Book Recommendation: LONG MILE HOME






The appalling news story the other day about Kavyon Edson’s stunt where he pranced around Boston with a fake bomb in his backpack inspired me to buy a book on the actual Boston Marathon bombing.

The book is LONG MILE HOME: Boston Under Attack, The City’s Courageous Recovery, and The Epic Hunt for Justice by Scott Helman and Jenna Russell of The Boston Globe.  I highly recommend it.  It’s a fabulously researched account of a horrific subject.

I was on vacation in Springfield, Missouri when the Boston Marathon was bombed last year.  I was able to follow the story pretty closely, since I was off from work, and was riveted by it, but hadn’t realized how much of the story I still didn’t know until I bought the book. I knew three people were killed by the homemade bombs the cowardly Russian-born Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, set off at the marathon, blowing up civilians.  A university cop was also killed when the two terrorist weasels tried to run out of town and escape.   Yet I didn’t know that sixteen people, including a little 7-year-old girl, Jane Richard, who was the sister of one of the civilians killed – 8-year-old Martin Richard – became amputees after this gutless attack.  It’s infuriating.

What a wimpy pair they were, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev!  They blew up spectators and little children to make a point for their “cause,” radical Islam anti-American sentiment.   How spineless is it that this idiotic duo of two grown men deliberately created explosive devices  to overpower civilians at a race because of their personal beef with America?  They weren’t even bright about covering their tracks, dumping the bombs in backpacks among the crowd on Marathon Monday and walking nonchalantly away – without realizing their images would be captured on surveillance cameras.  What century did they think they were living in?  Once the bombs went off, those two unconcerned men strolling among all the ensuing chaos stood out like red flags.  This was all recorded on tape.  Police asked everyone who had taken photos or videos of the marathon to bring it to them and worked hard to figure out who had left the bombs at the race.  Once the psychopathic brothers were identified, Boston law enforcement personnel launched a manhunt.  Good!

During their attempt to evade capture in the midst of the ensuing manhunt, they kill a university cop, then carjack a hostage – who gets away.  Ha, go, hostage, GO!  Next, Dzhokhar, behind the wheel, accidentally runs over his own brother, who later dies, like Cain and Abel all over again, except that neither one in this instance was the good brother – both are bad to the bone.  Dzhokhar follows this up by hiding under the tarp of a boat that was parked in a Watertown, Massachusetts driveway.  The city gets placed on Lockdown during the search for the dweeb, who spends the day under the tarp.  When the Lockdown is lifted, the boat’s owner goes out to check on it and sees him.  He calls 911.  The dweeb is apprehended.  Now he’s facing the possibility of the death penalty.

The book also covers, in-depth, stories of the cops, the marathon director, the rescuers, the first responders, the doctor who treated so many of the trauma victims, the carjacking victim who ran for his life at a well-calculated moment and saved himself, the spectators, and the whole fine tapestry of Boston.  It’s an overall uplifting story of a city’s courage while under siege by two losers who wanted to strike out against America, even though our country had let them in.

Three cheers for the people of Boston – stay BOSTON STRONG!




Want to See Two Lunatics? This is What They Look Like!


Frazier Glenn Miller, a/k/a Frazier Glenn Cross, the Synagogue Killer

Frazier Glenn Miller, a/k/a Frazier Glenn Cross, the Synagogue Killer

Kayvon Edson, who thought it would be "funny" to frighten Bostonians with a backpack like the one containing last year's bombs

Kayvon Edson, who thought it would be “funny” to frighten Bostonians with a backpack like the one containing last year’s bombs

Take a look at these two, Ladies and Gentlemen!  One is Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, Frazier Glenn Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross.  Maybe his “Cross” alias was inspired by what he used to burn in the Klan.  He shot three people at a synagogue in Overland Park, Kansas, because he hates Jews.  However, the three people he shot were bystanders – and not Jewish.

He’s in the hoosegow in Johnson County, Kansas.  May he never get back out again, too.

