Posts in Essays
My Lousy Handwriting

It’s one thing to get older and gradually notice aches and pains, especially first thing in the morning. (Putting on my socks never used to be such an effort, but at 4am my back isn’t on board with my get-ready-for-work routine.)

But it’s another thing to notice something else deteriorating, something I’ve done pretty well for half a century.

My handwriting has gone straight to hell. There was a time when I was proud of my penmanship, thanks to some wonderful elementary school teachers and to my mom, whose cursive was practically calligraphy.

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Lucky Number

I feel like such a loser. I don't have a lucky number.

Now, to be honest, there is a number that keeps showing up ALL THE TIME. I'm afraid to tell you what it is because some people are really freaky about numerology and I know what they'd say about my particular combination.

But if I went to buy a lottery ticket there wouldn't be numbers that speak to me. I know that lots of Americans say 7 is their lucky number, but all I think of when I see that number is John Elway.

There was a survey done recently with people from around the world, asking them what number they'd definitely use in a lottery. The number that came up the most often was . . .

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Why Do We Suck at Soccer?

I love my country, but I can’t understand why we suck at soccer.

Arguably the biggest sporting event in the world, a tournament that captivates billions of people around the globe, wraps up this weekend when France tangles with Croatia in the World Cup Final.

It’s not embarrassing that the United States didn’t make it to the championship game. But isn’t it humiliating that our country didn’t even play well enough to get into the tournament in the first place?

I say this as someone who doesn’t particularly care about the game. I’m not a fan of soccer, but I am an American and therefore, by nature, a competitive s.o.b.

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Blockbuster Taught Us Frustration

It's the end of an era and a sad day for some. After 33 years of charging late fees, the Blockbuster Video chain is down to one store. Yep, one.

At its peak in 2004 there were 9,000 bustling locations across the United States. But the final two stores in Alaska closed this week, leaving the last, lonely Blockbuster outpost in Bend, Oregon.

Why it has survived in Bend is anyone's guess. It'll probably become a shrine.

Granted, you have to be of a certain age to have memories of these brightly-lit stores, these meccas of movies. But I'll bet your memories are similar to mine.

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Getting Past the Mental Roadblock to Write

Two of the best books I ever read about writing didn't spend much time on writing. And that makes sense to me. I’m (mostly) in the camp that you either know how to do it or you don’t. Sure, you can get better. But I'm convinced the biggest obstacle to writing and publishing isn’t on the page/screen, it’s between the ears.

Both of those books spent a lot of time on the mental part. That resonates with me (and maybe you) because, even after publishing 15 books, I still battle fear and doubt. Every damned time. Then I finish writing a book, it’s printed, and I wonder what all the fuss was about.

I won’t beat you over the head with a sales pitch. But I’ll tell you that my latest book, called The Color of Your Dreams, follows the same path: Fix your head and you’ll likely fix your writing.

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Popcorn Costs HOW Much?

The other day I was on the fence about whether or not to go see a movie. There wasn't really anything showing that Gretchen or I wanted to see, but it was a cloudy, rainy day - the kind of day you don't mind sitting inside and enjoying mindless entertainment.

But that wasn't the deciding factor. It was the fact that once I got the notion of movie popcorn in my head, it wouldn't go away.

We went to a movie. And the popcorn was heavenly.

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Free Books to Combat The Summer Brain Drain

There may be no two words in the English language that bring more joy to a kid’s ears than Summer Break. Hey, I loved school, but I still salivated over the idea of weeks and weeks of sleeping in and goofing off.

But parents and teachers also talk about something known as the summer brain drain. The concern is that too much down time allows students to not only fritter away what they might have learned in the previous school year, but it also gets them out of learning mode.

I want to help by supplying free books. I’m going to take some of my own creations and give them away. You can grab copies of my Galahad series for young adults (middle school and high school) as well as some of my Buster Blank books for grades 4-6.

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Missing Mom

What’s your favorite memory of your mom? It’s easy to pick out the mushy stuff, which is fine. But what about the quirky, odd memories? The ones that, in hindsight, remind you how much you take her for granted.

When I was in the third grade, our family lived in northern Italy. My dad was in the Air Force, and we were stationed near Lake Garda for a couple of years.

Our school was a small island of American military kids, clustered along a river running through Verona, Italy. Field trips are always fun, sure, but they really get interesting when you don’t speak the language.

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Farewell, Albums

As a housewarming gift in December my son and daughter-in-law gave me a turntable. I’m talking the old-fashioned device used to spin vinyl. I quickly ran to my storage room and dug out a couple of dust-covered boxes holding more than a hundred albums. Soon my house was bathed in a sound I hadn’t heard in decades: the crackling, popping beauty of a needle on old forgotten records.

Not long ago we were all told to toss those albums because vinyl was dead, gone the way of 8-tracks and cassettes. And then, for who knows what reason, they began a quiet comeback. Not a massive comeback, mind you, but a trendy one.

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It's New to Me: Eruction

Came across this word this morning and had to stifle the giggle emanating from my inner ten-year-old.

No, it has nothing to do with the blast you see on the right. Nor does it have anything to do with blood flow to the nether regions. But it is a bodily function.

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