AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS!

Well, to be exact, I just traveled almost around the world in 30 days, but that’s neither here nor there.  “Here” was in Austin, Texas, back in August, and “there” was over 16,000 miles of prime European territory.  (Most of it by boat!)  Those nasty rumors of my incarceration in a Turkish prison were greatly exaggerated, and as you can see, I am back in the proverbial saddle.  Back in the good old U.S.A.  I loved each and every minute of my recent adventure, but as they say, there is no place like home.

However, if you are among those who believe that home is where you lay your hat or head, then you might be interested to know that my recent “homes” were in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, and Turkey.  My summer vacation and world wide book tour managed to squeeze in stops in Venice, Piran (Slovenia), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Cofu, Katakolon, Taormina, Sorrento, Gaeta, Civitavecchia, Rome, Athens, and the Greek islands of Nafplio, Mykonos, Patmos, Santorini, and Monemvasia.  (With a memorable day in Kusadasi, Turkey, in order to visit my old cell mates from the movie Midnight Express!)

I really enjoyed Europe, but there were so many foreigners there.  Gosh, they were everywhere.  (and many of them speak their own language!)  Nevertheless, I managed to endear myself to many of the locals and police officials.  (Spending money always helps.)  Italy and Greece are among my favorite places on earth, but as I said before, I loved every port of call.  I will describe my itinerary in detail (and provide some photographic evidence) in future blogs, but first I must recover from a serious bout of jet lag.  (and start my new diet!)

In the meantime, let me re-state (for the record) that the very best part of travel is always the same… meeting new people and making new friends from around the globe.  This trip was no exception.  Far from it.  Please indulge me while I say a special hello to some of my former shipmates…  Helga and John from Naples, Roy and Carol from Thailand, Vladimir and Natasa from Serbia, Paul and Connie from New Jersey, and Mick and Marlene from California.  We loved meeting each and every one of you folks, and we will always cherish the fond memories we shared together.  (Your autographed books are on the way!)

Speaking of books (for a moment), my recent outing, as you might imagine, resulted in some new blog followers.  Actually, a LOT of new blog followers.  I am happy to report that we now have over 100,000 Sunday subscribers!  In addition, our little blog was recently chosen as one of the “Top 500 Entertainment Blogs” in the nation!  (Pretty good considering my bad jokes!)  Needless to say, I am very grateful for your continued support!

Well, I think it might be a good idea to start unpacking.  (I got back late last night!)  I hope I find some Euros and my missing black sock.  By the way, if you’ll scroll down, you’ll see a photo or two from my first stop, which was Venice, Italy.  The photo was taken in St. Mark’s Square.  I loved Venice, but driving was very difficult.  The residents call themselves Venetians, so I told them I was from Mars. (Oddly enough, they didn’t question that.)  You will also see a photo of a cute little monkey who looks happy to have Grandpa back in town.  (My darling Fiona)

I hope you have a pleasant week.  You have my blessing to toast my return with some good wine.  (Although, in my view, a croissant would be better than toast.)  Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

THE SKEETER METER!

The flying blood-sucking barometer has continued to climb down here in lovely Austin, Texas.  Why?  Because we have encountered yet another heat wave.  (So many waves that we now have our own ocean!)  Triple digits all week long, and no relief in sight.  Oh well, the heat keeps the riff raff off the golf course.  Incidentally, since I’m “bugging” you about the weather, I’d like to congratulate the winner of last week’s Mosquito Trivia Contest.  Mrs. Nancy Pagano was the first person to correctly guess that Texas has (at least) 84 species of mosquitoes.  Not only that, but she was nice enough to point out the top 3 predators!  (Aides, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes.)

In case you’re interested (and who wouldn’t be?) there are roughly 176 species of mosquitoes in the United States and about 2,700 worldwide.  (What a pleasant thought!)  The pesky critters have been around for 400 million years, so I don’t think we’ll see them diminish their numbers in the near future.  Just for the record, dark-colored clothing attracts more insects than light clothing, and the bugs absolutely love seersucker suits.  I once owned a seersucker suit.  (It was on sale at Sears, and I was the sucker who bought it!)

