Archive for November, 2013

Excuses, Dishonesty, and Tragedy

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

A daughter’s collect call from jail interrupts Thanksgiving dinner

Jail is the New GroundedTo look at Everett and Ella, you’d never know they’re the parents of a troubled, incarcerated daughter. They’re both successful in careers they love and they both espouse the family values with which they were raised, albeit modernized ones. Their home, where my wife and I were guests for Thanksgiving dinner, sits on a nice street in a neighborhood just about any set of young parents could happily work with.

When the phone rang the air at the table thickened slightly, as if a fly had entered the airspace. If the fly knows what’s good for it, it had better not land. A second ring offered a perspective on what it’s like to be the fly, buzzing in during dinner, which for Everett and Ella is a consistently early evening affair.

It was their old-school land-line ringing, and because, like a lot of us, they live and work by their iPhones, that meant that whoever was being ignored was family. Who else, besides mom and dad, first dials a land line these days? Regardless, ring number three provided satisfaction in the parental example they were setting for their four-year-old boy: no matter who’s buzzing around, during dinner, nobody touches the phone or the television. (more…)

What’s a Mitzvah?

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Performing a kind act solely because you’re in a position to do so

WE LEARN BEST AMONG EACH OTHERI don’t know many Hebrew words, but Mitzvah is one of my *favorites. Technically, it means “commandment,” but it also goes by the above definition, which is how it was broken down for me. I think about the word often ‘cause I’m almost always in a place in life where my right-now resources are relatively rich. Yet shedding comparisons, quieting the noise, ditching conditions, excuses, and all those countless words I’d use to describe my otherwise good intentions only leaves “because I can.” So, “help that person because you can” has become a personal commandment.

Right. Well, nobody wants to hear about how I threw a dollar at a homeless dude as I exited Breakfast Coma Café, so don’t worry, that’s not where this is going. You probably don’t really care what I do; more relevant is how one can be coerced into developing character. (more…)

“Hi, I used to rob bookstores.”

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Even with that opener, some indie authors have it worse than I do.

Mr. ConsequencesI get a lot of questions about what it’s been like to bring my story to market. I hear a lot of gripes from writers about agents, the traditional publishing industry, and whether or not the stigma of self publishing has decreased with our digital all-access passes.

Being congratulated on publishing a book is cool, though what I hear is, “Congratulations on not being a talker” and “Congratulations on learning what follow-through means.” You see, having come as far as just getting the thing out there is a big deal for me, because for too many years I was incapable of establishing and maintaining a relationship with delayed gratification. Today, I feel it’s important to be a resource for other aspiring authors who are navigating the many choices, pitfalls, and publishing models now available. The following opinions are based on my experience. To some in publishing, they’ll probably show what little I know about the very journey I’m on, but others may find ’em helpful.

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“Your Honor, my wife made me do it.”

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Unprincipled enabler blows his integrity on whims of half-wit wife

or

Spiteful, shortsighted, lady-child steers husband right to jail

Christian Mingle KICKS ASSIn 2010, weirdly-named Kent Wycliff Easter and his just-as-oddly-titled wife, Jill Bjorkholm Easter, sought vengeance upon Kelli Peters, a volunteer at Plaza Vista Elementary School in waspy Irvine, California. Among their many complaints was that Peters hadn’t escorted the Easters’ son (what his name is, I can’t imagine) from school to his mother’s waiting Range Rover car fast enough. Apparently there was a lot about Peters’s care-taking that the Easters didn’t like, so the bumbling A-holes went to town.

First, the two lawyers tried to get Peters fired from the school: FAIL. Then they harassed her: FAIL. They actually filed a restraining order to prevent her from going near their son: FAIL. Twice they tried to sue Peters; both lawsuits were dismissed. Frivolous much? Talk about diminished credibility as attorneys: FAIL.

And Kent. Our man Kent had been a Newport Beach law firm’s “rising star” until the couple’s campaign against the school volunteer culminated in a hysterically catty attempt to have her arrested. This, after the Easters had located her home and planted drugs in her car in the middle of the night. Jill Easter has since pled guilty and separated from her husband, leaving him to fend for himself.

Quality of life spiraling downward due to lack of character? FAIL. (more…)

Bernard Kerik: The Wrong Man to Talk about Prison Reform

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Kerik, former Homeland Security Secretary nominee, should shut up.

face.jpgBernie Kerik is no friend to those who have been prosecuted excessively for drug crimes or, for that matter, to anyone serving time in prison. By my estimation, his unlooked-for discovery that America’s drug sentences have created a huge underclass of offenders is little more than fodder for Kerik’s own PR agenda.

Here’s both barrels:

For starters, though Kerik did spend time behind bars, he can’t speak on behalf of the general population. A former NYPD Commissioner and the man who once oversaw one of the facilities in which he was detained, Kerik definitely did not live among gen pop inmates. He was housed in protective custody, a much less transitory and smaller environment. Protective custody (a.k.a. administrative segregation) is mainly for informants, self-harmers, perverts, and anyone else facility administrators deem likely to become stabbing practice.

So from my perspective – and probably that of every other rational general population convict – Bernie Kerik is free to speak only for snitches and kid touchers. Sure, like me, he’s entitled to a second chance and the opportunity to use that chance and his platform productively. But I say, consider the source. (more…)