Friday, December 30, 2011

So Long, 2011!!!

It sucks getting old because the days, weeks, months, and years fly by. The more you accumulate the shorter each seems. Another year is about to come and gone. Holy crap, it's already almost 2012??!!??

Yep, it is. It was a good year for me. It usually is so long as I'm with my family and everyone is healthy. We'll have a new arrival in 2012 so that will make the new year extra special.

So Happy New Year, everyone!!! May 2012 bring you love and joy.

Monday, December 26, 2011

When Melo Saved Christmas

The NBA and Christmas just go together. When I was on my sabbatical from the Knicks this past decade (for peace of mind reasons), Christmas was when I officially got into the NBA season and watched as many non-Knick games as I could as a basketball fan. With the addition of Amar'e Stoudemire last season I made up with the Knicks and started watching them again. They played on Christmas last year and had a rousing victory over the Bulls, but yesterday was different.

Dynamic scorer Carmelo Anthony (my favorite non-Knick player for a long time) was starting his first full season with the team and the Knicks were playing the hated Celtics. The game just seemed bigger and it was. Melo was electrifying, saving the Knicks after they blew a 10 point lead when he went to the bench in the 3rd quarter with foul trouble. He dropped 37 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, leading the team in both categories. He scored the teams final points to secure the last minute victory, 106-104 at the refurbished Garden.

This was the perfect sports anecdote to the debacle that has become of the Jets season. A superstar basketball player on a resurrected historical franchise that has rejuvenated the best basketball fanbase in the country. Thanks, Melo, for making Christmas more merry for us basketball fans.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


To all those who celebrate Christmas, may you all have a Merry Blessed Christmas filled with love and joy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

When Hand-Me-Downs Don't Make It

Last week my wife and I were putting the final touches on the nursery. I had already painted the room and we were boxing up my son's old books and taking down the bookshelf. The last thing was to bring down his old crib from the attic and put it together for his lister sister. When it saw the light of the morning I was blown away. Man, my son had done a number on that crib!

It reminded me of the old INCREDIBLE HULK TV series (next to the Original STAR TREK, my favorite show as a kid). In the pilot, David banner was put into an isolation tank and hulks out. Afterward he and his scientist friend/love interest survey the damage and metal is bent, glass broken, and walls are punched out. That's what the crib looked like to me. Beams were loose, the headboard was cracked, there were deep grooves in the railing, and beams of the bottom metal frame were bent. I don't remember it being like that when I put it away about 4 years ago. Then again, I just wanted to get it out of the room so I could set up his toddler bed.

My wife and I shared a knowing look and I went out and bought a new crib. Hand-me-downs are good and they save money, but they have to be serviceable. My son is a good kid, but he's a bot's boy and prone to destruction. As evidenced by the crib, that propensity showed itself in infanthood.

We had the Baby Shower this past weekend and got a lot of great stuff, mainly replacing some of the stuff that couldn't survive my son. At least with girls they're not as destructive--at least I hope.

Monday, December 12, 2011

WIPing It

Sometimes the saying "new year, same thing" is not a bad thing. Over the weekend, I just refinished revisions on my WIP (work-in-progress), a YA paranormal thriller called LISTEN about teen telepaths who work in a top-secret NYPD unit and sent if off for first round of betaying. I looked at my old files and realized that on December 16, 2010, I sent out the early version of DRAGORO for the first round of betaying. There's something about the Holiday Season that makes me want to finish drafts of books.

Time for me to take a little writing break while I wait for the beta comments. Writing brings both joy and pain. There is the dissapointment, the delays, the anxiety, etc. that you have to fight through because the depression can stop you from writing. Yet once you start writing again and are overtake by the exhileration of the creative process the depression is gone. A fellow writer described it as a drug and in a way it is.

So now I take a break and ready to get my fix in a couple of weeeks.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island. Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between
the United States and the Japanese empire.
--December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressing the United States Congress.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.

"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'

"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?



VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

--Unsigned editorial, September 21, 1897, New York Sun--

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Rainbow Connection

This was a busy holiday weekend for us, with hosting Thanksgiving dinner, painting the nursery, and doing some shopping, but we were able to take a break and see THE MUPPETS, which my wife, son, and I loved. I adored the Muppets when I was a kid and saw THE MUPPET MOVIE when I was 7. When Kermit sang "The Rainbow Connection" in the original movie I cried, and when I saw him sing it in the new flick I got teary eyed as well. In fact, every time I hear the song I get choked up.

The thing is, ever since I was a child I was more fascinated in song lyrics than the music. I'm still that way. I always like to know what the singer is saying. I've always been drawn to the story teller songs and songs that say something. I was a melancholy kid and I never believed that wishes came true. I guess I've always been the never-say-die pessimist. I believe the worst will happen, but I still fight against it.

"The Rainbow Connection" spoke to me. It's about the disenchanted clinging to the notion of finding the enchanted. Lovers and Dreamers believe in wishes, but the singer (Kermit), does not, but he still searches for the rainbow connection--the stuff of dreams, what has made people wish upon stars and enchanted sailors long ago. The song made me sad and hopeful, sad because I felt like the singer, the outsider who doesn't believe and hopeful that I would one day find the answer.

I'm not sure if I've ever found it, but I do believe in dreams and wishes. They do come true. Not always, of course, but the thing about wishes is that sometimes its never something you've asked for, but once you realize you have it you'll never want to let it go.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! At this time we’re supposed to recognize the things we’re thankful for. My son is in 1st Grade, but I remember a great art project he had two years ago in pre-K at this time of year. He had to do a collage of the things he was thankful for. He chose seven things: his family, his friends, his church, animals, flowers, clothing, and food. That’s a pretty good list and I’m adopting that again for this Thanksgiving.

I’m also thankful for memories. As a kid my family used to always go to my grandparents apartment on 105th and 1st Avenue in El Barrio. The apartment was always jam packed with my extended family and the food was amazingly good. I never wanted to go, however, because I wanted to see the King Kong marathon on Channel 9 and the adults wouldn’t let me. Now that that time is long gone and my grandparents are in heaven I wish I had enjoyed those times more.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Writing & The Parable of the Talents

The Gospel reading at mass this past Sunday was on my favorite parable, "The Parable of the Talents", which is found in Matthew 25:14-30. It's the last parable in Matthew's gospel. We know the story: A wealthy master leaves on a journey and entrusts 8 talents to 3 slaves (each talent being worth about 15 years' worth of laborer wages), "each according to his abilities." The first slave is given 5 talents and he turns that into 5 more, the second is given 2 talents and he turns that into 2 more, but the third buries his 1 talent in the ground because he was afraid of his master. When the master returns he commends the first 2 slaves in the same way, but he admonishes the third as a "wicked, lazy slave" and throws him out of his house.

I've always viewed this parable as an allegory about the unique abilities God has given us, be it artistic, althetic, musical, etc. and our duty to maximize them as the best we can. I was born with the ability to draw and sculpt. Yes, I believe it is inate rather than learned because my mother was a good artist and my father was good in woodcrafting and from a very early age I could draw and sculpt in non traditional means--that is, I could make anything out of aluminum foil and colored tape. I believe I took those abilities as far as I could, but there was one ability that was always in the background, that combined those 2 talents--story telling. I never drew or sculpted in a vacuum. It was always related to a story I made, either purely original or something based on my favorite movies, TV shows, etc. The stories were elaborate, but I never bothered to write them down other than by basic outline. So, in essence, that ability has been with me the longest, but I had ignored it.

I blooged about in July about my creative epiphany back in November 1997 after I saw the movie TITANIC. Around that time "The Parable of the Talents" was a Gospel reading at mass. It was all linked for me. I had done nothing with my story telling abilities at that time. God had given me these creative gifts and I had been wasting them. I was that lazy, wicked slave. I had to make peace with God. I promised myself that after I graduated, passed the bar, and got a job I’d take some writing courses and start writing. No matter where my writing leads me, I know I've done my best to maximize my ability and will continue to do so to the best of my ability. As "The Parable of the Talents" reveals, that is all that God asks of me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Honor of Veterans Day

Today is the 58th Annual Veterans Day, having replaced Armistice Day which had been first proclaimed by then President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. My father and I served in the U.S. Army, and uncles, cousins, and dear friends of mine also served in the U.S. armed forces. To them and all past and present veterans—especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice—I honor you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Army, Magic & November 7, 1991

Twenty years ago this past Sunday, November 6, 1991 was my first day as a member of the United States Army. I reported to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, got sworn in, and was flown out to Fort Leonardwood, Mousouri for processing and the commencement of basic training. It was a scary time for me, being the first time in my life I had been away from my family. I had three years ahead of me on my enlistment. That day was much of a blur. The next day, November 7, 1991 is much more vivid in my memory.

