Columns - 2014



Abra Liberman Garrett was aware of her daughters’ long faces every December. Yes, they went to Sunday School and they lit the menorah, but that was that. Discussing the problem with her partner Four Day Weekend, a version of a Comedy Store, together they came up with “THE MACCABEE ON THE MANTEL”($14.95) or the whole package of the adorable doll dressed in clothes of the period with a Star of David on his shield,and the happiest smile on his face.

Abra tells the history of King Antiochus who old the Jews they had to pray his way, which they refused but as their name “Maccabee”means “Hammer” they fought and won the battle. They went to their temple to pray and light the menorah. They only had enough oil for one night but a miracle the flame stayed lit. Abra tells the readers that this little Maccabee will spend the month of Kislev with them. There is a page of suggestions for creating your own family traditions, including giving the Maccabee a name.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Ivan Escalante with Letters by Tony Garza.

Thousands of interviews can be seen at Claremont Digital Library under Connie Martinson Talks Books. This interview can be seen on on the Connie Martinson YOUTUBE channel and LACITY at 3pm & 11:30pm.


David Wolpe has written “David : The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press $25.00). In 141 pages he has written a jewel of a book that lets us see the boy, David, who becomes King David . The story is told in the Books of Samuel. God has told Samuel to go to Jesse, the Bethlemite and he will find the future king in his seven sons. One could call David the “runt of the litter, he is not even presented to Samuel , as Wolpe writes “The man who grows unseen by his father will struggle all his life with his children”. This is a book that will appeal to all generations.

In modern days, this David would be on the cover of People Magazine as “the sexiest man”, he would be an example in WSJ of “how to succeed without really trying”. David moves into Saul’s palace to play his lyre to soothe Saul, he becomes best friends with Saul’s son and he asks to marry Saul’s daughter. And of course, he slew Goliath. David was shrewd to still appear as the shepherd with his slingshot with which he was a sharp shooter. He does not kill Goliath with the slingshot he knocks him unconscious, and only then does he take a sword and behead Goliath. I did mention to Rabbi Wolpe that , considering our shock at the beheading of American and English captives that our hero David without a thought beheads Goliath.

Wolpe introduces the reader to characters in the Bible who were new to me such as Abigail, who is described by her mind before her appearance, standing before David she prostrates herself, denigrates her husband, and appeals to David’s vanity, nobility and cupidity. After her husband dies, David sends for her as a wife, David also has a wife, Ahinoam, the mother of his first born son, Amnon.

After Saul and Jonathan have died, David will have Abner, Saul’s former head of troops bring back Saul's daughter Michal as his wife. David can boast there are no claims against his being annointed King .

As with many men in middle age, even without Viagra, David sees Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop . Who is she? She is the wife of Uriah who is fighting for him, and David wants her, must have her. He does and as only a person drunk with sexual heat , sends a note to his general to put Uriah in the frontlines and see that he does not come back alive. It is only after Bathsheba’s first son dies that David marries her. Her second son is Solomon who will become David’s heir and who will build the Temple to God.. Again like a modern story, she will insist that David sign all the legal papers that affirm Solomon as his legal heir. As today, nothing that involved power was easy.

This is one of the finest portraits of a bibical figure. There is also the question of the changing role of God who went from all powerful to the role of head of the talent agency as David is aging. Just my point of view.

Earlier shows with David Wolpe can be seen at Claremont Digital Library under Connie Martinson Talks Books. This interview can be seen on on the Connie Martinson YOUTUBE channel and LACITY at 3pm & 11:30pm.


Jennifer L. Scott has written “At Home with MADAME CHIC” (Simon & Schuster $23.00). This is a follow up to her “Lessons from Madame Chic” and her blog “The Daily Connoisseur”. But this is the book that will make you straighten your drawers, throw out the clothes you have been saving from high school.

Jennifer had a year abroad where she was a paying guest in the “chic” household. She learned to tie the scarf and wear a black skirt in ways that fit work mode and black tie. Now in her home in California it was time to get rid of stress and find the “je ne sais quoi:” that would allow her to be comfortable in her own skin.. Madame Chic would never wear sweat pants to the market. Mais, non,non! She got up before the rest of the family to prepare breakfast , and had a cleaning system that she used for exercise as well. And she never left the kitchen messy. Okay, she was a saint. 

The French know how to train their “help”. If family is your help , sit them down and decide who is responsible for what , if you have a housekeeper, don’t expect them to read your mind, show them how you like things done.

