SALAD DAYS (It’s not a cookbook)

Salad_days_translationI have been hunkered down for the past several weeks—okay—months, working on the hardest part of SALAD DAYS. That wouldn’t be writing the novel. That’s the easy, fun part. Convincing a literary agent or publisher to back the manuscript; that’s the hard part, certainly the aspect debut authors dread.  It seems I spend most of my “writing time” sending query letters to agents and publishing companies throughout the western hemisphere, rather than actually writing. But I’ve reached the mountain top, the summit of Parnassus.  I’ve boiled down the 400 page narrative of SALAD DAYS to a one-page synopsis ready to pitch to a list of potential agents and publishers. And while time remains a precious commodity, I can at least start to catch up on the blog, my Facebook status and by other means bolster my social media presence—if you haven’t noticed already, that’s how authors sell books these days. That social presence will include putting out a short story spun-off from the novel. I plan to give it away, in hopes its wonderfulness will entice you to read the full-length novel. If everything goes well, you should be able to read WELCOME TO CHANNEL SIX in a few months or so, that is, if I close this page and get back to writing it. Stay tuned.

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Harbingers of spring

Western_Meadowlark_singingOne thing to be said for Daylight Saving. It’s a sign of spring.

Daffodils and forsythia turn neighborhoods into gold.

You leave the parka behind in favor of a light jacket.

Leaf blowers.

And you lose an hour of sleep on Saturday night…or sleep-in Sunday morning. Until dawn breaks. As I write this, the sun has yet to break the horizon, but it looks like it’s going to be a sunny pre-spring day. Close to 70 degrees. A great day to prune the roses.

My personal favorite harbinger of spring is the song of the meadowlark. When I hear its call carry across the sagebrush and pastures, spring is here. (The Spring Equinox is Friday, March 20)

When do you say, “Yep. It’s spring.”


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We should have played the Superbowl last Sunday. The jokes and the avocados were fresher.

The Kingdome Implosion 2000 (Just had to show it)

The Kingdome Implosion 2000 (Just had to show it)

Remember when we determined the world champions just one week after the championship games? It was just enough time to plan the party, make a friendly wager, mash-up the guacamole, thoomp; kick-off.

But now we endure two weeks of pregame hoopla. That’s two weeks of sports people doing what sports people are very good at: over-dramatizing. It’s not necessarily their fault. They have two weeks to fill, after all.Superbowl_Trophy_Crop

The faulty inflated ball thing may or may not turn out to be significant, but after the SNL spoof, it had pretty much run its course. But with that second week of pregame, we’re getting a second dose of speculation and accusation, followed by expert analysis of the speculation and the accusers.

One player showed up to a pregame event whining that his employer “made him” participate, all the while wearing attire promoting his own brand.  Whether he has a point or his boss has a point, I won’t rehash here. You’ve heard it, the replay and the analysis afterward. We’ve got two weeks to fill, after all.

The league commissioner had a verbal confrontation with a reporter at a news conference. The remarks resulted in a ten-minute news segment with the reporter and colleagues defending the reporter, followed by, you know it, analyzing and speculating on the commissioner’s future.

News bulletin: A news source and a reporter locking horns at a news conference isn’t news. That’s the process of news gathering.

What we got was drama.

And really, do we need two weeks of critters on the evening news predicting the outcome?

Through all of the pregame hype and hullabaloo, I’ve heard doodly-squat about, you know, the actual game. Which team has the better defense?  Will it be high-scoring? Who’s going to win?  What happened to all that speculation and analysis?  I guess we’ll hear that during the eight-hour pre-game show.

Someone please, hike the ball!

And go Seahawks.

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What do we do? For the first weekend since September we have to go without football cold turkey. And no, the Pro Bowl doesn’t count.

1893_Auburn_Tigers_football_teamBut here’s an idea. Sit down in front of the TV like you normally would on game day, grab a snack if you want, but instead of reaching for the remote, reach for a book instead.

Don’t touch that computer mouse.  Hear me out.

Here are a few suggestions that will literally give you your football fix until next weekend when the Seahawks take the air out of the Patriots.

These titles are available at Mid-Columbia Libraries branches including the downloadable catalogue.

