes sarcasm is a valid method of communication. Isaacs book is more than just valid. It is vivid, rich and real. One of the best books I’ve read this year.

Friday, October 12, 2012

“THE BRADY BUNCH IN THE NEW YORK MYSTERY” by Jack Matcha Chapter 10 (the final chapter)

1) PLOT SYNOPSIS: Mike gets a call from the police to let them know that they used Peter’s photos to track the crooks and they were arrested “red-handed” while trying to rob the Los Angeles bank with Mike’s bank plans in their possession. The entire family is featured in a story in the New York Daily News and Peter’s photos are featured. The New York police throw a luncheon in honor of the Bradys. The Bradys return to LA, where they are greeted by the President of the bank with gifts for the Brady children. Mike also wants to honor the kids from saving him from professional embarrassment, so he takes them to “the best restaurant” in L.A. and Disneyland….. 2) CHARCTER DEVELOPMENT: The Brady kids are described as “not being able to keep up with events” when the event consist of the police lunch, a tour of police headquarters and then a movie at Radio City Music Hall. Peter earns the nickname, “Scoop”. The crooks were thrown off guard by Peter’s amazing photographic skills. (One crook mentions that his “nephew couldn’t take pictures of the side of a barn.”)….. 3) RELEVANT CULTUAL ISSUES: Sexism – Peter is interviewed by a “girl reporter”, Geography – a policeman reminds Mike that L. A. is “an enormous city”, Technology – a policeman informs Mike that the pictures were sent by wire which is “much faster than mail”…….. 4) HIP SLANG: “Surprise” – this word must have an utterly different meaning in this book than I’m used to as seen in this passage about Darlene’s plans to visit the Bradys on her Christmas vacation: Darlene to Greg– “I’ll make sure we come to California. I hope that will be a pleasant holiday surprise for you. Will it be?” Greg to Darlene – “Boy will it! I can’t wait! That will be the surprise of the year!”…….. 5) CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL REFERENCES: “Magnificent Six” is what the police call the Brady kids, apparently referring to Western film. The Brady go to Radio City Music Hall and see “a funny movie and the high kicking Rockettes”………. 6) FAVORITE SENTENCE: “When the policemen in L.A. caught these guys red-handed, the ringleader turned disgustedly to the others and said, ‘If I ever get a camera in my hands I’m going to bust every one of your stupid skulls with it.’”…….. AND SO CONCLUDES THE BRADYS EXCITING ADVENTURE! I’D LIKE TO THANK THE GOOD, PERHAPS NOW DECEASED, PEOPLE AT TIGER BEAT PRESS FOR MAKING THIS LITERARY SENSATION POSSIBLE!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


1) PLOT SYNOPSIS: The police call Mike in the morning and inform him that the men in Peter’s photos are all known felons. Mike still can’t understand what they may be after. Then Mike gets a call from his office asking him to speed up work on the bank plans. (He brought the old bank plans to help him with his ‘modernize’ plans.) Mike and Kent decide to skip the convention for the day and work on the plans. The kids decide spend the day at a nearby beach. All plan to go to Manhattan the next day. On the way to the city, Mike plans to mail his bank plans. But after putting the plans in the car, the bad guys come and still the plans. The kids throw rocks at the bad guys cars as they depart. Mike tries to phone the bank officers to warn them of an imminent robbery…….. 2) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: All of the kids tease Greg and Darlene about being “lovebirds” in the presence of their parents who do nothing to stop the mocking. Alice is described as having “brisk good humor and a defiant manner”. Mike being unable to figure out the crooks are after the bank plans hits new levels of dimness. ……. 3) RELEVANT CULTURAL ISSUES: Fashion – Darlene wears a “knock-out swimsuit” and Greg feels good because she draws the attention of other boys. Technology – When Mike has trouble getting a hold of the bank officers in California on the phone, Marcia comes up with the idea of sending telegrams, which Mike thinks is brilliant…….. 4) HIP SLANG: “Chums” and “Pronto” (a police officer), “Cripes!” (Peter) and “turns me on” (Mike – as in “Whenever the kids are excited about an outing, it turns me on.”…….. 5) CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL ISSUES: The Mets (the boys want to go to a game) and Radio City Music Hall (Greg wants to go with Darlene to see a “theater show”)…….. 6) FAVORITE SENTENCES: “The girls similarly expressed their pleasure at the idea of going shopping and then maybe stopping at one of New York’s most beautiful theaters with its own stage show.” And, “The Bradys saw Kent Peterson’s face become very sad for a moment as he thought of his dead wife, and at the same time Greg saw a tear appear in Darlene’s eye.” (Just one eye, though, don’t want to go emotionally overboard.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


