SINGIN’ THE BLUES…..

Sadly, we lost the great George Jones this week.  A big loss for those of us who love country music.  As some of you know, I was born in Nashville.  Back in the day, my aunts often took me to the Grand Ole Opry, and I remember meeting Mr. Jones backstage.  He was always very polite, and as I recall, always willing to give some squirt an autograph.  Did you know that his big song, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” was recently voted “the greatest country song of all time?”  Interestingly, Jones did not like the song at first, and he almost refused to record the darn thing.  He thought it was too long, too sad, and too depressing!  (Much like my writing career!)

Personally, I thought it was a great song, but not as good as the one and only country song that I wrote.  (“I’ll Never Get Over You Until You Get Out From Under Him.”)  My little tune was recorded by The Inbred Brothers, and even though it didn’t get much airplay outside of Arkansas, it was nominated for a Granny.  (Similar to the Grammy Award, but given to a senior citizen.)  What a treat it was to see my name in Billboard.  (Actually, my name was ON a billboard, but that’s a long story, and I was falsely accused.)

NOW FOR SOME LITERARY NEWS…..    Aberdeen Bay Press has received permission from my publicist (Invisible Irving Flakowitz) to feature my photograph on their worldwide webpage!  Sooo…. if you are so inclined, or even horizontal, you can log onto their website and view photographs of me signing books in England and France!  In all seriousness, this is very cool, and I appreciate the publicity.

Speaking of publicity….. I would like to publicly thank Mr. Ken Evans, a distinguished gentleman and world-class poker player, for purchasing 10 copies of MURDER ON MAIDEN LANE last week!  (They do make wonderful gifts.)  I’ve noticed that a handful of Austin celebrities are also reading the book…..  i.e., Judge Susan Marquess, Rich Walker, Leigh Ann Woodward, Barbara Talbott, Donna Simon, Christine Nickles, Paula Johnston, and Lee Bomblatus.  (Some of these folks ain’t from Austin, per se, but who’s counting?)  They are here in spirit!  Thanks gang!

While we are on the subject of publicity…..  My friend, Diane Fanning, who just happens to be an incredibly talented writer, is celebrating the publication of her 20th book!  Quite an accomplishment.  Congratulations, Diane!  My other friend (I have two) Larry Brill, is off and running with his first book, and from what I hear, it is destined to become a huge success.  (It’s called “Live@Five”)

I would like to remind my faithful blog followers that Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  (Each year I send my own mom a card of congratulations for having me.)  I’m not sure how my mom feels about that.  (She likes to say “If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong!)  Still, I would remind you that we’re supposed to respect our elders, even though, as time marches on, it’s getting harder and harder to find one!

By the way, speaking of finding things, you might want to order a copy of MURDER ON MAIDEN LANE this week.  There are only a few copies left from the first printing, and the second printing, which will begin this week, will take some time to complete.  (Your mom will be very disappointed if she gets candy or flowers again!)  I sent my own mom two copies (I charged her full price, but I paid for half of the shipping) and I’m sure she was touched by my generosity.  Where there’s a will…. I want to be in it!

Well, folks, take care and have a safe and happy week.  The spring book tour begins this Saturday, so the next time that you hear from me I will be in Tupelo, MIssissippi!  (Where the heck did I put those blue suede shoes??)  Elvis loves you, baby!

Doc Yanoff

FAKES… SNAKES… AND PATTY-CAKES!

Dearest Lovers of All Things Literary…..

On this very day, October 3rd, 1945, Elvis Presley entered a talent contest at the annual Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show.  (The states were poor even then, so they had to combine the sponsorship!)  Anyway, one of Presley’s TEACHERS arranged for him to enter the contest after she heard him sing in class.  (Her name, just for “the record” was Mrs. Oleta Grimes.)  Elvis sang while standing on a chair and without any accompaniment.  (For those of you who went to school in New York that means without music.)  The Once and Future King sang a tender old hymn called “Old Shep.”

The poor lad won 5th prize!  (and got spanked by his mother for going on a dangerous ride!)

Well, that was NOT the case last night!  The FAKES refer to the poor folks who thought they could play poker with The Queen of Cork.  (Called thus because of her love of rose wine and also because she is VERY Irish…  think freckles!)    The SNAKES refer to yours truly, well known in poker circles (and among squares) as THE COBRA!    And finally, PATTY-CAKES is the nickname (yeah, she has several) of the woman who destroyed all of the competition at the huge and vicious My Place Poker Palace last night….. the one and only cutthroat chick, formerly known as the Corpus Christi Crusher…. Patricia Eileen McCloskey!  (nee Yanoff)

Don’t ask me how (because it’s too painful to remember) but the above poker machine ousted the mighty Cobra and several hundred others saps to place SECOND in the tournament.