The other Bastion of Impropriety is Kevin Edson, also known as “Kayvon” Edson (how ridiculous).  “Kayvon” Edson is a self-stylized, get this, “Bipolar Performance Artist.”  He’s the freak who brought a backpack with a rice cooker to the Boston Marathon as a stunt.  Last year, you will recall, the Boston Marathon was bombed by two nuts with rice cooker explosive devices in backpacks.  When the Boston police saw Edson’s backpack, they called in the Bomb Squad to detonate it.

I have relatives who live near Boston and attend that marathon.  It makes me furious to know that the good people of Boston were put through yet another scare because Kayvon Edson thinks he’s “funny.”

Edson has been sent for a “psych evaluation.”  He might also get sent to jail, which is where he belongs, for 20 years for his actions.  I sincerely hope that happens.  Take a look at that photo of his.

There will be justice, eventually.  Jailhouse justice.  Just wait until they get a load of him on the cell block!



“Dancing With the Stars” and Deja Vu



The June Taylor Dancers on THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW

To the television networks of America: I have a suggestion to make.

You probably get suggestions all the time, but since mine is based on one of the top-rated shows, Dancing with the Stars, perhaps you’ll pay it some attention.

I think I know why Dancing with the Stars is such a hit, see.  It’s not just that it’s a cool dancing show, and it’s not just that the dancers aren’t prima ballerinas or mavens of the ballroom, professionally.  It’s that this show brings to mind, for those of us old enough to remember, the Golden Age of Television Variety Shows.

I was born in 1961, and I grew up with them.  One of my earliest memories was the theme song of the Andy Williams Show – “Moon River.”  I can recall variety shows with Liberace, Red Skelton, Dean Martin, Jackie Gleason, Lawrence Welk, The Hollywood Palace, Sing Along with Mitch, Carol Burnett, Tom Jones and Ed Sullivan – to name just a few that come to mind immediately when the subject comes up!  Lawrence Welk was all singing and dancing.  Jackie Gleason’s show had Honeymooners segments and the June Taylor Dancers.  Even Sing Along with Mitch had dancers.  My cousin was on that show and she was one of them!

Saturday night was the best night of the week when I was but a wee bairn because Jackie Gleason, Lawrence Welk and the Hollywood Palace all came on, I think on different channels, but one after the other.  Sunday nights, of course, belonged to Ed Sullivan.  I’m pretty sure that Red Skelton was on Tuesdays.  There was Tom Jones on Fridays, coming on some time after The Partridge Family, and around the same time, in the 1971′s, along came The Julie Andrews Hour, Sonny & Cher, and more.  In the mid-seventies, who could forget Donny & Marie?  

People loved these shows, and for good reason: they were uplifting song and dance hours and they were FUN!  Remember fun, television executives?  Remember watching programs because they made your heart sing, not to mention you, too?

It seems to me that a lot of the appeal of Dancing with the Stars is that it brings to mind the age of shows that were all about singing and dancing.  I like the dance numbers on that show.  I must confess, however, that I’m not too crazy about seeing the “filler” segments of the stars rehearsing their routines – who cares? – or watching the judges tear the contestants to shreds, if they don’t like their performances.  They take away from the joy of the whole.  It’s like the show does its best to remind us of the good old days, but then, just when we’re enjoying a dance number, some judge has to morph into a curmudgeon over it.  Get to the good part, I always think, as I watch.  Show us another dance, and judges, shut up!

I have a feeling that I’m not the only audience member who would love to see a traditional-format variety show come back to the airwaves.  May I nominate the idea of shows starring Bette Midler, Nathan Lane, Audra McDonald, Harvey Fierstein, and the Rockettes?  Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, Jackie Gleason et al. may have left enormous shoes to fill, but those performers would be more than equal to the task. Curtain up and light the lights!



Imperial Court of New York: Night of a Thousand Gowns 2014

There is a flip side to having once been bullied as a little girl.  Bullies, as we all know, are inherent cowards who are terrified that something about them is wrong, abnormal, different or deficient, so they take this out on the world by projecting it onto any target they can find.  A lot of the time, they zero in on another child’s clothing.

