New York’s Chinatown Fair and the Animated Dragon

I grew up in New York City in the ’50s and ’60s. Much has gone since that time, but my memories include hings I deeply miss about New York in my early days:

  • The myriad small businesses instead of brass-and-glass
  • Little Italy full of Italians, and the Feasts of San Antonio and San Gennaro
  • Yellow Cabs with huge back seats and those little jumpseats (Yes, unsafe, but they were so fun)
  • Air-conditioned movie theaters with giant screens and velvet curtains where you could stay all day for 50¢ and watch a cartoon, a short subject, a newsreel, and the main feature over and over again
  • the 42nd Street Subway Stations with Red and Blue lights guiding you to your line of choice, IRT, BMT, or IND, or the Shuttle
  • Underground OJ bars and other odd little shops in the subways such as Al Stevenson’s magic store (otherwise known as the Wizard’s Workshop)
  • Hole-in-the-wall pizza joints where you could order pizza by the “Slice!” for 15¢.
  • The Staten Island ferry for a nickel
  • Christmas trees up and down Park Avenue, and the stars that would twinkle on the 666 building
  • the Lord and Taylor Christmas windows
  • And so many more…

But one of my most indelible memories is from Chinatown, where my mother would take me on occasion. There were myriad stores and restaurants selling the ubiquitous Chinese back-scratchers, finger traps, and wonderful puzzle boxes, some of which I wish I still had.

Alamy stock photo of a Chinese puzzle box, very similar to one I once owned.

But the most wondrous thing to my young eyes was the Chinatown Fair.

Before it became an electronic game arcade, it featured dancing chickens, tic-tac-toe chickens (you can read about these at Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York), and the amazing animatronic dragon.

8 Mott Street, Chinatown, New York, New York, USA — Performing Chicken in New York Arcade — Image by © Adam Woolfitt/CORBIS

Sadly, no photos of the latter wonder appear to have been saved to the Internet as of this moment, but who knows? Perhaps someone will come across a picture in their old archives and post it in the future. If you happen to stumble across this blog post and have such a photo, please let me know; I would love to feature it here.

At any rate, you would walk up to this row of little windows, each with a coin slot for quarters; drop one in and your window would open, and below you was this most amazing animated dragon which would move and roar at you. Commenter “Donald” at the website Scouting New York had this to say, which syncs with my own memories perfectly:

Yes!! The dragon peep show…. why doesn’t anybody ever mention the dragon peep show? I thought that was the most bizarre “game” I ever saw… you’d drop a quarter in and a sliding plastic window would rise, exposing a glass window underneath (similar to a peep show booth) and literally laying on the basement floor – you’d see this huge animatronic dragon moving it’s head and tail – and from a speaker would blare the soundtrack from an old Godzilla movie… that familiar Godzilla roar. Now the dragon you were looking at and the Godzilla you were hearing of course had nothing to do with each other – but that just added to the cheezy entertainment value of the whole thing. I thought it was great… but nobody ever mentions it. I ALWAYS hear about the Tic Tac Toe Chicken… but never my old dragon friend.

A later photo of The Chinatown Fair at night, from The Chinatown Fair Archive.

The Fair later became a video arcade, but closed in 2011. Some other great memories are archived at Scouting New York, The Gothamist, Ganker, and Huffpost; apparently the arcade featured in a 2015 documentary called The Lost Arcade; in its later years it “the arcade became a shelter to a community as diverse as the city surrounding it and changed lives in doing so.” (IMDB)

According to The Verge, the arcade re-opened in 2012, but the reviews were mixed. Apparently it’s still there, but without that amazing dragon it will never be the same for me.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A reading list of great books

The next time you want something of substance to read, here’s a list of 876 books compiled from a couple of lists I found on the Internet – one a list of librarian’s recommendations, another of 500 great books, and a few I have added myself. I only deleted one because I thought it was trash, and was not sure what it was doing on any list of good literature.

As for the rest, you get to judge; but while compiling this, I certainly saw a good number that I have read, and many that I am ashamed I have not yet read and would like to.

Enjoy.

Edit: I will link back here to another list I published a couple of years ago, “Fifteen Titles.” You will find many duplicates on that list, but it was compiled with a different set of criteria. Nevertheless, it contains many worthwhile and impactful works.

