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X -Ray Vision – My Back Needs a Diagnosis

So it’s come to this. Finally.

About six years ago I hurt my back while on the racquetball court, and it’s never totally healed. I’ve been to doctors and massage therapists, I had an MRI, took anti-inflammatory pills and have been seeing a chiropractor regularly since a year after the injury.

Thankfully, the chiropractor I’ve been seeing for the past 6 months or so is really quite good–my back is definitely much, much better overall–but we were talking the other day when I went in foSo it’s come to this. Finally.

About six years ago I hurt my back while on the racquetball court, and it’s never totally healed. I’ve been to doctors and massage therapists, I had an MRI, took anti-inflammatory pills and have been seeing a chiropractor regularly since a year after the injury.

Thankfully, the chiropractor I’ve been seeing for the past 6 months or so is really quite good–my back is definitely much, much better overall–but we were talking the other day when I went in for an adjustment, when I finally came out an asked: [i]what is exactly wrong with my back? What’s the source of the problem[/i]?

I had always focused on [i]how[/i] I hurt my back, and lost track of what’s actually going on there. So he’s sending me for an x-ray, and hopefully they’ll find something that they can actually deal with. It’s not that I want there to be an injury, but there [i]is [/i]a problem. If all goes well, at least the results will give my chiropractor enough information so that he can really treat the injury.

We’ll see …

The New Yankee Stadium – A Review

As a lifelong Yankees fan, I’ve been dying to get to the new stadium. And now that I’ve made it there, here’s my take on the Good, the Bad and the What Were They Thinking?

[b]The Good[/b]:

The new Yankee stadium indeed has a few things going for it. For one, the seats are angled much better than in the old stadium, so you don’t have to be all twisted around to watch the game. Also, the seats themselves are much better ergonomically designed, so even though they’re still plastic, theyAs a lifelong Yankees fan, I’ve been dying to get to the new stadium. And now that I’ve made it there, here’s my take on the Good, the Bad and the What Were They Thinking?

[b]The Good[/b]:

The new Yankee stadium indeed has a few things going for it. For one, the seats are angled much better than in the old stadium, so you don’t have to be all twisted around to watch the game. Also, the seats themselves are much better ergonomically designed, so even though they’re still plastic, they’re pretty comfortable, and there’s much more leg room than in the old stadium. Also, lots of cup holders, that’s good.

The scoreboard in center field is amazing. Talk about instant replay! Awesome quality. Really adds to the experience.

What I also really like is how open the thoroughfares are. There’s plenty of room to walk around between concession stands. Its airy. A big improvement. And walking in on the ground level is pretty darn impressive, with massive banners of the all-time Yankees hanging from the rafters.

And all in all, it’s very big and clean. All thumbs up.

[b]The Bad[/b]:

Yankees stadium is big. Way. Too. Big. The biggest problem is that it’s a stadium, and not a ballpark. You walk in and it’s this giant cathedral with white concrete and massive ceilings, so fine that it’s shouting–Don’t touch! It’s like visiting a museum. Well, I don’t want to visit a museum. I want to see the game!

When it comes to the actual game, in the stands, you’re too far from the field. It’s so … distant. There’s a level of being removed from the field experience that it’s hard to get energized about the action on the field. Why did they do this? It makes no sense.

The prices are outrageous. The seats alone are ridiculously overpriced, but here are a few other examples: A program is $10. Give me a break. And in the Yankees store, the cheapest T-shirt is $30! Who can afford this stuff? Beers are $9 each. The pricing alone is a slap in the face. The new Yankees stadium wasn’t built for the everyday fan; it was built for [i]rich people[/i].

When it comes to concession stands, well … where are they? They couldn’t give you a few more choices? Go to any other new ball park and you’ve got a much bigger selection. Plus, the Nathan’s hot dog stand where we were sitting ran out of hot dogs and french fries! Huh? Dude. Get your act together.

[b]What the Heck Were They Thinking?[/b]

The biggest travesty of the new Yankees Stadium is that is has no heart. It’s a cold, uninviting mausoleum. It’s Yankee Stadium for crying out loud! But you walk around the thoroughfares above the first level and there’s nothing but white concrete walls. What the heck were they thinking?

