Lover Come Back

 

It was 1970. I was 23 years old.

Peter Hemmings arrived right on time. We were to meet at 8 pm at O’Leary’s Pub and Dance Hall and at 8 pm my wife and I were there as were Lucy and Gorgo (we called him “Gorgo” after the famous British monster). Peter came in too and we all took a large table in the back of the room, as far away from Simon Says Banjo and Band that would be blasting its music all night long. Simon was a teacher at our school and we felt compelled to go to the Pub when he was playing.

Simon’s band was as loud as loud could be but no member actually played the banjo.

“So what did you think of tonight’s set so far?” Simon would ask.

“Great, great,” I’d say which meant Jesus Christ was that loud.

“Yeah, yeah,” he’d agree. “I thought it was great. Someday we’ll be discovered.”

“Yep, someday,” I agreed; which meant Keep your teaching job. It has a good retirement plan.

“Hi Peter,” said Lulu, my wife at the time, (the six-year divorce travail wouldn’t happen for another 16 years, so now we were cordial).

“Peter, great to see you,” said Gorgo, whose given name was George. Gorgo worked in a computer lab, all very top secret.

“Tonight should be fun,” said Peter who was a little shy; not a lot, but a little. “I guess everyone is late.”

“Uh,” said Lucy. “Ah” said Lulu. Gorgo just looked at them and then said. “Most of your teacher friends make it a point to be punctual. It might have something to do with living your working life based on bells.”

“Where is everyone?” I asked. “Anyway let’s order wings and fries and drinks while we are waiting to order those things when the others get here.”

“I haven’t met any of your school friends,” Peter said to Lucy who taught second grade; Lulu didn’t teach and she didn’t work either. She was “finding herself” in those days and it took about 16 years to find that “herself” never really wanted to work and thus she hadn’t. She used to stay at home, when we didn’t have kids, and also when we did have kids, reading British murder mysteries where the wives killed the husbands for sundry reasons.

“I’m looking forward to it, a nice night out,” finished Peter. He was a hell of a nice guy; six-foot tall, thin as a rail, snow-white skin, with white hair and a face that could turn red at the slightest embarrassment. He never went out in the sun for fear of roasting alive.

“I am sure the girls are going to be pretty,” laughed Lucy and then Lulu laughed too.

Peter’s face reddened.

At 8:30 Katie arrived. We were originally scheduled to meet two weeks ago but Lucy said that Katie was putting herself on a “strict diet” to be ready to go out with, “uh, friends.” I didn’t take her up on that by saying, “That’s stupid. Everyone has to wait on Katie?” But I knew that would cause Lucy to get into high dudgeon with Lulu supporting her all the way.

Gorgo asserted that early feminists supported each other all the time, no matter how stupid. One would shout out: “Men should all be killed!” “Yes, sister, you say that lady!”

To Gorgo married feminists talked a strong game. He thought they were all “full of it.”

Katie was a woman with big bones, as they called it. She wasn’t fat per se but if you were a betting person by the third year of marriage put your money on the fact she’d be ballooning.

According to Lucy who told Lulu which I overheard, Katie had lost 15 pounds in two weeks, a remarkable achievement considering this was just going to be a group of friends meeting for a good time. Why would the 29-year-old Katie go on such a strict diet? Made no sense to me or to Gorgo. “What the hell is wrong with her?” he asked. I think Katie told people she was 29 ever since she became 29 about three years before but I didn’t say anything about that. In marriage it is often best to just shut up.

Katie was dressed to the nines; a red mini-skirt which was too small and too tight; a see-through blouse that showed her large bra-busting bosom. Her dyed blonde hair was puffed up and held together with some kind of sweet smelling glue. She was perfumed to the hilt.

She stood over us at the table and made her hands go up and down her body: “I needed to finish this,” she said teasingly.

“You look great,” said Lucy.

“Absolutely,” chimed Lulu.

“How come everyone else is late?” asked Gorgo.

“Uh,” said Lulu.

“They couldn’t make it,” said Lucy. Gorgo threw her a look.

Katie nodded to Peter and gave her version of a sexy smile.

“You are all mine, handsome,” said Katie to Peter. Peter turned red. Gorgo threw Lucy a weird look and then he weird-looked at me. I gave the “what the hell is happening?” look back at him.

“You mean no one else at your school could make this?” I asked Lucy.

“No,” she said definitively.

“Oh, enough of this; let’s all have our drinks,” said Lulu. Katie yelled at the waiter to bring more wings and a “large mug” of beer, which was the pub’s specialty and a double shot of scotch for her. She also ordered a glass of whipped cream.

Katie squeezed in right next to Peter who squirmed a little out of the way so Katie wouldn’t wind up on his lap. “So what’s the conversation? I love a good conversation,” said Katie wiggling her large breasts a little.

“We were basically talking about Nixon and…” I started.

“Oh, forget this president stuff,” said Katie. “That’s all I hear, Nixon this and Nixon that. Peter how many children do you want?”

I almost choked on my drink.

“Well, I, I, never really, you know, I, I never really thought about that very much,” he said.

“You should,” said Katie. “You are getting on in years and you have to plan for your marriage.”

“I’m twenty-four,” said Peter.

Silence.

“I wonder if Nixon has a good marriage,” said Gorgo breaking the silence.

“I think the band should be starting to play again,” I said.

“I love music, don’t you, Peter?” and then she gave her “cute” little-girl smile and asked seductively, “Can I call you by a better name?”

“Huh?” uttered Peter.

“Peter is so formal. We should have especially cute names for each other, don’t you agree?” asked Katie and then she raised her eyebrows up and down the way Groucho Marx used to do. (Gorgo whispered in my ear: “She shaved her eyebrows. Those are made with a pencil. Jesus Christ.”)

“You just met,” I said. Lulu gave me a look, meaning the wife look indicating the husband should stay as quiet as possible. “Well,” I said. “They did just meet.” I got another of those looks.

“I am sure that you have special names for each other,” said Katie looking at Lucy and Lulu. Then she signaled the waiter. “Bring us twenty-four mozzarella sticks.” Then she looked at us, “You know the Italians in Brooklyn call mozzarella mutzadel? What’s with that?” Pause. “God I am so hungry, I could eat a gazelle.”

