Saturday, July 22, 2017

A NOVEL Idea

Trying out a few ideas for a novel with the central character based on my dad, Sammy. I'm not sure where its going but I've experimented with a screenplay and now a novel.

Here's a sample chapter. What do you think?

************************************
        Barry wheeled Sammy into Haim’s Deli. As soon as he stepped through the front door, the unmistakable smells and sounds of the delicatessen settled over Barry’s senses and calmed him. He spotted Haim Shear working behind the counter, slicing meat carefully in long strips and placing them in butcher rap. Haim learned the business from his father, Izzy. He carried on the tradition when Izzy passed away 10 years ago and bought the building that bears his name today. 

“Sam. You’re looking pretty chipper today.”  Haim yelled across the counter as he spotted the Levines. “Is Barry taking you out on the town today?”

Sammy pointed to the meat counter. “Say, Haim  ... Make me a corned beef on rye very lean ... lots of mustard and potato salad.” 


“Coming right up. Barry ... what can I get for you?”

“Pastrami for me ... the works.”

“Oh … Haim ...” Sammy added. “This is my son, Barry.”

“A fine looking boy, Sammy.” He winked at Barry. “Sit. Sit. I’ll bring it over.”

Barry slipped Sammy’s wheelchair into a table and settled into his seat.

“Did I tell you that Bertha died?” Sammy looked at Barry.

“Who died?”

“Bertha. Remember Bertha? She used to sit with me at lunch and dinner. She died ... Another one dead ... They’re dropping like flies. I really liked Bertha. She had a real asshole for a daughter though ... never came to see her.” 

“I remember Bertha. I didn’t think you liked her.”

“She was a lovely woman. She stopped sitting with me about a year ago. Said something about me to the nurses. I guess I didn’t have good table manners. What are you gonna do?” 

Sammy pulled out his wallet. It was worn and thin just like him. He took out a piece of folded paper and handed it to Barry. “Barry ... I want you to do me a favor.”

Haim came up to the table with lunch and set down the plates.

“Okay ... Corned beef for Mr. Sam and Pastrami for the boychik. Anything else?”

Sammy grabbed the note back again quickly. “No nothing. This is fine.” 

Sammy shooed Haim away as Barry grabbed his sleeve. “Thanks Haim ... this looks great.”

Barry took the note and opened it. Sammy closed it. “No, no not here. Don’t open it here.”

“Top secret, huh? Is this the formula for Coca Cola?”

“What? What are you talking about Barry? This is very important to me and I need your help. It’s no joke.”

“I will guard it with my life. The last note is still in a safe place at the house. I remember the coded words ... ‘sans-a-belt pants in size 34 and a bar of soap’.”

“Always joking. Ha ha ha. Well this is not a joke Barry. It’s very important to me so try to do what I ask.”

“I will. How’s your lunch?”

“Too much fat on the corned beef. This should be lean. Haim must be getting his meat from gentiles. It’s not like the old days. Remember Izzy’s? Now that was great food.” 

Barry’s mind drifted back in time. He was sitting at Izzy’s as a little boy. The usual crowd was there. Lots of old Jews yelling at their children, talking with their mouths full and gesturing wildly. At his table were Sammy and his mom, Esther. They were in their 40s then. He and his younger brother Mikey were sitting across from them. 

Younger Sammy spoke. “Too much damned fat on this corned beef. I’m not gonna pay Izzy for kosher meat if he keeps serving this crap.” Sammy grumbled and then turned his attention to Barry. “Don’t play with your food. Look at your little brother. He’s four years younger than you and eats like a real gentleman.” 

Barry answered. “Mikey’s eating crackers and cheerios with his fingers.”

“And he sits up very straight.” Esther pinched Mikey’s cheek. “Such a good boy”.

“Eat your food Barry.” Sam said. “Listen to your mother.”

“You’re not eating yours.”

“I’m an adult, Barry. The difference is that you just need to listen and eat.”

Barry continued to stare at present day Sammy.

“Barry. What the hell’s wrong with you?”

“Huh? Oh. Just thinking.” 

“Well. I’m ready to go if you are.”

Barry grabbed the check and walked to the deli counter.

“Oh ... And Barry tell Haim how delicious the sandwich was. I loved it.”

Haim smiled at Sammy and rung up the check for Barry.

“He LOVES it Haim.”

“God’s got a special place for you, Barry.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Great Game ... Someone Tell The Guy Sitting Behind Me

Great game yesterday between the Rays and Red Sox.

