Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $4.99 and available exclusively on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited members read for free! Click here for direct link.


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, Free everywhere...except on Amazon (boo! hiss!) where it's $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link! Let them know it's free at these stores and they may price match it! Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books...more to come.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Actor Dick Kraft

I'd like to introduce you to actor Dick Kraft.

I knew Dick primarily as one of my father's film buff buddies. I had heard that in Dick's younger days he was an actor. I always thought he had a part in "Godzilla," but after reading his resume I realize I was wrong. He was the Air Force Major in "Gammera The Invicible."

When I was going through my father's things, I found Dick's personal items -- a couple of head shots accompanied by a yellowed xeroxed copy of his resume. I don't know how old it is, although I can tell you it's as old as when Brooklyn and Manhattan did not have area codes, and Brooklyn phone numbers began with letters. His began with JU and I don't know what that meant. Ours began with BE which I thought stood for Bensonhurst.

I surmise this mini package of memorabilia arrived in my dad's possession after Dick's death. He had kept it in his closet. I don't believe Dick and his wife had any children. I know of no relatives of his I can pass it on to. They're my father's memories, not mine, yet I feel like I can't just toss them out.

Dick was always a nice guy, one who never quite made it in the profession he sought. His love of film and theatre didn't stop with his uncasted roles, and my dad and he spent countless hours in Manhattan at many a movie theatre, museum, art house, etc. Collecting and dissecting films & film literature were their passion. Neither achieved the recognition they deserved. It's hard to be a bit player in a Million Dollar Movie/Seven Million Storied town. They may have been "nobodies" in New York City, but they were "somebodies" to many others. It's only fitting I give Dick Kraft a proper hat tip, and cast him out to the internet, where he can finally be seen again.

Dick Kraft - Actor, Model, Announcer, Prize-Fighter, Freelance Writer, Script Reader, and Casting Director

A member of EQUITY, SAG, and AFTRA, Dick studied at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts under Jehlinger, Loeb, Goodman, D'Angelo, etc. He performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Equity Library, Stock, TV Commercials and in "Various and Sundry Other Roles."

Some of the roles he played: Charlie Chan in a malt beer commercial, a guest at a wedding in a soap commercial, and on Broadway as a tough guy from slums in "Walk Hard," and as Gabe the dim-witted villager in "Sleepy Hollow." Other characters include a suave man-about-town, a nervous spy, existentialistic windbag, the president, a cop, and in Milos Foreman's new film, "Taking Off," a tipsy guest at a banquet.

Aha! I can now date his resume to 1971, when "Taking Off" was released. So here we are 42 years later, and his pictures are posted somewhere with the ability to reach those he could never imagine when he posed.

Dick Kraft, Actor -- a nobody no more...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bella's Vet Visit

We just got back from Bella's well visit. Hard to believe she's over a year old already. The poor little baby was shaking from the moment I pulled out of the driveway until the end of her visit. She got the full treatment -- thorough exam, all her shots, heart worm test and a nail trim. She was a very good girl.

She now weighs 16.5 pounds which has exceeded the "oh, she won't get more than 10 pounds" we were told. The vet said we needed to cut back a bit on her food. She thought 1/3 cup of dry food twice a day was more than sufficient. I told the vet Bella will not eat dog food any longer and that I've been cooking her chicken and rice daily. She said that was not good for her as there wasn't enough minerals in that meal and that if I chose to cook people food for her I'd have to see a doggie nutritionist to make a well-balanced menu. Ok, let's not get crazy now. She feels that if I just left the food in her dish she will eventually eat it. I've tried that but after two days I panic. She said she could probably go even longer than two days. Yeah, but could I???? So it's back to the dog food aisle to try something else. Maybe the food that's in the fridge at Krogers will appeal to her fine palate.

I told her about the nightly dixie ice cream cups I've been giving her and she didn't think that was good either. She recommended some doggie ice cream cups which Kroger also carries. I'm sure they're nowhere as cheap at the $1.99 for twelve I've been paying. The vet said I shouldn't give them to her nightly either...maybe one or two per week.

As the little girl stood rock still on the cold metal no matter what they did to her, the vet understood what I meant when I said she becomes paralyzed with fear upon putting a collar on her. She said after I get her back on dog food I should use chicken pieces as a way to reward her for putting the collar on. Every day I should put it on and stand a couple of feet away from her with a piece of chicken in my hand. The hope is she will walk towards me with the collar on her neck. After she eats the chicken I should tell her what a good girl she is and then take the collar off. She feels if we keep this up she will eventually not be so traumatized. Then it's onto the dreaded leash!

