O Christmas tree

Two scenes from a recent jaunt to New York City.

Can you figure out the exact location?

How about this one -- where am I?

A few of My Favorite Things

In case you missed this list on Lois Winston’s blog a couple of weeks ago, I’m reprinting here.

Here are some of my favorite things, in various categories:

Element of the periodic table — Polonium, #84, the first element discovered by Marie Curie, and named for her native Poland.

Crime drama — “Ray Donovan,” because of Liv Schreiber, Jon Voight, the Boston accents, and the dark, dark mood: “You don’t want to know what really happened.”

Scientist— Enrico Fermi, “the architect of the nuclear age,” for better or worse, and author of one of my favorite quotes.

Favorite quote #1, from FermiBefore I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture, I am still confused. But on a higher level.

Female crime writer — Patricia Highsmith, because she gave us Tom Ripley.

Drink — very dry decaf cappuccino with whole milk (Reminds me of that scene in “LA Story,” where no one is ordering a simple coffee.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08NkaqoOELg

Favorite quote #2 There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t tell them. – Louis Armstrong. (Know anyone who fits this description?)

Favorite animals — the lions, Patience and Fortitude, outside the New York Public Library.

Mathematician — Countess Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter and the world’s first programmer, not because she was an addictive gambler, but because many people think she’s an acronym. ADA, the Department of Defense programming language is named after her. And so is Ada Madison, one of my pen names.

Museum — one with a Hopper, a Stieglitz, a Wharhol, and a coffee shop.

Sport — whatever is off season.

Male crime writer — Stephen King, because I’m only one degree of separation from him (My first agent was his first editor. Or is that two degrees?), and because he hugged me when I handed him his Edgar for “Mr. Mercedes.”

All-round great Author — Joyce Carol Oates, because she’s on my mind. She was featured in the NYTimes, 10/23/17, as part of the Set the Page Free project, between Xerox and the literary community. And because she’s written a gazillion books that I love, from “Them” in 1969 to “We Were the Mulvaneys” in 1996 to “The Man Without a Shadow” in 2016. She’s quoted in the article as saying “I like to write.” Really, Ms. Oates? Tell us what you don’t like to do.

Sunset lined up with 42nd Street, on a summer evening.

•  Street — 42nd in Manhattan, running from the East River to the Hudson River. In between are the United Nations, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, Times Square, and one or two theaters and eateries. Hmm, maybe it’s time for a visit!

Is it Winter Yet?

Not where I live.

So, I’m heading to NYC in a few days to see if I can find some winter. I know I’ll find winter scenes, like these, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Winter on 5th Avenue, Alfred Stieglitz

Central Park, the Lake in Winter, Emil Orlik

I’m getting chilly just preparing this blog. More when I’m back!

Thanksgiving

Here’s a throwback to Thanksgiving, circa 1950. That’s my Uncle Al at the head of the table; apparently I was at the foot, taking the photo.

We were at the New Hampshire home of Uncle Al and Aunt Teresa (near right).

Sadly, only one person (besides the photographer!)  is still with us — my wonderful cousin Gloria, third on the left. She calls herself “The Other Gloria” referring to the fictional Gloria Lamerino of the Periodic Table Mysteries, who’s named after her.

A long-ago family gathering

I wish you and all of your families a very nice Thanksgiving Day.

Periodic Stories

Last week I uploaded the 12th entry in the Periodic Table Mysteries: The Magnesium Murder, a novella.

In THE MAGNESIUM MURDER, freelance embalmer Anastasia Brent is called to help solve the murder of a bride-to-be. Mortician Frank Galigani of Revere Massachusetts makes a brief appearance! Now available in digital form at: Amazon.com

Here’s a link to the latest 4 stories in the series (following 8 novels, from Hydrogen to Oxygen).

Science in the news

November 9 – a great day in science?

Well, not earth shattering, but notable.

Element 110 was born on 11/9/1994: DARMSTADTIUM, detected in Darmstadt, Germany, and named in 2003. Symbol Ds.

Perhaps more exciting, it’s the anniversary of Carl Sagan’s birth in 1934. Have some cake.

Quote of the week, from Sagan:

“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

(Let’s think about that for a minute.)

Great Women in Science

I’m preparing for a class on Saturday, November 4 — “Great Women in Science.”*

Where to start? If I had time, I’d pop in a video of the movie “Hidden Figures” and go from there. Or maybe I’d hand out copies of my screenplay on Marie Curie’s life. (Digression – options are available if anyone has a production company. (smile))

A great resource is Rachel Ignotofsky’s WOMEN IN SCIENCE: 50 FEARLESS PIONEERS WHO CHANGED THE WORLD.

My challenge is to choose 8 or 10, to fit into a 3-hour discussion that will include such exciting information as Percent of Physics Masters and Doctorates Earned by Women.

I think I’ll start with an actress: Hedy Lamar. Lamarr was also an engineer, with a patent on technology that’s the foundation for today’s advanced wireless networks.

She set a high bar for herself:  Jack Kennedy always said to me, Hedy, get involved. That’s the secret of life. Try everything. Join everything. Meet everybody.

Who’s your favorite woman scientist? Send me your vote before Saturday morning and I’ll add to my class.

*Details on my website www.minichino.com . If you’re in the SF Bay Area, stop by!

