Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Sex

On this, the last day of 2008, we look back on a just a few highlights.

NUMBER ONE MARKETING GIMMICK has to be the above headline, which The Famous Author and I came up with late one night over Wild Turkey and one of those orange packs of Pall Malls. We used it to describe a totally irrelevant column for the Big Money World Tour series and soared to the top of Publishers Marketplace page-hit leaders and stayed all week. TFA and I are betting it works again. It HAS to draw more hits than something like 2008 Highlights.

NUMBER ONE WRITING EXPERIENCE was easily my January trip to St. Petersburg, FL. I studied during the day with Dennis Lehane, then discussed manuscripts at night with Future Stars of the writing world. Click on the headline NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SEX to see the first of that series and the Best Smile of 2008 on Melissa. Here's a taste of what I blogged back in January.

I told The Famous Author we were all sick of hearing about Dennis what's-his-name.

What about those writers he retreated with on the beach in St. Petersburg while the college literary workshop was going on? Lorin, Kim, Brenda, Melissa, Jason? Wasn't TFA bragging like heck about them on the flight home, telling the young stewardess that his just-concluded, sandy swaree' included many future publishing stars; that one day, like Paris in the 1920s, St. Pete Beach would be famous for this single, amazing gathering of writing talent.

"That's actually when they cut off my liquor," TFA said last night. "But that has no reflections on my expectations for this group."


NUMBER ONE NEW REDHEAD was a tough choice, but I'm going with Isla Fisher. Here's what I said earlier this year:

"For starters, Isla starred with Vince Vaughn in the hit movie Wedding Crashers, and you know Vince is TFA's Number One pick for the movie version of any Austin Carr adventure. And then, these interesting stats: Born in 1976. The lady's been around a while, has some experience. Also, she appeared in Australian TV commercials at age nine, so you know she's a looker, on camera and off. But here's the clincher. I mean, where has she been hiding? Isla Fisher has published two best-selling Australian novels, SEDUCED BY FAME and BEWITCHED.

The woman is a writer, too.

Some redheads can be too much of a challenge.

Thanks for the tip, Jason"


Oddly enough, we hear Jason, one of the Future Stars who gathered in St. Pete, is suddenly spending a lot of time in Australia. With a redhead. Could it be?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Redheads, The Science

Approximately 1% to 2% of the human population has red hair, the condition occuring more frequently (between 2% and 6% of the population) in northern and western Europeans, and their descendants. Red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 4 which causes a change in the MC1R protein. It is associated with fair skin color, freckles, and sensitivity to ultraviolet light.

Several accounts by Greek writers detail redheaded people. A fragment by the Greek poet Xenophanes describes the Thracians as blue-eyed and red haired. The Greek historian Herodotus described the "Budini", probably Udmurts and Permyak Finns located on the Volga in what is modern-day Russia, as being predominantly redheaded. The Greek historian Dio Cassius described Boudica, the famous Celtic Queen of the Iceni, to: "be tall and terrifying in appearance ... a great mass of red hair ... over her shoulders."

The Roman Tacitus commented on the "red hair and large limbs of the inhabitants of Caledonia (Scotland)," which he linked with some red haired Gaulish tribes of Germanic and Belgic relation. Red hair has also been found in Asia, notably among the Tocharians who occupied the northwesternmost province of what is modern-day China. The 2nd millennium BC caucasian Tarim mummies in China were found with red and blonde hair and most likely were of European origin.

Today, red hair is most commonly found at the western fringes of Europe; it is associated particularly with the people of the British Isles. Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads, as 13 percent of the population has red hair and approximately 40 percent carries the recessive redhead gene. Ireland has the second highest percentage; as many as 10 percent of the Irish population have red, auburn, or strawberry blond hair. It is thought that up to 46 percent of the Irish population carries the recessive redhead gene.

In the United States, anywhere from two to six percent of the population is estimated to have red hair. This would give the U.S. the largest population of redheads in the world, at 6 to 18 million, compared to approximately 650,000 in Scotland and 420,000 in Ireland.

The pigment pheomelanin gives red hair its distinctive colour. Red hair has far more pheomelanin than other hair colors, but far less of the dark pigment eumelanin. The pale skin associated with red hair may be of advantage in far-northern climates where sunlight is scarce. Studies by Bodmer and Cavalli-Sforza (1976) hypothesized that lighter skin pigmentation prevents rickets in colder latitudes by encouraging higher levels of Vitamin D production and also allows the individual to retain heat better than someone with darker skin.

Red hair and its relationship to UV sensitivity are of interest to many melanoma researchers. Sunshine can both be good and bad for a person's health and the different alleles on MC1R represent these adaptations. It also has been shown that individuals with pale skin are highly susceptible to a variety of skin cancers such as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Due to this sensitivity many people have advised redheads to wear sunscreen.

Thanks to Wikipedia

Friday, December 26, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 70 (The End)

When Beth, Ryan, and I finish eating, we walk three blocks to Carvel’s for ice cream. Though it’s fun to show and share with my children things I liked as a kid, my job as parent isn’t only to be protector and pal. Once every visit--six times a month--I exercise them like boarded horses and rein the discussion toward trails my children might not necessarily like to travel.

“So you two are studying hard in school, right?”

They both nod, Beth with somewhat less enthusiasm. Uh, oh. I used to slip in questions like this when I thought they least expected interrogation, a technique I learned watching Sipowitz. But ambush is hard these days. When I lost the element of surprise, I added the walking for ice cream.

“The grades are still good, right?” I ask. “Both of you?”

“I got all A’s and B’s for the year,” Ryan says.

Silence from my daughter.

“Beth?” I scrunch my eyebrows when she glances at me. Never underestimate disapproval as a training tool.

“Maybe I got a C or two this time,” she says.

Oh, boy. My ex-wife will have a hissy fit. Beth has been all A’s and B’s since kindergarten.

I lick my double-fudge chocolate on a sugar cone. “School’s very important,” I say. “Life is about choices. Good grades and more schooling gives you extra choices. Bad grades, no college, your career options are pretty much restaurants and hospitals. Waiting tables or changing bedpans is what our current population most craves. The Baby Boomers are eating out on their way to the nursing home.”

Ryan stares straight ahead. I may have gone too far with my explanations.