1984George Orwell
2666Roberto Bolano
$2.00 a DayKathryn Edin
12 Million Black VoicesRichard Wright
1Q84Haruki Murakami
84, Charing Cross RoadHelene Hanff
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, TheSherman Alexie
Accidental Tourist, TheAnne Tyler
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, TheMark Twain
Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green, TheCuthbert Bede
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, TheSir Arthur Conan Doyle
Adventures of Tom Sawyer, TheMark Twain
Aeneid, TheVirgil
Age of Innocence, TheEdith Wharton
Agnes GreyAnne Brontë
Alchemist, ThePaulo Coelho
Alexander HamiltonRon Chernow
Alice in WonderlandLewis Carroll
All Creatures Great and Small (Series)James Herriot
All of a Kind FamilySidney Taylor
All Passion SpentVita Sackville-West
All Quiet on the Western FrontErich Maria
All the King’s MenRobert Penn Warren
All the Light We Cannot SeeAnthony Doerr
Along Came a SpiderJames Patterson
Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, TheMichael Charon
American Born ChineseGene Luen Yang
American GodsNeil Gaiman
American PastoralPhilip Roth
AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie
An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser
An Ember in the AshesSabaa Tahir
An Old-Fashioned GirlLouisa May Alcott
An Unsuitable Job for a WomanP. D. James
Ancillary JusticeAnn Leckie
And the Band Played OnRandy Shilts
And Then All Hell Broke LooseRichard Engel
And Then There Were NoneBy Agatha Christie
Angela’s AshesFrank McCourt
Animal DreamsBarbara Kingsolver
Animal FarmGeorge Orwell
Anna KareninaLeo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young GirlAnne Frank
Anne of Green GablesL.M. Montgomery
Antony and CleopatraWilliam Shakespeare
Arabian NightsTahir Shah
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.New Jersey
ArielSylvia Plath
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseBenjamin Alire Saenz
Around the World in Eighty DaysJules Verne
Art of Fielding, TheChad Harbach
Art of Hearing Heartbeats, TheJan-Philippe Sendker
As I Lay DyingWilliam Faulkner
As You Like ItWilliam Shakespeare
Assistant, TheBernard Malamud
Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, TheMatthew Tobin Anderson
Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand
AtonementIan Mcewan
AttachmentsRainbow Rowell
Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein, TheGertrude Stein
Autobiography of Malcolm X, TheMalcolm X
Awakening, TheKate Chopin
Babe: The Gallant PigDick King-Smith
Bad Beginning, TheLemony Snicket
Bad FeministRoxane Gay
Bad News for OutlawsVaunda Micheaux Nelson
Balzac and the Little Chinese SeamstressDai Sijie
Bastard Out of CarolinaDorothy Allison
Beautiful and Damned, TheF. Scott Fitzgerald
Beautiful RuinsJess Walter
Because of Winn DixieKate diCamillo
BecomingMichelle Obama
Beekeeper’s Apprentice, TheLaurie R. King
Bel CantoAnn Patchett
Bell Jar, TheSylvia Plath
BelovedToni Morrison
BeowulfThe Beowulf Poet
Between the World and MeTa-Nehisi Coates
Big Sleep, TheRaymond Chandler
BintiNnedi Okorafor
Birds of AmericaJohn James Audubon
BirdsongSebastian Faulks
Black BeautyAnna Sewell
Black BoyRichard Wright
Black Leopard, Red WolfMarlon James
Bleak HouseCharles Dickens
Bless Me, UltimaRudolpho Anaya
Blind Assassin, TheMargaret Atwood
Blood MeridianCormac McCarthy
Blue Castle, TheL.M. Montgomery
Blue Sword / the Hero and the Crown, TheRobin McKinley
Bluest Eye, TheToni Morrison
Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom WolfeTom Wolfe
Book of Lost Things, TheJohn Connolly
Book of Three, TheLloyd Alexander
Book Thief, TheMarkus Zusak
BorderlandsGloria E. Anzaldúa
Born ConfusedTanuja Desai Hidier
Born to RunChristopher McDougall
BossypantsTina Fey
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen OyeyemiHelen Oyeyemi
Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, TheDaniel James Brown
Brave New WorldAldous Huxley
Breakfast at Tiffany’sTruman Capote
Breakfast of ChampionsKurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Brick LaneMonica Ali
Brideshead RevisitedEvelyn Waugh
Bridge to TerabithiaKatherine Paterson
Bridget Jones’s DiaryHelen Fielding
Brief History of Seven Killings, AMarlon James
Brief History of Time, AStephen Hawking
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, TheJunot Diaz
Brokeback MountainAnnie Proulx
Brothers Karamazov, TheFyodor Dostoyevsky
Bury My Heart at Wounded KneeDee Brown
Call of the Wild, TheJack London
CandideVoltaire
Canterbury Tales, TheGeoffrey Chaucer
Canterville Ghost, TheOscar Wilde
Captain Corelli’s MandolinLouis de Berniere
Carry onRainbow Rowell
Casino RoyaleIan Fleming
Casual Vacancy, TheJ.K. Rowling
Catch-22Joseph Heller
Catcher in the Rye, TheJ.D. Salinger
Catherine, Called BirdyKaren Cushman
Cat’s CradleKurt Vonnegut
Change of Climate, AHilary Mantel
Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryRoald Dahl
Charlotte’s WebE.B. White
Children of Blood and BoneTomi Adyemi
Chocolate War, TheRobert Cormier
Christmas Carol, ACharles Dickens
CinderMarissa Meyer
ClarissaSamuel Richardson
Clear Light of DayAnita Desai
Cloud AtlasDavid Mitchell
Cloud AtlasDavid Mitchell
Code of the Woosters, TheWodehouse
Cold Comfort FarmStella Gibbons
Cold Comfort FarmStella Gibbons
Cold MountainCharles Frasier
Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, TheLangston Hughes
Collected Stories of Eudora WeltyEudora Welty
Color of Magic, TheTerry Pratchett
Color of Water, TheJames McBride
Color Purple, TheAlice Walker
Comedy of Errors, TheWilliam Shakespeare
Common SenseThomas Paine
Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, TheBrothers Grimm
Complete Stories, TheFlannery O’Connor
Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe, TheEdgar Allan Poe
Confederacy of Dunces, AJohn Kennedy Toole
Confessions of a ShopaholicSophie Kinsella
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, AMark Twain
Constellation of Vital Phenomena, AAnthony Marra
Corrections, TheJonathan Franzen
Count of Monte Cristo, TheAlexandre Duman
Cow-Tail Switch, and Other West African Stories, TheHarold Courlander
CranfordElizabeth Gaskell
CrankEllen Hopkins
Crazy Rich AsiansKevin Kwan
Cricket in Times Qquare, AGeorge Selden
Crime and PunishmentFyodor Dostoyevsky
Crocodile on the SandbankElizabeth Peters
Crucible, TheArthur Miller
Crying of Lot 49, TheRobert E. Kohn
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, TheMark Haddon
Cutting for StoneAbraham Verghese
Da Vinci Code, TheDan Brown
Daisy Jones & the SixTaylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy MillerHenry James
Daniel DerondaGeorge Eliot
Dark Is Rising, TheSusan Cooper
Darkly Dreaming DexterJeff Lindsay
David CopperfieldCharles Dickens
Day of the Triffids, TheJohn Wyndham
Dead WakeErik Larson
Death at an Early AgeJonathan Kozol
Death Comes for the ArchbishopWilla Cather
Death in the Family, AJames Agee
Death in VeniceThomas Mann
Death of a SalesmanArthur Miller
Death of the Heart, TheElizabeth Bowen
Decameron, TheGiovanni Boccaccio
Decline and FallEvelyn Waugh
Dept. of SpeculationJenny Offill
Deptford Trilogy, TheRobertson Davies
Devil in a Blue DressWalter Mosley
Devil in the White City, TheErik Larson
Diary of Anne Frank, TheAnne Frank
Dirty Job, AChristopher Moore
Divergent (Series)Veronica Roth
Divine Comedy, TheDante Alighieri
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Philip K. Dick
Doctor FaustusChristopher Marlowe
Doctor ZhivagoBoris Pasternak
Don QuixoteMiguel De Cervantes
DraculaBram Stoker
Dream of the Red Chamber, TheCao Xueqin
Dreaming in CubanCristina Garcia
DreamlandSam Quinones
DuneFrank Herbert
East of EdenJohn Steinbeck
Eat Pray LoveElizabeth Gilbert
Edwardians, TheVita Sack-Ville West
Egypt Game, TheZilpha Keatley Snyder
Eight, TheKatherine Neville
Eleanor & ParkRainbow Rowell
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineGail Honeyman
Elegance of the Hedgehog, TheMuriel Barberry
Ella EnchantedGail Carson Levine
Emperor of All Maladies, The: A Biography of CancerSiddhartha Mukhe
Empire FallsRichard Russo