Why a Parrot?

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait for the answer to that question!

My guest today is bestselling author LOIS WINSTON. Among other credits, she’s the brains & marketing brawn behind 2 boxed sets that I’m happy to be part of: SLEUTHING WOMEN, 10 first in series mysteries, and SLEUTHING WOMEN II, 10 mystery novellas.

WELCOME, LOIS!

Book 6 in Lois Winston's Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries

“Why a Duck?” is a famous Marx Brothers routine from their 1929 movie Cocoanuts. Some readers who have read my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries have wondered, why a parrot, especially a Shakespeare-quoting one. To them I answer, “Why not?”

I write humorous amateur sleuth mysteries. I want my readers to laugh while trying to figure out whodunit. For that reason I have populated my books with a variety of comical characters. For instance, Anastasia’s mother and mother-in-law both live with her. Her mother is a former social secretary of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She claims to descend from Russian nobility. Her mother-in-law is a card-carrying communist and leader of the Daughters of the October Revolution. The two women are forced to share a bedroom. Conflicts abound.

But why stop with human absurdist humor? Why not toss in a few furry and feathered housemates? So Anastasia’s mother-in-law comes with Manifesto, the dog (named for the communist treatise), and her mother has a cat named Catherine the Great. The two animals get along as well as their human mistresses.

Did I stop there? Of course not! Overseeing the constant household shenanigans is Ralph, an African Grey parrot with an uncanny knack for squawking situation-appropriate quotes from the Bard. Ralph popped into my head one day as I was fleshing out Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series. I had recently seen a news story about a parrot with a huge vocabulary. The bird basically could carry on conversations with his owner. Why Shakespeare? Again, why not? You have to admit, it’s totally absurd, and that’s what I was going for.

I developed the Anastasia Pollack Mysteries after September 11th. I had previously written dark romantic suspense, but I no longer wanted to write dark. There was enough dark in the real world. I needed an escape from reality, and I figured others probably did as well. With everything going on in the world today, I still need that escape. If you do, too, I have just the prescription for you—Anastasia and her zany household.

Scrapbook of Murder

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 6

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

Buy Links:

Kindle http://amzn.to/2ffIMgy

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/scrapbook-of-murder

iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/scrapbook-of-murder/id1286758416?mt=11

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/scrapbook-of-murder-lois-winston/1127145157?ean=2940158851896

Paperback http://amzn.to/2y2Omhl

LOIS WINSTON

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Website: www.loiswinston.com

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/anasleuth

Twitter at https://twitter.com/Anasleuth

Newsletter sign-up: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/z1z1u5

Theory of Dollhouses

PLAYHOUSE

Here’s my latest “dollhouse,” almost ready for departure to a local school raffle, an annual project for me.

Technically, this house is a PLAYHOUSE, not an official DOLLHOUSE, the difference being that one couldn’t really live in a house with a partial roof and rooms not fully enclosed by walls. Not that you could live in a dollhouse, but it looks like you could!

1/12 scale DOLLHOUSE (1 INCH TO 1 FOOT)

The rooms in a playhouse are easily accessible to young hands, to toddlers who might want to move things around. A dollhouse is more of a showpiece, meant to draw you in so that you feel you have entered a different world. You can imagine yourself sitting at the miniature table, taking a nap on the bed.

The play house pictured came ready-to-assemble, and accompanied by dolls. Ugh, dolls. Here’s why dolls are ugh-ly – they ruin the fantasy. You can tell by looking at these dolls that they’re not real. They can’t comfortably sit in the tub (middle right of the playhouse); their stiff hands can’t pick up the can of soda on the table (lower right of the playhouse). They don’t bend for the rocker or the couch. Never mind that they are simply painted wood.

So here’s what I do with the dolls – I steal their clothing, which does happen to be “real” – real fabric. Yes, I strip them and fling their clothing around the houses, as real people might do. You can see a sample in the bunk-bed bedroom of the playhouse, where a pink jacket from a girl doll has been thrown on the floor. Now the house looks lived in, but more important it looks like you live there.

COLUMBUS DAY

Columbus Breaking the Egg, by William Hogarth.*

October 12 used to be a fun holiday. Christopher Columbus Day! Parades! A reason to celebrate in my Italian-American neighborhood.

Today, not so much.

Many years ago, before most towns, Berkeley, California changed the text for its parking meter holidays from “Columbus Day” to “Indigenous People Day.”

It’s been hard for me to adjust.

One of the first passages we had to memorize in Italian class as 6th graders was Cristoforo Colombo nacque a Genova nel mille quattrocento cinquanto due (his birthdate 1452, now disputed by a year or two). . . followed by accounts of his successful excursions and discoveries and feats of valor. No one ever mentioned his arrest for abuse of power, his presiding over a massive slave trade, or even that the Vikings may have gotten here before him.

A statue of Columbus stands outside St. Anthony’s Church in Revere, Massachusetts, where I was born (nacque in Revere nel mille novecento ??) My childhood friends and I always thought he was a saint, of equal stature with St. Anthony of Padua, who stood on the other side of the entrance.

In Revere, the tradition continues to this year, with a Columbus Day parade. If I can find a photo, I’ll add it! If you have one, please add it!

* Read the apocryphal story of Columbus breaking the egg.