News from Les . . .

Something to Look Forward To

Bye-bye winter—finally. FINALLY! Here I am, two days from Memorial Day, the pool just outside my office window is open for my neighbors, pale-skinned sunbathers who’d been SURE they would be tanned by now are delicately slathering themselves with suntan oil, and kids are screaming each time they jump into the shallow end. And the Canada geese I feed every morning, even in winter, are now arriving for breakfast with their five yellow babies. I’m NOT a sun person, per se, but I’m really jazzed that summer is so close, because my next novel, “WET WORK,” will be on the shelves in August. (My THIRTIETH book! YIKES!!!) For you readers who love my long-running Milan Jacovich fictional private eye, I hasten to tell you it is NOT a Milan adventure, but one featuring Dominick Candiotti. Dominick was my protagonist in the 2011 thriller, “The Strange Death of Father Candy,” set in Youngstown, Ohio in the year 1985. I wrote it as a” stand-alone,” i.e. I didn’t plan a new ongoing series. Dominick was not the pleasantest guy in the world, and I figured what when I typed THE END, I’d not see him again. How was I to know I’d… Continue reading

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Jumping the Shark

One of the weekly TV crime shows I’ve always enjoyed is “Castle” on ABC. Certainly the premise of having a famous mystery writer hang around a New York precinct all day every day and help the police department solve crimes is bizarre in itself—but still fun. For me, the writer character, Richard Castle, played by Nathan Fillion, is pleasant enough (and hits home for MY career in a few spots), and his romantic co-star, a VERY tough New York homicide cop, is played by the beautiful Stana Katic—and I can look at her endlessly. So one can watch the show with a suspension of disbelief and have a good time with it. I do, although I always record it on Mondays and watch it later in the week. Until this week, when “Castle” has “JUMPED THE SHARK.” The more-or-less preserved body of a mob boss dead for 35 years is found buried in concrete in an old building, and the police have to find out who murdered him one-third of a century earlier. The one with all the answers, apparently, is his Number Two guy back in the day—but he doesn’t want to talk to the cops because apparently he… Continue reading

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Auction this weekend

Hey—just want to alert everyone in NE Ohio that the auction to benefit TV station WVIZ, the PBS affiliate, begins today and will run through Sunday(locally Channel 25). I’m pleased they’ve asked me to drop by on Saturday between 3 and 5 p.m. as a “guest auctioneer,” so I’m hoping that everyone tunes in and buys SOMETHING—if not from me, from one of the many other auctioneers who’ll be in front of the camera all weekend. WVIZ also has a huge staff of volunteers to make this large and very busy auction successful, from answering the phones to setting out props and prizes to getting coffee!!! Public radio airs shows we’d never see anywhere else—and they do it without commercials, too—so everything you do can certainly help. And remember, since there ARE no commercials, stations like this, both on radio and TV, run only with YOUR help. That’s why they call it “PUBLIC Broadcasting.” This might be the fifteenth auction I’ve appeared on—always an enjoyable day. Have a great weekend, watch, buy, enjoy.

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Talk about your legends….

Mickey Rooney has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. It started, naturally, with the movies. The Andy Hardy series. The musicals like “Girl Crazy,” with Judy Garland as his co-star. (“We don’t need a theater, we can put on the show right here in my uncle’s barn. And we can get Xavier Cugat and his orchestra, too!”) “Boys Town.” “Our Vines Had Tender Grapes.” Later, “The Bridges at Toko-Ri” and several other action adventures. For the seven years when he was under contract to MGM, his films made more money than those of any other actor in Hollywood. Of course, all that big money did NOT go into his pocket. MGM didn’t treat him well, and Mick was rightly bitter about it for the rest of his life. Never won an Oscar, although he did win an Emmy some time in the 60s for a dramatic role in a one-actor play on TV called “Eddie.” Long before Marlon Brando, Mickey Rooney was the actor who taught every other actor what to do in front of a camera—just by watching him. I forget how many times Mickey was married. The number “8″ sticks in my mind,… Continue reading

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One….Singular Sensation? It’s a great song from “A Chorus Line,” but I’m not talking about Broadway musicals. I’m talking about….LUNCH. There is a reason there are so many restaurants in the world. Almost everyone (who can afford it) “eats out” every once in a while, as do I. Now, rather than dine in a fast food joint like McD’s or Burger King or Taco Bell, I’d eat my own shoe (like Charlie Chaplin in “The Gold Rush). I much prefer a restaurant in which you sit down, peruse the menu, and give your order to the waitperson. They bring you water,or whatever you want to drink, they tell you all about today’s “specials,” they try to make you feel good about having chosen that particular restaurant. Let us, then, consider the host/hostess—the first person with whom you relate when you walk in the door. If you come into that establishment with friends or relatives or family, they generally can count, so they can figure out which table and location is big enough for your party, and would make all of you the most comfortable. But quite often, as I’m buzzing around town doing this and that, mostly for business or… Continue reading

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Doing “The Twist”