As a result, at a new Catholic school many moons ago, I remember being viciously targeted because my mother insisted I have blue shoes to match my blue uniform.  In fact, to this day, which happens to be 41 years later, if you can believe this, I hear there’s a few grown men and women from that awful school who still make cracks about me and my “choice of blue shoes,” which wasn’t even mine at all.  Can you imagine having such a stultifying life that the color of my footwear back in 1973 is still their idea of a scandal?  The joke in my family remains that quite a few of them ought to hope my next book isn’t a memoir.

Anyway, on to the positive flip side of all that!  The flip side is that I’ve never had a problem with anyone else’s choice of clothing or styles from that day forward.  My best friend in college was even a punk rocker.  I wasn’t, but I didn’t care if my friends were.  To each his own!  Go for it!  Wear what you love since you’re the one who’s wearing it!

Which brings me to the incredibly fabulous event I attended last weekend: Night of a Thousand Gowns 2014.  I have friens in this organization and honey, I love glitz, so you can be sure I help out at this event every year!  It’s the most enchanting costume ball imaginable, with members of the Imperial Court of New York dressing in what they love: ball gowns, imperial costumes and lots and lots of crowns and tiaras.  Jeweled crowns and tiaras, that is.  I always feel like I’m back in Victorian England or perhaps Tsarist Russia whenever this event takes place.  There’s something magical about the time-warp aspect of it.  Take a look.  You’ll see what I mean.  Next year you might even consider buying a ticket to the festivities, too.  Oh, and if you’re “afraid” your outfit might make you “different”?  Well, what’s wrong with that?  This group  is having a ball, literally, and you can, too!



A Prince!



More royalty!

More royalty!

Me with the Court's Elian Encounter - Elian Bensoussan!  He's the friend who got me involved as a volunteer.  Bravo!

Me with the Court’s Elian Encounter – Elian Bensoussan! He’s the friend who got me involved as a volunteer. Bravo!

Me in my official volunteer T-shirt (which said "EPIC" on the back), my fellow volunteer Chip White, and the one and only entertainer Sybil Bruncheon!

Me in my official volunteer T-shirt (which said “EPIC” on the back), my fellow volunteer Chip White, and the one and only entertainer Sybil Bruncheon!

A Royal Family!

A Royal Family!

Meeting up with my Facebook friend Patty Florence Nightingale.

Meeting up with my Facebook friend Patty Florence Nightingale.

The supporters of the soon-to-be-crowned Empress, Twinkle Montgomery, await their Coronation Procession.

The supporters of the soon-to-be-crowned Empress, Twinkle Montgomery, await their Coronation Procession.

Twinkle Montgomery awaits her entrnace.

Twinkle Montgomery awaits her entrnace.

The Coronation!

The Coronation!

Twinkle Montgomery and Tony Monteleone, The Imperial Court of New  York's new Empress and Emperor.

Twinkle Montgomery and Tony Monteleone, The Imperial Court of New York’s new Empress and Emperor.

Book Recommendation: ME & MURDER, SHE WROTE by Peter S. Fischer



Me & Murder She Wrote by Peter S. Fischer

Me & Murder She Wrote by Peter S. Fischer

I am reading this book right now and wanted to give it a plug.  It’s ME AND MURDER, SHE WROTE: My Adventures in Television with Angela Lansbury, Peter Falk, and Jerry Orbach among others by Peter S. Fischer.

Peter S. Fischer was living in Long Island and wanted to become a screenwriter.  Guess what?  He went for it – and he did it!  So this book will be of very special interest to anyone who might have similar television industry aspirations.

Naturally, since the author also worked on countless shows and television movies, especially Columbo and Murder, She Wrote, but also Marcus Welby, M.D., Ellery Queen, The Darkroom, Black Beauty, Once an Eagle, and more, it will interest the fans of those programs, too.  It’s quite a fascinating look at what goes on behind the scenes and at the “corporate culture,” for lack of a better term, of series television production.