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of speaking to the Lakeway Men’s Breakfast Club (which insists on meeting in the morning) and it was standing room only.  We had a great turnout, and I actually sold a lot of books.  My presentation was centered upon the publishing industry and how I became America’s most famous and modest mystery author.  I really enjoy this particular group (and the Ladie’s Club, too) because it is composed of many wonderful people, highly educated and extremely gracious.  Once again, I would like to thank my new book tour manager, Loyd Smith, for arranging this event.  (One of these days I should offer him a small salary.  Nah, never mind.)

While we’re on the subject of publishing, did you know that 200,000 books are published each year in the U.S. alone?  The Bible is the best-selling book of all time (about 5 billion copies so far) but THE SECOND MOURNING and TURBULENT TIMES are not far behind.  (According to Loyd Smith)  I’d like to thank the Chinese for inventing paper (circa 206 B.C.) as that has made my job a little easier.  (I used to use parchment!)

Speaking of “thanks,” I’d like to acknowledge the Princess of Portugal (and her slim & trim husband, Baron Lee) for hosting a gala dinner last night.  The Princess really impressed our ravenous group by serving fresh gulf coast shrimp, organic green beans, locally grown potatoes, hatch chile rolls, and the piece of resistance…..  Round Rock scallops in brown sauce.  (I’m not sure how they caught scallops in Round Rock, but they were delicious.)  So was our dessert, which consisted of HOME MADE peach pie and vanilla ice cream!  (OMG, I must go on a diet!)  What a marvelous, calorie-laden evening!

Well, this week we lost Aretha Franklin, who was known as the “Queen of Soul” in America.  She passed away on August 16th, which was a little odd, since that was also the date (41 years before) that we lost Elvis Presley, who was known as the “King of Rock ‘n Roll.”  Losing a queen and king on the same day (August 16th) is a fascinating coincidence, and proves that God does work in mysterious ways.  (And loves great music!)

By the way, the good folks at Graceland Inc., are about to auction off a trailer once owned (and briefly occupied) by Elvis Presley.  You can bid online, but you’ll need a VERY large bank balance.  (A lock of the King’s hair recently sold for $35,000!)  Other celebrities have not fetched a similar price, despite their best efforts.  (Yul Brenner went bankrupt!)  Just kidding.  I wonder what a strand of my hair would fetch?  At least a nickel.

Alas, I must take my leave, as I need to pack for an upcoming trip.  I will drop you a line when I reach my destination, assuming we have not been detained or incarcerated.  (again)  Have a wonderful week, drink plenty of water, and try to avoid outdoor activity when there is a full moon.  (A full moon increases mosquito activity by 500 percent!)

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

WHEN IT RAINS,IT POURS!

Welcome to the Lone Star State, where the weather has a mind of its own.  After a very long dry spell, it finally rained most of the day, and the rain was a welcome sight.  Most of the Hill Country is under “Extreme Drought” and we were thrilled to get a good soaking.  (I’ve been doing my part to conserve water by not bathing on a regular basis, but I’ve noticed that my book sales are down.  Coincidence?  I think not!)

Speaking of Texas, congratulations to Mr. Dan Seward (I love that last name!) from Amarillo, Texas, the winner of our last trivia contest.  Dan was the first person to correctly answer all 3 trivia questions, followed just a bit later by Mrs. Christine Nickles (a lovely Pennsylvania gal) and Mr. Larry Woods (a very smart guy) from Lakeway.  For the record, here are the questions and the correct answers…..

1.  What do the three colors of the Texas flag represent?  (Red for courage, white for liberty, and blue for loyalty.)

2.  How long is the Texas Legislature’s regular session.  (140 days, assuming that nobody’s in jail!)

3.  When was the Texas Constitution adopted?  (1845)

Now that we’ve gotten some rain, we will have to deal with the mosquitoes, which brings us to this week’s trivia contest….  (winner gets a generous gift card to Target)  Are you ready?  Here goes…   How many species of mosquitoes are known to live in the Lone Star State?  The CLOSEST correct answer wins.  (Yep, there are many species.)  Good luck, gang.

