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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Excerpt from Sequin Boy and Cindy

Excerpt from Sequin Boy and Cindy


Expect this novel out on Kindle and Amazon Print the end of September

My apartment is really one big room with a bathroom and a kitchenette on one sidewall. The walls are exposed red brick except for one wall, which is a fake knotty pine plywood affair slightly warping away from the two by four wooden beams that the panel is nailed to. In my room, which is fairly neat, except for a small pile of underwear in the corner, which I have the foresight to hide in my closet before we meet, is a desk, a table with two metal chairs, and a red and black plaid convertible couch that I sleep on most of the time without opening, and a twenty-seven inch HD TV that I splurged on. The couch sags in the middle and looks like I got this wreck at a thrift shop. I’ve got to get rid of the damn thing.

Cindy sits down with me on the couch and we kiss and hold each other gently. This is wonderful. We are two kids in need of affection: Alone and afraid of our own feelings, scarred I guess by our pasts and all the bad memories we’ve accumulated. How come I can see some things so clearly, but don’t know what to do about them?

I say, “You smell so good. Your skin is so smooth.”

Cindy says, “You are so gentle, you don’t push me, I like that.”

“I really don’t know what to do. I want you, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to say, or how to act. I have no social skills. I’ve never talked to a girl this way. I have never been with a girl before.”

Cindy must have noticed I was getting aroused. She says, “Let’s take our time. Things will happen naturally. I think I should go now.” She abruptly pulls away from me and starts to cry.

“What’s the matter Cindy? Did I do something wrong? Is it the sequins?” Her face turns a ghostly white and she clenches her fingers as she looks away from me as if she’s scared I wouldn’t accept or understand what she is about to say to me.

She turns white, takes a deep breath and says, “ It’s not you. I don’t know how to tell you this. I’m not even sure I should so soon. I don’t want to ruin our relationship before it even gets started. It’s not you. It’s that bastard of a stepfather of mine. He sexually abused me from the time I was fourteen until I was sixteen and could leave and go to a group home. I’m so embarrassed. I know its not my fault, but I can’t help feeling like I did something wrong. I feel guilty.” Then the color starts to return to her face as if a giant weight has been lifted from her heart. Cindy has revealed her terrible secret.

I gently touch her hand and say, “You did nothing wrong. I don’t know why adults feel it’s okay to abuse us one way or another. We can take our time. We don’t have to do anything until you’re ready. As long as I can be with you and hold you. I can wait as long as you want.” She sighs with relief.

Suddenly I feel myself turning red with rage at the thought of her bastard stepfather taking advantage of her. I ball my fists. Then I start to cry out of frustration because there is nothing I can do. We hold each other and cry together for the abuse we have both suffered, and for our lost innocence that has left us so inhibited we can’t even enjoy doing what comes naturally. Eventually with the resiliency of youth we manage to comfort each other.

After a while I walk Cindy downstairs. “Will you come back on Saturday?”

Cindy looks at me in surprise and flinches in my arms. “Don’t you want to see me tomorrow?”

“I do, I do, but there is something important I have to take care of. Come back Saturday afternoon. I’m planning a surprise for you. I really care about you.”

“Can’t you tell me what the surprise is, Billy?”

“No I can’t. Then it wouldn’t be a surprise, but I think you’ll be pleased. I’d do anything for you, Cindy.”

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Punishes Johnny Oops

After a few hours it started to pour. Torrents of rain fell upon our poor hapless unprotected group. I knew this situation called for action, so I stood up and stretched my hands to the sky and said, “Oh Lord, I get your message. We are all wet. If I get out of this I promise to change.” At this point the downpour took on monsoon proportions replete with thunder and lightening. Someone wasn’t listening or didn’t like what He heard.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Timeless – Johnny Oops ll Sequel


“Quick, quick, hurry before they discover our intent. Pull as hard as you can. It’s going to take both our strength to sling shot ourselves into space, Outy. We weren’t authorized to take off before we made further tests.”

“Now you need my help. Why didn’t you recognize my value while we were still in our world? You are a lot like your father Johnny Oops, only more stubborn if that’s possible. Okay pull, pull, here we go. This is unbelievable. We’re traveling faster than time.”

