Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Offer You Can't Refuse.

Kevin Coolidge

When guys are on the mattresses, they’re not out earning---Tony Soprano

What do you think of when I say Mafioso? Do you think of sweaty guys named "Big Tony", great Italian food, and sleeping with the fishes? The American mafia has seeped into popular culture through films, books and television. Crime definitely does pay for the entertainment industry, and organized crime pays and pays well.

Annual gross income from racketeering is estimated to exceed $50 billion this year. That makes the mob's business greater than all U.S. iron, steel, copper, and aluminum manufacturing combined, or about 1.1% of the gross national product. These figures, compiled for the President's Commission on Organized Crime, include only revenues from traditional mob businesses--such as illegal gambling, loan-sharking, narcotics and prostitution. It doesn't include billions more brought in through diversification into legitimate enterprises like entertainment, trucking, construction, and food and liquor wholesaling. The organization of a crime family mirrors the management structure of a corporation. At the top of the pyramid is a boss, or chief executive. Below him are an underboss (chief operation officer) and a consigliore (general counsel), then followed by the ranks of capos (vice presidents) and soldiers (lower level employees who carry out the bosses’ orders).

Organized crime a $50 billion annual industry? Revenues greater than U.S. Steel? A business structure similar to a major corporation? Michael Franzese, author of I'll Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse, ought to know. He was a capo in the Colombo crime family. Michael had interests in labor unions, construction, entertainment and sports. He ran numbers, bookmaking, and loan-sharking operations. He operated auto dealerships and repair shops. He had interests in nightclubs, restaurants, and catering halls. Vanity Fair called Michael Franzese "one of the biggest money earners the mob had seen since Al Capone." and Tom Browkaw called him a "prince of the mafia, as rich as royalty." But could he have survived a season of Trump's The Apprentice, or run a division of a major fortune 500 corporation?

What possible similarities are there between running a mob enterprise and operating a legitimate business? Business is business. You have to have a plan, work it hard, work it smart, and surround yourself with people who know how to help you reach your goals. People like Michael Franzese. Organized crime in America has been thriving for almost a century. It has raked in billions of dollars through many lucrative endeavors; many of them clean, or pretty darn close. The mob has made its formidable presence known everywhere. Want proof? Just ask the Department of Justice. None of this has been accomplished by accident. To operate any business successfully, one must possess certain qualities and adhere to a certain philosophy critical to the success of that business. The mob may use the tools of fear and intimidation, but anyone who sells the mob short when it comes to its ingenuity, its ability to connect with people from all walks of life, and its profit margins, is kidding themselves.

Michael Franzese's intention is not to glorify organized crime or the mobsters who run it. He walked away from the mob and has lived to write about it in Quitting the Mob and Blood Covenant. He is NOT suggesting that you be involved in any kind of criminal activity. We have quite enough crime in our boardrooms with corporate scandals from Enron, Adelphia and even Martha Stewart without encouraging more lascivious behavior, but Michael Franzese has acquired a hard-won "street sense" that isn't taught in the classroom. It's acquired through living a lifestyle where everyday presents a challenge to survive, where every friend is a potential enemy, and a hostile takeover ends up with someone getting "whacked."

There's no shortage of people willing to share their secret formula for success, but few have a master’s degree from the school of “hard knocks." Franzese cuts to the chase. You can give up the idea that there's a magic formula that will guarantee your success. There are no shortcuts to triumph, even in the world of organized crime. He's got something of real value. Like a tip on a certain horse in a certain race at Belmont. These tips include: the value of having a good crew, how to handle yourself in a "sit-down", how gambling can trip your business and your employees, and how to think about real success. These tips are legit, and they're sure to pay off...

Keep your enemies close? Or your friends closer? Visit http://frommyshelf.blogspot.com and fuhgeddaboudit. Hobo wants to make sure that you know that nasty “caviar incident” with the Russian Mob was all just a big misunderstanding. You can read about his early adventures in “Hobo Finds a Home” a children’s book about a cat who wanted more out of life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"The deeper sorrow cuts into your soul, the more joy you can contain" -- Kahlil Gibran

Kasey Cox

When I was in third grade, I was the budding author of a novel. The main character was a teen girl who had been in a car accident, and had to learn to walk again. I had six handwritten notebook pages, front and back sides, as my first chapter. I showed these to my favorite cousin: he was several years older than I, regarded in our family as extremely smart, and I’d always shared a special bond with him. I felt like he took me seriously when other family members dismissed my ideas as childish. Imagine my disappointment with his response to my chapter: “This is well-written, Kasey, but books like this just don’t sell. There’s not much interest in tragic stories where the characters are having a difficult time recovering.”