And since we’re on the subject of “gangs,” I’d like to remind my Austin-based friends that I will speaking at the Lakeway Men’s Club this coming Wednesday.  I don’t mean to infer that the club is a gang.  I’m referring to my topic, which will be centered around my soon-to-be-released mystery, titled, CAPONE ISLAND.  I will also be discussing the wonderful world of publishing, so if you’re in the neighborhood, stop on by.

Incidentally, I recently received two wonderful tidbits of information (relating to Al Capone!) from two of my dear friends in the Lakeway Men’s Club.  Loyd Smith (and his beautiful wife, Shelley) were recently traveling through Cloudcroft (New Mexico) when they decided to stop for a glass of wine at the Lodge Retreat, an historic hotel.  After they spotted a picture of “Big Al” on the wall, the bartender informed them that they were sitting at a bar that was originally from Capone’s Chicago hideout!  (And yes, there were bullet holes in the bar.  I’m guessing those were put there as a reminder to tip generously!)  For those of you who enjoy history, I shall post a photograph of the bar at the end of this blog.

Another fascinating tale came from Mr. Bob Barrett, who told me that a recent book, titled, CAPONE:  THE MAN AND THE ERA, includes an entire chapter dealing with Capone’s relationship with his wife’s family!  Big Al was actually the godfather (an appropriate title) of his wife’s mother, and during his lifetime, the gangster gave her some valuable pieces of jewelry.  (Personally, I would have asked for a bullet-proof vest!)

Well, they say it’s a small world, and I guess they’re right.  The city of Lakeway is filled with interesting and intelligent people, and a lot of them have direct connections to some of my books.  No wonder I love speaking there.  (I should start doing more research down the road!)

Before I leave you, I would like to share some (semi-worthless) information about mosquitoes…  Did you know that only female mosquitoes drink blood?  (I could make a lot of jokes about the ladies, but my wife is in the kitchen and she is holding a VERY sharp knife.)  Just for the record, smelly feet actually attract certain species of the pesky insect, so even if you’re conserving water (like me) I suggest you scrub your toes!

Time to buzz off!  Have a wonderful week, and we shall meet again soon.  Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

***  Below you will find the fascinating photo I previously mentioned!

 

SOME LIKE IT HOT!

Maybe so, but this is ridiculous!  (Even by Texas standards!)  Today will be a balmy 105 degrees… and tomorrow is going to be 107 degrees!  Yikes, that’s hot!  How hot is it down here in Austin?  Well, yesterday I saw a bunch of fire ants carrying canteens!  Then I spotted a tarantula with a Kool Aid stand!  Now that’s hot!  Oh well, as Mark Twain remarked, everybody complains about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it.  I might have to go to Florida just to find some cooler temperatures!

And speaking of Florida,  I will be visiting the Sunshine State in the not-too-distant future in order to tie down the hatches on my new “Adam Gold mystery,” titled, CAPONE ISLAND.  Some of my adroit blog followers have been inquiring about the publication date, which has been pushed further down the road due to some VERY good news…  Sales of my current mystery, A RUN FOR THE MONEY, are starting to increase substantially, and my current nonfiction history book, TURBULENT TIMES, is still winning literary awards!  (More on that next week!)

Thus, my semi-brilliant publisher does not wish to “flood the market” with my books, and has suggested a short delay for CAPONE ISLAND.  As of this date, it looks like the book will be published in early 2019, aiming for the Spring book festivals and award contests.  This strategy makes perfect sense, and I’m actually pleased to get a little break from the book tour gig.

Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of CAPONE ISLAND, let me remind everyone that a good book that does well in the marketplace of literature, is not the creation of a single person.  (i.e., the author!)  There are many talented folks involved in this process, and in my case, I got very lucky.  How so?  Well, keep in mind that the book cover was designed by a super-talented artist named Elizabeth Bell Taylor.  (lil-taylor.pixels.com!)  And then, for this book, I worked with one of the best editors in the business, Ms. Sarah Weber.

