Tag Archives: Sally Carpenter

Warren Farmington and Observations on his Brother by Sally Carpenter

The Quirky Quiz Show CaperMy brother’s fame is the family curse. We’re a well-respected, talented family and never suffered any bad publicity until Ernest went his own way.

Opal Farmington, our mother, sang with a number of renown big bands before she married. Stanford Farmington, our father, is the founder, conductor and artistic director for the Golden Wing Philharmonic, a small but distinguished orchestra in Southern California. Our sister, Celeste, wrote and recorded two critically acclaimed albums in the 1960s.

As for myself, Warren Farmington, after I earned my doctorate, I took a position at Oak Crest College, a small, liberal arts school. As a tenured professor I carry a full teaching load, serve on several committees, oversee the senior recitals for the keyboard majors, and will probably eventually chair the music department.

I also serve as the house organist for the Terpsichore Theatre in Van Nuys, where I play the Wurlitzer for the Saturday matinee film series and other occasions. I married my college sweetheart and we have three beautiful children. We Farmingtons work hard, stay out of trouble, and enjoy a quiet life.

And then there’s my brother, Ernest.

We all expected Ernest to follow in father’s footsteps and eventually take over the philharmonic. I should have seen the early signs that he’d become the prodigal son. As kids, we were naturally competitive. However, Ernest never seemed to make the mark. His failures shamed him and my successes irked him. As a kid he had a wild side, taking risks and doing dangerous stunts like riding his bike in busy traffic with his eyes closed just for a thrill.

After his freshman year in college, Ernest dropped out of school and joined a rock and roll band. Father was appalled. Next thing I know, I’m in the supermarket and every magazine on the rack had my brother’s mug plastered on the cover—but not his name. No, the big teen idol changed his name to Sandy Fairfax. He was too important to be a Farmington anymore.

I was still in school at the time and the kids teased me endlessly about my brother and the stupid TV show he appeared in. The girls cozied up to me in hopes I’d get them a date with him (didn’t work). By then my brother was too busy living the high life to spend time with his family, so I rarely saw him.

It didn’t stop when I began teaching. On the first day of class, when I wanted to review the syllabus, the students peppered me with questions about the great Sandy Fairfax. I never mentioned our relationship but somehow the kids always found out.

And if you’re followed the news or read the tabloids, you know the rest of the story, how Ernest became a drunk, divorced, ended up in jail, and slept with more women than I’ve had hot meals. With his bad press, it’s a wonder my parents could hold their heads up in public.

Now Ernest has decided he wants to be part of the family again, just when we’d adapted to him being away. He claims he’s clean and sober, and I haven’t seen him take a drink lately, at least when I’ve been with him. He had a new girlfriend too. She seems nice enough but we’ll see how long that lasts.

I have to admit Ernest helped me in a huge way. Someone framed me for the murder of one of my college students. The police picked me as their prime suspect but Ernest found the clues that identified the killer, and he almost lost his life in clearing my name. You can read about this in the new cozy mystery, “The Quirky Quiz Show Caper.”

So I suppose Ernest isn’t such a bad guy after all. After all, he’s my brother.


The Quirky Quiz Show Caper is the fourth book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol mystery series, published by Cozy Cat Press, March 2016.

Former teen idol Sandy Fairfax is a guest panelist on a TV game show—and the first category is murder! When his kid brother, Warren, is framed for killing a college student, Sandy makes it his duty to track down the thug before the police move in. After all, Sandy did play a detective once on a hit TV show. Sandy will get right on the case—right after he visits his kids; fights with his ex; woos his hoped-to-be girlfriend, Cinnamon; and convinces his parents he should be the special entertainment at a black tie gala designed to raise funds for his father’s faltering orchestra. All this while he and his biggest fan attempt to “Raise The Stakes” on a rigged quiz show where––wonder of wonders––the murder victim had recently been a contestant. Sandy’s ready to pull out some of his long blond hair as the game points and the suspects pile up.

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About the author
Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif. She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do. She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.

In the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol cozy series are: The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper (2012 Eureka! Award finalist), The Sinister Sitcom Caper, The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper and The Quirky Quiz Show Caper. She has short stories in two anthologies: “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in” in “Last Exit to Murder” and “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” in “Plan B: Omnibus.” She penned chapter three of “Chasing the Codex,” a group mystery written by 34 authors with Cozy Cat Press.” She blogs at sandyfairfaxauthor.com and Ladies of Mystery. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles. Reach her at Facebook or mailto:scwriter@earthlink.net

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Quirky Quiz Show Caper. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end July 19, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

Meet Celeste Farmington by Sally Carpenter

The Cunning Cruise Ship CaperYou’ve never heard of me, Celeste Farmington, but you know my big brother Sandy Fairfax, that popular teen idol of the ‘70s and star of the TV show “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth.” At least that’s the handle he goes by. His real name is Stanford Ernest Farmington Jr. I guess his family name wasn’t good enough for show biz. He said his manager made the name change, but Ernest is stubborn enough that I’m sure he could turned him down if he wanted to.

