So, I finally took the bull by the horns — or the fish by the fins, as will make sense in a minute — and posted another of my brother Scott’s remarkable life experiences, this tale describing when he was longline swordfishing off the Atlantic seaboard and encountered an unusally large school of ocean sunfish. These Mola mola’s are one of the largest fish in the sea, outsized only by three sharks: the whale shark (number one biggest creature on the planet), its slightly smaller cousin, the basking shark, and the great white shark of Jaws fame.
And don’t be fooled by the photo here, that diver is floating right next to the Mola. They’re really that big. Freaky big. The biggest on record over 5,000 pounds big.
So, who in their right mind would ever want to ride on the back of one?
So, I’m in the air again today, brother Scott, this time a quick one day turn around to New York City, rebounding home tomorrow. You always told me, especially in those last months and weeks and days, how you envied my travels. My gallivanting to hither and yon, seeing new sights, tasting new foods, experiencing new . . . experiences.
Well, I’ll get into Newark around 3:30, pick up my rental car, then head toward Queens and my Comfort Inn. I’ll find a FedEx Office nearby and print the copies that I need, then seek out a place for dinner with a few craft brews on tap. I’ll bring my Kindle and read a few more chapters of Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies. You’d like this one; it’s a CSI-ish search using the evidence of history to find the origins of cancer. Yeah, the roots of the Big C, that foul slayer of thee. At some point tonight I expect I’ll hoist a pint to you, perhaps coaxing the imbibers around me to join in. “To Scott, my brother. My elder. Gone now two years. Slàinte.”
And I’ll rise at dawn and greet my audience at 8, do my thing until noon, then aim my way back to Newark and home. Good times, eh?
I’m not sure I told you enough, Scott, in those final days, that for all my cities and miles and points and free drinks in first class, I envied you more than you could have ever envied me. I think about it often. Every day, in fact. And because of you — in honor of you — I’ve slowed myself down a bit. Given myself that chance to smell the roses.
So, my son-in-law is in Dublin, Ireland, this week prepping to defend his MMA heavyweight title belt in a Saturday 5-rounder against challenger D. J. Linderman. Mike “300” Hayes (as in the gladiator movie) is the husband of my elder daughter, Meghan, and fights for the London-based Mixed Martial Arts organization Cage Warriors. They’re basically the British equivalent of UFC or Strikeforce and stage their tournaments everywhere except the U.S. Mike won his belt in Dubai back in March with a technically gorgeous inverted triangle and kimura. (Jiu-jitsu talk there.)
So, just before Christmas five months ago I loaned $50 to a group of women who sew things. That’s them to the right.
They live in Cuidad del Este, Paraguay, and together they call themselves, Mujeres Virtuosas – that is, Virtuous Women. My micro-loan was a small portion of the $3,225 they had requested to purchase fabrics, thread, needles, buttons, and other supplies as they strive day to day to give their families the basics of a worthy life without hardships.
Last month they repaid my loan in full. That’s right; my $50 was back in my account, as was the other $3,175 into other loaners’ accounts. And 6,800 miles away in Cuidad del Este fifteen women are on a self-supporting path to a better life.
So, I’m walking through an airport a few weeks ago, right at the height of the Hunger Games hype, and a book cover caught my eye.
I had read the HG books a year ago when a teacher friend gave me some sci-fi/fantasy recommendations, and like most everyone else I read them back-to-back-to-back in virtually one sitting. Me in the Stratolounger, cans of Diet Coke scattered about, Doritos dust smearing the buttons of my Kindle. “Just a couple more pages, honey. Seriously . . .”
Which means that while most others were reading the real books in prep for the movie, I’d already been there-done that and needed at least something even vaguely reminiscent of a Katniss fix to tide me over until HG movie D-Day. And this one looked promising. Just before boarding my flight I downloaded it to my Kindle and began reading soon after the 10,000-foot chime. And yeah, I was hooked after a couple of paragraphs.
So, I figure you either know that word or you don’t.
If you do, then you probably won’t need to read any further because I’ll bet you’re already familiar with the fellow sitting over there to the left. That’s author Elmore Leonard, he of the four dozen mega-popular crime and suspense novels, many of which have been adapted into equally mega-popular movies. Books like Get Shorty and Mr. Majestyk and Out of Sight. And he’s screenwritten and collaborated on and executive produced a ton of screenplays for the big and small screens. Such as the awesome series Justified on FX right now.
Well, the reason I bring him up is that I was cleaning out some files over the weekend and came across an article he wrote detailing his 10 Rules of Writing. It’s actually titled, WRITERS ON WRITING; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle.
Ah, see, now you get it. The whole hooptedoodle thing. Well, if you don’t yet, you will. Just click on Mr. Leonard’s photo there and you’ll be whisked away to the New York Times and the original article. Writers: you’ll find sage wisdom there, from a pro among pros. Non-writers: it’s still a great article. And you never know . . .
So, I had a work gig a few days ago in the uber-rural town of Price, Utah, the political seat and largest town in Carbon County. I left my hotel in Provo, home of Brigham Young University, at 7:30am actually looking forward to 90 minutes of digital downtime. I’d been warned the Highway 6 route through tall-walled Spanish Fork Canyon plays havoc with reliable cell signals, and I was hoping for a quiet respite from my usual endless drone of phone calls and emails.
Before I knew it four paved lanes had narrowed to two, shoulders steepened, side-roads disappeared, and recently-patched asphalt began a serpentine wander through a desolate, rocky landscape straight out of some John Wayne oater. Stratified layers of limestone and shale towered above me on either side, their near vertical cliffs streaked with rosy pink sandstone. The occasional glitter of pyrite and mica flecks sparkled when the morning sunlight caught it just so. And then suddenly the steep walls dropped away and revealed an astonishing vista of ancient mesas more numerous than I could ever imagine.