The waiter left with his new order. In a moment he returned with Katie’s drinks and that glass of whipped cream.

“I love to put my whole mouth on the whipped cream glass and slurp it all down,” said Katie doing her eyebrow thing. “I love slurping cream.” She stage-whispered this to Peter. She then put the whole top of the glass in her mouth and sucked down half of the whipped cream.

“It’s not the fresh kind,” she said. “I know fresh cream when I taste it.”

The band started playing again as Gorgo whispered in my ear, “She’s psychotic.”

Lucy kicked George under the table. “Shut up,” she whispered.

“I know what cute name I can have for you,” said Katie. “Pea-TEA with the emphasis on the word tea because you are drinkable.” And she put the top of the whipped-cream glass in her mouth again.

“Holy shit,” said Gorgo into my ear.

“What did you say?” asked Lulu.

“I didn’t say anything,” I said.

I looked over at Peter who was trying to move away from Katie who now seemed glued to him. “What do you think Pea-TEA?”

“We, uh, just met,” he stammered.

“But I can feel the heat, can’t you Pea-TEA?” she said. “The heat is building; I can feel it.”

I hadn’t noticed but Katie had finished her mug of beer and her double scotch. She called out to the waiter, “More!” and held up her three empty glasses.

The waiter brought over the drinks right away.

“Bottoms up!” he said.

Katie looked at Peter and said, “I always like my bottom up.” And she wiggled her eyebrows.

“I’m gonna be sick,” whispered Gorgo and he was kicked again by Lucy.

I got a kick too from Lulu. “I didn’t say anything,” I said.

“You thought it,” said Lulu.

Katie took a swig of beer, then downed her scotch and put the new glass of whipped cream to her mouth, “Watch this Pea-TEA,” she said. Then she put her mouth on the glass and sucked down all the cream at once. “I love cream!”

“Go ahead, kick me,” said Gorgo. Lucy kicked him.

“So boys, what cute names do you call your wives?” asked Katie, swigging more beer and motioning to the waiter to bring her another scotch, another beer and another glass of whipped cream. That would be three rounds of drinks for her already.

“Do you really want more cream?” asked Gorgo. Then he turned to Lucy, “Don’t you dare kick me again. I think I’m bleeding.” He lifted his left pants leg. “Look at how red this is.” It was indeed red but not as blood red as Peter’s face which looked as if all the red corpuscles in his body had decided to hold a conference in his cranium.

Thankfully the band was so loud you couldn’t hear these private conversations that we “guys” were having. The loudness was much like wedding bands that think you are there to hear them as opposed to attending a wedding.

Katie wasn’t listening to any of this. She was ogling Peter who looked as if he were a trauma victim in a war photo.

“Guys now tell me the cute names of your wives,” said Katie after a pause to finish the last of her beer and swallow several chicken wings in one long suck, slide and gulp. Some of the chicken sauce rolled down her chin and fell onto her blouse.

“Cute names please,” she almost demanded. “Cute names fellas!”

“I call her Lucy,” said Gorgo nodding to Lucy. Lucy frowned.

“Lulu,” I said nodding to Lulu. Lulu frowned.

Katie stared at us for a moment and then she rubbed Peter’s arm which was now almost as red as his face. “I have the perfect name for me, call me Kay-TEA! Our names go together Kay-TEA and Pea-TEA! How do you like that everyone?”

Peter looked at her. I looked at her. Gorgo looked at her. Lucy and Lulu laughed.

“You know,” said Kay-TEA, “we are like Doris Day and Rock Hudson. The heat between us is making me sweat. I loved their movie Lover Come Back. I love Rock Hudson. What a man!” Pause. “People think I look like Doris Day.”

Now even Lucy and Lulu were quiet. Gorgo and I looked at Pea-TEA; had a haunted look. Katie didn’t look anything like Doris Day and the all-white, but now red, Peter did not look anything like the dark-haired Rock Hudson.

Katie finished another round of drinks. The waiter said, “I’m sorry but we have run out of whipped cream.” Kay-TEA loudly laughed, then looked at her trauma victim Pea-TEA and said, “I guess three creams in one night is enough…” she did her eye-browing, “Don’t you think Pea-TEA?”

Pea-TEA had a distant look. Did he actually see her?

There was silence as the band took another break. It was then we could hear the loud sucking sound Kay-TEA made as she slurped down the meat from the chicken wings alternating with eating handfuls of ketchup-covered fries. Her chin now seemed to have a small but steady stream of dribble-sauce going down it.

“I am so happy we met,” she said to Pea-TEA. When she rubbed his arm she got some sauce on him. He didn’t seem to notice. “I am so hungry,” she said. “For food and…” she gave him a sexy look.

“I am sure,” she said, slurring her words a little now, “that there is some real heat between us. Everyone can’t you all feel that heat? We are Doris Day and Rock Hudson.”

Pea-TEA just stared ahead now. I wondered if his bulging head, colored red as heart’s blood, and now showing visible veins (were they pulsating?) would explode.

“You know,” I said. “I have to go to the bathroom. Guys join me.”

“Pea-TEA, wait, I’ll go too,” said Kay-TEA grabbing his arm.

“No, no, Katie, Lulu and Lucy want to talk to you…about, ah, another time to go out; all of us,” said Gorgo. He knew exactly what I was going to do. Kay-TEA swallowed some fries and nodded and did a delicate burp that could be heard across most of the room now that the band was taking a break.

Gorgo, Peter and I headed at a slow trot for the bathroom and then a quick left for the front door. Gorgo stayed on the inside of the front door – as a guard in case Kay-TEA came running to attach herself to Peter.

In the parking lot I turned to Peter. He was looking at me and then said. “That was the worse night I ever spent. Why did you guys set me up on a blind date?”

“We had no idea,” I said. “I thought it was a big get-together, The girls did this.”

“And I am gay,” he said.

“You’re gay?”

“I’m gay,” he said. “I thought you realized that.”

“So does that mean you don’t want to marry her?” I asked.

Sadly, it didn’t end there. Although Peter did make his escape that night (“He wasn’t feeling good so he went home.”) and Kay-TEA spent several hours dancing up a storm at the pub before she got sick, going back to school was kind of a trial. You see Kay-TEA would show up at lunchtime to have lunch with Peter. He wasn’t to be found.