She almost won the whole darn thing, but lost to a full house (the place was crowded) on the river!  (Actually, we were playing inside, not on the river, but you know what I mean.)  Yes, sir, that woman is “one of a kind” when it comes to games of chance.  And me?  Well, I played extremely good (what else is new?) but alas, my pocket queens were trumped by Big Slick on the flop.  (In keeping with THE PRESLEY PLOT theme I took my defeat well, but I insisted on singing two verses of “Don’t Be Cruel.”)

My utter grief and humiliation was short-lived… I ran into some friends in the parking lot and they asked me if they could purchase a couple of books.  (By sheer coincidence, I had several boxes, I mean, copies in my pickup truck.)  Consequently, I sold two books, autographed them, and went on my merry way… back to Merrywing Circle.  Well, I didn’t win the dang tournament or increase my standing, but I am now the best-selling author of the Jester Center Parking Lot.  (Hey, it’s all good!)

Today is sunny and pleasant down here in Austin, Texas.  I am on my way to spend some quality time with my grand-dog!  I hope you have a wonderful day, too.

(Baker, my grand-dog says hello!)

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff, F.P.L.   (Former Poker Legend.)

 

 

QUEENS AND KINGS… ARE WONDERFUL THINGS!

GOOD AFTERNOON, FELLOW STALACITES!

I say stalacites, because like me, you are “hanging in there.”   Uh oh, I’m off to a “rocky” start.  What can I say?  I have a “cavernous” mind.  Well, I’m sure you get “the point.”

All right, no more mineral or stone jokes!

Who do I think I am, Chris Rock?  Billy “Crystal?”  I think not!  (I had to get those two out of my system.)

Anyway….. I used the above heading (Queens and Kings) not to reference THE PRESLEY PLOT and The King, but to point out that I have been spending way too much time playing the cruel and devious game of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker.  True, I have been winning loads of chips from my fellow gambling enthusiasts, but man does not live by “bread” alone.  (Especially in France.)

I have made the “Final Table” (sounds like an autopsy thing) in the last 3 poker tournaments!  (With little or no cheating I might add!)  Naturally, my brilliant card play has resulted in a huge increase in my overall ranking and point accumulation.  If I keep playing at this level, I will become a gambling legend throughout the Southwest and in two or three counties in rural Arkansas.  Time will tell if I make the move to Vegas, but since I detest casinos, I doubt it.  (No light, no sun, no fresh air, no fun!)

Yesterday was enjoyable and profitable for another reason….. I had a long overdue reunion with Terri Schexnayder and Helen Ginger, the two wonderful women who used to run the Writers’ League of Texas during its heyday.  They looked marvelous, and as I expected, they are still accomplishing some wonderful things here in Austin.  Those two are a class act!  (More about the purpose of our meeting in a future blog….. but hold onto your hats, because it’s quite exciting!)

I also had a great meeting with Larry Brill, the former television newscaster and talented producer of “Writing Across Texas.”  (Which in my humble opinion, was the best show ever produced in Austin.  And I’m not just saying that because I was one of the interviewers!)  Larry is also a class act, and in addition to his thriving media career, he is also an author!  He has written several books and one day I expect to see his name on the New York Times Bestseller List.  If any of you folks need a great media person, Larry Brill is the man to call.  (Listed, of course, under Brill Media in the phone book.)

Finally, on this day, in 1957, the Long-Playing Album “ELVIS PRESLEY’ reached number one on the Billboard album chart and stayed there for six weeks.  When you get a chance, ask someone under the age of 30 to describe a “Long Playing Album.”  Trust me, you will have a good laugh!  (One of my college students thought a turn table was something that a bird sat on!)

I think he was confusing “turn” with “tern.”

Well, in any case, it’s my turn to say adios!  Have a great day and make somebody smile…..

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROCK AND ….. ROLLING ON!

THE PRESLEY PLOT continues to spread like a summer rash!  (Make that a wildfire.)  Thanks to one of my oldest and dearest friends the book is now in the welcoming hands of the ELVIS FAN CLUB OF VIENNA, AUSTRIA!  (Danke, Miss Ingrid!)  I hope our Austrian friends enjoy the book.  Maybe they will send me some chocolate or some strudel in return!  (Hint, hint)

Speaking of foreign countries…… our blog, “Booksbystephengyanoff,” can now be seen  in Russia, Turkey, Israel, and Ethiopia!  (Welcome to the club, folks.)  These new locations join 33 other nations around the globe.  So… welcome!  Keep those cards and letters coming and encourage your family and friends to become followers.  There is no cost or obligation to subscribe, and we run an equal opportunity to amuse site.  (K.G.B. members are not allowed to post comments.)

Now for the news…..