Sitting there in the stadium, I felt a mix of euphoria and claustrophobia. My euphoria was brought on by the quality of the game and the quality of my eyesight. Great plays ... and I saw them all. I saw the ball ... CLEARLY. So if an errant pitch or a random foul ball came into the stands, I could clearly see it right before it hit me in the eye and destroyed my vision forever.

Ironically, that comforted me.

My claustrophobia on the other hand was caused by a loud, obnoxious, dorky looking guy in his sixties and another guy named Derek ... sitting right behind me. I only know Derek's name because he used it in every sentence. Loud talker is really a conservative description for this guy. Just ask the ten rows in front of me.

He had comments about every play. The good ones would all make the highlight reel.

"Derek ... that's a HIGHLIGHT reel on ESPN. I'm telling you ... that's a HIGHLIGHT reel play. I bet anything it's on the highlights tonight. Don't you think so Derek?"
"Yeah ..."
"Better BELIEVE it ... how about you buddy (to someone two rows back) Highlight reel right? I can guarantee it."

Every time someone hit a fly ball he said ... "That's it ... HOME RUN!" When they were just pop ups he'd correct himself and say ... "Should of been a home run ... You see Derek ... (he demonstrates) if they got their power behind it like this ...(if he hits me in the back if the head I will KILL him).

 He didn't take a breath the entire time. I know about his entire family ... his mom for example ...

"You know, Derek ... mom has a fear of poverty."
"I don't think its a fear ..."
"Derek ... it is a fear ... a real fear."
"I think ..."
"Derek listen I know what I'm saying ... she has a REAL FEAR."
"Maybe she just is frugal ..."
"Derek, Derek, Derek ... she's afraid of being poor. It's a FEAR its a real FEAR!"
"If you say so."
"Derek, Derek ... I KNOW so ..."

I wanted to turn around and say ... "DEREK JUST AGREE WITH HIM DAMMIT!" It was like that kid on you tube who says "Linda listen ... Listen Linda ... LEEENDA LISTEN" Except that kid was cute and funny.

Then there was a conversation about the price of the seats.

"You know ... I paid about $50 more for these seats but they're great  ... these seats .. got them on Stubhub  ... I could have gotten other ones ... but I like these ... I don't care about being behind the net at home plate ... I don't care if a ball hits me (OH PLEASE LET A BALL HIT YOU) ..."

I know that he's a car salesman, he is on an investment chat site where he's learning how to invest and was instructing Derek on the fine points of IRAs, and that he dates a nurse ...

"Derek ... are you seeing anyone?"
"Um ... well I have been seeing this girl I met at a bar ..."
"Derek ... if I were you, I'd look for a nurse like my girlfriend (he has a girlfriend???)."
"Well I do know a nurse ..."
"Is she an RN or an LPN?"
"I don't know .."
"Derek ... does she work at a hospital?
"Um"
"...doctor's office?"
"I think ..."
"Is she a physician's assistant?"
"A what?''
"Oh Derek ... you gotta learn these things ... now a physician's assistant makes more money ... and let me tell you what else she does ... (I'll save you the graphic details)."

Thank the Lord it was a fast game ... I don't know if I could have done extra innings. In the 9th, Alex Colome pitched. He apparently didn't like Alex.

"Uh oh Derek ... here he comes ... Colome ... inconsistent ... big mistake ... wouldn't have put him in. What the hell are they thinking? Oh great ... now he walked that guy. They should have taken him out after the first batter. BUM! BUM!"

Colome winds up getting three outs with the bases loaded and wins the game.

"Derek ... SEE I TOLD you when he's on ... he's so GOOD!"

Kill me (or him) NOW.  




  

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Better Call Saul or at least ... Watch Him!

Better Call Saul is the Breaking Bad spinoff that tells the backstory of Saul Goodman, the sleazeball lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk. Deb and I started watching the first two seasons on Netflix this past week when I was home between cataract surgeries.

It is brilliant!

One critic said: "It is already better than Breaking Bad, and has a shot—if it stays this good—at being one of the best television shows ever made ...

Better Call Saul takes the style that made Breaking Bad distinctive—the cinematography, dark comedy, and brashly confident pacing—and elevates it by applying it with more beauty, subtlety, and moral sophistication. "

I'm gonna save all the details about plot and characters and let you be surprised and entertained.

Don't miss it!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I Can See!

Both eyes are 20/20 ... amazing after Friday's surgery ... so cool. I haven't been 20/20 since ... EVER. I woke up and looked outside and saw things I haven't seen for years. Seriously ... I saw colors, details, definition. I was like a kid!!! I was SO happy!

Then I looked in the mirror.

