C J Verburg launches Zapped: an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Mystery

JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN!

ZAPPED: an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Mystery
by C J Verburg

zapped-frontcover-5x7-contrast20A posh seaside lawn party. To Cape Cod inventor Pam Nash, it’s the ideal launch for Zappa, her new “Taser for pacifists.” To her daughter Ashley, in Las Vegas getting divorced, it’s the ideal way to shake off a stalker and celebrate turning 21. For Lydia Vivaldi and Mudge Miles, sous-chefs at Leo’s Back End, it’s a catering opportunity they can’t refuse. But when a reveler is found dead in the water off the Nashes’ dock, it’s time for local artist, author, and eccentric genius Edgar Rowdey to turn sleuth before the killer destroys Pam, her family, and Zappa.

Publication date: Halloween (October 31, 2016)

Available NOW (wholesale or retail) from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, or Amazon – ask your local bookstore

Read a sample below

If you’re on Cape Cod:
Meet the author and the book in person
at the Edward Gorey House, 8 Strawberry Lane, Yarmouth Port
5 PM Thursday, October 13
Wine, snacks, good company, fabulous art, and prizes!

If you’re in San Francisco:
Join us at Canessa Gallery, 708 Montgomery St., across from the Transamerica Pyramid
5 PM Sunday, October 30
Hosted by the Telegraph Hill Dwellers
Wine, snacks, good company, prizes, costumes (optional), & video!

Check back for further details as they become available.

ZAPPED: AN EDGAR ROWDEY CAPE COD MYSTERY

Chapter 1: What Happens in Vegas

Thirteen startled Las Vegas shoppers halted when Ashley and Danny Dillon came waltzing across the marble floor of Soignee: a Boutique.

Danny, muscular and golden-haired at 46, still moved with the agility of a tennis coach. Ashley, tanned and blonded by a month in a thong bikini, mirrored her father’s steps as if they’d rehearsed.

The Dress—a Justina Malo confection in blue-green silk—clung when they clung, and billowed when they twirled.

Gamblers paused on their way to the casino. Tourists clapped and held up cell phones. They Tweeted, e-mailed, posted on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Of the 3,437 people who would eventually watch this ad hoc floor show, not one linked it to the near-disaster two nights ago at the Bellagio pool.

Who’d recognize the dazzling girl in swirling chiffon as the limp body that had been dragged out of the water, strapped to a stretcher, and rushed away in an ambulance?

Who’d recognize her partner as the frantic father who’d sneaked her back into the hotel yesterday in scarves and sunglasses?

She’s alive. That was the spar Danny clung to. We made it. What if that waiter hadn’t spotted her? What if the ER doctor simply turned it over to the cops instead of phoning her dad in Florida?

What if her bottle of Elevane had been full instead of half empty?

Danny had broken the news to his ex-wife from Palm Beach Airport. Easier on everybody: he could deflect Pam’s panicky questions, and she could insist on paying his expenses instead of drop-ping everything to fly out from Cape Cod. Neither Ashley nor her mom wanted that.

Back at the Bellagio, they called Pam together. No worries.
Just a scare. You stay focused on your Zappa launch. We’ll talk more soon.

Blame could wait. What the hell kind of mother (OK, parents) would leave a fragile kid like Ashley alone, unprotected, twenty-eight hundred miles from home? Later. Top priority now was to be here for her. Get her back on her feet, out of that damn room. Squire her around the Strip, the casinos, the buffets, the shops, the Dancing Fountains. Buy her the dress of her dreams. And, having maxed out his MasterCard, pray that Pam would cover the whole trip.

But screw the cost! Danny Dillon’s number-one priority was his daughter’s happiness.

Number two was to nail the evil twisted sick-minded fuck who’d tried to kill her.

* * * * *

In Ashley Dillon’s mind, that ring of smiling faces and clapping hands was a 20th Century Fox production team begging her to star in their upcoming remake of The King and I.

How could she help but be a winner in this dress?

She’d recognized it instantly. The exact same Justina Malo that Angelina Jolie wore on her goodwill tour of those dusty countries full of tents and starving children. Looking like an angel, with the floating shoulder panel draped respectfully over her head. What did that TV newsman call her? “Madonna of the Maghreb.”