I was taking a prolonged physical and receiving every kind of shot known to man. Me and the other enlistees were pretty quiet going through it until a buzz swept through the rooms we were in. A sergeant put on a TV in another room which I could see in the distance. I remember squinting to see what was going on and then I heard it because the images were so small. Magic Johnson had announced in a press conference that he had contracted HIV and was retiring from the NBA. I was floored.

Back then most if not all the people I knew who had HIV or full blown AIDS were celebrities and they all died from the dreadfull disease. So I was devastated that Magic, one of my favorite players, was soon going to die. Soon, because that was the thought process back then. No one survived for long and certainly not for 20 yrs with the disease. But here we are, 2 decades later.

His survival is a testament to modern medicine, Magic's willpower, and the fortune that he amassed in order to combat the disease. But I don't mean that to be cynical. That's just the way it was and still is to a certain extent. Yet the truth is that many people today get the same treatment as Magic and are living with that disease. It's not an automatic death sentence as it had been. There is still a long way to go, but that is a start.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Patriot Week

Back in late September I wrote about the Jets' 16 one-game season this year when every loss is a catastrophy. I wrote that after the Jets lost their first game of the season to fall to 2-1. Of course, the hysteria got much worse after the Jets lost 3 in a row. But a funny thing happened on the way to the end of the football world--it didn't end. There was still much left to the season after the first 5 games and a record of 2-3.

The Jets have gone on to win 3 in a row and now sit at 5-3. The Patriots handed the Jets their third straight loss and, in a bit of symmetry, come to MetLife Stadium on their own 2-game losing streak. Patriot week is always exciting and now the Jets have a chance to return the favor.

There's no team in the NFL I loathe more than the Patriots. It's beyond jealousy. It's mainly because of the hypocracy surrounding the team, the media and fans belief fueled mainly by reputation rather than production. All sports dynasties come to an end and the Patriots dynasty ended 7 years ago, but the sports world ignored that. Now, this Sunday night, there will be further proof that the dynasty has been long dead. Or at least I hope. Hey, I'm a Jet fan.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thanks NaNoWriMo!

A year ago today I started something that altered the course of my writing career. I decided to partake in the National Novel Writing Month where writers commit to write at least a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. I started on November 1, 2010 and got to 50,000 words and a complete first draft by Thanksgiving weekend. The book? Then it was called ALEJANDRO AND THE DRAGON OF CANTABRIA, which is now known as DRAGORO.

So, yes, this is a pleasant anniversary for me. A year ago I didn't know if I could complete a book in such a short of time, but I did it. I then went through numerous drafts before querying and the book finally landed me an agent--an awesome agent in fact with a fantastic agency. A year ago I only dreamed of that happened and about 7 months after I started it happened.

I'm still working on revisions for DRAGORO in order to go on sub so I won't be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. But I am forever grateful for it. Thanks, NaNoWriMo and good luck to the tens of thousands of writers participating in it this month.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

As I've mentioned before, October 1st starts the unofficial Halloween season for me and to celebrate I read a scary book or two and watch some scary movies from my DVD/Blu Ray collection. Unfortunately, this year I was slacking. I didn't get to read a scary book this month, although I did read A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. No, it wasn't scary and I love A Song of Ice and Fire, but it is kinda scary how all the good guys are punks in the books and how misogynist the series is. And, no, it's not because of the time period.

Regardless, I did get to read two excellent YA creapfests not too long ago--THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and POSSESS--so that might make up for me missing the scary read this month. I did redeem myself, though, by seeing THE THING prequal in the movie theater and watching my DVD of the classic made-for-TV horror flick, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK.

Yes, the 1973 original that I saw as a kid in syndication and it scared the bejeezus out of me. My son is big on Halloween (mainly because of the costumes and candy--like most kids), and wants to watch scary stuff, but it's scary cartoons and he still gets nightmares. The closest I got to being scared of a cartoon was the Grinch, and I was much younger than him. The benefit (or the curse?) of having much older siblings is that they exposed me to all the stuff they watched as teens, including the horror flicks. So when I was my son's age I was terrified by some scary stuff. Then there was the Son of Sam thing so I had TV and real life to traumatize me. But everything paled in comparison to 1979 when ALIEN came out.

I was 7 and although I was too young to see the movie, my brother did and told me all about it, which scared the heck out of me. A young masochist, I asked for the Alien 18" figure the following May as a Communion gift (ironic, no?) and after I got it I immediately regretted it. That thing stalked me throughout the house. My cruel brother used it against me, putting it in the doorway of my room at night which trapped me in my bed under the covers until someone came and got me in the morning. I eventually asked my pops to destroy it, which I thought he did. Instead, he put it in the shed and I stumbled upon it sometime later and never went neer the shed again. Those two years were essentially Halloween everyday.

So Happy Halloween everyone.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Game 7

Few things in pro team sports is better than a World Series Game 7. Few? Probably the only thing better is a Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 in Overtime. That is incredibly nerve racking, even if you don't root for either team. But a World Series Game 7 is absolutely classic.

The hardluck Texas Rangers know first hand the baseball truism--you can't run out the clock. In the other pro team sports, when a team has a lead they play defense and try to run out the clock. Not in baseball, of course. You have to get those final 3 outs, be it on 3 pitches or dozens of pitches. That's the thing about baseball. It has spasmodic tension. You sit and wait for the pitch to be thrown and for that second you wait for it to reach the plate your heart is in your throat, then you react to what happens, and calmed down before the anxiety returns for the next pitch.

That is what it was like 100 fold last night for both Rangers and Cardinals fans and, baseball fans like me. Twice the Rangers were 1 strike away from being World Champions and twice the Cards were 1 strike away from their season ending. One strike, one second, and sports history changes.

The Cards had comebacks (yes, plural) for the ages. Never before had a team overcome two 2-run deficits in the 9th inning and later and the Cards did that. The media is talking about choking, about the misplay by Nelson Cruz (which it was that allowed the tying runs in the 9th) and Felize's Jose Mesa immitation, but it all comes down to the nature of baseball. The purity of the game.

George Will once said (I believe it was him), that football is the way were are, but baseball is the way we should be. Everyone gets a last chance. You're down and they still have to throw the ball to you. They can't run out the clock. You've got three outs to do the improbable, because with baseball, nothing is impossible.

It's been 9 years since the last World Series Game 7. Then it was the Angels vs. the Giants and the Giants had blown a 5-0 7th inning lead in Game 6. They lost Game 7. Baseball was cruel to them in 2002 and rewarded a franchise that had never won a title in its 40+ years of existence in the Angels. But baseball rewarded the Giants last year after having not won a championship in the 52 years it at been in San Francisco. This after the White Sox and Red Sox both had ended their nearly century long title draughts not long ago. That's baseball, where nothing is impossible.

Monday, October 24, 2011

THE THING Then and Now

Back-to-back weekends going to the movies, I'm getting summer flashbacks. This past summer it seemed like every week I was taking my wife and son to a big movie. This time I flew solo and saw the prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 classic, THE THING. Both movies share the same title and the creators of the new one did a great job making sure their film matched Carpenter's movie. As we all know, THE THING (both the 2011 and 1982 films) concern a group of researchers in Antarctica battling a shapeshifting alien than absorbs the creature it mimics. In the 1982 film it is a group of Americans who stumble upon the alien (in the form of a dog) after it escapes a Norwegian research camp it just destroyed. The 2011 film concerns the Norwegians (with a sprinkle of Americans in there).

The film makers of the 2011 movie had the right tone with the suspense, look of the film, and the actors did a credible job. I was also impressed that the little snippets we saw in the Carpenter film about what had happened in the Norwegian camp became plot points in the prequel. I rewatched the older movie yesterday and I was like, "ah, they included that as well."

Unfortunately, the new movie has not done well at the box office, only taking in $14 million thus far. The 1982 film only grossed $19 million, but the true classic scifi/horror pics are rarely box office successes early on. They usually gain a following much after. Consider that in 1982, both BLADE RUNNER and THE ROAD WARRIOR were released and made less than $30 million.