“We know the speech, Daddy,” Beth says. “We need a college education to earn the Big Money.”



After I drop Beth and Ryan at Susan’s new house, a four-bedroom ranch two blocks from the beach, I head back to Luis’s. I’m at the bar, being introduced to Luis’s girlfriend, Angelina Something, when Mr. Vick parades inside the restaurant like he’s one of the first astronauts coming home from the moon.

Talk about your favorite son. Takes him fifteen minutes just to hug and kiss his five sisters, Mr. Vick being passed from table to table like a bottle of ketchup. Shaking hands, slapping shoulders; laughing with the men between lip smacking the women.

With the Bonacellis, one virus gets you twenty cold sufferers.



An hour later we’re finally alone. Mr. Vick says, “So business is good despite the bad publicity?”

“Oh, yeah,” I say.

We’re drinking margaritas at the corner table beneath Luis’s wall-mounted television. The Yankees and Red Sox are playing in Boston. The whole U-shaped bar--a baseball bleacher section in disguise--cheers between us and the Bonacelli-Shore revelers. Much to the baseball fans’ chagrin, Luis let Mama Bones turn up the house music for dancing. The combined roar is deafening.

Mr. Vick’s coming at me slow. But he’s obviously heard what I’ve been up to. If I know Vick, he’s getting ready to jump me. Go ahead, pal. I’m ready.

“Business is real good,” I say. “Like the publicity was good for us, not bad. We lost five accounts the first day, but that was pretty much the end of it. We’ve opened one-hundred and fifty new accounts since.”

Mr. Vick nods. His eyebrows pinch. Here it comes.

“I hear Rags is trying to sell you his seventeen percent interest in Shore,” he says. “You know that’s supposed to be Carmela’s. What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Sold, actually. Escrow closed today.”

He frowns. “What?”

I stand up. “Come out back with me, Vick. I have something to show up.”

Mr. Vick just stares at me. “Carmela’s supposed to get those shares in the divorce agreement with Rags.”

I show Mr. Vick my most delicious, full-boat Carr grin.

“What divorce? Carmela’s decided she’s still in love with crazy Rags. She’s down in the Caribbean with him right now, sobering him up at Eric Clapton’s gold-plated rehab. Glad my money’s going to such a good cause.”

“You’re not getting away with this crap,” Vick says.

Wanna bet? I turn and hit the TV’s off switch, then lean over the bar and cut the music. The sudden absence of loud noise makes everyone in the restaurant stare my way. Or maybe it’s the fact I’m now standing on Luis’s bar.

“Everybody come on outside,” I say. “I have a special surprise for Vick and all the Bonacellis.”



Lots of murmuring, but nobody wants to comment on what’s tied down in the back of this giant truck I had parked in Luis’s lot. Nobody but Mr. Vick, that is.

“Is this a freaking joke?” he says.

“No. In addition to Rags’s shares, I also closed today on Walter’s seventeen percent interest in Shore.”

Mr. Vick’s face turns the color of fresh snow. “What? You bought Walter’s too?”

“As of noon today, I own fifty-one percent of Shore, Mr. Vick. You work for me now.”

Dazed, Mr. Vick glances again at the truck’s heavy load, a giant rectangular sign. The bright, red-lettered plastic will tomorrow take its place above Branchtown’s busiest street. I think it might take Vick a long time to get used to our company’s new name.

Carr Securities, Inc.

The End

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Two X-Rays, One Christmas

The Famous Author and I were hard at work on our fiction this morning when the phone rang. It was 8:45. The call came from his daughter. Even from inside TFA's computer case, I heard fear in her voice.

"Dad?" Jane said. "We all fell down on the ice. Mom says her wrist is broken. She wants you to come home."

TFA collected a little more information, enough to think he didn't need to call 9-1-1, then grabbed his jacket and his computer case and drove home. We arrived in less than ten minutes. Seems Jane had fallen on the steps, holding her baby, hollered loud enough to bring her mother running -- right into space.

Jane had a bruised knee. TFA's granddaughter had been locked inside her car seat, so other than a rude bounce, Wiley Kyleigh was fine. But Barb, TFA's wife, was still on the ground in her PJs, her face a mask of pain and surprise. TFA could see that Barb was in mild shock. TFA got a coat on her. Leveraged her off the ice and into the warm car.

Ten minutes later, we all walked into the local emergency room. Every chair was filled. Standing room only. The admitting nurse took Barb's information with a long, tired face. It was barely 9 a.m. "We're busy," she said.

No kidding. Over the next four hours, TFA personally talked to six men and women with broken wrists, four patients with broken ankles, and a father who's son was headed for surgery. Two broken bones in the same leg. All from slipping on ice.

A doctor told us 43 people were admitted between 7:30 and 9:30 this morning, each one of them a victim of ice. Half of them arrived between 8 and 8:10, another nurse told us.

So Barb's good now. In a big splint with two broken wrist bones, but the docs set the tricky one very well. They showed us on a screen the before and after X-rays. Very hi-tech. She can avoid surgery if the bone doesn't move.

Now TFA says I have to help him cook Christmas Eve dinner for nine.

Have a happy holiday everybody. Be grateful for another day above the ground.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Murphy G, a chocolate Labrador Retriever soon to be ten years old, reminds me a lot of The Famous Author. A fine hound in most respects, the old boy has always been lazy, and, as all his friends and family know, smells like garbage.

Murphball, as he's called, stunk like Hell on the day of his arrival. TFA figured the dog was only ten weeks old, probably got urinated on a lot in the litter, and the breeders hadn't bothered cleaning everyone up. But after three baths that first day, nothing changed. TFA hoped maybe Murphy's hair had to grow out, or something.

Never happened. And then came this odd, cheesy mist around him. A condition soon traced to his ears.

"You have to keep his ears clean," the vet said. "Wash them first with this stuff, then dry them off and scrape out what wax you can with a paper towel. Then you put this ointment on."

"What's the matter with him?" TFA said.

"Nothing, really. It's a condition many chocolate Labs have. Think of them as a very pale redhead. Their skin is extremely sensitive to the environment. Irritation, redness, infection are pretty much chronic."

"The smell too?"

"Oh yeah."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Think Joe Pike is a Mean Sidekick?

