Old Town

Old Town
Pioneer Square

Monday, December 1, 2014

Reb MacRath's Seattle Rock: V. 3: 12/1/2014

KATAKLYSM death metal heavy hard rock concert concerts crowd  a wallpaper background

Nuts and Bolts

So, we've come to the critical landmark: three months. Enough time in any venture to know if we're on track...or running into landmines. What have I done in the last month? Well, I:
--Finished revising and proofing Red Champagne
--Sent it off for formatting.
--Entertained my first out-of-town guest, photographer Paul Cotter.
--Reinvented my online image with new Seattle shots by Paul.
--Ramped up the workouts at Gold's Gym. (See Sports section below.)
--Consulted with my new ebook formatter about scanning a physical copy of Mastery. It's one of the three remaining horror novels I wrote as Kelley Wilde. Scanning will spare me the nightmare of having to retype an old book from scratch and free me to work on a new book.
--Began giving more serious thought to moving when my lease expires--to another studio, but without an income ceiling.
--At the same time, began to plan for finding better-paying work on the same schedule of 3 days a week.

City Beats

Seattle is:
--A city coolly on the go. Briskly and efficiently. Those of us who'd gotten used to teeth-grinding waits in other places love how smoothly this town goes about its business. Even the bureaucrats are in the groove. There's no need to go postal at the P.O. or DMV--you'll be in and out in a relative blink. The buses run on something phenomenally close to real schedules. And the bus drivers mean business: they've no time to waste, so pay up or get off. So desperate bums, meaning business as well, scream for change at Walgreens and more speed in being rung up while their partners scream, 'Let's GO! The frigging bus is coming!"

--12th Ave Arts: a new and brilliant combo of retail shops, theater, community meeting spots and affordable apartments in one of the city's most happening zones.

!2th Ave Arts should be a model for study nation-wide.  In Charlotte, New York or San Francisco, the apartments would rent for $2000-$3000 a month, if not more. Here they're well under a thou. It's quite a story. Have a look:


--Clear and sensibly placed signs posting holiday schedules for busesLots of luck finding these in many other cities. Here they're posted through the town and true to the town's spirit as a city on the go: Plan ahead, folks...Get in gear...Similarly, Seattle is planning a series of live feeds on screens around town: to-the-,minute updates on the status of your bus.

--Belltown...on 2nd Ave.

Seeing this section of Belltown in the early morning, as I had on my first trip, is to pretty much miss it entirely. At  night, the district comes alive: a bright and bustling hive of cafes, bars, restaurants and boutiques vaguely reminiscent of San Francisco's Union Street. Easy to see why Seattle's most densely populated neighborhood has been voted best place to retire in the metro area.



I continue to work out at Gold's M-F in 60-80 minute sessions and have booked a free session with one of their personal trainers. My focus has shifted from the parts prized by manly men--arms, chest and shoulders--expanding to work on my soft spots: weakish thighs, calves and forearms. Fitness and real strength for me lie in the overall picture. So I now focus on the small number of men who have their Gold's act together: persistently, chiseling classically balanced physiques.

Entertainment: Kicks of the Month

This will shock you, I know. It shocks me. What the hell: one of the high points of each day comes at the close, a half-hour before bed, With a cup of tea, I have at Latin again. A page or two a night, that's it. The discipline appeals to me. So does the regularity of the nightly ritual. And the challenge is a good one for a Slightly Older Guy. But there's an added benefit for a writer, or for anyone involved in a long-term pursuit: my perception of time becomes strengthened, as does my grip of the process of art. Though I'm reminded constantly of the minuscule progress I make every night, and the years of study that remain, I can also see the pages I've accomplished. And I'm reminded of the need to fix my sights on the lesson at hand.

Naturally, though--no dummy, I--when others wonder what I do for laughs, I say, "Oh, you know. The usual. I live, I laugh, I love. And you?"


Just finished reading: Dragon Knight by Diane Rapp. Though I'm not a big fantasy fan, I am a major fan of Rapp--and I wasn't at all disappointed. I mean, really, how could I resist the tale of a dragon changed to human form...and the spirits of dead rock musicians? Call it a shaggy dragon story, or call it what you will. A real page-turner with a laugh on almost every page.

Now reading: The Operator by Valerie Laws. I loved the first Bruce and Bennett crime thriller, The Rotting Spot and am delighted to find this entry every bit its match. Laws is a wonderful writer, with a wildly electric background: poetry, drama, literary fiction. Can't wait to start on this one.

Just finished writing: I finished work on Red Champagne and have just received the formatted manuscript, which I need to proof. Expected launch date: around 12/5.

