It might just take a renowned criminal defense attorney, who knows how to crack a case, to create an inspired book of:
That clever quatrain is also the title of Steven Graff Levine’s new release, now available on Amazon, guaranteed to engage family and friends with 100 rounds of smart fun. Whether competing in a group setting or just against yourself, Steve’s riddles will make you laugh, think, smile, groan and get excited to grab the next, “Aha – just give me the next one!” moment.
This amazing wordsmith worked as a Los Angeles County District Attorney and Staff Lawyer for the California Supreme Court before launching his own Criminal Law Defense practice. Steve received his Bachelor’s Degree from Vassar College, and his Juris Doctor cum laude from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. This multi-talented man has not just represented celebrities, but also sings and acts himself – doing jingles and commercials as a kid, and bringing down the house playing the lead role of “Fagin” in Oliver. Steve, a true family man, is also a loving husband and adoring, fun dad to his delightful little girl.
We, at Splash, had the great opportunity to interview Steve, and find out more about what makes him tick.
SPLASH: Steve, what inspired you to write riddles?
STEVE: I was on a boat ride home from Catalina Island about 5 years ago, and the riddle:
My friends say I’m a star
But I didn’t plan it
Some say I’m a god
I’m not goddammit
Came into my head… and they haven’t stopped since. It has taken me 5 years to write 487 riddles, with maybe 300-330 of them worth publishing, so I have two or three more books in me! My next step is to go to a poetry reading and call my set “interactive poetry” and see how it goes on stage. Then I plan to find some savvy, social-media teen to set me up on Twitter and Instagram and get me a following. I already have a great publicist for the rest.
SPLASH: How do you come up with your ideas?
STEVE: To put me to sleep I think of a topic, a concept, a word with multiple different meanings, or some rhymes I like. And sometimes they flow, sometimes I get two or three lines and I know the fourth is there. For example, I was thinking of God this week and this popped my head:
I was also thinking how every masterpiece, every great book’s words is contained in the dictionary, with the words of any book in an infinite order, but all in the dictionary. I always read books with the dictionary next to me so I can look up the words I did not know while reading. I got this:
I cover every book
Every word is in me
No matter how they look
Their meaning is within me
Sometimes riddles will come in threes, other time weeks go by and nothing.
SPLASH: I understand you are a brilliant unscrambler of words? When did you first know you had that skill?
STEVE: Give me a 5-letter word, scramble it, and I’ll tell you the word. I do it for people who want to play. Although to be honest, it really did not work as a pick-up line when I was single! I tried. I failed.
Now, 6 is harder. 7 ridiculous. But 5 appeals to my dyslexic nature. I once wrote a 2-page palindrome, and I have it somewhere in the house, with a back-story. I put a palindrome in the book as one of the riddles. It is not fair, and no one will guess it. But is it cool:
Red roses. Run!
Slip up reviled.
Yes, it reads backwards and forward — the same! My brain is a bit strange when it comes to words. I used to play competitive Scrabble and love playing, still, with great players on the computer. I love words with friends – it’s Scrabble on steroids.
SPLASH: Tell us about your appearance on Scrabble TV?
STEVE: I got on the show and I was the champ for a day. It was amazing. I got the jackpot off the clue. Then, the day after, I lost because I was tired and couldn’t get the word “mattress”.
SPLASH: So I hear you are also a collector of games and comics. Can you tell me a little about that?
STEVE: I am a Spider-Man Completist and have every comic Spider-Man was ever in, from 1962-2002. I have spent three waking years assembling my collection, and am friends with the five other geeks who do the same thing. I have crazy stuff you just can’t find anymore. eBay really changed the landscape when it came to collecting, because before I used to go to shows and root through boxes looking for appearances and things. Then along came eBay, and it made collecting the esoteric stuff easier. But it also drove up demand for high-grade comics and now they are like stocks – the price has gone so high. I am lucky I started when I was 11, with ASM 86 – the Black Widow cover, and, in earnest, in 1990. I cut off at 2002 because Spidey blew up after the movie, and there was too much stuff to buy to keep up. I have some cool original Spider-Man art. I was late to that, but still have some great pieces.
SPLASH: We know you’re the loving father of a very special 4-year old. Have you tried any riddles on her?
STEVE: No, but I put her to sleep by explaining the inner workings of the world. The other night I explained the five senses (she had to come up with each sense, after I gave her clues) and how they only work in the present, because once it’s a memory it is only in your brain. And the future hasn’t happened. So it’s also only in your brain. But I did say anticipation is a good thing. She was asleep right around the time I mentioned that the past is one-dimensional, unless you have an eidetic memory like my sister, or wife, or Marilu Henner, or artists who paint from memory. I don’t remember well, I can’t conjure the past in vivid color; it makes me sad, but not sad enough to keep a journal, so I live for the present. It inspired this riddle:
Everything you see
Turns into me
Everything you do
Turns into me too
I’ll give you the answer: Memory.
SPLASH: What do you feel is the takeaway for people who buy your book?
STEVE: Everybody loves riddles. I trolled the Internet, and realized the riddles out there were not lyrical, or fun to the ear, and often impossible to solve. My quatrain four-line rhyming riddles are meant to be short and sweet and clever, filled with puns and word play and misdirection, but not enough so you can’t guess. But if you can’t, and look up the answer, I hope you’ll say, “that’s fair, that’s cool, that’s clever, let’s do another.” I have gotten great feedback over the years, and luckily, my friend’s daughter, a Berkeley graduate, had free time before she started her job and put the book together for me and got it up and running on Amazon. But stay tuned – the e-book is coming!
To buy the book go to Amazon.
To learn more about Steve: