Sunday, August 28, 2016

THE BEST STRATEGY FOR VEGAS






The Mandarin Bar, 23rd floor of The Mandarin Oriental, the only casino-free hotel in Vegas.


But it's still Vegas.



VEGAS






Vegas?

I friggin' hate Vegas!

But here we are; break a long drive with an overnight in a desert "oasis."

Soulless may be more apt.



Friday, August 26, 2016

KACHINA WOMAN






Both the Navajo and Hopi Native American tribes believe they derived from Boynton Canyon, and that their Mother spirit resides in this rock.

The Yavapai-Apache feel the same, having built this sacred shrine.

No wonder Kachina is reputed to be Sedona's most powerful vortex.

I took this photo with my Leica C after doing my quiet thing and this is how it turned out, no Photoshop, nothing.


A QUIET SPOT





You're supposed to find the right place for quiet, then sit and face your demons.





Didn't take long.  It was waiting for me across the ravine.




FOLLOW THE RED ROCK ROAD






No munchkins.

But plenty of old Native American spirits, including this guy...





"HELPING HANDS"






Church of the Red Rocks.

And three Franciscans...





Wednesday, August 24, 2016

POT OF GOLD?







No, just assorted New-Agers getting beamed up... 



STILL & CHILL






Boynton Canyon Trail, early morning.





Kachina Woman.  

Reputed to be Sedona's most powerful vortex.

(Metaphysical shock therapy.)











Tuesday, August 23, 2016

PRICKLY PEAR MARGARITA






From Sanctuary to Enchantment.



HACIENDA WITH A VIEW






Back to one of the most mystical, magical places in the USA, regarded as sacred by Native Americans:

"God created the Grand Canyon but he lives in Sedona."




ANOTHER AZ SUNSET






Monday, August 22, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

ALMOST NOWHERE






Maybe the name of a novel yet to be written.

Or maybe just a state of mind.

Or maybe where all of us are and don't even know it.



"ARE YOU FRIGGIN' KIDDING ME?"






"I'M GOING TOO... RIGHT?"






Not this trip.

But Travels with Lulu is definitely in the cards one day soon.



Friday, August 19, 2016

MOTIONAL BLUR WEST COAST BOOK TOUR FINALIZED







PUBLICATION DATE:  4 OCTOBER 2016



Tuesday, October 4th @ 5 p.m.

Tecolote Book Shop, 
1470 E. Valley Road 
Montecito, CA 93108



Thursday, October 6th @ 5:30 p.m.

Chaucer's offsite event:  

BoHenry's Cocktail Lounge 
1431 San Andres Street 
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Free pizza, courtesy of Paesano's.

All drinks half-price 5-7 p.m.



Friday, October 7th @ 7 p.m.

Book Soup 
8818 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069



Saturday, October 15th @ 7 p.m.

Copperfield's Books 
104 Matheson Street 
Healdsburg, CA 95448



Tuesday, October 18th @ 6 p.m.

University Bookstore 
990 102nd Avenue, Bellevue
WA 98004



Wednesday, October 19th @ 7 p.m.

Another Read Through 
3932 Mississippi Avenue 
Portland, OR 97227



Thursday, October 20th @ 7 p.m.

Bloomsbury Books 
290 E. Main Street
Ashland, OR 97520



Friday, October 21st @ 7 p.m.

Books, Inc. 
1491 Shattuck Avenue 
Berkeley, CA 94710





Wednesday, August 17, 2016

IN MEMORY, RYPKYN MURPHY







Young, bright, troubled.

So sad.  So very, very sad.



RUSE: BLAST FROM THE PAST






May 22, 2008

SB Independent review of Ruse.