PLAYING FOR PIZZA, by John Grisham. A fictitious Cleveland Browns QB, after a disastrous and embarrassing loss, goes to Italy to play for the quasi-pro Parma Panthers.  An entertaining, short novel about a man who redefines his perspective on what the game is all about. playing for pizza

calico joeCALICO JOE, also by John Grisham. Although not about football, any fan of baseball folklore will soak up this story inspired by the real life story of Ray Chapman, the only professional baseball player killed by a pitch. Given some of the “cheating” stories going around, this bean ball scandal scores a home run.

Don’t have time to read a full-length novel? Pick up Stephen King’s novella BLOCKADE BILLY. Characteristically creepy, it puts a literal spin on the adage, “Kill the ump.”blockade billy

If you have any suggestions, pass them along, but whether it’s football, baseball, horror, romance, or science fiction, consider spending some time this weekend sitting in front of a blank TV screen. Those ads for weight loss, nicotine patches, and cold and flu medicines will be around for another few weeks.

And go Seahawks.

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I’ve lost six years. How? By getting enough sleep and admitting to myself, “I’m a carb-aholic.”

me sleepingI know this sounds like the start of one those Maria Osmond and Terry Bradshaw weight-loss ads. “I lost weight and so can you.” Don’t worry. I’m not selling anything. I’m advocating sleep. And if your story sounds like mine, maybe a brief change of diet. I emphasize brief, temporary, nothing drastic.

I couldn’t figure it out. I weighed the same as I did a decade ago. I was eating the same, exercising regularly, but I was feeling doughy, thick in the mid-section. I was able to grab flab where I had never been able to grab flab before.

pyramid egyptianI was starting to look like an Egyptian pyramid. You’re supposed to look like an upside-down pyramid.

I watched those YouTube videos: WHAT NOT TO EAT, LOSE BELLY FAT, GET SIX-PACK ABS. You’ve seen them; the shirtless guys who make their living by working out and selling their exercise programs on YouTube. While they have different methods of how to look like them (dream on), they all agree. Diet matters.

I did some reading. dietitians and other qualified health professionals (they wear shirts) say when you’re tired, pooped, when your feet and your mind are dragging, you seek energy to get your weary body across the finish line. You eat to make up for the energy you didn’t get from sleeping.

That’s been my situation while anchoring the morning newscast. Up at 2 a.m., I was dragging by 10. And I craved and overdosed on carbohydrates, the bad ones. Sugary cereals, too many slices of wheat toast (too much of a good thing) ahem, doughnuts a few times a week, (too much of a bad thing) and cookies before bed.

Author Nate Miyaki likens carbohydrate feeding to fueling up your car. “If your car has been sitting in the garage, it doesn’t need gas. Loading up on carbohydrates is like trying to fill up a full tank. It just spills over the side. In the human body, that overspill equates to sugar backing up in the blood stream and excess body fat storage.”

That’s me. Mr. Pyramid.

Right after Thanksgiving, I cut out the evil carbs. Not all carbs and not forever (keep reading), but the low-fiber, scant-nutrition carbs the body tends to store at the waistline and below: pasta, low-fiber breads, and sugars. Instead of toast, I had oatmeal (sweetened with Splenda, sprinkled with cinnamon and maybe some apples), brown rice, and I skipped the cookies. For desert, a carton of low-carb yogurt, the weirdest flavors I could find because they add some adventure.

I haven’t felt deprived or hungry, and by staying away from the evil carbs, the body has had to get its carb-fix by turning to the carbs stockpiled at my waist. I dropped three, maybe four pounds the first week. Another three or four I lost on the second. On the third week, another three. And when Christmas Eve rolled around and my neighbors dropped by with their plates of fantastic baked goods, I took some deep sniffs (smelling doesn’t take in calories or carbs), sealed all the goodies into air-tight plastic containers in my pantry for safekeeping, and then went upstairs and tried on jeans and slacks that the laundry and dry cleaners had shrunk over the past six years. I didn’t squeeze, tuck, or suck-in my gut to get into them. They fit. Some a tad loose.

Mission pretty much accomplished. I went downstairs, turned on the game, and had hot diet Dr. Pepper.

