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.