I was depressed for the rest of the day. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Deja Vu All Over Again

Flashback!

I brought back my post-surgical pirate pretender patch today. It wasn't just to play dress up ... I actually used it.

You see ... I had my first cataract surgery today. Yes I am now officially old as dirt. Cataracts. Can you believe that?

Well ... the world famous St. Luke's with the equally world famous Dr. James Gills (III) ... known as Pit ... was my destination.

Today, I was to get my left eye worked on. They do them one at a time ... I wondered if it was in case it doesn't work the other eye is saved, but they say it's so that you have mobility while the first one heals.

I'll go with that.

So at 10:40 AM we checked in (poor Debbie chauffeured me again to yet another medical/surgical
procedure).

What an incredible process  ... choreographed and orchestrated like a major production. Pre-op visit a couple of weeks ago was equally impressively organized.

My first stop today was with a primary care physician who did a physical, explained the process ahead and literally escorted me to the next stop. A short ride on the elevator brought us to surgery check in where were were given more materials, promised a gift certificate for the dining room and escorted to another waiting room.  

My name was called, I entered into a treatment room and was given eye drops to prep. The nurse wrote a big YES on my forehead over the eye that was to be operated on.

Back to the waiting room when my name was called and I was escorted to the business office where they collected what was not covered by insurance.

Next stop was surgery. Another series of numbing drops, IV stick, a dose of happy juice and before you knew it (an hour and a half later) I was in the operating suite with Dr. Gill.

More happy juice ... and the actual process of removing the cataract and replacing it with a brand new lens that would give me better vision than I ever had in my life began!

It took 5 minutes.

I say that because I DID remember and I DID stay awake during the procedure. Kinda freaked me out but there was no pain and no discomfort ... really easy.

We got our going home instructions like how to safely shower, which eye drops to take over the next couple of months to prevent infection, and I even got my own set of BLUBLOCKERS for the trip home.

Whew!

I can't use the left eye for 24 hours (that's why I'm temporarily using my patch).

On Friday I get the right eye done ... then I will never use my glasses again!

Oh ... maybe a pair of Fred Sanford cheaters for close up work but I'm ready!! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

New York State of Mind Part 3

Day three started with MOMA and ended with M&M.

The M&M store was a late night visit to stock up on our favorite treat. Judy and Steve make the trip often to get green and gold refills for the candy bowl that Judy keeps outside her office.

We bought the new flavor ... caramel! Tastes like a milk dud covered in chocolate. It was a great end to our day.
Just before that we enjoyed the musical Groundhog Day.

Funny stuff. The lead actor gave Bill Murray a run for his money. The rest of the cast was very good as well. The story was identical to the original movie and the new music added an interesting element.

So before we went to the play we got a bite to eat at a little place called Briciola.

When I say little I mean LITTLE. We were sitting with about ten of our new best friends on one long table in a room the size of Debbie's closet. I visited the bathroom which was smaller than the ones that are on airplanes and the sink was behind the toilet (a reach over).

Good news was the food was excellent.

Continuing to tell the story backward ... MOMA visit was that morning. Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit was very interesting.

Deb was dizzy that morning (no ...I mean vertigo). She missed MOMA but got breakfast in bed.

Telling this story backward was like Groundhog Day or yaD gohdnuorG.

Confused? Well so am I. Good to be home!  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

New York State of Mind Part 2

Day 2 was dreary, rainy and cold.

Actually, it was quite appropriate for our visit to Ground Zero, one of the worst tragedies to ever hit the US. The Freedom Tower majestically stood watch ... climbing straight through the clouds.

Surrounding the sight were the Reflecting Pools that were inscribed with the names of every victim who lost their lives on 911.

Just steps away was the 911 Museum ... built over the actual Twin Towers and exposing some of the original walls and flooring of the buildings.

Earlier, we had visited the architect of the memorial, Daniel Libeskind who originally sketched the design of the sight on a napkin. His studio was down the block and he was such a fascinating guy to talk to.

We rested for a couple of hours, got a bite to eat and walked down Broadway to see Hamilton. Looking up at the stage from the third row was surreal (knowing that I might have to get a second job to pay for the tickets).

What a great play. Seriously, its not over-hyped ... it was everything that it has been built up to be. The music, the staging, the historic significance, humor, drama ... all in one great package. Note: If you are going to see it, make sure you listen to the soundtrack ahead of time. I did, thanks to that tip from Steve Greenbaum and it was incredibly helpful in understanding the lyrics.

Speaking of Steve, we all headed to Juniors after the play to eat cheesecake.

Delicious.

Tomorrow ... MOMA and Groundhog Day!