Now, I haven’t sworn off bread, pasta, certainly not cookies. I’ve paced myself on the neighbors’ holiday treats, and I look more like an upside-down pyramid again.

And I get my sleep.

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Now that I’m no longer anchoring a newscast, I’d like to recommend those that are worth watching. That is, if you have the time.

Walter_Cronkite_on_television_1976A long time ago Walter Cronkite proposed CBS air an hour-long evening newscast. The most-trusted man in America believed thirty minutes just wasn’t enough time to get it all in.  Americans were getting shortchanged. Walter believed Americans would watch an hour newscast.

The network didn’t listen to Walter. The broadcast networks still air half-hour newscasts and there still isn’t enough time and too much to cover.

But Americans watch hour-long newscasts.

If Walter were alive and still working today, he’d probably be anchoring at CNN, PBS, or perhaps Al Jazeera America.

These newscasts fill sixty minutes, or they’ll go longer if the news merits, and for the most part they stick to the facts and leave the opinions to their interviews.  Occasionally, CNN goes overboard on its advocacy journalism and may slight some stories in favor of the sexy ones. If you like a lot of flashy graphics, orchestration, and in-your-face anchors, you might fall asleep watching the PBS NEWS HOUR. It’s straightforward with the facts, but it can be a bit dry at times with its low-key presentation. And don’t be surprised if PBS airs fewer stories in an hour than what a broadcast network would typically air in a half-hour. But the issues/stories PBS covers are done so thoroughly. (The analysis from experts alone can go for ten minutes or so. That’s an eternity at the networks.)

Al_Jazeera_America_LogoAnd then there’s Al Jazeera America. I know. When you tune in the first time you wait for the anchor to shake his or her fist and shout, “Death to America.” It’s nothing like that.  The anchors include John Seigenthaler, formerly of NBC News, and Ray Suarez from PBS, and from what I’ve seen so far, the newscasts and other programming have been fact-based, in-depth, and have shown no bias or favoritism. And unlike Fox or CNBC, Al Jazeera doesn’t blame one U.S. political party for all what’s wrong in America and the world.

If you haven’t checked out these newscasts, give them a sample, and tell me what you think.


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You may not know me from Adam, but he’s a friend of a friend of a friend of mine who who works with a friend of your mom.

me shots 2012 008When I set up my Facebook Page about six years ago, like you, I skimmed through the features and the rules.  “Yeah, okay, I agree,” and boom, Bob’s your uncle. I’m a multi-platform, social media-ist.

Then life resumed, I set the alarm for 2-are-you-kidding me-45 in the morning, and didn’t pay all that much attention to my Facebook pages, either the professional or the private one. I checked in on the weekends, sometimes, occasionally, okay, practically never..

Fast forward to recently, when I discover a feature you probably know quite well already. It’s the one in which people can request to be your friend.

Yes. Dork alert. For years, as a result of being a poor custodian of my Facebook pages, I’ve been unintentionally ignoring/snubbing hundreds, count ’em, hundreds of people.

In an effort to catch up, I’m ruffling through all the names like it’s the list of families to whom you send Christmas cards. Do I know this person?

Because the Seahawks game is about to start, I conclude, heck, with whom would I not want to be friends?

So I just confirmed everybody. Boom. Time for kickoff and I’m now friends with everybody, Including Bob’s uncle, who doesn’t know me from Adam.

Of course you know, and now I do, that the Facebook gang sends messages, suggesting you become friends with your friends’ friends.  And your friends’ friends’ friends. In other words, perfect strangers.

So as of this weekend, I am now FB pals with several local, as well as foreign retailers, holders of political office and the people they defeated in their elections, and at least one dead celebrity, who has yet to reply to my confirmation.

And if you initially saw this post on your FB page and you’re saying to yourself, how the heck did he get onto my page, now you know.

And while I won’t necessarily be offended if you unfriend me because you don’t know me, Adam,or Bob, Heck, we’re practically neighbors at this point. Sign-up for these semi-regular blog posts. I keep them short, no radical politics, and try to be entertaining. Just ask one of my 800 new friends!

Go Seahawks.


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