Ender’s GameOrson Scott Card
English Patient, TheMichael Ondaatje
Epic of Gilgamesh, TheUnknown
Ethan FromeEdith Wharton
Everything I Never Told YouCeleste Ng
Everything Is IlluminatedJonathan Saffron Foer
EvictedMatthew Desmond
Excellent WomenBarbara Pym
Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseJonathan Saffron Foer
Fahrenheit 451Ray Bradbury
Fairie Queen, TheEdmund Spenser
Fall of the House of Usher, TheEdgar Allan Poe
FangirlRainbow Rowell
Far From the Madding CrowdThomas Hardy
Farewell to Arms, AErnest Hemingway
Farmer BoyLaura Ingalls Wilder
Fault in Our Stars, TheJohn Green
FaustJohann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Fear and Loathing in Las VegasHunter S. Thompson
Female Brain, TheLouann Brizendine
Fifth Season, TheN. K. Jemisin
Fight ClubChuck Palahniuk
Fine Balance, ARohinton Mistry
FingersmithSarah Waters
Fire Next Time, TheJames Baldwin
Five People You Meet in Heaven, TheMitch Albom
Flowers for AlgernonDaniel Keyes
For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway
Forgotten GardenKate Morton
Forsyte Saga, TheJohn Galsworthy
Foundation (Entire Series)Isaac Asimov
FrankensteinMary Shelley
Franny and ZooeyJ.D. Salinger
Freak the MightyRodman Philbrick
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafeFannie Flagg
From Russia With LoveIan Fleming
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. FrankweilerE. L. Konigsburg
Fun HomeAlison Bechdel
Game of Thrones, A (Series)George R. R. Martin
Garden of Earthly Delights, AJoyce Carol Oates
General in His Labyrinth, TheMarquez
Gentleman in Moscow, AAmor Towles
GerminalÉmile Zola
Gilda Stories, TheJewelle Gomez
GileadMarilynne Robinson
Girl Could Stand Up, ALeslie Marshall
Girl on the Train, ThePaula Hawkins
Girl With a Pearl EarringTracy Chevalier
Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, TheStieg Larson
Giver, TheLois Lowry
Glass Castle, TheJeannette Walls
Glass Menagerie, TheTennessee Williams
Go Tell It on the MountainJames Baldwin
God of Small Things, TheArundhati Roy
Golden Bowl, TheHenry James
Golden Compass, ThePhillip Pullman
Golden Notebook, TheDoris Lessing
Goldfinch, TheDonna Tartt
Goldfinch, TheDonna Tartt
Golem and the Djinni, TheHelene Wecker
Gone GirlGillian Flynn
Gone With the WindMargaret Mitchell
Good Earth, ThePearl S. Buck
Good Man Is Hard to Find, AFlannery O’Connor
Good Master, TheKate Seredy
Good OmensTerry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
Good Soldier, TheFord Madox Ford
Good TalkMira Jacob
Good WivesLouisa May Alcott
Grapes of Wrath, TheJohn Steinbeck
Grave Talent, ALaurie R. King
Gravity’s RainbowThomas Pinchon
Great ExpectationsCharles Dickens
Great Gatsby, TheF. Scott Fitzgerald
GrendelJohn Gardner
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, TheMary Ann Shaffer; ‎Annie Barrows
Gulag Archipelago, TheAleksandr Slozhenitsyn
Gulliver’s TravelsJonathan Swift
Gunslinger, TheStephen King
Half of a Yellow SunChimamanda Ngozi Adichie
HamletWilliam Shakespeare
Handmaid’s Tale, TheMargaret Atwood
HangsamanJackson
Hans Christian Anderson Fairy TalesHans Christian Anderson
Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World Haruki MurakamiHaruki Murakami
Haroun & the Sea of StoriesSalman Rushdie/Paul BirkbeckIllus
Harriet the SpyLouise Fitzhugh
Harry Potter (Series)J. K. Rowling
HatchetGary Paulsen
Haunting of Hill House, TheShirley Jackson
Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, TheCarson McCullers
Heart of DarknessJoseph Conrad
Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, ADave Eggers
HeartburnNora Ephron
Help, TheKathryn Stockett
Henry IV, Part IWilliam Shakespeare
Henry IV, Part IIWilliam Shakespeare
Henry VWilliam Shakespeare
HerzogSaul Bellow
High FidelityNick Hornby
Hillbilly ElegyJD Vance
His Dark Materials – Philip PullmanPhilip Pullman
Historian, TheElizabeth Kostova
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, TheDouglas Adams
Hobbit, TheJ.R.R. Tolkien
HolesLouis Sachar
HomegoingYaa Gyasi
HopscotchJulio Cortázar
Hot Zone, TheRichard Preston
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetJamie Ford
Hound of the Baskervilles, TheSir Arthur Conan Doyle
Hour of the Star, TheClarice Lispector
Hours, TheMichael Cunningham
House Made of DawnN. Scott Momaday
House of LeavesMark Z. Danielewski
House of Mirth, TheEdith Wharton
House of Sand and FogAndre Dubus III
House of the ScorpionNancy Farmer
House of the Seven GablesNathaniel Hawthorne
House of the Spirits, TheIsabel Allende
House on Mango Street, TheSandra Cisneros
HousekeepingMarilynne Robinson
How Green Was My ValleyRichard Llewellyn
How I Live NowMeg Rosoff
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their AccentsJulia Alvarez
How the Other Half LivesJacob Riis
How to Be a VictorianRuth Goodman
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional UniverseCharles Yu
Howards EndE.M. Forster
HowlAllen Ginsberg
Howl’s Moving CastleDiana Wynne Jones
Human Comedy, TheWilliam Saroyan
Hunchback of Notre Dame, TheVictor Hugo
Hunger Games, The (Series)Suzanne Collins
Husband’s Secret, TheLiane Moriarty
I Am MalalaMalala Yousafzai
I Am the CheeseRobert Cormier
I Am the MessengerMarcus Zusak
I Capture the CastleDodie Smith
I Know This Much Is TrueWally Lamb
I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsMaya Angelou
I Never Promised You a Rose GardenJoanne Greenberg
If on a Winters Night a TravellerVintage Calvino
Iliad, TheHomer
Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, TheRebecca Skloot
Importance of Being Earnest, TheOscar Wilde
In Cold BloodTruman Capote
In the Time of the ButterfliesJulia Alvarez
In the WoodsTara French
Infinite JestDavid Foster Wallace
Inheritance of Loss, TheKiran Dasai
Interestings, TheMeg Wolitzer
InternmentSamira Ahmed
Interpreter of MaladiesJhumpa Lahiri
Interpreter of MaladiesJhumpa Lahiri
Interview With the VampireAnne Rice
Invention of Wings, TheSue Monk Kidd
Invisible Circus, TheJennifer Egan
Invisible ManRalph Ellison
IronweedWilliam Kennedy
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?And Other Concerns
Island of the Blue DolphinsScott O’Dell
ItStephen King
IvanhoeWalter Scott
Jamaica InnDaphne Du Maurier
James and the Giant PeachRoald Dahl
Jane EyreCharlotte Brontë
Japanese Lover, TheIsabel Allende
Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellSusanna Clarke
Journey to the Center of the EarthJules Verne
Joy Luck Club, TheAmy Tan
Jude the ObscureThomas Hardy
Julie and JuliaJulie Powell
Julie of the WolvesJean Craighead George
Julius CaesarWilliam Shakespeare
Jungle Book, TheRudyard Kipling
Jungle, TheUpton Sinclair
Kafka on the ShoreHaruki Murakami
KidnappedRobert Louis Stevenson
Killers of the Flower MoonGrann
KimRudyard Kipling
KindredOctavia E. Butler
King LearWilliam Shakespeare
Kiss Before Dying, AIra Levin
Kiss Quotient, TheHelen Hoang
Kitchen ConfidentialAnthony Bourdain
Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini
Lais of Marie De France, TheMarie De France
Language of FlowersVanessa Diffenbaugh
Last Samurai, TheHelen DeWaitt
Leaves of GrassWalt Whitman
Left Hand of Darkness, TheUrsula K. LeGuin
Legend of Sleepy Hollow, TheWashington Irving
Les MiserablesVictor Hugo
LessAndrew Sean Greer
Lesson Before Dying, AErnest J. Gaines
Letter From Birmingham City JailMartin Luther King Jr
Letters to a Young PoetRainer Maria Rilke
Liars’ Club: A Memoir, TheMary Karr
Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, TheLaurence Sterne
Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, TheMarie Kondo
Life of PiYann Martel
Light Between Oceans: A Novel, TheM.L. Stedman
Like Water for ChocolateLaura Esquivel
Lincoln in the BardoGeorge Saunders
Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, TheC.S. Lewis
Little BeeChris Cleave
Little Fires EverywhereCeleste Ng
Little House on the Prairie (Series)Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little MenLouisa May Alcott
Little Prince, TheAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
Little Princess, AFrances Hodgson Burnett
Little Stranger, TheSarah Waters
