I was up the other night unable to sleep. It happens. Not often, but enough to know that late night television is jammed with 30-minute infomercials. Celebrity promos encouraging us to purchase all sorts of products. From Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty (let’s just agree the woman is gorgeous and even after 30 years she looks practically the same) to Leandro Carvalho’s (I have no idea who he is but he’s very enthusiastic) Brazilian Butt Lift, which finally answers that burning question of why everyone from Brazil has such a firm hiney.
In 1990, before anyone ever heard the name Kardashian, I purchased a mini stair stepper promoted by Bruce Jenner. It looked like a wonderful piece of exercise equipment and sure enough, I stepped my way to the nightly news for three weeks until it started to leak grease all over my carpet. By then, the little stepper was making a high-pitched, whining noise. It sounded like I was killing a cat. I wrote Bruce an angry letter complaining about the poorly built stepper and wondered how an Olympian could ever promote such a piece of junk. Needless to say, he never wrote back. As I learned later, his wife Kris had negotiated the deal. So, in a way, I was an early-adopter of the Kardashian business model. No comment.
Next, I fell victim to a very senior Hugh Downs. This was well after his retirement from the prime time news magazine 20/20. He was promoting a two-volume edition of alternative medical treatments. The pitch: cures the pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know. As a healthcare administrator and part-time hypochondriac, I couldn’t resist. At 2:00 a.m., I placed my order. When the books arrived, they were essentially bundled scientific research papers. Pretty much unreadable to even a guy who had a B.A. in Biology. Continue reading . . .
It’s true. I eat fast food every now and then. You know the places. Sticky tables, dirty bathrooms, and lots of screaming kids. It happens mostly on road trips. And though I’m a picky eater, I have to admit the food is pretty good. I guess there’s no accounting for taste (I couldn’t resist that little play on words. Forgive me).
Most fast-food joints offer patrons free refills even when sodas are sold in a small, medium or large size. So why would anyone buy a large drink when they can refill the cheaper size? Perhaps it has something to do with walking back to the fountain for a refill. Or maybe folks just prefer the large cup. I’m sure they’ve done lots of market research on this, but frankly, it has me stumped.
Now, I don’t particularly like soda. A small cola is more than enough. To be honest, the carbonation gives me heartburn. Or maybe it’s the burger and fries. Thank goodness they don’t offer free refills on the fries. Especially at McDonald’s. Those fries are damn good. But you have to eat them quickly. If you allow them to cool, they take on a rubbery consistency. But piping hot, stand back. It’s french fry time!
And talking about good, who could resist a bucket of southern fried chicken? Friends rave about Church’s. When I was a kid, fried chicken was the only thing I’d eat at a restaurant. Back then, it was a staple. But in today’s health-conscious world, it’s impossible to find fried chicken on a menu. When we lived in California, there was a Kentucky Fried Chicken in downtown Mill Valley. That particular one, as I recall, was busted twice for drugs. I’m certain that wasn’t part of Colonel Sander’s plan, but with recreational marijuana now approved in California, I can’t imagine a better point of distribution.Continue reading . . .
It’s the start of another year and I am feeling tremendously energized. For those who know me well, this is an odd turn of events. Typically, I’m miserable this time of year. Not only because there is another Brad birthday looming, and really, who wants to be another year older, but because the notion of the New Year requires us to focus on making some monumental improvement in our lives. That just puts too much pressure on the month of January. Especially when you can choose any time of the year to make improvements. Perhaps, every day. Okay—that’s too much for anyone. But you get my drift.
I’ve never been one to have New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t operate that way. Instead, as issues arise, I like to make changes. It may take me a while to get there, but eventually, I figure out what to do. If you don’t believe me, you can just check with any of my former therapists. Yes, there have been more than one. I’m certain they’d all give me an A-plus rating. I was especially good at timely payment. Which proves that anything can be solved if you throw enough money at it. Mostly, your resolve to make a change.
But I think the real motivator has been the insurmountable odds of ever being a successful author—and in an odd way—it’s freeing. If it happens, it happens, but it’s so darn unlikely, everyone kind of feels sorry for you. I like that. I like that a lot. Sympathy can be immensely gratifying. And I also love a good challenge. Because when you’re at the bottom—the only way ahead is up—and since everything is still new—it’s very exciting.
Continue reading . . .
I’ve been struggling lately with my powers of concentration. I’m not sure if it is an “aging thing” or just that I’ve been distracted by the production of my second novel, After the Fall. Either way, being anxious and uptight doesn’t seem ideal for the flow of one’s creative juices. I don’t drink, though I’d probably benefit from a shot every now and then. But I digress. My point here is that though I’ve been distracted, I’ve continued to spot things along the way that have troubled me. So I thought I’d share them with you today.