Looking back now, I have to laugh ruefully. He was probably about twelve or thirteen when we had that conversation. How did he know what kinds of books were marketable? And to whom? I’m sure my story wasn’t of interest to him. He liked books about dragons, and spies, and also nonfiction books that told him how to use computers – like many boys do, and not a few girls. Actually, I liked those books, too; I still do. Nevertheless, there’s something about those tragedy-and-recovery stories that draws me.

Evidently, I’m not alone in my attraction to books that detail a person’s hardships with illness or tragedy. What’s the interest? For some, those who have been through a serious illness, or who have supported a loved one in this struggle, it’s a relief to have characters with whom they identify. The validation of reading your own thoughts and feelings on the page of someone else’s book can make a survivor feel less isolated and alone. For others, who have not personally experienced life-threatening health issues, maybe it’s inspirational, and a reminder of the blessings in their lives.

The first summer we opened our bookstore, I learned about author Lurlene McDaniel. I had a seventh-grade English teacher come in and snatch up every single used copy I had of McDaniel’s books (I didn’t have any new copies; I didn’t know enough about her to order any.) The teacher’s comment: “I don’t know what it is, but my girls adore these, even if they’re not generally enthusiastic readers.” Since then, I’ve seen the same response from dozens of other middle school and high school teachers, librarians, and reading specialists.

McDaniel is the author of more than 50 novels for young adults. Her characters are usually teens struggling to deal with their own or a loved one’s chronic illness or mortality. The books cover a wide variety of issues, including organ transplant, AIDS, diabetes, severe depression, eating disorders, suicide, cancer, car accidents, hemophilia, and cystic fibrosis. Before you groan and start making comparisons to the Lifetime Channel, it’s important to note that McDaniel’s books do not always have happy endings, but neither are they designed to see how many tissues a reader can use per page. There are not overly-detailed descriptions of medical procedures, but McDaniel obviously knows her way around hospitals and doctors’ offices. She obviously understands the sorrow, worry, loneliness, and frustrations of lives impacted by these struggles, as well as the joy, love, and support provided by friends, family, communities, and medical staff.

This understanding is the reason Lurlene McDaniel began writing her books in the first place. When her son was three, he was diagnosed with diabetes. In the beginning, writing realistic stories about teens and their families facing life-threatening illness was cathartic, but the fan letters soon made clear the need for affirming books for this audience. Most of her novels are grounded, with a genuine tone borne of months of research as well as her personal experiences. McDaniel doesn’t usually rely on complicated machinations of plot to keep her stories interesting. (One exception to this was a novel of hers I read this weekend, I’ll Be Seeing You, where girl whose face is deformed from cancer meets boy whose eyes are severely damaged in an explosion, but I liked it anyway.)

If you’ve enjoyed your Nicholas Sparks, or your Jodi Picoult, or if you’ve read A Child Called It too many times, I recommend letting Lurlene McDaniel inform, inspire, validate, and entertain you and your teen this summer. With so many books to choose from, I’m certain you’ll find at least one that touches your life and opens your heart without breaking it.

Hobo knows heartache: he was blind, but now he sees. He wants to be a therapy cat and work with kids at hospitals, but he may have to settle for visiting sick kids in his hairless, literary form. To read more about Hobo’s cures for what ails you, visit his blog at frommyshelf.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

4 out of 5 Paws!

Hobo has an upcoming radio interview with the "Animal Radio" show, THE most-listened-to radio show about animals in the United States! Although his interview isn't until July, the review of his book is already up on their website: www.AnimalRadio.com He got four paws out of five, because there's always room for a little improvement. :) Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries also got a mention! Check it out!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cup Size, or don't get down in your cups....

Kasey Cox

I’ve signed up for the Yoga Challenge at Main Street Yoga this April, the purpose of which is to encourage people to increase the amount of their yoga practice, to see how many benefits this practice adds to your life. I signed up for Belly Dance classes, meeting Tuesday nights in Wellsboro. On facebook, I signed up for a “virtual rally” of sorts, sponsored by the American Heart Association: April 8th was to be “National Start Walking Day!” and I was to be in attendance, sneakers at the ready.

