Now

A snapshot of my life at the moment. Updated May 26, 2024.


🎧 What I’m Listening To

I’ve just gotten into the Red Clay Strays and their recent release, Moment of Truth. They are a blend of genres I reckon, Rockabilly, Rock 'n' Roll, Blues, and Country. My wife Tessa and I went to a place called the Ranch in Fort Meyers, Florida to catch the Red Stray Clays live. The show was about two hours south of Gulfport so we stayed the night. I am glad we did because the band didn't take the stage until close to 10PM. The wait was worth it. These guys brought it on every song: passion, musicianship and inspiration. It was easy to see why the are breaking big right now and we are grateful to have caught them in a venue of only one-thousand capacity. Front man Brandon Coleman was in fine voice and sang his heart out. The energy was powerful as drummer John Hall propels the tunes forward and gives the most animated drum performances I've ever seen. Lead guitarist Drew Nix shreds and the band rocked harder than I expected. At the same time, there are elements of Gospel, Blues and Country in their songs. If you get the chance catch these guys live!

I am always listening to the Allman Brothers! These guys were the primary soundtrack to my life from age thirteen to the present. Songs like Blue Sky, Dreams and Elizabeth Reed still move me despite my having heard them thousands of times. American music has lost a great lead guitarist and amazing composer with the recent death of Allman Brother, Dickie Betts. I love vintage Little Feat and Steely Dan too. I'm always on the lookout for good music. If you have any suggestions, send me an email!

📚What I’m Reading

I finished Wellness by Nathan Hill. I enjoyed the characters' musings on marriage, parenting, and family. The book asks us to consider what makes us well, happy or successful and what doesn't.

I finished Absolution by Alice McDermott mostly set in Vietnam during the war and is narrated by two females in a conversation with one another. I loved this book! The characters were vividly drawn to where you feel you know them intimately and can envision them clearly, their looks, tics and mannerisms. I related deeply to how we can be swallowed up and deeply influenced by the charisma of another, even against our better instincts.There is a description of a miscarriage that gave me a deeper understanding of this trauma. I strongly recommend this book!

Wife Tessa listens to audio books while throwing pots in her studio. She then gives me quick reviews and book suggestions. One of these was The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty. This is Book One of the Troubles Trilogy which follows the exploits of protagonist Sean Duffy, a Catholic detective in 1980's Belfast at the height of the Troubles. A lot of moving pieces in this whodunnit; the IRA, Sinn Fein and MI5 to name a few. McKinty has a flair for vivifying Belfast and the hard-boiled detectives. Duffy is a huge music fan and is often matching his moods to different bands and songs and I loved comparing my taste to his. I also fell in love with the Irish words and sayings he uses. Ganch (an ill-tempered oaf) and sleekit (crafty and deceitful) to name two. If you like mysteries this one is solid fun. I just finished the next two books in the series. I liked them all but my favorite was the third in the series, In the Morning I'll Be Gone. I like the focus on family which gives the reader a more micro look at how the troubles affects individuals. And, I have a new favorite Irish word: "scundered." In Northern Ireland it means embarrassed or ashamed. If you like crime mysteries, you'll like these books.

Next up was a novel by William Kent Krueger, The River We Remember. I've read a bunch of his books all based in Northern Minnesota and usually looking at the clash of white and Native American cultures. In this one a highly unpopular white man is murdered and a Native American is arrested with damning evidence. Did he do it or is this a rush to judgment? This book is well written and the characters are vivid with various, neatly interwoven perspectives. Strong recommendation.

I've started Leon Russell the Master of Space and Time's Journey Through Rock & Roll History, by Bill Janovitz. This exhaustive biography of one of Rock & Roll's seminal figures is jammed packed with info about songs, songwriting, recording and musical development as well as copious info on the personal lives of various stars, who slept with who, when, what drugs were being taken and whose ego or shady business dealing blew up which band. Great stuff! I'm a hundred pages in, so more later on this tome! I will say that I admire Leon Russel greatly. He was a musician's musician and for me a genre unto himself. Wholly original. Update: When I finished this book I felt as if I knew Leon Russell well. Bandmates, family, old loves, business partners and of course Leon himself all get a say. Like many artists, the things that made Leon successful also made him a confounding figure. He could be vulnerable, expressive and generous and a while also being a task master, stubborn and glib. He struggled with physical challenges his entire life and may have been BiPolar and on the spectrum too. His career didn't enjoy the same level of rennaissance other 1970's artist did and he was a profligate spender constantly in debt so constantly touring. Great book! If you like Leon it's worth a read.

