Showing posts from September, 2010

A Book Review - “Rescuing Olivia”

A writer called me a writer! That is an awesome feeling. I’ll explain in a moment.

As far as I know, only three professional, working writers have visited this blog or its predecessor: Ian, an aspiring writer who has published at least one novel but who still has a ‘real job’ to support his family; my friend Carol, who writes many things, including magazine articles, and who first encouraged me to blog; and most recently Julie, a lawyer and novelist who lives in Florida.

Julie Compton’s first visit was to comment on my post about Dave Matthews. She is a big DMB fan and stumbled onto my rave review of his concert in DC in July. I responded with a comment on a post she wrote about meeting Dave and while I was on her blog noticed an ad for her recently published second novel. I read reviews on both of her books and decided to buy the new one.

So, my review …

“Rescuing Olivia” is a great psychological adventure love story drama, with twists and turns that often begin as a bit improbable …

Moving Quotes

Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.
~ Unknown

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
~ Walt Disney

If what you are doing is not moving you towards your goals, then it's moving you away from your goals.
~ Brian Tracy

The present is the ever moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope.
~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Courage is not the absence of fear, but simply moving on with dignity despite that fear.
~ Pat Riley

If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
~ Jim Rohn


I’m usually a shoes and socks guy but I’ve been wearing flip flops a lot for the past few weeks. After wearing them most of Sunday I put on shoes and socks to go to the gym and it actually felt odd.

What the hell is that punch dub shit when you see a VW? Don’t ever do that to me, OK? And why do they think that ad strategy would lead someone to buy a VW?

Fall is usually my favorite season, partly for the color and cooler temps and partly because it represents a psychological prelude to recharging life. I am happy that it has arrived.

Rain is a good thing for many reasons; there is even a popular country song that lists them. Visit a friend’s recent blog post for a short, eloquent example of how rain also has a calming, therapeutic effect sometimes.

My favorite NASCAR driver won at Dover yesterday. Last year, Jimmie Johnson was the points champion for the 4th consecutive year, setting a record. No one expected him to make it five, but as of yesterday he is #2, which means he might …

Some New Photos

I took this last Sunday at the Georgetown Waterfront Park. Visit my photo blog to see some more shots from that day.

Welcome Back To My Dream

For years I’ve been talking about hiking into the Grand Canyon. The idea first hit me ten years ago this month, during my only visit there. I remember my surprisingly emotional response to the sight at both the North Rim and the South Rim like it was yesterday. Words and pictures cannot adequately describe the sight and the feeling.

Most of that trip involved photography but I did walk about a half mile down one of the trails and decided right then to eventually hike all the way to the Colorado River. Life gets in the way sometimes and it has remained just a dream. At the beginning of my self-discovery journey last year, the dream resurfaced and I even set a target date for the adventure. For a variety of personal reasons that date has been pushed back again, but this morning the whole idea came into sharper focus again.

The stimulus for this dream rebirth was a video called Backpack the Grand Canyon, a DVD I bought two months ago but finally watched this morning. It ranks as one…

Random People – The Waitress

I enjoy watching people do their jobs, especially when they are good at what they do. I have been complaining about bad customer service for years and I pay plenty of attention to people who work in those fields, especially restaurants. I have been a bartender and a food server myself and I’ve been a DJ in many bars, so I know good waiting and bartending when I see it. In other words, I’m an annoying semi-expert on this topic.

Recently I had dinner and drinks with some co-workers at a restaurant/bar in Rockville (a DC suburb). Our waitress was especially good. She found us as soon as we seated ourselves at a table in the bar area; our original plan was to wait till our name was called for the regular dining area, but we decided to stick with the bar. Our waitress chatted with us, recommended menu items, took our drinks orders, did not rush us, took our meal orders, THEN told us her name. A very successful waiter I knew years ago told me that was one of his tip-enhancing …

Random People - Counting Languages

Washington DC is truly an international city, partly because of the wide range of people whose family origins represent many countries and partly because this is a popular global tourist destination.

