Funky Munky Stable: I Got the Horse Right Here!

Presenting ADDWATER: I now own a share of this racehorse!

Presenting ADDWATER: I now own a share of this racehorse!

“I got the horse right here,

His name is Paul Revere,

And there’s a guy that says if the weather’s clear,

Can do, can do, this guy says that the horse can do,

If he says the horse can do, can do, can do…”

Strains of FUGUE FOR TINHORNS from the Broadway musical GUYS AND DOLLS popped happily into my head when I heard that a friend of a friend had purchased a share in a racehorse.  When the horse wins races, the shareholders get a split of the profits.  I like profits.

What a fascinating idea, I thought, and how “Great Gatsby” it is, too, with a lot of “Guys and Dolls” thrown in for good measure.  I don’t gamble on horse races.  I’ve never even been to a racetrack.  Still, I wanted to find out more.

I may not have previously known too much about horses, let alone the world of racing, but somehow it’s in my blood.  The Quinn side of the family, back in Pomeroy, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, had been the proud owners of a livery stable.  My Uncle Jimmy had loved horses.  I was so small and slight as a child that he was constantly suggesting to my father that he should have me trained as a jockey.

I tried taking horseback riding lessons once but didn’t take to it.  Horses, however, took to me.  The few I’d encountered in New York City were usually mounted policemen’s horses.  I remember one sweet horse I’d see every now and again when I worked at a company on 42nd Street.  That horse never seemed to want to let me stop petting him.  They’re sweet, powerful creatures.

My racehorse research led me to several stables, including one with the intriguing name of Funky Munky Stable.  I emailed Funky Munky, saying straight-out that I was just beginning to investigate the possibility of investing in a horse.

The name of the stable is a play on the surname of the owners, Richard and Karen Munk.  Richard called me, catching me at home on Veteran’s Day, and I liked him at once.  He said their stable wants the owners to have fun with the whole experience first, then explained how it all works.  We began talking about a 1% investment.

Each racehorse in the stable has his own LLC.  When they win, first and foremost, some of the winnings get put aside in case there’s a need to “float” the horse and handle any unforseen expenses he might incur.  After that, quarterly, if the horse has a good season, the share owners get a piece of the action.

I invested in a mutual fund a little while back and that’s not giving me a fraction of the kind of returns that a horse might, so why not?

What I really liked about Richard Munk was that he had so much integrity.  At one point I said I was thinking of investing 2%, as another stable I’d looked into would have required.

Where someone else might have wanted to take the whole 2% with open arms, Richard surprised me by saying no to that idea.  “You don’t want to put 2% in one horse.  If you have 2% to spend on it, it’s better to put 1% into two horses,” he explained, saying that increased the odds of winning and making what I like most, namely, a profit.

He also explained that harness racing horses run 15-40 times a year, whereas thoroughbreds only run 3-5 times.  I like the odds with the harness racers better.  I like the idea that there’s an owners’ party every year at a New York racetrack, too.

I decided I wanted in, and for a harness racehorse.  My father said Uncle Jimmy would be so happy about this if only he were still here to hear about it.  So Ladies and Gents, my first horse, who has a steady track record, is a handsome stallion named ADDWATER.  Funky Munky Stable just acquired him in a claiming race, so he’s in good hands now.  Naturally, I’m hoping Addwater will ADD-MOOLAH.

There will soon be another one.  Richard’s getting the LLC ready for a beautiful yearling horse the stable just acquired, too.  I can hardly wait.

And if you’re interested in buying a share of a racehorse and getting in on all the fun, I got the horse right here:  Funky Munky Stable!


ADDWATER after a strenuous race. That’s my horse!

Twinsters: the Movie


Anais and Samantha reunited in London by the London Eye.  What a great shot!

A little while back I had written a blog post about the book TWINSTERS.  It’s about two Korean twins, who had been adopted into separate families and were reunited thanks to social media.  Their names are Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier.

I am delighted to report that the movie about this story is just as terrific as the book, if not more so.  It’s possible to see every piece of their well-filmed story as ti happened.  I can’t recommend it enough, and wish the very best for both of these creative, amazing young women.


TWINSTERS the movie.

Clothing Stores Need Mirrors

The lady who was hogging the mirror looked a lot like this!

The lady who was hogging the mirror looked a lot like this!

Has anyone else noticed the very strange trend in New York City clothing stores these days where it’s practically a miracle if you can find a mirror?

I don’t get it.  Clothing stores ought to require mirrors.  Everybody isn’t into going to the dressing room to try on clothes.  If you know the size will fit, it’s easier to just hold the item on its hanger up in front of your reflection in the mirror and, if the color and/or style looks great, then purchase it.  Period.  Easy, schmeasy.