I don't know if the new THE THING will fall into that category, but it's a movie I definitely look forward to see again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

REAL STEEL and the Love of Boxing

Took my wife and son to see REAL STEEL this past Sunday and I'm happy to say we all really enjoyed it. Boxing and robots, a perfect combination. The thing is, when I was growing up my father's two favorite sports were boxing and baseball. Back then there was much more boxing on free TV so we got to see the big fights on regular broadcast. It might be a Puerto Rican thing, because my wife shares my same love of boxing. The sweet science is pretty much in disarray today for too many reasons to name and "big fights" are never worth the PPV fee, but there is something about it that still draws us.

My wife and I rarely watch TV together. It's usually for HBO series such as Boardwalk Empire or Game of Thrones. But early in our marriage we were hooked on The Contender, a reality TV competition for boxers created by Sly Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonhard. We absolutely loved it and my wife would go crazy during the fights (she still does when she watches them), boxing along with the fighters. We were so dissapointed when the show wasn't renewed by NBC. That was great television and great quality time spent together.

So we had a bit of that watching REAL STEEL, but this time we had our son with us. He, of course, likes to play fight. When I took him to see KUNG FU PANDA when he punched me in the eye when I wasn't looking. During REAL STEEL, my wife and son boxed along with the robots, reminding me how it used to be when my wife and I saw fights together. There's another PPV fight coming up in November that we're going to see at a friend's house. It will be another dissapointment, most likely. But at least we had REAL STEEL, same as we had with THE FIGHTER, which my wife loves. It brought us back and with our son, moved us forward.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


They say that pregnant women have a "nesting" instinct where, late in pregnancy, they get a burst of energy to get things ready for the arriving baby. We experienced that first hand back in 2005. My wife and I were shopping for a house every weekend and on the morning of Saturday, July 30 she said we should take a break. So we stood home and set up the basinet and other things in our apartment. She was still 2 weeks away so I didn't think much of it. Sure enough, she went into labor the next day.

This time around we're in forced nesting mode with my wife being 6 months pregnant and our house (yes, we did end up buying a house in 2005) needing to be rearranged to get things ready for our baby girl. For one thing, my 6 year old son is still in the "nursery" (the smallest room in the house) and we have to turn the guest room into his new bedroom. Complicating matters was that we needed to get our unfinished basement finished so we could move things down there (including my workout equipment which had been slumming in the guest room). Well, the contractors finally finished last weekend and we moved what we could down there.

This weekend we went about finishing setting up the basement, painting my son's new room, and buying him all new furtiture. My wife and I are exausted, but it was well worth it. We still have the nursery to set up but that will be a smaller project. Who could have ever thought nesting could be so draining?

Friday, October 7, 2011

And So It Ends for the Yankees...

As I wrote exactly a week ago, I didn't like the Yankees matchup with the Tigers because I thought the Tigers were the best team in the American League. And that proved last night as the Tigers won a decisive Game 5 in the Bronx last night. The Tigers had a better lineup, better pitching staff, and equal bullpen to the Yanks. Add to that the Yankee hitters being utterly clutchless in big spots and this was a recipe for a Yankee postseason heartbreak, which it was.

The sports media will harp on pitching, but the common thread for the Yankee postseason losses (5 division round losses over the last 10 years) is their utter lack of clutch hitting. Alex Rodriguez finally came alive in 2009, but after an injury riddled season and being 36 even if he could have mentally repeated his exploits of 2009 his body wouldn't allow it. Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, on the other hand, two key middle of the order guys, have been their usual postseason useless self. Swisher, in fact, is 1-31 with men in scoring position in his postseason career. That's staggering.

So while this season started with muddled expectations because of the Yanks' failure to get ace extraordinaire Cliff Lee, and questions about their pitching staff, it has been their consistant Achilles' Heal that has done them in--lack of clutch hitting. That is much harder to solve because of the money involved in guys like ARod and Tex. You can sign a free agent and you won't know if he is clutch in pinstripes until the opportunity presents itself. Of course, as we have seen with the likes of Giambi, Sheffield, ARod, Tex, and Swisher, that will be too late.

Monday, October 3, 2011

An Early Fall

When I first took my writing seriously, I enrolled in Gotham Writers Workshop about 11 years ago. In one of my first fiction writing classes I wrote a short story called An Early Fall, about the twenty-something daughter of a mid-forties mother with a debilitating illness and the debate over whether to send her sent to a rehabilitation center/nursing home. It was an allusion to my life, or a portent, with my mother suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. My mother was in plateau at the time, her illness had progressed for the then last 7 years that she needed to retire and walk with a cane, but she could still take care of herself. Of course, my father was there to help her.

Over the last 5 years my mother's illness has progressed rapidly to the extent that she his paralyzed in the right arm, can't walk, and we had to have live in a rehab center/nursing home. This past Saturday, I went to see her on her 69th birthday. My mother also suffers from dementia, so this makes her condition particularly worse. Now, the big issue is that she has partially lost the use of her jaw. She going to see the specialist to determine the cause, but we already know that it's the MS.

I once thought 69 was old, but as I got older I've known very spry 69 and 70 yr olds. My father was at that age. He's 77 now. So that short story has proved true to a certain extent. For my mother, it has been an early fall.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Another Yankee Postseason

Despite being a Jets fan, I've been blessed as a sportsfan. I grew up in a baseball split house. My mom, sister, and I were Yankee fans while my pop and brother were Met fans. But neither side hated the other team so we used to go to both Yankee and Met games all the time. Because of that, my first great sports memory was the dissapointment of the 1976 Yankee World Series loss to the Reds. It's more of an emotional memory than remembering events. I remember the dissapointment of my family. Then 1977 and the great penant race of '78, which both culminated in Yankee championships. I was also able to celebrate the Mets' triumph in 1986, unfortunately, their last championship.

Since I've been following baseball I've got to celebrate 8 championships in my lifetime (8 Yankee titles and 1 Mets). That's more than I could ever ask for. That has balanced out the annual heartbreak of the Jets (who went from laughing stock to perennial contender) and the embarrassment of the Knicks under the stewardship of the Scourge of New York Sports, the second worst owner in the history of this town, James Dolan (he's not 1st only because the worst owner committed outright fraud to buy the Islanders and ended up in jail because of it. Yes, Dolan only fell to No. 2 because someone else was a criminal).

Now another postseason for the Yanks is upon us, the 20th in my lifetime. Amazing considering the Yanks missed the posteason for 13 straight years. This is a tough matchup in the first round against the Detroit Tigers, who I think is the best team in the American League. I'll be rooting hard as I always do, but at the same time I'm eternally grateful for the wonderful memories I have of championships past.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sixteen One-Game Seasons

The saying used to be that for the New York Yankees they played 162 one-game seasons each year based on the media and fan scrutiny. Every loss was the end of the world and every win euphoric. That's what happens when you're a winning team. So what do you get when you combine those feelings with a doom-and-gloom fanbase who had suffered PTFD (post traumatic fandom disorder), you get the New York Jets!

The Jets lost yesterday to fall to 2-1, the same record they started last season when they went to their second consecutive conference championship game after going 11-5. Reading the message boards none of the past matters. Heck, nothing last week matters. Jets lost this week and many fans are conceeding the season, saying that the team won't make the playoffs. It's absurd, of course, but Jet fans are mainly absurd. They've constantly killed Mark Sanchez and make the ludicrous claim that "he hasn't improved," but he has actually been better by essentially every metric. That doesn't matter when doom-and-gloom is part of your fandom DNA.

So we have these 16 one-game seasons this year and right now the world is at an end because the Jets lost. We'll see how next season is after this coming game Sunday night.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Losing a First Love

While I wait on John to get back to me on the revisions forDRAGORO, I've jumped back into writing my WIP, a YA paranormal thriller called LISTEN. I had stopped at 10,000 words when I got the offer of rep and spent my writing time on the revisions. I took a little hiatus before picking up the WIP, revising the first part and adding some more so I'm about halfway through the first draft. In the past when I was between projects I would spend my time with my first creative love--drawing & rendering.

I was drawing since I was in diapers. That, and making sculptors out of aluminum foil and colored tape. Those were my first two creative loves. I stopped sculpting as my writing took prominence 10 years ago, but drawing has been with me forever. I had first started out in pencil and by my teenage years moved on to pencil with ink and then finally paint markers that were popular with illustrators and production designers of the day. The coloring part of it is called rendering for those that don't know.

