SO…..  a while back, as I was ruminating about my trip to France… and discussing some of the French masters, I signed out by saying “Au Renoir!”   (Instead of “au revoir!)

Well….. apparently my harmless little joke set off a chain of cosmic events that culminated in a brief, but shining example of serendipity!  (What the heck is he babbling about now?)  First, my definition of “serendipity.”  Which to me, is like searching for a needle in a haystack and finding the farmer’s daughter!  In other words, incredible good luck.  So, to what cosmic-like happening am I referring?  (Fasten your seat belts, art lovers!)

Two days ago, as I was putting the finishing touches on my second mystery novel titled MURDER ON MAIDEN LANE, an actual RENOIR came on the market in a most unusual fashion!  Several years before, a Virginia woman went to a local flea market (ostensibly to buy fleas) but ended up plunking down $7.00 for a little framed painting that she thought was a “poor copy” of Renoir’s painting style.  Well, fast forward several years, and guess what?  The woman now owns a bona fide work by Pierre-Auguste Renoir!!  (I wonder which summer month Renoir liked the most?)  Anyway, the French impressionist was very talented.  (They say he did a great Elvis impersonation!)  He was also a decent painter.

How decent you ask?

The Potomac auction house handling the sale is expecting a MINIMUM bid of…..  $100,000!  (And if you want more than the frame, bring a lot of loot!)  Just between you and me, this little darling is going to fetch much, much more.  How do I know?  Because I know something others don’t.  (This guy Renoir is dead!  No more paintings from him!)  By the way, in case you are interested, the painting goes on the auction block on September 29th.  (No out-of-town checks will be accepted.)

For you cultured types, the painting dates back to 1879 (the year before James Garfield was elected President!) and is titled……   “Paysage Bords de Seine.”   (Which in English, means “Landscape on the Banks of the Seine.”)  Having just come from Paris, I can tell you that there are many banks along the Seine, but the exchange rate stinks!)  I hope the French go back to using francs.  (The Germans could then use sausage!)  Hot dog!  I would “relish” such a monetary shift.

And speaking of francs…..  one of the few things that is known about the Renoir painting is that it was purchased by a French art gallery in June 1925 from a woman who called herself Madame Papillon for 5,000 francs.  (Remember the movie called “Papillon?”  Starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman?)  Just coincidence?  I think not,  monsieur!  Want to hear something even weirder?  “Papillon” is the French word for butterfly!  And Steve McQueen’s last name?  Yeah, now you know where I’m going…..  Butterfly McQueen!  Just another coincidence?  I think not again!  (I’m spending too much time on the computer.)

Well, in all seriousness, I think this is a fascinating story.  I will never, ever make fun of folks who go to the flea market again!  (Unless they come back with a Rembrandt.)

Have a wonderful weekend!  Love to all,

Doc Yanoff




Excusez-moi, mesdames et monssieurs!

I almost forgot to mention that THE PRESLEY PLOT (“Le Complot Presley”) is now the number one bestselling mystery novel at the world famous Le Meridien Etoile bookstore in Paris!  (Eat your heart out, E.L. James!)

Proving that they have exquisite taste, the Parisians gobbled up each and every  copy that I provided!  (That dang suitcase weighed a ton!)   In England, THE PRESLEY PLOT was selling for 10 pounds, which is roughly $15 here in the U.S.    If I recall, the French were selling the book for about 12 eruos, which is about the same, give or take a few cents.  All very confusing, but that’s show biz.

I wish to publicly thank the Meridien Hotel group for their kindness.  (Do you think a “French Toast” would be appropriate?)  Why not…..  Vive la France!   Incidentally, they were also sweet enough to provide a very lovely room upgrade on my return visit… a great room overlooking the Eiffel Tower!  Very kind and most memorable.

In truth, the “French Connection,” (meaning the bookstore) was a complete surprise, and I am most grateful to the charming demoiselle that offered to feature my modest tale.  (I do feel a little guilty.  I told her that I was Victor Hugo’s great-grandson.)  What some folks won’t do for fame!

Hopefully my commission will be paid in euros.  (Then I’ll have to go back to Paris to spend all that loot!)  And you thought being a writer was easy?  Ha!   The pressure never stops!  (All right, maybe it lets up a little while you’re munching on caviar and drinking champagne, but that’s about it.)   By the way, the French word “etoile,” means “star” in English.  Now I ask you, was there ever a bigger star than Elvis Presley?  I think not.  Another strange coincidence!

Well, I must leave you now.  I am flipping through a catalog of French countryside chateaus….. just in case THE PRESLEY PLOT takes off.  I’m torn between the Medoc region and Burgundy.  Decisions, decisions!  I guess it will come down to wine.  I’ll keep you informed of my progress…..

L’Amour pour tous…..

Au Renoir,

Doc Yanoff


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?)


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.




Love to all,

Doc Yanoff


Good morning, ladies and gentlemen…..  (I assume it’s morning!)

I have some truly amazing news to share with you today…..  THE PRESLEY PLOT is now being sold in the gift shop aboard our ship, The River Royale, and it has become an instant best-seller!  Granted, it is the only book for sale, but why does that matter?  Seriously, though, you can imagine my surprise when I walked out of the dining room last night and peeked into the gift shop and saw my own book in the book rack!  Who, I wondered, could have placed so many copies of my mystery novel on the shelves?  Well, why question “mademoiselle luck?”  Just go with the flow, as they say on the River Royale!

This evening is our “Epicurean Adventurer Dinner,” which means that our hosts will be preparing and serving some exquisite French dishes paired with the most famous French wines of the region.  Lord only knows how good this will be….. the food has been absolutely fabulous so far.  They did run out of pate last night, but I didn’t care, because I was traveling with Miss Pate!  (Patty)  Incidentally, they were kind enough to serve escargot last night, and as you might imagine, I consumed a fair share of the delicate little morsels.  (Not to be confused with mussels.)

This morning we arrived in a picturesque village called Tournon, and after a quick breakfast of shrimp and truffle eggs, we proceeded to Chapoutier Wine Cellars, to quench our thirst with some very fine wines from the world famous Saint Joseph Vineyards.  (Which ONLY date back to 1808!)  These folks produce some of the very best vino in the Rhone Valley, substantially better than the rot gut we drank in Burgundy yesterday.

By sheer coincidence, the good people of Tournon were holding their annual Onion Festival today, and we found that very “appealing.”  (The streets were lined with vendors selling all sorts of onion and garlic, as well as bread and cheese from different villages.)  Needless to say, we ate our way through town, stopping for…… oui, you guessed it, more wine!  (When I return to America I will be donating my kidneys and liver to medical science!)

This evening should be somewhat special for another reason…… the cruise director has asked me if I would mind being introduced as our “famous American author” during the opening wine ceremony.  As most of you know, I am very shy and humble, but I did consent to this honor.  (The rascal refused to let me make a short two-hour speech about myself.)  Before I close, I want to make a special birthday wish to my beautiful and talented daughter, Rebecca Lee!  The young lady is magnifique!!

I shall have to leave you now, as I must prepare for my big introduction!  I have written a SHORT acceptance speech, which I intend to deliver in French or my own native tongue.  (Whichever comes easier.)

Bon soir!  Best wishes to all……

The Marquis of Merriment!




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!