In the works: Am starting to work on the groundwork for the next Boss MacTavin mystery.

And...This month's Red-Hot Recommendation from Reb:
A wonderful new online literary magazine put out by Richard Monaco, Leverett Butts and Scott Thompson. The first issue is terrific!


Getting into the groove of any smaller place means tuning into its rhythms. I have. And I find electrifying comfort in merging with the rituals that make an average day unique if performed with a full-bodied spirit...or at least a full-spirited body and mind. Each morning I fold up the sheets, blanket and comforter...stow them in the purple trunk...then convert the futon to a sofa. The Venetian blinds are opened to let in the sunlight and showcase the room. I shave, shower, wash my hair, Dress and load my pockets with coins, keys and so on from the dual caddy trays. A quick inspection. And then off I go.

I come home to a perfectly clean studio with a pleasant view glimpsed through the blinds. Time for the night's rituals. Many are morning reversals, of course. But, as a small space resident, I treat the old and the new chores alike. In fact, the whole daily cycle to me seems embodied in two sets of actions:

Unloading/reloading the caddies and opening/closing the blinds. Two spiritual arpeggios, one signaling a fresh new performance at dawn...one helping the spirit to wind down for sleep.

Here are my two treasured friends:

Ripoffs and Savvy Savings

1) Ripoff Alert: Starbucks sells a packaged Protein Pack for $4.95: 1 hardboiled egg, 2 small wedges of cheddar cheese, a tiny bit of whole grain bread, a packet containing a tablespoon of peanut butter, 4-5 grapes and 3-4 small wedges of an apple. Forget the convenience and think of the cost. You can make that yourself for well under a buck.
2) Savvy Savings: It pays to shop for certain things not only wisely but often. I'd planned to replace the major DVDs lost in my move by ordering through Amazon. A good plan for specialty items. But in Target I spied two DVD displays: for new films and TV shows. From retail experience, I knew these items come in batches...and when they're gone, they're gone. So, still without a DVD player, I bought the latest Bond film, Skyfall, and season 8 of 24. An Opportunity Shopper was born.

Breaking news, added 11/28: Attended my first-ever Doorbusters event, at Target, at 6 p.m., Thanksgiving night. And I arrived in time to get an RCA portable DVD player at $35 off. Also, DVDs were marked as low as $4-6, I added still more DVDs to my Seattle collection.

Further breaking news, added 11/30: An impulsive return to Target yesterday netted me the blender I've needed for so long. A 12-speed Black and Decker...at half price.


How could the month of December be anything other than blessing and blessed?

Whatever your faith or conviction, happy holidays to all of you!

Laptop Hoboing

My discovery of the month leads to a mini-reflection about Hobo Etiquette.

First off, the discovery: The Courtyard by Marriott Bistro, at 2nd Ave and Cherry, has become in just one visit my favorite cafe. It's huge, bright and beautifully furnished, with scores of single tables as well as long tables for groups. All of these have outlets, And the single tables also offer remote-controlled Dish TV. Food prices are a bit steep for most hobos but the Bistro serves Starbucks coffee at Starbucks prices. The cafe is open from 6:00-10:30 a.m. daily, reopening later for Happy hour. I had no trouble sitting, with just a coffee, for an hour. But this leads to something we should keep in mind.

Hobo Etiquette.  Feed the tip jar when you order. Get to know the staff by name and thank them for their courtesy. And know that it's time to leave if a large crowd of tourists comes in.


 Wanted: one night in the arms of a woman who'll make me scorn only a night.

Ask El Reberoo

Chiquita B asks: Old man, what could you possibly bring to the table for a hot tamale like me?
El Reberoo responds: My dear, it isn't to the table that I'll bring what I've got. Behave!

Deep Thought

You shouldn't sit that way, you know. Why, a girl who'll cross her legs like that will cross almost anything.


From Red Champagne, my new winter thriller set aboard the Twentieth Century limited in 1938. Publication date: early December.

From Red Champagne, my new winter thriller set aboard the Twentieth Century limited in 1938. Publication date: early December.

    For Jimmy, like the others, the car's aura was part of the magic. Two flat ceiling troughs stretched end to end, curving down behind the bar. The light they cast was shadowless, suffused and indirect. Small fixtures in their bases beamed subtle accents of lensed light that left the ceiling's coppered cork glowing in content. The oak-wainscoted walls were top-leathered in gray; the chairs and curved sofas, in Century blue. These formed a cozy and intimate maze, instead of the usual strips down both sides. Staggered hand-carved tables sank into the thick rust piling. The curved bar had brightly stocked shelves made from the new rage, Plexiglas. Just past it was a radio, big on Sinatra and Crosby tonight. Next, a one-man barber shop. Then a crew dormitory, which slept eighteen in three-high beds. Finally: a shower/bath and the car's circular foyer, with early railroad models in glass cases in the walls. No thoughts were squandered wondering if those early models had been trains of the future back in their own day.