Always a big comic book fan, I became infatuated with the then new way comic books were colored--through digitial painting. The program of choice was and still is Photoshop. So about 7 years ago I bought the program along with a Wacom Tablet which uses a stylus that acts just like a pencil or pen. I instantly fell in love and all my renderings have been done on the computer. I'd start with a pencil drawing and scan it, or do a digital drawing in Photoshop and then get to painting. I had spent hours upon hours doing it.

Unfortunately, that seems to have taken it's toll. Back in May when I started working on the Dragon piece for DRAGORO, I began to feel a sharp pain in the third finger of my right hand while working with the stylus. I thought it was just fatigue or the way I was holding the stylus. The problem was that with the pain I no longer had the control of the stylus as I needed. I still feel that discomfort today, but while writing and I've noticed that my penmanship has suffered.

I haven't drawn or rendered anything of substance since June. I'm worried that the pain will return. But I can deal with the pain. The problem is the resultant lose of control of the stylus or pencil, the tools I use to put my visions to canvas, digital or otherwise.

I will try again, perhaps after I finish the first draft of my WIP. But I can see the writing on the wall. I'm slowly losing my first love.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Great Mariano Rivera

The other day, New York Yankee great Mariano "Mo" Rivera recorded his 600th save, only the second closer in MLB history to do that. The San Diego Padre's longtime closer Trevor Hoffmann retired after 601 saves, which means Mo will be the all-time saves leader with 2 more saves. Yet his Hall of Fame resume is so ridiculous that he'd still be a first ballot entry to Cooperstown without the saves record.

I recently debated with a friend about who are the great closers in MLB history. I agreed with his choices and he disagreed with some of mine. It didn't Obama-it, mind you, and conceded my choices and call it a comprise. Instead, I explained that it is the problem of relativity in that Mo makes every other closer utterly pale in comparison.

Mo is the Babe Ruth of closers. In 1927, Babe Ruth hit more home runs than many teams combined. Babe Ruth was simply that much better than everyone else. That is how Mariano Rivera is with closers. It is unfair to judge other closers to his standards because they will always come out wanting. In life, we all can be great, but sometimes there are those whose greatness outshines everyone else. One of those is Mariano Rivera. Congratulations, Mo. It has been an honor watching you pitch all these years.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memoriam, 9/11

Ten years. I don’t know if it feels like yesterday or decades ago. That day remains vivid in my mind, however. What I have a hard time remembering was September 10, 2001. I remember going down to court the week before. The courthouse was not far from the World Trade Center. Coming out of the subway the towers were to my left in the distance, dominating the skyline. I go to that same subway station and I have a hard time remembering how the towers looked from that view. It puzzles me. Pre-9/11 seems like a dream. Maybe that’s why I can’t tell if it feels like yesterday or in the distant past. There seems to be no prologue. Just the post-9/11 world that I’ve become accustomed.

I can look back on my life of the last ten years and so much has changed. I got married, bought a house, we have a son and now a daughter on the way. Life has endured, as America has endured despite what had happened. That was probably the hardest thing to foresee on 9/11. How life would go on.

Nearly three thousand people were murdered that day and their loved ones have had to find a way to live on, and they have. There are countless articles and exposés on them out now to commemorate the anniversary. To the survivors, this past decade has been an elegy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy 45th Anniversary, Star Trek!!!

Forty-five years ago today on September 8, 1966, NBC aired "The Man Trap," for the original STAR TREK. It was the first episode of the series aired, but it was not the first produced. Back then, studios got to chose what episodes to air and NBC likely chose "The Man Trap" because of it's monster-on-the-loose storyline. The original STAR TREK lasted only 3 seasons, but as we all know it became a cultureal phenomenon in reruns. Since I was born after the series went off the air, that's how I became a fan and have remained such for all these years.

As I previously wrote, my moral framework was formed by STAR TREK. I was a toddler glued to the screen watching reruns of the original series on WPIX. Yes, that’s completely geeky, but so what? I remember when I found out as an early teen that the US didn’t follow the Prime Directive (i.e., all peoples—alien or otherwise—had a right to self determination) and was devastated by that. There is something inherently noble about the original STAR TREK universe. Dave Marinaccio’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek perfectly captures what I learned from STAR TREK and all what I needed to know how to live, what to do, and how to be:

- Each person or each species, no matter how alien, has the right to live their lives as they wish. (AS long as they’re not trying to take over the galaxy or eat you or something.)

- Everyone has a role in life. Sulu is the navigator. Uhura is the communications specialist. Do your own job and the ship will function more smoothly.

- Whatever you are doing, answer a distress call. The most important time to help someone is when they need it.

- If you mess something up, it’s your responsibility to make things right again (Say you disrupt history and cause the Nazis to win World War II. To correct matters, you have to let Joan Collins walk in front of a car even though you’re in love with her.)

- The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play

- If you can keep your head in a crisis you’ve got a fighting chance.

- The unknown is not to be feared. It is to be examined, understood and accepted.

- Close friends become family and family is the true center of the universe.

- End every episode with a smile.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. It was a sort of epiphany seeing this. Yes, this is how we should live. Thank you, Gene Roddenberry and STAR TREK, and happy anniversary!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to School!

Today was my son's first day of 1st grade. I was more excited about it than he was. It's a half day and he was more amped about the scheduled playdate with his two budies, twins named Josh & Joey, when school lets out. I handled this better than his first real day of school, which I blogged about two years ago when he started Pre-K.

We ended the summer on a good note. I took him to Splish Splash on Sunday after church and we went to see Spy Kids 4 yesterday because he really wanted to try out the "Aroma Scope," the scratch-n-sniff gimmick that went with the movie. Whatever he wants because now he has a long year ahead.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Farewell Summer

Jeesh, it's September 1st already. Where the heck did the summer go? I do feel that as I've gotten older the days have become shorter (since I've accumulated so many in my existence) that a week is like a day and a month is like a week. For my son starting 1st Grade next week, the summer was like a year. But, of course, he's lamenting going back to school. Don't get me wrong: he loves it, but he loves camp more.

Me? I didn't take a vacation this year. I hardly do anyway and work through summer. But I enjoy the sun waking me in the morning before I get ready for the day and still being out when I leave work in the evening. The nice temperatures (I can even deal with a heat wave). That is what I lament. Spring is my favorite season because I think of birth and renewal. Life begins anew. The fall, while beautiful with the comfortable temperatures (and football season, of course), is bittersweet. If makes me think of endings and death.

The official end of summer is not until the end of September, but Labor Day has always marked it for me (and millions of others, of course). So goodbye, summer. It was fun, but all too quickly gone.

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Better Sometimes to be Lucky than Good

I'm back in the office like a normal Monday morning. Thankfully, my house never lost power and there was no flooding in my area. The most damage we had was the wind had blown out a window pane in the basement and I was able to glue it back. Saturday night I had made sure all the windows were shut along with every door in the house, all loose items outside secured in the garage, and we slept on an air mattress in the middle of the living room. Actually, my wife and son slept on the air mattress while I slept on the couch.

We were calm, but once I saw the potential for a tornado warning on the news around 11 pm I admittedly got nervous. After my wife and son fell asleep I packed us an extra set of clothes, got my home and car insurance policy together, home info, as well as my portable hardrive (hey, I had to save my writing), and put it at the entrance to the basement. The fridge was nearby for a quick grab of the gallons of water we had.

We have an old house and it can withstand rain and wind, but a tornado? Uhm, no. So I made sure I had everything nearby just in case we had to make a quick run to the basement. Thankfully, by the morning the tornado warning had been lifted.

NYC got lucky because Irene hit us straight on, but it had lingered up the coast for so long that it had weakened and only packed 60 mph winds by the time it made landfall on Coney Island. If we had been hit witha Cat 1 or Cat 2 like what happened down south, NYC and upstate would have been in a world of hurt. There's a tremendous amount of flooding upstate already. It could have been far worse.

Mayor Bloomberg is taking some media hits for being "overprepared" and "hyping the storm" based on the notion that he had overreacted because of his administration's incompetent response to the Christmas Blizzard. Such criticism is moronic. What was the alternative? Downplaying it and being undone by a catestrophic storm? NYC got lucky. The storm didn't turn. It came straight on. Only nature saved us. As the saying goes, it's better sometimes to be lucky than good.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Calm Before the Storm

Like most New Yorkers, this is all new to me. Mayor Bloomberg ordered the mandatory evacuation of low lying areas of NYC (known as Hurrican Evacuation Zone A) in anticipation of Hurricane Irene and the MTA is shutting down the subways starting at noon tomorrow. It takes them 8 full hours to shut down the system so the tracks will be clear by the time the storm hits.