I’m 36 years old and I already have chronic neck and jaw pain that will probably only worsen with age. My doctor tells me that exercise will help increase my energy, improve the quality of my sleep, and help me with anxiety, depression, and irritability. I always feel great when I do yoga, or go for a long walk under a blue sky or in a warm wind.

Nevertheless, in spite of all these good intentions and wonderful reasons to get into a regular exercise routine, my participation can only be described as sporadic, at best.

With all the exercise opportunities out there, you’d think I’d be able to find one I can stick with on a regular basis. Sometimes, though, the sheer number of classes, and books, and experts, and equipment, and advice, and blabbety-blab-blah is what actually gets in my way (or so I’ll rationalize). In looking for something simple, portable, easy to learn, easy to do, easy to keep doing, I am pleased to report my discovery of the “Morning Cup” series. The encouraging subtitle on each book in this series begins with “one 15-minute routine for a lifetime of …” stuff I want, like “health & wellness” or “strength & stability”.

These little books feature writing with a friendly, casual tone that is nonetheless informative. They are beautifully-illustrated, hardcover for durability, with a spiral binding for ease of use (fold it over; lay it flat, while following the exercise or pictures). For the great price of $12.95, the reader gets a lovely book of 80 or so pages, and a CD to listen to as one becomes more familiar with the suggested routine. This “Morning Cup” series includes “A Morning Cup of Balance”, Stretching, Strengthening, Meditation, Massage, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, and Pilates, as well as four different devotionals.

The “Morning Cup of Prayer” subseries has books focusing on specific groups, such as mothers or friends. I am already imagining not just the possibilities – as I do when I sign up for a class – but the wonderful probabilities of my spending 15 minutes each morning learning one of these routines for myself. Furthermore, I can’t wait to give some of these as gifts! (Sorry, Mom, I just ruined the surprise for Mother’s Day, unless you happen to miss my column this week!)

I decided to first investigate first “A Morning Cup of Yoga” by Jane Goad Trechsel, since I can’t seem to get myself organized enough to attend yoga class. Jane’s introduction is inspiring, since she reveals that, although a long-time practitioner of yoga, she did not begin training to become a yoga teacher until she was in her mid- to late-fifties – as she says, she was twice the age of most of the people enrolled in the teacher training class. This training, besides teaching her how to be a teacher, taught her how to be gentle with herself, especially in facing immense challenges.

I love her perspective: instead of telling herself that a task will be too difficult, she now asks herself, “what part of this can I do?” In asking this, she allows herself to remain open to experiences that may have once seemed impossible. So, with this introduction, I find myself more open to learning from this book, as from a friend, and that’s before I even get into the routine that Jane suggests establishing.

My experience so far with Jane Trechsel’s “One 15-Minute Routine” feels pleasant, simple, and manageable, mirroring the approach taken by Richard Hittleman’s classic book that introduced yoga to the masses in the 1970’s – “Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: the 28-Day Exercise Plan”. Teaching one pose a day, for 28 days straight gave people a firm foundation of exercises to use in beginning to construct a yoga practice. I think Treschel’s book takes this one step further with colorful pictures, the audio CD, and her personal testimony of how she didn’t change to do yoga, but how doing yoga changed her. I’m looking forward to testing out other titles in this series. Now, where did I put my tea kettle?

Cat-cow pose, or downward dog? Strengthen or stretch? Hobo’s favorite pose is re-pose; too bad there’s not “A Morning Cup of Sleep”. Maybe that will be Hobo’s next book, a self-help guide to getting good rest, since he’s an expert. Check out his advice in other areas in his archived past column, at his blog: frommyshelf.blogspot.com or write him with some of your own, at frommyshelf@epix.net

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cozy Mysteries as Comfort Food

Kasey Cox

Sigh. It’s Sunday night, and I’ve worked all week. I had a meeting with the accountant on Wednesday night, and I finally got back to my exercise class on Thursday night. I was supposed to take some time off on Thursday afternoon, but I had a meeting with a local author I’m helping. The dishes have been piled up in the sink for several days, and there’s laundry to be done, including extra sheets from the massage room. My sister and I have been playing phone tag for at least a week.