Little WomenLouisa May Alcott
LolitaVladimir Nabokov
Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, TheSherman Alexie
Long Fatal Love Chase, ALouisa May Alcott
Long Goodbye, TheRaymond Chandler
Long Way Down, ANick Hornsby
Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, AIshmael Beah
Look at MeJennifer Egan
Looking for AlaskaJohn Green
Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, TheLawrence Wright
Lord JimJoseph Conrad
Lord of the FliesWilliam Golding
Lord of the Rings, The (Trilogy)J.R.R. Tolkien
Lottery, TheShirley Jackson
Love in a Cold ClimateNancy Freeman-Mitford
Love in the Time of CholeraGabriel Garcia Marquez
Love MedicineLouise Erdrich
Lovely Bones, TheAlice Sebold
Lover, TheMarguerite Duras
Luckiest Girl AliveJessica Knoll
Lucky JimJim Dixon
LucyJamaica Kincaid
Luminaries, TheEleanor Catton
MacbethWilliam Shakespeare
Madame BovaryGustave Flaubert
Main StreetSinclair Lewis
Major Pettigrew’s Last StandHelen Simonson
Maltese Falcon, TheDashiell Hammett
Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, TheOscar Hijuelos
Man Called Ove, AFredrik Backman
Man of the People, AChinua Achebe
Man Who Mistook His Wife for a HatOliver Sacks
Man Who Was Thursday, TheG.K. Chesterton
Maniac MageeJerry Spinelli
Mansfield ParkJane Austen
Manual for Cleaning Women, ALucia Berlin
March: Book OneJohn Lewis
Martian, TheAndy Weir
Mary PoppinsP.L. Travers
MatildaRoald Dahl
MauriceE.M. Forster
Maus: The Complete MausArt Spiegelman
Mayor of Casterbridge, TheThomas Hardy
Me Before YouJojo Moyes
MedeaEuripides
Memoirs of a GeishaArthur Golden
Memories of a Catholic GirlhoodMary McCarthy
Merchant of Venice, TheWilliam Shakespeare
Metamorphosis and Other StoriesFranz Kafka
Metamorphosis, TheFranz Kafka
MiddlemarchGeorge Eliot
MiddlesexJeffrey Eugenides
Midnight in the Garden of Good and EvilJohn Berendt
Midnight’s ChildrenSalman Rushdie
Midsummer Night’s Dream, AWilliam Shakespeare
Milk and HoneyRupi Kaur
Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, TheKate Dicamillo
Miseducation of Cameron Post, TheEmily M. Danforth
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenRansom Riggs
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a DayWinifred Watson
Misty of ChincoteagueMarguerite Henry
Moby DickHerman Melville
Moll FlandersDaniel Defoe
Moloka’iAlan Brennert
Monkey’s Paw, TheW. W. Jacobs
Moonstone, TheWilkie Collins
Mr. Popper’s PenguinsRichard and Florence Atwater
Mrs DallowayVirginia Woolf
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMHRobert C. O’Brien
Much Ado About NothingWilliam Shakespeare
Murder on the Orient ExpressAgatha Christie
My AntoniaWilla Cather
My Bondage and My FreedomFrederick Douglass
My Brilliant FriendElena Ferrante
My Side of the MountainJean Craighead George
My Sister, the Serial KillerOyinkan Braithwaite
My Sister’s KeeperJodi Picoult
Mystic RiverDennis Lehane
Name of the Rose, TheUmberto Eco
Namesake, TheJhumpa Lahiri
Narrative of Sojourner TruthSojourner Truth
Native SonRichard Wright
Naya NukiKen Thomasma
Nectar in a SieveKamala Markandaya
NeuromancerWilliam Gibson
Never Let Me GoKazuo Ishiguro
NeverwhereNeil Gaiman
New Grub StreetGeorge Gissing
Nickel and DimedBarbara Ehrenreich
NightElie Wiesel
Night Circus, TheErin Morgenstern
Nightingale, TheKristin Hannah
Nights at the CircusAngela Carter
No Exit (Huis Clos)Jean-Paul Sartre
No Future Without ForgivenessDesmond Tutu
No One Belongs Here More Than YouMiranda July
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, TheAlexander McCall Smith
North and SouthElizabeth Gaskell
Northanger AbbeyJane Austen
Northern Light, AJennifer Donnelly
Norwegian WoodHaruki Murakami
Notes From a Small IslandBill Bryson
Now We are SixA. A. Milne
Number the StarsLois Lowry
NWZadie Smith
Ocean at the End of the Lane, TheNeil Gaiman
Odyssey, TheHomer
Of Human BondageW. Somerset Maugham
Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck
Old Man and the Sea, TheErnest Hemingway
Olive KitteridgeElizabeth Strout
Oliver TwistCharles Dickens
Omnivore’s Dilemma, TheMichael Pollan
On Earth We’re Briefly GorgeousOcean Vuong
On Immunity: An InoculationEula Biss
On the RoadJack Kerouac
Once and Future King, TheT.H. White
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestKen Kesey
One for the MoneyJanet Evanovic
One Hundred Years of SolitudeGabriel Garcia Marquez
Optimists Daughter, TheEudora Welty
Oranges Are Not the Only FruitJeanette Winterson
Orchardist, TheAmanda Coplin
OrlandoVirginia Woolf
Orphan Master’s Son, TheAdam Johnson
Orphan TrainChristina Baker Kline
Oryx and CrakeMargaret Atwood
Oscar and LucindaPeter Carey
OthelloWilliam Shakespeare
Other Boleyn Girl, ThePhilippa Gregory
Our TownThornton Wilder
Out of AfricaKaren Blixen
OutlanderDiana Gabaldon
Pact, TheJodi Picoult
Palace WalkNaguib Mahfouz
Pale FireVladimir Nabokov
Passage to India, AE.M. Forster
PassingNella Larson
PastoraliaGeorge Saunders
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher ColumbusOrson Scott Card
Pearl, TheJohn Steinbeck
Pentateuch, TheI. Thomas Holdcroft
People in the Trees, TheHanya Yanagihara
People of the BookGeraldine Brooks
People’s History of the United States, AHoward Zinn
Percy Jackson SeriesRick Riordan
PerfumePatrick Suskind
Perks of Being a Wallflower, TheStephen Chbosky
PersepolisMarjane Satrapi
Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiMarlene Satrapi
Personal Matter, AKanzaburō Ōe
PersuasionJane Austen
Pet SemataryStephen King
Peter PanJames Barrie
Phantom of the Opera, TheGaston Leroux
Phantom Tollbooth, TheNorton Juster
Phantom Toolbooth, TheJules Feiffer
Pickwick Papers, TheCharles Dickens
Picture of Dorian Grey, TheOscar Wilde
Pilgrim at Tinker CreekAnnie Dillard
Pillars of the Earth, TheKen Follett
Pippi LongstockingAstred Lindgren
Plague, The (La peste)Albert Camus
Play It as It LaysJoan Didion
Poems of Emily Dickinson, TheEmily Dickinson
Poems: Edna St. Vincent MillayEdna St. Vincent Millay
Poisonwood Bible, TheBarbara Kingsolver
Portrait of a LadyHenry James
PossessionByatt
Post OfficeCharles Bukowski
Prayer for Owen Meany, AJohn Irving
Price of Salt, or Carol, ThePatricia Highsmith
Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen
Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, TheMuriel Spark
Princess AcademyShannon Hale
Princess Bride, TheWilliam Goldman
Princess Saves Herself in This One, TheAmanda Lovelace
Priory of the Orange Tree, TheSamantha Shannon
Private PeacefulMichael Morpurgo
Pulphead EssaysJohn Jeremiah Sullivan
Purple HisbiscusChimamanda Ngozi Adichie
PygmalionGeorge Bernard Shaw
Queen of the NightAlexander Chee
QueenieCandice Carty-Williams
QuietSusan Cain
Quiet American, TheGraham Greene
Rabbit at RestJohn Updike
Rabbit Is RichJohn Updike
Rabbit, RunJohn Updike
RagtimeE.L. Doctorow
Raisin in the Sun, ALorraine Hansberry
Ramayana, TheValmiki
Ramona the PestBeverly Cleary
Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the BronxAdrian Nicole Leblanc
Reader, TheBernhard Schlink
Reading Lolita in TehranAzar Nafisi
Ready Player OneErnest Cline
RebeccaDaphne Du Maurier
Red and the Black, TheChimimanda Ngozi Adichie
Red Badge of Courage, TheStephen Crane
Red Tent, TheAnita Diamant
Red, White & Royal BlueCasey Mcquiston
Redefining RealnessJanet Mock
RedwallBrian Jacques
Reef, TheEdith Wharton
Remains of the Day, TheKazuo Ishiguro
Return of Sherlock Holmes, TheArthur Conan Doyle
Return of the NativeThomas Hardy
Return of the Soldier, TheRebecca West
Revolutionary RoadVintage Yates
River Between, TheNgũgĩ wa Thiong’o
Road, TheCormac McCarthy
Robinson CrusoeDaniel Defoe
Roll of Thunder, Hear My CryMildred D. Taylor
Romance of the Three KingdomsLuo Guanzhong
Romeo and JulietWilliam Shakespeare
RomolaGeorge Eliot
RoomEmma Donoghue
Room of One’s Own, AVirginia Woolf
Room With a View, AE. M. Forster
RootsAlex Haley
Rosie Project, TheGraeme Simsion
Round House, TheLouise Erdrich
Rubyfruit JungleRita Mae Brown
RunawayAlice Munro
Sacre BleuChristopher Moore
Salvage the BonesJesmyn Ward
Sammy and Juliana in HollywoodBenjamin Alire Saenz
Savage Detectives, TheRoberto Bolano
