Super Books!

I hope you enjoyed Super Bowl as much as I did. Here’s how I spent it: at Mrs. Dalloway’s Book Shop on College Avenue in Berkeley. It has been a while since I’ve browsed in a brick-and-mortar book shop. I highly recommend this one.

Me and Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.

There’s no lack of analysis of this quote, the line that opens Virginia Wolff’s novel, but here’s one that I like. The site provides a “pretentious factor” — if you were to drop this quote at a party would your friends be impressed or roll their eyes and never invite you back? What do you think?

The Oscars

It’s Awards season, and I feel it’s my duty to provide handy guides. Last week it was the Edgars™, this week the Oscars.

Here’s the full list of nominees.

There was a time when I’d try to see all the nominated movies, but I’ve gotten old, and, for the most part, movies have stayed young. Fortunately, there’s always at least one I can recommend. If you liked All the President’s Men, you’ll probably like The Post, and, in a few years, maybe Fire and Fury will be out.  But for now I just concentrate on my Oscar party.

Dusting off party goods for the Oscars

I know it’s early, but I need time to get quizzes and prizes ready. Here are some sample Name That Movie quotes from 2012 and 2013. Who said this? Try them and let me know how you do. You know there will be a prize or two.

1. Person A: “How did she die?”

Person B: “Saw herself in the mirror one day.”

2. “Can you please not fight in here? I don’t think I can take it. For some reason, my Xanax isn’t kicking in.”

3. “Half of North America just lost their Facebook.”

4. “Your eggs are dying. Would it kill you to go on a date?”

5. “No one freely shares power in Washington, D.C.”

6. “It used to be about trying to do something. Now it’s about trying to be someone.”

7. “I want you to help me catch a killer of women.”

8. “Make for the sewers!”

9. “It’s incredible that the Coliseum is still standing after thousands of years. You know, Sally and I have to re-tile the bathroom every six months.”

If you’re in the neighborhood, drop by on March 4, 2018. Costumes welcome.

The Edgars™

Every year, on January 19, the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, the Mystery Writers of America announces the nominees for the Edgar™ Award. In case you missed this, here they are, for works published in 2017.

The Awards will be presented to the winners at a gala banquet, April 26, 2018 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City. Will I see you there?

AWARDS banquet, 2015

In the delightfully out-of-focus photo above, you see Stephen King holding his award for “Mr. Mercedes.” I am hugging the stage (very) far left, waiting to usher him off, or vice versa. I was Chair of the Best Novel Committee that year, and this moment was the perk for reading and evaluating more than five hundred novels. (Thanks Best Novel Committee!)

NOMINEES FOR 2017

BEST NOVEL

The Dime by Kathleen Kent (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)
Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus Books)
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (Penguin Random House – The Dial Press)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper (HarperCollins – Ecco)
Dark Chapter by Winnie M. Li (Polis Books)
Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love (Penguin Random House – Crown)
Tornado Weather by Deborah E. Kennedy (Macmillan – Flatiron Books)
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (Random House)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Ragged Lake by Ron Corbett (ECW Press)
Black Fall by Andrew Mayne (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper Paperbacks)
The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola (Sourcebooks – Sourcebooks Landmark)
Penance by Kanae Minato (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)
The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong (Text Publishing)

BEST FACT CRIME

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Penguin Random House – Doubleday)
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster)
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse (W.W. Norton & Company – Liveright)
The Man From the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery by Bill and Rachel McCarthy James (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case that Captivated a Nation by Brad Ricca (St. Martin’s Press)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women who Created an Icon by Mattias Bostrom (Grove/Atlantic – The Mysterious Press)
Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay (St. Martin’s Press)
Murder in the Closet: Essays on Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall by Curtis Evans (McFarland Publishing)
Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson (W.W. Norton & Company)
Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes by Michael Sims (Bloomsbury USA)