When I check my facebook account, I see some friends talking about John Updike. Updike, arguably one of the best American novelists of the last century, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, died on January 27th of this year. My academic, well-read, bibliophile friends are lamenting his death, as well as how few people are reading Updike these days. I silently beat myself with my own personal “YOU SHOULD BE READING…” cat-o-nine-tails, telling myself I should be as “well-read” as people think I am. The guilt washes over me. For our last book club meeting, I couldn’t bring myself to finish the book. It’s a shame, because I’ve wanted to read “The Other Boelyn Girl” for quite some time. Philippa Gregory is not John Updike, but she’s provided us with several good, solid reads in historical fiction, backed by a ton of research on life in medieval England. I read Updike in college. I usually love historical fiction. So what’s wrong with me? (besides the Seasonal Affective slump that hits most of us in this area from January to April…..)

Thank God for a little fluff, and for friends who understand. When I confessed to my book club that I just couldn’t seem to stay with “The Other Boelyn Girl”, one of the women reassured me that she couldn’t read much of anything when she worked full time. Now that she’s retired, she’s happy to join a book club, and tackle some meatier books: she’s been reading our book of the month in addition to re-visiting many of the classics. Another woman I know – well-educated, intelligent, articulate – saunters into the bookstore regularly, boldly asking for her dose of “smut.” She has three very busy children, teenagers each involved in his own activities, to which she chauffeurs them on a daily basis, while running the household, helping with the family business, and being actively involved in local charities.

When your brain is completely consumed with keeping your life (not to mention the lives of your family, boss, clients, pets, church, favorite charity, etc.) going forward with at least a modicum of balance, it can be difficult to keep track of a list of characters and their heart-wrenching struggles. At this point, some women turn to bodice-rippers. I have discovered my brain comfort food in “cozy mysteries.” Although I do enjoy the forensic science fad that has swept the country over the past few years, watching countless episodes of “CSI” on TV and reading Patricia Cornwell along with half the U.S. population, cozy mysteries don’t go into much detail on science, blood, or sex. A cozy mystery is one that you’d be comfortable having your teenager read. According to this wonderful website I found, www.cozy-mystery.com, “cozy” readers are usually intelligent women (or men!) looking for a fun, engaging read. (Once again, words to soothe my literary ego.)

A cozy mystery draws the reader in with a spunky or eccentric protagonist, usually a woman who is not by profession a police officer or private detective. This amateur sleuth often finds herself accidentally associated with a murder investigation, and, being the intuitive, curious, social person she is, ends up helping to solve the crime. Why the term “cozy”? I’m not sure if it refers to the discreet references to violence or sex, or the fact that most of these stories take place in small towns, or if a cozy is usually murder among friends. As much as the reader might enjoy and identify with this spunky lady, you wouldn’t want her to move into your town, because the next one to turn up dead just might be you! Do you really want Jessica Fletcher or Miss Marple to be your new neighbor?

Hobo says don’t worry about the new neighbors; he and Gypsy are on Neighborhood Watch. He also promises not to write any of those cozy mysteries about a lady who solves crimes with her cats. Search for other clues about the mysteries of small town life at Hobo’s blog, http://frommyshelf.blogspot.com

Hobo's Book Club: a review for kids to read

Kasey Cox

Hi, everyone! I’d like to choose the next book for Hobo’s Book Club, but on this one, I’d like to include the kids. Moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, scout leaders, big brothers, librarians, older sisters, and all other friends of our younger audience, would you please share the review below with the kids in your life? I’d love to see the kids feel more involved in reading their local newspaper! Especially in a rural community, the weekly newspaper is an important way to keep up on sporting events, concerts, fundraisers, support groups, township meetings, job openings, and a lot more. We rely more on our newspaper and local radio stations than people in more metropolitan areas, who often have a daily newspaper and/or a TV station specifically for their city. Since we continue to hear a lot of wonderful feedback from parents and teachers about how much the kids enjoy Hobo, we thought a word or two from Hobo to the kids about a cool book would be just the right place to start. Look for more reviews and notes direct from Hobo to the kids in coming months. And now, here’s ……….. HOBO!

