by Larry on Friday, November 23, 2012
He didn’t care what anybody thought. Every time Harold Aaron Smith entered the lobby of the Chrysler Building, he felt exhilarated. Built against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the seventy-seven stories rose mightily into the New York skyline, symbolizing all the ideals of the great American society.
Harry Smith strode to the elevator and waited for the next ride up. The captains of industry hadn’t yet started their day. It was barely six a.m. Alice, his secretary of twenty years, would be there ahead of him with a fresh pot of coffee and his favorite raspberry Danish. The elevator
dinged, and the doors glided open to reveal shiny inlaid walls and a plush carpeted floor. He pressed a button, willing this self-service beauty to whisk him to the forty-second floor.
by Larry on Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Rabbi Marzutti had been feeling uneasy all day, as though someone was watching his every move. It started when he noticed a man observing him on his way to market. That same man appeared during his lunch at Les Deux Garçons and followed him on his stroll down the cours Mirabeau.
Marzutti knew how to get rid of a tail. He’d been trained long ago with the Free French underground and kept his skills polished by an association with Israeli intelligence. Mossad often called Marzutti for advice, and he provided a halfway house for agents incognito.
Now he was thinking fast. La Boulangerie had two doors. He ducked inside and made a quick dash out the rear exit. Then he slipped into another back entrance that led to a parallel street. With any luck there would be a cab at the taxi stand. Good, there was. He jumped into the back door and barked fast directions. “Boulevard François et Émile Zola. Rapidement, s’il vous plaît.”
Excerpt from THE RED SERPENT
by Larry on Thursday, October 18, 2012
The special investigator took in the appealing French countryside as the TGV sped south past Lyon. After receiving the encrypted message from a contact in Washington, he had arranged to meet his partner in Avignon. From there they would drive the forty-five minutes to Aix-en-Provence. He enjoyed the change of pace. It felt good to get out of Paris. Fresh air always seemed to improve his disposition.
As a hired investigator for some very wealthy people, and a trusted member of Société d’Angélique, he was often called in to follow up on every alarm the rich and powerful got wind of.
Sometimes he was brought in to clean up messes left by their goons, including bodies for disposal. Strangely, he no longer found this distasteful.
Excerpt from THE RED SERPENT
by Larry on Friday, October 12, 2012
I wrote this article several months ago for posting on Mothers Day 2013. With the approaching holiday season I thought it fitting to post it today.
My Mom died ten years ago, unexpectedly, and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. When I marvel at the size of big screen TV’s I think of her and what she’s missing out on. When I see a new boat in a showroom I think of her and the fact that Mom never saw a boat she didn’t like or want to own and in a lot of cases she did. Mom liked gadgets from cell phones to stereo equipment and tried to keep up on advancing technology, I know she would have liked the iPhone.
Mom was a depression baby who grew to be part of the greatest generation. She worked in a factory producing clothing for GI’s, purchased war bonds, married my Dad, who became part of the invasion of Europe and found time to play baseball, a passion that led to an offer to play in the All American Women’s Baseball League. As busy as she was trying to survive in those stressful times she gave birth to me. Of course I don’t remember much about my early childhood and what it was like to live through the war years but several years ago my uncle handed me a stack of letters post dated 1944 through 1945, letters received by my aunt from my Mother and from my Dad. I had received a gift of history first hand and read what it was like to live and work in those times, but more importantly I learned how much my mother loved me and the sacrifices she made for me and about my life in those early years.
And that brings me to my point. I wish I could have told her, one last time, I loved her before she died and I wish I could have thanked her for all the things she did in bringing me into to this world and those first years of my life. I wished she would have lived to see my first book published and like the main character in my story, Jean Marchaud, followed a young man through his loss of a loved one and like me wished he could have told her he loved her before she died.
So I’ll tell you now, I love you Mom and I hope you get this message where ever you are.
by Larry on Friday, October 5, 2012
There are no two ways about it – reviews help sell books. Writing a book requires not only passion for the project, but months or years of exhaustive research and sometimes traveling to the subject destination. Then comes the hard part: the outline; the painstaking assembly of a hundred thousand words; (including punctuation and individual letters, this can add up to well over a million keyboard characters!); then there’s the dreaded edit, and re-edit, and re-edit, and re-edit…you get the picture.
So when you have the pleasure of reading a book you like, take a moment to acknowledge the author’s effort by posting a review on a site like Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Goodreads. Friends will gush about how much they loved my book. When I thank them and say, “Great! Please post a short review so others will know that too,” they gasp and recoil like a vampire stumbling onto a garlic patch. “But I’m not a writer,” they wail. “What do you think I am…a New York Times critic?” (I wish!) No, I don’t think anything of the sort. But seeing as you just told me the things you liked about my book, all you have to do is type that into a couple of sentences and submit it! Even if it’s just a few positive comments, a review is the ultimate way you can show an author respect for his or her labor of love. And please don’t forget to recommend the book to your friends who like to read!
by Larry on Sunday, September 30, 2012
There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.
This epigraph appeared in John O’Hara’s book Appointment in Samarra, written by W. Somerset Maugham in 1933. O’Hara’s book was published in 1934. O’Hara was born in Pottsville Pennsylvania.
by Larry on Thursday, September 27, 2012
Probably so. According to the experts, physicists, scientists and folks working on fusion projects around the world. They’re estimating ten to fifteen years tops to have a fully functioning fusion plant capable of providing electricity. Now that’s no small fete.