I began to think she was a bit of an “old maid” even if with three kids and a handsome likable husband until she hit what she calls a “hot spot” where clutter collects, the first place you hit when you come in the door. Never mind your clutter, the kids’ homework, and his golf bag all end up in that spot. 

I don’t know if Madame Chic meditated but Jennifer not only meditates but she

has given the reader some “affirmations” on page 74. The most important ,to me,

get a French apron that covers you and your clothes so that when you remove it

“Party Time”.

This interview can be seen on on the Connie Martinson YOUTUBE channel and LACITY at 3pm & 11:30pm.


The most valuable book I have read and used is Paul Lance’s “Just Tell Me HOW It Works: Practical Help for Adults on All-Things-Digital”. Granted you had a relative who showed you how to send and read an email and how to use skype. Usually their patience level is brief, so when you have a problem that “you hate to bother them” but you are going crazy – enter Paul Lance.

Given you know the difference between a desktop and a laptop, but what about the printer? Yes, they are fairly inexpensive, but why? Because they need color cartridges replaced – often! This bit of advice is from the first 50 pages of a 560 page book. The book covers Soft-ware, Passwords, television-what the costs are, DVD players and how to use them, Digital cameras .

Chapter 11 is Digital Books / E-Readers. Each chapter defines who should read it and who should skip this section which is the group I fall into “If you savor the tactile experience of holding and reading a book” But for those who love their E-Book, Lance gives the pros and cons. Kindle has grown into Kindle Touch 3G which does not need Wi-Fi, it is fragile and Amazon is proprietary which means you can’t read these books on any other device but Amazon. Then there is “THE NOOK COLOR” which downloads movies, etc. and uses touch screen, not a physical keyboard. The Sony Reader Wi-Fi needs a stylus but no place to store it on the tablet.

This is a book that you buy to give someone until you start to read it and know someone who needs it more – yourself.

This interview can be seen on on the Connie Martinson YOUTUBE channel and LACITY at 3pm & 11:30pm.


Richard Bausch has written “Before, During, After “ (Knopf $26.95) . Here is the book that Book Clubs will be discussing with the question, “What would you

have done and would you tell?”

It takes place in 2001 in Washington,DC, Natasha, a thirty-two year old woman who is an assistant to a Senator, meets Michael Faulk, a forty-eight year old Episcopal priest who has decided to resign from the priesthood. Without realizing it, they spend days exploring Washington and fall truly in love. At their ages, Michael’s divorced and Natasha is getting over a rotten affair. They are ripe for love, commitment and marriage.

Prior to the wedding in October, Natasha had agreed to a trip to Jamaica with her wealthy, older friend, Constance, and Michael had agreed to be at a friend’s wedding in New York City in The Battery. They are in their respective places when 9/11 occurs.

Remember calling relatives, friends, etc. in New York? The telephone lines that were busy or not operating? Natasha is sure that Michael has been killed. For three days she can not reach his relatives, nor does she know he was staying in a hotel up on 54th St. Thus begins “During” section.

The hotel on Jamaica is cut off from the world except for the television which replays the planes attacking the buildings. At such a time liquor is the escape, until it is the poison that excuses everything. That night Natasha walks on the beach where she bumps into Duego, a hotel guest from Cuba who

lives in Florida. He shares drinks with her, and pot, and with those well- worn words, “You are beautiful, You know we both want this” viciously, he rapes her.

He stuffs sand in her mouth “He took a fist full of sand and thrust it down in her face, then took more and held her jaw tight , squeezing and jamming the sand in her mouth, packing it in and pressing it in…” . He defends himself ,”I am not unkind. I would not take what was not given”.

Natasha can not wash away the ugliness, the dirt and horror. Her friend Constance is sure that she saw Natasha and Duego necking and questions her about being faithful to Michael. They are finally able to get plane tickets to return to the states, she has talked to Michael, he is alive and going to Memphis where they are planning to wed and live.

“After” is where the question comes in,” What should she tell, what would you tell?” most women do not reveal or seek legal revenge for being raped, It seems the questions asked by police make the victim into the guilty party..

Michael knows she is different but from what? He is sure that she met her ex-lover and he is raging with jealousy to the point of hitting her. She explodes by telling him,”I was raped”. To a degree the situation is resolved, but only to a degree.

It is a powerful book , magnificently written. I asked Richard Bausch how he was able to write a woman so accurately? It seems he had four sisters and five daughters and a wife. Currently Bausch teaches in the English Department at Chapman University in Orange.

This interview can be seen on on the Connie Martinson YOUTUBE channel.