Ashley rarely watched the news. But when you were stuck in a hotel all by yourself, after your unfuckingbelievably selfish roommate ran off with some cowboy she met at New York New York, what choice did you have?

It made her cry, comparing Angelina and Brad’s beautiful marriage to hers, which she was in Las Vegas to terminate. Still, Danny had a point: Didn’t Angelina burn through two other husbands before she found Brad Pitt?

Ashley Dillon was way younger than Angelina Jolie, and shorter, with shoulder-length corn-silk hair and eyes that shifted between green and blue. That dress matches my new contact lenses, she’d thought. OMG, if I could turn 21 in that dress, I’d never be
scared of anything ever again!

And an hour ago, there it was! Glowing in Soignee’s window like a consolation prize from Fate.

Now was when Ashley’s life passed before her eyes: dancing from pillar to pillar, aswirl in aquamarine chiffon, lit by popping camera-flashes. Not two days ago, so hysterical that a fistful of Elevane couldn’t stop her shaking. Not yesterday, puking her guts out in the hospital, harassed by people pecking and pecking at her with stupid questions. Now, with her dad’s strong safe arms around her.

He spun her with one hand and caught her with the other. The 20th Century Fox reps applauded and aimed their cell phones. Sun filtering through the arched skylight and wrought-iron fretwork cast lacy shadows across her wafting skirts.

“Ta da!” Danny bowed.

“Thank you!” Ashley made a grand curtsey.

“So let’s go have a drink by the pool, babe, and take a look at those death threats.”

* * * * *

Twenty-eight hundred miles away, Phyllis Nash held the cleated main sheet with her right hand, her luffing head-scarf with her left, and raised her voice over the wind.

“Trust your stepdaughter to stage a crisis on Desolation Day!”

Harry Nash answered with what might have been a grimace or a grin. “I doubt she timed it for us.”

Mother and son sat knee to knee in the cockpit of their Herreshoff daysailer, squinting out at the rising and falling surface of Nantucket Sound.

Thin leather driving gloves covered Harry’s burn-scarred hands. Aviator glasses and a broad-brimmed canvas hat protected his shiny seamed head and dented face from the sun. The hat fastened under his chin with a bead, like his favorite boyhood Stetson. Four years of plastic surgery had left him looking remarkably like the Harry Nash in Phyllis’s family albums, including his permanent half-smile.

“She’s all right now, isn’t she? Out of danger?”

“Hard to say.” Harry shrugged. “Danny’s bound to downplay it till he finds out what the hell’s going on.”

“I do feel for the poor girl.” Phyllis, being a diplomat’s widow, conceded that at her age she was fortunate to have not only regained a lost son but added a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter. “The one time she acts sensibly. Dumping that horrid husband. You know, it won’t surprise me if he’s behind this.”

“We’ll see what Danny finds out.” Harry, being a war veteran, conceded that Ashley Dillon was a loose cannon. “Hell of a thing for Pam, anyhow. Like she hasn’t got enough cops, colonels, and whatnot breathing down her neck.”

“How such a gifted woman could produce such a feckless child!”

“I told her, Take some time off. Go talk to Edgar Rowdey. He’s an expert on mystery stalkers.”

Phyllis nodded approval. “Sufficient unto the day are the evils thereof.”

On the first Sunday in August eight years ago, the convoy carrying Harry and Scott Nash into an Afghan village had hit a booby trap. The remains the Army later extracted from the rubble were so fragmented that the brothers’ whole unit was presumed dead.

Phyllis claimed that losing both his sons literally broke her husband’s heart. Exactly one year later, Vernon Nash took a nap after lunch and never woke up again.

In Harry’s opinion, it would make more sense to celebrate his own resurrection than the deaths of Vern and Scotty. Harder to pin down, admittedly. His recollections of the ambush were patchy. Smoke and dust too thick to breathe. Scorching heat. And noise! A roar like the end of the world. Gunfire, men screaming, a dog howling, flames crackling . . . and blackout.