BEST SHORT STORY

“Spring Break” – New Haven Noir by John Crowley (Akashic Books)
“Hard to Get” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Jeffery Deaver (Dell Magazines)
“Ace in the Hole” – Montana Noir by Eric Heidle (Akashic Books)
“A Moment of Clarity at the Waffle House” – Atlanta Noir by Kenji Jasper (Akashic Books)
“Chin Yong-Yun Stays at Home” – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by S.J. Rozan (Dell Magazines)

BEST JUVENILE

Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)
Vanished! By James Ponti (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin)
The Assassin’s Curse by Kevin Sands (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin)
First Class Murder by Robin Stevens (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR)
NewsPrints by Ru Xu (Scholastic – Graphix)

BEST YOUNG ADULT

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Feiwel & Friends)
Grit by Gillian French (HarperCollins Publishers – HarperTeen)
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (Simon & Schuster)
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Simon & Schuster – Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (HarperCollins Publishers – Balzer + Bray)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY

“Episode 1” – The Loch, Teleplay by Stephen Brady (Acorn TV)
“Something Happened” – Law and Order: SVU, Teleplay by Michael Chernuchin (NBC Universal/Wolf Entertainment)
“Somebody to Love” – Fargo, Teleplay by Noah Hawley (FX Networks/MGM)
“Gently and the New Age” – George Gently, Teleplay by Robert Murphy (Acorn TV)
“The Blanket Mire” – Vera, Teleplay by Paul Matthew Thompson & Martha Hillier (Acorn TV)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD

“The Queen of Secrets” – New Haven Noir by Lisa D. Gray (Akashic Books)

GRAND MASTER

Jane Langton
William Link
Peter Lovesey

RAVEN AWARD

Kristopher Zgorski, BOLO Books
The Raven Bookstore, Lawrence Kansas

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD

Robert Pépin

* * * * * *

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD

The Vineyard Victims by Ellen Crosby (Minotaur)
You’ll Never Know Dear by Hallie Ephron (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow Paperbacks)
Uncorking a Lie by Nadine Nettmann (Llewellyn Worldwide – Midnight Ink)
The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins – William Morrow Paperbacks)

Thesaurus Day

January 18 is Thesaurus Day.

I’ll bet some of you didn’t know that Peter Roget has his own special day. I certainly didn’t, but here it is upon us.

Peter Mark Roget (1779 – 1869) was a British physician, natural theologian and lexicographer. In 1852, he published The Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases.

Here’s the best article I could find on this multitalented scholar.

I looked for a quote from Roget, but couldn’t find one. Instead, I’ll offer these quotes on words:

All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind. — Kahlil Gibran

I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.–- Emily Dickinson

So many words, so many synonyms

And my favorite:

We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. –- Neil Gaiman

Some Mini Fun

The Christmas dollhouse, traditionally decked out with a tree, lights, Santa in the window.

You’ve probably seen photos of this dollhouse — a gift from LR.— here and there throughout this season. The house is finished on the outside as you see, but the inside is not finished, just bare wood with spots of paint and other marks. Eventually, I’ll paint or paper the walls, lay flooring, and set up the rooms with cute furniture.

But first I wanted to have some fun with the house. I ran the idea of a crack house by some friends. I wouldn’t have to do anything but toss some mattresses and backpacks around, maybe set up a “lab” in one of the rooms. I got so much negative feedback, I scrapped the idea. But I still wanted to have a little fun before going suburban. The least I could do was dress some dolls in SWAT clothes and raid the house. No harm in that, right?

A mini SWAT TEAM, ready to invade the crack house.

If there are any shrinks reading this, please refrain from analyzing me. :)

CHRISTMAS WRAP

Christmas is over, for the most part. I always find a stray ornament, a “Santa” dish towel, and some other surprise red thing after I’ve sealed the boxes for storage. No problem; I have a drawer in the guest room for “Holiday Addenda.”