My goal for 2018 is to get my second novel, After the Fall, into your hands. I’m hoping it might have a March 2018 release date. Of course, much work remains to be done, but I feel confident that the novel is solid. Unfortunately, I’m still working on the elevator pitch: the one-minute recap that writers use to telegraph that their novel is a must-read. What I can say is that I love the characters and I’m hoping that you will too.Continue reading . . .
The Holiday Season is here again and there is excitement in the air. Lots of parties, Burl Ives singing “Frosty the Snowman,” and the morning temperatures in Phoenix hovering in the fifties. For those experiencing snow and ice, that doesn’t sound too bad. But for those of us who have managed through months of triple digits, fifty degrees is awfully cold. We’ve pulled out our sweaters with the full knowledge that it’s now or never.
Growing up in New York City, I really don’t recall a big buzz about Hanukah. It always seemed to be the poor step-sister to Christmas. The gorgeous tree in Rockefeller Center. The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes high-kicking in their Santa suits—but of course Santa wears pants, not tights. There was no big hoop-de-doo around spinning the dreidel—though everyone loved potato pancakes and the Hanukah gelt—those chocolate shaped coins covered in gold foil.
No matter your religion, cultural affiliation, or whether you even believe in God, Christmas is just a magical time. Heck, if Ebeneezer Scrooge can find the true meaning of Christmas, there’s hope for us all. So to everyone reading this today, I wish you the best of the Holiday Season. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Sleigh bells ringing. The Hallejuah Chorus. And to my Jewish friends and family, remember that Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas.” Hey, that holiday spirit is just contagious.
There is something going on in our house. Something inexplicable. The volume on the television is too loud. Until it isn’t. And then, you struggle to understand the words being spoken by the actors.
If you’ve read my blog, and by the way, thank you for doing so, you know I am deaf in my left ear. 100% deaf since I was two-years-old. A case of pneumonia killed the nerve. Nonetheless, I’m keenly aware of the volume on the television. And if in doubt, I live with someone who can hear perfectly.
I realize that when commercials are playing, the volume is always louder. That’s so you can hear the commercial whether you’re in the bathroom or standing in front of an open refrigerator (my two favorite spots during commercial interruptions). Okay, I get it. But what about when you’re streaming Amazon or Netflix? There are no commercials. And still, the music to “Mr. Selfridge” is blaring. If I lower the volume, I can barely make out what anyone is saying. Are they mumbling? Is it their British accent? Or have the actors attended the Marlon Brando School of Mumbling? Continue reading . . .
I hate to admit it, but I spend a lot of time looking down. Is this a matter of safety, not wanting to trip, or a reflection of my innate personality? Am I making too much of this? Perhaps. It wouldn’t be the first time.
It isn’t that I’m afraid of falling. My balance is okay. Of course, there are nights when I stumble along in the dark to you know where. When I first step out of bed, my feet are stiff—curled tightly—like claws. Eventually, the muscles relax. I must look like a parrot walking along on the tile, shifting left to right. But no one else is up to see me. Except for the dog. Move, and he’s awake.
I’m not looking down because I’m fascinated with shoes. I could care less. Though in Phoenix, flip-flops almost pass for formal wear. And then there’s the occasional lady in high, spiky heels. It’s amazing to watch her balance on stilts. It’s like watching a circus act without a net.
New York City kid
I think the real reason I look down is based on where I was raised. In New York City, you don’t make eye contact with strangers. Not unless you need something. Otherwise, you’re just asking for trouble. No one wants to be on the end of a hey man, what are you looking at? Best to keep your gaze downward—avoiding the dangerous elements populating your world. Little boys have been beaten up for much less.Continue reading . . .
Growing up in New York City in the 1960s, a poodle lived in our bathroom. Pink, with black eyes and a white bow permanently sewn to its head, it sat atop the back of the toilet tank, beady eyes watching our family during the most intimate of moments. By now you’ve probably guessed that the crocheted body with four tiny legs and a bouncy tail, concealed the extra roll of toilet tissue.
When you live in a one bath apartment, there is a decorating dilemma. That single bathroom serves both family and guests. And so along with the poodle cozy, there were decorative hand towels that we didn’t touch. And now that I think about it, I never did see that poodle lying atop the tank disemboweled. That stuffed poodle was a permanent fixture. The order of the day: reach under the sink if you needed to refill the roll.
Years later, the lessons learned in my childhood are hard to shake. And though we don’t have a poodle cozy for the extra roll of toilet tissue, I remain unwilling to use the decorative hand towels. Why should I have this reaction in my own home? It must be the result of my early toilet training.Continue reading . . .