A word about Sarah…  She is an Austin-based freelancer who splits her time between editing books for (soon-to-be-famous) authors and writing marketing content for small companies of all kinds.  She holds a B.A. in writing from Northwestern University and a Master’s degree in book publishing from Emerson College.  Sarah knows her stuff, and she’s efficient, reliable, and a fabulous communicator.  I enjoyed working with her, and if you know someone who needs a GREAT editor, she can be reached at the following email address:   sarahmweber.com

By the way, since I’ve mentioned the great state of Texas today, why don’t we have a little trivia contest?  (The winner will receive a $300 gift card from my publisher!)  The most correct answers, sent to this blog, wins!  (First come, first served, so don’t delay!)  Okay, here we go…

1.  What do the 3 colors of the Texas flag represent?

2.  How long is the Texas Legislature in regular session?

3.  When was the Texas Constitution adopted?

Good luck, my dear friends.  If you win today’s contest, you will receive a gift card to Target.  (Hopefully there is a store in your area!)  If not, you can sell the card on eBay.

Finally, as a writer of sorts, I feel compelled to share a some trivia about one of my “tools of the trade.”  (The pencil!)  In 1858, a stationer named Hymen Lipman patented the first pencil.  A short time later, an entrepreneur named Joseph Reckendorfer guessed that the pencil-plus-eraser would become a popular product, so he bought the patent from Lipman for $100,000.  (About $2 million in today’s dollars.)  Unfortunately for Mr. Reckendorfer (don’t you love these names?) the Supreme Court ruled in 1875 that the eraser-tipped pencil didn’t count as a legitimate invention.  The poor guy should have started production earlier, but he couldn’t “get the lead out!”  (I’d like to erase that joke!)

Well, time to say adieu.  (and “I do” have to go!)  So, have a wonderful and happy week, and we shall chat again in the near future.  Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

 

HAWAII FIVE-O!

Make that Hawaii 2.0  (As in part two of my ongoing wedding saga!)  On today’s blog I shall further elucidate the “Royal Wedding” that was recently held on the lovely island of Maui.  Why?  Because half of my 65,000 blog followers are apparently of the female persuasion, and chicks demand details!  (and some more photographs!)  Fine with me.  If I have to cut my literary cloth to suit the latest fashion, then so be it!  (anything to sell more books!)

Incidentally, how many of you folks remember the original HAWAII FIVE-0 television program?  If you recall, Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) loved to apprehend criminals by telling one of his officers to…  “Book ’em, Danno!”  Well, oddly enough, the poor fellow that checked us into the Four Seasons Resort was named Danno.  Every time one of our wedding guests checked-in I told him, “Book ’em a room, Danno!”  (He was semi-amused the first ten times I used that line.  I think.)  In any case, the original television show began in 1968, which was 50 years ago.  (The age of many of my jokes!)

As I said last week, the Four Seasons Resort is a swell joint.  Very classy.  For example, take their bathroom products.  (I took all of them!)  The lotions and oils were from France!  I think they were High-Octane, but that might have been L’Occitane.  (Which might be the French word for gasoline.  Who knows.)  The soaps and shampoo were from Bulgaria!  (Which was mis-spelled on the label.  The label read Bulgari, leaving off the letter “a”)  Even the dang towels were high-toned, and they folded into my suitcase very neatly.

Having absolutely nothing to complain about, but wanting to find something to kvetch about, I stormed up to the front desk and told Danno that I had a problem with the beach.  Specifically, (or should I say, Pacifically) I told him that the water was very salty.  He said he couldn’t do anything about the salinity level of the ocean.  (Not the answer I wanted to hear!)  Then I complained about the beach itself.  I told Danno that it was quite sandy.  He muttered something about me being a “son of a beach,” or something like that, so I dropped the matter.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the Four Seasons, and I do miss that lovely tropical weather.  Austin is very hot right now, and next week the temperatures are predicted to be well over 100 degrees each day!  Thus, as you can see, we also have four seasons down here in Texas:   Early summer, mid-summer, late summer, and NEXT SUMMER!  By the way, did you know that you can tell how hot it is by listening to a cricket?  (No joke)  In 1897, physicist Amos Dolbear discovered a link between temperature and how often crickets chirp.