Stephen Maitland Lewis has written "Botticelli's Bastard"(Glyd-Evans Press $24.95). Giovanni Fabrizzi a respected art restorer, has had a bad few years. His much loved wife has died, he has remarried a beautiful woman, twenty years younger, he has had to move his business from Soho to a new location in London where he is not allowed to put a sign that their firm was appointed to His Majesty King George V.

Giovanni is currently restoring a Brueghel when he hears a sound from his locked storage room. He has recently received a large container of paintings , a legacy from his father's office in Florence. When he goes to see what is causing the noise, he is drawn to a crate, which contains a portrait of a young nobleman of the Medici family who, with great authority orders Giovanni to take him out of the crate. Thus begins a fascinating novel, that makes the reader accept the fact that a work of art can talk.

Giovanni fears he has lost his mind and that his son, wife and friends will think so as well. But the Count begins his story of where he has been from Italy to Russia to back to Paris and to Switzerland where this carton had been sent. Giovanni is determined to find the truth since the Count tells him of the Jewish family in Paris on Avenue Foch whose art was stollen by the Nazi and they were killed in concentration camps.

Art experts have examined the Count and determined it is a painting by Botticelli. Even without a signature it is worth hundreds of millions and word is spreading in the art world with offers from the finest museums. Before he will accept the offers, Giovanni is intent to find the last living relative of the French Jewish family.

The book is a combination of character and the suspense of a murder mystery. Suffice to say, the Count ends up where he wanted to.

This show can be seen on on the Connie Martinson YOUTUBE channel.



Matthew Stewart has written a brilliant eye-opening book about the men who influenced and founded our country and wrote the Constitution. The book is “Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic”(Norton $28.95). In reading this book, one understands where the idea of separation of church and state was derived. These were men who knew that failure in the rebellion against England would mean death.

The philosophy that influenced them was found pre-Christianity in the secular philosophy of Epicures, and later by Hobbes, Locke and Spinoza who formed the concept of “deism” that looked to nature for the answers to wisdom and justice. The god that Washington, Jefferson Franklin ,etc looked to promised no miracles, the promise relied on science, reason and virtue.

A man little known today is Ethan Allen who is taught in history books as the leader of the Green Mountain Boys,not as the author of “Oracles of Reason”of 1784, and another is Thomas Young whom Stewart claims was the true instigator of the Boston Tea Party. Stewart follows Ethan’s life to 1784 whereas a famous hero he marries the rich Fanny Buchanan with the words, “If we are to be married, now is the time” at the home of his friend, Judge Stephen Bradley.

There is a chapter entitled “The Religion of Freedom” that could be a college semesterDiscussion. Stewart closes the book with the death of Ethan Allen at age fifty-one, credits the fact that the “theological policemen” who hounded Allen after his death have now faded and it may be time for Allen's second coming..

This is just a taste of this book which bridges history, human stories and philosophy in over 450 pages, it is a future book award winner.

The interview with Matthew Stewart can be seen on YOUTUBE.


“Journey To The Sun:Junipero Serra’s Dream and the Founding of California”(Scribner $30) written by Gregory Orfalea. It is a well written book that tells the story of this Franciscan priest, born 1713 . He attended San Bernadino in Petra. In August 1790 Serra set sail for the new world or New Spain with the quest to convert the Indians to Catholicism.

Serra left behind a farewell letter that is remarkable that it has survived the years.

Serra took to this new world with a driven spirit, only marred by his habit of self flagellation which was noted as ending in blood on the pulpit during a Lenten service. Serra suffered from an ulcerated, painful leg which did not stop himfrom walking the length of California and founding the first nine missions which exposed the Indian tribes to the White Man's European diseases. Serra wasa hard taskmaster with his insistence on the Indians abiding to Catholic rules,and sexual mores and beatings if they broke the rules. All of that pales in the light of the Spanish soldiers treatment of the Indians.

Orfalea writes of Serra’s work with the architects in Santa Barbara who placed the Altar so that the rising sun would shine on it during the service.

Currently Junipero Serra is a Saint in Waiting, he was blessed in1988 by PopeJohn Paul II but he still needs a second miracle to become a full “Saint”.

The interview with Gregory Orfalea can be seen on YOUTUBE.


Linda Daly has written “The Last Pilgrimage”(Counterpoint Press $26.00). It is a loving and moving story of her mother, Nancy Daly’s last years and her death in a Home Depot parking lot outside of St.Louis with her two sons , a nurse and Linda in a thirty foot Sundowner. They were returning to Los Angeles from a last hope healing in Rhinebeck, N.Y. by a supposed guru, named John of God.Nancy was desperate to believe.

