Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I rarely endorse movies because everyone's taste is different. I do endorse books in my mystery readers group at the BOOKWORKS in Del Mar, CA. And the difference in opinions is always striking.

But I will say that I just saw a film this weekend called AN EDUCATION. It's British, full of surprises, and very engrossing. I heard wonderful things about it from friends first. They were not mistaken.

If you have a chance, see it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Michigan - Ohio State Game

I'm watching the game and getting aggravated. But there was just a very nice turnover! Uh, oh! Ohio State just scored.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My new books are out.

It's the middle of November with Thanksgiving around the corner. And my new book NIGHT GLITTER has finally emerged in print, though it's going to be formally marketed in March of 2010. It takes place in the early 1930s during some of the worst years of the Great Depression. And though it's romantic, passionate, and sensual, it's also a raw depiction of the poignant challenges people faced in those days.

I recently saw PUBLIC ENEMY with Johnny Depp and this weekend we saw BONNIE & CLYDE, the new musical. Both fascinated me. I'm in love with the 1930s. It was such a gritty period where the public rallied behind bank robbers after losing their houses and farms to the banks. It was a romantic era, too. An era where people pushed hard to find a good time, a way to escape their daily drudgery. Maybe that's what Bonnie & Clyde really wanted: excitement. A ticket out of the Dust Bowl and small town America.

Back then, moonshine and bootleg gin along with the radio, movies, and roadhouses offered the public a few hours of relief from those hard times. But you had to work hard at finding diversions.

Next time I may tackle fashions from that era.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Health Care 2009

I'm not a doctor, and I'm not a member of congress. And I would love for the US to be able to cover all Americans. I just hope a national health insurance program would not work like the US Post Office or the current HMO systems we have in California which feel like national health care but definitely aren't free. Here in California, I often have to wait months to see my doctor or get a mammogram. Here, even though I have a PPO, my doctors are in an HMO. Many doctors here in California are in HMOs to deal with malpractice insurance. And many doctors have 2500 patients. That's right. They deal with a huge amount of patients -- quickly.

It can take weeks to get shots. Sometimes I deal with nurses, the first line of defense, who insist I go to a general practitioner for my immune disorder -- though my GP looks at me with a complete lack of comprehension regarding my disorder. This is how the HMO deals with me even though I'm on a private insurance plan and have been seeing a specialist in my HMO for over ten years. So if this is the future for us all, fasten your seat belts because it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Yet, the French have national health insurance and been very successful with it. They have a progressive program which has given them top status in health care and the best population longevity in the world.

I just hope things improve here, because I miss the old days when you entered a hospital and your doctor came in to do "rounds" and visit you.

Now, if I call my HMO doctors to say I'm ill, they tell me to visit an emergency room. They don't say, "Come in right away."

Even with private insurance, I face hideous staph infections in a hospital and health care workers who refuse to wash their hands, a simple solution to infections.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mystery Group

It recently occurred to me that the mystery group I facilitate has read quite a few books. I decided to see just how many we read and review just how different our selections have been. For our October selection, I just chose a Steven Saylor book, Last Seen In Massilia, a mystery of ancient Rome.

Before this we read: The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell , Farrier's Lane by Anne Perry, Straight Into Darkness by Faye Kellerman, Bride's Kimono by Sujata Massey, Secret Servant by Daniel Silva, & Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

The idea behind the group is to encourage people to read and enjoy doing so. We try to read a variety of mysteries while supporting a wonderful, small bookstore here in Del Mar, California, The Bookworks.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What I've really been up to.

Okay, I probably should say hello to the world on Twitter. But I may be too chatty today to keep things short. And since few people read my blogs, I figured it would be fine to place my thoughts here. I have been busy. Busy finishing three books about the Great Depression and The Roaring Twenties. I have been busy formatting, working on footnotes, endnotes, and those final annoying things that need to be done to complete a book.

And a movie treatment, too, for a producer who seems interested. Well, why not? Certain recent movies tie into my books. Like the new Johnny Depp film PUBLIC ENEMIES, a riveting film about John Dillinger. Or THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. Not to mention a laundry list of stories comparing today's economic crisis with the Great Depression. So perhaps my time travel novels back to the 1920s and 1930s are on the mark this time.