I spent a few hours on the National Mall last Sunday and decided to try counting the different languages I heard. My total was at least nine; there were probably more but I do not know enough about some similar-sounding languages to tell which is which.

Of course I heard American English. Someone whose native language is not English might think people from Maryland, Illinois, California and Georgia speak four different languages, but for purposes of this count, I’ll lump the various American English accents together as one. I did not hear British English that day but I often do detect that brand of the language on visits into DC.

Other languages I could identify during this daytrip: Spanish, German, French and Italian.

Some languages I heard were less obvious to me. I heard many people spe…

Random People - The Cop in the Shade

I saw hundreds, maybe thousands of people during my three-hour walk in Washington DC Sunday, but one person that stands out in my memory is the cop I saw in front of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

If you watch TV shows about police, you might think that their job involves constant action. They are chasing the bad guys, investigating murders and are always busy. That scenario probably represents a very small percentage of their day-to-day activities. Much of their day is spent waiting for something to happen.

During my photo and people-watching day I realized I take many of the same pictures over and over. I decided to seek different subject matter and at the same moment I saw the sculpture garden … and the policeman. The day was fairly hot and he was taking advantage of the shade provided by the many trees outside of the museum.

Our conversation was brief and all about the weather.
“Bet you’re glad it isn’t still July.”
“Oh yeah, that was awful.”
“Yep, I was down here wit…

Random People - The Couple from Chicago

I often carry my Nikon D80 digital SLR camera when I visit downtown Washington DC. Professional photographers usually refer to that model as a ‘prosumer’ camera, a consumer-grade camera with many features found on professional cameras. But often the average person who sees me adjusting the zoom lens while looking through the viewfinder thinks I am a pro. So I am frequently asked to take pictures of tourists with their pocket cameras because “you look like you know what’s you’re doing.” Who am I to argue with their assessment?

During my camera-and-people adventure in DC Sunday, while walking up the hill toward the Washington Monument, a couple walking down the hill stopped me and asked me to take their picture looking the other direction with the Lincoln Memorial in the background. I took two shots, one like they asked, then one a little closer so their faces filled the frame. That’s something a pro would often suggest. I framed it with the Lincoln Memorial between their faces; I…

Random People – Georgetown Joggers

My writer’s block seems to be unblocked, thanks in part to a suggestion from a friend. The next few posts titled Random People are people observations; I spoke with some of these people and just watched others.

One of my favorite people-watching places is downtown Washington DC and today I picked Georgetown Waterfront Park as the starting point of my journey. There were two reasons for this choice: one, I had not visited this part of DC in more than ten years and two, it is the start/finish line for this year’s Kidney Foundation Walkathon. I am participating in that event in two weeks and I wanted to see if there was a convenient way to walk there from the nearest Metro station. There isn’t, by the way, unless you walk across a lumpy field under a freeway and run across a busy 4-lane street where there is no crosswalk – which I will do because that is still more convenient than trying to find a parking place anywhere in Georgetown.

The Georgetown Waterfront is part residential, part ret…

Talk Like a Pirate Day

In preparation for Talk Like a Pirate Day tomorrow (September 19th), here are some pickup lines men can use tonight, copied from the “official” web site of this great celebration. Let me know if any of these work … if you survive a night of trying them out.

Top Ten Pickup lines for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day
(In Dave Letterman style)
10 . Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?
9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?
8. Come on up and see me urchins.
7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.
6. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.
5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if I fired me cannon through your porthole?
4. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?
3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.
2. Well blow me down?
And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is …
1. Prepare to be boarded.

And in all fairness, here are some pickup lines for the lady pirates to try. I…

Writer’s Block

I usually have plenty to say. Ask anyone. People just can’t shut me up. But tonight I’m mostly silent. One reason is that I have so much to say that I don’t know where to begin. Another is that I’ve just had two mostly frustrating weeks but I don’t really want to whine about things in my life, at least not tonight.

I could post more quotes. In case you haven’t noticed, I like quotes and song lyrics; however, those tend to be a crutch, so I’m seeking other subject matter and writing forms.

I considered mentioning again how much I love my friends, but that feels like too much repetition and my friends know I love them. At least I think they do because I think I tell them often. Maybe.