She’d be at the front desk demanding of the secretary, “So where is he? He isn’t in the teacher’s lounge. Can’t you make an announcement to the school that I am here to have lunch with him? We are a couple.”

Peter had found a place to have his lunch that no one knew about, except me of course. Up in the lighting-booth of the auditorium.

I can’t deny that heading for the theatre was a stereotypical move but it was ultimately the place that saved Pea-TEA or should I now say Rock Hudson? Finally our school’s principal called Katie’s principal and that stopped her visits.

Not Adorable

They tried to pull the wool, or rather, the feathers over our eyes. But I discovered the truth and it is not pretty. I must share this truth with you.

You may have heard of this: There has been a tale of the on-again, off-again relationship of two red-tailed hawks that live in Tompkins Square Park in New York City. This pair, Christo, the male, and Dora, the female, have had a lot of press and most of it makes Christo out to be the Harvey Weinstein of hawks because it seems he has betrayed his love for Dora.

Now, Dora and Christo had 10 little hawks together and it has generally been thought that mated hawks mate for life—or thereabouts.

Well, the “thereabouts” seems more accurate, as “til death do us part” is not quite working out in this case.

You see Dora had a wing injury that required the services of skilled rehab people and when she was all well and good, they returned her to the park. This was in 2017. However, when she got back lo-and-behold Nora, another hawk, had entered the picture, taking poor Dora’s place.

About a year ago still another randy hawk named Amelia came in for a loving, landing in Christo’s lap (so to speak). Amelia was courted by the gamey Christo and then she also mated with him—and oh-my-heavens, they actually did the deed in Dora’s nest! Yes, now Christo had three females, Nora, Amelia and his old flame Dora.

Such contentment could not last. Hawks are not Mormons, delighting as they once did in polygamy. Dora decided to assert herself, taking back the reigns of lead wife, and she fought an epic air battle with Amelia high over Tompkins Square Park.

And she lost. She was no match for Amelia in battle or in bed (so to speak).

Dora had some serious wounds and had to be removed to Tackapausha Museum and Preserve in Seaford, New York, where she now spends her days eating rats and perhaps thinking of that rat she once loved.

Now the bones of this story certainly make Dora seem like the injured party in a love quadrangle, finagled by two other females and one horny male. But no story is really simple, is it?

According to Sara Dorn’s article “It’s a Coop D-Etat!” in the New York Post on Sunday, May 5, 2019, Dora was no wall flower, suffering from abuse by her mate and his new females. Instead she was a “queen,” a totally demanding mate who had Christo jumping (or, rather, flying) through hoops.

Cathy Horvath of Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation was quoted as saying that Dora was “not a friendly bird. She was the worst patient ever.”

Nature photographer Laura Goggin said that Dora indeed had a sharp personality and Christo “waited on her” claw and claw. It seems Amelia is far less abrasive on Christo than Dora. As far as those who watch Christo and his two current loves, Nora and Amelia, he seems like a far happier hawk.

The not adorable Dora has enough rats to keep her contented and out of Christo’s life. So you see, some stories have a happy ending.

Frank Scoblete’s books are available on Amazon.com, from Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. His web site is www.frankscoblete.com.

The Scobes Tackle San Francisco

 

We promised our grandchildren that when they each turn 13 we will take each on a special birthday trip anywhere he or she chooses in the continental United States— excluding Alaska—as a gift for reaching such an advanced age. We quickly learned that we had to specify that the offer also excludes Hawaii…and Paris.

It’s the chance for my wife, the Beautiful AP, and me to have some alone time with each one before he or she gets to the eye-rolling “not-these-two-old-farts-again” stage of hanging with Grand AP and Grandpa Scobe.

[We have our friends Jerry “Stickman” and his lovely wife Tres to thank for with this idea as they have some ten thousand grandkids.]

Day One: Tuesday

So it was now John’s turn for this trip. In point of fact, we only have two grandkids, John and Danielle, and this would be our first time spending alone-time with John who is known as Johnny Scobes by his friends and teammates. The “Scobe” name has now lasted through four generations of Scobletes!

[John’s Journal: I had chosen to go to Los Angeles but we’re going to San Francisco. So much for my choice and Grandpa Scobe’s veto.]

Grand AP and I had a whole list of activities and places to see in San Francisco and we had bought tickets to the San Francisco Symphony for our final night.

“He’s going to hate it,” said AP.

“We’ll have him trapped,” I said.

Izzy, the driver whose company I have used for over a dozen years, picked us up at 7:15 AM and we were off to New York’s Kennedy Airport. Izzy is a story teller—he relates his life and ideas to you as he drives. On the trip to Kennedy we learned where his two daughters live; the roads near his second home in Florida, as said home is on the beach and how many hours he plans to work down there. Also that the home has a good crosscurrent of air.

We were flying first class on Delta. I was interested to see how John would like that experience. I have stopped using economy. It’s torture.

Now, Delta has two types of first class cabins—the old ones which are essentially larger seats; and the newer ones which have totally private seats that can recline into a bed, large individual television screens, great earphones and superior meals and drinks.

We always use carry-on, no matter how long we’ll be away, and this trip was no exception. The first snag we hit was that John’s suitcase could not be opened. The suitcase had exhausted its life cycle and was stuffed with so much stuff that no amount of tugging could open the zippers without ripping the entire case.

We decided to wait to open the suitcase until after we checked in at Kennedy Airport and then we’d buy a new one. Yes, that was a small problem but kind of typical of John’s cavalier attitude towards anything that he didn’t really consider all that important. How hard is it to pack carry-on for a three-day trip?

[John’s Journal: So I over packed. But I told them my mom and sister had done the packing. I think I got away with that.]

We got to the airport early. You can’t miss a flight by being early except that Jerry “Stickman” missed one of his flights when he arrived early and fell asleep in the lounge and snored through all boarding announcements as his plane then sailed the blue skies while he slept soundly in his seat.

When John and AP bought the carry-on suitcase (I stayed in the lounge to relax), John came back with it.

“Guess how much it cost?” he asked.

“A hundred dollars?”

“Nope,” he said. “Four hundred dollars.”

“Really?”

“Yep,” said John.