It all began on a trip to Africa in 2006. If one doesn’t recognize her name, Nancy Daly had been a First Lady in the film world, married to Robert Daly , Head of Warner Bros. This was followed after their divorce with marriage to Los

Angeles Mayor Dick Riordan, which made her First Lady of LA. Nancy was a force on her own. She was the board chair of the Los Angeles County Art Museum. She was recognized as a child advocate for her work in shaping legislature. In other words, the world was her oyster except for this dragging feeling.

She went to her internist who prescribed ultra sound tests. Linda was at her dad’s ranch in Calabasas when her mother phoned her to say that the tests showed two spots on either end of her pancreas.. This is the time when like a blinking sign the word “cancer” blinks on and stays on. Nancy had stayed close friends with her ex-husband and his new wife. Throughout her illness they were unbelievably caring and helpful.

Nancy went to Johns Hopkins where she underwent surgery for a Whipple Procedure. It was a case of bad news and worse news. Not only was her pancreas removed but her spleen, which resulted in her becoming a diabetic and the cancer cells had spread outside its margins.

Linda , her brothers and Dick Riordan brought her back to Los Angeles where the next act of chemotherapy was to begin. Nancy, who had been a beauty turned sixty-five. Contrary to most prognosis she survived the chemo and her tumor markers were within a normal range.

Linda adds to the story by telling the readers about her life. Nancy and Bob Daly adopted Linda as a baby, a year later Nancy was pregnant with her first son. Linda and Nancy had a heart to heart confession of their love. Linda was brought up a Catholic, attending Catholic schools, but her spiritual needs were slowly changed to her conversion to Judaism.

Nancy insisted that she live her usual life and activities. The pain did not let up and a friend suggested she try “pot” which she did in a big way. Another friend told her about a woman in Idaho who shared an energy, and then there was the friend who recommended a healing guru, John of God who healed as a last resort. Nancy learned that he was holding meetings in Rhinebeck, NY and with Linda, as her Sancho Panza and her nurse, Laurie, it was decided to make a pilgrimage to that meeting. At such times, it helps to have friends with planes. It was hopeless going in and it was hopeless going out. Nancy was so ill that the doctors did not want to let her fly back to LA, they didn’t want her to check out of the hospital but she insisted. Linda called her brothers,Brian and Bobby, they rented the Sundowner and like a Greek Tragedy the dye was cast.




who love mysteries and especially murder mysteries are in luck. Peter James who is famous for his Roy Grace books has a new ninth one called "Dead Man’s Time”(Minotaur Books $25.99). Roy Grace is Detective Superintendent in the English police force. This book begins in 1922 in New York City where five year old Gavin Daly and his eight year old sister, Aileen, are awakened to their mother being murdered and their father being kidnapped never to be seen again nor his body to be found. The children’s aunt fearing for their safety takes them to Ireland, but just before the boat sails a messenger finds them and hands over a package containing a gold watch that is broken and a paper sheet with a list of numbers, all of which will play back to help solve the crime.

As they say in films, disolve to London 2012.where a brutal robbery of valuable antiques and a gross beating and death of an elderly woman has taken place. The woman in her 90’s was Aileen and her brother, Gavin ,also in his 90’s, is a very wealthy man who feels he controls the universe and is determined to find and punish who ever committed this crime. His first concern is that someone knew his sister’s code for her home vault where his father’s cherished watch was kept. Even though it was still kept in its broken condition it was an invaluable item and doubly so to Gavin.

Like many self-made powerful men, Gavin’s son Lucas is a weak version of his father, with a beautiful wife who reads the news on TV and cheats on him. Gavin has an enemy , whose father had been his father’s enemy in New York.. The book is over 400 pages, so well written that it reminds one of a current Charles Dickens or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel.

As we taped Peter James was happy to hear me say it. He laughed as he told me of how he got even with someone who had snubbed and insulted him by making him a small, slimy chara cter with a very small masculine joint who Roy Grace had put in jail. He had no qualms about telling me the story or who the man is on the show as we taped, but I do so you can see the show on Youtube.Connie Martinson’s Channel and find out for yourself.

Another murder mystery that will have you laughing is by Don Passman called “The Amazing Harvey”(Minotaur Books $25.99). Harvey is a young magician looking to make it into the Magician big time in Las Vegas. He has done the birthday parties and the Plumber’s conventions, and he is performing while a Vegas agent watches. He finishes his show and there are two LA policemen standing in the wings to arrest him. He is accused of murdering a young woman. Harvey denies that he has done anything wrong that he never knew her. The cops tell him that his DNA and semen were found in her body.