The Famous Author and I got back from Mexico this past weekend, our annual reading trip to Puerto Vallarta. TFA brings the whip, I work with the local talent, and we all lie on the beach reading new writers until dusk, then grab a taxi into town to eat gourmet international cuisine. In fact, I'm a little hazy because of the tequila consumption, but I think I might have already blogged on how we discovered Michael Connolly. (Yeah, we're always late. A bunch of natural contrarians.)

Anyway, we got back with more than Mr. Mike and a good tan: Turns out Harlan Coben, that internationally famous, bestseller of suspense, crime, and thrillers, is another teller of fun tales. And unlike Mr. Mike, whose Harry Bosch series character hasn't won us over yet, Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar made me laugh, wince, and drop my jaw. His sidekick Win is a real killer.

Oh, boy. New characters to hang out with...

in DROP SHOT, the second in Coben's series, Valerie Simpson is a young female tennis star with a troubled past who wants Myron as her agent. Myron, who's also got the hottest young male tennis star, Duane Richwood, primed to take his first grand slam tournament, couldn't be happier. That is, until Valerie is murdered in broad daylight at the U.S. Open, and Myron's number one client becomes the number one suspect.

Myron pries open the past where six years before, Valerie's fiancee, the son of a senator, was brutally murdered by a juvenile delinquent and a straight-A student who was subsequently gunned down, his death and murder investigation squandered in bureaucratic files. And everyone from the Senator to the mob want Myron to stop digging.

The truth beneath the truth is not only dangerous, it's deadly. And Myron may be the next victim.

Publishers Weekly says, "Quirky, sarcastic sports agent Myron Bolitar makes his second appearance (after Deal Breaker), pursuing the killer of a 24-year-old has-been tennis star on the verge of making her comeback...Dry humor and a self-deprecating attitude make Myron an appealing hero, and minor characters are delineated with attitude and verve."

We liked Myron plenty. A former college basketball star, and trained in certain martial arts, Myron's tough, and his mouth is as quick as his hands. He could use a little of my help in handling females, but he does well enough. And Myron's sidekick -- a stockbroker named Windsor, Win for short -- was worth the price of a hardback.

Win is a stockbroker is the loosest of terms; that is, he sells so many stocks, bonds, and insurance policies, and has so many other brokers working for him, Win is a major force in society and on Wall Street. Somehow he finds the time to help Myron solve the murders and survive an onslaught of intended violence.

Win actually enjoys killing bad guys. Enjoys it to the point of being a psycho, really. He trains for it. My favorite scene in DROP SHOT was the confrontation between Win and three nasty men about to rape Myron's girlfriend. I won't spoil it. If you can't BUY the book, go read this scene in the library or something. Awesome.

Win rivals Robert Crais's Joe Pike in the talent for killing. In attitude, Win's a little closer to Charles Manson.

Click on the headline about Joe Pike to see Harlan's website and a scary trailer.

Friday, December 19, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 69

One Month Later...

“Are we going for Mexican again?”

Ryan’s six-word query comes across like one long whine. Gee. I know my son doesn’t like hot sauce and food overly spiced, but I thought my budding all-star shortstop enjoyed Umberto’s relatively mild chicken chimichangas. He never said he didn’t.

“It is my Wednesday night to pick the restaurant,” I say.

Beth shakes her head. She’s glaring out the passenger window of my Camry. “And that means Luis’s. You haven’t picked another place for us to eat on Wednesday in like, what? Three years?”

“What about that night we went to Zorro’s for a masked cheeseburger?”

Beth says, “Masked cat’s more like it. And the only reason we went there is because Luis’s was closed after the fire.”

I brake the Camry at a red light on Broad Street. A mile-long white stretch limo pulls up to the light beside us, diverting my mind from repartee’ with Beth. Why do these limos always have blackout windows? Like if we actually saw Bruce or Mr. Jovi, we might jump straight out of our cars and attack them?

Green light. I push down on the gas pedal. Thanks to the ex-wife’s change of heart, I have Beth and Ryan again on Wednesday nights, plus every other weekend. When I showed Susan’s attorney how well Shore was doing, what my new ownership percentage was, the man became very interested. When I showed him how I named Susan custodian of the kids’ new college mutual fund accounts, well, he became almost friendly.

So did Susan, actually. Soft and gooey. She actually smiled at me tonight when I picked up the kids.

Go figure.

Being the one to “capture” Creeper probably helped my cause as well. Though I discouraged the idea, primarily because the perception was inaccurate, the media continually played up the sensational angle of a father using his Gift of Gab to trick a murderer, his daughter’s kidnapper, into surrendering. In truth, I probably would have made Creeper my driver, as promised, if some shell-collecting beach hiker hadn’t seen Creeper with Gina’s shotgun, called 911 right away on his Nokia.

Those Keansburg cops swarmed us like locusts, had Creeper in handcuffs before I could explain the special conditions of his new employment.

He must have had outstanding warrants.

We hit another red light. “Tell you what, kids,” I say. “As a special treat, in celebration of this modest family reunion, I’ll take the two of you back to the Locust Tree Inn for steak and lobster. Bluefish and the Creeper won’t be there, but maybe we’ll meet some other--”

“Nooooo,” Ryan and Beth say. Their combined voices vibrate the Camry’s windows.

I was only kidding. I’m hitting Luis’s tonight for reasons other than tequila and burritos.


“You silly,” Mama Bones says. “You see those-a two pretty girls at the end of the bar?”

“Yes.”

Luis’s Mexican Grill is filled with Bonacelli clan members tonight--Bonacellis, and the happy crew of Shore Securities. We’re having a party to celebrate Mr. Vick’s return from Tuscany.

“Luis loves the girl on right,” Mama Bones says. “One with dark hair and dark eyes. Her name is Angelina, too. Why you imagine Luis love my poor niece Gina? God rest her soul.”

I shrug. “Luis kissed Gina at the bar the night Bluefish was killed.”

She grins at me. “You jealous? Of Luis...or Gina? Ha ha ha.”

“Ha ha your own bad self.”

I give her the full-boat Carr grin. Don’t want Mama Bones turning me into a zombie.

Mr. Vick’s mother lets the twinkle in her eyes spread across her whole face. Wrinkle by wrinkle. “You such a goof ball, Austin. You lucky I not ten years younger.”