I recently had an opportunity to donate some books to a wonderful organization called the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  The folks that run the Austin chapter are going to use the books in a special gift basket that will auctioned off later this month.  (A great fund-raising idea!)  If you are located in Central Texas, I strongly urge you to support this group any way you can.  They do some wonderful work and need all the help they can get.  By the way, if your group needs some autographed books to raise funds, just contact me and I will be happy to send them along.

Those of you with a keen eye for beauty might have noticed that I now have a new photograph of myself on the blog site.  At the request of my family and friends, I actually posed for a professional photographer.  (No, I didn’t take the head shot in a booth at the mall.)  I did that the first time around.  This time I paid big bucks so that my image, in all of its magnificent glory, would be captured on film.  Of course, you can still blow it up and use it on a dart board if you wish.  (I’ll get “the point” if you do that.)

Finally, on this day, in 1949,  Elvis and his family were accepted into the Memphis Housing Authority’s Lauderdale Courts.  (Nowhere near Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)  They had to pay a whopping $35 a month for a 2 bedroom, first floor apartment.  Vernon Presley (Elvis Presley’s father) was making less than $100 a month at the time, so this was not exactly “chicken feed” for them.  They managed to “scratch out” the rent each month, but the place was really “foul.”  (All right, I won’t use my joke about a “Pecking Order!”)  Let’s just say that the King came from humble beginnings, which is why he seemed to honestly appreciate his later success.  As they say, fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you …..

Well, that’s all for now.  I am playing in a huge poker tournament tonight…. so I must take a nap before the game begins.  When I get  to the game I will let the chips fall where they may!  (Hopefully in my pocket!)   Have a great day and be careful driving…..

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

I SAW LONDON, I SAW FRANCE, I SAW ELVIS UNDERPANTS!

No kidding.  Whilst walking around a London department store, I spotted a pair of Elvis boxer shorts!  The King’s image was in all the wrong places, if you know what I mean.  (Let’s not make a big “flap” out of this.)  I did NOT buy a pair, but I was tempted.  Nevertheless, this proves that some people will do anything to get close to Elvis.  (A little too close, if you ask me!)

I am writing to you from my boyhood home, a quaint and quiet village called Manhattan.  Home to a mere 12 million residents, all of them willing to greet you with a smile and a handshake.  (Some loose change required.)  Ah, the joy of communal fellowship!  Here everyone is strange, I mean, there are no strangers.  Everyone seems to know your name… if you name is “Hey, Buddy.”

But I digress……   While I am waiting for my limo to arrive, I will share some final thoughts about my trip.  First, old chap, we turn to England…..

Did you ever wonder where all of those shabby clothes from the sixties went?  The tie-dyed shirts, striped pants, bad hats, etc.?  They were shipped to London!

Americans put cheese on everything.  The British will only put cheese on a stale cracker.

The British do NOT believe in air-conditioning, cold beer, or ice.  (They are a very warm people.)

The British speak English.  We speak American.  (Know what I mean, dude?)

AND LEST WE FORGET OUR FRIENDS IN FRANCE…….

The French understand odors.  (Think perfume)  In most of their hotels the toilet is separated from the sink and shower.  Believe me, this is a fantastic idea.  Think how many friendships and marriages could be saved if we adopted this design.  (We would probably cut our divorce rate in half, maybe more in Texas, where we consume a lot of beans.)

Paris is the undisputed capital of ugly sneakers and hideous shoes, but the women and men wear lovely scarves.   (The Arab women wear scarves, too.  Unfortunately, they only wear black, and black is soooo yesterday.)

NOBODY in the entire country of France understands the tipping system.

Quiche Lorraine  is not a real woman.

Roquefort cheese can destroy a marriage.  (Unless your spouse likes the smell of dirty socks.)

Never order Beef Wellington, or anything else named Wellington, in France.

AND FINALLY……     ENGLAND AND FRANCE ARE SIMPLY WONDERFUL!

GREAT FOOD, GREAT HISTORY, GREAT PEOPLE, GREAT ALLIES!

IF YOU GET A CHANCE…. GO!

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

PASTRIES… POPES… PASTIS… AND PRESLEY!

Oui Mademoiselles et Monsieurs, I am still wandering around France, searching for my lost jigger of salt, ala Jimmy Buffet who was wasting away in Margaritaville.  Actually, I am not wasting away, but eating like a swine.  There are 3 distinct levels of French cuisine lovers….. gourmets, gourmands, and me….. gluttons!  This glutton loves mutton, but since they no longer serve this particular animal, I have been forced to make due with lamb and veal.  (Both vicious brutes who ravage the countryside!)

Yesterday we were in Viviers, which is quite Medieval in its appearance, and is best known for containing the St. Vincent Cathedral….. the smallest cathedral in France.  Despite its size, it is quite lovely.  We were treated to an organ recital, and before you ask, it did NOT involve an organ grinder or a monkey.  The organist had a powerful set of pipes, and he was kind enough to play some oldies from an album called “The Greatest Hits of the Monk-ees.”  (Hey, there aren’t many good organ jokes….. that are clean.)

