Old Town

Old Town
Pioneer Square

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!