The Yankees are the greatest sports franchise in American history, and there’s not a single plaque on the walls. Not a banner, no Yankee blue. Nothing. You’re telling me you couldn’t hang some championship banners? Or have time lines along the walls detailing the history of the Yankees? How about some plaques? Some notices announcing Yankee records?

You’ve got a [b]$1.5 BILLION[/b] facility, and it’s essentially blank? Except along the outfield, which is essentially nothing but advertisements.

Good gravy.

[b]Final Thoughts:[/b]

It pains me to say this, but as it stands now, the new Yankee Stadium is an unmitigated failure. They blew it. They absolutely blew it. And you know what, I’m probably going to go to a lot more Met games from now on, because they got it way more right. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but that’s how it is.

My call to the Yankees: I’m begging you to fix your mistakes. Because if not, I won’t be coming around too often.

Subway Series – Yankee Stadium vs. CitiField

I’ve now been to one game each at the new Yankee Stadium and CitiField. As a matter of full disclosure, I’m a life-long Yankee fan and have always hated Shea Stadium, so keep this mind as you read along.

That said, I have to say that without the slightest hesitation–and as much as it kills me to say it–CitiField is far superior to the New Yankee Stadium. In fact, it’s not even close. It’s actually shocking how much better CitiField is, but that even has more to do with the fact that theI’ve now been to one game each at the new Yankee Stadium and CitiField. As a matter of full disclosure, I’m a life-long Yankee fan and have always hated Shea Stadium, so keep this mind as you read along.

That said, I have to say that without the slightest hesitation–and as much as it kills me to say it–CitiField is far superior to the New Yankee Stadium. In fact, it’s not even close. It’s actually shocking how much better CitiField is, but that even has more to do with the fact that the new Yankee Stadium … well … I’ll get to it in a bit.

There’s a lot to review, so for the full discussion, go to the BASEBALL forum on this site, and see individual reviews for each stadium …

Surround Sound, Part III: My Bloody Skull

So there I am, setting up my surround sound system … with the wireless router … and I’m placing the rear left speaker on top of the bookshelf. It’s positioned well, has a nice angle to it.

But when I look down, the wire coiled up, so I reached over to untangle it. Simply enough, but when I gave it another tug … [i]WHAMO! [/i]… the speaker came right down on my head.

%$#@!

I can’t really remember the exactly barrage of four-letter words I let fly, but Liz and Simon both So there I am, setting up my surround sound system … with the wireless router … and I’m placing the rear left speaker on top of the bookshelf. It’s positioned well, has a nice angle to it.

But when I look down, the wire coiled up, so I reached over to untangle it. Simply enough, but when I gave it another tug … [i]WHAMO! [/i]… the speaker came right down on my head.

%$#@!

I can’t really remember the exactly barrage of four-letter words I let fly, but Liz and Simon both came running out to see If I’d managed to kill myself putting up the speakers. Fortunately I have a pretty hard head, as I only wound up with a bump. Years ago I was hit in the head with a shovel, which bloodied me up pretty good, so naturally I was expecting the worse.

Luckily I just iced it up … ice pack in one hand … remote control in the other.

I’ll tell you … the surround sound system is fun when it’s working, but I’ve been paying for it in more ways than one.

Surround Sound, Part II: Wireless? Kinda.

Sunday night I was sitting back on my couch, enjoying my new surround sound system, when I realized that I was getting any sound from the rear speakers. I understand that those are the ones that give you the ambient noise … the splash in an ocean … a gun shot whizzing by … but I was pretty sure they were giving me nothing.

So I took them down off the bookcase and held the speaker up to my ear like a seashell. Nope. Still nothing.

Sigh. Once again I got on the horn and called thSunday night I was sitting back on my couch, enjoying my new surround sound system, when I realized that I was getting any sound from the rear speakers. I understand that those are the ones that give you the ambient noise … the splash in an ocean … a gun shot whizzing by … but I was pretty sure they were giving me nothing.

So I took them down off the bookcase and held the speaker up to my ear like a seashell. Nope. Still nothing.