[John’s Journal: I fooled Grandpa Scobe about the price of the luggage. It was only sixty dollars. He looked relieved when I told him the truth.]

We boarded the plane in the very first boarding group and John’s eyes lit up when he saw the accommodations. It was the new first class! Grand AP showed him everything that he needed to know about his remote, his headsets, and how to call the flight attendant for drinks and snacks. We all settled in for the flight, which was well over five hours long.

Newlyweds who were seated apart asked me to change my seat so they could sit together. So I moved. Sometime in the future their request might be the opposite, “Would you change seats with me? I don’t want to sit next to my husband.”

Instead of an aisle seat, my preference, I now had a window seat next to a guy who got quite buzzed on the flight. That’s what I got for being nice to the newlyweds. I wish I weren’t that nice. I could smell my stewed seatmate’s breath the whole flight.

[John’s Journal: I’ve got to tell my parents that first class is how we must always travel. It should be the “Scobe Way.”]

I was really disappointed in breakfast. I ordered French toast and it was soggy and tasted like a leftover from two weeks ago. I ate about ten percent of it before I gave up. The other choices seemed to be just as unappetizing as AP and John didn’t finish their meals either. That’s the first time I had food on Delta that I didn’t like.

[John’s Journal: Breakfast sucked.]

When we landed early afternoon, we had a car service take us to our hotel, the Marriot Marquis. I wanted John to enjoy this trip and experience what I considered to be the finer things in life. Grand AP and I would enjoy taking him to the symphony, whether he liked the experience or not. Bad experiences can often become good experiences in retrospect.

We were on the 33rd floor in a corner room. You could see the city and the San Francisco Bay from our windows.

[John’s Journal: We had a cool suite with giant television sets in each room. Grand AP and Grandpa Scobe are not big on watching television during the day or of “constantly” looking at your phones. They are old fashioned in many ways.]

I was disappointed in our hotel. No elevator went from the lobby floor to the higher floors. If you had a floor above 18, you had to switch elevators on floor two or four to take another elevator. The higher floor elevators were down a hall where you had to make various turns. You followed red tape on the floor to figure out where you were supposed to go. It was maddening.

[John’s Journal: You never knew where you were in that hotel. There were always guests wandering around with confused looks on their faces. The lobby was white, white walls, white floors; it was like Antarctica. If you asked a worker how to get somewhere they would say, “Behind the white wall.” Couldn’t they see that every damn wall was white?]

After lunch in the rather high-priced restaurant at the Marriott Marquis, we headed for the Cable Car Museum and then the piers. That’s when they became noticeable. the hordes of the homeless, everywhere in the city—not just in some godforsaken out-of-the-way neighborhood but everywhere; in front of the banks, the restaurants, the stores, the department stores; the office buildings. Some slept on the sidewalks; some in the alleys, some in doorways. Some of them howled their objections to life’s “slings and arrows of their outrageous fortune,” although the rest of didn’t want to hear them.

[John’s Journal: There were a lot of homeless in the city. It was like being back in New York, only maybe worse. Where’d they all come from? Were they all born in San Francisco?]

The Cable Car museum was interesting. It had great information about the earthquake of 1906, which destroyed the city. The amount of work keeping those cable cars moving in those years must have been enormous. Today they are a fun ride up and down a few breathtaking hills.

[John’s Journal: The Cable Car Museum was okay but the pictures of the earthquake were amazing. Even the young people looked old in those photos. When did young people start looking young like they do now?]

At the beach area from where you could see Alcatraz, there were children playing in the sand; dogs romping; joggers happily jogging; people playing touch football; babies being wheeled in carriages; and swimmers swimming in the Bay area that had been fixed with barriers so the waves wouldn’t drag the hardy swimmers out to their deaths in the Pacific ocean. Of course, the children, the dogs, the joggers, the football players, the baby wheelers, had to do their things around the homeless sprawled out here and there.

[John’s Journal: The Bay was nice and a lot of people were swimming. As far as I could see, the swimmers did not have any homeless swimming with them in the Bay, unless there were bodies floating nearby.]

That night we went on the Haunted San Francisco ghost and murder tour near Union Square that skirted the tip of the Tenderloin District – the seedy part of town. Our tour guide, Sebastian warned us to be careful with the homeless as the sidewalk was their “living room” and we should understand that. I took that to mean, Be careful, some of these people are insane.

[John’s Journal: The ghost tour was okay but there was more about murder than about ghosts. There were a lot of weird people in San Francisco’s past.]

Day Two: Wednesday

Today was Alcatraz, one of the best tours the Beautiful AP and I have ever been on. We were excited to take John on it.

You put on the headsets and are whisked back in time for two hours. Alcatraz Island housed some of the most dangerous criminals in American history and you learn what they were really like when they were caged. For example, did you know that the “Birdman of Alcatraz,” so lovingly portrayed by Burt Lancaster in the movie, was described by the warden as “a psychopathic, suicidal mass murderer who spoke three languages”? No one turned his back on this killer of men and lover of birds.

This amazing tour starts off with a pleasant boat ride to the island and then you are in for it. If you visit San Francisco then you must go to Alcatraz and take the audio tour.

[John’s Journal: I really liked Alcatraz. The criminals looked like criminals. Maybe we are what we look like?]

Late afternoon would be our Chinatown visit and then a dinner at the highly recommended Oriental Pearl. The Marriott concierge said this was one of the two best restaurants in Chinatown.

Over the years in four separate visits to San Francisco’s Chinatown I found that I was not a fan. I found the area to be grimy, rundown and ragged. But Chinatown is a big tourist destination and we felt that John would enjoy entering this world.

I asked John why there were so many Chinese in San Francisco. John was unaware of the history of Chinese immigration to San Francisco; he thought some had just showed up one day and others followed. We explained the horrors of forced labor on the railroads.

Our first stop was the Golden Gate Cookie Factory. That sounded interesting as this factory was where fortune cookies were created. That had to be fun to see, right?

It wasn’t.

We walked into this crummy store and once we got about nine feet inside that was the end of the “self-guided tour.” There were two women loading the cookies with fortunes and some guy wandering around the place. Factory? How could this dirty store be called a factory? Of course, the conditions of the place did not stop us from buying a bag full of fortune cookie slices. John loved them. They were delicious.