“It’s my genius that has made this possible, Outy, You’re little more than your name implies – a belly button on the girth of the universe,” I said with a smirk on my face. Standing six feet five inches of rippling muscles tall I make a ridiculous figure cramped into the webbing of our crystallized pluton framed sling shot vehicle. Outy takes up no room at all because he is only my other self.

If my father Johnny Oops Senior were here now he would appreciate what I’m doing. He always wanted to travel between worlds, but in his case all his efforts were virtual. Mine are real—the product of the scientific genius of my mind. I see Outy is crawling back inside my thoughts. This project is too much for him. Fine with me, I don’t need an inner self. I’m near perfection on my own.

Can you smell that? I think its dissembling burning pluton magma that’s refabricating in deep space. Hope we get where we’re going soon. I can’t control this thing. Trying to design invisible stretch mountings and hinges to stand up to the rigors of the high-speed thrust of our laser sling shot vehicle has been a recurring problem.

“Outy, stop pinching my thoughts, I know we’re in trouble.”

After the earthquake at my parents home killed my parents and most of my relatives I was raised by my religious Kabala grand parents who had stayed behind at their motel awaiting delivery of a kosher meal. My grandfather practiced a religion that helped you see the light and get closer to God in stages. I’m a scientist. I don’t believe in all that stuff. I went to MIT at the age of sixteen and did my graduating thesis on space travel. Graduated at the top of my class, NASA grabbed me right after school and put me to work developing new space travel vehicles. After more than three years of trial and error I developed my Sling Shot space travel program. It’s perfect. Sling Shot will take us to worlds beyond our imagination. I really am a genius like my father, but I’m not into sex like he was. I’m Johnny Oops ll. Science is my thing. Sometimes I think about girls, but I have no time for such nonsense. I’m an explorer of new worlds. I’m going to take us to places where no humans have ever gone. I’m going to be famous like Christopher Columbus or what’s the name of that guy that discovered China in the middle ages? I can’t be bothered with such trivial facts. Oh yah, Marco Polo.

What’s happening? This damn ship is veering off course. What’s that noise? I think the screeching is the invisible stretch hinges tensed beyond allowable limits. The Shudder Variance is failing. Giant boulders or meteorites are bouncing off the hull. We’re going to crash. I don’t even know where we are. I think we’ve overshot our target world. All my instruments have shorted out. “Outy where are we?”

“Now you want to know. We should never have made this trip. We needed more testing. You are so reckless. You’re always in a hurry.”

“We’re here now, Outy, where ever that is. What do we do?”

“Hang on you scientific genius. We’re going to crash. Why aren’t you wearing your helmet? I’m in here you know.”

Sunday, August 14, 2011

America On The Brink of Despair

The first ever downgrade of America’s triple A credit rating, Stock Markets in turmoil, Thirty marines killed in Afghanistan, Consumer sentiment hits lowest level in thirty years, what is happening to our America?

We live in a Country where nearly forty five million people rely on food stamps and fifty-one percent of people pay no federal income taxes. Is this what the founders of our nation had in mind when they proposed that everyone be free and equal?

More than seventy million people including seniors rely on subsidies from the federal government. We are now saddled with a health care program that mandates that we have to buy insurance whether we want it or not. Is this what the constitution had in mind when it comes to individual liberties?

An over abundance of regulation and high corporate taxes have forced much of our industrial and manufacturing jobs overseas, We no longer manufacture much of what we consume and are dependant on China to meet our needs and lend us money to finance our debtor economy. We don’t even make our own sewer covers any more. Is this the type of independence you want for America?

We are a debtor nation owing over fifteen trillion dollars that we recognize and much more that we don’t with a debt to gross national product that is quickly approaching one hundred percent. We are going bankrupt. Is this the type of future you want to leave to your children and grandchildren?

We are a nation in despair. What happened to our once proud past? We are swiftly becoming a third rate and perhaps soon a third world Country. What happened to us? What is happening to us? Can we reverse the trend and become great again?

Our major political parties are deadlocked over ideological differences as our creditworthiness wanes. Our Administration and congress are participating in a blame the other side game. Is there an answer? How do we get out of this dilemma?

The answer is don’t give into the politics of despair. Don’t give up hope. We have pulled this Country of ours back from the brink of despair before and we can do it again. We just need to have faith.