He’d awakened in agony, jolting down a rutted dirt road on an oxcart.

As for the milestones in his struggle toward recovery, those he was glad to forget.

That was Harry Nash’s Afghanistan: a bottomless pool from which his nightmares rose and circled like sharks.

Phyllis knew this. She’d nodded her head when he explained it—sculpted platinum-and-pewter hair, sable lashes, penciled brows—but he could see it didn’t sink in.
Her Afghanistan was a monster that had devoured her family.

She shouted again over the wind. “Will Ashley stay in Las Vegas till the divorce is done?”

“That’s the plan. You know, it’s not just Pam’s Zappa bash she’ll miss. Her twenty-first birthday is next week.”

“You know what I say to that,” Phyllis adjusted her Audrey Hepburn sunglasses. “Let her eat cake.”

Two summers ago, Ashley had (in Phyllis’s view) tried to ruin Pam and Harry’s Cape Cod wedding by turning a toast to the bride and groom into an announcement of her own engagement. This after her fiancé showed up at the ceremony in ragged denim shorts and an ill-cut plaid jacket.

“But enough of Ashley,” said Phyllis. “This is our day! Let’s observe it in peace.”

Every Desolation Day they sailed into the past. With Vern’s diplomatic duties shuttling him around the globe, the Nashes had rarely taken traditional vacations. Several times an uprising sent the boys off to boarding school, or home to Bethesda. Wherever they were, at least once a year the four of them gathered at the Nash Cottage on Compass Point for a voyage aboard the family sloop.

“Ready about!” barked Harry.

The farthest they’d go in this little daysailer was the crocodile crags and flashlight-battery lighthouse of Bishop and Clark’s. But in their memories they cruised around Monomoy Island, up the Cape’s long sandy arm past Provincetown, past Scituate and Nantasket . . .

“Hard alee!”

Over went the tiller. Down went their heads, to avoid the swinging boom. Out flew the mainsail. The ropes, damp with sea-spray and hot from the sun, rasped through Phyllis’s hands.

She nudged her son’s twisted shoulder. “Living well is the best revenge!”

“And who could live better than this?”

That was the real point of Desolation Day. The two surviving Nashes couldn’t get back what they’d lost: loved ones, physical agility, years of grief. But they had this consolation prize: a sunny August afternoon gliding across the water, a salty breeze riffling their jackets, filling their sails, and stirring their memories.

Phyllis never talked about Vern’s death. Nor did she ever ask Harry about the ambush that killed Scott. He’d told her the whole grim story when he first came home. Ever since, if anyone raised the subject, she changed it.

The Harry Nash who’d enlisted to serve his country in Afghanistan would have been touched. Such a delicate soul, his mother, that even the passing of an old man in his sleep was too painful to recall. The Harry Nash who’d come back, who’d seen dozens of young men blown to shreds, stifled an urge to ask her: Why so squeamish? What are you hiding?

Squeamish? Phyllis wouldn’t leave the house unless her clothes, hair, and makeup were perfect; yet here she sat without a qualm, her thigh against his, looking into his distorted face with open affection.

For his survival Harry credited genes, training, the villagers who’d dug him out, and the doctors who’d pieced him back together. For his marriage to Pam, he congratulated himself on his superhuman charm. For Phyllis’s devotion, he could only thank God.

She smiled as if she’d overheard his thoughts. “We’ve been lucky.”

“Yes.”

“I do hope Danny and the police can put an end to this thing without Ashley sucking Pam into it.”

“If she does,” Harry wiped sea-spray off his sunglasses, “I’ll kill her myself.”

Bastille Day Requiem

baldeagle-www.ozarksphotos.comThe Second Coming

by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

 

nice-attack1-620x411Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
turkey-coup-0715-cnn
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

 

Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

California on High Alert – Power Grab by Cell/Wireless Corporations

by C J Verburg

Not very sexy, icellwarning1s it? “The US National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation” — the name alone could put you to sleep. But the reality behind it is an urgent wake-up call. It’s already woken AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, & the other communications corporations that have staked billions of dollars on our addiction to staying connected.