What else do I blog about?

Music. Plenty of bands I like are coming to my area this fall, but I might only be seeing the ones for which I get free tickets (Sugarland, for example) and maybe not the ones I have to pay for (Tower of Power, Rusted Root, Jimmy Thackery, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolf, to n…

More Quotes 4.1

My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

The unexamined life is not worth living.
~ Socrates


My current closest friends probably think I’m a decent friend, but my skills in maintaining a friendship pale in comparison with those of my high school buddy Jim.

From senior year in high school through two years past college, we were inseparable. We spent lots of time drinking and talking about important stuff like girls and growing up. Jim seemed to have a way with the girls because he had many girlfriends during that time period. I seemed to know how to keep relationships going longer because I only had two during that five or six year stretch. In the decades since, things may have reversed.

I always thought Jim should have been a writer. He has a wicked sense of humor and a knack for story-telling. He has a college degree in English and a hell of an imagination. But he spent most of the past three decades working as a letter-carrier for the post office.

Over the years since I moved away from New Orleans, Jim and I probably haven’t seen each other ten times. But he sends me a…


September 11, 2001 is a day that has shaped nearly every aspect of our lives for the past nine years. Each American remembers that day in their own way and each of us mentally and emotionally processes the events of the day differently. We remember and try to understand everything from the horrific acts of the terrorists to the heroic efforts of firefighters, police, medical personnel and ordinary citizens to the patriotic solidarity expressed by all of us. A complex set of emotions remain, fear, love and hate among them. The terrorists may have rattled us that day but they did not win. The American spirit prevails and our country continues as the greatest nation on earth. God bless America.

More Baseball

Before this year, I had not been to a Major League Baseball game since the early 1990s, specifically a Baltimore Orioles game during the first season of Camden Yards. This year I have now been to three Washington Nationals games. I guess I’m not their good luck charm, however, because they lost tonight (they won the first two I went to).

I took some work friends to this one. Had a great time.

And one of them caught a ball!! Actually, she grabbed it after it bounced around a few times, but the result is the same: she has it for her collection of stuff. I have been to dozens of games but never saw anyone I know catch a ball.

Now I’m trying to get tickets to some other team games around here. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m A Man

OK, it looks like I’m at least 90% REAL MAN!

How do I know this? I saw it on the internet. I recently read a web site containing a list of ten factors that make a man. I did not really have any doubt about my manhood but validation from a totally scientifically researched pop culture entertainment web site is a good thing.

Here is their list and my own self-evaluation on each point.

According to, here are 10 things that make a man ...

1. He kills a spider (I DO)
2. He's not afraid for you to see him cry. (HMM, SOMETIMES)
3. He does the premenstrual tampons-and-Ben & Jerry's run. (BEEN THERE DONE THAT)
4. He has a trash can in his bathroom. (YES)
5. He knows his way around a kitchen and does 90% of the cooking. (MOSTLY)
6. He can fix stuff around the house. (YES)
7. He doesn't have more than four pairs of shoes. (I HAVE MORE, BUT I WEAR THE SAME 4 OVER AND OVER)
8. He lets you have the last bite of a shared dessert. (I HAVE)
9. He takes care of ALL of your car issues …

The Guy Is An Idiot

This guy calls himself a pastor? A reverend? A clergyman? A man of God? What God? Certainly not mine!

He plans to burn copies of the holy book of another faith? I think he is a sick, misguided publicity hound trying to get some attention for his little church. Or for himself. And I think he is wrong to burn any book, but especially wrong to burn holy books of another faith in a country founded on the principle of religious freedom.

I also think he has the right to do this, even if it is the stupidest, most dangerous and divisive thing I’ve seen in a long time. Men and women have given their lives to give him the freedom to give an evil face to something that should be good … a minister. He is every bit as wrong as the tiny percentage of terrorist believers of the faith whose books he plans to burn. He is nearly a terrorist himself for his planned action, in my opinion. He will put the lives of American military personnel in jeopardy and will be responsible for some of their …

Quotin' Stuff

‎I've probably posted this first one before, but it's worth repeating. I truly believe it.