What we need is a leader, a statesman who is willing to cross party lines for the benefit of the Nation and who isn’t scared of jeopardizing his own political future. The people will know the difference. We have an innate sense that lets us know when someone real is in our midst who has our best interests at heart.

The search is on. Don’t despair. All through our history in times of our greatest need, great leaders have appeared to guide us to a better future. We are listening. We are watching. We are hoping but whatever you do, don’t follow a false prophet.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Little Dab of Debt Reduction Won’t Do


It’s too late for half measures to avoid a double dip, or a downgrade, or an economic fiasco. A little dab of economic cosmetic puffery won’t help. We are in too deep for a temporary fix. We need a giant dose of reality. We need real spending cuts in the form of a cap on spending. We need to expand our revenue base.

This doesn’t have to be a radical program. We can reduce expenditures by one percent a year and do just fine. We can adjust major entitlement programs without harming current beneficiaries and preserve the basic programs for future generations. We can add a small tax on some of the fifty-one percent of our population who pay no income tax—maybe one percent—so they feel like they are part of the solution and not the problem. Could add an additional one percent tax for everyone else too.

We can reconstruct our taxing system so that it’s more fair and everyone contributes something, but no one is penalized for being successful.

There is a lot we can do, but we need the political will to do so and that has been sadly lacking.

It’s time to stop with the excuses. We can’t blame Japanese earthquakes, prior administrations, greedy rich people, tax breaks on oil companies and airplanes, a bad economic situation, or anything else.

The only thing we can blame is the current administration and congress being unable to live within their means.

We have a choice now. Either shape up as a Country or lose our first class standing in the world. Its time for heroes and statesmen and action.

This great Country of ours has done it before and we can do it again.

This is no joke.

This is not fiction.

This is as real as it gets.

Let’s not leave our grandchildren a third rate and third world nation to live in.

Our future is upon us.

We can do better than this.

Hi, this is Arthur Levine the author of the novel Johnny Oops. To find out how Johnny deals with economic problems please join us at

Friday, August 5, 2011

Skinny Dipping is Better Than Double Dipping

What has sex got to do with economics?

I’ve come to the conclusion that swimming naked in the pool is a lot more fun than having my portfolio of stocks live through a double dip. I wonder if I jump in the pool naked twice would that constitute a double dip? Now that I’ve been stripped of all my assets I guess it really doesn’t matter.

I was kind of hoping that the government would change the rules so that I could use the funds in my 401K to pay off my mortgage, but now I no longer need that option. I also no longer have a pool because they are taking my house away so I can’t skinny dip anymore and will have to rely on the ocean if I want to get my kicks and face the risk of getting kicked off the beach for swimming naked in public.

It’s not just the economy that’s in a shambles; it’s my self-esteem. How could I have been so stupid? All the signs were there. Even the water in my pool had started to evaporate. I should have bought gold, but with what?

I think I’ll move to a foreign country and follow the jobs. Oh, did I forget to tell you, I lost my job too. I was very happy being a greeter in a big department store, but when the traffic started to disappear so did I.

Everything seems to be going in the wrong direction or is that simply the depressed state of mind I’m in? Maybe I’m imagining all this double dip stuff. Somebody must be making money. Must be the shorts. That’s my problem—since I started skinny-dipping I don’t wear shorts any more.

Here they come. I better prepare myself. The thought police have arrived to change the way I think. I can’t help it if I’m pessimistic. I’m worried. I’m scared I may end up losing all the good stuff I imagined I had. I guess none of what I thought I had was real. I think I forgot the part about working for a living and concentrated too much on dreaming and believing in what all the pundits were telling me. “Don’t worry about it, corporations have a fortune, our money is overseas, better days are coming, don’t look at the statistics, they are just a bunch of numbers, double dip—never happen.”

What was I thinking or wasn’t I? Now I’ve been stripped of all my assets. All I have left is myself. Time to skinny dip again and hope that better days are coming.

