I like Christmas, but I love Thanksgiving. It’s got everything you want in a holiday: time off from work, a chance to hang with family and friends, a little bit of football, and the best food of all time. On top of that, while it might inject a little bit of stress, it doesn’t come close to the crushing pressures we associate with Christmas.
The only problem is that Thanksgiving comes at the wrong time. Let’s move it from late November to the fourth Thursday of October. Here’s why:
He was barely old enough to walk, but his dad thought it would be cool to introduce the little guy to airplanes. So off they went to an air show, where little Neil sat atop his father’s shoulders and watched the flying acrobats. Three years later, he took his first ride into the sky, aboard a small airplane affectionately known as the Tin Goose. It was July 20th, and he was five.
Thirty-three years later - to the day, strangely - he climbed out of a different flying machine and kicked up some lunar dust. On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon.
Thought-A-Day calendars are generally pretty cheesy. (Today’s thought: You CAN do it!) For years, though, I’d receive them as Christmas gifts, and I’d dutifully flip that page every single day. It usually produced an eye roll from me.
Until one day it didn’t. On a random Thursday in August I tore off the preceding page to find this Turkish proverb:
No matter how far you’ve traveled down the wrong path, turn back.
An article recently caught my eye, and not because it involved a celebrity. (I personally find stories on celebrities to be mind-draining and borderline painful, but I suppose there are people who can’t go a day without reading about Taylor’s current love. People are different.)
This piece focused on a comment Reese Witherspoon made regarding life balance. Or, to be accurate, the lack of life balance when you choose to work while raising a family. The interview in the magazine Southern Living quoted her on work/home balance: “No one’s really doing it perfectly.”
I suspect she’s right, but I’ll go a step farther: I don’t think it’s even possible to have balance.
The bed-and-breakfast sits about a mile from the historic City Centre of Canterbury, tucked into the somewhat-modern suburbs of the British town. The perfect distance, as it turns out; one can find a peaceful night's sleep outside the hubbub of the action, but get in a good walk when it's time to explore.
With a backpack slung from one shoulder, I cross a pedestrian bridge over the A28 and approach the stark, gray stone walls encircling the city. They're about a thousand years old, and look it: forbidding, in a way, and yet softened over time by weather and distress.
After doing book signings for more than ten years, I wanted to offer up an explanation of how my signing events have changed - for the better - and why you might wanna drop by sometime.
If you’ve been to an author’s book signing event, chances are you found a writer sitting behind a table, staring up at people and holding a pen in his/her hand. Maybe there were people in line. Maybe you were the only person there.
My friends chuckled when they heard I was having a garage sale. I guess I’m not what you’d consider “garage sale material” - whatever that is. True, the last time I did it Reagan was in office, but I think that’s just about the right frequency. Everyone should have a garage sale once every thirty years.
Of course, now I’m an expert. Not because I’m so experienced in the ways of peddling and bartering, but because I’m a lifelong learner and first-class observer. While you may simply sell your junk and pocket the dollar bills, I study the process and the people.
And, by doing so, I’ve developed: Seven Iron-Clad Laws of The American Garage Sale
My goal was simple: Give away 1500 books - written under one of my pen names, Buster Blank - to elementary schools. This would be a slam dunk. Dozens of schools signed up for the giveaway, ten were selected, and the congratulatory emails were sent. Next stop? Happily delivering boxes of free books to schools that too often have to scrape together funds to purchase library materials.
But wait, not so fast; something strange happened on the way to Littleton, Colorado. One of the winning schools, in the course of ten days, shifted from accepting $850 worth of books to BANNING the book entirely from their campus.
was a teenager when Paul McCartney released a single called Let ‘Em In. I was a huge Beatles fan, and enjoyed Paul’s solo work, too - but I hated that song. At the risk of sounding like some intellectual snob, the song was just plain dumb. Consider the lyric: “Someone’s knocking at the door, somebody’s ringing the bell. Do me a favor. Open the door, and let ‘em in.”
C’mon, man. I know Macca wrote some silly tunes in his day (the guy actually released a version of Mary Had A Little Lamb, for chrissakes) but my initial reaction was that he was using his superstardom to just put out anything - really, anything - and his name would sell it.