Imagine capturing the same process that makes our sun burn brightly, and distant stars in the universe shine, able to be seen on earth. That’s right, nuclear fusion, 150 million degrees centigrade, which is the temperature of our sun. Humans are going to create it, manage it and make electricity. Whoa, you’re saying right now. You mean to tell me, we are going to create the surface of the sun, 150 million degrees centigrade, in a fusion plant and not burn a hole clear thru to the other side of China, along with melting everything within a hundred mile radius if not the entire planet.
In France a nuclear fusion experimental plant (ITER) is currently being constructed at Caderache, just northeast of the city of Aix. Over 100 thousand tons of concrete was poured to form five foot thick walls and floor, that will house the machine that will create and store the energy safely, that uses strong magnetic forces to keep the hot plasma, the byproduct of a mixture of deuterium and tritium, 150 million degrees centigrade, away from the walls. Make you feel better? Good news is we’ve already created fusion at other facilities in the world, and we have learned so much from these experiments, that allow us to build and safely operate a fusion plant. Still skeptical though, right? It’s the word nuclear, scares everybody.
Here’s the good news, nuclear fusion does not produce long lasting nuclear waste. It’s clean and green. And the real kicker, the neutrons from fusion are known to neutralize radioactive particles.
Now for the even better news, the fuel for fusion is abundant and inexpensive and available in nature. 30 million years of abundance available from the ocean, sea water. In my book The Red Serpent, an old man said to Michael du Maurier, Fusion will create the power to drive plants that can desalinate the ocean. It will alter barren climates, make the earth uniformly fertile, and alleviate hunger. It will power machines to create matter as needed. All this from one free universal substance. Water!”
Fusion is the answer to many of our worlds problems and it’s on it’s way. A gift from the universe, a bright star that has shined on this earth for a billion years. It keeps lighting our path in so many ways.
by Larry on Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I did indeed. I don’t mean philosophy, psychology, or physiology. So what is philology anyway – an art or a science? Good question, because that is still a subject of debate.
The field of philology arose in the 1800s and, in turn, gave rise to the science of linguistics in the twentieth century. Actually, philology is the study of text reconstruction along with the translation of artifacts and manuscripts such as ancient scrolls or tablets – the things that might be found on archaeological digs.
When unearthed, these very delicate items are cataloged and perused for content to determine the identity, location, personality, culture, and historic period of the authors who wrote the texts and the scribes who copied them down. The condition of an artifact when found depends on how and where the item was originally stored as well as the longevity of the medium – such as animal skin or papyrus – that was being used at the time. By studying these variations, philologists can date and compare similar manuscripts to get a more pure translation. They can also isolate secret codes, such as peshers, that may have been used to disguise the actual content of a work for reasons dictated by what was going on in that particular geographic area at the time it was written.
Without the above considerations – and more – we would never be able to assemble a valid interpretation of the past. As Professor Serafina Valenti tells her graduate class in my book THE RED SERPENT, “That, students, is the essence of philology. It’s looking through a microscope that goes way back in time.”
by Larry on Tuesday, September 18, 2012
God, it was a long time ago. 1966, if you really must know. There I was, along with three other cocky sailors in the Poinsettia Bar & Grill in Key West, tossing back a few cold ones. An older gentleman in a straw hat and Hawaiian shirt at the far end of the bar made a few stabs at joining our conversation, but we only acknowledged him with perfunctory nods and, for the most part, blithely ignored his contributions.
Rosie, our favorite bartender, motioned several times for us to pay attention to the old gentleman and, at one point, informed us that he had bought drinks for the four of us. Hearing this, we looked in his direction, raised our glasses, and smiled briefly (we weren’t totally ignorant) before diving back into our own self-absorbed world. When we glanced in his direction a little later, we could see the old gentleman was gone.
“You idiots,” Rosie exclaimed, walking over to us, “what is the matter with you? I’ve been trying to tell you guys that you were just treated to a round of drinks by JOHN STEINBECK!”
“What?” I shouted. “Why didn’t you say so?” I tore out of the bar and ran to the car to get my copy of Travels with Charley. Always the would-be writer, boy, did I ever want that author’s signature! I grabbed the book and ran up and down Poinsettia Avenue to see which doorway had swallowed up Steinbeck. Sadly, I couldn’t spot a trace.
I’d like to think that day taught me to be a little more observant of others and a lot more tuned in to what they say. According to my wife, however, I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
by Larry on Saturday, September 8, 2012
She’s been written about, sung about, served as a midnight muse for Owen Wilson, and hailed as the romance capital of the world. But nothing beats a first-hand encounter with the amazing City of Lights.
Having travelled to Paris on a number of occasions in the past, I found myself taking the Magic Lady for granted. Then a good friend, who happens to be a widower and was half-way through reading THE RED SERPENT, came to me raving about the descriptive passages in the book. “I was so surprised,” he said, “to find such visual stimulation in this book. Imagine reading a thriller and getting such a feel for the place that I want to go there! So I know where I’m heading next,” he exclaimed. “I’m going to France even if I have to go by myself!”
My friend went on to enumerate the exciting impressions that lingered in his mind: magical gardens; majestic museums; the ambiance of artsy cafés; aromas of chocolate and spice; and, of course, the legendary Seine.
Paris is but one of several areas in France graphically extolled in THE RED SERPENT. If you’ve never been there, the virtual visit could prompt you to hop the next plane to Orly or Charles de Gaulle. Those who’ve already had the pleasure tell me it’s inspired them to return.