Monday, January 22, 2018

Japan plans for the end of the world...

Kids run for their lives and not because of Godzilla  
It's a sure sign of the times: Japan holds its first air raid drill since WWII amid growing tensions and threats by North Korea, whose fearless leader has said he wishes to both sink the island of Japan while turning it into ashes. I'm not sure he can do both in that order, but you get the idea.

Missile is Inbound

According to Japan Today, residents were startled to attention by a disturbing siren broadcast over public address system loudspeakers. The sirens were followed by an announcement that a missile was inbound. People were asked to take cover immediately, place their heads between their knees and kiss their asses goodbye.

False Alarm 

As people scattered for shelter in building basements, subway tunnels and even sewers, the city was once more gripped in a fear not known since the Second World War or, the last Cold War anyway. But when moments later, the tinny loudspeaker voice announced that the inbound missile had missed its target and plunged into the sea, residents were relieved that they could once more resume their daily activities. Sushi anyone?

The New Normal

One 77 year old woman who won't accept this as the new normal, stated that she did not participate in the drill since a nuclear war would destroy everything and everyone. There would be nowhere to hide. So why bother? 

Olympics Union and Disunion

Next month South Korea will host the Winter Olympic games. North and South Korea will be unifying for this event, yet many in the south are angry about being associated with the rogue regime from up north. To them, NOKO is still not only their enemy, but they are threatening to launch a nuclear war should Kim Jong-Un get up one morning and decide it's a good day for the world to die. That said, they are burning the Olympic game unification flags in protest. Can you blame them?

Kick the Can

For the past 25 years, US Presidents have been kicking the can down the road, not wanting to deal with NOKO and their nuclear ambitions. The excuse was always that they don't have nuclear weapons now and won't in the near future, so just ignore them, maybe give them some money and hopefully they will go away. But now they do have nukes and now it's just a matter of their being able to transport them safely on their many ballistic missiles (some of which are supplied by Iran). There's an entry and re-entry problem which will be solved within months, that is, it's not solved already. Game on.

The Final Solution

The solution? It could come down to a US President who feels that kicking the can is no longer an option. The only option would be a first strike to not only eliminate the NOKO threat once and for all, but also to send a message to the world: rogue regimes bent on obtaining nuclear weapons will not be tolerated. Whether this first strike is nuclear or not, remains to be seen. But I can bet you dollars to donuts, it's coming. Once thing is for sure, we're living in dangerous times.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

I did not have sexual relations with that woman...

...Yes you did...

That was the crazy thing I recall about Slick Willy's press conference twenty years ago in what would become known as the Monica Lewinsky Scandal. Of course he had sex with her. But he was relying on some sort of bizarre semantics argument over whether or not a oral sex constituted real sex. Last time I fell off the turnip truck it was. So yeah, Slick Willy lied and did so to Congress and earned himself an impeachment.

Today he would be reviled in the #metoo movement. Or would he be? 

I recall being down in NYC for a book singing for my first novel, As Catch Can (now The Innocent). A mega snow storm had struck the east coast and the airports were shut down, which meant a lot of people had to take the Amtrak rail service to their Upstate destinations. Two of these people were Monica Lewinsky and her mother. They sat beside me in the business car and we talked. Talked a lot. But not about Slick Willy. They did however whisper among themselves about how the Clinton's were maligning them. Names like Hillary, Bill, and Linda (as in Linda Tripp) were freely floated, but under their breath. 

How surreal when almost everyone in the car was reading the New York Times, the headline being, "Clinton to Face Impeachment." Or something like that. I was a young novelist barely out of writing school, with my first big contract, and I was having the time of my life. The world was changing as the 21st century loomed large and ominous in the very near future and our President was not only liar, he was a sexual pariah.