Fortunately for me and my family, we live outside the evacuation zones so the biggest threat is downed power lines (trees are every where in my neighborhood, which is a far cry from the concrete jungle I grew up in in the Bronx).

So now it's beautiful and sunny outside without a hint of the storm. That's where the old cliche comes from because as we know, cliches become cliches because they're true, at least mostly.

So everyone in Irene's path (why do female named hurricane's cause the most trouble?) be safe and I hope and pray there isn't too much damage.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Today is a big day for my friend Gretchen McNeil. It's the release of her YA paranormal creep fest POSSESS about a teenage exorcist. Yes, I know, that sounds amazingly cool all by itself. Anyway, it's out in bookstores today as well as available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and ebook apps for iPad and Adroid devices. I picked up mine today at the 5th Avenue Barnes & Noble in NYC. Here's the pick.

I love "in the wild" pics. Pick up your copy today!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Taking a Breather

Well, yesterday I emailed John the revised version of DRAGORO. This was the second round of revisions and I think I'm getting closer. John has a full slate of stuff to read, so it may take him some time to get back to me. That's perfect because it gives me time to take a breather from writing.

When I had gotten John's offer of representation, I had been 10,000 words into my WIP, a YA paranormal thriller called LISTEN about a teen telepath who works for the government to thwart domestic terrorism. I had to put that down to work on DRAGORO revisions, so I've been writing straight for about four months with only a short break here or there. Now, I'll take a week or two off to recharge and get back into LISTEN.

For now, I'll just relax, which does seem kinda odd. Last night I didn't even turn on my computer when I got home (instead did my web surfing on my Tab 10.1). I don't know how long I can stay away, though.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Yes, it's only the preseason opener, and yes the starters will only play for a quarter, but I'm totally amped for the Jets first game since last season's AFC title game loss. The Jets play the Houston Texans tonight in Texas and we'll get to see some promising big-bodied rookies on the defensive line (Mo Wilkerson and Kendrick Ellis) and hyped rookie WR/KR/PR Jeremy Kerley for extended period of time. We won't get to see key addition Plaxico Burress because he's still in NJ nursing a sprained ankle, but still--this is football!

With all the hype hate division rivals the New England Patriots are getting this offseason (as always by the gushing media), despite the fact that the Jets have owned the Pats in the Rex Ryan era, this has the makings of a great season. As Bart Scott famously said after trouncing the Pats in last year's playoffs: "Can't wait!"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Today is the Only Guarantee

I just came across the incredibly sad news that the husband of one of Dystel & Goderich's authors, Jennie Perillo, died suddenly at the young age of 51, leaving behind his wife and their two daughters, age 8 and 3. Jennie made an eloquent post about her husband's passing on her blog and put up a heart wrenching video of her husband dancing with one of their daughters. I'm teary eyed just linking the post and video. She closes her post by saying, "today is the only guarantee we can count on." That is so true.

With news like this I can't help but think about my own mortality. I'm younger than Jennie's husband, but not that much younger to be foolish to believe that such an untimely death can happen to me. I have a 6 year old son and my wife is pregnant with our second child. What if I leave them behind in an instant?

I realize that I have one wish in life, a selfish wish, but a wish nonetheless. That I get to see my children become adults. I've suffered my share of bad things in life and I know an undeniable truth--bad things happen to good people just like they do to bad people. On a tangent, that's why I thought the underlying premise of the movie Signs was inherently flawed. A pastor loses faith because his wife dies? Really? Hello, bad things happen to everyone. In fact, the most terrible things usually happen unexpectedly, like what happened to Jennie and her daughters this past weekend.

All we have--all I have--is today. I kissed my wife and son goodbye this morning as I went to work and she was dropping him off at camp. Am I guaranteed to see them again tonight? Tomorrow? No. That's life and we live in an unbelievably cruel world. All I know is that I'll always love them and cherish every moment we have together.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Planet of the Apes Reborn

Movie-wise, I've been very lucky. Two beloved franchises that shaped my childhood--Star Trek and Planet of the Apes--have been rebooted for the 21st Century with stellar movies. Star Trek was not that much of a surprise, considering JJ Abrams was involved, although I did have my misgivings. Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out of nowhere. I didn't know about it until I saw the trailor a few months back (a rarity for someone like me who scpurs the net for new geek stuff). I found the trailor and was impressed with the CGI work. With WETA (Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, and Avatar) doing the motion-capture work I know it was going to look great. But it was the story itself along with the odes to the original franchise that blew me away when I saw it over the weekend. Better yet, I took my 6-year-old son with me and he loved it. Now we both share a love for the Apes.

I was actually younger than my son when I fell in love with the franchise. That was right before Star Wars came out. My older brother was already a sci-fi geek so besides Saturday Morning Cartoons, there was Star Trek in syndication, and weekend movies of Planet of the Apes, Forbidden Planet, Fantastic Voyage, and Journey to the Center of the Earth. There was also Godzilla movies and "Creature Feature" on Channel 5 which was a Saturday afternoon show broadcasting monster flicks every week. Man, I loved monsters back then. But, really, it was mainly all about Star Trek and Planet of the Apes.

Back then (well before Oprah), ABC Channel 7 used to broadcast between 4:30 and 6 pm a weekly movie. Planet of the Apes week was my favorite. I never missed it. The original used to be split into 2 and the other days showed 3 movies (Beneath, Escape, and Conquest). The last one, Battle for the Planet of the Apes was still in primetime movie rotation so when CBS broadcast it at night I lobbied hard to stay up to watch it and, fortunately, my parents always obliged.

In retrospect, Star Trek and Planet of the Apes were perfect counterweights. Star Trek showed the promise of the future while Planet of the Apes showed its bleakness. I gravitated more toward Apes in my story telling because I was never one for happy endings. But with the brilliant rebirth of the franchise, in a sense, I got my happy ending afterall.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Cutthroat Business

More than any other professional sport, the NFL is a cutthroat business. Without fully guaranteed contracts, teams sign a player to a megadeal one year and then threaten to cut him the next if he didn't live up to the deal that first season. Because of that, players look to get the most upfront money they can get and also renegotiate later on when they think they've outperformed their contracts. Then there are the heartbreaking stories of players who careers end on one play with a spinal or neck injury and then the team cuts them not long after.

Not as an extreme example, but more evidence of the cutthroat nature of the business is the story of longtime New York Jet, Jerricho Cotchery, who was cut yesterday. He had been with the Jets since 2004, misguidedly buried on the bench by then head coach Herman Edwards, blossomed as a starter under Edward's coaching replacement Eric Mangini, and being a dependable veteran under current coach, Rex Ryan.

Ironically, Cotchery's most memorable play happened last year--his final season with the team. In overtime against Cleveland, Cotchery shook off a hamstring injury suffered during a play, hobbled to stop, jumped and caught the ball. I'll always remember that picture:

That is Cotchery to me. He gave himself to the betterment of the team. But the NFL is also a business. According to reports, Cotchery had been dissapointed to be the Jets number 3 receiver and wanted to go elsewhere where he could be the number 2 receiver. That is important because next year would be the final year of his contract and by then would be 30 years old and presumably looking for the last big deal of his NFL career. He likely wouldn't get that from the Jets. So his tenure ended without fanfare yesterday after 7 years, through losing seasons, but mostly winning seasons. The NFL is a cutthroat business. Hero one day, unemployed the next.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Top 10 Fictional Crushes

Last week, a friend of mine posted a question on my favorite message board (Absolutewrite) wondering what our top 10 fictional crushes were. That got me thinking. Some posters listed characters from their favorite books and movies. Admittedly, I wasn't much of a book reader growing up, although I was heavy into comics. So my fictional crushes come from comics, TV, and movies. So here they are, which is a little tweak of the list I posted on AW:

10. Cheetara (ThunderCats)

There was no hotter chick in cartoons in the 1980s than Cheetara. Built like a female athlete crossed with a pinnup model, she could kick as with her staff and run around you in blazing speed while doing it.