What the preliminary results that were released a month ago tell us is (surprise!) there’s truth in the rumor that heavy exposure to cellphone radiation can cause cancer.

cellphone_health_dangerSkipping over what this says about the need to change our habits, what does it mean to the companies who provide our service? Well, for one thing: ACT FAST! Put up as many cellular/wireless antennas and panels as possible before the regulations tighten.

Here in California, an ambitious assembly member by the name of Mike Gatto is rushing through legislation to free cellular/wireless facilities from even the few regulations that already exist. We’ve received urgent warnings about this from both sides of San Francisco’s political spectrum.

PLEASE DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO  STOP AB 2788 from passing!

celltowersThat means: Call, email, and/or write to your representatives in Sacramento by June 20 opposing AB 2788. If this bill passes, your neighborhood could soon look like this, because neither you as a citizen nor your local government would have any say about it.

Who are your state reps?
What’s their contact info?
Find out on this handy website: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

Here are details about AB 2788, reprinted from an e-mail just received:

AB 2788 hearing
June 21, 9 am
California Senate Energy, Utilities and Communication Committee, Sacramento.

[Assemblyman Mike] Gatto gutted a natural gas storage bill on June 13 and replaced with this cell antenna bill.  In it he says small cell are “not a municipal affair” just as the previous bill passed recently [AB 57] ruled that collocation facilities are “not a municipal affair.” Next stop is cell towers as a whole.

I think the NTP [National Toxicology Program; see above] research is driving this legislative rush before CalEPA lists RF as a carcinogen, as Ken Foster of IEEE expects to happen. One important action everyone should take is to write CalEPA and Calif. Dept. of Public Health to request this now; cc to Gatto’s office when you do that.

Gatto is also the author of the Abolish CPUC constitutional amendment which will also be heard at the hearing.  As bad and corrupt as the CPUC, this constitutional amendment by this bought and paid for legislator, despite his high-sounding rhetoric in the text, is simply staging a give-away for utilities.  Instead of one-place regulation for all utilities, his amendment squirrels the oversight away into different rabbit holes of captured agencies in the state, with far less visibility. This is bad, bad, bad.

A San Francisco Coup d’Etat – May 1856

by CJ Verburg

From the Daily Alta California of May 23, 1856:

Our streets have assumed a more quiet aspect this morning than we have witnessed for several days past. The proceedings of yesterday have very naturally produced such a result.

Lynching-of-casey-and-cora-M

Execution of James P. Casey and Charles Cora, By The Vigilance Committee, of San Francisco, on Thursday, May 22d, 1856, from the Windows of their Rooms, in Sacramento Street, between Front and Davis Streets. Made by Huestis; sold by M. Ullman, New York. From the Bancroft Library: BANC PIC 1963.002:02–B

The Alta didn’t need to spell out the details. Everyone in the little city of San Francisco (which filled an area roughly from today’s South Beach to Mission to North Beach) knew what “proceedings” had occurred on Thursday, May 22.

While 3000+ armed San Franciscans hanged two human symbols of violence, corruption, and vice, the rest of the city marched toward Lone Mountain Cemetery to bury James King of William, crusading editor of the Evening Bulletin.

CaseyShootsKingSupervisor Casey’s crime was shooting King in the street on May 14 for refusing to retract an insult he printed in the Bulletin. Although King did not appear to be mortally wounded, a surfeit of medical attention soon finished him off. When the Vigilantes took over the County Jail on Broadway and removed Casey to their own “Fort Vigilance” for a kangaroo trial, they also removed gambler Charles Cora, who was awaiting retrial for fatally shooting a U.S. Marshal, arguably in self-defense.

Here is the Bulletin’s account of San Francisco’s transformation in May 1856:

There never was a more perfect or complete revolution in the government, or the affairs of a community, than in this city the past week.Among our citizens confidence is restored, and the virtue, intelligence, and ability of our people to govern themselves. Those who lived in fear of some outrage upon their lives or property feel a security greater than they have experienced in a long time.

We had witnessed the bold attempt at assassination in our streets; we had seen the infuriated mass rush wildly after the prisoner, with exclamations of “Hang him!” filling the air.

