The novel's opening:
Not all madmen are prophets, but all prophets are mad.
The prophet strode out of the desert. This has happened before.
It happened this time out near Lancaster, sixty miles north of Los Angeles.
Another bit, later:
FatSam stood twenty-three feet from the hoop, being guarded by his six year old son. Connor stood with his hands up, patiently waiting for FatSam to shoot. The score was 8 to 2, Connor leading: game at 11. Scoring was by ones. Connor got a point for hitting the net, two points for hitting the rim, and three points for making a basket. FatSam wasn't allowed to guard Connor and Connor couldn't guard FatSam.
FatSam got a point for every made shot behind the three point line.
FatSam hit three shots in a row. "8 to 5," said FatSam. "Daddy's catching up."
"Miss!" yelled Connor at FatSam's next shot. The shot barely touched the net on its way through. "Darn," said Connor. He got the ball and threw it to FatSam.
"8 to 6," said FatSam.
"OOOwaaaga!" Connor yelled at FatSam's next shot. The ball dropped through the net without hitting the rim.
"8 to 7," said FatSam. "You can yell whatever you want to, Daddy doesn't miss shots because of what other people have to say. Daddy doesn't miss much at all ..."
Connor trudged over to get the ball. He walked it back to FatSam. He stood in front of FatSam, glaring at him. He threw him the ball. "You're checked."
FatSam grinned at him. "Ok." He brought the ball up ....
"CELTICS!" Connor yelled.
The shot missed the rim by two feet. Connor ran to the ball, grabbed it and ran to the top of the key. "Check me." FatSam threw Connor the ball, and Connor drove to the rim and threw the ball up with both hands. It hung on the edge of the rim for a second and dropped through.
Connor yelled "Woohooo! I beat Sam! I beat Sam!" He ran off the court, toward his mother. "Mama, I beat Sam 11 to 7!"
Richard got up off the bench at the side of the court, strolled over to the ball, and picked it up. He took up position five feet from the top of the key and threw the ball to FatSam. "Airball. Check me." He snickered. "He said Celtics."
The best cheeseburger in Los Angeles is not at Burger 90210, and it's not at Philly West.
I heard raves about both burgers, and I went out of my way to try them. Burger 90210 is in downtown Beverly Hills -- I ordered chili, a burger, and a beer. The chili was superb but the burger was surprisingly average, despite being made with fresh, quality ingredients. Crisp lettuce, weirdly tasteless tomatoes, and almost perfectly tasteless beef. Pretty sure they cooked it without salt or any other seasoning.
They toasted the bun on a panini grill, which was a nice touch. Still gets only a 6, though you could do worse as a place to get a bowl of chili in Beverly Hills.
Philly West I ate at on the way home tonight -- a Philly steak sandwich joint principally, and they might do a good job with that -- but the burger was sub-par and the chili was worse. The beef was somewhere below mediocre, and it was served on a good role with a little mayo, swiss cheese, pretty good tomatoes, OK lettuce. The chili tasted burnt.
A 4 on the burger.
I had a single beer in Philly West -- came out, walked over to my car, and a blonde girl in a too short white skirt walked by wearing little cowboy boots. I can tell you she was wearing a blue thong, too --
I looked up from her and a cop was sitting in his LAPD squad car, looking at me. "Having trouble opening your door? Had a little to drink?"
"I had a beer." I looked down at my key -- it was two inches off the lock. I gestured at the girl. "I was looking at her."
The cop peered after her. "Oh." He never looked back at me. "Carry on," he said, and drove off in her direction.