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.