VC1856-photoWe had witnessed the organization of the Vigilance Committee in our very midst, with a list of 3,000 names; we had witnessed their formidable array in the streets of our city; and we had witnessed their successful campaign of rescuing the prisoners, Casey and Cora, from the jail on Sunday; all attended with the most intense and enthusiastic excitement.

But never until the death of Mr. King was announced yesterday [May 20], at half past one o’clock, have we seen such a powerful and universal demonstration of real, true, heartfelt sorrow and mourning as was exhibited by our people.

JKofW-LiveAndDead-digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu-calheritage-ucb-honeyman-figures-HN000768aA
James King of William, before & after. Honeyman Collection, UC Berkeley.

On Thursday morning, many of our business and private dwelling houses, that had not previously robed in black, put on the garb of mourning, and the flags of the city, with but one exception—Engine Company Number Ten—hung at half mast. At an early hour, the meetings and organizations of our different societies took place; and by twelve o’clock, all were ready to join in the procession.

The body of the deceased had been conveyed to his late residence at the corner of Pacific and Mason Streets. A few minutes before noon, the hearse was borne to the Unitarian Church on Stockton Street. The church was well filled long before the hour appointed. Mrs. King and children and Mr. Thomas S. King [the deceased’s younger brother] were seated in front of the pulpit, and the immediate friends of the deceased in the adjoining pews.

The cortege moved in the following order:

The Masonic Order in full regalia with the Royal Arch Chapter. A carriage containing the Reverend Misters Cutler, Lacy, and Taylor. A carriage containing the physicians to the late deceased. The hearse, drawn by four gray horses richly caparisoned, attended on each side by the pallbearers. Carriage containing Mrs. King and children and Mr Thomas S. King. Carriages containing mourning friends of the deceased.

Attaches of the Evening Bulletin on foot. California Pioneers with badges and mourning emblems. Members of the press in the city and towns in the interior. Sacramento Guard in full uniform. The San Francisco Fire Department in citizens’ dress, headed by the chief engineer. Every company was largely represented except Number Ten.

The San Francisco Minstrels, members of the theatrical profession, and the musical bands of the city with muffled instruments. The boys from St. Mary’s Library Association. The draymen of the city on horseback, to the number of 350 men. The steveodores, with banners, numbering 142 men. The Turnverein Society in full costume. A deputation of 10 colored persons with badges representing the San Francisco Athenaeum, a library association composed of colored persons. These were followed by a large number of carriages and private vehicles. It is estimated that the procession extended a mile and a half in length.

JailTakeoverPoster

The tragic martyrdom of a hero was just the story San Franciscans needed to excuse themselves for taking the law into their own hands and lynching two scapegoats. It also got them off the hook for not utilizing the legal system already in place. If any Vigilantes felt guilty for leaving the job of cleaning up their city to James King of William while he lived, they could pat themselves on the back for doing a zealous job of avenging his death.

But in reality there was more to the story than that. When we come back, a 160th-anniversary look at some startling twists behind the purification of San Francisco.

Reprinted from “Vigilante Justice in San Francisco” https://boom-books.com

“Books. Cats. Life is good.” – Edward Gorey

G-lapcatby C J Verburg

I picked my late cat Grusha because she was born on Cape Cod right around the time my friend and neighbor Edward Gorey died. If souls do by any chance migrate, I figured he’d come back as a cat — most likely a delicately etched black-and-white one.

Roo nose-croptEdward embraced all cats. I wish he could share the pleasure of getting to know my new one, Roo. Her harlequin coloring and sweet disposition are happy reminders of every cat who’s shared my home over the years . . . and Edward’s home, too: her nose is George, her bib is Weedon, her face is half Alice and half Thomas, and her back is a pastel Jane. Those are the five cats Edward was down to by the end of his life, each with a plain English name for daily use, and a secret Japanese name from his favorite book, The Tale of Genji.

Diary of a Nobody(George and Weedon Grossmith, among their many talents and enterprises, wrote the comic English novel The Diary of a Nobody. Hugh Bonneville, lately famous as Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey, proved his thespian chops years earlier by starring in a mesmerizing film of that unfilmable book. George Grossmith also pops up in the Gilbert & Sullivan biopic Topsy-Turvy.)