What’s that thought police? That’s the spirit? How come you’re so happy? You want to go skinny-dipping with me?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

French Dips and Double Dips

I’ve always believed that food and economics go together, and in many cases the former can help predict the later. Let’s spice up your favorite French Dip recipe with some tongue in check prognostication as to whether we are going into a Double Dip Recession. Please be careful not to make your economic recipe too salty. We wouldn’t want the sauce to leave a bad taste in your mouth as you try to cut your loses, or the smell of disaster overcomes your senses.

I’ve noticed that often as the price of food goes up the prices of stocks go down. Maybe this has something to do with the law of diminishing returns or inflation. I’m not sure, but I do know that the cost of milk, meat and corn products are up over the last few months to say nothing about roast beef. Roast beef is important not so much as an economic indicator as the stuff we need to dip into our French Dip sauce. Rolls are a given, but The Gross Domestic Product and payroll numbers cannot so easily be quantified or qualified for that matter.

I guess what I’m saying is that economic forecasting is a lot more difficult than deciding what to have for lunch. Maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe too many of our brilliant TV talking head forecasters are stuffing their faces with so much food at the noon time break or in courtesy green rooms at breakfast that they can’t think straight. Just the mental image is making me nauseous. And I thought it was the falling stock market that was giving me an upset stomach.

Hesitation has never been a virtue. If you are going to eat a French Dip please be sure to make really strong lunging dips or else you will end up with barely a taste of the real stuff. This is not a case where a little dab will do you. Put some shoulder action into your dipping.

The same I think is true with the buying and selling of stocks. If you’re a bull lung right in and buy as much as you can stomach. If you’re one of those bearish Double Dip aficionados, sell, sell, sell. Don’t hold back. Liquidate before the powers that be liquidate your positions for you. Be true to the smell of fear you are experiencing.

First you are going to have to make up your mind, which way everything is going. Are we in for a French Dip or a Double Dip? Are we about to experience more pain or some pleasure for a change?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This Isn't Your Grandfather's Double Dip Depression/Recession

I don’t know about you, but I have only lived through one recession/depression that I can remember, maybe two depending on whether I am having a good day or not

My grandfather told me, “You have to have a sense of humor,” He gave me this most important piece of advice, which I give you about how to survive a depression. Unfortunately that is all the old man left me so I try and use humor whenever I can.

You are going to need a sense of humor too, if you plan on surviving an economic depression. If you have the other kind of depression, a sense of humor is important too.

I am going to try to give you some important tips on how to survive an economic depression using as much humor as I can muster as my wife tells me she thinks I am already severely depressed. I can live with that. How about you?

Are you ready to make plans for surviving a depression no matter which type you are about to experience? I hope so. I can’t do this alone. I need your help.

Let’s not quibble about whether it is a recession or a depression that is coming; it is too depressing to think about. I am going to call it a double dip depression because that is how I feel.

Please grab a pencil. You don’t need to write anything down, but you can chew on the eraser if you get really nervous about what you are about to learn.

Here is a list of things to do to get ready for the coming Depression/Recession:

1. Buy a flashlight – It is going to be necessary to see where you are going when the Electric Company turns off your lights because you couldn’t pay the bill.
2. Stop buying expensive drinks at Starbucks for $5 a day - You can’t afford it any more. Use the pot in your one room apartment to boil up some water for instant coffee instead.
3. Get a bike – In case they repossess your car. You are going to need it to get to the construction job if you are going to be able to compete effectively with illegal aliens when your Company let’s you go. There is always McDonalds.
4. Speaking of Happy Hour or Happy Meals, lay off stopping at your favorite watering hole for a couple of brews after work. You are fat enough from all the white bread and baloney sandwiches you are living on and you can’t afford it. Stockpiling body fat won’t help you get through the winter.
5. Get out and vote – It probably won’t help, but it may make you feel like you are doing something constructive.
6. Marry that woman – what are you waiting for? You will get at least two deductions and two can live cheaper than one.
7. Stop thinking about what could have been – it is time to start worrying about the future if you plan on having one.

That’s about all the tips I can stand for today. I am going to take the afternoon off and dance the Double Dip Depression Mamba 1,2,3. How about you? Do you know what to do with your leisure time? You may be about to have a whole lot more of it.

Johnny Oops Goes Wild

Looking for a fun read that's a little bit on the wild side? Check out my novel Johnny Oops. Read the five star review below. You won't stop laughing.