Oh goody, there’s a new entry in the Superman/Batman movie series. The third Divergent film debuted last week. The seventh Star Wars movie splashed in December.
Scan the top twelve box office hits of 2015 and you’ll see that nine of them were sequels, reboots, or retreads. Two others were animated hits aimed at kids. That leaves one - one! - non-cartoon film in the top dozen that was an original idea (The Martian, based on Andy Weir’s fantastic and fun novel).
This likely will launch a new round of complaints that there are no new ideas coming out of Hollywood.
There are few things that make me cringe more than receiving notice of an upcoming “brainstorming” meeting. What the notice should say is, “Please join our group as we stare at each other and accomplish little.”
I’m sure there have been some great ideas that have sprung from these sessions, and there likely are constructive ways to collectively dream up a winner. But I’m an advocate for getting away from the group in order to truly stimulate creativity.
We live in an age where promotional hype outshines almost everything else. It has trickled down from national television programs to just about every creative outlet in the country. And, with the explosion - and undeniable power - of social media, it’s now easier than ever to hype a message to thousands - sometimes even millions - with a click or two.
But an important ingredient is often left out of the cake that eager artists are trying to bake: Good content.
He’s a giant in the music business, the second-wealthiest entertainer in the world, worth more than half-a-billion dollars. His songs are adored and downloaded by people on every continent, from age 10 to 110. He’ll go down in history as one of the greatest composers of all time.
And yet, in a recent interview, he said he suffers from the same insecurity that many others admit to. Specifically, as he put it, he’s afraid of “being found out.” In other words, someday people will perhaps share the same doubts about his work that linger in his own mind and the game will be up. He won’t be able to fool anyone any longer.
Many years ago Bruce Springsteen released a song called “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).” It was a rare flop for the Jersey rocker, perhaps because it was a little too obvious. He wasn’t telling us anything we didn’t know.
Television at that time seemed like nothing more than a wasteland of poor writing and even worse acting, a sludge pot of desperation, trying every trick and gimmick to lure a potential audience of millions, an audience made up mostly of adults exhausted after another dreary day at work, along with millions of teenagers open to almost anything that moved and spoke.
Not long ago some family members took me to Sea World, which is required by law for tourists on their first visit to San Diego or San Antonio. (In Orlando you’re allowed an exemption only if you can prove you spent $1000 at Disney World.)
During the dolphin show, we gasped at the remarkable skills displayed by these gorgeous animals, marveled at the incredible training which must go into every production, and fought off dehydration with oversized sodas.
I was asked to re-post this article, a piece that I penned about two years ago. It's just as timely today - and hopefully just as helpful. - Dom
Brian had an argument with his wife one morning, just before going to work. By the time he arrived at the office his feelings had already meandered this way and that, alternating between anger, frustration, and - finally - regret.
Sitting at his desk, he logged on to his computer and stared at the screen. Like many companies, security demanded that employees change their password every 45 days, and the pop-up notice informed him that today was the day.
n their song “Child of Vision,” the band Supertramp rattled off a quick line that is simple in structure, but profound in its message.
You watch the television, because it tells you that you should.
I used to laugh when I found myself, glassy-eyed, scrolling through an endless assortment of satellite TV channels, the guide spinning through line after line of options. Like most people, I’d been fooled into thinking that this continuous string of networks represented a bounty of choices for me. But, in reality, the choice began and ended when I hit POWER.
Sneaking out of town for a weekend is a treat that most of us don’t indulge in often enough. It sounds like a grand plan, but it’s usually scrapped in favor of kid stuff, or house stuff, or the fact that we’re just too miserly. And that’s a shame, because it’s easily one of the most rejuvenating gifts we can give to ourselves, and I mean that in both a physical and spiritual sense.
During a recent road trip along the backroads of eastern Colorado, I encountered a tiny, somewhat-deserted town every twenty to thirty miles. Slowing to pass through them - sometimes turning off the main road to meander the back streets - a sobering thought confronted me:
Are these towns simply being deserted, or are they decaying?
There are many people who, as adults, look back and express regret that they didn’t follow their passion. There are several reasons why: a fear of failure, a lack of courage, the inability to gather the right tools or knowledge. Maybe it was doubt that they could ever support themselves in that field.