Ten? Hell, twenty wouldn’t give her a shot. “I’m sure you were something, Mama Bones.”

“You better believe.”

I nod and grin like one of those bobble head dolls. I have another question on my mind. “So, before I get back to my kids over there--”

“Where?”

I nod.

“Oh, you got very beautiful children.”

“Thanks. But were you the woman who called me from Clooneys that Saturday night, the person who set me up to see Franny give Gina that DVD?”

The smile on Mama Bones’s face freezes. “How you figure, smarty pants?”

I knew it. “Just a hunch.”

“Hunch, huh?” Mama Bones touches the wart on her chin. Wonder how she found it inside all those wrinkles. “Okay. Yeah, I call. I wanted you to see that state copper with my Gina, God rest her soul. That copper playing everybody on every side of-a fence.”

Mama Bones might have her villains mixed up. Blood can be thicker than truth. “But why show me? What was I going to do about it?”

“You needed to see that Franny was dirty, too, that she was helping Tony’s people get their paws on my son Vittorio’s business.”

I touch Mama Bone’s shoulder. “I’m awfully sorry about Gina, Mama Bones. She was a very special person.”

What I don’t say: I’ll never forget how Gina’s bare breasts looked swinging below the stock of that pump-action. How my heart and gut felt while I watched. In my mind, Ms. Shotgun lives forever.

Mama Bones lowers her gaze. Wonder if she’s up for a promotion now that her boss Bluefish is dead?

“I go back to my table now,” she says. “But my Vittorio be here very very soon. I know he is anxious to see you. But you come over to my table later, okay? I want you to meet my sister’s girl, Nicky.”

“Right after I talk to Vick, Mama Bones. I have some news for him.”

Next week, the final chapter of BIG MONEY.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Omniscient View

Is it just me and The Famous Author, or do others find this hard to understand -- very popular writers selling hundreds of thousands of books in an omniscient point of view? You're reading about three strangers in a room, talking or doing something, and you -- as the reader -- know what all three are thinking, where all three went to grammar school, and what each one wants from the meeting.

It is SO hard to read, at least for me and TFA. We get tossed out of the story EVERY time the writer does it. Judging by sales numbers, I'm guessing a lot of you readers out there don't give a hoot what POV a book is written in, or who's thinking what, as long as the story keeps moving.

I understand. I'm currently halfway through a Clive Cussler book that is very hard for me to read -- and yet, I keep going because there is so darn much action, so many twists, so many evil bad guys, I can't stop despite the difficulty. I press on, certain that my efforts will be rewarded with another thrill.

Since my first critique about thirty years ago, I have been told the omniscient POV is a no-no. A big rule not to break while crafting fiction. In fact, as part of the staff of Writers Retreat Workshop next spring, I will be telling new writers they should never, ever, ever use an omniscient POV. I will pick things from their manuscripts and say, "You can't say that. So and so, who is telling us the story, wouldn't know that."

And they will say to me. "But Clive Cussler does it."

It's a good argument, but it fails to take something major into account: Clive Cussler has been selling tons of books for decades. His fan base makes him a bestseller with every new release. New writers have to find an agent, and then sell their first book to a publisher, and then hope readers will embrace them. How much harder will these things be if your writing reads like someone who's never studied the craft?

Then again, craft might be overrated. I remember throwing BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY across the room after two pages. A cliche' in every sentence. It sold millions, got turned into a big movie, and made its author a celebrity. A celebrity who has since studied craft and now writes better books, incidentally.

Maybe it's all about THE STORY. Comments anyone? I'm confused.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mafia Fighters

As The Famous Author and I were on our way to late-afternoon financial conference in Rome last month, we bumped into a man coming out of an inconspicuous building near Piazza Nevona. He seemed nervous, and in fact pulled a holstered gun and pointed it at us.

"Whoa there, sinore," TFA said. "We're just touristas passing by."

"You look evil to me," the man said in Italian. "And believe me, I know evil when I see it. I'm the head of Italy's anti-mafia department."

TFA was speechless, so the retort was left to me. "Anti-mafia department? You mean you're a criminal investigator? You put those Mafia guys in jail?"

"We try," the man said. "But it's not easy."

TFA and I looked at each other.

"Most of our work involves keeping the Mafia from getting elected to the national assembly. They are very popular."

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Mystery Fan's Favorite

If you're a mystery/crime fiction fan, I don't have to tell you what happened to me in Mexico, my annual reading vacation (where I lie on the beach all day and read novels). I found a NEW author I like, and now I have about a dozen books to look forward to. The "new" author? Michael Connelly.

Because of Mr. C's reputation and bestseller status, we tried one of his books several years ago. Angels Flight, featuring LAPD detective Harry Bosch, left us underwhelmed. Too wordy, I thought. I kept getting bogged down in Bosch's complicated thoughts and feelings.

Lucky for me, I tried something else this week. THE LINCOLN LAWYER. And wow, what a great read. Here's the blurb off Barnes & Noble: "Mickey Haller has spent all his professional life afraid that he wouldn't recognize innocence if it stood right in front of him. But what he should have been on the watch for was evil. Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense pro who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, to defend the clients at the bottom of the legal food chain. It's no wonder that he is despised by cops, prosecutors, and even some of his own clients.

"From bikers to con artists to drunk drivers and drug dealers, they're all on Mickey Haller's client list. But when a Beverly Hills rich boy is arrested for brutally beating a woman, Haller has his first high-paying client in years. It's a franchise case and he's sure it will be a slam dunk in the courtroom. For once, he may be defending a client who is actually innocent.

"But an investigator is murdered for getting too close to the truth and Haller quickly discovers that his search for innocence has taken him face-to-face with a kind of evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, Haller must use all of his skills to manipulate a system in which he no longer believes."

In his acknowledgments, Mr. C tells of attending a Dodger baseball game and hearing tales from a lawyer he was sitting with. Out came a book, a fascinating look inside our legal system, a tense, conflict driven plot, and enough twists and turns to keep you glued to the pages well past midnight.

Both The Famous Author and I look forward to reading more of Mr. C's work. He's good. He deserves bestseller status.

Click on the headline A MYSTERY FAN'S FAVORITE to get Mr. C's official website.