Lately, though, finding the amenity of a mirror in a clothing store can seem more like going on a hunt.  There’s a dearth of mirrors in the two outlets near my house in Brooklyn, in JC Penney in the Manhattan Mall, and, I discovered tonight, in Burlington Coat Factory on Sixth Avenue and 22nd Street.

The third floor of that particular Burlington seems to primarily contain coats, so that makes this mirror shortage even more bizarre to me.  Coat purchasers don’t usually bring the coats they want to try on into a dressing room since there’s no need to undress.  It’s all done in front of the mirror.

If you can find it.

Tonight, after walking around all over the floor, I finally uncovered a mirror, an event that made me feel like it was worthy of a prize.

Unfortunately a woman had found it before me.

She was big.


And wide.

Easily almost as wide as the mirror.

And relentless in the way she was trying on coats.

First she’d strut this way, frowning.  Then that.  Then the other.

She’d look at herself with her collar up, her collar down, her belt tied this way, her belt tied that.  Front view, side view, rear view – of everything.  Twist.  Turn.  Repeat.  And repeat.

This was not a polite woman.  She reminded me of Ursula the octopus from The Little Mermaid, but without the charm.  She wouldn’t get her massive visage out of the way to let anyone else have a turn in front of that glass.  Oh, no.  There were four of us waiting to try on coats and we couldn’t get near that mirror.  It’s not her boudoir, it’s a public store.

The martinet finally realized we were waiting, but still she wouldn’t stop strutting her stuff in front of the glass pane.  “There is other mirror on other side of floor!” she barked at us, pointing, the human personification of a frownie face.  “Go there!  Other mirror!”

She didn’t want to move her huge strutting rump so we should go on the other side of the floor?!!!

Well, we all started laughing.  “You just have to laugh at a situation like this,” one lady said to me, shaking her head.

“She’s telling us to move when she won’t?” said the second one.

“I’m not going to let this get to me,” said another.

“She’s so rude it’s almost funny – and she doesn’t even realize it,” I said.

“Exactly,” the others agreed.

“What can you do with someone like that?” said the first one.

“Use her as blog material,” I said with a grin, “what else?”

The moral of the story?  As always, you can’t control the putzes, since they’re everywhere, but mirrors aren’t, so some of these clothing stores really ought to add more mirrors!

Take Action & Help the Hungry: Mary’s Meals!

Mary's Meals is feeding hungry children in countries all over the world!

Mary’s Meals is feeding hungry children in countries all over the world!

Tonight I found out about a charitable organization that put an instant smile on my face and is bound to inspire one  to land on yours, too.

Mary’s Meals is its name, and its mission is stunningly simple yet effective: the group sponsors one healthy, vitamin-fortified meal a day for impoverished children to enjoy at school.

It’s not only fighting hunger.

It’s not only creating healthier children in Third World countries.

It’s also inspiring the children to attend school.

It’s even inspiring parents of girls, whose education is considered a waste of time in many cultures, to send their daughters to school so they can get something to eat.

Mary’s Meals is, in other words, changing the world, one child with a full belly at a time.

To make matters even more fabulous, the organization can feed a child for a year – for the mere sum of $19.50!  That’s less than it will cost me when I go to Barnes and Noble tomorrow to pick up the book , The Shed That Fed A Million Children, written by Mary Meals’ founder, Mangus MacFarlane-Barrows of Scotland.  He started the organization many years ago, in a shed in his parents’ backyard, where he was gathering supplies to help children in Bosnia.  But good ideas sometimes take off like rockets, and MacFarlane-Barrows soon found himself leading a global organization.  They utilize locally grown food and companies in every country they serve, which helps their economy, in addition to enhancing the lives of their children.

Mary’s Meals was named in honor of the Virgin Mary – who raised her son in poverty.  Yet this is not a religious organization.  They don’t try to proselytize or convert the kids, just fulfill the need for them to get fed.  The children’s religions don’t matter.  This is an organization for them all!

Here is a video, called CHILD 31, about Mary’s Meals, which I’ve watched twice so far and am about to view again.  So many times I’ve seen videos about children in Third World countries who are starving and sobbing with hunger.  There are several of those in this video, too, but with a difference: those are like the “before” images.  What I absolutely love about this video is seeing how healthy the children depicted in the schools that are served by the organization look after they’re getting their “daily bread.”  Enjoy!  And please consider joining me in supporting Mary’s Meals, too.