There are others, however, who cite one specific reason for not pursuing their dream: They didn’t want to disappoint their parents.
But what if you could disappoint your parents in a good way? In a way that would ultimately bring them joy and make them proud?
There are great lessons that nature teaches us, if we only pay attention. Sometimes they’re right before our eyes, but sometimes they’re light-years away from us...literally. Are we mature enough to learn from them?
This is the story of a star wanna-be, one that had all of the ingredients for being a star, but failed. It turns out that this true story could be more relevant to your life than you know.
Funnyman Greg Behrendt is a man of many talents, having enjoyed success as a comedian, actor, writer, talk show host, and musician. But as Behrendt tells Dom in an early edition of the Voice Activated podcast, he's known his share of failure, too.
Whether you're one of the millions who enjoyed HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, Sex in the City, Greg's standup or his daytime talk show . . . or even if you're meeting him for the first time, there's plenty to enjoy here.
There is no train station at Chilham, just a platform on each side of the tracks, each sporting a bench and an information sign. Three cars are parked in the gravel lot outside the fence, awaiting their owners who, more than likely, have traveled to nearby Canterbury, the medieval town of Chaucer fame in southeast England.
Chilham (pronounced Chill-um) is a good fifteen minute walk down a tree-lined country lane. Only two cars pass during my trek, perhaps tourists who've heard about the castle in the village. They'll be returning shortly, no doubt, because the castle isn't open to the public; a family lives there. Probably watching an American reality show on the telly.
For the record, I’m not a zombie-lover. I’ve never read a zombie novel, I haven’t seen the classic George Romero movies in their entirety, nor do I dress up like them for Halloween.
I’m intrigued, however, by the hit TV show The Walking Dead because of the whole “how do people survive in the wake of a catastrophe” premise. I’ve watched almost every episode (as of this writing), and really don’t care about the zombie aspect; I love the interaction between the living characters.
I don’t sail. In fact, I’m rarely on any boat, so I don’t know much about the nautical life other than what I see in movies. But I remember talking to a guy who had his own 40-foot sailboat, and I asked him how scary it was when the weather kicked up and the swells turned nasty.
“It makes you a better sailor,” he said. “Navigating through a storm can scare the hell out of you, but when it calms back down and the sea becomes like glass, you realize why you love it so much. It makes the choppy stuff worth it.”
Hang on, because I’m about to steal his observation and apply it to your job.
My dad was a man’s man. He could fix any problem on any car, or anything else with an engine. He built (by hand) his own remote-controlled airplanes. He hunted, fished, bowled, and was even a whiz at archery.
And he could grill. Man, could he grill - every item that came off the barbecue was cooked to perfection, tender and juicy. Growing up, I thought it was something that one just came by naturally. You know, heat the grill, throw the meat on, turn it, then bring it inside. It wasn’t until I got out on my own that I realized the artistry involved.
My dad was not just a pack-rat - he was a pack-rat with questionable taste. I mean, who even buys a buddha with a clock in its belly, let alonesaves it?
Bless his heart.
When he died, I joined my brothers and sisters at his home to sift through room after room of his stuff. Just saying those words - his stuff - makes you feel like you’re almost trespassing. Plus, Dad never knew that he wasn’t coming home from the hospital, so there wasn’t a chance for him to do a bit of purging. (Not that he would’ve.)
Lee Remmel was the public relations director for the Green Bay Packers, a team he was associated with in various capacities for more than sixty years. He passed away in April of this year, leaving behind a remarkable legacy . . . and one of my most indelible memories.
I’ve never lived in Wisconsin. The closest I came was a two-year stretch (5th and 6th grade) when my dad was stationed in Michigan, at an Air Force base in Oscoda. And yet for my entire life I’ve been a diehard Green Bay Packers fan.
The explanation is in two parts, one that makes sense, and one that is mostly foolish. The sensible one is that I first began to notice the NFL when I was a wee tyke in the late 60s - and we all know who the dominant team was at that time. Professional football games weren’t televised nearly as much as they are now, so the Packers (as world champs) were one of the few teams that I saw on a regular basis.
The foolish reason is that I decided (at that time) that my favorite color was green. Thus are kids’ favorite teams selected when they’ve never lived in a town with its own franchise.