The Brief Delay of Potty Man

Last month I announced the arrival of a new feature on this blog. I'd had an inspired idea based on the challenge of finding relief in a city with few Public Restrooms. In fact, it was a great idea--so great, I learned, that I'd been scooped by a major operation. Those wonderful rascals at Charmin have set up on their own nation-wide web site of public restrooms in Anytown, USA. I don't have Charmin's resources and won't even try to compete. That said, I can--and will--forge a way to present a supplement to Charmin's site. Mine will prove useful for three reasons:
1) The Charmin site, though exhaustively done, is difficult to navigate. Green and Red icons (for Recommended and Not Recommended) mushroomed alarmingly when I tried to scroll. They multiplied faster than the clones in the last Matrix. When we really, really have to 'go', we don't have time to fiddle.
2) My highly selective version will list top choices in the most popular parts of town. And in addition to public restrooms--often filled with riffraff--I'll list clean, safe, relatively private restrooms in cafes. Guiding principles: 1) It's best when we're traveling to structure our days, knowing roughly where we'll be at any given time. 2) We should be willing to buy at least a cup of coffee for use of the facilities. 
3) Potty Man lives in Seattle and cares. 

Till then, here's the link to Charmin's Sit or Squat site:


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reb MacRath's Seattle Rock: V. 2: 11/1/2014

Nuts and Bolts

The Seattle Rock picks up the pace in this second issue. I:

--Succeeded in reducing my job hours to three shifts a week to allow time for writing and workouts.
--Joined Gold's Gym, the downtown branch, on a no-contract, month-to-month basis.
--Established a M-F routine: up by 5:30 a.m. to work for 90 minutes in the corner Starbucks: email and social media. Walk to Gold's and work out from 60-90 minutes, five days a week. Nap, then march to library.
--Received Enhanced State ID, valid as a passport to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
--Worked with new artist, Jean Schweikhard on the cover for RC, my upcoming winter release while continuing the next-to-final draft--and raising the length from 34,000 to 38,000 words.
--Began daily use and study of the metro bus system.
--Began collaborating with author Claude Bouchard on our second interview.

City Beats

Seattle is:
--The infamous intersection at 3rd & Pike, known as The Scourge of Seattle. Thugs, rummies, druggies, thieves and nutcases hang out here when not looting nearby stores. A wild Twitter account chronicles the sordid life forms at The Scourge:
--The recording at one crossing: "Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait!'...then a series of crisp drum rolls when it's okay to cross.
--The bus pass, which should be a model for transit systems everywhere. No cheap cardboard pass that's a wreck in a week, the ORCA card's made of thick plastic and can be reloaded online or at stations. The choice is yours: dollar amounts or a monthly pass. Tap the card on the fare box when boarding and your balance will be shown.
--Metro buses. I've made a list of bus routes with bad reputations. But I've seen nothing even close here to the hell of the buses in Charlotte: rude drivers...crazed passengers...fare beaters...gang warfare and muggings at the city's Transportation Center. Some drivers are warmer than others, but I haven't met a bad one yet. Some of the buses have high-backed, Gray Coach-style seats. All are clean and comfortable (bad rep lists excluded.) And transit cops and fare enforcers look like they mean business.
--Grand Central Bakery. Located in Pioneer Square's Grand Central Arcade. Erected in 1879, the Arcade was originally Squire's Opera House. Several incarnations later, it has been fully restored and now contains two floors of shops. And the Bakery is the main attraction with its chairs and tables outside in a simulated railroad terminus from the 19th Century.
--Home to more stars than you'd think. Here are Wikipedia's lists of celebrities who were born here and those who have moved here:
--The downtown Department of Motor Vehicles. Had bad experiences in your own town? I had a 3-hour round trip by bus and a four-hour wait back in Charlotte. Not here. To apply for my Enhanced Washington ID, I made an appointment online. The next week, I walked there...was buzzed in...and waited all of ten minutes. I learned that the office for regular licenses was just around the corner. Curious, I looked in--to see that I might have had to wait 15-20 minutes, tops.
--Paul Allen, billionaire owner of the Seattle Seahawks. Allen contributed $100 million to the fight against Ebola.
--The city's KeyArena 4-day free health event, care including everything from root canals to mammograms to on-site prescription eyeglasses.