Sigh. Once again I got on the horn and called the Samsung customer support hotline, and after 30 minutes of being transferred around, I finally got somebody on the phone who knew what they were doing. Jim was a good guy. I relayed to him my set up, we went through all of my settings … again … and still, no sound. Jim put me on hold to check something out, and while he was away, I figured I would experiment.

The rear speakers were wireless–one of the reasons I bought the system–but I figured I’d hook them up to the wires, just to see if that did anything. I wanted to make sure that he speakers at least worked. And once I hooked them up to the wires, I was in action. Bingo! We have sound. Okay. We know the speakers work, so it must be a settings problem.

I relayed my "discovery" to Jim, and awaited congratulations on my ingenuity. Instead, I was met with awkward silence. And then:

"Uh … yeah … you know … you kinda need the wires to be hooked up, Russ."

I was confused. "But I thought they’re supposed to be wireless?"

Well … not exactly. Turns out that the [i]router[/i] to connect the back speakers is wireless. The [i]speakers[/i] are not. They need wires. The way system is set up, the front three speakers and the subwoofer are all hooked up to the main surround sound system device. The rear speakers need another port. That’s where the router comes in. The [i]wireless[/i] router.

The wireless router which is now on the opposite side of the room. With the rear speakers attached. By wires.

Okay. So maybe I’m not the sharpest bulb in the chandelier … but at least I’ve got sound now.

Russ’s Newsletter: Vol. 3, No. 5 – Comic-Con ’09 Special Edition!

Hi Gang-

I’m just back from the San Diego Comic-Con, and man-oh-man do I have a LOT of news to report. It was another hectic event, so let me get rolling:

* As I did last year, I shared a booth with partner in crime Rich Henn (www.timespell.com), who was pimping his one-of-a-kind autobiographical comic, ZOOMIES (I wrote a guest issue special for Comic-Con this year), and our supernatural thriller, TIMESPELL. Also at the booth was James Owen, best-selling, international author of the HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS fantasy series (http://www.heretherebedragons.net/), with 2.5 million copies in print worldwide. Joining James again was his brother and business partner, Jeremy, who has one wicked sense of humor, let me tell you! And of course, Ray Bonn was on hand to help us work the booth, bring much needed sodas, take action photos and otherwise keep us sane when booth fatigue set in!

(For the full Comic-Con coverage, check out my blogs from last week [www.findersk.com] and the PHOTO section for tons o’ pics of on-the-floor, full-costumed action).

* One of the main reasons we head out to Comic-Con is for the Hollywood crowd, which, unfortunately, wasn’t out in the force that we’ve been used to, but FINDERS KEEPERS got at least a little bit of love. I spoke to a few Hollywood agents who liked the premise and took a trailer, so we’ll see where that leads.

* The bigger news is that I’ve got a bunch of publishers who are reallyreallyreally jazzed for FINDERS KEEPERS, and, in fact, will be getting the new and improved manuscript within the next week, as I’m putting on the final touches on it right now.

* Also at Comic-Con I had the chance to hang out with fellow writer and friend Maxwell Alexander Drake, whose own novel FARMERS AND MERCENARIES, like Max himself, was making its Comic-Con debut (it’s the first book in his six-part GENESIS OF OBLIVION saga). So if you like those dragon/fantasy/epic books, you also might want to check out what Max Drake is up to (www.maxwellalexanderdrake.com/).

* Last but not least, fellow partner-in-crime Rich Koslowski (www.richkoslowski.com) was on the other end of the hall in Artists’ Alley, doing really cool Family Guy sketches and pimping his own series, The 3 Geeks, which is absolutely hilarious. A must read for anybody who likes comics. Plus … that dirty dog got a photo with Hurley, from LOST, about 10 seconds after I left the booth! Sonuva!

* Although they weren’t at the show with us (their trailer was), I want to give you the latest on DRAWING WITH CHALK, the really terrific debut movie from long-time pals Todd Giglio and Chris Springer. Well … their film was recently selected to kick-off the Opening Night Gala at the Idaho International Film Festival in late Sept! This is a really great opportunity for them to showcase their film to a huge audience, so keep your eyes peeled (you can check out their fan page at www.facebook.com/drawingwithchalk).