I have been reading the expansive Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark. This a tome, over 900 pages long. It is exhaustively researched and detailed. The book examines Plath's intellect and ambition, her experience of repressive 1950's America and her complicated personal and creative relationship with poet and husband Ted Hughes. It also recounts Plath's harrowing experience of having her depression treated with electric shock. I have about 150 pages to go, and I will chime in again when I'm done. Update: I finished the book and am left with one prevailing feeling: Plath's death was an avoidable tragedy. Or, maybe treatment was so lacking then that her depression was "treatment resistant." A more practical approach to her depression with a focus on better coping skills and enhancing her ability to self-reflect would have made a difference. The pressure she put on herself to be a great wife, mother and major literary figure was unsustainable. I came away with a better understanding of the pressures women feel and how societal expectations can be deleterious!

📺What I’m Watching

We just finished the first season of British cop show, The Responder, starring the great Martin Freeman as Chris, and co-starring Adelayo Adedayo as his less experienced, by-the-book partner Rachel, who is also excellent. They are an odd couple from the outset but both are dealing with trauma including, but not limited to what they encounter working overnights on the job. Over time they develop a greater appreciation for each other as they learn more about their respective home lives. Freeman is wonderful to watch throughout. He's one of those actors that hold your attention even when he's not doing much. His PTSD, stress, fatigue, moral conflict and anxiety are artfully and accurately rendered. I recommend this show highly to people that like gritty, crime thrillers.

We just started The Morning Show on Apple TV. This show about a show, will get you thinking about consent, ambition, relationships, power and control. It is well-acted, well written and at times quite funny. Steve Carell is great, exhibiting charisma and intellect as well as manipulation for the purpose of sexual perpetration. I've always been lukewarm on Jennifer Aniston as an actress, but she is great in this role as she battles the patriarchy at the show's network and fights to retain her relationship with her daughter as divorce threatens her personal life. Reese Witherspoon is also solid as a new co-host who breathes life into the formulaic show but gets us wondering if her ambition will overwhelm her morality. I would highly recommend The Morning Show.

💪 What I'm Doing in the Gym

I have just shifted operations to Gulfport, Florida for the next four months and that means changes in my workout regime. I'm still training strength and conditioning with Joe Augusta three to four times weekly. In addition I am training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu once weekly at a Gracie gym once weekly and boxing once weekly at another gym close by. I am running three miles two to three times weekly and/or skipping rope. Joe has me working in various zones: Zone-5- 90 to 100% heart rate, Zone-4-80-90% heart rate, Zone-3-70-80% heart rate, Zone-2-60-70% heart rate. To put zones into context my 2.75 mile run was 90% in Zone-5. Obviously, Zone-5 would be the most challenging from a pure cardio standpoint. To help with the Jiu-Jitsu and for injury prevention Joe says, "in this training block we are chasing new adaptions with cross-training in Zone-3. We are challenging you to work harder, for longer and to build Anaconda strength carrying weights (e.g. farmers walks with 50lb weights) squeezing med balls for grip strength, goblet squats, tempo squats, slams and chest passes." Much of Jiu-Jitsu is pulling and pushing the weight of your opponent so good overall strength is required. A lot of work but I love to train!

🥗What I'm Eating

A quick and easy recipe for dinner that's healthy, tasty. and relatively non-caloric: roasted chicken thighs and broccoli. I usually use skinless and boneless thighs (less fat). A big head of broccoli or two if you are feeding more than two people. For the broccoli get a flat baking tin and coat it with a few glugs of olive oil. Salt and pepper the olive oil and add any other seasoning you like to use with your vegetables. (I use kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. They're just better tasting) Cut the broccoli into small spears and then place on the tin. Salt and pepper the broccoli.

For the chicken find a baking dish, put a few glugs of olive oil in the bottom. Mix in a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil to give it a smoky flavor. Place the chicken thighs in, top up. Add olive oil on top, salt and pepper, Montreal Steak Seasoning, garlic and onion powder, fresh or powdered thyme and whatever else you think will add a bit of flavor. This will create a nice crust. Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Put both the broccoli and the chicken in for thirty minutes. Every ten minutes or so take the broccoli out and turn the spears. If the chicken pieces are large it could take a few minutes more. This is a healthy meal that tastes great. Enjoy!

📕My Book

I’m in the final stages of editing my memoir, Blasted.

Blasted is about generational trauma and my father’s alcoholism which ultimately blew apart our family. I developed my own addictions lost a marriage, a boatload of money and then found recovery. Read an except here. 

I have started to "query" agents the first step in the process of getting "traditionally" published. A query is a one page pitch about your book and why you think it's good and has a market. The query letter is usually accompanied by other elements of a full book proposal a synopsis, author bio etc. If the agent likes your pitch they will ask for a look at the full manuscript. If they want to go forward and you sign with them, they try to sell the book to a publisher. Agents sift through hundreds of queries so it's not a quick experience. I have queried six agents so far.

Update: I just got my first rejection! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed but, I am undaunted. I figure this to be a long process with many bumps along the way. If nothing else in this life, I've learned to persevere and eventually I will get published one way or another!

What are YOU listening to, watching, and/or reading? Drop me a line!

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