When writing them, I find myself immersed in another world. A world of glamorous clothes, radio shows, and musical films. I'm suddenly back in an era when a man wore a suit to pick up cigarettes or mow his lawn. A world where a woman had to slip on her girdle and stockings just to visit a grocery store. And poverty and disease crushed a quarter of the population after the stock market crashed.

Then it's back to my computer, my mobile phone, and blogging. And it feels like time travel. Some things are better now. Cheap communication, home entertainment in all its forms. But there are some things from the past which fascinate me. Like the music, the grand manners, a strong attempt to be a decent human being and care about others.

Back to work.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What happened to our brains?

I often wonder what happened to America's brains. I just saw a brilliant film on DVD called Frost/Nixon, and I was reminded of that era. I never liked Nixon very much. I thought he was a paranoid lunatic. But looking back, he and his men had a certain sophistication and brains. They were educated men who went too far in trying to re-elect their leader, Richard M. Nixon. But back then the Republicans represented a hands-off approach to governing. They believed small was better. They never interfered with our personal freedoms such as abortion or religion. His regime dined at The Sans Souci. They were part of America's elite. Nixon ended a war he inherited. He opened the door to Chinese relations. He also lied, lied, lied.

But compared to the Sarah Palins of the world, he was a genius. He was sophisticated and reasonably well-spoken. I never pictured him dragging a wolf-carcass behind him or dropping every "g" in the language. He never paraded around a daughter he had to be ashamed of. Nor did he constantly talk about Christian morality like the last administration while sticking it to us and leaving a scorched earth behind. George W. abandoned Afganistan and started a war in Irag. He never shut up about his religion which he tried to stuff down our throats. He ignored crimes of greed. He also ignored New Orleans during the hurricane. And he would probably choose a pig roasting on a spit to an elegant restaurant like the Sans Souci. He was unsuccessful at business and his military time. He was an unsuccessful man in all his endeavors.

Sarah Palin is another uneducated candidate. Not sophisticated, not worldly. What doors will she open for us? How to kill moose? Or wolves? How to speak poorly and know nothing about geography or the world? To me she's no more qualified than a cocktail waitress who cordially asks if you want two olives in your martini while fiddling with her ears and bunny tail.

Right now, Richard M. Nixon would be a God compared to recent Republican offerings.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Why is it so many kids are doing their junior year abroad and reluctant to return to the good old US? Could it be the historic individuality foreign nations fight to maintain in spite of the EU? The love of playtime as well as work? The fact that in Europe the modern blends with the old and every ounce of history isn't cleansed every few years until every inch looks like one big, impersonal mall? Could it be that those nations provide free health care? Or could it be the sense of adventure overseas which seems to be lacking here? Maybe it's the guaranteed six to eight weeks of vacation time workers get in Europe?

My nieces have done everything they can to stay in Germany. My other friend's daughter, a student at Berkeley, was attacked on the street and beaten senseless by a stranger in Berkeley. Is it any wonder she longs to stay in Europe where she feels safe? Our kids don't want to come back. They see that the technology overseas has surpassed ours. Europeans function with smaller cars. Their taxes pay for health care not wars.

Here, we've ripped out Main Street and replaced it with hip boutiques and mall stores. Love and relationships are found on a computer. Our coffers are empty. How about our souls?

But I am an American. I'm comfortable here. And I know for certain that we have the most reliable and consistent plumbing in the world.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Scottsdale vs. San Diego

Many years ago I lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. I remember it well. The people were extremely friendly, an endearing trait I never forgot. Years later when I moved from the East Coast to San Diego, I expected the same warmth. What a shock. Down here, a friendly hello will often be greeted by a cold stare or a look of horror. Banter is a foreign language. Your dog may even be snubbed. San Diegans love to bash Los Angeles. But I have found the big city warmer than down here.

We just returned from a week in Scottsdale. And the same friendly mentally still exists. A warm hello from strangers is common. Pleasant small talk is a delightful change from the distant stares and constant paranoia San Diego residents deliver. Ah, yes, San Diego has nice weather and the ocean. But grow older than forty, or expect neighborliness, and you might find a wall. A tall, unfortunate wall. San Diego is still a small town with a big ego, yet a city of strangers, all of them dressed like hell.