Nope, it’s not the 1960s dance I’m talking about. It’s the rollercoast twists and turns of a brilliantly conceived mystery play now showing at the Great Lakes Theater Festival – the Hanna Theater on E. 14th Street. It’s called “Deathtrap,”written by Ira Levin. If you’re not familiar with his name, he wrote such dramatic hits—novels and screenplays—for “Rosemary’s Baby”(—and if that isn’t a real bone-chilling thriller, I don’t know what is), “The Boys From Brazil,” “A Kiss Before Dying,” and “The Stepford Wives.” “Deathtrap”is about a once-famous Broadway playwright whose fortunes have sunk so low as to have disappeared—six flops in a row. Despite being married to a wealthy woman, he wants to rekindle his own FAME, and when he reads the excellent script of a new play by an unknown young author, he figures out a way to get himself involved. FULLY involved. There are certainly some scary moments—but many deliciously funny moments, too. And the surprise twists—and the twists twistings on earlier twists—will absolutely delight you. Cast, direction and set is wonderful—and if you’ve never been to the renovated and remodeled Hanna Theater, you’re in for a real treat. This coming Saturday, March 1, I’ll be speaking in… Continue reading

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The Man With the Golden Arm

Remember that book and/or movie? “The Man With the Golden Arm,” written by Nelson Algren back in the 1950s, was one of the early novels (A FANTASTIC read, by the way), and certainly THE first big-studio Hollywood movie (it starred Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak and Eleanor Parker)that dealt directly with drug addiction—here it was heroin. Well, I’m no druggie—never touched the stuff—but I’m still an addict, just as sure as was Frankie Machine, The Man With the Golden Arm. Except I’m addicted to WRITING. Actually writing is not a bad thing to be addicted to. It doesn’t cost money like booze or drugs, it doesn’t make you crash your car into a crowd of people or fall down on the street and don’t know where you are, it doesn’t make you giggly or sleepy or give you the munchies. (Well—SOMETIMES it does…) But it’s something I feel I have to do every day of my life—my birthday, Christmas Day, Easter, Martin Luther King Jr.Day, Yom Kippur, Arbor Day, Saint Swithin’s Day (whatever the hell THAT is) or any other day of the year. THAT’S what addiction does to a writer. I try to get in at least six hours… Continue reading

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The end of one year, the beginning of a new one

When we eventually forget about the too-expensive gifts, the too-much-eating-and-drinking holiday parties, the Christmas cards we’ve hung all over our home, the barely-spent moment thinking about the religious meaning of Christmas—we find ourselves looking backwards over the year just past, exulting, regretting, kicking ourselves in the butt that we should have but DIDN’T do this or that. Life, as John Lennon said, is what happens while you’re making other plans. I like that Lennon quote. Several times each day, Facebook friends post one quote or another on my page. Some are funny, some are annoying, some of them are quite beautiful, some are religious, many are political. I enjoy and welcome them all. Quite a few have to do with animals, and since I am a COMPLETE animal-lover, they are even more special to me. Do we all have mantras? Do we have quotes we remember, quotes that actually change our lives? I have a few, some having to do with how I make my living, as a writer. But there is ONE that I think of every day and strive to make it happen. It didn’t come from a great philosopher. It didn’t come from Shakespeare or Tolstoy. It… Continue reading

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Holly’s Article

[ Update: All links have been updated, and are now working ] Holly, my S.O.(significant other) shares my vivid love for animals. She wrote this article about a tremendously worthwhile project—especially for those of you whose hearts are touched by the saving of animals. This is SO well-done that I want to post it on my own website. (She gave me credit as “co-writer,” but I probably added about ten words to the whole thing.) Read and enjoy—this small but wonderful organization really needs our help. The Humane Touch By Holly Albin with Les Roberts humane |(h)yo͞oˈmān| adjective 1 having or showing compassion or benevolence Each of us holds the whole world in our hands, reminiscent of song lyrics from a long gone flower child era, but a timeless truth. Whether it be a gift of food for the hungry, a couple of dollars or a thousand, or the dedication of one’s life to helping the most innocent and vulnerable, we all possess the power to touch the world with compassion and benevolence. Manifesting that truth are Ginger Hannah and retired state ranger, Brian Licht, of the Euclid Beach Feral Cat Project (EBFCP) in Cleveland Ohio, a nonprofit organization that… Continue reading

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Buckeye Book Fair

Happy November, everyone. November is always a fascinating month. We’re recuperating from eating too much Halloween candy. At the moment the wind howls outside my window to remind me that summer is gone for good, and autumn is well on its way to being over, too. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and now one can walk into any retail store and be overwhelmed with Christmas items and Christmas decorations. TV commercials are all Christmas-oriented, too. And of course, drive down any street and it’s difficult see the landscape behind the HUNDREDS of political signs asking us to vote for people, some of whom we’ve never heard of before. But the first Saturday in November is always a special day for me, because it’s always the time for one of the biggest book fairs anywhere. It’s called the Buckeye Book Fair, held in Wooster,Ohio, and there are usually about ninety different authors there, sitting at long tables behind piles of their own books. All of us, by the way, either live in Ohio, USED TO live in Ohio, or write books about Ohio or, like me, write fiction SET in Ohio. I’m told that tomorrow I’ll have five of the… Continue reading

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