Here’s the simplified version of “Dolbear’s Law”:   Count the number of times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds, then add 40 to the chirp total to arrive at the approximate temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.  Believe it or not, this actually works!  (I hope I’m not “bugging” you with this information.)

Moving on, my next adventure will be a short trip to South Florida.  I shall be visiting my dear, sweet mother and taking some final notes on Capone Island.  (Which is also the title of the next Adam Gold mystery.)  The island, currently known as Deerfield State Park, plays a prominent role in the next book, so I must get the details right.  Later in August I will be taking an amazing trip across the Adriatic and Mediterranean, but more about that next week!  (First I must straighten things out with Interpol.  They’re so picky about passport violations!)

Well, as promised to my female followers, I shall now attempt to post some previously unseen photographs of my daughter’s recent wedding.  Hopefully you will enjoy viewing them, and perhaps you might consider sending me some money so that I can avoid personal bankruptcy.  (Cash only, no checks)  I wish you all a great upcoming week, and I look forward to our next rendezvous!

Aloha & love,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

 

 

WOWEE, A WEDDING IN MAUI!

ALOHA, my dear friends!  Would you like to guess where I’ve been the last two weeks?  Way out west!  We started our trip in Los Angeles, “The City of Angels,” which was actually hotter than hell.  After picking up a book award and sampling some groovy restaurants, we boarded a Delta jet and made our way to Maui, Hawaii.  (Neither Brad or Angelina were available for lunch in L.A.)  Upon our arrival in Maui, it was party time!  My beautiful daughter, Rebecca Lee, got married at the lovely Four Seasons Resort, which is a sight to behold.  (And so was she!)  The resort is over-the-top gorgeous, and one of the most beautiful joints I ever had the pleasure of visiting.

How classy is the Four Seasons?  Well, when you check-in, they offer you some Macedonia nuts, sun tan lotion, and a colorful lei.  (I could make some jokes about the lei, but this is a family blog!)  I loved the ukulele music in the lobby.  During Christmas they play Don Ho Ho Ho records.  (Come on, that was funny.)

Our guests were treated to an assortment of pre-paid excursions on the surrounding islands.  Some were better than others.  On Lanai, guests were offered a tour of a snake farm that featured Burmese Pythons!  (Similar to Boa Contractors)  One of the reptiles had a sense of humor, so I named him Monty Python.  However, due to their mean dispositions, I kept my distance.  (Remember the old saying?  Let pythons be pythons?)  The biggest critter was about 15 feet long, but he refused to have sex with the other snakes.  (I think he had a reptile dysfunction.)

On Molokai, our beloved guests were invited to visit a now-defunct leper colony.  On a scale of one to ten, this tour was a two.  (Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “scale?”)  I hear that some of our guests remained on the bus and refused to shake hands with the tour guide.  I made some good jokes on the bus, remembering that laughter is contagious.  (Then again, so is leprosy!)

A few of the young girls got to visit the island of Kauai.  (But as Frankie Valli once said, big girls don’t Kauai.)  Hey,  do you think Frankie Valli ever stayed at the Four Seasons?  Hmmm.

As you might have guessed by now, this was a “destination wedding.”  (The final destination being bankruptcy court!)  All of our pampered guests were given lava lamps as a “welcome gift,” but a few folks got second-degree burns.  (My daughter insisted on using actual lava!)  We hosted a rehearsal dinner, wedding dinner, and  a brunch on day three.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a Costco on Maui, so we were forced to serve an assortment of traditional Hawaiian fish…..  Ahi Tuna, Kumu, Monchong, and Opakapaka.  (The last fish was from South Florida.)

Between visits to the magnificent beach, our guests took full advantage of Hawaii’s natural attractions…  Tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes!  Actually, the only active volcano was on the Big Island.  (I’m referring to the Kilauea Volcano, which is still erupting!)  Some smoke drifted our way, but nothing to be concerned about.  I told a local official that they should call the volcano “Killyouanywaya,” but he didn’t seem to like my suggestion.