Isn't it wonderful to see all of these little ones from Third World countries looking so HEALTHY?

Isn’t it wonderful to see all of these little ones from a Third World country looking so HEALTHY?

Some World War II Heroes Weren’t Soldiers: RIP, Rachel de Leeuw

Mrs. de Leeuw, Annie and Rachel, circa 1935, in Holland.

Mrs. de Leeuw, Annie and Rachel, circa 1935, in Holland.

I never met her, but she was one of my heroes since I first read about her when I was about twelve years old.

Rachel de Leeuw was the older sister of Johanna Reiss, then known as “Annie” de Leeuw, author of THE UPSTAIRS ROOM and THE JOURNEY BACK, books that dealt with her Jewish family’s incredible story of survival during World War II in Nazi-occupied Holland.

Annie, the youngest, was fourteen years younger than Rachel, and ten years younger than the third sister, Sini. Their mother was very ill and the two older girls became surrogate mothers to Annie.

As their mother’s health deteriorated, so did the conditions for Jewish people in Holland. Their mother, who was fatally ill, entered the hospital. The Nazis were rounding up Jewish families for deportation to what they deemed “work camps.” The rest of the de Leeuw family, led by a clear-thinking, savvy father who realized the Nazis’ stories about these so-called “work camps” couldn’t possibly bode well or be a good thing, arranged for himself, and his daughters, to go into hiding until the war was over.

This cannot be held up for anything, and unfortunately, “anything” includes the imminent death of the girls’ mother. The Nazis already tried to round up the family at their former address and could have apprehended them at any moment. Mr. de Leeuw and the three girls have to leave to join the families that would be hiding them – at once.

The father has to go to one hiding location and the three sisters, Annie, Sini and Rachel, were all set to go to another one together – to the Hannink family. However, it’s the eldest girl, Rachel, who voluntarily stays behind at first. The local hospital will not prepare kosher meals for the girls’ dying mother, so Rachel remains in their hometown of Winterswijk to make them for her.

This may sound like a minor thing, but it isn’t.

It’s major.

Rachel de Leeuw could have been arrested, and ultimately killed, for being Jewish, but she was also a great daughter. Rachel opted to stay for a few more week to take care of those meals for her mother. She was fully cognizant of the fact that she was risking arrest by doing this, and yet, she stayed.

She also was involved with preparing little Annie for her trek to her hiding place in Usselo. She cut the child’s hair like a little boy’s and put her in a boy’s outfit, the better to evade Nazi scrutiny as the ten-year-old left town on a bus. Rachel also walked behind her on her way to the bus stop, “riding shotgun,” as it were, to make sure the little girl made it onboard safely.

Again, it may seem like a small gesture, for an older sister to make sure a younger one boarded a bus. But Rachel wasn’t supposed to be out on the street, watching over her little sis. She was risking her life.

Yet there she was.

Rachel remained in town until her mother died, and even saw to her burial. Ultimately, she wasn’t able to join Annie and Sini at their hiding location. She was sent to the home of a reverend who is famous in Holland, and ought to be famous here, too, for his role in helping to hide Jewish people during such a dark time: Reverend Frits Slomp. Recently it came to light that Rachel was concealed behind a false wall when Nazis raided the house, looking for contraband people. They fired gunshots into the wall, which was one of their preferred ways of ferreting out the hidden. Rachel, thank God, didn’t stir and wasn’t hit.

Rachel was later moved to another hiding place, where she was hidden all alone. She missed her sisters so much that she traveled, by night, on a bicycle, and using false identification papers, just to have the chance to visit them. One more time: it may seem like one small step for Rachel, but it was huge. She risked her life yet again to see Sini and Annie.

I didn’t know when I read these books as a child that one day Annie would become one of my very best friends in the world, but that’s exactly what happened. I never met Rachel, but only because, by the time I met Annie, her heroic older sister was too old to visit her in New York like she used to.

It broke my heart today to hear that Rachel, at age 97, died early this morning in a nursing home in Holland. At the same time it makes me want to stand up and cheer to know that the amazingly gutsy Rachel died peacefully, with her daughter by her side, and didn’t have her light extinguished prematurely, back in the 1940’s, due to the hate of a madman.

There is a Yiddish proverb that hangs on a sign over my desk at work. It says, “Don’t be scared when you have no other choice.” Rachelina de Leeuw Akker, “Lini” to her family and friends, personified it. She was a woman whose like we may never see again, as awesome as any one of our World War II veterans who also showed enormous courage, simply because the situation warranted it, when they stormed Normandy Beach to liberate these three sisters, and their father, and all of Europe, from the insanity of the Nazis. Yet from what Annie tells me, Rachel never quite realized how off-the-charts fantastic she was.