When I was twelve I saw a film advertised on TV called “Arnold”. It was a horror comedy with Roddy McDowell from the Planet of the Apes films and “The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin”. A mystery in an old dark house with the reading of the will, coffins and trap doors in the walls… it looked awesome.................... But I needed a ride to the theater and my parents weren’t willing and the film didn’t stay long. I looked in the newspaper movie ads for the film’s return, maybe as the second feature at the drive-in. No luck. I looked for the movie to show up on TV, perhaps on the Dialing for Dollars Movie some afternoon or the late, late show. But no. Even worse, every Saturday night on Creature Features, the show’s opening promo had clips from “Arnold”, but never showed the film. Looking up the film right now on Amazon, it appears not to have been released on DVD, but a copy of the VHS is going for $42........................ Now understand, I no longer have a great desire to see “Arnold”. Its obscurity is undoubtedly well earned. But I’m just pointing out how much our world has changed over the last few decades............................... A few months ago, a film came out that I was interested in, “For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada”, but I didn’t have a chance to catch it in its short run at the theater. But it soon was released in DVD, and I was able to request it at the Sonoma County Library and I watched it this week. In this way, life is so much easier than when I was twelve............................ I can understand why the film had a short run at the theater. It is the directorial debut of Dean Wright (who did 2nd unit work on the “Lord of the Rings” and “Narnia” films.) At nearly 2 ½ hours, the historical epic loses its narrative way on occasion and drags at times. Some of the performances are pretty good (by Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria), and some (particularly by children and an ancient looking Peter O’Toole) not so much. It is at turns maudlin and at others brutally violent..................... But I was still glad to see it because it tells a fascinating historical story that I was unaware of before the film’s meager promotional campaign began. In 1926, the Marxist President of Mexico Plutarco Elías Calles decided to enforce the anti-clerical ordinances in Mexico’s new constitution (such as prohibiting priests wearing clerical garb in public and prohibiting preaching negatively about the government.) When the Catholic Church disobeyed these restrictions, the government reacted by banning Mass and arresting and killing priests................................ This brought about a guerrilla war against the government that lasted for three years. Eventually, the Church in Rome and the United States government intervened, and a truce was reached. But though rights were returned to the church, most of the leaders of the Cristiada movement were arrested and executed............................ One of the reasons I think this film, in spite of its weaknesses, is still worth seeking out is because the issue of religious liberty is still a pressing concern. In many nations, particularly Muslim and Communist regimes, Christians are being arrested and killed for their beliefs and practices. In the film, the United States government finally intervenes on behalf of the Catholic Church in Mexico because of pressure from Catholics in the United States. (The most outspoken group for the issue was the Knights of Columbus. The KKK, on the other hand, supported the persecution by Mexico’s socialist government.)................................ As believers, we need to support our persecuted brothers and sisters in prayer, but also by reminding our government leaders to support the basic freedom of worship. And we need to be aware of our own government’s encroachment on religious liberties because in many ways, it is our freedom that provides religious liberty throughout the world.................................... (“For Greater Glory” is rated R, primarily for violence, “Arnold” is rated PG for something or other, I haven’t seen it.)


1) PLOT SYNOPSIS – Peter and Jan are unable to get off the subway until the Central Park stop. They wait fifteen minutes and when no one shows, Peter gets the bright idea of looking for a police officer in Central Park. It’s getting dark and Peter and Jan wander further in the park and then accidently split up. As they look for each other, they get more lost. Then they see two men and run from them. Peter throws his camera at one of the men. The men catch Jan and Peter and they turn out to be cops. After much telephoning and snacks, the cops get a hold of Mike at Kent’s house. The police say they will develop Peter’s film to see if the men in the photos are wanted…… 2) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – Peter and Jan wandering aimlessly in the darkening Central Park shows unexpected levels of cluelessness. …… 3) RELEVANT CULTURAL ISSUES – Technology – Mike is surprised that the cops might be able to find out information about the men in Peter’s photos from the west coast overnight. One of the police officers explains, “Listen, everything is done by electronics today.”……. 4) HIP SLANG – “Bimbos” (Police officer referring to crooks), “You’re darn tootin’” (police officer)…… 5) CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL REFERENCES - Daniel Boone (Peter) and “one of those dectectives in a good movie” (Peter)…… 6) FAVORITE SENTENCE – “After several more minutes of wandering aimlessly, they began to get a little worried.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