Even his lawyer, a Harvard Law graduate, who had been known as Fat Hannah in high school and is now slim and attractive, says DNA is the uncontestable proof. She tells Harvey that he has two options, either a plea bargain for nine years or a jury trial that could end up with a life sentence. Either way, there goes his career. How Harvey gets out of this is to Don Passman’s credit and I won’t ruin the book for the reader by telling the big “How”.

Don Passman told me that from early youth he loved magic. His mother would stick him in a magic store and knew he would be content for hours. Don lives in Beverly Hills and is known for his legal strength in the music industry. He also claims guitar, five string banjo, poker, chess, dog-training and real estate. If he can bring the same humor to those interests in a book, stand in line and be ready to laugh.

Connie Martinson Talks Books is seen on LA Cityview –ch 35 daily at 3 pm & 11:30 pm. And on Youtube/Connie Martinson’s Channel.

Sunday, April 27th I will be moderating the Annual Authors Event for The Friends of the Library at the Brentwood Kaufman Library on San Vicente Blvd from 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm. The authors are Jon Boorstin, Ross Brown, Tara Ellinson, E.E King, and Simon Lewis.



m Harris is known for being a singer, comedian, actor and now he can add writer to that list. Harris has written “Ham: slices of a life”(Gallery Books $26.00). It is called “essays & stories” which is what his slices of live is defined as “Ham”. Prepare to laugh.

Liza Minnelli plays a role in two of his “slices”. The first is “Promises”. Liza is getting married at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. The guest list, that includes some New York café names like extra in a film, reads like an old MGM musical with the infamous, Elizabeth Taylor holding up the ceremony by an hour. Sam has promised Liza that he will never mention or write about the groom. He does write, “I knew for a fact that Liza didn’t know most of these people or had met them only in passing. But then she really only knew the groom in passing. She should have kept on walking”. The groom is referred to as the “man whose name shall go unmentioned” as promised to Liza.

Other essays recount his growing up and preferring theatre to football. Encouraged by his mother with distaste from his father, they drive him to auditions where he steals the show. He goes to New York City and he gets some work. He is hired to be an opening act for Aretha Franklin in Cleveland. No one meets his plane, it is cold and snowing and his suitcase is missing with all his arrangements. He gets to the theatre and there is no orchestra and no Miss Franklin and by 7:30 pm there is a mob of angry patrons waiting to get in. Sam goes on and tells the audience his music was lost and he entertains them sitting on the edge of the stage ala Judy Garland. Aretha shows up and totally ignores him, the promoter never pays him and he left on the first plane the next day.

His other Liza story has to do with Family Week at a rehab in Pennsylvania. Liza is known as Clara so it won’t get out to the tabloids which Sam informs them that it already has. But Sam’s take on the experience is both wonderfully comic as well as touching as he comes to terms with his own problem with alcohol. When we taped Sam told me that he is clean for over ten years. Sam is married to Danny and they have a son, Cooper. It was seeing Sam with Cooper that made his father lean over and kiss Sam and tell him what a great father he is and how sorry he was that he hadn’t been better and more understanding.



William M. Schniedewind has written “A Social History of Hebrew : Its Origins Through The Rabbinic Period” (Yale University Press ) Schniedewind is Kershaw Chair of Ancient Eastern Mediterranean Studies and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA. His thesis is the connection of language, people and the land. He traces Aramaic as it competes with Hebrew through the years. He points out that it is said that “letters and writing “ were founded on the sixth day of creation. In the Bible God is said to speak Hebrew.

Hebrew was the language of the monarchs, David and Solomon. They had an alphabet of 22 letters, it was in King David’s office that Shiva, the scribe, wrote with ink and papyrus. It was the Dead Sea Scrolls that shocked the wo9rld with its clarity and insight of the Essenes. Professor Schniedewind traces the history of Hebrew as it goes from a daily language to a holy language used only for religious occasions. He told me that Hebrew died when the Romans conquered and dispersed the Jews.

As an example he told me about a fellow professor who was from Iraq whose village was devastated and the villagers moved to Israel where they had to learn Hebrew, later he and his family came to America and now his children do not speak Aramaic, nor Hebrew but English. It was the founding of Israel that made Hebrew a living language close to the land again. Interesting the archeologists have found silver coins with Hebrew and graffiti on walls asking for blessings ,amulets in Jerusalem from the period of the 2nd Temple. There is a quote from Deut.7:7-8) that “Yahweh loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that Yahweh has brought you out with a might y hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh King of Egypt.”