A lot of food came in the door this year as Christmas presents—pears, home made biscotti, several kinds of fudge, and too many cookies to count. I loved them all and made sure I had enough company to share them.

What I didn’t get was:

1. Fruitcake. Yes, I like fruitcake. I know it gets bad press, but freshly made fruitcake is delicious, and this “like” is one of many others I have to defend.

Others are listed here.

2. Christmas letters. I read them all, carefully. Sure there’s a lot of duplication, like soccer/basketball/other-ball trophies won by grandchildren, and bucket list trips to Machu Pichu. But I love catching up. My Christmas list includes some I haven’t seen in decades. Even so, I like knowing what’s happening in the lives of people I once saw every day.

3. Cold. It’s hard for me to feel Christmasy when I’m wearing sandals.

4. Crackers. Not the edible kind, but the ones with silly hats and sillier jokes.

Sample: What do you call Santa’s little helpers?
Answer: Subordinate clauses!

5. Carols. I like them all, from Away in a Manger to Santa Baby to Jingle Bell Rock. And, yes, all the verses of 12 Days of Christmas.

6. Calendars. You can’t have too many. I need an arty one (Central Park in Art); a hometown one or two (Boston); one that has large numbers for the dates; one nearby to mark up; one right above my computer monitor; and a nostalgic one (from 2008 – can you guess what that is?) And those are just my office calendars.

New (l.): 2018 Picasso calendar; Old: NYC Cal to mark weeks of class

7. Needles all over the rug. Love them! I even featured them on my card this year. If you didn’t get one, it’s because I don’t have your address. Send it and you’ll have a card in the mail before all the trees are gone from the rubbish pickup pile.

What I don’t like: mystery presents, since I don’t know whom to thank. Here’s this year’s unknown:

CHOCOLATE ALERT

Mystery chocolate!

Does anyone recognize this gift? A box came in the mail with a large tin of Godiva truffles and a festive collection of cookies. The only return address is Bloomingdale’s in Palm Beach, FL. I don’t know anyone in Palm Beach. There is a name associated with the box, but I don’t recognize it — I’ll call it just D. B., to protect a potentially innocent person. A reward leading to the identity of the sender . . .

Finally, HAPPY NEW YEAR! And—wait for it—as of this writing there are 357 days, 2 hours, 37 minutes, 22 seconds till Christmas 2018!

2017 Puzzle Review

Many of you know of the puzzle mania that characterizes our home.

Here’s the latest one we’re working on (well, mostly the Rufer part of the family). It’s a collage of foods from yesteryear, some of which are still around, some not.

"Things I Ate As a Kid"

If you want to see the complete inventory of puzzles from 2017 and years past, here’s the link:

http://rrufer.com/wordpress_1284833715/

Note: The Rufer puzzle blog does not accept comments, but The Real Me does, so feel free to comment here! And, above all,

Happy New Year!

Best of 2017

Might as well face it. SOMEONE is bound to ask our favorite book of 2017.

I’m ready.

How about I name my favorite authors for each country I’ve “visited” in 2017?

• Denmark: Jussi Adler-Olsen, “The Keeper of Lost Causes” and others.

• Norway: Karin Fossum, “Hell Fire” and others.

• Iceland: Arnaldur Indridason, “Reykjavik Nights” and others.

• Scotland: Peter May, “The Black House” and others.

• Britain: Mo Hayder, “The Treatment” and others.

• Russia: Joseph Kanon (American), “Defectors” and others.

What they all have in common: an intense darkness and sense of place. In each case, there is a brooding presence that is the main character, an unrelenting heaviness that is frightening and comforting at the same time.

Nothing in the US, you ask? Sort of.

• New York: James Patterson’s “NYPD Red” series is fun!

And why don’t I slip in a little BSP — a Christmas short story: The Neon Ornaments – find out how Gloria Lamerino and Matt Gennaro met, one Christmas season!

Reconnect with Gloria, Matt, Rose, and Frank

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!