Friday, December 12, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 68

The urge, of course, is to panic. I mean, this b.s. is not fooling Creeper. But -- and this is a big but, a real redline rule of sales -- to switch arguments now is guaranteed failure. Positive doom.

Think Niagara Falls in a tea cup.

See, with any client, you can never give up, never let them believe they know better than you. You have to maintain expert status or the whole relationship sinks. You just keep pushing benefits, asking for the order.

When he can, a big hitter like my ex-pal Walter Osgood will pick on some unique area of the client’s psyche, some hollow point where the customer is particularly soft and vulnerable.

What was that story Beth told me about her time with Creeper?

“Max,” I say. “Your boss is dead. So’s your friend Jerry. Where the hell are you going to go? Back to the circus? Maybe they’ll let you clean the cages of the lions and tigers. Those big smelly cats.”

Creeper jams the lock through both ends of the chain, his jaw muscles flexing. But he hesitates...frowning before snapping that puppy shut. Oh. My. God. He’s thinking about it. Creeper’s actually considering my desperate and semi-ridiculous proposal.

Time to ask for the order.

“Work for me, Max. You won’t be sorry. Let’s go to my office right now, I’ll write you that check for fifty thou. What do you say?”

Creeper stares at the still-open padlock. A passenger jet heading into Liberty-Newark cruises low in the steel blue morning sky. My heart knocks against my ribs.

Click. Creeper locks me up. The chain around me seems to double in weight, an anchor pushing me against the aluminum hull of the boat.

“Max no talk good,” he says. “Cannot be stockbroker.”

I work hard to keep my five o’clock-in-the-morning, full-boat Carr smile. I know it looks bad. I mean, he shut the padlock, converting my ass into a two-hundred-fifty-pound, semi-verbal fishing sinker. But the truth is, I swear I’ve almost got him. I know it sounds nuts, but I’m telling you. I’m close to closing him. Come on, Carr. Drive this big ugly puppy into the doghouse.

“You don’t have to be a stockbroker.” I say. “In fact, you don’t have to say a word to anybody if you don’t want to. I’ll tell my employees you’re a mute.”

Max shakes his head. “You big liar. Your own daughter say so. Also a wimp. Elizabeth tell me about your electrical sex with own wife.”

Huh? How does Beth know about that? “You mean Susan’s Mobachi 3000?”

Max snorts. Then laughs. “Ha.”

At least snorting is what I think his thick ugly nostrils are doing. He could be just cleaning his nose. I guess you don’t pick up a lot of social etiquette wrestling bears.

I take a deep breath. Turn it around, Mr. Golden Tongue. Turn this wimp thing around.

“That should make this decision easy,“ I say. “I’m a trusting soul, Max. It’s true. I want to get along, let everybody do what they have to do. For a tough guy like you, I’ll always be an easy mark. In other words, I’m such a wimp, you can always kill me later. Anytime you feel like it. Like after you cash that fifty-thousand-dollar check.”

Creeper’s gaze falls to the padlock. “Is stupid idea. Max no stockbroker.”

Son-of-a-bitch, this sale is still alive. “Forget stockbrokers, Max. You say nothing to anyone, except maybe ‘Get the fuck out of my way.’ I want you to drive my car, Max, be my bodyguard. Gina and Tony’s friends might try something.”

Creeper fingers the lock. His gaze climbs to the brightening Sunday morning sky. I can almost hear Creeper’s square head ticking.

Slowly, he twists his face to look at me. I sense curiosity in his gray eyes.

“What kind of car Max drive?”

Only two more chapters left in BIG MONEY. Tune in next weekend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crime Novel of the Year

It's fire season, and the hills of Los Angeles are burning. When police and fire department personnel rush door to door in a frenzied evacuation effort, they discover the week-old corpse of an apparent suicide. But the gunshot victim is less gruesome than what they find in his lap: a photo album of seven brutally murdered young women — one per year, for seven years. And when the suicide victim is identified as a former suspect in one of the murders, the news turns Elvis Cole's world upside down.

Three years earlier, it was Cole's eleventh-hour discovery of an exculpatory videotape that allowed that suspect to walk free.

But the discovery of the death album now brands Elvis as an unwitting accomplice to murder. Captured in photographs that could only have been taken by the murderer, Yvonne Bennett was the fifth of the seven victims — two more young women were murdered after the initial suspect walked free. So Elvis can't help but wonder — did he, Elvis Cole, cost two more young women their lives?

Chasing Darkness is a blistering thriller from the bestselling author who sets the standard for intense, powerful crime writing.

We love Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. They are the guys we long to hang out with, share the adventure with. These guys are the essence of a great series. I don't care where we go, or what we do. As long as I'm with Elvis and Joe, I know the entertainment is coming.

Click on the headline, CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR, and jump to Crais's website. You can sign up to receive a free bio of Elvis.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Hi. My name is Kyleigh. My Pop-pop told Austin Carr I could guest blog because someday I want to be a writer, too, and because I already know how to spell lots of words, and because my subject is about something my Pop-pop really likes. Giraffes.

I really like giraffes, too. They have long necks.

Thanks, Austin. And Pop-pop.

Friday, December 5, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 67

Cold out here on the glassy waters of Sandy Hook Bay. Downright bitter. My teeth chatter like castanets.

Creeper’s massive shoulders paddled us a mile offshore in nine strokes. Faster than a two-hundred horsepower, turbocharged Evanrude. Now he’s planting the oars and unfurling burlap. Gulls squawk and circle overhead. Marine vultures, each of them. Hungry and waiting.

The bullet-shaped row boat rises and falls on low morning swells, one of the boat’s two aluminum benches poking me in the ribs each lift. A thick, bluish-gray mist hovers above the ocean’s calm surface, a smoky fog that smells like spoiled clams.

Despite my gloomy surroundings, the immediately preceding events, and the obvious nature of Creeper employing a chain-filled boat to transport us, I’ve been making a wholehearted effort not to overanalyze my future. But somehow the cold air, the chattering teeth...well, logic suggests it might be time to focus on impending death. Use the bitter cold of eternity as motivation for my absolutely finest Gift of Gab. Come on, Carr. Let him have it.

“Mmmm. Mmmm.”