Scarlet Letter, TheNathaniel Hawthorne
Scarlett Pimpernel, TheBaroness Emmuska Orcey
Schindler’s ArkThomas Keneally
ScoopEvelyn Waugh
Sea, the Sea, TheIrish Murdoch
Secret Garden, TheFrances Hodgson Burnett
Secret History, TheDonna Tartt
Secret Keeper, TheKate Morton
Secret Life of Bees, TheSue Monk Kidd
Selection, TheKiera Cass
Sellout, ThePaul Beatty
Sense and SensibilityJane Austen
Sense of an Ending, TheJulian Barnes
Separate Peace, AJohn Knowles
Shadow of the Wind, TheCarlos Ruiz Zafon
She’s Come UndoneWally Lamb
Shining, TheStephen King
Shipping News, TheE. Annie Proulx
ShirleyCharlotte Brontë
Shoemaker’s Wife, TheAdriana Trigiani
Short History of Nearly Everything, ABill Bryson
SiddharthaHermann Hesse
Sign of the Beaver, TheElizabeth George Speare
Sign of the Four, TheArthur Conan Doyle
Silas MarnerGeorge Eliot
Sing, Unburied, SingJesmyn Ward
Singing Tree, TheKate Seredy
Sir Gawain and the Green KnightSimon Armitage
Sister OutsiderAudre Lorde
Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, TheAnn Brashares
Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut
Slouching Towards BethlehemJoan Didion
Small IslandAndrea Levy
Snow Child, TheEowyn Ivey
Snow CrashNeal Stephenson
Snow Flower and the Secret FanLisa See
So Long a LetterMariama Bâ
Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, TheMadeline Miller
Songs of the Humpback WhaleJodi Picoult
Sons and LoversD.H. Lawrence
Sophie’s ChoiceStephen King
Sound and the Fury, TheLeslie Feinberg
Sparrow, TheMary Doria Russell
SpeakLaurie Halse Anderson
Speaker for the DeadOrson Scott Card
Spy Who Came in From the Cold, TheJohn Le Carré
Stand, TheStephen King
StargirlJerry Spinelli
Station ElevenEmily St John Mandel
Still AliceLisa Genova
Stone Butch BluesLeslie Feinberg
Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, TheGabrielle Zevin
Story of My Life, TheHelen Keller
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, TheRobert Louis Stevenson
Stranger, The (L’étranger)Albert Camus
Streetcar Named Desire, ATennessee Williams
Stuart LittleE.B. White
Study in Scarlet, AArthur Conan Doyle
Suitable Boy, AVikram Seth
Summer Book, TheTove Jansson
Sun Also Rises, TheErnest Hemingway
Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, ADavid Foster Wallace
Swallows and AmazonsArthur Ransome
SwamplandiaKaren Russell
Swann’s WayMarcel Proust
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, TheAlan Bradley
Swiss Family Robinson, TheJohann David Wyss
Sympathizer, TheViet Thanh Nguyen
Tale for the Time Being, ARuth Ozeki
Tale of Genji, TheMurasaki Shikibu
Tale of Two Cities, ACharles Dickens
Talented Mr. Ripley, ThePatricia Highsmith
Tales of the CityArmistead Maupin
Taming of the Shrew, TheWilliam Shakespeare
Tempest, TheWilliam Shakespeare
Ten Thousand Doors of January, TheAlix E. Harrow
Tenant of Wildfell Hall, TheAnne Brontë
Tender Is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald
TendernessRobert Cormier
Tess of the D’urbervillesThomas Hardy
Thank You, JeevesP.G. Wodehouse
The ChosenChaim Potok
The Complete StoriesFlannery O’Connor
Theban Plays, TheSophocles
Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston
There ThereTommy Orange
Things Fall ApartChinua Achebe
Things They Carried, TheTim O’Brien
Thirteen Reasons WhyJay Asher
Thirteenth Tale, TheDiane Setterfield
This Is How You Lose the Time WarAmal El-Mohtar
This Side of ParadiseF. Scott Fitzgerald
Thorn Birds, TheColleen McCullough
Thousand Acres, AJane Smiley
Thousand Splendid Suns, AKhaled Hosseini
Three Musketeers, TheAlexandre Dumas
Throne of the Crescent MoonSaladin Ahmed
Through the Looking GlassLewis Carroll
Through the Looking GlassLewis Carroll
Time Machine, TheH.G. Wells
Time to Kill, AJohn Grisham
Time Traveler’s Wife, TheAudrey Niffenegger
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyJohn Le Carré
Tipping Point, TheMalcom Gladwell
Tipping the VelvetSarah Waters
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee
To the LighthouseVirginia Woolf
Tobacco RoadErskine Caldwell
Tortilla FlatJohn Steinbeck
Town Like Alice, ANevil Shute
Treasure IslandRobert Louis Stevenson
Tree Grows in Brooklyn, ABetty Smith
Trial and Death of Socrates, TheSocrates
Trial, TheFranz Kafka
Tristram ShandyLaurence Sterne
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, TheAvi
Trumpet of the Swan, TheE.B. White
Tuck EverlastingNatalie Babbitt
Tuesdays With MorrieMitch Albom
Turn of the Screw, TheHenry James
Twelve Tribes of Hattie, TheAyana Mathis
Twelve Years a SlaveSolomon Northup
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaJules Verne
TwilightStephenie Meyer
UlyssesJames Joyce
Unbearable Lightness of Being, TheMilan Kundera
UnbrokenLaura Hillenbrand
Uncle Tom’s CabinHarriet Beecher Stowe
Under the Udala TreesChinelo Okparanta
Under the VolcanoMalcom Lowry
Underground Railroad, TheColson Whitehead
UnderworldDon Delillo
Undress Me in the Temple of HeavenSusan Jane Gilman
Universe in a Single Atom, TheDalai Lama
UprootedNaomi Novik
UtopiaThomas More
Valley of Fear, TheArthur Conan Doyle
Valley of the DollsJacqueline Susann
Vanity FairWilliam Thackeray
Vegetarian, TheHan Kang
Velveteen Rabbit, TheMargery Williams
Vendor of Sweets, TheR.K. Narayan
VilletteCharlotte Bronte
Virgin Suicides, TheJeffrey Eugenides
Visit From the Goon Squad, AJennifer Egan
Volcano Lover, TheSusan Sontag
Waiting for GodotSamuel Beckett
Waiting for the BarbariansJ. M. Coetzee
WaldenHenry David Thoreau
Walk in the Woods, ABill Bryson
War and PeaceLeo Tolstoy
War and PeaceLeo Tolstoy
Warmth of Other Suns, TheIsabel Wilkerson
Waste Land and Other Poems, TheT. S. Eliot
WatchersDean Koontz
WatchmenAlan Moore & Dave Gibbons
Water for ElephantsSara Gruen
Water-Babies, TheCharles Kingsley
Watership DownRichard Adams
Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, TheChristopher Paul Curtis
Waves, TheVirginia Woolf
Way We Live Now, TheAnthony Trollope
We Have Always Lived in the CastleShirley Jackson
We Need to Talk About KevinLionel Shriver
Wedding Date, TheJasmine Guillory
Wedding, TheDorothy West
Weight of Water, TheAnita Shreve
Westing Game, TheEllen Raskin
What Maisie KnewHenry James
What We Talk About When We Talk About LoveRaymond Carver
When Breath Becomes AirPaul Kalanithi
When We Were OrphansKazuo Ishiguro
When We Were Very YoungA. A. Milne
When You Reach MeRebecca Stead
Where the Red Fern GrowsWilson Rawls
Where’d You Go, BernadetteMaria Semple
White NoiseDon DeLillo
White TeethZadie Smith
White Tiger, TheAravind Adiga
Who Was Changed and Who Was DeadBarbara Comyns
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Edward Albee
Whose Body?Dorothy L. Sayers
WickedGregory Maguire
Wide Sargasso SeaJean Rhys
Wild Sheep Chase, AHaruki Murakami
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of ChinaJung Chang
Wind in the Willows, TheKenneth Grahame
Wind Up Bird Chronicle, TheHaruki Murakami
Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson
Winnie-The-PoohA. A. Milne
Winter Sea, TheThe Slains #1
Witch of Blackbird Pond, TheElizabeth George Spear
Witches, TheRoald Dahl
Wittgenstein’s MistressDavid Markson
Wives and DaughtersElizabeth Gaskell
Wizard of Earthsea, AUrsula K. LeGuin
Wolf HallHilary Mantel
Woman in the Dunes, TheKobo Abe
Woman in White, TheWilkie Collins
Woman Warrior, TheMaxine Wong Kingston
Women in LoveD.H. Lawrence
Women of Brewster Place, TheGloria Naylor
WonderR.J. Palacio
Wonderful Wizard of Oz, TheL. Frank Baum
World According to Garp, TheJohn Irving
World War ZMax Brooks
Wrath and the Dawn, TheRenee Ahdieh
Wrinkle in Time, AMadeleine L’engle
Wuthering HeightsEmily Brontë
XenocideOrson Scott Card
Year of Magical Thinking, TheJoan Didion
Yellow Wallpaper, TheCharlotte Perkins Gilman
Yes PleaseAmy Poehler
Yiddish Policemen’s Union, TheMichael Chabon
Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, TheAnton DiSclafani
You Shall Know Our VelocityDave Eggers
Zami: A New Spelling of My NameAudre Lorde
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceRobert Pirsig
Zlata’s DiaryZlata Filipović
ZorroIsabel Allende