I’m a musician too. I play piano better than Ernest (but not as good as my other brother, Warren) and I sing well too. I also write songs; Ernest hasn’t written anything except maybe a barroom song from his drinking days.

In the ‘70s I recorded two acoustic folk rock records, “Dragon in the Forest” and “Gently Sings the Dove.” I asked Ernest if his big-time record label would release my music but somehow that never happened, as well as a promise for me to guest star on his TV show and to open for his concerts. So my career went nowhere while he hit the heights.

In the years since Ernest retreated into the bottle and I scraped by. I’ve been blind since birth and earning a living hasn’t been easy. I’ve relied mostly on government checks; my parents and Warren (but not Ernest) gave me money too. I made ceramic sculptures and sold a few. I got rid of my piano because I needed the money and music didn’t interest me anymore.

Recently Ernest showed up at my doorstop claiming he was sober and that he had a job offer for me—a week’s worth of concerts aboard the SS Zodiac cruise ship. I was still angry with him for not helping out when I needed him. But he wanted to make amends, so I relented.

But I was scared. Crowds and unfamiliar places frightened me. I was comfortable in my home and with my routines. Learning the music for the show was difficult and I almost quit, but Ernest pushed me.

On board the ship, Ernest was a gentleman and he guided me around the decks. I enjoyed doing the concerts. I’d forgotten how much I loved to sing. I especially liked poking fun at my brother on stage in front of the audience. Hee hee.

What I didn’t like was the dead body that turned up in my brother’s backstage dressing room. That upset me. My brother started playing sleuth and interviewing suspects. I poked holes in some of his theories because I’m better at solving puzzles than he is. Then the killer tried to drown Ernest; the murderer even locked me in a box.


You can read about our adventure and how my dopey brother needed my help to unmask the killer at the onboard Halloween costume gala in the new book, The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper, the third book in the “Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol” series from Cozy Cat Press.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on November 26 for the chance to win a copy of THE CUNNING CRUISE SHIP CAPER. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif.

She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. Her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also SallyCearned a college creative writing award and “Star Collector” was produced in New York City. Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.

She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.

The initial book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel. “The Sinister Sitcom Caper” is the second in the series.

Her short story, “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” is in the anthology “Last Exit to Murder.” “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” was published in the “Plan B: Vol. 2” e-book anthology.

She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles. She blogs at sandyfairfaxauthor.com and you can contact her on Facebook.

A Conversation with Joseph Graves by Sally Carpenter

The Sinister Sitcom CaperIn a previous dru’s musings post my series character, former teen idol Sandy Fairfax, introduced himself. Today one of the supporting characters from “The Sinister Sitcom Caper” tells how he got involved with Sandy’s sleuthing.

Hey, you, I’m down here. Yeah, that’s right. I’m Joseph Graves, a dwarf. Let me tell ya, for a littler person in a world build for average people, it’s no picnic. Ever have a sales clerk direct you to the kid’s department just because of your size?

Dwarfism is caused by any one of 200 medical conditions, so we’re all different. When talking about us, one size doesn’t fit all. You can refer to us as “little people” or “dwarfs.” But if you call me a “midget,” “shorty,” “shrimp” or “Munchkin,” I’ll see red.

My parents are both average people. My dad never accepted me. Had me on all kinds of weird diets and in exercise programs to make me grow. Didn’t work. He finally left mom and me for a young bimbo so he’d finally get himself a big boy.

Growing up the other kids didn’t let me play sports with them, so I spent my time watching TV and movies. I admired all those great dwarf actors: Michael Dunn, Billy Barty, David Rappaport, Herve Villechaize, Kenny Baker, etc. Seemed to me Hollywood was a place where a guy my size could find work and acceptance. I headed west to go into acting so that any time my dad turned on his TV and saw me, he’d throw a fit.

It’s been tough finding work where I don’t play a freak or a Santa elf. Right now I’m in a stupid family sitcom called “Off-Kelter.” It’s the lowest rated TV show in the 1993 fall season, which gives you an idea of the quality of the show. Hey, a job’s a job.

On the show I play the Kelter’s next-door neighbor who has the hots for the family housekeeper, Miss Tucker, badly played by the worst actress and meanest person in the business, Elsie Bloom. Takes all of my acting skill to appear lovey-dovey towards that battleaxe.

One day during rehearsals Elsie drops dead, just like that. Best thing she ever did for the show. But she was just as annoying in death as in life. Our guest star of that episode, washed-up teen idol Sandy Fairfax, starts nosing around. He thought she was murdered, which would narrow the suspects to the entire roster of the Screen Actors Guild.