"Laughter is the closest distance between two people."
– Victor Borge

And I just think this one if funny:

“Let’s eat Grandma.” “Let’s eat, Grandma.” Punctuation saves lives.


Must Be How the Rich Live

Do you play the lottery? Have you thought about what you’d do with the money, especially a big jackpot? I only play sometimes but I have thought up detailed scenarios for what I’d do if I won, plans at virtually every dollar winning amount. Aside from the usual things like paying off debt, buying property, helping friends and family and donating to charity, I would also buy expensive season tickets for area sports teams.

I was thinking about this today as I watched the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets while sitting in the Diamond Club section at Nationals Park. These seats cost between $135 and $160 each. I got mine free from work because apparently no client wanted to go to the game on Labor Day.

These are no mere seats, these are in the first 25 rows behind home plate in a section where they scan your tickets second time and give you a wrist band for re-entry, should you leave the section. But why would you leave? The seats are great, you can order food, beer, wine a…


Something is different this September but I’m not exactly sure what it is. Growing up, Labor Day weekend was fun because of the family gatherings but dreadful because it meant school was starting up again. Decades later, I still had that tinge of dread at this time of year, right up through last year. But I don’t feel it this weekend.

What I do feel is a change in the weather. Sometimes I stop long enough to actually see my surroundings and I notice, without the aid of television news or a calendar, that fall is coming. There is less daylight, shadows are in slightly different places, the squirrels in my yard are busier than usual, geese are flying overhead and there is a slight chill in the air. True, this weekend just happens to be cooler … DC area weather forecasters declared yesterday that this was, indeed, the hottest summer on record - ya think?! … but the hot weather is predicted to return by Tuesday. Even when it does, I’m certain nights will be cooler than they were las…

What Do You REALLY Think, Jerry?

Some of my earliest memories include watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon on Labor Day weekend. I haven't paid much attention for the past couple of decades (although I still help MDA when I can) so I am usually surprised when I see Jerry in interviews. This clip says a lot about him and plenty about the current state of celebrity.

My Current Favorite Commercial

I make commercials for a living so I know how difficult it is to create fresh, new versions of a successful theme. The ad folks connected to Geico seem to have found a way to do that. This one is my new favorite. The idea is great, the acting is awesome and the whole thing is funny. Enjoy!

Can’t Stop It

I just watched part of a television special called Boomers, hosted by Tom Brokaw. It is very interesting to see my generation played back to me in documentary form. I look at those gray-haired fiftysomethings talking about stuff I remember. Wait a minute! They’re old. How can they be talking about stuff I remember? Did I just read about those events, feelings and songs or was I actually there for some of it?Boomers, who now range in age from 46 to 64, were and are obsessed with youth. Roger Daltry screamed the lead lyric in a famous Who song: “hope I die before I get old.” Daltry is 66 years old now. I wonder if he still sings that lyric. The definition of “old” has changed, but how much?Youth-obsession isn’t exclusive to Boomers. I am surrounded by co-workers in their 20s and 30s. It keeps me young. My boss is 45, her boss is 36, their top boss is in his low 40s. This is the first time in history that the work place is populated by employees from three generations. Boo…

Funky Liza Iz A Good Adviza

I posted something on Facebook recently about the then approaching 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and how I was still somewhat depressed over the lingering effects the storm has on my hometown New Orleans. My friend Eliz commented that I should think more about some positive aspects of New Orleans recovery and maybe have my own Mardi Gras party.

That thought and advice popped into my head this morning as I remembered that today is the 5th anniversary of my Mother’s death, partly at the hands of Katrina. I could easily have sunk into some depression over that but as I was grabbing for some CDs to play during my commute, I ran across my copy of Gumbo, a CD filled with New Orleans-style songs. (Hmm, I made the original CD for that same friend).

This afternoon, I popped that CD into the player and cranked it up to party volume. Funky Liza by the New Orleans Nightcrawlers is one of my favorite songs on the CD.

Click Here to hear the song (if I did this right).

It is hard to hear that…

A Great Sermon