News from Les . . .

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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Visit me at Barnes & Noble Mentor this Saturday…

Looking for something to do this weekend? Stop by the Barnes & Noble in Mentor (7900 Mentor Ave) on Sat Oct 26 between 1-3pm. I’ll be signing books, including my latest: Win, Place, or Die. Hope to see you there!

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Little Brown Jug

When I was a kid, all I knew about “Little Brown Jug” was the hit song done by Glenn Miller and his orchestra. Yep, back when there were “dance bands” all over the place, and Miller’s was one of the top favorites. But I learned a new twist on the name. Writing my latest novel, “Win, Place or Die,” about the harness racing industry, I learned from my co-writer, Dan S. Kennedy, who is himself the owner of twenty-some racing horses and drives them himself, too, that “Little Brown Jug” is also a huge two-day harness racing celebration held each year in Delaware, Ohio (just north of Columbus) at the sprawling Delaware County Fairgrounds. The first day, this year Sept. 18th, was the “JugETTE,” featuring many races, all day long, spotlighting fillies. (If you don’t know about horses and haven’t seen many Westerns, a filly, FYI, is a female horse. And in the big log cabin at the fairgrounds which is dedicated to horses, the restrooms are marked “Fillies and Colts.”) The next day,Sept. 19th, featured races with male horses. On Jugette Day, Dan and I, along with his lovely and charming wife Carla, were invited down there to speak… Continue reading

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Big Saturday

A “Win, Place or Die” event: I always particularly enjoy doing book signings at the Barnes & Noble store in Westlake/Crocker Park—especially on a Saturday. There’s always a terrific READING crowd there, and as a writer constantly looking for characters to write about, it’s a people-watching adventure for me. (You never know when YOU are going to show up in a book!) It’s also exhilarating for me to get out on the West Side to sign; many people who come to say hello are real-time friends I don’t get to see often enough. (And if you happen to live in, say, Spokane Washington or Tucumcari, New Mexico—well, it’s not THAT long a drive!) I am looking forward to one particular hug (you know who you are). SO— this coming Saturday, August 31 (wow, where has the summer gone????), I’ll officially be at Barnes and Noble in Crocker Park from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. I’d love to see ALL of you. Hope you’ll buy a book, but if not, just say hello anyway. On Friday morning at 10 a.m., I’ll be on Chris Van Dyke’s radio show on WELL-AM. Saturday morning, at 8:10 a.m., I’ll be talking to Flash Ferenc… Continue reading

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