So at the behest (noodgings) (pokes) of various folks from E2 and elsewhere, I have turned the first few stories from The New York Magician into an eBook. I'm still working on tweaking the layout and metadata, but the eBook itself is complete and works in both epub and mobi (kindle) format. I plan on selling this eventually, but if any E2-ers would like a copy in exchange for feedback - both on the prose, the story, and the layout/technical part of the ebook - I'd be happy to offer you one.

The ebook is tentatively titled "The New York Magician: Denizens of New York" and includes all the stories up through Deal with the flames on their terms or yours, as well as the standalone Halloween Horrorquest entry. Feedback on the title is accepted as well. :-)

Oh yes, and the cover art for this modest offering is being done by the incomparably awesome (and grimly determined, despite obstreperous computer tablets and general annoyances) Zephronias! So if the text isn't totally to your liking, there will *still* be redeeming features to the ebook!

If you'd like a copy to read and comment on, all I ask is that you not copy them (for now, until I figure out what I'm doing about rights) but just contact me via /msg or however and tell me whether you'd prefer an ePub or a Kindle-format ebook.

To all you guys, you know who you are, thanks more than I can say for the support, encouragement and even tough love 'motivation' over the years.

I've been thinking lately that Alexander Hamilton was not a bad guy. This is probably a sign that I am getting old. As a short sketch, Alexander Hamilton was probably the most conservative of the founding fathers, although today he might actually be called a liberal, because he believed in a strong central government. His greatest ideological rival was Thomas Jefferson, who wanted a nation of self-sufficient independent farmers. Hamilton wanted rule by the elite, and thought urban populations, involved in commerce and industry were the backbone of our country. Even though it wasn't our country yet.

In my dream, Alexander Hamilton was still alive, and some hundreds of years old. He had successfully written the constitution he wanted, where a strong central government had kept factional and regional rivalries down for hundreds of years. If you are thinking this is a coherent and prosaic dream, I should point out that he was also reincarnated as Elvis Presley. Only in this alternative universe where the United States followed the Hamiltonian path, Elvis Presley never got to be Elvis Presley. The United States never participated in World War II, and there was never a post-war Baby Boom or a mass culture that produced Rock N' Roll. And perhaps in Alexander Hamilton's America, run by autocratic elites, there was never the type of regional boiling and fermentation that would have produced rock music. All of which I tried to explain to Hamilton/Presley, although I don't know how much of my explanation got through.

The differing views of the founding fathers on the role of the federal government has been endlessly debated (Although many people also seem to believe that they were much like the Super Friends, had no differences, and were all devout libertarians, which was how America was ran up until Tip O'Neill invented federal bloat in 1978, but I digress), but my dream adds something new to the debate: not that I was directly debating it with a founding father, which has probably been done in many hastily scraped together eighth grade civics papers, but that I was doing so with a founding father who had been reincarnated as Elvis.

(Huffington Post said this was too long by 101 words. The subject was "What if Marilyn Monroe hadn't died fifty years ago to the day?")

Yeah, and if Kennedy had had that second term, we might have seen him divorce Jackie and...oh, what's the use? Remember, this was 1962 and she was 36. The cultural tide was turning, and as the Bert Stern photographs show, she had poor muscle tone and boobs like bananas. In the years immediately afterwards, Old Showbiz, with its roster of ex-vaudevillians, Borscht Belt comedians, and lounge crooners was being replaced by people half their age: folk singers, British rockers, actors who didn't change their names, and models who didn't bleach their hair. In that company, Marilyn would have stood out like a drag queen at a Waldorf school pageant. Hollywood Square, hostess of short-lived comedy-variety show, supporting cast in 70's disaster film, guest star in an anthology sitcom like The Love Boat or Fantasy Island...the period had a myriad ways of saying "has-been".
Her best talent was being an enigma (and remains one). Everyone sees exactly the Marilyn that suits them -- Dumb-Blonde, Decorative and Childlike Marilyn, Intellectual Serious Actress Marilyn, Hard-Nosed Business Professional Marilyn, Abused Innocent Martyr Marilyn, Craven Whore and Pill-popper Marilyn, Hedonistic Sexually-Liberated Marilyn, Gay Icon Marilyn, Political Proto-Feminist Marilyn, even Rancher Lesbian Mom Marilyn. Had she lived, she would have had to actually develop a personality, and make good on some of her stunts -- there is more to being "serious" than posing with a book, more to business than negotiating one contract (your own),  and certainly more to politics than flirting with the President. Serious Actress Marilyn? Rita Hayworth tried doing that (with Orson Welles, no less) and no one liked it. Losing the hair, the pancake makeup and the Annie Fanny voice would have meant alienating her fan base -- unless she could have done something really radical, like learning French or Italian and starring in art films, I just don't see Williams or Sondheim in her future. Politics? Business? Not very likely. Remember, this was 1962, not 1982, or even 1977. Though women were beginning to make a mark as something other than decorative coffee makers and typists, the Breakthrough Businesswoman of the Sixties was in publishing or advertising, not showbiz; woman politicians of the day were  generally quiet older women from rural districts who'd inherited their constituents through (long, happy) marriages to their husbands. Rancher wife and mother? Thirty six. Twelve illegal abortions. Unless she decided to become a professional foster mom, which doesn't quite fit either....

Actually, to be quite blunt, her death may have been quite timely. It froze her in time as the Beautiful Blank Legend, and won her a posthumous fan base she probably never would have had, making a space for Deborah Harry, and later Madonna to fill. And now even Madonna is looking somewhat redundant...

I am so easily distracted. While searching an online Genealogical website I did not find anying about my ancestor in the February 26, 1910 issue of The Mountain Democrat newspaper of Placerville, California, but I did find the following news articles quite interesting and thought I'd share them for your possible enjoyment:

Chained Wife to Wall of Room
Because He Loved Her

Paris – The disappearance of the young wife of a druggist named Parat, whose pharmacy is near the scene of the Steinhell murder, was cleared up the other day when the police broke in and found the woman heavily chained between the bed and the wall, horribly scarred.

In addition to the chain, which was strongly padlocked around the neck, a cruel contrivance resembling a coat of mail, but strengthened by a belt of copper rings, enveloped the body. Both objects could be removed only by the use of keys.

The woman told a pitiful tale of two years’ imprisonment and martyrdom. Last November, when still in chains, she gave birth to her fifth child. The husband refused to call a doctor.

Parat, who was arrested, declared that he loved his wife, but was extremely jealous of her.

You've really got to watch out for those Christian Grey types! And now I feel I should research further just to see what the "Steinhell Murders" are all about. Spoiler Alert: the following "Ew, there's something gross in my food!" story will probably ruin your appetite for a popular summertime picnic fare:

Now He Knows Why a Sausage
Is Called "Hot Dog"

Los Angeles – The question, “Why is a wiener sandwich called a hot dog?" was answered in the development that followed the finding of two mutiliated bits of metal in one of the sausages which Mrs. G. E. Sewright cooked for her husband’s midday meal.

Sewright was enjoying the wieners when his teeth struck a hard substance, which on being drawn out, proved to be a bit of brass bearing the word “dog.” The second piece found in the same sausage was engraved with the number 1443.

Sewright stopped eating and hurried to the license bureau at the City Hall where his suspicions were verified by the information that license No. 1443 had been issued to Miss Anna Bell of 300 South Los Angeles street.

“Did you own dog license 1443?” Sewright asked when he reached Miss Bell’s home.

“Oh do you know where Sparker is?” eagerly inquired the young woman.

“Only part of him.” replied Sewright as he departed.

Gotta love that aplomb!

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