A new chapter in my sporting life began when I walked into the downtown Seattle Gold's Gym. Forget Venice Beach. There's no Arnold inside or sons of the spirit of Arnold. Some brawny men and goddesses can be seen throughout the gym. What struck me though, and what I liked, was the focus on overall fitness. Barbells and dumbbells and cables abound. But for every member using those, you'll see ten who are stretching, hitting their abs, cycling or running on treadmills.

M-W-F, I work my core at an upstairs circuit station, using Life Fitness (Nautilus-style) machines. Biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, back, traps and abs. I switch to dumbbells for more focused arm work, then hit the abs again with the cable pulley machine. Final treat: 15 minutes rowing.

T-Th: squats, leg curls, leg extensions, calf work, hip 'abduction' and 'adduction', back extensions. Final treat: 20 minutes cycling.

Two days off to rest  and grow.

Entertainment: Kick of the Month

Here's a shot of the sexiest lady in town: the Seattle Central Library:


The renovated library opened to the public on May 23, 2004. The architects decided to let the building's essential functions dictate its appearance, instead of forcing functions to conform to their design. The 'Books Spiral' resulted from that decision: the library's nonfiction collection spirals through four stories on an unbroken series of shelves--with no interruptions of the Dewey Decimal System. The 362,987 square foot, 11-story, building holds about 1.45 million books and other materials. It offers 400 public computers on its fifth floor and underground parking for 143 vehicles. Very cool But cooler still:

Instead of a stuffy old, badly-lit building, the library here is a cool place to be. Take the third floor Living Room. Two work tables, with twelve chairs each and outlets, plus a smaller table seating eight, provide  wi-fi and 'office space' for those who have their laptops. Between the tables, big and small, there's a bright seating area with a section of plants at its core. And also a pleasant non-Starbucks cafe alongside a gift shop.


Just finished re-reading: Asylum by Claude Bouchard. Vivid proof that what we expect is often what we see. CB is best known for his best-selling Vigilante series: snappy blends of police procedural, mystery and gritty Death Wish-style fun. Those who expected the same from Asylum were surprised, to say the least. It contains many of the old elements but in a fresh and startling way. My delight was twice as great this second time around.

Currently re-studying: Reading Latin by Jones and Sidwell. I've had the full three-volume set of texts, grammar, vocabulary, exercises and extra commentary for over a decade. I'd started on it back in Portland, but--drifted. Time to return. A good hobby to balance the writing and gym. Bonus puer sum!

Next up: Dragon Knight: And The Heart's Blood Curse by Diane Rapp. One of my favorite mystery writers has served up a playful fantasy that sounds as if it might be fun. Am not a true-blue fantasy fan...but the best writers can take us anywhere they please. And I'm pleased to follow this Rapp star.

Currently writing: Still at work on Red Champagne. my upcoming winter release. Hope to wrap within two weeks, so I can start laying the groundwork for my next Boss MacTavin mystery.


Progress with the studio has been slow but true to color and spartan simplicity:
--Espresso and aqua-colored bath rugs, towels and accessories for the bathroom.
--A cherry wood stool, topped with a brown wicker caddy to pick up on the living area's brown rug and dominant red color.
--A small winged oval table abandoned in my building. It serves as a dining room table and desk, looking good with a square of red linen on top.
--Scarlet dishware.
--A thick, plush rose-pattern blanket.
--A dark red glass box for pencils and desk accessories.
--Good-quality wood caddy trays, set on the broad window sills, to array my stuff each night.

I follow my budget and instincts, not a long list of items I speed to check off. I hunt and look till something calls. And in this way the space becomes the spot I hurry home to.

Ripoffs and Savvy Savings

1) Ripoff Alert: Don't be suckered into paying for tap water in disguise.  This link provides a tale of greed and duplicity, with our old friend Coca-Cola back on center stage:
The story in a nutshell: Coca-Cola has been charged with filling its designer Dasani 'pure, still water' bottles with...purified tap water. And researchers have found that 25% or more of bottled water sold also comes from taps--sometimes treated, sometimes not. One other well-known brand sold 'spring water' from a source next to a hazardous waste-dumping site. Think about this and decide for yourself.
2) Savvy Savings Tips: Salvation Army and Good Will are best for home supplies if you're on a budget and don't mind pre-owned. Why pay $15 for flimsy faux silver at Target when you can buy heavyweight sterling for $.20 a piece? Does it really matter, when you're getting on your feet, if the patterns differ slightly? Two rules for thrift store shopping: be persistent, shopping at least once a week...and be open to items that aren't on your list or you'll miss out on bargains that won't be there long.
    b) Value Village is consistently better for clothes. Bigger selections and far better chances of getting new things from the generous rich.