Frankly, I wouldn't even walk her at the dog park or anything like that because I'm one of those mothers who is afraid of her catching fleas from some mongrel or being swallowed in one gulp by a larger dog. But for those of you who do walk your dogs in the park you should be aware that the vet office had a notice up saying that there have been reports of dogs being poisoned at some parks and greenways! What the hell?! Who would do something like that? Please be extra aware of anything your dog ingests if you do bring them out for a stroll. You wouldn't let your child take candy from a stranger so don't let your dog eat anything in the grass either. They're our babies!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Books & Tapes & Notes, Oh My!

If someone other than me told you this next tale you'd probably think they're lying. If you know me, and how my "people" work, you know I'm not.

My Brooklyn basement looks like a library -- a poorly kept, dim-lit, neglected library, containing thousands of books, vhs tapes, magazines and newspapers, most cinema-related. Although I had hoped my brother would have tried to sell them, or at least have been the caretaker, that will never be. I have taken over.

I haven't decided if the best way to sell these is through Amazon, eBay, or make up a website, but I do know I need to get them out of there. Too many have been lost already. Before I was to begin this Herculean task, I invited my cousin to peruse the collection and take whatever he wanted. I know he would be a good steward and my dad always liked him and would love to see his precious books wind up in someone's hands who appreciates them. So, off he went...


He picked his books and brought them upstairs. The first book he picked up and glanced through was one about the director, John Ford.  He then began reading aloud something that didn't make sense to me, a list of wallet locations. I thought he was joking, but then he held up a piece of paper that he had found in the book. It was written by my father. It detailed all the locations in the house of where he had hidden money-filled wallets.

If you read Fractured Facade, you may remember a scene where the police state they had found 12 empty wallets. I always doubted those wallets were empty, and I had informed the detective of that. Based on the rummaged-through condition of the house I saw when I arrived, I didn't know if it was the police, or someone else, who emptied those wallets. Reading this note from my dad is validation that I was correct. This isn't the first time I've "heard" from my father.

What I don't understand is why my father would put that note in a John Ford book. Perhaps that was a book by his bedside and got moved downstairs when we began working on the house. That's the only thing that makes sense because I have no link to John Ford. He's not one of my favorite directors and I would never read this book. But what is even stranger is that out of the thousands of books my cousin was drawn to this very one. What are the odds of that happening? Pretty amazing...but, wait, it gets better.

The second book my cousin opened was "The Making of the Wizard of Oz." When he opened that one up typewritten recipes on index cards fell out. Stained and worn, I remember baking with my mother while these cards lay on the kitchen table. They were my favorite cookie recipes. My cousin thought since he was a chef my mother was giving them to him. I told him no, my mom was talking to me through him. She usually doesn't contact me, so this was a big deal. And my mother did not have a love for movies like my father did, so why in the world were they even in that particular book? Again, what are the freaking odds of this happening?

My cousin was thinking about exchanging one of the books he had chosen for another, and I told him to keep it and just take whatever else he wanted. Later that evening he called to tell me he was glad he listened to me and kept that book. In it there was an essay from Patti Smith, whom my cousin and I first bonded over many, many years ago. That book was his meant to be with him, as those notes inside the other two were meant to be with me.

You can't make this stuff up...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me." - Jim Valvano

Truer words were never spoken.

Dear Dad, you're gone, but not forgotten. As the years pass, it doesn't get any easier.

My Godfather and Father in 1958 in Brooklyn

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads, especially my husband who is a great father!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Coney Island June 2013


Coney Island was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy so I wanted to see how it made out. No, we didn't take the train. In case you haven't realized it by now, I avoid the subway at all costs.

Remarkably, we found a spot right across the street from Nathan's at one of those horrible NYC recent additions -- muni-meters. Let me just take a minute here to tell you why I despise those muni-meters. In the past, when you pulled into a parking meter spot you fed the meter quarters for as long as you think you needed. If you found out you needed more time you just popped another quarter in. If you had time left the next driver would be able to piggy-back on your time. Not any more. NYC, in all its glorious wisdom of how they can make yet another buck off of its citizens, installed these muni-meters instead.

Even though there is a parking meter where you park, you must ignore it, and go in search of the "box" which may, or may not be, on the block you park. So if you think, "Wow, I got a great spot right in front of Nathan's!" hold on buckaroo, because you have to search out the muni-monster. We found one almost a block away. It takes credit cards and for now, change. It's 25 cents per 15:00. You put the money in and when done a piece of paper emerges that shows when you have to move your vehicle. You must now walk back the block and put it in your windshield, facing upwards. Last time we screwed up and got hammered with a $50 ticket.