* And finally … for this issue’s special shout-out, I owe a HUGE HUGE thanks to writer/actor/producer and all around funnyman Michael Wolfe (www.michaelwolfe.biz), who read and reviewed version after version after version of FINDERS KEEPERS and FK 2.0, and, as always, kicked my butt five ways to Sunday until I got it right. As I promised him I would, please consider this his official anointing as the Supreme Mountain Lion of Editorial Godliness.

Also, keep an eye out for Michael, who is now fundraising for his feature film debut, FRIENDSHIP AND TRESSPASSES (www.friendshipsandtrespasses.com), which he co-wrote, is co-producing and will star in.

I told you there was a lot to report!

Okay … that’s all she wrote for this time around. Once I finish off FINDERS KEEPERS 2.0 later this week I’m going to take a short, but much-needed breather and … sleep … make my way down to Baltimore for HennFest 2009, and then go into detox before ramping back up on CROSSLINE, which will be my top priority until that bad boy is done.

Have a great rest of the summer … and check out those Comic-Con blogs and pics on my web site!

Explosions. Whispers. Surround Sound Rocks!

I wanted to do this last year when I bought the 42 inch flat screen TV, but I finally splurged on a Samsung surround sound system for the living room.

And I can say this – damn, it rocks! The floor rattles when there’s movie explosions, you can hear crazy whispers in the background. I know it’s not something I needed, but I just wanted it, and now I have it.

The trick is going to be in not having the neighbors come after me like an angry mob because of all the noise! But hey, that’s a I wanted to do this last year when I bought the 42 inch flat screen TV, but I finally splurged on a Samsung surround sound system for the living room.

And I can say this – damn, it rocks! The floor rattles when there’s movie explosions, you can hear crazy whispers in the background. I know it’s not something I needed, but I just wanted it, and now I have it.

The trick is going to be in not having the neighbors come after me like an angry mob because of all the noise! But hey, that’s a good problem.

To test it out I put in [i]The Incredibles[/i], and I’ll say, the sound was pretty … incredible.

Now … if I really wanted to go nuts I could have picked up the Bose system, which is just off the charts wow, but just the three speaker system was $1,000, and as much as I would love to have it, I didn’t love the idea of [i]paying [/i]for it.

Still, the one I’ve got does the job. Now I can’t wait to see just how loud this baby gets …

Wrecked My Neck? Pretty Much.

Sorry I’ve been MIA, but I managed to wreck my neck something fierce, and it’s taken me four trips to the chiropractor already to get it straightened out (no pun intended).

I’ve still got one more visit next week, but I’d say I’m about 90 percent back to normal. (I did it again. [i]Back.[/i] Get it? [i]Back[/i] … oh, I digress …)

Because of my neck woes, I haven’t been blogging or going to the gym the last 10 days, so it’s been frustrating on many levels. But I’m feeling a lot bettSorry I’ve been MIA, but I managed to wreck my neck something fierce, and it’s taken me four trips to the chiropractor already to get it straightened out (no pun intended).

I’ve still got one more visit next week, but I’d say I’m about 90 percent back to normal. (I did it again. [i]Back.[/i] Get it? [i]Back[/i] … oh, I digress …)

Because of my neck woes, I haven’t been blogging or going to the gym the last 10 days, so it’s been frustrating on many levels. But I’m feeling a lot better now, and hope to be in full swing by the weekend.

I’ve still got loads of stories to share–including a few whoppers about the dog–so fear not! I’ll be bringing the goods in the coming days and will catch you up on all the latest mayhem.

Springsteen, Neck Pain and a Huge Doggie Dump

Monday night was a night of nights for a lot of reasons.

For the first time since I was a teenager, I saw a concert at Nassau Coliseum. It was also my first Bruce Springsteen show, so that was something. Our little crew consisted of me, Liz, my dad, my sister Alison and her friend Clara.

Well … I’m not a huge Springsteen fan to start with, but he has a bunch of songs I like, and I’ve always heard that he brings house down. I’m here to say that if you’re a fan, Bruce lives up to hisMonday night was a night of nights for a lot of reasons.

For the first time since I was a teenager, I saw a concert at Nassau Coliseum. It was also my first Bruce Springsteen show, so that was something. Our little crew consisted of me, Liz, my dad, my sister Alison and her friend Clara.