Now an innovative thespian troupe in New York has staged a play written and directed by Travis Russ, in which three actors play Edward Gorey in a life imagined by Russ from his own life plus a lot of reading and mulling. It’s called Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey, and it’s playing at HERE, 145 Avenue of the Americas, through May 22. Reviews are strong enough that those of us who can’t make it to Manhattan this month may get another shot.

EGOS_wpMeanwhile, anyone curious about Edward’s real life in the theater can still read/see/hear the whole story in my print and e-book Edward Gorey On Stage. One of my enterprises for this summer is creating an updated edition and adapting the book specifically for iPad.

The Agatha Christie mystery Edward and I once talked about setting at our friend Jack’s breakfast-and-lunch cafe, Jack’s Out Back, became Croaked: an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Mystery (also available in print and e- form). Its sequel, Zapped, is in the labyrinthine publishing pipeline. While I’m waiting, I’ve started a novella . . . peering (as I type) over the furry helper who’s exploring my keyboard to assert her proper place as center of human attention.

Books. Cats. Life is good.

Roo yawn

 

War, WMD, Wall Street, Washington, & the New Reality

cover-Blasim

by CJ Verburg

“Plenty of people got Iraq wrong, but plenty of people – experts and ordinary citizens – got it right. The problem was that it made no difference.”

So states St. Louis-based writer Sarah Kendzior in “Iraq and the Reinvention of Reality” in the March 28 Al Jazeera.

I’ve been teaching a course on non-Western literature this winter at San Francisco’s Mechanics’ Institute Library, and our April class focuses on Iraq. So lately I’ve been reading a lot of fiction and nonfiction by Iraqis. It’s not an exploration to undertake lightly. Writers in all war-torn countries radiate a deadly consciousness that what they say matters. Some stake their lives on speaking out; some resort to allegory or magical realism or another veiled approach to spread their message before the censors or military police can snuff it. Whatever the tactics, one discerns an unquenchable flicker of hope.

cover-McCarthyYet in contemporary Iraqi literature the dominant tone is bleakness. These are writers – human beings – to whom normal life, as we in the West define it (a morning chat over coffee, checking e-mail, grocery shopping, a sunset stroll) is foreign. If they’ve ever encountered normality, it was long ago or far away.

Rory McCarthy’s disturbing book Nobody Told Us We Are Defeated: Stories from the New Iraq depicts a normality in which shopping or a stroll could very well end in random arrest, imprisonment, torture, even death, for no other reason than that the government’s most powerful and popular tool is intimidation.

Sarah Kendzior pushes that bleakness a quantum leap further.

“The Iraq war is notable not only for journalistic weakness, but for journalistic futility: the futility of fact itself. Fact could not match the fabrications of power. Eventually, our reality shifted to become what they conceived. ‘I could have set myself on fire in protest on the White House lawn and the war would have proceeded without me,’ wrote Bush speechwriter David Frum.

cover-Kachachi“That was the message of the Iraq war: There is no point in speaking truth to power when power is the only truth.”I heard years ago that an aide to President George W. Bush had scoffed at a journalist during the Iraq war for being part of the “reality-based community.” Kendzior sets that remark in context. Here’s an extract from her article, e-mailed by a friend (thank you, Tom Englezos). I strongly urge you to read the whole piece.

 “In 2002, Ron Suskind, a reporter for the New York Timesmet with an unnamed aide to George W Bush who accused Suskind of being part of the ‘reality-based community’. The aide meant it as an insult: this was not the way the world worked anymore.“‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality,’ said the aide, later alleged to be Bush adviser Karl Rove. ‘And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’

cover-antoon“In one sense, this quote seems of a piece with its era – with the entry of truthiness into the dictionary, with the rise of whole industries, like reality TV, built on choreographed sincerity. But while we may associate the ‘creation of reality’ with a wildly hubristic administration, it remains the flavour of our time, a manipulation that moves from crisis to crisis. . . .

“We see remnants of this created reality in the financial crisis – the ongoing ‘great recession’ that, like preemptive war, has transformed what Americans will accept. It is normal for criminal financiers to receive record bonuses in an age marked by austerity, it is normal for professionals to work  years unpaid in the hope of someday landing a job, it is normal for one year of college to cost more than the average median income. This is normal, they say – but if Iraq should have taught us anything, it is how easily and brazenly ‘normal’ can be redefined.”

What Iraqi literature teaches us is that literary technique is no mere artistic device. The late Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, asked about his use of magical realism, answered that he simply described life as he observed it. Any writer living the nightmare described by one of Rory McCarthy’s sources – “Even in my dreams I saw them . . . Every single minute I felt they would take me away for execution” – has crossed the border that for most Westerners protects the reality-based community.

When the United States invaded Iraq, we changed it forever. Iraq, in turn, forever changed reality in the United States and the world.

Want to Dump Your Lover? There’s an App for That….

valentines-dayby Charisse Howard

Romance! It can take so long to find that perfect match . . . and even longer, sometimes, to get out when the thrill is gone.

Take heart, wannabe ex-lovers! With Valentine’s Day vanishing in the rearview mirror, the road ahead is studded with helpful tools to ease that difficult break. Maybe not for your soon-to-be-former heartthrob . . . but hey, if you cared, you wouldn’t be breaking up, right?

In a recent issue of Nextrends, Swissnex’s Zanet Zabarac catches us up in Breaking Up Used To Be Hard To Do.

The app Zabarac calls “Uber for breakups” is The Breakup Shop. Here’s an offering:

BreakupShop

Whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, it can be tempting to cling to (or even stalk) those old memories after the split. To keep your eyes off the past, Zabarac points to Facebook’s new “silence your ex” feature. (Or, as Facebook calls it, “Improving the Experience When Relationships End.”) The ever-resourceful Zuckerberg & Company now let you limit what your dear departed can post or see of your current doings. You don’t even have to search for this function: “When people change their relationship status to indicate they are no longer in a relationship, they will be prompted to try these tools.”

Paul Simon FB
There must be 50 ways to leave your lover.

But is Unfriending and Unfollowing enough? Are you overwhelmed by the prospect of erasing your once-beloved from your Pinterest, SnapChat, and all the other shifting sands still dotted by two sets of footprints? No worries! You can hire a “Social Media Break Up Coordinator.” This specialty, notes Zabarac, “initially started out as a satiric art project [but] has now evolved to a service with an actual market.”

When you’re ready to get back in the game, there are plenty of apps and sites to help you find a new honey. Until lightning strikes, what better way to warm up than a nice hot Regency romance? Here are three James-Bond-meets-Downton-Abbey novellas — all spicy, suspenseful, and passionate, each set in a different exotic location.

LAA-Mar14-finalAReLady Annabelle’s Abduction: A kidnapped bride, a ruthless earl, a ransom that must be paid before sunset, and a persistent spaniel . . .

 

LBBschoonerAReLady Barbara & the Buccaneer: A pirates’ Mardi Gras is her last fling before sailing for London, but a masked stranger changes her course.

 

LCCCAReLady Caroline, the Corsair’s Captive: The scourge of the Barbary Coast is the corsair Barbarossa, and his favorite booty is an English virgin.

 

Dh-wpIf you’re not quite ready to jump into your next entanglement, try the softer romantic suspense novel Dark Horseman: Mystery, Adventure, & Romance in Regency Virginia. A rebellious belle faces the challenge of saving her home and horses in a “battle of stallions” which mixes love, betrayal, fast horses, and Shakespeare.

Happy landings!

 

Happy Edward Gorey’s Birthday!

EGcakeby CJ Verburg

As always on February 22, favorite lines that Edward Gorey wrote and dramatized at one time or another during our decade of staging theatrical entertainments on Cape Cod have been zipping through my head today like bats.

Life is distracting and uncertain,
She said, and went to draw the curtain.

He meant to have written an epic in Erse,
But all he could manage was greeting-card verse.