Since my husband had only put $1.00 in, I thought one hour wouldn't be enough time. Tough luck. You cannot add on to the paper you already printed. You must be back to print out another slip when your hour is up. Oh, and forget if you have any time left. The next vehicle that takes your spot has to start from zero. Some blocks don't even have muni-monsters, yet if you park you MUST FIND ONE. I witnessed firsthand folks scratching their heads on Emmons Ave in Sheepshead Bay when they couldn't find one. Everyone thought, well, it must be okay to park here then. WRONG! Not fifteen minutes later I saw 2 NYPD vans pull up and empty out. Every single car on those two blocks got ticketed. What a freaking scam!

Back to Coney Island...

For the most part everything looked okay...there were sections of the boardwalk replaced with something other than wood.

The pier is still not open
Bumper Cars weren't open yet either
The clam shuckers on the boardwalk still shuck clams, but we didn't see any corn on the cob stands

This is a new diner right on the Boardwalk

The Parachute Jump and Carousel have changed to NEON lighting! Ack!!!


They sure don't!

The Cyclone is up and running and from what I could see no neon, yet...

This new addition, a "candy store" made me sigh in sadness

At least Nathan's is still the same

An hour was enough, with one minute to spare, so I didn't have to give Bloomberg any more pocket change. All in all I'm glad they rebuilt Coney Island but truth be told, I didn't like the vibe. It's too NEON!!! I guess they have to change with the times for their new target audience, which clearly I am not. I'll have my memories and will hold onto those, but maybe not for long...

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Day at Belmont Park

This time around I was determined to get to Belmont Park. The Belmont Stakes were being held that Saturday. No way did I want to go then. The only other option was a cool and cloudy Thursday. I figured that would be better than attempting to head out east on the Belt Parkway on a Friday. It may not feel it, but summer is officially underway and that means beach goers clogging up the road all through Long Island, bumper-to-bumper metal hell. Thursday would be good.

Typical afternoon on the Belt Parkway

Ha! I don't think any day is good on the Belt. Yeah, I don't miss that.

The sky was dramatic enough to keep folks home. Belmont Park was pretty empty, just the way I like it. I was hoping it would rain and the track would become muddy. That's when the longshots come in. 

I like Belmont. It's very beautiful, and very accessible. Think of the following photo sequence as happening in a ten minute time frame...from the paddocks to the finish line.


And they're off!

I lost that race. I lost every race. So what else is new? Gambling's not the only reason I wanted to go to Belmont. It had been 20 years since I'd been there. Memories lingered and I needed to feel them again. And I did. It was still the same. 

On the way to JFK
The view from the rear-view, 3-inch window opening while stuck in traffic going home.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Views From Red Hook

The next thing I knew we were careening along the BQE.

On our quest to follow the sun, my friend seemed fine as she kept up with or dodged the trucks and cars, recovered from pothole slams, as she headed somewhere she wouldn't reveal to me. Me? I was getting nervous. As far as I was concerned, we were heading to the sketchy side of Brooklyn.

After we drove around the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the other side of Brooklyn where street names were foreign to me, she said we were in Red Hook. Red Hook? When my grandmother lived down there decades ago, we weren't allowed to visit. Now I'm told you cannot touch the rents, and worse, are the price of homes and co-ops. When did this happen?

Amazingly, she found a parking spot close to the area she wanted me to see. Behind a Fairway supermarket there is a spectacular view from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Fairway has outdoor tables where you can enjoy the view while having a cup of coffee, or more. Roanoke should have something like this near River's Edge. We've got the scenery, the space, and with Carillion & downtown Roanoke so close, the patron numbers to support a Fairway, Trader Joes, or any other marketplace that could supply an outdoor dining area. Oh, and we also have trolleys.

Here's an old trolley that sits to the side of Fairway's outdoor cafe.

The sun had already set over the Verrazano,

and lingered a little longer over the Statue of Liberty.

Looking further east I could see Freedom Tower.

The sky changed by second.


The Lady's torch and base got brighter as the sunset dimmed.

Night fell quick on Manhattan.

My friend still wasn't through with the tour so we drove to Downtown Brooklyn. I've always called it the armpit, an area to avoid at all costs, but she said it's changed. The area is called DUMBO now, and it's become another "can't touch" neighborhood. Of course, there was nowhere to park, so I couldn't witness the phenomenal view I briefly glanced from the open SUV window. We then passed the Barclay Center. If you're going to see a show, there's nowhere to park so you'd have to take mass transit. Yeah, no. I don't care how much you tell me the area is changed. The subway stations there still suck.

And here's one of the last remaining bowling alleys in Brooklyn in Sunset Park, another neighborhood I've always feared. Looks inviting, doesn't it?

The night had to end as my friend had work in the morning, and finding a parking spot by her Bay Ridge apartment could take some time...seriously.