1) PLOT SYNOPSIS: Darlene and the Bradys again find themselves followed by two strange men, this time following their minibus in a car with a phone. Greg tries to lose them by persuading Darlene to park and they board the subway to the Battery. There they take the boat to Staten Island, but the two men are on the boat. Greg approaches the men and asks why they’re being followed but the men refuse to answer. The Bradys climb the Statue of Liberty. On their return on the subway, Jan loses her glasses and as Peter helps her search, the two are left behind as the crowd pushes the others off at their stop. Peter and Jan are crushed on the train and are unable to disembark at successive stops……. 2) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Marcia is impressed by Greg’s bravery in confronting the two men. All of the Bradys are awed by “the great lady” of Staten Island. Jan is quite like the Scooby Gang’s Thelma as she searches on hands and knees for her glasses……. 3) RELEVANT CULTURAL ISSUES: Cultural sensitivity. A Chinese man on the subway is quoted saying, “Please lady to make room. Cannot enter if you block door that way.”…… 4) HIP SLANG: “Son of a gun” (Alice), “darn” (Alice), “for Pete’s sake” (Peter) and “crazy” (Greg)…… 5) CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL REFERENCES: Bobby thinks the subway ride is better “than the fastest merry-go-round, no kidding.”….. 6) FAVORITE SENTENCES: “Every time I see a subway scene in a movie, some poor son of a gun is hanging on a strap and shaking like a leaf while the train hurtles through that darn tunnel.” “Seen up close, she looked like some enormous building in the form of a woman or a lady in the form and shape of a mountain.”

Saturday, October 6, 2012


1) PLOT SYNOPSIS: Kent offers to drive his daughter, Alice and all the Bradys in his “mini-bus” into the city. Mike and Kent go to the architect’s convention. Darlene (with her learner’s permit) takes over driving duties for sightseeing. They go to the Empire State Building, the UN, shopping, an automat, Central Park and the zoo. (Greg and Marcia want to go to “the museum”, but which museum is never specified and they decide to go another day.) At the zoo, two different men than were following them before, follows the Bradys. They leave angrily when Peter takes their picture..... 2) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Greg wonders if he’s falling in love with Darlene. Kent was depressed after the death of his wife, but Darlene says he perked up once he heard his old college friend Mike was coming out with his family. Alice flirts with a sailor at the zoo..... 3) RELEVANT CULTURAL ISSUES: The United Nations – the Bradys are impressed by the diversity when a “pretty Chinese girl” give them a tour and then they see a “tall, dark African delicate” in decorative robes and an Indian woman in a sari. Driving – Greg and Darlene debate about whether drivers are worse in New York or California (Greg insists that if you can drive in California, you can drive anywhere, “even on the moon”.)..... 4) HIP SLANG: “Go ape” (Peter), “dug this girl” (Carol), “digs me” (Greg), “goner” (Alice), “eat her up” (Alice)..... 5) CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL REFERENCE: Saks 5th Ave. and Bergdorf Goodman (where Marcia insists on shopping), songs – “East Side, West Side” and “New York, New York, a heck of a town” (both songs are sung in chorus by everyone in the minibus except Mike and Kent..... 6) FAVORITE SENTENCES: “Everyone joined in on that one because its infectious tune swept them all up in its catchy mood.” “She could recognize the tell-tale signs of emotional interest on Greg’s part.”