The Old Wolf has Spoken

Please be very careful with promoted posts on Facebook

Edit: Went back to check and as of 4/29/2021, the “wewinns” shop was nowhere to be seen.

Vanished into the mist

For “promoted post,” read “advertisement.”

I’m using as an example one that showed up in my newsfeed yesterday, from a company which calls itself “wewinns.”

They are offering a complete date set of Morgan silver dollars for $199.99 (reduced from $699.99!)

Beautiful, right? The Morgan really is a gorgeous piece, especially in uncirculated condition. Notice the first description:

Morgan Silver Dollars are an excellent way to own a piece of history, while concurrently investing in the physical precious metal silver.  Morgan Silver Dollars are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper.  They weigh 26.73 grams.  This equates to approximately .7734 Troy ounces of silver and approximately .1 ounce of copper per coin. Uncirculated collectible coins.

Next, we have coin highlights:

Coin Highlights:

Arrives inside of a protective plastic slab courtesy of the NGC or PCGS!

Struck from 1878 to 1904!
• Contains .77344 Troy oz of actual silver content.
• Bears a face value of $1 (USD) backed by the federal government.
Issued a Grade of Mint State 66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
• Obverse features the effigy of Liberty.
• Reverse includes the American bald eagle.

When I was a kid, collecting coins was much less complex. Coin grades were:

  • Cull
  • Fair (F)
  • Good (G)
  • Very Good (VG)
  • Fine (F)
  • Very Fine (VF)
  • Extra Fine (XF)
  • Almost Uncirculated (AU)
  • Uncirculated (Unc)
  • Brilliant Uncirculated (BU)
  • Proof (P)

“Cull” was a damaged coin with no value, and “Proof” – as today – are specially-created strikes for collector. In between, coins were graded largely based on the subjective opinions of countless coin dealers.

Now, things are a lot more complicated, but a lot more formalized. The PCGS that this advertisement invokes has a very detailed designation and a numerical grading system by which coins are qualified. According to their website, MS66 is defined as “Well struck with a few marks or hairlines not in focal areas.” In other words, a pretty, uncirculated coin.

The next statement from the “wewinns” website reiterates the condition of the coins you will supposedly get:

Each of the Morgan Silver Dollar Coins offered by us in this product listing is available to you in Mint State 66 condition from either the PCGS or NGC. Coins in Mint State 66 condition are five grades below the perfect grade of 70 on the Sheldon numeric scale. A coin with an MS66 certification has minimal, but apparent, detracting marks or hairlines.

Following more generic information about Morgan dollars, the sales website goes on to say:

In this product listing, we guarantee you a Mint State 66 condition Morgan Silver Dollar.

Now things get interesting. After some more description of the beauty and rarity of the Morgan dollars, we see this:

Each Morgan Silver Dollar is presented in circulated condition with most major design details visible, and is protected in an archival crystal-clear case that allows for easy and safe viewing of both sides.

“Most major design details visible.” To me, that sounds like an F-12: “About half of detail now worn flat. All lettering remains visible.”

But then in the next bit, we go right back to the shiny new coins you thing you’ll be getting:

Year: 1878 to 1921
Grade: Choice BU
Strike Type: Business
Denomination: $1.00
Mint Location: “S” – San Francisco
Metal Content: 0.7734 troy oz
Purity: .900
Manufacturer: US Mint
Thickness: 3.1 mm
Diameter: 38.1 mm

I have no idea what “Strike type: business” means, unless it just implies general circulation coins and not a proof.

I was curious enough to click the “Contact Us” link on the bottom of the page:

Email:[support@wewinns.com]
Phone: +86 181 2462 2758

Is anyone suprised that country code 86 is China? My email to the support staff read as follows:

I am interested in your offer, but I am confused.
Your ad says the following things:
“Uncirculated collectible coins.”
“Issued a Grade of Mint State 66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.”
“Each of the Morgan Silver Dollar Coins offered by us in this product listing is available to you in Mint State 66 condition from either the PCGS or NGC.”
“In this product listing, we guarantee you a Mint State 66 condition Morgan Silver Dollar.”
“Each Morgan Silver Dollar is presented in circulated condition with most major design details visible.”
“Grade: Choice BU”
So, are these coins that you are offering uncirculated, with a grade of 66, or are they circulated and in generally poor condition? You are aware, are you not, that a full set of Morgan dollars in grade 66 typically sells for over $125,000?
I look forward to your speedy response.

But I will be surprised if there is any response at all. [Edit: there was not] If you get anything at all from this outfit, I’m pretty safe in thinking it will be a collection of very poor-quality coins, and that their website will be gone – only to resurface the next day with a different name.

Now I won’t go so far as to say that every advertisement promoted by Facebook is painfully deceptive or outright dishonestly false… but in my experience, a vast preponderance of them are just that, and a large percentage of them come from China. And Facebook continues to happily take their advertising dollars, and countless people are defrauded by unscrupulous enterprises.

It is worth noticing that the current PCGS quoted price for a complete date set of Morgan dollars in MS-66 condition is $165,605.00, and a complete date set in F-12 condition (Fair) is quoted at $1,272.00.

At one point, the Danbury Mint was offering a 28-coin date set for $2,238.60, but that was a limited-time offer and is sold out. [While Danbury is a legitimate company, please be aware that – like the Franklin Mint and other specialty “Mints” – what they sell is fairly overpriced and unsuitable for investment, but they do have pretty things. Just expect that you or your heirs will probably not even recoup what you paid for them if they ever try to sell.]

So heaven only knows what you might get if you drop $200.00 into this Chinese bank account; most likely a bunch of counterfeit coins, or nothing at all.

Be very careful with these ads. Discuss this with vulnerable loved ones, particularly the elderly who might be more susceptible to greasy advertising techniques like this.

Edit: Another, very similar ad page is found at
https://www.silver-ccoins.com/products/1878-1921-morgan-dollar-silver-coin-lx-1, and it uses almost identical wording, with a lot of additional promotional fluff added. The company behind this one is Vankin Co. Ltd. in London. Beware.

Edit 2: This report focuses on an individual who was conned into buying counterfeit silver dollars (made of steel); the report ends by indicating that these bogus dollars were likely mass-produced in China. One more red flag that this particular deal and ones like it should be run away from at great speed.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

You want to do *what* to that duck?

Warning: NSFW Language

In an earlier post, I offered up an explanation (by smarter people than I) of how a sign in a Chinese hotel offered “smallpox” as an option for guests.

This one popped up in a feed somewhere today, and though I had seen it before I never took the time to find out how such an awful translation could have taken place.

In traditional Chinese, “乾爆鴨子” (gān bào yāzi) means dry fried duck, or duck cooked in very little oil which causes the skin to pop and crackle more than usual.

When written in simplified Chinese characters used in the People’s Republic of China, this becomes 干爆鸭子, pronounced the same way.

However, simplified Chinese often reduced more than one character in traditional writing to the same character, hence 干 (gān) means “to interfere, to concern,” 乾 (gān) means “dry” as in dried food, and 幹 (or 榦) (gàn) means “tree trunk, capable, to do.” In simplified characters, all of these are written 干, and there are many, many other meanings of gān or gàn as well.

The last character also means something entirely different, as in the phrase “I’d love to do him/her.”

For some odd reason, this last meaning was very popular with a poorly-designed automated translator:

“Notoriously, the 2002 edition of the widespread Jinshan Ciba Chinese-to-English dictionary for the Jinshan Kuaiyi translation software rendered every occurrence of 干 as “fuck”, resulting in a large number of signs with irritating English translations throughout China, often mistranslating 乾 (gān) “dried” as in 干果 “dried fruit” in supermarkets as “fuck the fruits” or similar.