I'm reminded of a story a former Indiana school teacher revealed not long before her death of a young up and coming charismatic politician by the name of William Jefferson Clinton who would pull up to her tiny bungalow in his chauffeur driven car. He would have sex with her in her living room while her baby boy slept in the close by bedroom. Then Clinton would simply leave and go about his day. That same young woman would eventually marry the novelist Norman Mailer and she would die tragically of uterine cancer in her middle-age.

Slick Willy is still around though.

He came damn close to being back in the White House, a fixture in the West Wing and that Oval Office where the sexual relations with that woman most definitely went down. Way down. Instead, the Clinton's are finished with politics, many mega donors to the Clinton Foundation having bailed, Hillary reduced to writing books blaming others about why she lost the Presidency to a New York City-based developer/reality TV personality with zero political experience. It must be a bitter chapter in their lives. As bitter as the day twenty years ago when Slick Willy felt he had no choice but to lie to the American public over a BJ he solicited in the Oval. Hey, we all screw up, but that was a doozy.

Can you believe that all happened twenty years ago? It must be hard for you to imagine.
Me too.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

38 minutes to live...

We got inbound...38 minutes to live..

What if you suddenly found yourself with just 38 minutes to live? Residents of Hawaii were faced with this very dire question just last week when their Emergency Broadcast System sent out an alert warning residents that a nuclear armed ballistic missile was incoming from North Korea. That this was not a drill, the message said. It was in fact, the real deal.

People who were going about their day suddenly found themselves dropping everything and taking shelter, or trying to get home to family, or just plain panicking in place. In the words of one resident who was home at the time, I didn't know of the proper protocol. I guess I had no choice but to sit there and wait for it.

So what would you do if you suddenly had just 38 minutes to live? How would you react to knowing you were about to be vaporized into oblivion? I can still recall the duck and cover drills of the early 1970s.  It seemed like sci fi to me then because I was just a little boy, and I suppose it still sort of seems like that to most people now.

But we are vulnerable, our species. Never was that more apparent this week when some knucklehead working for the Emergency Broadcast System apparently, and I quote, "hit the wrong button" and sent out the message giving Hawaii only 38 minutes to exist on this planet. Imagine if Rocket Boy suddenly hits a wrong button?

The fact that we're ill-prepared to defend ourselves against a nuclear attack has become painfully apparent. The fact that when faced with just 38 minutes to live, I wouldn't know what the hell to do, is even more apparent. What's for sure is I'll keep on keeping on in the mean time.


Friday, January 12, 2018

The most important thing in my life is...

A little smoke in Cairo...

A few months back my most recent long-term relationship came to a sudden end because, and I quote, "Your writing and traveling come first." This is not to come down on the relationship or the person I shared it with, because I have nothing but fondness for the time we spent together (countless weekends in NYC, weeks in California, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, ...). We had fun, spent a lot of money, and spoiled our daughter (we used to be married and this was our second time around as a couple, this time unmarried). It was worth ever minute and every penny.

But like many relationships, this one started going south when my partner started feeling resentment towards the time I spent writing and traveling (I'm gone on average three months per year searching for literary inspiration). I'm sure there are a million other little justifiable reasons too, but for the sake of this piece lets concentrate on the writing/traveling thing.

I found this notion that I would put any one thing first so perplexing that I asked her on three distinct and separate occasions. "Are you sure this is what you want?" The answer I consistently received was not only the same, Yes, but also the reiteration of the writing coming first thing. Fair enough. But my response was also always the same too. Not only do I not think of life in linear terms where something like work can be equated with the human objects of my affection, I also don't consider life a zero sum game, at least when it comes to divvying out attention to loved ones.

I don't have a notepad upon which is written "Important things in my life in descending order..."
1. Writing
2. Traveling
3. The significant other...

Life for me doesn't work that way. If I keep a list it is very short, because all the things that are important to me are both first and last. So what comes first to me? Everything. Everything carries equal importance. NOTE: Of course, when it comes to a loved one's health and well-being, naturally you gotta drop the pen and paper and come to that loved one's rescue. Don't confuse my philosophy for a lack of priorities. But I think you get my point by now.