After the organ recital, we hoped aboard our “Petite Pooch,” which is French for “Little Greyhound,” and drove to a working truffle farm.  In these parts, the truffle is known as the “black diamond,” and at $200 per pound, you can see why.  I really enjoyed this part of the trip.  The farm owner had a sweet doggie named Millie, who was trained to sniff out the truffles (which grow as a fungus on the roots of the trees) and then on command, dig down for the truffle and gently pick it up with her mouth and drop it at the farmer’s feet.  Each time she found a truffle she got a treat, so I decided to try it, and to tell you the truth it’s a lot harder than it looked.  Messy, too.

Later that same afternoon, we continued southward, driving to a truly amazing region where  Chateauneuf du Pape (The Wine of the new Pope) is produced.  Every inch of this region is covered with grape vines, and some of these vineyards produce the best and most expensive wines in France.  Naturally, we got to sample some of the good stuff, and since I am now a member of the “Legion du Gluttony,” I purchased a bottle of red wine, which the Countess and I (and some carefully chosen friends) will consume this evening!

Does it strike you that I’ve been doing a lot of whining (wine-ing) this trip?  God, it’s a good thing that I finished THE PRESLEY PLOT before I got here!  At this point, I’m not sure If I can hold a pen steady!

This evening, as we dine on more vicious lamb, we set sail for Avignon…. once a Papal residence (7 different Popes lived there) .  I’m not positive, but I think Avignon was also the home of Pope-Eye the Sailor.  In any case, it is supposed to be a beautiful village, and the home of some of the world’s great bingo players.  I shall, as they say in Provence, keep you informed of my whereabouts!

Au revoir!

The Monsignor of Mirth……  Monsieur Stephen Yanoff.

 

ELVIS! EVIAN! EIFFEL!

BON JOUR MADEMOISELLE ET MONSIEUR AMERICANO!

Well, after four days in Paris, France, all I can say is…..  VIVE LA FRANCE! …..VIVA LAS VEGAS! ….. VIVA ZAPATA!    What a grand and beautiful city is Paris, “The City of Lights.”  (Not to be confused with Las Vegas, “The City of Fights.”)  I must say from “ze getgo”  (not an official French term) that Paris is incredibly beautiful, majestic, and truly a grand.  The buildings (especially the museums) are like none other in the world….. and this from a guy who grew up in New York.  Honestly, there is almost nothing on earth to rival some of the great museums in this city, and the Countess and I visited some of the best and most impressive, but you know the names, so I shall not bore you.

In my younger days, I thought that France would be a great place to visit if there were fewer French people there, but again, my views have changed.  Everyone was quite hospitable and charming, and we did not encounter a single act of rudeness.  (Except for that one guard in front of the Mona Lisa……  How did I know you weren’t supposed to trace over the painting?)  Anyway, the good news is this:  the French have changed!  They are more like the English.  (Who bear a vague resemblance to us.)

How could anyone find fault with a country that gave us French toast, French fries, and French kissing?  (By the way, I tried the kissing thing on the hotel elevator and got slapped for my trouble!  The maid did not appreciate my “tongue in cheek” attitude. (So much joie de vivre!)

Lady Spendthrift – who has now been renamed Le Countess de Currency – got off to a bit of a rocky start by referring to the most famous landmark in the city as “The Awful Tower.”  (I straightened things out by telling the locals that she posed for one of the gargoyles on the church of Notre Dame.)  I think the “Frenchies” believed me.  (They are so “Gaulible.”)

I intended to read a passage or deux of THE PRESLEY PLOT at the Louvre, but there were too many gendarmes guarding the place and they did not look like Elvis fans to me.  (Who the hell is Edith Piaf?)  I think she may have been a gourmet chef, because I once saw a dish called Rice Piaf on a menu.  In any case, I did not do a public reading, but I have spread the word about the book around the city.  I hope the good citizens of Paris will buy a few copies, and I think they will like the story.  After all these folks think Jerry Lewis is funny!  (Let’s just hope they don’t think my writing is crepe!)

For those of you who are keeping track of my whereabouts (friends, family, the I.R.S., burglars, etc.)  I happen to be aboard a luxury river barge called the River Royale.  We are presently docked at a charming village in the south of France.  (A place called Chalon sur Saone…… which loosely interpreted means “the town of many missing Euros.”)  Tomorrow we are off with our dear friends, Barbara and Max Talbott (who are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary today!) for a tour Chateau de Pommard in Burgundy.  If I don’t get locked in a wine cellar, I will give you an update on my international tour to promote (or destroy) Franco-American repartee!

Until then, mon ami, remember to pursue joie de vivre!

And now I must say Adieu!  (And Adieu have to go to dinner!)

Monsieur Stephan Yanoff, The Count of Mushy Crisco!