 

HauntedT
‘I am the Bahhum Bug,’ it declared; ‘I am here to diffuse the interests of didacticism.’

xerxes

 

 

 

 

 

 

I vividly recall how thrilled Edward was when he announced he’d come up with the Bahhum Bug. And the many nights I drove home from rehearsal shivering, peering down empty black roads through my frost-rimmed windshield, waiting for the heat to come on in my car, thinking:

insectgodcoverThrough unvisited hamlets the car went creeping,
With its headlamps unlit and its curtains drawn;
Those natives who happened not to be sleeping
Heard it pass, and lay awake until dawn.

I’m glad to have these memories and so many others. I’m thankful for the extraordinary people I met because of Edward Gorey, and for the creative work and thoughtful (or simply giddy) conversations we enjoyed together (and sometimes still do). I cherish him when I look closely at the intricacies of a drawing, or savor the intricacies of baroque music, or admire the virtuosity of a good mystery writer, or ruffle a dog’s ears or play with a cat.

Happy Edward Gorey’s birthday!

Edward Gorey & the Edwardian Ball

If Edward Gorey could see the diverse and unpredictable directions his legacy has taken, he might be most amazed by the annual Edwardian Ball.

photo by Marco Sanchez

Every January, about a month before his birthday, Gorey fans in San Francisco and Los Angeles gather to celebrate this New England artist’s tongue-in-cheek depiction of the dark side of Agatha Christie’s Britain. Ironic? Edward Gorey visited California just once, on leave from his U.S. Army posting in Utah, to meet up with his Chicago friend Consuelo Joerns, then a student at Mills College. He never set foot in Britain except for a single foray to the Hebrides. Once he moved into his sprawling antique home on Cape Cod, it was a challenge to lure him even to Providence or Boston.

Yet Californians have not just embraced Gorey’s England but colonized it. This just in, via Facebook:

**UPDATE** We were just informed Dark Garden Unique Corsetry has 30 tickets for Saturday night available in-store. First come, first served. Online tickets are sold out. Be sure to RSVP for their Styling Party on January 9th.

EdBall2016_poster_300wAfter Friday night’s global adventure, we return to The Grand Ballroom for the most decadent night of our season! This is the night that started it all, The Edwardian Ball, presented by co-hosts Rosin Coven and Vau de Vire Society.

Ballroom dancing leads way to stunning performances both on and offstage in a collage of fashion, theatre, music, circus performance, and dance. Each year, The Edwardian Ball presents a featured Edward Gorey tale in an original stage performance. This year’s event takes a unique turn, with Edwardian founders Rosin Coven teaming up with longtime collaborators Dark Garden Corsetry in a presentation of Gorey’s ridiculous tale, “The Stupid Joke.” Expect anything but stupidity as these masters of their craft collaborate in an unforgettable tale of a poorly planned joke gone incredibly wrong…

And in the spirit of celebrating all things Edward Gorey, Ball co-hosts The Vau de Vire Society present a series of vignettes throughout the evening paying homage to the most controversial works of the (in)famous illustrator…guaranteed to pop corsets and ruffle coat-tails!

If you prefer (as Edward Gorey did) to enjoy your frissons from the comfort of your own sofa,

  • check out his drawings and books for sale at Pomegranate;
  • read about his theatrical adventures, illustrated with little-known drawings, photos, film clips, and music, in CJ Verburg’s multimedia memoir Edward Gorey On Stage;
  • solve a murder with anagrammatic sleuth Edgar Rowdey in CJ Verburg’s Cape Cod mystery Croaked.EGDetectiveEnters

 

 

Sisters in Crime + Mystery Writers of America 12/12 Holiday Party

birdbewareALL MYSTERY LOVERS WELCOME
to share some holiday cheer this Saturday afternoon —

DISCOVER a new favorite author / book / series

MEET your favorite (or soon-to-be-favorite) mystery writer

ENJOY good company, food & drink, and a whole store full of mystery, crime, sci-fi & fantasy books (plus a cool cafe)

 

EG-bearEVERYONE’S INVITED
2-5 PM Sunday, Dec. 12
Borderlands Books and Cafe
866 Valencia St.
San Francisco CA  94110 USA
415 824-8203
888 893-4008
http://www.borderlands-books.com

BART and Muni accessible