Burano, not so long ago...

Sometimes people wonder why their lives never change. Why they're not living the life they wish they could be living. Why the grass is greener across the street. Why they are always tired, or sad, or sick, or not looking forward to tomorrow. Why the weight never comes off, why things always stay the same, why they need Ambien to sleep at night. It's important first, to take responsibility for your life (that's a given). But it's even more important to make decisions and stick to them.

Don't sell yourself short. Don't take that low paying job just because it's easy. Don't date the ex just because it's comfortable and easy. Don't use people. That's selling yourself way too short, and it's the stuff that bleeds the soul.

Way back when, when I decided to become a full-time author, I was laughed at. Laughed at by some of the people closest to me. To them, it was an impossible dream (Some are still laughing after close to a million books sold, hitting the major lists, winning the Thriller Award and the PWA Shamus Award...). On top of that, I was the heir to a perfectly good construction company that would make me a millionaire. But it would make me miserable and fat in the process. That said, I pursued my dream. I did it because it was hard. I did it because it was impossible. I did it because staying in the construction business would have been the easy way out. I did it and I succeeded (In terms of being satisfied, I'm not there yet, and I probably will never reach an end to my literary journey, but that's for another essay). I did it, because I made it my number one priority while balancing other number one priorities. 

If you want to be a writer, even if you have no idea how to go about it, then make the decision and get to work. Make it one of the most important aspects of your well-rounded life. If you want to travel to exotic distant lands, then buy a plane ticket and worry about the money later. Make it a priority. Don't listen to the naysayers or the worriers. Don't listen to your sig other if he or she doesn't like it. Travel, even if it means you break up. It's important to get out of the house, sometimes for weeks or months at a time. You will thank yourself on your deathbed that you decided to sleep in the Sahara beside a pack of camels, or that you nearly drowned while swimming in the Ganges, or how freezing it was deep inside a cave in Belize. Sure it cost you a relationship or two, but you lived your life the way it was meant to be lived.

If you want to be rich, find different sources of passive income that make you money while you sleep. This is the Internet age and there's no excuse for not making money these days. Don't depend on others. If you want to be in love, find the right person for you. Someone who shares your passions, your belief system, and encourages you with your goals (you must do the same for him/her). Make all these things the most important thing in your life.

Life is all about challenges but you must first make the decision to meet those challenges head-on. Not cower under a blanket in your bed for days on end. Because you have a finite number of heartbeats, you owe it to yourself to make many things come first. Your work, your love(s), your God, your travel, your dogs, your house, your fill-in-the-blank____________________.

Only when you come to realize that life isn't about someone else putting you first, but instead, you putting you first while putting others first, will you begin to realize the great possibilities that exist everywhere and in everything (Yah, you might have to read that last sentence two or three times before it sinks in...).


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I hate being sick because...

I think I look a little pale...

Okay, well, who actually likes being sick? So the title of this is sort of dumb I guess. But cut me some slack, I'm sick.

Sick with the flu.

I'm one of those dudes who's in denial about even the slightest cold so that nothing comes in the way of me and my routine. By routine I mean, my daily word count, my daily cardio and strength training programs, my travel, my Jeep, my hikes, my drinks at the bar, my big dinners, my general attitude of  life is way to freaking short so you'd better enjoy the most out of everyday (I'm getting to the age where I'm wanting to enjoy every minute, but you get the idea).

So I go into denial until the fever kicks in, or the headache and chills, and the post nasal drip, the burning nasal passages...You know the deal. We've all been sick and we will be again. But I don't often get sick, unless that is, it's my own fault. Attempting 52 street tacos in Guatemala within three days comes immediately to mind. But that's another story.

In order to combat the sickness or more specifically in this case, a virus, I try to maintain as normal a schedule as possible. I try and go for a short jog since I'm a big believer in sweating out the bug (this actually works...Google it). I'll put in a light lift. Nothing that's gonna make me sicker, but enough to let the virus invading my body know who's boss. But on the other hand, I'll try and get as much rest as possible. Last night I slept on and off for eleven hours. That's not a watershed of sleep for me. That's a geyser.