"Man, where is your connection?": a question asked of me in San Francisco, 1983, before I set off for New York. 31 years later, I've found the answer:




This town. This day. This hour. Here and now I feel fully connected.


From Red Champagne, my new winter thriller set aboard the Twentieth Century Limited in 1938. Publication date: December, 2014.

    For Jimmy, like the others, the car's aura was part of the magic. Two flat ceiling troughs stretched end to end, curving down behind the bar. The light they cast was shadowless, suffused and indirect. Small fixtures in their bases beamed subtle accents of lensed light that left the ceiling's coppered cork glowing in content. The oak-wainscoted walls were top-leathered in gray; the chairs and curved sofas, in Century blue. These formed a cozy and intimate maze, instead of the usual strips down both sides. Staggered hand-carved tables sank into the thick rust piling. The curved bar had brightly stocked shelves made from the new rage, Plexiglas. Just past it was a radio, big on Sinatra and Crosby tonight. Next, a one-man barber shop. Then a crew dormitory, which slept eighteen in three-high beds. Finally, a shower/bath and the car's circular foyer, with early railroad models in glass cases in the walls. No thoughts were squandered wondering if those early models had been trains of the future back in their own day
    A speedometer placed in the foyer read seventy miles an hour. But the drink lines of the glasses looked as steady as the stars. 

Laptop Hoboing

Cautionary notes from the field.

(#@!) indicates Laptop Hobo Hall of Shame.

1) The Seattle Central Library's third floor work tables with outlets: okay for relaxed Web surfing but not for attempting more serious work. Noise levels change from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. Think Living Room, not Study Room. The 10th floor Reading Room is a better bet if you need to concentrate: a giant, split-level area with tables divided into cubicles. No cell phone shenanigans or loud conversations. Peace!
2) Pine Street's Barnes & Noble  (#@!) is a ruined ideal location: its massive cafe has only a pair of two-plug outlets, both on the same post.  Best chance of catching one of these: 9 a.m., at opening. Otherwise, be warned: hobos here squat for hours.
3) Starbucks at Pike Place Market (#@!): no electrical outlets for hobos.
4) Starbucks on 2nd Ave. at Seneca (#@!): no wi-fi access on any of my three visits.
5) Starbucks at 2nd and Cherry: a superb sight...if you can get one of the three tables by outlets...or have packed a long extension cord. Best chance: 5-6 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
6) Seattle Coffee Works: 107 Pike Street. Great coffee, relaxed atmosphere, multiple outlets...but sometimes spotty wi-fi access.


Wanted: sufficient success from my writing to enjoy a bi-coastal lifestyle involving two tastefully tattooed women who adore my mastery of the semicolon; really.

Ask El Reberoo

Billy B asks: Hey, dude. I got a great idea for a book but like I'm not too big on the word things. How's about if we split 50-50? I'll do the hard part and you put it down. Then I'll throw in a date with my sister.
El Reberoo responds: Well, I'll pass on the date with your sister--since I'll be booked, with any luck, for the next twenty years with more word things. That said, I believe I'd be out of my league in doing your great ideas justice. Or even a decent injustice. My advice: collaborate with someone who shares your belief that the hard part is thinking of writing--then find an agent behind on his rent or with only a few months to live.

Deep Thought

Near-death experiences tend to get all the attention. But shouldn't we be thinking more about our near-Life moments?

Monthly Mystery

The studio I love comes with a Catch-22. Since the building is subsidized, my allowable income's restricted. The fixed portion of my dual income is enough to pay the rent but not to live on comfortably. And full-time work would push me over the top. Currently, I work three days a week in retail. I could earn more, working limited hours, at editing or proofing. But, again, the better pay could put my place at risk. Somehow, some way, there must be an answer.

Parting Tout

Rooty-toot-tout, Rooty toot-tout! I know exactly how you feel. So many touts for your money and time, And no one seems to give a hoot about your lives--what you want, who you are. For your reading pleasure, therefore, I offer April Yule: a short thriller for anyone who owns a home or rents. On the night of its grand opening, two callow careerists are trapped in their home...which, they learn, is booby-trapped. Someone, or something, wants payback. And they have until midnight to win a cruel game.

Through the month of November: just $.99.