[John’s Journal: If Chinatown was my room, my mother would be yelling at me all day to clean it up.]

After walking the littered streets we found our restaurant, the Oriental Pearl. The store with the sign was closed but another sign led us to a door that signaled we were to go upstairs. Well, at least we would sample Chinatown’s best! Even bad places have good places, right?

I noticed that the rug on the staircase was frayed. I hoped from a lot of foot traffic. Upstairs the restaurant looked okay and there were several tables with diners.

We were seated next to a slightly opened window that had no screens. We checked the fraying cardboard menu. I turned to the page with drinks.

“I’ll have a Macallan please,” I said.

“That last page in the menu we don’t have,” said the waitress. I then noticed that the menu was stained and falling apart in the middle. It was a very old menu; maybe as old as Chinatown itself.

We ordered two glasses of wine and John ordered lemonade. The wine glasses were small, I mean, really small. The lemonade had a slight greenish color. John took a sip of it, put it down and chugged some water.

“Oh, god!” he said. “The water is making me sick. I feel a big lump of phlegm in my throat. I gotta spit! Grand AP, is it okay if I spit out the window?”

“No, no,” said AP. “Run to the bathroom over there!” and she pointed.

“Taste my water,” said John.

I took a little sip. Oh, Jesus! It stuck to my tongue and the back of my mouth. It tasted like – I don’t know what the hell it tasted like.

“Take a taste of this,” I said to AP.

“You crazy?” she said. “You’ve already said it tastes terrible. I don’t need to taste it. We need to complain about this water.”

The food arrived as John returned. It looked disgusting. The white rice was a greyish color. I had ordered lemon chicken and I cut a piece. It was – can you say this about chicken?—mangy. I spat it out of my mouth. John took a taste of his and looked at us. “I’m going to throw up if I eat this.”

“Let’s leave,” said AP.

I called the waitress over. “We’re leaving,” I said. “This food is disgusting. We’ll pay for our drinks but we are leaving.” The waitress nodded. Strangely, she didn’t seem at all surprised.

[John’s Journal: The food in Chinatown was worse than on the plane!]

Back at the Marriott Marquis, we went to the 39th floor to the View lounge for some drinks. The view was spectacular and the drinks tasted like real drinks. I will never go back to Chinatown again.

When our appetites returned, we had a bite to eat at the hotel’s restaurant. John ordered only French fries.

[John’s Journal: I’ve never gotten sick eating French fries.]

Third Day: Thursday

We found a good diner for breakfast, Mel’s, a block from the Marriott. We had paid $34 per person for a buffet breakfast at Marriot’s B-55 the day before. That’s a ridiculous price for some eggs, fruit and toast. Mel’s was a throwback to the 1950s and ‘60s and the breakfast was delicious and reasonably priced.

We walked to pick up the Cable Cars a few blocks away and we enjoyed our trip up and down the hills. If you have never been to San Francisco you can’t imagine how hilly the city is and the cable cars are a great way to get the feel of what it must have been like over a hundred years ago.

You can sit on the cars or you can hang off them on the sides. The Beautiful AP and John hung off them, but I sat.

[John’s Journal: The cable cars were fun.]

We did some more touring of Fisherman’s Wharf.

After that we went on a great boat trip Bridge to Bridge on the Red and White line. It went from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge and back to the pier. The day was warm and it was perfect for a boat ride in the beautiful Bay.

Many folks that visit San Francisco think the Golden Gate Bridge should be gold in color. Not so. The “golden gates” are the mountains on either side of the Bay which the Bridge connects and that is where the Bridge gets its name, not from its color.

 

Giant beasts have attacked the bridge, including It Came from Beneath the Sea, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJqXEhMdlg4) the recent Godzilla monster and an X-Men villain did the Bridge in as well (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITMren3I3WM).

San Francisco has to keep repairing that bridge.

We had a great dinner at the B-55 and that is when John hit us with, “So are you taking me to a concert?” How the heck did he know that? I told no one and Alene told only some 20 colleagues at work.

“How did you know that?” I asked.

“I just guessed,” he said. Maybe I should get lottery numbers from this kid.

Then it was off to the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall for Ravel’s Pavane pour une infant défunte and Piano Concerto in G major; and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Simone Young was the conductor.

So how would this first dabbling into classical music go for our young grandson? We’d see. AP told him that his cellphone be shut and his eyes open. We assumed his ears would be open.

Of course, first we had to get there. Our Uber driver sternly told us not to walk in the Symphony Hall’s neighborhood because of all the homeless. This was the Tenderloin District and they were everywhere – everywhere. It was like a zombie apocalypse. “Do not wander from the symphony.” We saw some tents and what I took to be drug deals occurring on the sidewalks. Coming from New York this reminded me of well, of course, New York as John has already said, but also Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia, Memphis, and countless cities across our country. I just don’t remember these numbers when I was a young man, over 50 years ago. Was I that blind? Did we always have such numbers of homeless?

The Symphony Hall had uniformed security guards throughout the building and one of the ushers told AP that those were the ones you saw but there were also undercover ones everywhere as well. I guess the Symphony knew its neighborhood.

John was a good sport and he said the symphony was all right. I took that as high praise.

[John’s Journal: I did not like the Ravel. It was dull. The Scheherazade was good. I was tired throughout this and wanted to go to sleep but I had to keep my eyes open as Grand AP kept checking. She doesn’t want you to get away with anything.]

So tomorrow we would fly home.

Day Four: Friday

The car service picked us up at 6:15 AM. Our flight was at 8:30. We’d get back to New York at about 5 PM.

After a good breakfast in the airport (we weren’t taking chances with the airplane food), and a little wait, we boarded the plane. Yes, it was the new first class again. The three of us settled in for the flight.

I started watching The Carbonaro Effect, a funny hidden camera magic show, but at the half-hour mark, the pilot’s voice came over the loudspeaker: “We are turning around and going back to San Francisco. There is some smoke in the cockpit and in the economy class. We take such things seriously and we want to be cautious so we are going back to check things out.”

In a half hour we landed in San Francisco airport.

We were told we could make reservations on other flights heading to other cities if we wanted to try for transfers or we could wait in the airport for another plane, if Delta sent another plane. Thankfully, another plane did arrive and the departure was for 1 PM. We’d get into New York at around 9:15 PM or so.  AP used this as a “teachable moment,” explaining to John her maxim: no day goes as planned and always take carry-on luggage.