9. Princess Aura (Ornella Muti, Flash Gordon)

Sexy and nuts, that was pretty much my type in my single days. I had a thing for Marilyn Monroe growing up so that might explain it. Princess Aura fits into that mold. This is the only movie I ever seen Ms. Muti in and that saddens me. I re-watch Flash Gordon mainly for her.

8. Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek TOS)

Need anything be said about the 1960s Sci-Fi and NAACP icon?

7. Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen, Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Fits into the sexy/nutty mold. Plus she can drink more than a guy. I fell in love with her before I started drinking (legally or otherwise) and dreamed of meeting a chick like that. She was the perfect match for Indiana Jones, my favorite TV/movie hero.

6. Jean Grey (X-Men)

Another sexy/nutjob. Plus, I was absolutely in love with long, thick red hair growing up. This is a chicken-or-the-egg situation. Honestly, I don't know if I had that love because of Jean Grey or fell for her because of the hair. I seriously think it was her fault.

5. Serina (Jane Seymour, Battlestar Galactica)

Jane Seymour was so beautiful that I just loved her no matter the role. First saw her in Live and Let Die and was mesmerized. She didn't have a big part on BG, and died early, but holy hell she was hot. Still is. It was like she wasn't a mortal.

4. Jaime Sommers (Lyndsay Wagner, Bionic Woman)

As you can see from this list, I'm more of a dark hair loving kinda guy, but there are three exceptions, Cheetara, Jaime Sommers, and No. 2 on the list. She had the sexy hoarse voice, and was full of kick-ass-ness.

3. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher, Empire Strikes Back)

Princess Leia turned the "damsel in distress" cliche on its head. She was most beautiful in Empire. She was also short (5'1") which is a major plus. Yes, sexy, short, dark haired, and nuts is my type. Princess Leia isn't nuts, but she did kiss her brother, so that might count.

2. Jill Monroe (Farrah Fawcett, Charlie’s Angels)

Blonde, but nuts, so that works. Of course, she was the hottest chick of the 1970s by public opinion. Second hottest for me, which leads to ...

1. Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter, TV series)

The icon of beauty, power, and virtue. A goddess amongst men. Lynda Carter was the Alpha and Omega of beauty for me growing up, and, admittedly, still today. She matches Jane Seymour's supernatural beauty, but adds Lyndsay Wagner's kick-ass-ness. Yes, the invisible plane is kinda stupid considering you can see her flying in the air, but who cares? Wonder Woman was gorgeous in anything she did.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The 1,440 Minute News Cycle & NFL Free Agency

One of the most significant (and panned) byproducts of the internet is the 24 hour news cycle. Gone are the days of reading about the news in the morning papers, finding out more during the evening and late night news shows, and the then waiting for the next morning for an update. With the 24 hour news cycle, stories can pop up at any time and have a life and death within a few hours. While the cycle allows for frivolous stories to take on steam, such stories can easily disappear just as quickly as they arrived. With the popularity of Twitter, there seems to be a 1,440 minute news cycle.

It’s not just “hard” news that works with the 24 hour/1,440 minute cycle; entertainment and sports news does as well. As we all know, the NFL finally reached labor peace over the weekend with the owners and players agreeing to a new 10 year CBA. Because of the longest work-stoppage in league history and the desire to start training camp and the season on time, the start to the league year has been truncated. NFL’s free agency signing period started yesterday at 10:00 am (in the past it started at 12:01 a.m.) with the first preseason game starting in less than 2 weeks.

Prior to the internet, football fans like myself would stay up late watching Sportscenter and go to sleep at about 1 a.m. waiting for any hard news which hardly came. Then we’d wait for the morning papers to see if there was anything new, but most likely it was simply a rehash of the news we saw last night. Who signed where and for how much? What did our team do? Sportscenter, however, only reported what deals were actually made. What fans couldn’t get at a moment’s notice was what we feed off: sports rumors. Who’s getting offered what? Who’s visiting where? Who’s in the know?

With the internet, even before the official start time, rumors fly through cyberspace. I and thousands of other Jet fans have been following sports beat writers in our Twitter feeds, scouring,,,, the beat writers blogs, Jet and other teams' fan message boards, etc. trying to find out what is going on. We refresh every few minutes for every site (opened up in multiple web browser tabs) in hopes for an update.

So I and many other fans haven't been turning on Sportscenter to find out the news. We have fellow fans to do that and they will report on message boards what they've seen. Of course, this is not reliable information, but it’s a good starting point. Whenever a fan declares something such as X player is on his way to Y team, or Z player is about to sign with B team, other fans take it at face value but want confirmation. The request is made simply by asking: “link?”

The Jets are usually the most active team in free agency and this time around has been no exception. They've re-signed their best wide receiver Santonio Holmes and there are rumors that they're going after the best cornerback available to solidify their defense. With the new CBA there are new rules in place and a lower salary cap than prior years, but the team's excellent general manager, Mike Tannenbaum, is known to be creative to get the big and small deals done.

And so it goes for NFL fans on the start of free agency. We stay up much later trying to find out as much as we can and are able to find out real-time news the moment we wake up. For us, at least, the 24 hour/1,440 minute news cycle is a godsend.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Great Captain America

I can't help thinking about the great Captain America: The First Avenger which I saw over the weekend. My son, wife, and I have caught all the big summer movies together, from Thor to Transformers 3 (except HP7, only because I think the storyline is too dense for my almost 6 yr old to enjoy). We had planned to see it opening night, but with the insane heatwave gripping NYC and my son coming off a stomach virus, we waited till Sunday, and it was well worth the wait.

While the trailers and the commercials looked pretty cool, I didn't have great expectations. Yet I loved the concept of telling the story as it should be--in the WWII era--because although I was a fan of Captain America from the 70s and 80s (when I first started reading the comic), he was always part of the Greatest Generation.

Joe Johnston did a wonderful job directing. He did an excellent job on the underated The Wolfman last year and had honed his craft in effects and art direction in the original Star Wars trilogy and Raiders of the Lost Ark. He did direct Jurassic Park III and Captain America definitely had a Spielbergian pace and feel to it. In other words, it felt like Indian Jones with Superheroes which is infinitely cool.

Yet the best thing about the movie is that it focused on the essence of Captain America as a hero. It was the proverbial 90 lb weakly, Steve Rogers, from Brooklyn that was the hero. He is the one that never gave up, who kept on fighting against the odds. Who tried 5 times to enlist in the Army but was turned down because of his medical issues. Who would freely give his life to save his comrades. That is true heroism. Not the fantastic feats, but the strength of character in willing to sacrifice oneself to save others. That is Captain America. His superpowers accentuated the hero within, it didn't create it.

I'm excited about The Avengers with the teaming up Captain America, Thor, Iron-Man, and the Hulk coming out next year, but I'm a little saddened that we won't be seeing Captain America back in WWII. Iron Man, played masterfully by Robert Downey Jr., is the Superhero of our time. In other words, Iron Man is the Superhero of who we are, but Captain America is the Superhero of who we should be.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Welcome Home, Atlantis

At 5:57 am this morning, the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed safely at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, marking the end of the 30-year program. According to CNN, the shuttle program has sent 355 people from 16 countries to space, with 5 shuttles on a total of 135 missions.

The first shuttle, Columbia, launched on Sunday, April 12, 1981, a little less than a month before my 9th birthday. It was an exciting day because that was my first taste of real space exploration. Being a big Star Trek and Star Wars fan I dreamed of the stars. I was just an infant when the last Apollo mission launched, so I had never scene anything like this. Yes, there was Skylab, but the last manned mission to that space station was when I was 2 years old and what I remember most about Skylab was my fear that a piece of it would crash on my house when it came crashing to Earth 5 years later (luckily, it disintegrated in the atmosphere).

Of course, there is Tuesday, January 28, 1986, the day the Challenger exploded. I was in 8th grade and the nuns turned on the TV to watch the broadcast during class. The two things I remember most from then are the iconic image of the smoke plume and President Reagan's touching tribute. The closing lines stay with me:
We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God.'
So 25 years after that tragedy the shuttle program ends. NASA does not have concrete plans as to what will follow it. There is talk of a manned flight to Mars or even a return to the Moon, but that is just talk. I hope we return to space soon and not just unmanned missions. Humanity has always dreamed of the stars and I hope that the end of the space program doesn't mark the waning of that dream.

Monday, July 18, 2011


“A rose by any other …” Wait, no. Actually, John and I have been mulling a title change for the book. The word Dracaurum is Latin and forms part of an old saying in the novel while it is translated by the characters into their native Castilian (Medieval Spanish) as Dragóro. It makes more sense that the common term be the title of the book. So, the book is now known as DRAGORO.