(Wikipedia, “Radical 51”)

The software was later corrected, but the embarrassing results are still seen in many places, as China seems heavily dependent on machine translation.

Amazing to me is that companies don’t understand the importance of using professional translators when dealing with other countries, at least if they want to be taken seriously.

老狼說話了。

The “Lonely Hearts” scam

Messages like this may pop up in your Facebook messenger feed, or on any other social media channel. People who are lonely might actually respond, in which case they will be groomed for personal information or asked for money once a “relationship” is established.

Hallmarks of this particular scam are bad grammar and formatting, flattery, and requests for assistance.

These are not people looking for love, they are scammers and criminals. They want your money or your personal information. Shun them. Delete their messages. Never answer.

A more detailed explanation of this type of scam can be found at Pathways Financial Credit Union.

HELLO DEAR.
My name is Miss Marvis Gaasu.
I am glad to meet you here; Please, write me in this email id.(obfuscated@yahoo.com).
It very important.i wait your reply fast,Or you send me your email address,i will send you my photos and details your email address. Thanks.

If you respond, those photos they send you will most likely be stock pictures lifted from the internet.

Hello dear friend i am Kate Brown by name,i am interested to be your true friend.please I will like you to reply me with my email (katebrown4@yahoo.com ) so that i can send you my own information for us to know each other very well. Thanks bye. obfuscated@yahoo.com ❤ ❤

Interesting that all these scammers are using yahoo addresses. That’s another red flag.

Hello new friend,
greeting to you. How was your days and health? Hope all is well with you. My name is Miss Favour Mercy, I am a female. I am interested in you after going through your profile on facebook, and i decided to contact you. I would like to get acquaint with you, As well to know you better. Please write me back through this email address: (obfuscated@yahoo .com) so that i can send you my picture and let you know more about me. Write me on my email address, because i do not use facebook very often, If you contact me on facebook, you may not probably get any reply from me. I am eager to hear from you soonest! Thanks for your answer: Yours new friend Miss Favour Mercy.

If you contact the scammer on Facebook, it’s very likely that their profile has already been deleted as being fraudulent.

Protect your vulnerable loved ones from this sort of thermonuclear douchebaggery.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Enjoy your eternity, Scammers.

Lessons from a Danish Hearing

We could learn from other nations… if we were willing to listen. It seems that’s what a “hearing” is supposed to be about.

The following text is from a Twitter thread written by Michael Grunwald (@MichaelGrunwald), and I thought it was important enough to share here in a more readable format. I originally saw it posted on Imgur and then a friend of mine on Facebook shared the same link with me. If something shows up a few times in succession in my life, I take it as a sign that it’s worth looking at, and this one definitely is.


I went to an obscure hearing today in the Danish Parliament. It blew my mind, not because of the substance, but because the US Congress has totally warped my view of hearings. And I’m just dorky enough to do a thread about it.

First of all, there was a dais in the hearing room, just like any congressional hearing, except the politicians weren’t on the dais. The six experts who were testifying were on the dais. Can you imagine? As if the hearing was about them and not the politicians?

The politicians were sitting in the front row of the audience. They all stayed in their seats for the entire hearing. And do you know what they did? They listened! I was in the second row and I didn’t see any of them look at a phone or talk to an aide at any time.

Actually, there was one politician on stage, the committee chair. She welcomed everyone, told the witnesses they would each have 10 minutes, then didn’t say anything until one witness asked for an extra minute. She said no. I swooned. ❤

Oh, did I mention this obscure hearing was simultaneously translated into English? They gave me cool high-tech headphones. I think everyone else in the audience spoke Danish but they take this stuff seriously.

Anyway, when the witnesses were done the politicians got their turn to speak. And none of them made speeches! They asked questions! Not leading questions designed to make a point. Thoughtful questions designed to get information!

This part really got me: The pols had to ask all their questions first, which took maybe 5 minutes, and then all the witnesses got to answer all of them, which took 20 minutes. The experts did the talking and the pols did the hearing. Is that how these things got their name?

I couldn’t tell which pols were in which party or what biases any of them had about the topic being discussed. It really seemed like they were there to learn. And by the end it was clear they had.

This thread is really about process, not substance, but I will say the topic was related to climate change, and everyone there took it seriously. One legislator told me only 4 or 5 of her 178 colleagues are deniers.

Anyway, the weirdest thing about this mostly banal experience was how weird it seemed. The lack of speechifying, grandstanding, partisanship or fake umbrage. How seriously they all took their responsibilities. The absence of bullshit.

In conclusion, we suck. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded how much we suck, and how it’s possible to suck less.

A Twitter thread by @MikeGrundwald.

I agree with every single word of this mini-essay, but I would like to add a bit of my own additional perspective on Mr. Grunwald’s conclusion.

  • As a nation, we don’t suck. Despite the fact that over the last 50 years or so we have lost our way in some areas and owe it to ourselves and to our global neighbors to improve¹, there are a lot of things that America has gotten right since its inception.
  • Our Constitution is unmatched in the history of the world. In 1835, French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville toured America with a view to seeing if our democracy was worth of emulation by the French. In his book Democracy in America, he declared that our Constitution was “the most perfect federal constitution that ever existed,” but also warned that it would be “profitless in other hands.” In other words, the guarantees and protections and checks and balances written into our Constitution only work if the people desire democracy; any piece of parchment can be trodden down by the feet of a lawless mob.
  • We are still a welcoming nation. The growing xenophobic right-wing movement in our country still accounts for a minority of our population, and most people understand that America has always been a nation of immigrants. It is the exquisite blending and adapting of countless cultures that makes the United States a vibrant, thriving place.
  • The citizens of our country are, in the grand scheme of things, a very giving people. In many parts of the country – even those who tend to be politically conservative – people will reach out to neighbors and even strangers and literally give them the shirt off their backs. As the song Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival says, “If you come down to the river, Bet you gonna find some people who live; You don’t have to worry cause you have no money, People on the river are happy to give.”
  • Bagels. Blueberries. Hot dogs. Pizza. Jazz. Lobster rolls. NASA. Our National parks. Rolling plains and prairies, purple mountain majesties, redwood forests, beaches, fireflies, public libraries, road trips (at least, when there’s not a pandemic going on), Jewish deli sandwiches, Hollywood, Broadway, musea, and countless other things that make me grateful to be a citizen of this nation.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes

¹ The things that need work in our country (areas in which we do suck) are also many, but they are subjects for other discussions. In the meantime, this is something good to remember as we contemplate ways to make our country better:

A new day dawns in America

For the first time in over five years, I awoke this morning without a crushing sense of dread to read the news and find out what indignities our former administration had inflicted upon our country and upon the world. It was a literal sense of physical relief, and I still revel in it as I write this.

Over the last half-decade, political cartoonists have had a literal heyday. Never in my life has there been a president or an administration that was more thoroughly or more deservedly pilloried. If anyone wanted to anthologize all the cartoons that were done about the Orange Screechweasel and his abortive presidency, I suspect it would look like this (Volume 1): ¹

I collected a few of these over the years, more as a pressure valve than anything else and to reassure myself that it was not just me that felt these things, but I think the one that impacted me the most was this one that appeared on the morning after the 2016 election:

David Rowe of the Australian Financial Review

The eyes said it all. And although Mr. Rowe caught a lot of flak from American Trump Cultists among others, here on the morning of January 21, 2021, when the White House is occupied by President Joseph Biden, Jr., and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and a fresh, clean breeze of hope is blowing over our nation for the first time in far too long, it becomes clear that – as the saying goes – we had no idea. Mr. Rowe’s cartoon was spot-on, but dramatically understated. The horror would be far worse than anything any of us could have imagined.

There are a handful of online comics that I follow, less than a dozen and far fewer than in days past (I was always a fan of the daily funnies from my earliest days of reading The Herald Tribune in New York City), and one of the is “The New Adventures of Queen Victoria” by Pab Sungenis. The writer’s political satire has always been a favorite of mine, but the last two days of his strip pretty much say it all:

We survived. Sadly, some 400,000 of us did not – and counting – and while not all of those deaths from the Novel Coronavirus could have been avoided, a significant percentage could have been had there been functioning adults in the White House.