None of the three of us were upset. Heck, we got back to the airport with no trouble. It wasn’t until we were standing in line to board the second plane that a couple of the passengers on that first plane told us that it wasn’t just smoke they saw but that the floor was rattling like crazy. That was the scariest thing of all to them.

On the flight back to New York I noticed that John watched the “R” rated movies Ted and The Hangover. I was going to tell him to go to “PG-13” films but then I figured these are his rewards for the symphony. In point of fact, he’s probably seen much more when he and his friends do “research” on the Internet.

At Kennedy Airport at 9:15 that night, Izzy was there to pick us up. When we got into the car we began to tell Izzy the story of our interrupted return journey but we didn’t get very far. Instead Izzy told us about his journey of six miles from his home to Kennedy and then how one of his regular clients had trouble on the airlines sometime in the past and that he and his wife have an agreement about when they fight and that Izzy doesn’t mind letting her win in order to establish peace in the family and that he is rapidly making friends with cops in Florida and that he made sure everyone in his development now knows that he will be happy to serve as their ride to the airport and anywhere else they wished to go for a fee of course because he doesn’t work for nothing. Izzy had six miles worth of stories.

[John’s Journal: Izzy really enjoys talking.]

All in all this was a very good trip.

[John’s Journal: All in all it was a good trip.]

Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

The Fat-Fingered Blackjack Technique

 

For several years some Las Vegas casinos offered a two-deck game dealt face up – mostly the Mirage properties. This was unusual since most double-deckers are dealt face down. You will probably find some casinos throughout the country that continue to do the face-up double-deck game and if so the “fat finger” strategy can give you a startlingly large advantage.

The ultimate spot on the table is at first base for the “fat finger” strategy so when you see that a dealer is falling into “fatitude” you must get yourself to first base [first base is the very first seat to the dealer’s left and is the first position to get cards].

So here is how this technique works: The dealer deals the cards to the players face up. When the dealer gets to third base [immediately to the dealer’s right] and he starts to flip the card over for the player, there are times when he double flips – that is, he starts to flip two cards at the same time. In a normal deal the top card is the player’s but in a double flip the second card is shown – that will be the dealer’s hole card. The dealer catches the almost-mistake and knowing he was about to show his hole card, he quickly stops the flip and fixes the cards so the player gets the correct card without the dealer’s hole card being seen or being flipped. Or so he thinks.

That hole card is often visible from first base. That’s right; he isn’t able to hide the card completely from the first base player – meaning you.  Now you know his hole-card and can play your hands with that knowledge. A huge edge has just now been given to you on a golden plate.

What makes this a great way to play has to do with some of the hitting and standing decisions that you can make. If you know the dealer has a 6 under his up-card of 10, you might want to stand on your 15’s and 16’s, or double on your 9’s. He will not know that you know he has a 6 in the hole. Your playing decisions can really help you bring in the money. Of course, you could go completely nuts with your decisions. You would be foolish to stand on a 12 against a dealer’s 10 card even if you knew the dealer had a 6 in the hole. That would be something of a give away. You have to keep yourself somewhat reigned in so the pit wasn’t aware of the fact that you were not actually dumb (as you appeared to be based on your strategies) but actually smart enough to catch a problem in their game. Smart is bad in a casino; dumb is prized.

The reason I call this the “fat finger strategy” has to do with which dealers tended to make this misstep. These were usually large guys with big, thick fingers. For some reason when they flipped the cards, they had a tendency to double-card flip. That double card-flip was no big deal when it occurred to the players before the last player since you were going to see those cards anyway, but when it was the last player being double-card-flipped – voila there was a nice fat edge for you.

Yes, at times all types of dealers made this mistake but the large, thick fingered ones made it the most. Be thankful so many Americans are out-of-shape and over-weight or nicely plump due to so much protein, sugar and fat in our diets – they’ve made it perfect for some blackjack players such as me.

The best dealer I ever had was at Bellagio; he did it almost ten percent of the time. Still, I didn’t go all out to take hits. If I had an 18 or 19 I stayed on my hand even though I knew the dealer had, say, a 20. Again, hitting an 18 or 19 would have been too radical a hit unless you looked like Alfred E. Newman with drool dripping down your chin.

I did, however, double-down on hands such as a nine against a dealer’s 10 up-card when I knew he had a small card in the hole. This merely looked as if I were stupid whereas hitting on an 18 or 19 would have made me look crazy or smart. Again: Stupid is loved in the casinos. Also: Crazy gives the casino pit people pause. Again: Smart makes the casinos hate you.

A.P. and I played these face-up two-deck games for over a year and it was a very, very satisfying year indeed.

The above was excerpted from Frank’s book I Am a Card Counter!

Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

Truth About Blackjack Players

 

There are three types of blackjack players and sub-categories of these three. If you are a self-styled blackjack player using your own unique and probably wrong strategy and you are easily offended, you might not want to read this article. That’s my warning to you.

Blackjack players who are card counters, meaning they can get a small edge over the casino when they play, have certain things they look for. They want deep penetration into the deck, decks or shoe. This allows their count to become stronger as the cards have been played.

These players are not as interested in the rules as they are in the penetration (however, they will probably forgo the 6:5 blackjack games). Penetration is the key to the casino treasury. They would also prefer to play alone or with only a couple of players at the table. Advantage players want to play as many hands as possible. They love fast dealers!

Regular basic strategy players (basic strategy being the computer derived play of every player hand against every dealer up-card) want just the opposite. They want good rules, shallow penetration, a full table and slow dealers. The fewer hands such players play the better for them. Old, arthritic dealers or those dealers who love to talk are the best bets for a basic strategy player.

Card counters and basic strategy players are opposite sides of the blackjack coin; the two never to meet in their long-term expectations.

The third type of player, the category of which goes from stupid to stupider to “oh, my god, he did what?” Such players use their own well-thought-out-seemingly-logical strategy which is totally wrong and based merely on their own limited experiences in the casinos. (“I know what I am doing; I have been playing blackjack for years.” “Sorry, no, you don’t. You split 10s, double on 12, and annoy everyone by giving the wrong advice! And there’s a funky odor coming from you.”)