Hi! Hobo here! The book I want to tell you about is Fat Cat by Margaret Read MacDonald. I picked this book for my friend Gypsy, because she is a fat cat. Just like the cat in this book, Gypsy has a little head on top of a round, fat body. I like the drawings in this book. They are fun and have a lot of colors. The fat cat is dark orange. He wants more food. He eats and eats, but he wants more. He eats anyone who tells him he is fat! He gets bigger and bigger. At the end, he eats his friend, the mouse. She has a way to cut a hole out of his big tummy, and everyone who was inside gets out! Then she sews nice patches over the hole. Now the cat is flat, not fat, and he gives Mouse a part of whatever he eats. This story is like many other old stories called folk tales.

What I liked about this book: The funny fat cat gets bigger and bigger. The pictures are so cool!! There is something fun to look at on every page. The little mouse is cute. I like the song the fat cat keeps saying, “I may be fat, but I’m still a hungry cat.” This book is easy to read, by myself, or with my family. Kevin read it and now he tells Gypsy, “YOU are a fat cat!” Gypsy has not eaten Kevin. Yet.

What I did not like: I was a little afraid when the mouse cut a hole in the cat’s tummy. But, the mouse made it okay for everyone. He fixed the hole with nice fabric. I think the cat looked even better at the end, but not better than me. I am the prettiest orange cat I know.

I would love for you to write to me about the book you like best, or tell me what you think of my book. Tell me about your pets: do you know any fat cats? How about dogs? Or hedgehogs? What do you like to eat when you are hungry? Do you like to draw? I like to hear about you! Write me at: Hobo, 87 Main St, downstairs, Wellsboro, PA 16901 or email me at frommyshelf@epix.net Thanks!

Short and Bittersweet

“Short and Bittersweet”

By Kasey Cox

A little over a year ago, Kevin and I helped a friend publish a collection of short stories. Local author Joe Parry had freelanced for outdoor magazines for more than twenty years, having his stories and columns most regularly published in “The Pennsylvania Game News” and in our own Wellsboro Gazette. As we made inquiries on Joe’s behalf at various small presses and publishing houses around the country, the polite rejection was often the same: “Short story collections are a tough sell these days.”

At the bookstore, I am often asked for suggestions for possible titles for a book club to read. I learned pretty quickly not to include short story collections in that list of potentials. Even the members of the long-running library book club, who read a wide variety of selections, shy away from short stories. As for the casual book club which currently meets out of the bookstore, they vehemently voted down my desire to try a recent, particularly interesting title, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.

I don’t understand why short stories are getting the cold shoulder in the current movements in popular literature. It seems the short story would be perfect for a culture accustomed to multitasking, instant gratification, text messages, and other conveniences that allow for living on high speed. When you’re busy chauffeuring three kids to their various activities, or balancing your work schedule with that of your spouse, or taking care of an ill parent or partner, what could be better than a collection of stories that you can easily finish in little bursts? No need to keep track of a complicated cast of characters across hundreds of pages; perfect for the five minutes before you fall asleep each night; just the right size to read on your work break. Short stories are the perfect quick peek into the intimate details of someone else’s life, like reading a facebook page or one of Frank Warren’s “PostSecret” books.

Maybe that’s the exact reason why we shy away from the modern short story: the well-crafted story is a condensed version of the truths spelled out more subtly in novels, like a shot of espresso instead of a large cup of coffee. Perhaps short stories act too much the mirror, reflecting back things we don’t want to see quite so closely about our own lives.

Without a doubt, intense is definitely the best word for Adam Haslett’s 2002 collection, You Are Not A Stranger Here. Breaking with recent trends, Haslett’s book was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Certainly Haslett’s stories are no more emotionally intense than the best-selling novels of Jodi Picoult or Wally Lamb, and they are beautifully written. Haslett’s characters are often trying to make their way in the world, despite struggles with mental illness, or the weight of a terrible secret, like leading the double life of the closeted homosexual. Haslett writes with obvious compassion for his characters, but that doesn’t stop him from telling the truth about the pain in their lives, or from going for the gut-wrenching surprise ending that often clenches a great short story.

Many well-known, now award-winning authors begin by publishing a collection of their short stories. Be sure to check out Barbara Kingsolver’s early short story collection, Homeland and Other Stories. I found these stories populated with a wonderful variety of characters, and the reading is accessible, although some readers might be a little intimidated if they knew that Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible didn’t just get chosen by Oprah; it was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize.