Coming Attraction

Starting in December, a unique attraction that I alone would think to write:

Potty Man's Seattle Peepee/Poopoo Guide

Yes, friends, you've guessed correctly! I'll post monthly listings for tourists and natives: where to go when you've really, really gotta GO in a city with few public rest rooms. Don't race about in agony. Don't let your children soil themselves. Potty Man will save your day!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Reb MacRath's Seattle Rock: V. 1: 10/01/14

Nuts and Bolts

Well, now! After nearly six months of planning and prep work, I boarded a train for Seattle on September 1 and arrived here September 5. In my first month in Seattle I accomplished the following things:
--Began work at my employer's Seattle location, reducing my hours to thirty.
--Stayed in a convenient hotel for five nights till my studio apartment was ready.
--Moved into the studio on September 10 after completing a 20-page lease form and obtaining proof of Seattle employment (which took no little doing).
--Decided to travel on foot, not by bus, to gain a thorough knowledge of the downtown area where I work and live.
--Found within easy walking distance: a copy shop, scores of Starbucks and two 4-star indie cafes, a terrific sandwich shop (half sandwich for $2.75), several soup and salad joints, a mystery book store, two movie multiplexes, a medium-sized grocery store, Pike Place Market, hair salons, a post office, an Office Depot, a Walgreens, restaurants of all persuasions (Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, etc.), a large Bank of America, the central library, a store for kilts..The list goes on. All found on foot.
--Visited Gold's Gym and committed to working out there on a month-to-month basis starting by mid-October.
--Spent a couple of mornings on line, notifying anyone who needed to know of my change of address.
--Applied for State Enhanced ID.
--Continued revising my upcoming winter thriller for release as an Amazon ebook.

City Beats

Give me a city of neighborhoods any old day of the week. Depending on the source you check, Seattle has somewhere between 63 'hoods and a hundred. Central District, Downtown, Capitol Hill, Belltown, Pioneer Square, Lower Queen Anne...and on. In my walks so far I've seen enough to resolve the confused first impression that I was in San Francisco or Portland.

Seattle is:
--Pike Place Market: a superior indoor version of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. Every bit as much a tourist trap--but with reasonably-priced world-class produce stands. And they'll sell you a handful of grapes...or a cluster....or a half-pound or more with a smile. Six dates? Absolutely, sir! Three bananas--for today or tomorrow or just a bit green?
--The produce artiste at my favorite stand. When asked how much an apple weighed, he held it up in the palm of his hand, deliberated solemnly, then answered: "Seven tenths of a pound." The woman scoffed and insisted that he use a scale. He did--and he'd been off by less than half an ounce. How could I not return there?
--The stoned kid camped out in a doorway, barely holding up this sign: IT WOULD BE SO AWESOME IF SOMEBODY HELPED ME.
--Pioneer Square's stone and brick buildings dating back to 1852.
--The double-buses that seem to stretch half a city block.
--The pedestrian-friendly traffic lights that give walkers time to cross--and cars little more than a second before yellow turns to red.

Size, Statistics and Climate
--The Seattle Metro Area includes the city of Seattle, King County, Snohomish County and Pierce County within the Puget Sound region.
--Estimated population of 3.5 million as of 2012. The 13th largest Metro Statistical Area in the U.S. The adjacent metro areas--Olympia, Bremerton, etc.--raise that population by about 1.3 million.
--Downtown population: 652,405.
--The racial makeup of the SMA is said to be:
--The climate, often described as 'always raining', is close to that of Portland: frequent but not constant rain in the autumn, winter and early spring. The coolest month: December, temperatures ranging from 20-40 degrees F. Summers are sunny and dry, temperatures averaging 66 degrees F but reaching 90 degrees F a few days a year. Hardly San Diego, true, but not a rain forest either.

I'll bring you more in months to come as I pound the city beat in search of the Soul of Seattle.


Time now to reactivate! In my time I've been a jogger, a cyclist, a passionate walker, an Hapkidoist, a Kendoist, an Aikidoist and a bodybuilder. Martial arts are too risky at this point, since I won't have full insurance till summer next year. Then I may reconsider Tai Chi or Aikido. For now: till I start at Gold's, home circuit workouts based on The Men's Health Big Book of 15 Minute Workouts. (Note: a Women's Health Guide...is also available.)


A fair number of the exercises don't require weights. And, by bumping the time from 15 to 20 or 30 minutes, you can work all major muscle groups...then add focused time on arms or abs, whatever. My October plan: 3 high resistance gym days a week and 3 days of cycling, abs work and stretching.