Players who try to use their psychic powers are long-term losers. Players who assume the dealer always has a 10-card in the hole, even though only about 31 percent of the cards are of 10-value, are long term losers. Players who always insure their hands, even their blackjacks, are long-term losers. Players who split fives…players who won’t hit their 16 against a dealer up-card of seven…players who don’t always split aces and eights – the list goes on forever – they are all losers.

Yes, basic strategy players are losers but they are basically losing a mere one-half percent of their action while our third category folks are losing their shirts.

Blackjack is a great game, for card counters and for basic strategy players, but each must play the particular game their strategies are suited for. And that third category? Sadly, there’s no talking to them.

[Frank’s books are available from Amazon.com, Kindle and Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores. Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com

The Delightful Horror of Family Birding

The Bookcase by Frank Scoblete

The Delightful Horror of Family Birding by Eli J. Knapp

Americans are not big buyers of books loaded with short stories, essays or multiple poems presented to us by somewhat obscure poets. Actually in America just about all poets, except for the ones taught in high school and college classes, are obscure.

I can’t speak for Europeans, who are constantly speaking about themselves, but the American literary market shuns big books loaded with short pieces. Magazines, the sacred shrines of the short piece, are dying now but short stories and books of essays have already dug their graves.

Even in the world of nature writing and, yes, even within our particular focus with birds, we tend to like our feed-grain to be of one type per book. Give us a tale that hangs together from beginning to end and we are satisfied if the tale can hold our interest. Yes, some birders will buy encyclopedic books about birds but those books must contain pictures for the reader to stay interested. Give me a full book about owls (thank you very much), but not one about various readers’ appreciation of what they are individually experiencing with those owls.

Now this predilection for longer pieces has pushed to the side those books that contain enlightening, entertaining, and important information that can delight us if we only give such works a chance to tickle our fancy.

One such book, composed of wonderful essays, (don’t you dare stop reading this article because I used the word “essays”) is by Eli J. Knapp and is titled The Delightful Horror of Family Birding. Knapp is a college professor and a bird lover since his youth when he encountered his first birds. More important, this man is a father opening the world of nature and of birds to his soon-to-be-savvy children.

Now, most books that feature children can be vacuous since most kids are dull, at least in my opinion, and their great discoveries are rather pedantic. Today our children would rather watch a sunset on their phones than in the actual sky. Not so with Knapp’s children. His kids are looking at the world because they are in the world.

Knapp’s essays often speak powerfully about the beauty inherent in birds and, of course, in the natural world and his kids happily pick up on that. It is fascinating to watch a parent lead his children to an appreciation of the rich world around them.

The book is funny; the essays hang together with crisp, sharp language and imagery. I think you will find the “horror” of family birding to be anything but horrible. Give it a try.

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and in bookstores.

You Can’t Go Home Again

I was walking alone in the Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve, which is a great adaptation of what was once a huge garbage dump. There are trails, great views, constant uphill walking—schlogging for me—as other folks are happily jogging. Families come here for fresh air, sunshine, and time away from electronic devices.

Although Levy Park & Preserve isn’t ranked among the best birding spots in Nassau County, one can see raptors, songbirds and water fowl…which is why we were there with the birding club.

I was separated from the members of the South Shore Audubon Society. This was our Sunday walk. I don’t know what happened to the group of at least 30 people. The party splintered and then vanished like magic. I had been walking with my wife, the Beautiful AP, and our friend Linda (a great Yankee fan!).

I turned onto a solitary path, a trail leading back to the parking lot. My walk was about two miles by this point and I was seeing some beautiful birds. I was checking out this tiny blue bird, light-bluish grey underbelly, dark blue stripes on his wings, which were blue as well. His beak….

Arrrrrrggggggggh! came the kid’s high-pitched scream. I want to go back! I want to go back! I want to go back! I want to go back to the parking lot! Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

The blue bird (meaning the bird of blue; my chance to identify it was cut short) flew into the thickets and I lost sight of it. Other songbirds made a hasty retreat.

Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! I want to go back! I want to go back! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

Songbirds are skittish and they had all fled the scene, the loud scene made by this little…brat.

Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! I want to go back! I want to go back! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

To this point it had been a leisurely walk with singing songbirds and even a raptor or two.

I want to go back! I want to go back! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

The damn kid. That damn, stinking kid.

I know I should state here that I really, really like children. The problem is, I don’t. I like my two grandkids and my niece’s the three little kids, but that is about it. Except for my own kids and those five above, the rest I just find irritating. Three-year-olds (give or take some months) are obnoxious and insistent, as was this kid repetitively howling that he wanted to go back to the parking lot.

I want to go back! I want to go back!

There were steep hills in this park and no fences to stop a kid from going over the edge, where a fall of 30 or more feet would silence him if his put-upon daddy just gave him a little nudge…just like that. A tiny, almost imperceptible, nudge. The quietude and the songbirds would return. “No officer, I didn’t see anything. The kid probably pitched over the edge on his own. This park should really have fences to prevent lovable little children from falling to their silence…I mean, deaths.”

Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! I want to go back! I want to go back to the parking lot! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

Just before you get to the parking lot on this path, you pass a pen with all manner of goats. The apathetic goats looked at the screamer, unconcerned and unaffected. However, had they been released from their pen, would they have gored the little tyke? One could only fantasize.

And then the parking lot appeared. But The Stinking Kid Didn’t Shut Up. He howled a new refrain: I want to go home! I want to go home! I want to go home!

I wanted to share one of life’s truths, brilliantly captured by Thomas Wolfe; but such an insight would have been lost on a screaming mini-monster and his frazzled dad.

You can’t go home again.

Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books, and at bookstores.

Thar Ain’t No Gold in Them Thar Hills

I enjoy birding or, as it used to be called, bird watching. My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I try to go get outside, sometimes just the two of us, just as often with the South Shore Audubon Society (SSAS) on Sunday morning excursions.

I am an amateur of amateurs. I know the names of some of the birds but basically I just gape. I enjoy hearing them sing, watching them fly, seeing those hunting raptors soar. I will never be an expert as some of the members of the SSAS are, but that’s fine with me.

I can last for about two hours on a walk; once or twice I’ve hit three hours, but I can’t do the all-morning, all-afternoon, most-of-the-evening walks some of the SSAS members enjoy. I do know my limitations.