Well, now there are. And while no administration of either party is perfect, I feel more hope for the future now than even I did with the election of Barack Obama, whose campaign slogan was Hope and Change. He began the trend, and with this unwanted and hideous interlude behind us, I look forward to the reparation of as much damage as possible and forward motion to a nation that works for all of us, with no one left out, and a nation that can re-assume its position at the global table as a functioning, adult equal.

The inauguration yesterday morning was breathtaking in its honesty, in its beauty, and in its hopefulness. I literally wept tears of joy and release as I listened to the speeches, the poetry, and the music. It was exhilarating and cathartic.

May the 46th Administration of our great but suffering nation bring healing and progress. May we undertake effective new steps to protect our populace from the depredations of the current pandemics, one of a new and relatively unknown virus, and a second of ignorance and brainwashing by 50 years of spite and disinformation.

Our nation awakens to a fresh, new morning of hope. May we see that hope fulfilled more abundantly than our previous fears were.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes:

¹ Not to mention all the wonderful video parodies by people such as Randy Rainbow, late-night segments by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and so many like them, and serious critical essays by the likes of John Pavlovitz, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, Jim Wright, and countless others. Just had to add this because they shouldn’t be forgotten.

No, I haven’t been hacked

My last post (The Cat Scan) was just an entry in my personal journal that I put there for my own future reference. I password-protected it because “too much information” that would not be interesting for anyone but me.

My blog’s integrity has not been compromised.

-Wolfington X. Analemma

The Great Barrington Crime Against Humanity

I just saw something come across my newsfeed about the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a document which essentially recommends against any Covid-19 protections, like social distancing and wearing masks, and promotes the development of herd immunity by exposing less-vulnerable people through living normal lives.

But consider this, from Wikipedia (emphasis mine.)


The World Health Organization and numerous academic and public-health bodies have stated that the proposed strategy is dangerous, unethical, and lacks a sound scientific basis.

They say that it would be impossible to shield all those who are medically vulnerable, leading to a large number of avoidable deaths among both older people and younger people with underlying health conditions, and they warn that the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still not fully understood. Moreover, they say that the herd immunity component of the proposed strategy is undermined by the limited duration of post-infection immunity. The more likely outcome, they say, would be recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination. The American Public Health Association and 13 other public-health groups in the United States warned in a joint open letter that the Great Barrington Declaration “is not a strategy, it is a political statement. It ignores sound public health expertise. It preys on a frustrated populace. Instead of selling false hope that will predictably backfire, we must focus on how to manage this pandemic in a safe, responsible, and equitable way.”

The Great Barrington Declaration was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.

The costs were paid for by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank that is part of a Koch-funded network of organizations associated with climate change denial.


These social inconveniences – and that’s what they are, not oppressive, draconian measures – are admittedly not fun. It is a pain not to see people’s smiling faces. It is difficult to not go places we want to go, see people we want to see, travel to other cities or countries, gather in restaurants and bars for fun and celebrations, enjoy blockbuster movies in theaters, see Broadway plays, be at the side of loved ones who are going through difficult times, attend weddings and Bat Mitzvahs and funerals and Christmas parties and all the things we used to take for granted. Yes, it’s a massive pain in the tuchus.

But it’s the only way we will continue to fight the spread of this very evil, very nasty virus that kills across all spectra and leaves countless others with reduced quality of life forever, until the healthcare researchers can understand this virus and develop effective treatments and viable vaccines.

If you have never worn a mask in public because you think the government is oppressing you, or that the liberal left is promulgating a hoax, and you’re exercising your rights as a free American, or something else equally inane, you’re not a patriot. You’re an asshole. You may be maiming or killing people. And you need to go home and re-examine your life.

This restaurant in Las Vegas has the right idea:

The supposed “FTBA Mask Exemption Cards” are bogus and carry no legal or social weight of authority. If someone gives you one of them, give them back one of these:

For the love of all that’s holy; for the sake of decency and caring about your own health and that of your fellow humans around you, wear a mask and practice social distancing until this pandemic is under control and treatments and vaccines are available.

The Old Wolf has Spoken.

The Italian Feasts of New York City

The New York City I grew up in is gone. It has been replaced by a new city, different in many ways and with ongoing challenges, but not without an endless variety of vibrant neighborhoods and ethnic influences.

But I have to say that I deeply miss what “Little Italy” once was. It was the home of my ancestors, two wanderers from Italy who came alone from Calabria and Tuscany, met in the Big Apple, and raised a respectable family on the basis of hard work, faith, and thrift. And the Italian enclave of New York was a perfect place for them to live the American Dream.

Mulberry Street in 1900, Colorized. This is about the time my grandparents arrived from Italy.
Little Italy in 1962

The neighborhood as I knew it was busy and vibrant, full of local bakeries, pizzerias, streetside stalls, cigar stores, candy stores, stationery stores, butcher shops, and anything and everything a thriving community transplanted from the “old country” would need or want. But even then, the slow downward slide toward gentrification had begun.

Anyone who has seen “The Godfather, Part II” is familiar with the street festival during which Vito Corleone assassinates Don Fanucci. This is a portrayal based on the Festa di San Gennaro (The Feast of St. Januarius) which was brought to New York by immigrants from Naples in 1926 as a continuation of the celebration of their patron Saint. Originally a one-day celebration, the Festa continues to this day as an 11-day extravaganza (except in 2020, when it was cancelled due to the Covid outbreak); activities include Italian street food, sausages, zeppole (fried dessert balls otherwise known as “Italian doughnuts”), games of chance (often dishonest¹), music, cannoli-eating contests, vendors, parades, and the grand procession honoring the patron saint – the tradition of attaching money to the statue continues, with the funds designated to be used for the poor. In the past it has been a major tourist attraction, and hopefully it will be once again when the pandemic madness has passed.

The Feast of San Gennaro

But known to fewer people is the fact that there was a second Festa which took place along Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village during the ’60s: The Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony’s was established in 1859 as the first parish in the United States formed specifically to serve the Italian immigrant community. (Wikipedia)

St. Anthony’s Church

I know of this because the celebration happened right under my window when I was living right on the corner of Prince and Sullivan, at 186 Prince Street.

186 Prince Street, seen in 2009

Saint Anthony’s feast was not as big and grandiose as the one for San Gennaro, but it was more intimate and more homey. The noise and the ruckus and the celebration would last far into the night, and the sounds and the smells of Italian food was tantalizing.

Feast of St. Anthony, 1960s

Even kids got into the act. It was not uncommon to see a number of boys sitting along the street inviting others to play the “shot glass” game, in which pennies were dropped into a slot at the top of a large jar of water, with the aim of getting them into a shot glass at the bottom. Winners collected 10¢; those who had the knack of holding the coin by its edge and giving it a spin straight down could usually clean out their competition in short order, while others simply watched their coins gently float down to land outside the sweet spot.

Shot Glass in the Bottle Game

Sadly the festival for St. Anthony has largely died out; efforts have been made to revive it, but due to the changing demographics of the Village and the reduction of Little Italy to a shadow of its former self, interest has waned and there has not been enough social momentum to bring it back to its former glory.

The St. Anthony Procession in 2015

From what I am told, Italian festivals continue to be a big deal in other cities such as Boston, but these were the ones that I knew, and I miss them

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes

¹ I say this from personal experience. One game involved a long track in front of the stand, in which a shiny metal car was pushed; it would bounce back and forth between springs at each end (kind of a flat variation of the “wheel of chance”) and a pointer on the car would land in a given zone when it stopped. The very small center zone was highlighted for a major prize; others were smaller prizes or nothing. I gave it a shot (probably 25¢ a play) and watched the car land dead center in the grand prize. That was before the ride operator gave it a shove with her hand, which I saw very clearly. I walked away with a set of colored glasses which I gave to my mother, but I should have won something much better – can’t remember what it would have been. I was only 12 at the time and complaining would have done no good.