May this wonderful woman rest in peace and finally know what an inspiration she has been to everybody who read her little sister’s books, and will be for generations of readers to come, too.

THE UPSTAIRS ROOM by Johanna Reiss tells the first part of the story.

THE UPSTAIRS ROOM by Johanna Reiss tells the first part of the story…

...and THE JOURNEY BACK, also by Johanna Reiss, tells the rest of it.

…and THE JOURNEY BACK, also by Johanna Reiss, tells the rest of it.

Want to Read a Page-Turning Thriller?

RED NOTICE by Bill Browder: I can't put it down!

RED NOTICE by Bill Browder: I can’t put it down!

If you want to read a page-turner that’s as riveting as a fictitious mystery, I highly recommend RED NOTICE by Bill Browder.

This is a true story about Bill Browder’s savvy business moves in Russia…and what happens when a good guy gets on the wrong side of bad people, post-Soviet-style.

What I especially like about it is the author’s descriptions of some of the hideous places where he worked prior to starting his own firm.  Bill Browder doesn’t gloss anything over.  The high-finance characters he deals with are as funny as they are oddly fascinating.

The book is so well-written that it even explains high stakes finance in a way that someone like me can understand it.  This made me wish I’d majored in business or finance.  Hey, it’s never too late to learn more about both!


SWEENEY TODD at Candlelight Theater in Delaware

Me with Catherine Ard in her "Mrs. Lovett" costume, right after the show.

Me with Catherine Ard in her “Mrs. Lovett” costume, right after the show.

Once upon a time two little girls whose mothers were best friends, and hadn’t seen one another in several years, got together – and realized they both loved musical theater.  In particular, we were both into the musical ANNIE.

I was one of the little girls, and the other was my amazing friend, Catherine Ard.  The second we realized we had ANNIE in common, I remember, we ran right up to Catherine’s room to listen to the record.  When we saw ANNIE several months later, we went together, along with our parents and one of my other best friends, Claudia Bell.

Naturally, I told Catherine all about GYPSY, my first Broadway show that I’d seen a few years earlier with Angela Lansbury.  When Angela returned to Broadway a few years later, Catherine, my cousin Ellen Clutter who turned out to be one of Catherine’s schoolmates, and I went to see her on Broadway.  The musical was SWEENEY TODD.  Angela Lansbury played the comic accomplice to Sweeney, who was a madman…or was he?  The character of Sweeney had been pushed way too far by a judge who framed him and sent him from England to Australia just for a chance to seduce his wife…

This wasn’t ANNIE or GYPSY by a long shot, but it was fascinating.  Angela Lansbury outdid herself as the wacky Mrs. Lovett, alternating between hysterically funny and chilling, since that character is a sociopath underneath all the smiles and laughter.  None of us ever forgot that day.  We even got to meet Angela Lansbury at the stage door afterwards!

I remember sitting with Catherine in the backseat of my father’s car as he drove us somewhere-or-other and discussing the SWEENEY TODD characters of the perfidious Judge and the Beadle and how horrific they were, abusing their power to a fare-the-well.  I remember saying I could understand how Sweeney wanted to get even with them, that he wouldn’t have been so enraged if he hadn’t been framed, and how their absolute power had corrupted them both absolutely.  Catherine and I were having quite a philosophical discussion back there, for a couple of teenagers.  I think we were driving my father half bonkers with it.

Catherine and I also were known to burst into song on other occasions, singing “The Worst Pies in London” – with Cockney accents picked up from playing the cast recording so many times.

Catherine lives in Pennsylvania now and has done professional theater work for years.

So imagine my joy at hearing, a few months ago, that Catherine was trying out for Angela Lansbury’s role of “Mrs. Lovett” at Candlelight Theatre in Delaware.  I promised I’d cross my fingers, eyes and toes for her and said over email that she had to let me know when she heard if she got the part or not.

She got it!

“Then I’m going to be there and see it!”  I promised.

Last week, I did!  I had a wonderful time, too – Catherine was just amazing!  She blew me away.

Take a look at this video and you’ll get a hint of how fabulously Catherine – and the entire phenomenal ensemble cast – played their parts in this show.  If you live in Delaware or anywhere near it, the show is going to be playing from now through November 1st, 2015.

The video:

Here’s the website of the theater.  Go for it!

Me with Catherine's mother, Joan Ard, my mother's best friend.

Happy: Me with Catherine’s mother, Joan Ard, my mother’s best friend.  This was SUCH a great day!