Well … I’m not a huge Springsteen fan to start with, but he has a bunch of songs I like, and I’ve always heard that he brings house down. I’m here to say that if you’re a fan, Bruce lives up to his reputation. His band absolutely rocks, and he has boundless energy, for any age. He just goes non-stop of pure rockin intensity.

However, if you’re not a fan, his show can feel like three …. long … hours ….

Very. Long.

In total he played about four songs that I knew, and at one point went almost two hours between them. I tried to get into it, but it wasn’t easy.

As the third hour was wrapping up we decided to leave a few minutes early to beat the traffic. On our way into the aisle, Liz’s foot goes right out from underneath her and [i]WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM[/i]. She goes down about 10 stairs, on her back.

So then, after we get her on her feet and down to the main level, she realizes that she dropped her cell phone, and then has to go back up there to get it. Fun

Liz was able to track it down fairly quick, and then we drove back to Queens OK. Fine. But when we get home around Midnight, turns out that Simon took a huge dump by the back door, so we had that going for us. He was also so hyper to see us, jumping up and down like crazy, that I unfortunately half to pin him to ground so he would chill long enough for me to attach his leash.

And there’s more.

I take him from his walk, and finally get off to bed. When I woke up this morning I had such a bad strain in my neck that I could barely turn to my right, and had to schedule an emergency chiropractor visit.

All in all it was quite a night. Bruce wasn’t really my thing, but it was an experience I’ll never forget.

My Inspiration: An Aspiring Writer at Ecco Shoes

It isn’t very often that I wind up being inspired by a young writer’s inspiration while I’m buying socks, and yet that’s exactly what happened this weekend.

Saturday afternoon started out innocently enough, with a trip to the outlet mall in New Jersey. I went out there with Liz and my mother-in-law, with the two of them splitting off together, and me left my own devices. I needed a pair of sneaker and some a pair of work shoes, so off to the shoe stores I went.

But what started off asIt isn’t very often that I wind up being inspired by a young writer’s inspiration while I’m buying socks, and yet that’s exactly what happened this weekend.

Saturday afternoon started out innocently enough, with a trip to the outlet mall in New Jersey. I went out there with Liz and my mother-in-law, with the two of them splitting off together, and me left my own devices. I needed a pair of sneaker and some a pair of work shoes, so off to the shoe stores I went.

But what started off as just any old trip to Ecco shoes turned out to be an afternoon of inspiration.

The store was pretty much empty when I walked in, so the two counter girls–about 17 years old or so–both helped me out, clearly bored out of their minds. And who could blame them. But they were both very nice, and when I told them I needed a pair of work shoes, one of them–Erin–asked me what I did for a living.

I told her that I’m a writer, that I was a journalist for a long time and I now work in public relations, and that I also write novels, and will be heading off to Comic-Con in July to pitch my book to Hollywood producers. This is what Erin said:

"This is the best day ever."

She really seemed to mean it. Have to admit, I didn’t see that coming. Turns out that young Erin is an aspiring writer, and she thought that my being a writer was, well … pretty darn cool.

And her being somewhat awestruck that I’m a [i]writer[/i] reminded me of how important it is to find inspiration wherever you can find it, and how full of wonder and possibility we can have when we’re young. And that we don’t have to be young to be inspired.

For as much as I may have inspired her to some degree, she actually inspired me.

I don’t know what will become of young Erin, if she’ll pursue her writing, and if she does, where it will take her. But I hope that she follows through to find out just how much her writing means to her, whether she ever finishes a project, gets published or becomes a financial success through her words. The best part of being a writer is the [i]writing[/i].

All the other stuff–getting published, garnering attention for it, making money–they all have their place, and [i]believe[/i] me I’m hoping to make a long, fruitful career of it (I’ll take that best seller money as soon as somebody wants to write me a check). But for those of us who have a calling to write, who simply[i] have[/i] to write, just because, then the writing itself is its own best reward.

So this blog is dedicated to Erin and all the aspiring writers like her, who reminded me just how important it is just to be passionate about anything, and let all that follows as a result be the gravy.

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