I have many friends here. But all were hard won. And many of them don't have friends. San Diego people prefer large groups with very little intimacy.

As a close friend who moved away to Santa Fe used to say: San Diego is a dumb blonde. But dumb blonds get old and tiresome.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Emails without a basis.

Emails without a basis.

Every so often a friend sends me an email about social security for illegal aliens. The average reader has a knee-jerk reaction and signs the petition or forwards the upsetting letter which usually states that a group of non-deserving immigrants will gain substantially from our American generosity by getting free health care or other benefits the rest of us good Americans will never see.

There is never a House or Representatives, Senate, or Executive bill number. There is never a name for the new law or potential legislation. There's only the insinuation for such a thing. And hundreds of outraged Americans sign.

I am always careful to check out the basis for these statements. For instance, during the George W. administration when we were supposed to be building a wall between the US and Mexico, when we had a Republican majority in Congress and a conservative Supreme Court, we were also supposed to write our President to stop him from giving all our money away to illegal aliens.

And people actually believed the administration would do this. That George and Dick had plans to endow all those poor people with health care and considerable funds.

It just goes to show how easily the public is misled. How any propaganda, no matter how ignorant or outrageous, can illicit a posse of outraged vigilantes who never take time to wonder if these hate letters might be total bull.

So when my friend wrote me about his eighty-something parents who read a letter to this effect recently, I wrote him and said these upsetting letters are on par with rhetoric disciples of Adolph Hitler sent around. Lies on top of more lies. Beware of what you read on the internet. All is not true.

In fact, another friend just sent me an email stating that many lipsticks from leading cosmetic companies cause cancer. The email stated a bogus doctor's name and a test for telling if your lipstick could be lethal. All bunk. There is no such doctor, the test doesn't work, and I checked out the information on the internet and discovered that this is another letter based on lies.

So be careful. Just because something's in print, doesn't mean it's true.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Readers Groups

I'm a writer who enjoys reading a variety of books. So when I realized many Americans didn't read and felt inadequate about it, I also noted that many eventually jumped at Oprah's list. I have enjoyed some of her choices. Although her suggestion about reading William Faulkner made me realize that she wasn't in touch with how challenging his works can be, even to a lit student.So I volunteered to facilitate a mystery book group at a local bookstore here in California. Its a lovely small store, not a chain, which hosts a variety of groups. I wanted mine to reflect the idea that reading can be enjoyable. Those of us who've been reading for enjoyment all our lives, as well as in college, grasp the idea that pleasure reading doesn't have to be like eating spinach. It can be fun. We started with THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE by James M. Cain, the author of DOUBLE INDEMNITY and MILDRED PIERCE. The group was great. We laughed, talked, and became very involved in the discussion. Next were reading Gordon Campbell's MISSING WITNESS. I hope the group likes this one, too.

Our Callous Attitudes

Okay, I was sitting at one of my favorite coffee houses today where I often work, and this elderly man dressed neatly in this old-gent getup asked me to donate $3 for an old Norwegian Sailor. I paused for a moment wondering where the old sailor was and which war he'd fought in, when the old gent handed me a tattered brochure as an offering for the money. I handed him a five and he thanked me and moved on. Then I noticed his old white shoes and saw how he'd managed to put himself together and maintain his dignity while actually begging.

The younger guy at the next table, a hip forty-five-year-old with an earring and jeans, when asked by the old gent for money, rudely said "Well, what're you gonna give me?" He then proceeded to give the old man a few choice words until the old man's face turned red.
"I'm sure we'll meet again," the old man said before he gathered up his pamphlets and muddied dignity and fled.

All the cool younger man had to say was, "Sorry, I can't today." Instead, he was rude then laughed about his reaction with a girl at a nearby table.

In these troubled times, why not remember that anyone in this world can lose a job and end up alone and afraid offering pamphlets or chewing gum for enough money to pay for gas or food.

Come back to see what I'm SHURE about!

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