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 Drag√≥ro. 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.