In all, or mostly, seriousness, Maui is incredibly beautiful.  A true paradise.  While we were touring the island, we caught a glimpse of Oprah’s house, and the vacation home of a fellow Austinite named Willie Nelson.  I’m not sure why, but Willie’s house was surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke that smelled vaguely familiar.  He lives on a mountain, way up high, which seems fitting.  On the day we left, a delivery truck ran over Willie’s foot!  (He was playing “On The Road Again!”)

Well, my fellow Macadamia nuts, I must say Aloha and take my leave.  (I need to unpack my suitcase and wash all those room towels!)  We were truly blessed to host such a marvelous affair on such a lovely island, but it’s great to be home again.  If you scroll down, you will find some photographs of my recent adventure.  I usually conclude by saying “Love to all,” but on this Sunday, I shall leave you with a sweet Hawaiian phrase…..

E lei kau, e lei ho’oilo i ke aloha.   (Love is worn like a wreath through the summers and winters.  Love is everlasting.)

ALOHA,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! (2018 Version)

Did you know that we can actually thank a woman for Father’s Day?  Dad’s special day was promoted by a Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of an American Civil War veteran!  (She wanted to honor her father, and she hopefully had some shares in the Hallmark Card Company!)  I say hopefully only because over 70 million Father’s Day cards are sold each year!  Oddly enough, George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own.  (Which might explain why he died a wealthy man!)  In any case, let me wish each and every dad a happy and healthy day, and on behalf of our children, let not your heart be troubled.  (They will eventually move out!)

You might be interested to learn that the only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single, “Something Stupid,” by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.  (And no, the song was NOT written about me!)  I mention this small bit of trivia as a segue into another topic…. the passing of DJ Fontana, the man who played drums for Elvis Presley for over 14 years.  I got to meet him during a research trip to Tupelo, Mississippi, back when I was writing THE GRACELAND GANG.  He was a very nice gent, and one of the pioneers of rock ‘n roll.  An amazingly talented fellow.

So what else is new?  Well, my book presentation at Longhorn Village was a HUGE success, thanks to Ms. Terri Hallenbeck, their Events Manager, and Miss Pat Hime, my newly hired publicity person.  I spoke about the Garfield assassination, and introduced the audience to my book, THE SECOND MOURNING.  I met a lot of wonderful people, sold a bunch of books, and had a marvelous time.  What more could any author ask for?  Did you say free wine?  Yeah, we had that, too!  I will teaching a creative writing course at Longhorn Village in the fall, and I’m sure that will be a great experience for me.

And speaking of great experiences…  Last night was truly special for me, as some of my dear friends helped me celebrate another milestone… my 39th birthday.  (Hey, you’re as old as you feel!)  The party was at the lovely villa of the Princess of Portugal, who created a special seafood dish that was simply out of this world!  (A delicious Portuguese specialty that contained every known fish in the ocean)  OMG, was that yummy!  And get this, Baron Lee, the noble husband of the Princess, took the time to bake one of his most famous desserts for me…. a seafood tart, filled with…..  Just kidding….  he baked a marvelously delicious rum cake covered with succulent pecans.  What a treat!  I greatly appreciate all the effort they exerted to make my birthday so special.

I would also like to thank Countess Connie, who allowed me to massage her knee.  (I told her I was a doctor, and she fell for it.)  Actually, she fell earlier, and I was just trying to help.  When I was a lad, I wanted to be a masseuse, but I rubbed people the wrong way.  (Ouch!)  By the way, I would also like to thank Barbara & Max Talbott for the sweet “Aloha Cup” that they brought from Hawaii.  (I only wish they had emptied the volcanic ash before giving it to me!)  More about Hawaii next week…  I will soon be following the advice of Horace Greeley, who said, “Go west, young man!”    (No more hints!)

In closing, I would like to present this week’s trivia contest question…  What is the MOST popular Father’s Day gift?  Be the first to supply the correct answer and you will win a gift card from Home Depot.  Incidentally, this would be a very appropriate card, as the other popular gifts given to Dad are hammers, wrenches, and screwdrivers.  My father, after studying his children, always needed several screwdrivers.  (Sometimes he just drank straight vodka.)

Dasvidaniya comrades!  Have a great week and keep smiling!

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff