Turkey Greetings

I know there’s all sorts of hemming and hawing, and complaints and whining about travel and family and all that, but I gotta say, I love Thanksgiving. Now, maybe it’s because I don’t have to fly anywhere and I tend not to get stuck in traffic, but it’s one holiday I love. Just love it.

Eat a lot of good, hot food on a cold day, maybe take a nap, maybe watch some football. Repeat.

Sign me up.

Also, I’m not hosting Thanksgiving–I’m heading over to my mom’s house–so I suppose thatI know there’s all sorts of hemming and hawing, and complaints and whining about travel and family and all that, but I gotta say, I love Thanksgiving. Now, maybe it’s because I don’t have to fly anywhere and I tend not to get stuck in traffic, but it’s one holiday I love. Just love it.

Eat a lot of good, hot food on a cold day, maybe take a nap, maybe watch some football. Repeat.

Sign me up.

Also, I’m not hosting Thanksgiving–I’m heading over to my mom’s house–so I suppose that’s another plus from where I sit.

But beyond the food, I really do believe that it’s a day for thanks, a day take a moment and acknowledge what we’re thankful for, what we’re grateful for.

The list goes on and on for me, but for this Thanksiving note, I’m thankful for all of you. For everybody who’s been in my corner as I plug away through the maze of the publishing industry, for all of you who have and continue to support me, encourage me and keep coming back to read all my musings (sane or not). Connecting with all of you through this site and my newsletters has made this past year really something special for me, so I not only thank you, but I’m thankful for you.

Well, I’m not sure about you, but I can smell the distant yum of buttery mash potatos, golden turkey and sweet, cool cranberry sauce. Mmmmmm…..

Good eating, everybody.

Happy Thanksiving!

My Paperboy Days of the Drizzle Fizzle

I don’t get hung up on bad weather. Not usually, anyway. I can handle the cold, I can handle the rain. But what I can’t stand is the cold [i]and[/i] the rain. Cold, rain and [i]windy[/i] is just the ultimate horror show, but this one window–low 40s and rain–is just awful. (Well, that’s how it is in New York City right now, anyway).

Now, I know we don’t get many days like this, because if it gets any colder, we’ll get some snow–and I like snow–and it if gets warmer, then it’s just raI don’t get hung up on bad weather. Not usually, anyway. I can handle the cold, I can handle the rain. But what I can’t stand is the cold [i]and[/i] the rain. Cold, rain and [i]windy[/i] is just the ultimate horror show, but this one window–low 40s and rain–is just awful. (Well, that’s how it is in New York City right now, anyway).

Now, I know we don’t get many days like this, because if it gets any colder, we’ll get some snow–and I like snow–and it if gets warmer, then it’s just raining. But [i]rain and cold [/i]just seems to soak into my pours. And then into my mood. I’m a pretty good natured guy. I don’t get down too often, and when I do, it tends not to last. But these cold, rainy days are just miserable.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t have good days despite this bad weather, but this just happens to be the combination that gets to me. It also take me back a ways.

Years ago–I know I’m dating myself–I had that classic first job. A paper route. And I really liked it. Mostly. But the thing I hated most about it were those days when it was cold, rainy and windy. For those of you who remember, and for those who never had a paper route, you would take a few clamps and fastened a hard, plastic milk crate to the front of your bike, and place your daily supply of papers inside. But that would make the front of your bike heavy and lopsided, so using the kickstand didn’t always work too well. Whenever possible you would lean your bike against a tree or signpost.

But when the wind was really kicking up, I can’t tell you how many times it knocked my bike over, and half my stack of newspapers went scattering all over the place, which was bad enough. You know what kind of a pain it is to reconfigure 43 newspapers? Not fun. Now add the rain, and I had to do this without ruining the papers, which meant keeping a plastic bag over the papers and ducking under a tree while keeping my bike upright. Thing is, you really need free hands–ungloved hands–to have the dexterity to deal with newspapers in this fashion. The pages are thin. So not only would it be windy and rainy, but my knuckles would get red and raw–freezing at the joints–as I’m trying to reinsert the papers in the damp, chilly air.

The best part is when, after reinserting all of my papers, my bike would go down again! Oh, I really worked on my four-letter words on those days …

But I digress.

I know this wonky weather won’t last forever, but I can’t say it’s my favorite. Not my favorite at all. So I’m hoping for a quick ending of this particular combination, and hoping that gets better before it gets worse.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/11/21 14:59

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/11/27 06:29

My Bubble Gum Hypocrisy

Aside for a pretty outrageous Bubble Yum/Hubba Bubba phase when I was about 10 years old, I was never much of a gum chewer. Don’t really know why, I just wasn’t.

