Books are the gateway to imagination

Books are the gateway to imagination
Morgan welcomes you to her personal blog

Thursday, March 8, 2012

American Idol stuck in a rut

I think I've hit on one thing that really needs to be changed on American Idol. The judges need a vocabulary transplant. I can't believe how many times they gush "amazing," "beautiful," "you nailed it," and "we love you because..."

Come on. You guys are entertainers. Surely you can come up with some creative adjectives. How about plugging those expressions into the online Thesaurus to get some alternatives.

Lots of people say they miss Simon's actual critiques although sometimes he was pretty snarky. Still he tried to give real world advice to the contestants and rarely used all of the superlatives above. Now when Randy tries to say something of value, the audience boos.

Gotta say, I think I prefer the format of The Voice.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Guest blogging

I've been doing a lot of guest blogging lately. It is a great way to reach out to new audiences and familiarize them with what you do. I've been fortunate to meet some great bloggers who have invited me to share information with their readers.

Today I'm visiting Bob Sanchez and talking about writing creative non-fiction. That almost seems like an oxymoron, but it isn't. It is the art of embellishing true stories or incidents with bits of exaggeration or info that---well,  isn't quite the truth but generally based in truth.

Anyway, it is a very interesting genre to work with. My upcoming novel, Confessions of a Cougar, is a good example as are a few of the stories in my new collection of short stories, The MAFIA FUNERAL and Other Short Stories, now available in Kindle and paperback. The title story in Mafia Funeral is about 95% true--I know because the character Sue was actually me. See the yellow car on the cover? It was like a daisy in a black sea. Our yellow Pontiac convertible and 40 black limousines for the mobsters who flew in for this funeral in an off-duty police escorted procession to the cemetery. You can bet people driving the freeway that day rubbernecked.

Likewise, for another story in the collection, the award-winning story, The Second Time Around is the story of when my former mother-in-law remarried her first husband 36 years after they were divorced and she had to figure out how to tell my husband his "dead" father was alive and kicking. The wedding scene could not have been funnier if written by a comedy screenwriter for a movie. I've been told it would make a great movie or TV comedy.

Creative non-fiction can really be fun as well as a walk down Memory Lane. Since you are the director of this tale, you can yell "cut" whenever you want to or slide in a rewrite of what actually happened, tweaking it to be the way you would have liked it to be.

Looking through my photos for this post, I came across this one. Now this could be the basis for a fun story--the time Phyllice and I got to go inside an Oscar Meyer Weenie Wagon. We both were given "weenie whistles" as a memento of our visit.

Have fun and visit Bob Sanchez/ blog to read what I have to say about creative non-fiction. Comments welcome.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Mike Doria greeted me and welcomed me to the Museum on Monday, February 28
Next I met with Executive Director, Jonathan Ullman

I met with Mike and Jonathan Ullman, the Executive Director of the new Las Vegas Mob Museum and former Channel 5 newscaster Mike Doria who is now Public Relations Specialist for the Museum to interview them for my column in the Las Vegas edition of

This Post Office Building is now the Mob Museum
Okay, right about this time you're probably asking yourself, "What's so special about a museum dedicated to the history of Las Vegas mobs?" Well, the first thing you learn upon entering this historic former Post Office building is that it's not just about Las Vegas. This museum covers the history of organized crime in the entire United States dating back to the early 1900's. Back to the New York, Chicago and Cleveland gangs before Las Vegas was ever more than a wide spot in the road populated by ranchers and earlier pioneers in the business that eventually grew here. They were riding horses down the streets while crime burgeoned in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

When the Museum, which was in the planning stages for many years, was conceived they assembled a world class team to design and implement it. The moment you step into the building and take the elevator to the third floor where the experience begins, you are presented some of the best displays I've seen in a museum. The designs are dynamic, the material comprehensive and educational, but presented in very entertaining ways.

It opened, appropriately on St. Valentine's Day this year. One of the first things I learned was that the St. Valentine's Day massacre happened in Chicago's Lincoln Park. I'm from Chicago and visited the park often as a child, but I never knew that it was the site of one of the bloodiest days in Mob history. 

On the second floor you enter the courtroom where Senator Estes Kefauver. who eventually ran for President of the United States, held some of his famous 1950s hearings on Organized Crime. Settle into a seat on the bench while you watch a 3 screen presentation with authentic footage.

Then there is the opportunity to learn little known facts, like this one: Eunice Carter was the first African American female prosecutor on DA Thomas Dewey's staff. Dewey's claim to fame was fighting Mobs. What she uncovered was huge, and laid the groundwork for the prosecution of Lucky Luciano, but how many people would ever know her name or her groundbreaking assent into  Dewey's staff? Mr. Dewey eventually ran for President of the United States and it was assumed he'd won. Newspaper headlines proclaimed his win, but it was soon discovered that he did not.

I found out that our former President Ronald Reagan performed with a short-lived chimpanzee act at the Last Frontier in 1954 when his acting career was at a low ebb. This intrigued me, so I investigated further on the internet and discovered that he also danced with The Honey Brothers, a team of slapstick comedians, during an engagement at the Last Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas on Feb. 15, 1954.

Jane and Sue
This new Mob Museum covers so much that is woven into the history of our country, you really need a minimum of three hours to check out the exhibits.I would have liked to take as long as four or five hours to see and experience everything, from the interactive exhibits, to the photo galleries, first floor exhibits that highlight the work undercover FBI agents did through the years and video interviews with mobsters and agents alike. Find out what it's like to listen to actual wiretaps and what went into undercover agents infiltrating the mobs.

On the way out, I chatted with Gift Store Director Sue Reynolds and the Receiving Manager, Jane Carter about what people can find in the gift shop. Jane was quick to tell me that even if you don't tour the Museum, the shop is open to the public so whether you are a Las Vegas local or tourist, this is where you can find unique gifts and a great collection of books all in one place. 

The place to find books
Among the books, I found many by people I know or have interviewed for my Examiner columns. Cop Tales by former Metro officer Randy Sutton, who was the most decorated, books by true crime author Dennis Griffin like Surviving the Mob, Cullotta, and The Battle for Las Vegas, Undercover FBI agent Jack Garcia's book, Making Jack Falcone, and the most recently released book Vegas Rag Doll by former mob wife Wendy Mazaros. There is a morbid fascination surrounding Organized Crime and this is the place to learn all about what it was really like as opposed to the glitzed up movie and TV versions.

Trust me, I will go back again! 

That's all for now.  MORGAN