For seven years in Charlotte I lived in what I now call a form of house arrest. I worked the graveyard shift, slept and spent hours traveling by bus--to and from work or a distant Starbucks where I could write or enjoy free WiFi. True, I did succeed in publishing seven ebooks after twenty-plus years in The Desert. But, as you can guess, Entertainment is now one of my premium values. So I'll begin surrendering soon to some of my new city's Sirens:

--The Seattle Art Museum I pass every day.
--The Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall, also on my daily map.
--A film in the Meridian Cineplex.
--Trips to Pike Place Market to hunt for fresh new produce.
--Ferry rides, locally or up to Vancouver.
--Occasional train trips to Portland and San Francisco to visit friends and family.
--Long walks once or twice a month to Elliott Bay Book Company.
--Pleasures unique to Seattle that I have yet to find.


Currently re-readingThe Art of Seduction by Robert Greene. A masterful text on persuasion in all forms, including advertising and politics. Greene, better known for his 48 Laws of Power, may be related to Satan. Then again, he may be simply be telling the truth when he says it is better to know than to not know the tricks that some others are up to. And know this: Greene treats sexual seduction as a mating dance between two willing partners and he sets out the rules of engagement as he sees them for both sides. He does not endorse lying, roofies, cruelty or force.

Currently reading: Dead Blossoms: The Third Geisha by Richard Monaco. This has been described as a hardboiled samurai saga. Or I'd go that one better: Shogun meets The Continental Op, Though Monaco's been working for decades, he'd slipped under my radar till a friend recommended one of his Arthurian novels--told in the first person and channeling Raymond Chandler. I was hooked. This one is much longer and I've just begun. Too soon to review it. But I can say: a great prose stylist is at work here...full-tilt boogie, Edo-style.

Just finished reading: Wolves of Vengeance by David North-Martino. A paranormal wolf novel with real teeth, plus theme, strong plotting, rich characterization...and style to spare. If you like horror, check it out. The fact that it's an ebook should be all the proof you need that traditional publishing's in a bad way. North-Martino's a writer to watch for.

Currently writing: Red Champagne. a short (40,000 word) thriller about a retired safecracker on board the great old American train, The Twentieth Century Limited. The thief has a top urgent reason to disclose his identity by cracking the train's safe. Goal: a classic blend of mystery, suspense, wit, romance...and rich Thirties atmosphere.


Starting from scratch, on a limited budget, takes strategy, discipline and a lot of patience. You can't have all the bigger ticket items at once--plus dishware, cutlery, garbage cans, paper towels, light bulbs, sheets, linens, etc., etc., etc.

The day I moved in I ordered a metal frame futon from Walmart. Till it arrived, a week later, I needed something to sleep on and bought a twin-sized air mattress, intending to store it for guest use. My thinking evolved: I'll continue to sleep on the air mattress while using the metal frame futon as a sofa...or an occasional Get Lucky bed. (I mean, of course, after I manage to assemble it. Not easy when you're Reb MacRath.) Two pieces of furniture to start with, plus my purple steamer trunk, prominently placed. Next up: a utility table and a chair for writing.

Shopping strategies: Ensure every step is directed toward this groovy end result: a feng shui-fueled studio that appears as spacious as a large apartment. Buy nothing that can't be used, even in a different way, as I continue to furnish. And let everything contribute to greater freedom and simplicity.

Ripoffs & Savvy Savings

1) Ripoff Alert: Don't become duped by the 'all natural' juice scam. The Naked brand is owned by Pepsi...so we can expect pretty much what we would from Vitamin Water, which is owned by Coca- Cola--and tastes like a bottle of sugar whatever the label may claim. (The first formula for Coke actually included cocaine.) A class action suit against Naked alleges that Naked is hiding the presence of GMO and synthetic ingredients including zinc oxide, ascorbic acid and calcium pantothenate, That last one comes from formaldehyde. Odwalla began as a small California company that made real, raw juices but is now owned by Coca-Cola. The pasteurization of juices destroys the vaunted nutrients. Cold-pressed, non-pasteurized Evolution juices are over-priced at Starbucks ($5 a bottle!), but can be found cheaper in some grocery stores. Best bet: your own blender.
2) Savvy Savings Tip: I needed to protect my Kindle Fire in a rainy town like this one, since my 'water-resistant' backpack doesn't do its job. A waterproof cover would cost up to $70. Worse: numerous online reviews point out that the Atlas Kindle cover is hard as hell to put on or remove...and has annoying glitches: hard to use the now-covered control buttons or tap the screen with a stylus. With a little checking I found a 'waterproof case sleeve/dry pouch bag' on Amazon. All the protection I need, along with easy access and a decent price: $10.


In one form or another I want to restore worship back to my life. I trust the right form to come to me soon. For now: daily meditation, starting at 15 minutes, slowly progressing to thirty.


From Red Champagne,  my new winter thriller set aboard the Twentieth Century Limited in 1938. Publication date: November, 2014.