But over the last few years I’ve developed a taste for it, first starting with Orbit, and I’m now onto Stride. It’s a really long-lasting flavored gum, and stays sorta fresh for quite a while. Maybe it’s a nervous habit, not sure, but I do like the gum chewing for the minty breath spruce up. (Let’s face, sometimes my skank breath iAside for a pretty outrageous Bubble Yum/Hubba Bubba phase when I was about 10 years old, I was never much of a gum chewer. Don’t really know why, I just wasn’t.

But over the last few years I’ve developed a taste for it, first starting with Orbit, and I’m now onto Stride. It’s a really long-lasting flavored gum, and stays sorta fresh for quite a while. Maybe it’s a nervous habit, not sure, but I do like the gum chewing for the minty breath spruce up. (Let’s face, sometimes my skank breath is something fierce and I don’t have a toothbrush handy, and Stride or Orbit does the trick).

As part of the gum chewing, I’ve also gotten into the gum chewer’s routine of blowing bubbles and, sometimes (don’t hate me) clacking the gum, although I try never to clack in public. And yet, sometimes I do it. My apologies for being rude, and for anytime in the future it may happen.

My doing it wouldn’t even be so bad, but I hate it–I mean absolutely, positively [i]hate[/i] it–when other people do it. Listening to other people clack their gum is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Gum clacking makes me crazy, like violent crazy, where I want to smash somebody’s face in and just make them freakin’ stop! (Don’t worry, I’m not gonna do it, but I’m just saying …).

The other day I was on the subway and a woman across from me was clacking her gum … slowly … which just makes it even worse. And I was in my seat, trying to ignore it (and failing miserably), just squirming in my seat. And since asking someone to stop clacking their gum will almost certainly lead to an awkward, unresolvable argument, I tried putting an end to her gum clacking by the only means at my disposal–the ole’ stink eye. Yep, I was giving her stink-eye something fierce. I think she noticed once or twice, and even quited her clacking temporarily, but in the end she just kept clacking away, and I kept squirming, as much as I tried to let it go.

So I admit it. I’m a gum chewing hypocrite. I didn’t mean to be, I just kinda happened. That said, I don’t think I’m too bad, but I have to admit that, when it comes to gum, I don’t always practice what I preach.

Something else I’ll just have to work on …

As a Writer, I Can’t Thrive Without This

As much a writing is an essential part of me, there’s one activity that I can’t do without, as it underlies my ability to write.

Reading.

And my reading varies. I read the newspaper every day, although in fairness I’m a front to back reader, starting with the TV coverage, then sports, then movies and gossip, and then the editorial pages. And then maybe I’ll skim the news. I also read magazines, mostly TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly and Sports Weekly.

And throughout the day I chAs much a writing is an essential part of me, there’s one activity that I can’t do without, as it underlies my ability to write.

Reading.

And my reading varies. I read the newspaper every day, although in fairness I’m a front to back reader, starting with the TV coverage, then sports, then movies and gossip, and then the editorial pages. And then maybe I’ll skim the news. I also read magazines, mostly TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly and Sports Weekly.

And throughout the day I check CNN.com, ESPN.com, and whatever newswires I need to check for work.

And of course, I read an exorbitant amount of copy as an editor (occupational hazard).

In regard to books, I try to mix up my fiction and non-fiction, and rotate between standard fiction and comic book/graphic novels. And I try to have at least two books going at once. Often I read fiction on the subway and nonfiction at home, or vice versa. Right now I’m reading one of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman paperbacks on the train, and M. Scott Peck’s In Search of Stones at home.

The thing about reading is that as it soaks into my noggin, soaks into me, somehow, someway it manages to find its way out through my fingers, clacking these keys, and onto the pages of my books. Which isn’t to say that I’m writing what I read, but that I pick up things from reading. Technique and style, turn of phrase, a particular word that amuses me.

Here’s one example. Some years ago I read–and loved–[i]Cat’s Cradle[/i] by Kurt Vonnegut. One of the elements I found fascinating was that his chapters were basically a page or two long. That’s it. And the book itself–the physical book–was small. So each chapter was very short. For whatever reason, that style of storytelling really stuck with me, and I used it as a model for Finders Keepers. Now, my chapter aren’t quite as short as his (at least I don’t think), but the style had a profound impact on me, translating into how I wrote.

I also just enjoy reading. It’s fun. But as a writer, I find that the more I read the more energized I am to write, and the less I read the less energized I am to write. There’s a definite connection for me. It’s like sunshine. The more I’m out in the sun the more I want to be in the sun. There’s something life affirming about it.

So, yep, I’m a reader. Books, trade paperbacks, the Internet, newspapers, magazines. I won’t go so far as to say that I’m a reading junkie–I’m not–but reading, and more importantly, reading good writing, helps me evolve as a writer. The two are connected. It’s just what I do.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/11/17 07:54

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/11/17 07:54

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/11/19 20:38

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/12/05 06:44

NY Sports Insanity

Two separate stories that really have nothing to do with the actual playing of sports have been circulating lately in regard to New York sports figures, and I have to say, unequivocally?I LOVE IT! Here?s why:

Story 1: Does A-Rod Grovel Back to the Yankees?

For those of you who haven?t been following this one, Alex Rodriguez?a.k.a A-Rod?had a clause in his contract with the Yankees that allowed him to opt out of the final three years, in which he was to be paid $81 million (the extra paTwo separate stories that really have nothing to do with the actual playing of sports have been circulating lately in regard to New York sports figures, and I have to say, unequivocally?I LOVE IT! Here?s why:

Story 1: Does A-Rod Grovel Back to the Yankees?

For those of you who haven?t been following this one, Alex Rodriguez?a.k.a A-Rod?had a clause in his contract with the Yankees that allowed him to opt out of the final three years, in which he was to be paid $81 million (the extra part of this deal is that $21 million is being paid by the Texas Rangers as part of a trade agreement a few years back, so that cuts the Yankees annual end of the deal to about $16 million a year for the next three years, a bargain for a player of his caliber). The deadline to opt out was Nov. 15 (or thereabouts). Before the opt-out could kick in, the Yankees were prepared to offer him about an extra $180 million, or about $30 million a year?[i]$30 freakin? million[/i]?for six years after the final three years were up. So that?s a total of about $261 million over nine years.

A-Rod opted out anyway, mostly likely on the advice of his agent, Scott Boris. Now, that didn?t mean A-Rod wanted out of the Yankees. Oh, no siree Bob. Turns out he wanted to come back, but his agent (with A-Rod’s okay) let the Yankees know that he wouldn?t sit down to talk unless the Yankees were willing to begin negotiations at $350 million.

For real.

The Yankees response was, essentially: Bite me. Get out, buh-bye forever.

And that was that. Or was it?

Now reports are circulating the A-Rod really, really, really, really, really wants to be a Yankee?although I?m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that nobody on God?s green Earth is going to come anywhere near $350 million. He may not get $250 million. (How he?ll live with less than that, I can?t imagine, but we all have our crosses to bear).

Now the Yankees are supposedly saying, okay, we?ll talk, but only if you drop your price massively?and your slime bag agent isn?t part of the discussion. Either no agent or no talk.

Sweet. Ooooh. This is so good …

Story 2: Stephon Marbury Bolts the Knicks, Claims to Have Big Dirt on Isaiah Thomas

The Knicks are a mess. There?s just no other way to say it. The managing partner of the Knicks, Jim Dolan, is a complete pinhead and mockery to mankind. Isaiah Thomas, the Knicks president and coach, might actually be worse.

Again, for those who haven?t been following, not only have the Knicks been one giant, expensive flop of a gossip feeder since Isaiah Thomas came aboard about for years ago, but the latest is that Isaiah Thomas?and Madison Square Garden?was recently found guilty of sexual harassment of one the female executives. Not good.

But this latest bit is golden. On the plane ride after the last lost, Thomas told Stephon Marbury–the Knicks ?star? point guard, and the player Thomas traded for years ago to build around; hasn?t worked out to well so far–that he would be on the bench for the next game. In response to being benched, Marbury did the following:

Not only did he skip the next game and just disappear (which reportedly landed him a $195,000 fine), but he reported shouted out to the team that Thomas couldn?t bench him, because he had a ton of really nasty dirt on Thomas, likely referring to the sexual harassment case. Marbury had to testify?which he did badly, admitting that he had sex in the backseat of his SUV with a Knick assistant (or cheerleader; I can?t remember).

The Knicks have sunk to the point of being a Ricky Lake highlight reel. And I know I shouldn?t love this, but I do. If it gets Isaiah Thomas run out of town, I?m all for it. He needs to go

So New York is full of high drama?and the sports themselves aren?t even part of it.