And with that, I’ve finished my revisions and sent on the revised manuscript to John (Yay!), with the new title. I’ve also updated my website accordingly. As my reward for finishing the revisions quicker than I anticipated I’m treating myself to HP7.2. As Bart Scott would say: “Can’t wait!”

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary, Mom & Pop!!!

On steaming hot July 15, 1961, Americo Cordero married Marion Ildefonso at Santa Cecilia Church in El Barrio, New York. The reception was at Marion's parents' apartment, which was too small for the festivities, so the party had to spill into the street.

That was fifty years ago today and I thank you Mom and Pop. I love you both dearly. I pray you had a wonderful day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Dirty Little Writing Secret

James Cameron’s TITANIC inspired my writing career. No, seriously, it did. Here’s how the story goes. I’ve always been a creative person. Growing up I could draw, paint, sculpt, things like that. I’d do all that in relation to the stories I’d come up. The drawings or sculpts would be for the characters I created and I’d invent worlds for them, but for one reason or another, I never wrote out these stories.

When I was in high school I wanted to be a comic book artist, but my parents wouldn’t pay for college for me to pursue such a career so I chose architecture. Well, that lasted for 1 year. I dropped out in 1991, joined the Army, and followed a career path in law.

Back in November 1997, I took my then girlfriend (now wife of 9 wonderful years—yes, she reads this blog), to see TITANIC. When the final credits rolled up I turned to her and she was an emotional mess. I had shed some tears as well. I really loved that movie. Still do, so don’t hate, okay? I’ve been a Cameron fan since THE TERMINATOR. Anyway, I took her home and went back to my place.

I started thinking about the movie and realized that if I would ever make a movie of such scope it would be just like TITANIC. It was the GONE WITH THE WIND of that time. (Snickering is not welcomed, okay?). It was the epic love story.

Now, you may ask, what does that have to do with me? I was in my second year of law school and my career in the arts was never meant to be. I sat down in my living room with a bottle of Bacardi and started drinking. God had given me these creative gifts and I had been wasting them. I had to make peace with God. Bacardi straight would do that to you.

I bawled for a couple of minutes, composed my drunk self, and ended up drunk dialing my girlfriend. We talked for a bit and after I hung up I vowed to take my writing seriously. I had to finish law school first. That, of course, was my number one priority. Yet I promised myself that after I graduated, passed the bar, and got a job I’d take some writing courses and start writing. And that’s what I did … right after I bought a car. Hey, I’m a guy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Shout Out from Miss Snark's First Victim

As all we current and past queries know, Miss Snark's First Victim, aka "Authoress" runs a monthly contest called, appropriately, "Secret Agent Contest" where writers post the first 250 words of their manuscripts in order to be critiqued by other contestants AND the Secret Agent. I've been reading Authoress' blog for sometime and finally built up the courage to enter her contest this past May.

I entered with the 250 words of DRACAURUM and although I didn't win, as we all know, that story landed me an agent.

I emailed Authoress to thank her and she did the awesome thing of giving me a shout-out on her blog.

Thanks, Authoress!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Congratulations, Derek Jeter

As a life long Yankee fan I was beyond ecstatic that the great Derek Jeter did what no New York baseball player has ever done (no Yankee, Met, New York Giant, or Brooklyn Dodger) in getting his 3000th hit. He did it in spectacular fashion as we all know.

I devoured all the online articles about it and the best is by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. His closing is spot on and poignant:
The sports world is drastically changed from 1995, when Jeter collected the first hit of his major league career. That Jeter, in all ways that count the most, is remarkably the same in that changeable environment is, like the threshold of 3,000 hits, a rare achievement to be celebrated.
The best thing about Mr. Verducci's article is that he avoids what the other writers were prone to do. Even when lauding Jeter, they do so by saying what he is not, in that, he is not like the other great Yankees or players because of his lack of power numbers. It's a ridiculous in its backhanded compliment sort of way, similar to the criticism of Jeter now for his skills diminishing.

Hello? He's 37 years old. Jeter's decline is NATURAL, what every non-performance enhancing drug using ballplayer has gone through at a similar age. Sometimes it's as if the media critics (the same that vilify Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens for their PED use) would rather have Jeter hit .340 now with 35+ homers. That doesn't happen to a clean ballplayer at Jeter's age. I suspect he'll get his average up to the .300s eventually, if not this year than in the coming seasons. Yet mainly he'll be in the .270 range. That's natural for a ballplayer who's been clean all his life. A ballplayer who is one of the all-time greats and the best I ever had the pleasure of rooting for as a Yankee fan.

When I was very young my favorite Yankee player was Lou Gehrig. A mythological, tragic hero who performed great feats on the ballfield in the shadow of the iconic Babe Ruth and was cut down in the prime of his life by a terrible disease that now bears his name. Of course, I never had the honor of seeing Gehrig play since he died well before I was born. I lamented the fact that I would never root for a Yankee on par with Gehrig. Thank you, Derek Jeter, for proving me wrong.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In Memoriam, Msgr. McCourt and Bruce Brown

These past two week have been tough for my church, St. Pascal’s and me personally as we lost two wonderful men, our retired pastor Monsignor Robert “Barney” McCourt and our long time choir director Bruce Brown.

When my wife and then infant son first moved to Saint Albans, Queens back in February 2006, Msgr. McCourt and Bruce’s wife Gladys were the first to greet us. They welcomed us with the proverbial open arms and we’ve felt at home ever since. I met Bruce that day and he was a lovely man, putting his heart and faith into leading the choir every week. Msgr. McCourt baptized my son a few months after we joined the parish. Both were caring, helpful men who gave of themselves freely. It was because of them and the other great parishioners of the parish for why I decided to become active in the church’s leadership.

Msgr. McCourt and Bruce died within a week of each other and their masses (the Mass of Tansferral for the monsignor and the Funeral Mass for Bruce) were moving tributes to both and a celebration of their lives. I miss them dearly and thank God that I was fortunate to be part of their lives over the last five years.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My QueryTracker Success Story Interview

QueryTracker is a must visit site for writers querying agent. The agent database is extensive and the site provides an easy format to keep track of your queries. It also works as a clearing house to find all sorts of info on any particular agent. I used it extensively in my query process, and while I had known about Dystel & Goderich for some time, I was able to get a lot of info on John. Cyberstalking is okay. It’s called RESEARCH.

Anyway, I was interviewed as part of QueryTracker’s “Success Stories” page. Here’s the link:

I mentioned this Fab Four in the interview, but they bear mentioning again, my four beta readers—Sue, Gretchen, Jenn, and Tracey—who are AWESOME and did a fantastic job with comments and suggestions. I loved working with them during my revision process and hope to work with them again on my other books.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July, Independence Day +2

It is the 235th anniversary of the Second Continental Congress’ approval of the Declaration of Independence. The 4th of July is erroneously referred to as commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The document is dated July 4, 1776, but most delegates signed it on August 2. July 2 is actually the pivotal day in this nation’s founding. On that date, the Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence.

In fact, on July 3 the great John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”

Poor John was off by two days. No one knows why July 2 was supplanted by the 4th, but it happened early. If anything, we can blame Philadelphia. On July 4, 1777 Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, then a year later General George Washington marked the holiday with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute on the 4th.

Since the celebration on the 4th rather than the 2nd happened so early, the myth of the 4th became firmly entrenched. Even John Adams had come to believe later on in life that he and the other delegates had signed the document on July 4.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Only Shows in Town?

At 12:01 am NBA owners locked out the players after a great season and postseason with the league's best ratings in years. But there is a serious divide over what the new CBA should entail as the owners are pushing for a new economic system because many owners are losing money.

The NFL is currently in a protracted lockout with the start of the season in jeopardy. Unlike the NBA, the league is financially thriving with record revenues and not a single team losing money. This is a fight between two sides who don't know how to divy up the eggs of the golden goose so they seem hell bent on killing that goose.

This labor strife could mean that come the fall, for big sports fans like myself, Major League Baseball and the NHL would be the only shows in town. Ironic considering that both leagues suffered the worse labor labor stoppage in sports, the cancellation of the the 1995 World Series and the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 NHL season. Neither had ever happened before. Both leagues have struggled to rebound from this, the MLB going so far as closing their eyes as players roided up.