Oops. I forgot my lips are sealed with duct tape. Damn. This makes things more difficult, certainly. But on the plus side, when my golden tongue somehow does get me out of this impasse, Letterman, Oprah, Ripley’s--they’ll all want interviews. I’ll have to hire a PR chick.

“Lay down on burlap,” Creeper says.

I roll onto my brown, itchy shroud. Intended shroud, that is. I still have a shot. I have plans. But I wish those damn seagulls would shut up. Too much competition for Creeper’s attentions.

“MMMMMM,” I say.

The big man stares at me. His gray eyes are softer than I imagined, the coldness not right out front. A crooked smile forms on his razor-thin lips, reminiscent of a gash I once received from a broken beer bottle.

I wear the pink scar on my upper right arm.

“You have final words?” Creeper says. “Okay. Is big American tradition. I see plenty of movies.”

He rips the tape from my mouth. Ouch. But the Great Spirit smiles on me. A chance for redemption.

“Why are you killing me, Max? Gina Farascio’s the one who planned your boss’s assassination, had you shot, killed your friend Jerry. Obviously you know that. You just broke her neck.”

Creeper starts wrapping me in torn-up burlap bags. Burrito el Broker. “Boss, my friend both die in your friend’s restaurant,” he says. “Right after you leave. You are part.”

This is a bum rap. “I didn’t know, Max. That’s why Luis sent me away. So I wouldn’t be a part. Maybe Luis didn’t even know. I can’t imagine him allowing such a thing in his restaurant. But even if Luis knew--and I don’t think he did--you can’t blame him. Bluefish wanted him dead.”

Creeper’s monster shoulders roll forward, a shrug that slightly rocks our boat. He continues to truss me in the scratchy burlap.

Okay. It’s not going to be an easy sale.

“It was Gina, Max. It was always Gina. As soon as I asked her husband to help me fend off Bluefish, Farascio’s family must have decided to take Shore for themselves. It’d be easy with me in charge, Mr. Vick out of town.”

You need a kicker on that one, Carr. Come on. “And they would’ve taken Shore if you hadn’t of gotten rid of Tony and Gina for me.”

Creeper’s done with the burlap. Forget the burrito image. I look like a cheese-stuffed, whole-wheat Hoagie roll. Creeper’s huge hands grab up a truckload of chain link. Then, one loop at a time, Creeper begins to package me in my oceangoing steel jewelry.

I’m all shiny for the ball.

“I’d be signing over Shore to the Farascio family right now if you hadn’t killed her, Max. Truth is, I owe you.”

Creeper threads two loops around my waist. The weight of the chain presses the rough burlap tight against my skin.

“Owe me?” he says.

“Definitely. You saved me--I don’t know--maybe a couple of hundred grand over the next couple of years. Max might deserve a very big reward.”

He throws more steel around my neck.

“Reward?” he says.

My body chills like I’m at the bottom of a grave, the cold dirt splashing against my throat and face. “Ab-so-fucking-lutely,” I say. “Very big. How about I write you a check tonight for fifty thousand, plus tomorrow we write up a contract for your services? Full-time employment at Shore Securities. What do you need? Two hundred-grand a year?”

Creeper removes a brass padlock from the pocket of his Dockers. His cucumber-size fingers struggle to line up the two ends of the chain. “I think no,” he says.


Only three more chapters until the big finish.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Dream or Another Life?

A strange tiredness fell upon me as we toured Rome's ancient coliseum. I fell behind the others to rest a few seconds, but when I sat, I felt my eyes close, and sleep pulled me beneath the surface. As I lost consciousness, I heard the cheering of thousands of rabid fans.



Suddenly, I was a gladiator, a sword in my hand. My whole history flashed before my dreaming eyes. I had been a Centurion in the Roman Army, one of Emperor Nero's favorites because I told him stories of the wars I'd seen. But after years of his friendship, I had done something to make him angry. No one ever told me what. I had been given as a slave to the master of the gladiator school, forced to fight and kill or die myself.

And now, this sword awaits Nero's thumb. Down, and I will kill again. Up, and this poor man I conquered in the ring --this coliseum built on blood -- this man will live.

What say you, Master?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rome Pictorial

A very old fountain on Via Guila.













Saint Peter's Square











This is a famous bridge.













This is the famous Trivoli fountain.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 66

When my thumb squeezes the trigger, nothing happens. Well, that figures. The shotgun must be jammed. A final, very bad piece of luck for ol’ Austin Carr.

I try once more, a near-death panic pushing my actions, giving me a miraculous surge of will. Still nothing. No explosion. And this time my furious attempt to fire the weapon makes the gun stock bounce and rattle on the basement’s cement floor.

Creeper’s gaze snaps toward the noise.

Well, gee, this is beginning to look like The End. The oft-forecast demise of Austin Carr and his full-boat smile. The semi-orphanization of one Elizabeth Carr and Ryan Carr, two school-age children who--

Air rushes into my desperate lungs. Oh, my. Creeper has decided he’d rather have his paws on the shotgun than around my throat. What a strange tactical decision, especially considering the shotgun so recently proved unreliable. Hell, I was almost unconscious. Go figure.

Creeper’s poor judgment not only means oxygen for my air-starved lungs, but now that I can breathe, perhaps I can even launch a counterattack, wrestle free of Creeper’s awesome weight.

I throw my shoulders and hips to the left, away from the shotgun. I catch Creeper leaning, his arm reaching for the shotgun. The jerky twist indeed breaks me loose like a stuck jar of peanut butter.

My newly reacquired air supply suddenly tastes even sweeter. A shot of confidence joins the adrenaline zooming through my blood. Kinda like last night at Clooneys when Gina told Franny I’d be spending the night in Brooklyn.

Are you watching Don Juan? Witnessing this dramatic reversal of my Last Battle on Earth?

I scramble onto my haunches and face Creeper. He’s sitting ass-flat on the basement floor, the shotgun between his ox-like thighs. We can’t be more than five feet apart. My gaze looks straight down the shotgun’s barrel. Talk about evil eyes.

“That gun’s jammed,” I say.

Though even a broken weapon is disconcerting at this proximity and angle--that black hole smells like eternity--my tone carries a certain hint of superiority. I mean, I pulled that shotgun’s trigger. It didn’t work. It’s not like I’m bluffing.

Why is he smiling?

“Gun not jammed,” Creeper says. “No shells in chamber. You have to do this each time.”