Sandy roped me into helping with his investigation. First he had me sneaking into a locked office to snoop on a clandestine meeting. Then we were nearly killed in a death trap set in the studio backlot. Working with this Sandy character can be murder.


To find out how I helped catch the killer, you’ll have to read The Sinister Sitcom Caper. Oh yeah, Sandy’s mentioned in there a few times. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go smoke a cigar.

The Sinister Sitcom Caper is available in print on Amazon and bn.com and in ebook on Kindle. The story was inspired by the author’s experience of working as a tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures.

Meet the author
Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif. She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school, her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.

Her initial book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel.

Her short story, “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” appears in the anthology “Last Exit to Murder.” “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” was published in the “Plan B: Vol. 2” e-book anthology. Her short story “The Pie-eyed Spy” appeared in the Nov. 23, 2013, issue of Kings River Life ezine.

She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles. She blogs at sandyfairfaxauthor.com. Contact her at Facebook or scwriter@earthlink.net.


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The glamorous world of teen idol Sandy Fairfax by Sally Carpenter

Trying to describe a day in the life of a 1970s teen idol is like explaining what happens during a hurricane; only a tropical storm is more calm and orderly. A typical weekday started way too early in the morning with me falling out of bed, throwing on whatever clothes were clean (when did I have time to do laundry?) and zipping over to Mammoth Studios in Hollywood in my 1964 poppy red Mustang convertible to shoot my TV series, Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth, starring Sandy Fairfax.

My then-manager, Jarvis Lycowich, invented my stage name in 1974. He felt my given name of Stanford Ernest Farmington II was too unwieldy for a marquee.

At the studio, whenever I had a break from shooting—which was rare since I was in nearly every scene—I was busy posing for photo shoots, giving interviews to teen magazines, signing merchandise for giveaways, meeting some friend of the network brass, talking business with a concert promoter, or meeting a lovely lassie in my dressing room.

When we finished shooting around six or seven o’clock, I hopped in my car, dodged the fans hanging outside the studio gate, hit the nearest drive-through for a burger and Coke, and headed for the recording studio to lay down vocals for my next album (I recorded eight studio albums that went gold. The label also released a live concert record and greatest hits compilation).

At the studio I listened to the demo tape, looked over the lyric sheet, and nailed the tune in one or two takes. With my schedule, I didn’t have the luxury of spending hours on one song. On the days when I wasn’t recording, I rehearsed for my concert show.

When I left the recording studio around eleven p.m. or later, I’d hit the clubs to check out the music scene or go out with a girl I had meet on the set. Trouble is, by the time the girl and I got back to my place, I was usually too tired to do anything about it.

No rest for the weary on Friday nights. That’s when I flew out somewhere across the country for a weekend of concerts. Some weeks my plane didn’t returned to L.A. until Monday morning and I rode a limo straight from LAX to the studio. The makeup gal had to give me eye drops to cover my red eyes. I quickly mastered the art of power naps where I could fall asleep instantly and feel refreshed after twenty minutes of sound sleep.

I didn’t even slow down during the summer hiatus of my TV show. From June to August I filmed Buddy Brave feature movies (like the TV show only longer) and traveled around the world in concert tours.

After my show was cancelled in 1979 and people stopped buying my records, my days were far less busy—or productive. I married, had two beautiful kids, and spent my days drinking and partying. In 1988 my wife divorced me and left with the kids, which gave me more time to drink, go out with neurotic girlfriends, and wonder why nobody loved Sandy Fairfax anymore.

Now it’s 1993 and I’m tired of the tabloids running photos of me drunk and disorderly. I quit drinking and took the first job offer that came my way—a guest appearance at a Beatles fan convention in the Midwest. What started out as an easy gig turned deadly when a member of the tribute band was shot. The local Barney Fife detective fingered me as the prime suspect (I barely knew the victim!).

That weekend consisted of dealing with oddball fans, holding the detective at bay, and rehearsing to take the dead man’s place in the tribute band concert. And I had until Sunday evening, the end of the convention, to uncover the killer.

To find out whodunit, read The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper (Oak Tree Press), available in paper, Kindle and Nook.

My next job is a guest spot a sitcom that tapes in the same soundstage as where I filmed Buddy Brave fourteen years ago. What can go wrong in a movie studio?


** Sally is giving away one (1) autographed copy of THE BAFFLED BEATLEMANIAC CAPER. Contest open to US residents only and ends October 29. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Meet the author
Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif. She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school two of her plays, “Star Collector” and “Common Ground,” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. “Star Collector” was produced in New York City.

Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do. She’s worked a variety of jobs including actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and movie studio tour guide/page. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.

The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, the first book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, was a finalist for the 2012 Eureka! Award for best first mystery novel. The next book will be The Sinister Sitcom Caper.

She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles chapter and “mom” to two black cats. Contact her at Facebook or scwriter@earthlink.net.

Books are available at www.oaktreebooks.com and online booksellers.