Robert Eringer, private intelligence contractor and part-time Santa Barbara resident, is no James Bond, not least because he drinks his martinis with gin rather than vodka. And if he’s ever foiled a plot to burgle Fort Knox, he’s not telling.
Eringer is the author of Ruse, a tale of his own experiences in intelligence operations that puts Ian Fleming’s protagonist to shame. And Eringer’s wit easily trumps the groan-inducing one-liners Bond is known for. His quick and insightful humor makes Ruse an unexpectedly entertaining read; this story of spies and counterintelligence is funnier than most comic novels.
In 1993, Eringer was approached by a publisher in possession of a book proposal from Edward Lee Howard, a notorious CIA/KGB double agent who had defected to Russia in 1985. 
Unaware of Eringer’s connections to the intelligence community, the publisher wanted Eringer to edit the book and assist in negotiations with the author. 
Eringer immediately contacted the FBI, suggesting that the book would be the perfect opportunity to lure Howard from his Moscow hideaway and bring him to justice in the United States.
The attempted rendition of Howard turned into a decade of red tape, dummy publishing deals, and meetings in seedy restaurants and hotel lobbies from Washington to Zurich to Moscow.
Eringer chronicles these events in incredible detail, some pulled from his obviously preternatural memory and others drawn from notes, which Eringer intentionally took in execrable handwriting. As he notes in Ruse, “Bad handwriting is less incriminating than encryption.” 
The book is full of tidbits of espionage technique like this one; any budding operative could learn quite a bit just from throw-away comments on procedures that are obviously second nature to Eringer.
The best part of the book, however, is the author’s way of recording his constant internal monologue while interspersing it with conversations and events that are going on simultaneously. 
During a dinner hosted by former KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, whose tell-all book Eringer pretends to be marketing, Eringer nods and smiles, maintaining his cover while thinking to himself that he has “come through the looking glass and landed at the mad KGBchairman’s dinner party, as painted by Salvador Dali.” 
This observation is prompted by the enthusiasm, shown by the Russian ex-spies in attendance, for Eringer’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Russia secretly support and encourage American secession movements, in order to destabilize the U.S. government.
While Eringer takes plenty of well-aimed and often hilarious pot-shots at the Russian powers that were during the Cold War, his attention to detail and spot-on sense of humor are directed at United States intelligence organizations as well. 
During the first part of the book, as Eringer and his FBI contacts attempt to have Howard’s rendition authorized, the process is slowed to a glacial pace by officials within the FBI
Eringer refers to these successive levels of authority as the Cheese Family: the Big Cheese, the Bigger Cheese, and so on. The State Department-the highest level of authority the operation is required to clear-Eringer simply dubs “the Headcheese.”
Ruse fully chronicles Eringer’s association with Howard, as well as detailing another FBI operation in which he captured wanted murderer Ira Einhorn, who oddly enough also claims to be the founder of Earth Day. 
The book is fast-paced, absorbing, and a must-read for anyone with an interest in espionage. Eringer himself is a fascinating character, well worth meeting at his upcoming book-signing.








Tuesday, August 16, 2016

MONTECITO MADNESS: REMEMBERING THOM STEINBECK (PART IV)






Tequila lubricates Thom from innate reticence (like his father, who used to hang in saloons to pick up dialog) to loquaciousness, and it's a show you don't want to miss.

"Why are martinis like a women's breasts?" he asks, as if I were born yesterday.

"It's the same with tequila, Thom, so you must like women with six tits."

"The more the merrier."  Thom drains his shot.

Somehow, we got on to the sense of smell.

"Aroma is more powerful than everyone thinks," says Thom, again, preaching to the choir.

"It's subtle, but scent is an underrated sense," I concur.

"It's amazing how an aroma can evoke a memory, take you right back there in a split second."  Thom moves into his point.  "Did you read about Steve Jobs' last words?  'Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.'  He saw it it, man.  I know about this.  I've been there. I was in Vietnam, on helicopters, taking wounded soldiers on board.  They were dying.  They saw it, too.  And at the end, they felt no pain.  You see that they see it, and the pain suddenly disappears.  Light at the end of the tunnel.  Happened to my brother when he died.  Light one end, turned around, saw his ex-wife at the other end.  No contest."

Apparently, Thom's last words:  "Can I go now?"

Goodbye, Thom.  We'll miss you.





Monday, August 15, 2016

MONTECITO MADNESS: REMEMBERING THOM STEINBECK (PART III)







"There was a mouse in dad's writing den that he tolerated," Thom Steinbeck once told me, "until it started eating his papers.  Finally, and only with great reluctance, dad laid a mousetrap.  But in fairness to the mouse he left a note warning that the bait was poisoned."


MALIBU






Pre-vacation romp with my favorite guys.



MONTECITO MADNESS: REMEMBERING THOM STEINBECK (PART II)






"My father always believed," Thom Steinbeck told me, "you should carry a story in your head, live with it a while before trying to write it down.  You should be able to take a lie detector about your story and characters before setting pen to paper."




Sunday, August 14, 2016

MONTECITO MADNESS: REMEMBERING THOM STEINBECK






The conviviality of Piatti  blossomed into a clique of colorful characters.


This being Montecito. some were illustrious, like T.C. Boyle, the novelist, and Thom Steinbeck, on safari in the wilds of upper Montecito swathed in jungle togs and anecdotes, perpetually prepared for an expedition to the lower village, usually allocated to Saturday for a big night out with the wife.

When I first met Steinbeck, he had just lost a decade-long legal battle against book publishers over his father's literary rights and thusly envisioned himself surrounded by crocodiles and vipers, a bar stooled with cougars and Montecito wives that play musical husbands (that would be Lucky's).

"My dad would have loved blogs," said Thom over Cambria chardonnay after hearing about mine.  "He wanted to connect directly with the reader, to hell with the middleman.  If he were alive today he'd be blogging his written word."






Saturday, August 13, 2016

A TOAST TO THOM





With...


A new cocktail called Motional Blur
(Three ounces Tito's vodka, one ounce Creme de Violette, eighth-ounce St. Germaine; stir, serve up, with a lemon twist)

Photo:  Van Stein