He works the shotgun’s pump. Clickity-clack.

I knew that.

The basement’s tomblike silence wraps around me like a shroud.

Employing Gina’s pump-action like a conductor’s baton, Ludwig Von Creeptoven orchestrates me up the basement steps, into the kitchen, and then into Gina’s side yard through a screened kitchen door and wooden back stairs.

On my left is a one-car garage shaped like a mausoleum. On my right, parked in Gina’s hosta and rock-lined cement driveway, a red Buick LaSabre waits for us like a fire-engine. The excited chatter of morning birdcalls emanates from the evergreens that separate Gina from her neighbors.

I love that I knew all along it was a pump-action shotgun, then forgot I had to pump it. By way of excuses, I can only say I never fired any kind of shotgun before. Plus I wouldn’t be the first stockbroker to panic in that God-awful situation. I mean, we jump out windows because our stocks go down.

I am disappointed, though. I thought I was doing so much better. Calm under fire and all that.

Creeper urges me toward the LaSabre’s trunk. A single raven squawks at us from the top of a red maple with just-emerging leaves. The bird’s oily black coat shines iridescent in the morning’s new sunlight. The sky glows bright gold.

Creeper makes me wrap my ankles in duct tape, seal my mouth with the same stuff, then stick my hands behind me so he can wrap my wrists. My body automatically leans forward, adjusting for the weight of my arms behind me. My first plan in these situations is always cheerful cooperation.

When he pops the Buick’s trunk, I resist too late and Creeper easily pushes me inside the tight compartment. Going down, I bang my head on the trunk hinge.

Creeper lifts my feet inside and slams the lid. The compression of air pops my ears. Total darkness engulfs me, like I’m inside a steel coffin.

The engine starts. Wonder where we’re going? Wonder why Creeper didn’t kill me right here?

God, it’s miserable being taped up like this. No scratching or nose-wiping. Noxious gases choke my lungs. So claustrophobic.

At least the LaSabre sports a decent-size trunk. All the burlap in here makes for a reasonably soft ride, too.


After an hour’s drive, Creeper lifts me out of the trunk and stands me up. We’re back in New Jersey at some private marina in Leonardo or Atlantic Highlands. I can see Sandy Hook directly across the water. The salty smell of the ocean invigorates my mood. Maybe we’re going fishing.

He cuts the tape around my ankles and walks me out on a wooden pier. Oh, boy. The crack of dawn’s a perfect time to bait fish. And those burlap bags he brought along from the trunk must be some kind of blanket to keep us warm. It’s going to be cold out there on Sandy Hook Bay.

Leading me to a docked skiff, the picture suddenly becomes clear. In the bottom of the boat lies a pile of lead weights and heavy linked chain.


Only four more chapters left of BIG MONEY. Tune in next weekend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Someone Loves You

Sometimes it's hard to be grateful. Everything you do fails. Hope and determination fade. It can feel like the whole world's out to get you.

That's when you need to remember, someone loves you.

Happy Thanksgiving from Austin, TFA, and Angelina.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Redheads Hall of Fame

Our first inductee into Austin Carr's Redheads Hall of Fame was born August 6, 1911; was an American comedienne, film, television, stage and radio actress, model, film executive, and star of three landmark sitcoms; one of the most popular stars in America during her lifetime; a movie star from the 1930s to the 1970s; on television for more than thirty years.

Lucille Ball. I'm talking about the hot, funny, almost a dingbat star of I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy. Our Number One Redhead Hall of Famer received thirteen Emmy Award nominations and four wins, was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Governors Award in 1989. And now, she's our number one Redhead Hall of Fame inductee.

Here's what I wrote back In July of 2007, the first ever Redhead of the Week:

"After much rumination, and consultation with shrinks, I now believe this thing I have for redheads stems from Lucille Ball and I Love Lucy show reruns. She was pretty, spunky, sexy in her own funny way, and definitely all the entertainment you’d ever need for a long weekend.

"Yes, she was a pain in Ricky's ass, but there must have been plenty of good reasons why her hot Latin musician husband never strayed in all those years."

This redhead was a wild thing.

In 1927, Lucy dated a gangster by the name of Johnny DeVita. Because of the relationship, Lucy's mother shipped her off to John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City. Lucy came home a few weeks later when drama coaches told her that she "had no future as a performer."

The redhead responsible for my neurosis persisted, however, and began a performing career on Broadway, using the stage name Diane Belmont, and then moved to Hollywood and appeared in small movie roles in the 1930s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures.

At 29, Lucy eloped with Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz.

Oh, I knew you were a WILD thing.

In 1948, Lucy was a wacky wife on My Favorite Husband, a new radio program, and when it became a hit, CBS asked her to develop it for television. She insisted on working with Arnaz. CBS executives worried about an All-American redhead and a Cuban as a couple, however, and neither were they impressed with the pilot episode. Lucy again persisted, and toured a vaudeville act as the zany housewife with Desi. The tour was a smash, and CBS put I Love Lucy on the air for a stunningly successful nine-year run.

The show co-starred Desi as Ricky Ricardo and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel and Fred Mertz, the Ricardos' conflict-creating landlords.

On April 18, 1989, Lucy complained of chest pains and underwent heart surgery for nearly eight hours. She died a week later. We will miss her always, as will many millions of fans around the world.

Thanks to Lucy and Wikipedia. Click on the headline, REDHEADS HALL OF FAME, to visit Lucy's official website.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Greatest Mystery of All

What happens when we die? Purgatory? Heaven? Hell? Or the big black nothingness that engulfed us before we were borne?

I do not intend to spark a religious debate. I merely ask the question, because as most Native American tribes believe, death is the biggest mystery of all. No one who has died is able to tell us. No one alive can look over that hill and see what's on the other side. Death has to be the biggest mystery of all, and there are no answers, only beliefs, and faith, and certain big mouth preachers who KNOW the truth because they read it in the Bible.

All of this comes by way of a funeral, the passing of a friend, and the way in which his death was ceremonialized, the way his afterlife was promised to all in attendance if only we would accept the preacher's faith. Certain that this man of God would soon bring out a tub of water, I left a little early to avoid being baptized. My deceased friend walked out with me, I'm sure of it. He didn't like being used as a recruiting tool.