Game on.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/11/19 20:37

Grandma?s Gone

I found out yesterday that my Grandma Bea died the night before. The last few years weren?t great for her (my dad’s mom), as she had a stroke and never really bounced back. She?d been fading slowly these last couple of years, and it was just time. But she made it to be 98, which really ain?t a bad run, all things considered (Well, at least we think she was 98; she was always pretty secretive about her age).

My grandmother and I were never all that close, although for a few years before herI found out yesterday that my Grandma Bea died the night before. The last few years weren?t great for her (my dad’s mom), as she had a stroke and never really bounced back. She?d been fading slowly these last couple of years, and it was just time. But she made it to be 98, which really ain?t a bad run, all things considered (Well, at least we think she was 98; she was always pretty secretive about her age).

My grandmother and I were never all that close, although for a few years before her stroke we probably talked more than at any other time. But if I have one favorite Grandma Bea story, here it is:

My grandmother lived in a retirement community in New Jersey called Covered Bridge. I had gone to visit her there several times as a kid, on family trips?Thanksgiving and whatnot?but for a period during my 20s I hadn?t made it out there. Skip forward to late 2000. Liz and I were in New Jersey (before we were married), and were driving to the movies or the mall or something, and as we were driving along I noticed the entrance to Covered Bridge. I slammed on the brakes, said, ?Hey, I know that place,? and made a quick U-Turn into the development, scaring the bejeezus out of Liz.

By some Zen magic, I managed to navigate all the twists and curves of the rather large community without making a single wrong turn, and lo and behold I found my grandmother?s apartment, which I hadn?t been to in years. So I parked the car and knocked on her front door, and when my grandmother answered, she was stunned, but really happy to see me. We had a nice visit, and she got to meet Liz for the first time, so that was nice too. (At this point, my grandmother was married to a nice older guy named Leonard; my Grandpa Leon had died many years earlier from Alzheimer?s). I didn?t get too many visits with Grandma Bea after that, but this one day has always stayed with me.

The added twist to this story is that Liz?s own grandmother had also lived in Covered Bridge for many years?at the same time Grandma Bea was there?even though they never knew each other. But it lets me know that Liz and I were connected even back then. (I just like the cosmic ties …)

On another, perhaps stranger note, one good thing came out of Grandma Bea?s stroke?if there can be such a thing. It happened literary a day or two before Sept. 11, 2001, and because of the timing, afterward, she simply had no idea what happened that day (so far as I know). So living in a world without Sept. 11 and everything that has come with it probably isn?t all bad. (Still, I?m sure she?d rather not have had the stroke, but I?m looking for positives here.)

Grandma Bea had a good, long run. She married one nice man, and then another, saw all three of her kids get married, saw three of her grandkids (including me) get married, and has seven great grandkids (although I might be missing one or two; if so, sorry!)

So this blog is dedicated to Grandma Bea, and to everyone who will miss her now that she’s gone.

Re:American Gangster

After I saw the movie I read a lot about Frank Lucas, and apparently the real him–the actual gangster–was a lot more rough and touble than in the movie. Without giving anything away, the Denzel Washington is very smooth, sophisticated and polished, and apparently the real Frank Lucas was essentially illiterate–and a lot more violently ruthless. Smart for sure, but nowhere near the almost classy way he’s presented in the movie.After I saw the movie I read a lot about Frank Lucas, and apparently the real him–the actual gangster–was a lot more rough and touble than in the movie. Without giving anything away, the Denzel Washington is very smooth, sophisticated and polished, and apparently the real Frank Lucas was essentially illiterate–and a lot more violently ruthless. Smart for sure, but nowhere near the almost classy way he’s presented in the movie.

A Hole is Burning … Through my Stomach!

When it comes to food, I am an absolute wuss. My stomach has become so sensitive over the years that I am doubled over in pain if I eat the wrong thing.

Anything spicy? Forget it.

A little spicy? Nope. Can?t do it.

A teeny, tiny bit spicy? Uh … no.

For example, just today I went to a local deli to grab a cup of soup. It?s cold outside, soup is hot. You get the idea. So I went with chicken and couscous, which seemed relatively safe. Except that it was made with a nice helWhen it comes to food, I am an absolute wuss. My stomach has become so sensitive over the years that I am doubled over in pain if I eat the wrong thing.

Anything spicy? Forget it.

A little spicy? Nope. Can?t do it.

A teeny, tiny bit spicy? Uh … no.

For example, just today I went to a local deli to grab a cup of soup. It?s cold outside, soup is hot. You get the idea. So I went with chicken and couscous, which seemed relatively safe. Except that it was made with a nice helping of onion flecks?which is doom for me.