Let's hope both the NFL and NBA powers that be get their acts together and follow the same destructive path as their brethren.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Journey Thus Far, the Road Ahead

As I posted earlier today, I signed with the awesome John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. That announcement was eight years and 600,000 words in the making. Actually, probably a little bit longer. Here’s the abridged version of how I got to this point.

I’ve always loved story telling, but became a writer later in life. I got serious about creative writing in May 2000 (I’m good at remembering dates). I was driving home one night when a question popped into my head: “if you could only save either your brother or the woman you love, who would you chose?” That conundrum soon mushroomed into a rough sketch of a story set in Roman Spain at the turn of the first century. I had the makings of a novel, but I had never written something remotely that scope so I knew I needed instruction. I enrolled in Gotham Writer’s Workshop where I learned the mechanics of fiction writing. From there I went on to write … and write … and write and finished about two-and-a-half years later with an epic historical weighing in at 250,000 words. It was a sweeping love story about a young Roman noble and the slave girl he was raised with. Believing anything was possible, I queried that behemoth in 2003, but with no success.

Being a bit naïve, I was devastated at this failure. I didn’t appreciate then how difficult the publishing process was so I needed to take a break. Back then I didn’t think I could write anything better than that book. It didn’t take me long to realize I was nuts, but I wasn’t going to give up on the epic historical just yet. So, I decided to do a major rewrite, turning that beast into two distinct books which I queried separately. That garnered some requests, but nothing panned out. I did get my first full request from these projects, which was very exciting. Yet the downside was that if you reached such high you had to eventually come crashing down which happened with the full rejections.

With those books I realized (or was overcome by delusion) that my best writing was ahead of me, so I kept on reading and writing. I always read a bunch of books in the genre I’m writing in to get in the proper mindset. From about 2000 to 2007-08, I had been reading nothing but historicals (and a lot of thrillers, mainly because I love thrillers—Ken Follett and Frederick Forsyth are my boys!). Still in an historical state of mind, I decided to combine my two loves and write a biblical thriller. That garnered even more requests, but, alas, no offer of representation.

Admittedly, I was burned out on historicals so I decided to write in another genre I enjoyed—scifi. Inspired by Octavia Butler, PD James, and Margaret Atwood, I wrote a dystopian thriller set in the Middle East. There were a lot of requests on that, but they all were near-misses. Disheartened, I needed to regroup because I was never smart enough to quit.

I decided to dust off a story I plotted out when I was 19 years old and in the US Army about a teenage girl possessed by a Mayan demon who becomes a super hero. Considering that I created that plot during the flattop, big sweater, Hammer pants era of the early 1990s, I needed to seriously update the story for today’s audience. Like I normally do when starting a new project, I bought a ton of YA books and read like crazy. I loved the genre and was thoroughly inspired. So much so that while I was writing this YA urban fantasy I began writing a YA multicultural high fantasy. The latter was inspired by my friend Cindy Pon’s excellent YA multicultural fantasy set in Ancient China, SILVER PHOENIX. Rather than Ancient China, I set my high fantasy in Medieval Spain, a world rich in tradition and mythology.

I first queried John Rudolph on the YA urban fantasy, which he loved but believed it needed too much work before he could offer representation. He suggested a revise & resubmit and also invited me to send him any other manuscript I had. I was in luck because I had already finished the YA high fantasy and started querying that book and gotten some requests. I immediately emailed the book to him and a week later we had a fabulous conversation. He offered representation and I, of course, accepted. That book is called DRACAURUM, a tale of young heroes, villains, love, betrayal, and redemption. I’ll be discussing the project more as time goes by.

What now after such a long journey? Making DRACAURUM the best book I possibly can. I have revisions to do (and probably more after that) and when John and I are finally satisfied with the finished product I’ll go on sub.

I can’t lie. I thought of giving up at various points along this long journey, but (being a huge sports fan) I kept on thinking of the old NCAA tournament coach’s motto: “survive and advance.” For writing purposes, to me that meant to move on from the bitter disappointment of rejection and keep on writing. There’s no guarantee success will come about by doing that, but there is an absolute guarantee that it won’t if I had stopped.


I am excited to officially announce that I've signed with John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

I'll post more about the project, my writing journey, and what else there is in store.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!!

To my father, uncles, brothers-in-law, friends who are fathers, and all fathers going strong or dearly departed, Happy Father's Day!!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

How Star Trek Can Help Us Live Better Lives Now That We Missed the Apocalypse

Considering the world didn’t end this past May 21, it is a good time to reflect on the life we’re forced to continue to live (bummer!). So with this second lease on life I think it’s a good opportunity to rededicate myself to self-improvement and an excellent way to do that is to remember what I learned from Star Trek.

I finished reading this excellent blog post on teen apocalyptic fiction vs. latency narrative and it had this wonderful quote: “Close friends become family and family is the center of the universe.” The quote is from Dave Marinaccio’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek and I was floored. HOW DID I MISS THIS BOOK?!!? It came out in 1995 and I completely missed it. Damn you college!

In all honesty, my moral framework was formed by Star Trek. I was a toddler glued to the screen watching reruns of the original series on WPIX. Yes, that’s completely geeky, but so what? I remember when I found out as an early teen that the US didn’t follow the Prime Directive (i.e., all peoples—alien or otherwise—had a right to self determination) and was devastated by that. There is something inherently noble about the original Star Trek universe. Mr. Marinaccio perfectly captures what I learned from Star Trek and all what I needed to know how to live, what to do, and how to be:

- Each person or each species, no matter how alien, has the right to live their lives as they wish. (AS long as they’re not trying to take over the galaxy or eat you or something.)

- Everyone has a role in life. Sulu is the navigator. Uhura is the communications specialist. Do your own job and the ship will function more smoothly.

- Whatever you are doing, answer a distress call. The most important time to help someone is when they need it.

- If you mess something up, it’s your responsibility to make things right again (Say you disrupt history and cause the Nazis to win World War II. To correct matters, you have to let Joan Collins walk in front of a car even though you’re in love with her.)

- The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play

- If you can keep your head in a crisis you’ve got a fighting chance.

- The unknown is not to be feared. It is to be examined, understood and accepted.

- Close friends become family and family is the true center of the universe.

- End every episode with a smile.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. It was a sort of epiphany seeing this. Yes, this is how we should live. At least until the next apocalypse comes.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!!!

To my mother, wife, aunts, sisters-in-law, friends who are mothers, and all mothers going strong or dearly departed, Happy Mother's Day!!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


To all those who celebrate Easter, may you all have a Happy Easter filled with love and joy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday, the True Date

Today is Good Friday, the solemnest day in the Christian calendar, which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. The traditional year for the date of Jesus’ crucifixion is 33 CE (Common Era, aka AD), but this is based on the false premise that Jesus was born in year 1 CE and died at the age of 33.

The actual date for Jesus’ crucifixion is Friday, April 5 in the year 30 CE. Matching the Gospel accounts with the Hebrew and modern-day calendars, the year 30 CE is the sole viable choice because that was only year in Jesus’ late adult life where Friday was the end of the first day of Passover (which began Thursday evening). According to Scripture, Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew Calendar. Passover in the year 30 CE was on the night of April 4 (Nisan 15, 3790) and the Last Supper was a Passover Seder.

Knowing the precise date is easier than knowing where the term Good came from. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: “Some say it is from ‘God’s Friday’ (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not specially English.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

March 17 has come again and that means another St. Patrick’s Day, one of my favorite holidays of the year. The holiday is named after the patron saint of Ireland, who was born in Roman Britain circa AD 387, was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland where he lived for six years before escaping, became an ordained priest when he returned home, and returned to Ireland as bishop and Christian missionary. Legend has it that me died on March 17, but there is debate as to whether it was AD 460 or AD 493.

St. Patrick’s Day began as a purely Catholic holiday and became an official feast day in the early 1600s. Today—except in Ireland where it is a holy day of obligation—it is a secular celebration of Irish culture. A little known tidbit is that the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue, but over the years the color green became associated with the holiday. Blue St. Patrick’s Day? Nahhhh.

My office always has a breakfast spread for the holiday and I never miss it. I love office comp! A few years back the office administrator got creative and had all the bagels and muffins dyed green. She also had the milk for coffee dyed green. It looked great, but no one dared eat or drink any of it. She insisted that the food in milk didn’t taste any different, but our stomachs couldn’t overcome the barrier our eyes had set up.