Shame on you, Mr. Preacher. That funeral was supposed to be about my friend, not your weekly attendance figures.

Friday, November 21, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 65

Maybe I perused too much Carlos Casteneda-type mysticism in my youth, but all I can think about on my way down Gina’s basement steps: This could be my Last Battle on Earth. I must give these moments the attention my life’s purpose deserves. I try to absorb every detail of my surroundings, let loose my inner warrior’s imagination for fight or flight.

Too bad I don’t have any peyote.

I also wish I could remember how that Don Juan shaman character created a double. Boy, would I like to be somewhere else.

“Take it slow,” Gina says.

She’s four or five steps behind me on the basement stairs, yet I can feel that shotgun aimed at my back. The weapon’s like a glowing poker radiating hot death.

I mean, Gina’s definitely going to kill me. I’ve seen the DVD, asked way too many questions, because as we all know, those of us with the Gift of Gab never know when to shut the hell up. It’s a universal fact.

I nearly choke over my next assertion. “I can keep my mouth shut, Gina. You don’t have to kill me.”

“It won’t hurt,” she says. “I’ll make it a head shot.”

Ringo is playing the drums of my heart. Back-beat, jump-beat, downbeat. Everything, all at once. My ribs stretch from the inside.

As I approach the bottom of the basement stairs, Gina flips a switch, and an overhead light pops on. Dark-stained wood shelves cover the cement basement walls. Typical garage and basement junk fills the carefully organized shelf space. Beach chairs. Lawn food. Stacks of clay gardening pots. Broken exercise equipment. Discards of suburban life on the Jersey Shore. About head-high, a narrow strip of double-thick window shows the moonlight outside and last summer’s dead marigolds.

“If I let you live, I’d always worry you’d hurt me with the information,” Gina says. “Or somebody like Franny Chapman would make you talk to save their own ass. I’m sorry, sweetie. You’re a pretty good fuck. But I just can’t take the chance, or the stress.”

“Then why did you bring me home with you last night?” I say. “Why even let me have the chance of finding that DVD?”

“When you came back in Clooneys last night, I knew you’d seen Franny give me that DVD. I had to find out how badly you wanted to watch it, if you knew what it was. Besides, I enjoyed taking you away from her.”

Other than folding Gina up in one of those collapsible aluminum beach chairs, I see nothing in this basement that could help me take away that shotgun. I see nothing, that is, until I spin around to face her.

Oh. My. God. Creeper. He’s balled up like a spider beneath the basement stairway. An electric shock jolts my spine.

In the spilt second I debate whether I should speak, leap, or do nothing, Creeper grabs the initiative. Any action on my part now is suddenly too late.

As her white-stocking foot touches the last step, Creeper grabs Gina by the ankle, dumps the naked, dark-haired beauty onto the basement floor.

Ka-boom. The shotgun goes off. Blue fire flashes from the muzzle. Stacks of burnt-orange clay flower pots explode just inches from my left hip. A cloud of smoke rises toward me from the basement floor.

My ears buzz from the blast. Shards of clay flower pot splash against my pants and shoes as Creeper pounces from behind the stairway. Two blurry-fast steps and he has Gina by the head and shoulders. I hear Gina’s neck snap like a broomstick as I lunge for her shotgun.

Ordinarily, I’d stop, take a moment, say a few words about Gina’s fine character. But hey, and I figure she’d understand better than anyone, I need to focus right now on staying alive.

At the conclusion of my dive, my chest slams the basement floor. But my outstretched fingers find and grab the shotgun. I roll hard to the right, trying to give myself some distance, but Creeper’s on me like a cave-in. His forearms press my head and shoulders flat against the cold cement. His hands encircle my throat. The shotgun blast still echoes in my head. The sulfuric odor of burnt gun powder fills my nose.

The way I figure it, Austin Carr will be a full-boat dead man in two-to-three seconds, soon as Creeper breaks--what did that autopsy report call it--my hyoid bone?

The fingers of my right hand still touch the shotgun, but Creeper’s left forearm has my reach pinned to the cement floor. I can barely wiggle my wrist, let alone grip the weapon. But this is my Last Battle on Earth, and I’m about to lose, about to pass on to that other world, that Great Mystery about which we poor humans know so little and worry so much.

Gotta try something, ace.

Maybe I can twirl the shotgun a little with my wrist and fingers, reposition the barrel so the muzzle’s aiming at Creeper’s knee and leg. Give him a kiss he won’t forget. Yes. There. Like playing spin the bottle.

Creeper’s weight presses on me like a stack of marble tombstones. I feel myself blacking out.

Finally, my thumb finds the trigger.


Next Friday, more of BIG MONEY'S exciting conclusion.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

He Chose A Path With Heart

“I’m serious, Luis," I say in BIG MONEY. "I need to provide for my children, and right now this is where I can make the most money, have the best chance of scoring enough for their education. But is hawking stocks and bonds really what I was born to do? My life’s purpose?”

Luis pulls our glasses off the bar. Guess it’s just one nightcap tonight. “Only you can answer such a question. But I agree that a man should have purpose.”

“I have an old friend who’s a fireman,” I say. “Doesn’t get paid much, and he’s always arriving at the scene before the ambulance, trying to save or resuscitate the most horribly mangled accident victims. But he loves going to work every day because once or twice a shift he’s allowed to drive a giant red diesel fire truck as fast as he can. He loved racing cars as a kid. Now he loves racing fire trucks. It’s what he was born to do.”

Luis considers my tale. His long fingers are rinsing glasses, holding one up to the light now and then to check for smudges. “For the injured, and people in fires, it is important that your friend drive fast and drive well, is it not?”

“Of course.”

“Then your friend is a lucky man,” he says. “Also a wise one, I think. He knew his purpose, he chose a path with heart.”

TFA and I are heading to California tomorrow. TFA will deliver the eulogy for his old friend Terry Zimmer, the man on whom this story was based, a former Los Angeles County fireman who chose a path with heart. The church will be packed with people who loved this man.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Redhead of the Week

It's a bad day here in Jersey. The Famous Author and I spent the day flying home from the Rome Emergency World Financial Conference to discover California is in mourning for our pal Terry, and it's snowing. Yikes. We offer this composite of MySpace redhead icons in hopes of brightening the day.