Friday, October 5, 2012


1) PLOT SYNOPSIS: The rest of the Brady’s flight includes dinner and a movie (unnamed) but no further exciting incidents. They lose track of the two mystery men at the Kennedy airport. Mike’s college friend Kent and his daughter, Darlene, meet the Brady’s at the airport and give them a ride to their house in Long Island. Mrs. Crump, the housekeeper feeds the Bradys but raises a stink when Alice tries to enter her kitchen. Marcia and Greg spot the two mystery men outside the house in Long Island……. 2) CHARATER DEVELOPMENT: Greg finds Darlene to be the loveliest girl he has ever seen. Cindy likes peanut butter on her tuna sandwiches. Darlene has a “smooth liquid voice”……. 3) RELEVANT CULTURAL ISSUES: Safety Belt laws – apparently eleven people could ride in one station wagon, and I very much doubt each person had a belt. Women’s Lib: Greg is surprised when Darlene “oh-ed” and “ah-ed” as he discussed “his surfing activities” and “the engine of an old car” he was working on because she was more interested than “girls…are about such a masculine subject.”……. 4) HIP SLANG: “Good Grief” (Bobby) “Her bark is worse than her bite” (Kent. To which Cindy responds, “You’ve got a housekeeper who bites?”)…….. 5) CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL REFERENCES: Architectural similarities – Marcia is surprised to find how similar New York suburbs are to Southern California, “It’s not what I expected New York to be…I mean with houses and lawns and everything.”…….. 6) FAVORITE SENTENCE: “Greg took Darlene’s hand and held it for a moment, savoring its smooth softness while he looked into her dark brown eyes.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012


1) PLOT SYNOPSIS – Jan tells Greg she the two men she saw in front of the house on the plane. Greg tells his dad. He dad says there is nothing they can do. Greg tells Peter to take a picture of the men. He does. One of the men drops a brief case on Peter’s camera. The camera cracks, but Peter doesn’t know if the film is spoiled. Greg worries the men know they are on to them….. 2) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT - When Greg talks to his dad, his mom assumes he is getting advise on picking up girls. Jan worries when the plane initially heads west over the ocean rather than east toward NYC that they are being hijacked. ….. 3) RELEVANT CULTURAL ISSUES – Airline hijacking – a great concern of the time, usually taking planes to Cuba. (When Jan postulates the plane is being hijacked, Greg astutely comments with a frown, “I hope not. A lot of people could get hurt.”)….. 4) HIP SLANG – “From the frying pan into the fire” and “Cooking your own goose” (Two consecutive thoughts from the cliché minded Greg)…… 5) CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL REFERENCES – 707s……. 6) FAVORITE SENTENCE – “Peter felt pretty good as he left the lavatory, but his confidence faded quickly when he saw the obstacle that lay in his path.”….. DID I MENTION THIS NOVEL IS FROM “TIGER BEAT PRESENTS" ?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"The Brady Bunch in The New York Mystery" by Jack Matcha - Chapter 3

1) PLOT SYNOPSIS –The Brady’s inform the police that they can find nothing missing in the house, though it was clearly invaded. At Greg’s urging, Jan tells the police about the suspicious men she saw in the days before. The police assure the Bradys the burglars were probably looking for cash Mr. Brady had withdrawn from the bank for the trip; but Mike’s travelers checks were undisturbed. Alice serves a hardy breakfast of eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage and orange juice. On the way to the airport, Mike picks up the plans to the bank at his office. Jan thinks she spots one of the men who was in front of the house at the airport, then sees two of the men on the plane……. 2) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – Peter is supposedly obsessed with photography, but Greg needs to remind him to bring the camera on the trip. Alice worries about losing her touch if she goes an entire week without cooking. ….. 3) RELEVANT CULTURAL ISSUES – Women’s Lib: Greg says about Jan, “I thought she was just being nosey – you know, like a woman” Ageism – At the time of this novel, there was a popular phrase, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” Obviously, the Brady kids buy into this to some degree. Jan says of the suspicious man, “He did look pretty old, thirty, maybe.” And Bobby says he’s not a kid, he’s 11……. 4) HIP SLANG – “Say Cheese” (Peter, taking a picture of the family. But Alice insists she doesn’t like cheese and should say “Baloney”.)…….. 5) CONTEMPORAY CULTURAL REFERENCES – Saving film to take pictures of the Empire State Building. (No talk of Twin Towers.)…… 6) FAVORITE PASSAGE: “Who me?” Afraid of airplanes?” Alice made a face. Of course not. Except I do know that if Mother Nature had wanted us to fly-“ “She’d have given us airline tickets” Cindy and Bobby chorused, laughing. ....................Shocked to find that Goodreads doesn't have this fine book listed. Sure, they have Jack Matcha's "The Brady Bunch in The Adventure on the High Seas", but not this book.