My wife photographs the birds, the trails, and nature. When we get home she goes over the hundreds of pictures she took that day and will ask me my opinion of this one or that one—an opinion I am happy to express.

But not all bird walks are rewarding based on how many birds we encounter. There are some days when there are so few birds that we will say, “Nothing to be seen.”

Still, saying such a thing does not adequately express what we experienced that walk.

Where we take our most beautiful walks—Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens; the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside on Long Island; and the Cape May Point Trails near the Lighthouse in Cape May, New Jersey—can be inspiring, with or without many bird sightings.

A bird-empty beautiful area is still a beautiful area, and one to be savored. The three mentioned above are just such areas, and there are more.

But on a walk at the Marine Nature Study Area where there was “nothing to be seen,” something else hit me.

“You know,” I said to the Beautiful AP. “Even on walks where we say we didn’t see any birds, that isn’t true. We usually see something.”

That is true. We tend to simply overlook some birds because they are so familiar that they are just considered pests. Take the Canada Geese which can be found everywhere we go. Indeed, there probably isn’t a lake, pond, park, ballfield or grassy knoll that hasn’t seen an invasion of these creatures.

The sky at times can be filled with them flying in a massive “V” shape. They honk like crazy; and crap large black heaps, all to their hearts’ content. Such heaps can cover any footpath, turning a simple walk into a game of hopscotch.

You always know when they are around. They can aggressively demand food or privacy from humans. They have accommodated themselves to living in our areas to the point where they don’t even bother to migrate anymore.

When we see them we just tend to overlook them; it’s as if we didn’t see them.

“You know AP, if we only saw a few now and then, they would fascinate us.”

“True,” she said.

Canada Geese are large birds, powerful, and they move rather quickly. They are high flyers and their landings in the waters of lakes and ponds can be fast and furious.

Sometimes on our walks where we see “no birds,” we have seen dozens of Canada Geese, which we completely discount.

On the days when we think “thar ain’t no gold in them thar hills,” in reality there is plenty of gold. We have beautiful landscapes away from traffic to enjoy. And if we pretend never to have seen this species that has come to annoy us, they can transform a birdless walk into a bird walk, to which some of my wife’s photos can attest.

So, in birding, sometimes nothing is actually something.

Read Frank’s books which are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

Bye, Bye, Big Bang

 

The “big bang” in the title of this article does not imply I will be writing about the origin of the universe or quantum mechanics or relativity or science in general. Instead it refers to the great situation comedy The Big Bang Theory.

The show is concluding its 12th season and will end its spectacular run in the spring of 2019. Fans are, of course, disappointed that the show is ending even though reruns will be aired on a number of channels until, perhaps, the end of time.

My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I were at first two of the disappointees.

We decided to start watching the series from beginning to end on our DVDs. This would be our third time through it. Lately, life has dished out some rough times, with a series of family stressors, job losses of relatives, injuries of friends and of AP and even me being hospitalized with pneumonia and the flu.

We could use some laughs each night so we watched a few episodes before we went to bed. And here is what we found:

The Big Bang Theory of the first half dozen seasons is far superior to The Big Bang Theory of recent vintage. The laughs came fast and furious during those episodes. The pacing of the show was perfect and the delineation of the characters was spot on. There are times when a single sentence garners three laughs—the first laugh after the first couple of words, a second laugh after the next couple of words and a third laugh right after the punctuation mark.

Neither the characters nor the situations do seem strained. Everything flows. Those shows are masterpieces; as good as any shows ever on television. These episodes were exploring the characters and their world views. The laughs were bang, bang, bang. The show was truly explosive.

But slowly, with the addition of other permanent characters, the show started to bog down and the episodes became contrived. The new characters were excellent but the stories tried to flesh them out to such an extent that the humor took second fiddle to the plot lines. It stopped being a riotous show and instead settled more into the average, only intermittently funny, sit-coms seen on other channels.

The time is actually more than ripe for this show to leave the scene and screen. My wife and I think that sit-coms and other shows should consider going the route of six seasons as a maximum and then calling it a day, even if the show is still a hit.

Yet, what producers and directors would put a cap on the number of seasons to keep a show an artistic masterpiece when there is money to be made? In the case of the Big Bang Theory, the longest running multi-camera sit-com in TV history, it was lead actor Jim Parsons who shook the world and wallets of the cast, crew and sponsors when he cried, no mas.

Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, on Kindle, at Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

I Am a Prude

 

I have become a prude. I am so sick of good movies and good television movies and series capitalizing on sex. What a waste of time!

Okay, you may ask why is on-screen sex a waste of time? Sex is fun, right? In real life sex is, indeed, fun but more often than not in movies and series, it waylays the storyline.

Take The Americans, a good show, where the leading lady has sex with sundry men and the leading man (yes, our lady and man are wife and husband) has sex with all manner of women. Hey, that’s fine because they are Russian spies and they have to do what they have to do to get what they want from the enemy.

Great. But once the sex is stipulated to occur right now, why do we have to waste precious minutes watching them moan, groan and hump? We know what’s going to happen in the scene so why bother with it? It doesn’t further the plot one iota.

I just watched the first three episodes of True Detective. I liked the show but the husband who cheats on his wife has a scene where they do it (seemingly forever). She is totally nude and they are, well, you know what is going on because you see it and know the whole scene reduces the story to a glacial pace.  The handcuffs he brings to our fair damsel’s house in episode 2, clearly show us that this relationship is going to get kinky; nothing more is needed. Once a scene indicates the character is having an affair, we can move on for crying out loud.

Let me juxtapose the scene in Casablanca where Rick and Ilsa illicitly meet in Rick’s room. Wow! That is sensuality to its nth degree. We didn’t have to see anything more than their kiss. Without a wasted moment, the scene drove the story further along. Compared to that scene, the movies and shows that burn up time with sex scenes prevent us from answering our burning question—what happens next?

The Americans could have been an “A” series but to me it fell to “B+” in my estimation. That’s a big drop. As for True Detective? I doubt I’ll bother finishing it.

Yes, I am now a prude—or perhaps I’m simply a guy who enjoys good writing and scenes that don’t waste my time.

Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, e-books, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.