Why then, did I keep eating it? Ah … an excellent question, and one that I wish I had given a little more thought to. Because despite chowing a bunch of large-sized Extra-Strength Tums, I was still in pain, even three hours later.

As I chewed those berry-flavored tablets, I was reminded once again about how insanely selective I have to be about what I eat. Which for me means essentially no Mexican food, which I really like, limited Asian food and only the mildest forms of everything else. Which doesn?t give me a lot of excitement food-wise, but better boring food than having the spices burn a hole through my stomach.

There have been a few times that I?ve been out to dinner with friends and had to leave in a hurry, trying not collapse in the street as I stumbled home while trying to avoid an accidental dookie in my shorts, then chomp down as many Tums as I could tolerate, curl up on the couch in the fetal position praying that I wouldn?t need an ambulance.

Not fun.

So if you ever see me out to eat, don?t expect anything too exotic on my plate. If it ain?t dull, I won?t be eating it. This is all kind of a bummer for me, because I love a good meal, but the other option is a worse bummer still.

Agents of the Hangnail

Over these last months I’ve talked about the query process with agents and even about some of the sometimes bizarre and hilarious rejection notices I’ve gotten.

Last week–after a bit of a quiet period following that last surge of yeses–a few rejections trickled in. And one of them just tickled me, because I’ve gotten a few like them before.

I always know when an agent’s response to one of my queries is an unequivocal no when the envelope the letter comes in ISN’T EVEN SEALED! I mean,Over these last months I’ve talked about the query process with agents and even about some of the sometimes bizarre and hilarious rejection notices I’ve gotten.

Last week–after a bit of a quiet period following that last surge of yeses–a few rejections trickled in. And one of them just tickled me, because I’ve gotten a few like them before.

I always know when an agent’s response to one of my queries is an unequivocal no when the envelope the letter comes in ISN’T EVEN SEALED! I mean, how hard is to seal an envelope? Seriously. You know someone can’t be bothered with you when they consider the energy it takes to actually seal an envelope and think, [i]nah, too much[/i]. [i]Just stick the no in the envelope and if it falls out somewhere along the way, so be it. What do I care?[/i]

Now, when I say they aren’t sealed, sometimes they’re actually not sealed–the flap is folded over into the envelope. And sometimes, like with this last letter, only the very tip, just that little triangle in the center, is moistened to touch just the very tip of the other side, barely hanging on. It’s like the rejection letter equivalent of a hangnail. It’s slightly painful, it’s annoying and it’s barely hanging on … barely. Just this limp, lame excuse of an existence, and easily cast aside.

Whenever I get a response letter from an agent, I get a little anxious, wondering if it’ll be a yes or no. When I get a hangnail letter, let me tell you, there ain’t much suspense there. But it’s so lame that I can’t even be annoyed that I got the rejection letter. Anyone who would send a letter like that isn’t anyone I would want to deal with anyway.

So for all the agents out there who can’t bother to exert enough energy, to, you know … PROPERLY SEAL AN ENVELOPE … how about next time, you invest another two seconds of your time and show a little respect. Hm? Maybe? Whadaya think?

Great. You’re a peach.

Well, at least give it some thought, and while you’re mulling that over, I’ll be sealing an envelope in my mind with your name on it … and hope it doesn’t fall out.

American Gangster

American Gangster–with Denzel Washington and Russell Crow in the leads–has all the makings of a classic crime movie. The fact-based story is compelling, and corrupt cops and gangsters just generally makes for interesting drama.

When it comes to cops and robbers/heist/good guy-bad guy movies, as a viewer, I want one of two things. Either I want to root for the bad guys to get away with it, or I want the good guys to beat the bad guys.

For me, the problem with American Gangster is thaAmerican Gangster–with Denzel Washington and Russell Crow in the leads–has all the makings of a classic crime movie. The fact-based story is compelling, and corrupt cops and gangsters just generally makes for interesting drama.

When it comes to cops and robbers/heist/good guy-bad guy movies, as a viewer, I want one of two things. Either I want to root for the bad guys to get away with it, or I want the good guys to beat the bad guys.

For me, the problem with American Gangster is that I didn’t really care which side won. I won’t give anything away, but even though both leads were very good, and the storytelling was methodical and intricate, it lacked emotional impact. I just didn’t care very much for either character. I didn’t hate the lead characters, but I didn’t root for them either.

So while American Gangster is a well-crafted movie overall, it lacks oomph. I give it a thumbs up, but it was a movie loaded with 4-star potential that falls a little short of the mark.

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