Fischer also wrote two movies that were not produced – at least, not yet, but as Orphan Annie says, “there’s always tomorrow.”  One was called “Hemingway’s Lady” and is about the first of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives.  The other is “The Tunnel.”  It’s a murder mystery set on a train seized by terrorists as it’s riding through the Simplon Tunnel connecting Italy and Switzerland.  That tunnel is 12.3 miles long.  How is that for the setting for a story?

I am so intrigued already by idea of the script  about the tunnel!  Doesn’t that sound like the perfect setting for such a story?  Won’t someone in Hollywood please take note?


Carole Lombard and Lucille Ball: Friends to the End and Maybe Beyond

Lombard & Lucy

Lombard & Lucy

There was a new story in the book FIREBALL: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 by Robert Matzen that I had never heard before.  Well, actually, there were several that I’d never heard before, all fascinating, but this one’s the gem.

I knew that Carole Lombard and Lucille Ball had been friends, and oh, what a pair they must have made!  I had heard that Lucy was devastated when Carole died.  But I’d never heard this:

Long after Carole had passed away, Lucy, whose film career was floundering, wondered if she should try acting in a television comedy show.  One night she had a dream about her old friend Carole Lombard, who had once reigned as the “Queen of Screwball Comedy.”  In the dream, Carole appeared, beautifully dressed in a suit.  She said to Lucille, “Take a chance, honey. Give it a whirl!”

Lucy did.  She probably figured her old friend wouldn’t ever have steered her wrong.

The result was the most beloved show in television history:  I LOVE LUCY.



FIREBALL: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 by Robert Matzen


A few months ago, at the bookstore, my favorite hangout, I flipped through a copy of a book that had just been released called My Lunches with Orson by Peter Biskind.  The Orson in question was Welles.  When I chanced upon a passage saying that Orson claimed the plane crash that killed Carole Lombard in January 1942 was the act of Nazi saboteurs, I became intrigued at once.  I’d always loved the stories of Carole Lombard, Hollywood’s “profane angel,” a girl so beautiful she learned to swear like a sailor to put off the advances of all the men who wanted her.  She also was the highest paid female star in old Hollywood, had a savvy business acumen, knew how to promote herself, and married the most desirable man in Hollywood, Clark Gable of MGM Studios fame, the “King of the Movies.”  She became his Queen.

She perished in a plane crash on the way home from an appearance where she sold two million dollars’ worth of war bonds in her native state of Indiana.  She’d had a fight with Clark Gable, who was appearing in a movie with Lana Turner, right before the bond appearance, and was desperate to get home to him.  Too desperate.  She decided to fly, rather than take the train, and get home sooner.

The woman’s star burned perhaps a bit too brightly – and was doused too early.  The plane crashed into a mountain near Goodsprings, Nevada.  No one aboard survived.  It was said that Clark Gable was never the same again.

I had always heard it was a tragic accident – until I saw that line in My Lunches with Orson, and began to wonder.  Could it be?  Might that plane have been sabotaged?

The other day I went into the bookstore again, and this time I found FIREBALL: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 by Robert Matzen which seeks to answer the question of what happened to that poor plane.  I cannot say enough about how much respect I have for Robert Matzen.  His book is so well-researched and rich with details about Carole Lombard’s life and death.  He handles the subject of the grisly crash without “amping it up” and making it any worse than it has to be, though it’s still not for the faint of heart.  His description of a Nevada local, Lyle Van Gordon, who was one of the first rescuers up the mountain after the crash made me wish Mr. Van Gordon were still alive since somebody should have given that good man a medal for his valiant efforts.

Fifteen Army Air Force men were onboard the same plane as Lombard, her mother and publicist that night.  They were ferry pilots who flew warships to Europe and other points, and, let’s face it, such a group might have seriously been a Nazi target.  But were they?

Was the crash an accident?  What really happened to the plane?  Go out and get a copy of this page-turner and you’ll find out!