    Claire's asleep now, her head in the crook of his arm, her face a few inches from his. Smoke and wine. She stires once, then lifts her left leg at the knee. When it grazes him Jimmy groans, stiffening. Bliss. Her left breast, plumped against his ribs, feels softer than a pillow. Down comforter. Crisp linen sheets. Plush blanket of Century blue.
    And through some magic of the heart, the roomette seems as big as the Van Der Kloosts' suite. Yards on yards of open space invite their berth for sailing.
    Claire murmurs nothings dreamily as prized scenes of their coupling loop around and around in her sleep. When he closes his eyes, he'll have loops of his own and be thrown for one too, three times better. For now it's good to bless his luck as moonlit vistas sway beneath.

Laptop Hoboing

One confirmed laptop hobo's wi-fi observations, based on Seattle (so far), Charlotte, Portland and cross-country travel by train.
1) Only the train from Charlotte to Washington provided wi-fi access--and it was useful only for checking email or surfing the web, not watching TV or a movie.
2) The train stations in Washington and Chicago did provide free wi-fi.
3) I learned upon reaching my Seattle hotel that my Kindle Fire still remembered the guest password from my visit two months before. And Starbucks also remembered my Fire. In Charlotte, I'd had to shut down the Fire and reboot whenever I changed locations--even from a Starbucks to the adjacent Harris Teeter grocery.
4) I'd encountered the same problem when using my laptop in Charlotte....and, oh-oh, at first in Seattle. But I've discovered a trick here that works. When I choose my network connection--Seattle Coffee Works or attwifi for Starbucks--I come to the usual home Google page. And that's where the old trouble starts: if I click Outlook or Facebook in my Favorites bar to reach the Acceptance of Terms, the gateway to free wi-fi, I get an error message. Again  and again, even when I reboot, till I get through--eventually. BUT if I click Amazon, another of my Favorites? I get through immediately. Every single time.
5) Seattle, so far, seems friendlier to hobos than Charlotte or Portland. Outlets are scarcer in the latter two towns. (In Charlotte, I'd habitually carried two 8-foot extension cords...and sometimes raced by cab at dawn to get my favorite Starbucks table. And Amelie's--Charlotte's best cafe--offers plentiful outlets...but no free wi-fi.) In Portland, hobos might come close to blows over good tables with outlets.) No problems here. Seattle knows how to make its hobos feel at home.


Wanted: a literary agent who can chew glass and crap diamonds without bragging that s/he can.

Ask El Reberoo

Sally X asks: Dear Reb, I'm a little on the shy side but I just can't help asking...Would you like to send me a thousand so I can show you a really good time?

El Reberoo responds: Dear Sally, That is one serious photo. And I thank you for sending it. Who'd have guessed a body could contort in such a way? Still, my own shyness compels me to answer: how about if I show you a thousand instead and you send me a really good time?

Deep Thought

No one ever thinks to tell you of the things they can't think of to tell you. And--I'll tell you, cross my heart--I can't begin to think of what could be sadder than that.

Monthly Mystery

In the Poetry section, there's a buried numerical sequence. First 3 peeps to find it and tell me by email win a gift copy of Red Champagne when published.

Parting Tout

This month, to prepare you for Red Champagne, have a look at my first Amazon train thriller. That book is called Nobility. In it, one lonely man takes on a 'whiz mob': six pickpockets determined to loot a train on Christmas Eve. Here's the link to this short novel..and, if you care to check them out, some pretty decent reviews:


Saturday, September 6, 2014

A New Beginning for This Blog

So, here I am after a half-year of preparation: the Seattle Kid has arrived!

Let's let the seven Blocks remain as a self-contained, short chronicle of one man's plans and preparations for a long, challenging task...plus the strategies and actions involved in his pulling it off. The daily maintenance of faith and motivation proved every bit as important as those.

But why prolong a story that's come to its natural end? I'm here; I succeeded; I now get to face a better class of challenges. The seven Blocks will still be there for anyone planning a difficult move, a risky career move, a frighteningly intricate project. That said, though, it's time to bounce to a more open, adventuresome format.

The (title TBA) portion of this blog will debut October 5 and further chronicles will follow on the first Sunday of each month. The format is still under construction, but you can look forward to breezy, provocative and entertaining installments each month.I see sections like a newspaper's but way shorter and strictly on point: front page announcements, city news, business (career/economic/ebook news), entertainment, sports (gym/tai chi--or Aikido if my age allows it). Gee, if I get lucky I may even throw in a Romance page. Short guest pieces by other writers? We'll see.

So put this on your calendars. The (title TBA) debuts October 5.

Till then!