But I will also work. Work shall not only set you free, it takes your mind off the fact that you're sick, and therefore, you just might recover that much quicker (sorry about the work shall make you free reference, but it simply came immediately to mind...).

I'm eating a lot of Sudafed and Advil's, but I'm also hydrating and eating chicken soup. If I can do another eleven hours, I just might be on the upswing tomorrow, and my daily routine will once again be my bitch. #FUFLU



Sunday, January 7, 2018

Dear President Trump, please call me a phony pretty please...

A POTUS endorsed bestseller whether Trump likes it or not

You have to be living under a very large rock not to know about President Trump's ongoing war with the media, especially the left leaning media, which he labels fake news. These includes print/online outlets like The New York Times and television networks like NBC, as well as cable networks like MSNBC and especially CNN. More recently, a book called Fire and Fury by journalist Michael Wolff was released four days earlier than expected just this week precisely because the POTUS labeled it trash and phony news written by a hack and a fraud.

It's quite the battle royale going on and on and on, and it's as juicy as all hell. Yet there's an amazing phenomenon occurring every time the President lambastes his media enemies. They sell more products and in turn, they make boatloads of casheshe.

Until Trump came along, the New York Times was indeed failing, as a business entity anyway. CNN and MSNBC always lagged behind Fox News in the ratings, and a book like Fire and Fury, which would have been just one "tell-all" book among many, might have enjoyed its few weeks on the Amazon bestseller list then faded into relative obscurity. Instead the book is killing it and, I suspect, already into its second print run (print runs these days, even for major publication events, are not what they used to be even five years ago).

All of these media darlings who slam Trump and in the process gain his undivided attention and even earn themselves the prize of prizes: a furious Trump tweet and a nickname to go with it (former campaign chair Steve Bannon is now Sloppy Steve...Lucky him) ought to be sending the POTUS a fruit basket thanking him.

That said, I hope the President picks up one of my novels and declares, "What a bunch of bull..." and then I hope he takes to Twitter. "Phony Vince Zandri." I will instantly become major league credible among the masses. My book sales will skyrocket and I will buy a new house. Mara Lago is awfully nice this time of year.



Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why I hate phone calls and texts...

When my phone rings, it's never a pleasant experience. I'm not one of those types who looks forward to phone calls from his guy friends, or even girlfriends. Girls talk on the phone, incessantly. Guys don't. Girls talk about guys. The talk is usually centered around why so-and-so is being a dick, but on occasion, it might be about the great sex she had the night before.
Guys don't call other guys to express such things. They either keep it all inside, or shoot the shit with their buddies at the bar. Girls and guys are different. Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

Just the sound of the phone ringing raises my pulse rate, makes my heart beat faster. Maybe this is a condition that connects back to my days when I was a broke writer with not much going for him. The bill collectors would call, and I would ignore them. Or maybe it goes back even farther, to when I was kid, and the phone would ring and my mother would assume a stressed, tight-faced expression. If an argument ensued with the person on the other end of the line, my fears would be justified. Maybe the other person on the line would be a teacher at my school who was reporting about an incident I was involved in. A fight maybe. Or maybe I was failing math. Anyway, I'm suspicious of phone calls. Other than the occasional call from am agent with a deal, it's never good news.

Texts aren't much better.
Not that I don't get pleasant texts from friends, but kids nowadays rarely call. They text. And usually the text revolves around something they need, be it transportation, money, food, whatever. Hey, if I were a millennial, I would no doubt do the same thing. The tree doesn't stand far from the apple.

I could go into emails as well, but emails come with warnings in the form of subject headings. They can be easily deleted.

So try not to call me. Chances are I won't answer.
Instead, send me a letter in the mail.

Buy my books ....