The magic of a well-crafted story is that it sticks with you. Sometimes, I’ll read a story, and decide I don’t like it. It bothers me. The ending doesn’t satisfy me. Or I feel I can’t relate to the characters. Nevertheless, several years later, I can still tell you about the tension between the two women, or the ending that made me gasp. Z Z Packer’s story “Brownies” comes to mind – a story she penned and published in a national magazine when she was only 19, now part of her collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. I didn’t even finish reading Coffee the first time I tried it, because the stories got under my skin. Now I believe that’s the mark of excellent writing. Instead of wading through a voluminous “Great American Novel” to get that, give a short story collection a try.

Hobo’s hard at work on the next GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. After all, he’s a “Hemingway” cat. Let’s convince him to give us his short stories instead: email him your short story suggestions at frommyshelf@epix.net, or read some of his past shorter blurbs at his blog, http://frommyshelf.blogspot.com.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How to Avoid A Traffic Ticket

Kevin Coolidge

A police officer attempts to stop a car for speeding and the guy gradually increases his speed until he’s topping 100mph. He eventually realizes he can’t escape and finally pulls over. The cop approaches the car and says, “It’s been a long day, and it’s near the end of my shift. If you can just give me a good excuse for your behavior, I’ll let you go.” The man thinks for a few seconds and then says, “My wife ran away with a cop about a week ago. I though you might be that officer trying to give her back!”

Wouldn't you like have an available excuse for the next time you are pulled over? Then you’re going to want to pick up a copy of Speeding Excuses That Work by Alex Carroll, published by Gray Area Press. This book contains true stories from drivers who outfoxed the cops and escaped moving violations. Now their secrets can work for you, too. Before I get to the good stuff, let me post a little note to the boys in blue.

Memo to All Cops

This book is full of lies. Excuses people used to get out of a speeding ticket. Is it right? Well, is a speeding trap right? I feel a speeding trap is inherently dishonest. I appeal to you to be officers of traffic safety and not officers of traffic revenue. Pursue the reckless drivers, the impaired drivers, the drivers talking on their cell phones. They are the real dangers on the road today. Setting up speed traps just to fill some quota at the expense of some easy-to-catch motorist going with the flow of traffic isn't protecting anyone. For all those good cops out there who really do serve and protect, thanks for all you do.

Who wants to be pulled over? This handy book also includes how to spot a cop before he spots you. For example, watch out on freeways with bushes and trees in the median. There are often little nooks where the staties lie in wait, and cops love to park under bridges/overpasses. Considering a radar detector? The author tells you what to do and what not to do. You don't want to plug it into your cigarette lighter. It’s the first place cops look.

OK, so we all know the best way to avoid a speeding ticket is not to speed, but I'm sure I'm not the only who has gotten a ticket on an open stretch of road.. Should you use any of these excuses? Should you really have to face increased premiums for just going with the flow? You decide. If you want to save a fortune in fines and insurance surcharges, then you are going to love the story of the man who turned his garden hose into a ticket terminator. The author also includes a cheat sheet of handy excuses to carry in your car. He also includes gender specific excuses.

Sooner or later, you are bound to be pulled over, if just for a broken taillight. The author gives good advice on what to do and what not to do. Address him as "officer," not “sir.” Sir can sound too contrived. Which cop is most likely to issue you a ticket? The higher the rank, the less likely you are to receive a ticket, because senior officers have better things to do than go to traffic court -- like play golf. This book will give you the inside knowledge to determine rank. Sometimes addressing an officer by a higher rank can get you brownie points, but the last thing you want to do is call him a lower rank than he is.

So what happens if your excuse doesn't fly? Try Alex Carroll's other book Beat the Cops, the Guide to Fighting Your Traffic Ticket and Winning. This book can tell you how to dodge a photo radar ticket, how to schedule a trial during an officer’s vacation, and how the public records law could guarantee you a win. If you feel you were ticket unfairly, you owe it to yourself and to democracy. Don’t be afraid to read these books. Don’t be afraid to exercise your rights…

What came first? The speed trap, or the excuse? Email me at frommyshelf@epix.net. Miss a pass column? Speed over to http://frommyshelf.blogspot.com and catch up on past violations. Hobo's going Gonzo. Vote for Hobo in the upcoming election for Tioga County sheriff. Vote early and vote often. "Hobo For Sheriff--Guns, Guts, and Gonzo"