Monday, February 20, 2017

Kindle Scout

I'm giving Kindle Scout a shot with my newest thriller "The Girl in the White House." If you're not familiar, Kindle Scout is a relatively new program in which Amazon looks for new books to publish and they take into account "nominations" readers make.

So, if you have a few minutes, you can check out the first chapter of the book and if you like it give me a nomination. (Of course if you hate it say nothing and forget I ever posted this.)


Thursday, February 16, 2017

How Vince & Linda McMahon of WWE saved our family

Congrats to Linda McMahon, who has been confirmed to head up the Small Business Administration.

Most people know her as the wife of Vince McMahon from World Wrestling Entertainment. That company happens to be headquartered in my hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, and my father worked there for a few years. This is a story of how wonderfully the McMahons treated him.

My father ran delicatessens all his life, but when he was around 60 he had heart surgery and the doctor told him he needed to do something low stress. He spotted an ad to run the mailroom at the wrestling federation and was hired.

Shortly thereafter his kidneys started to fail and he had to do home dialysis three times a day. Vince noted my father always had to run home at lunchtime and found out why. Shortly thereafter he had a spare room cleaned and assigned to my father and no one else for this purpose. He gave my father a cell phone just in case. This was the eighties and no one had cell phones.

Dad then contracted a cancer called multiple myeloma and things got progressively worse. He missed a lot of work. Others at WWE pitched in at the mailroom to help. The paychecks never stopped. He spent his last 59 days in the hospital. The paychecks never stopped.

The day after he died Vince McMahon's office called me, offered to pay for the funeral and told me to send them all of my father's medical bills. A few days later I stopped by to thank Vince personally for the way they had treated my dad. Off camera he is a soft spoken guy and very kind. The opposite of the part he plays on television.

Those medical bills? I kept a running total which came close to 700 thousand dollars. We never paid a dime. WWE took care of everything. And my dad wasn't some famous wrestler, he ran the mailroom.

The McMahons are good people and we're lucky to have Linda in such an important position.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My real-life "Chuckles the Clown" funeral

Seeing the classic “Chuckles the Clown” episode from the Mary Tyler Moore show reminded me how this actually happened to us.

My grandfather, known as “Pop”, passed away at the age of 99. It was decided that all the grandsons would act as pallbearers. My dad, knowing that when I got together with my cousins we would constantly joke around, gave us a warning before the Mass. “This is Pop’s funeral. I don’t want to hear you guys laughing.” Sure, no problem.

Things are going fine. We carry the casket down the aisle, take our seats in the front row. No one is joking around. Then a priest we don’t recognize comes out. Apparently the regular parish priest got sick and they sent a sub at the last minute.

And apparently, someone gave him wrong information about Pop.

So the priest is basically doing a standard eulogy, with “he’s in a better place” and “God welcomed him into paradise.” It’s going well and we’re behaving, until he says this:

“At times like these, many of you are probably asking yourselves… why he was taken so soon.”

One of my cousins snorts. I’m busting a gut trying not to laugh. We hear some snickers from behind. And then we lose it.

An altar boy whispers, “Father… he was 99.”

After the Mass my father scolds us, but we can tell he’s not serious. “You kids should be ashamed of yourselves. Laughing at a funeral.” And the minute we get home he can’t stop laughing. It later became one of his favorite stories.

Funniest funeral ever.

Friday, December 30, 2016


Growing older may have its benefits (supposedly, you gain wisdom… I’m still waiting) but there are a lot of negative aspects of aging that go way beyond the normal aches and pains.
Specifically, you start losing friends and loved ones. And in the past few years, I’ve lost some very close ones.

When friends you’ve had more than thirty years pass away, it takes a while to sink in. You think they’re still around, and then it hits you that they’re gone. Little things remind you of a certain loved one (don’t laugh, but whenever I see artichokes in the grocery store, I think of my mom, who absolutely loved them.) If I’ve watched a great Mets game I still reach for the phone to call my old friend Harvey, the most rabid Mets fan ever… and then feel sad knowing he’s no longer there for a chat. I see a sci-fi movie I know Dan would love… and wish he was sitting next to me in the theater.

When loved ones leave us unexpectedly, you tend to kick yourself, wishing you’d had one more chance to share something with them. In Dan’s case, he took his own life… and I can’t help but think that one more phone conversation might have talked him off the ledge. Then again, I had no clue he was in pain because I hadn’t talked to him in a long time. If only…

One more.

What wouldn’t I give for one more trip to the casino with Mom. Or one more night at the racetrack with Dad. Shooting one more news story with Steve. One more board game of Risk with Mike. One more day in the kitchen with my hilarious Aunt Mary.

In Steve’s case, we often got together for lunch, and did so a few days before he passed. So I didn’t feel guilty about that one. I’d had my “one more” with him.

In Harvey’s case, I can’t help but think of him often since the Mets have a pitcher named Matt Harvey and his last name is on the back of the uniform.

So I started looking up old friends in the hopes for one more… something. Sadly, several of them were gone. But the opportunities were there for one more with those who were still around.

Is there someone you would desperately miss if they were suddenly gone? Of course. So pick up the phone, send an old fashioned letter, do a video chat, get in the car and go for a visit. Reach out.

If you need a New Year’s resolution, consider taking advantage of the “one mores” you still have. Because once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

Friday, November 25, 2016

How to do laundry in a Samsung washing machine

Dear Samsung,

Thank you for sending the enclosed stickers for my washing machine so that I will always be reminded that doing laundry can kill me. I know this sounds like a sensational local news sweeps series ("spin cycle of death"), but obviously you have a real concern that the lid of my washer can become detached and fly off at me like Odd Job's hat in "Goldfinger", taking my head off while flinging underwear onto the ceiling fan where it will dry the old fashioned way.

However, you forgot to include the new directions for doing a load of laundry in a Samsung washer, so I'll share my method as a public service:

1. Load clothing into washer tub.
2. Add detergent.
3. Very gently close lid, using salad tongs.
4. Put on safety goggles, football helmet, and body armor. Hold metal shield at chest level with one hand and baseball bat with the other. (Remember, should the lid ever fly off at you, block with the shield and swat it away with the bat until it's dead. Always block and swat, not the other way around.)
5. Hit the "start" button, using the end of the baseball bat.
6. Run like hell.
7. When laundry cycle is complete, throw laundry room circuit breaker turning off all power to the washer. It is now safe to enter the room.

Again, I feel much safer now knowing that washing dress shirts rather than taking them to the dry cleaners can place my life in peril.

By the way, I hear you guys make a cell phone that is simply the bomb.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Books for Republicans who like happy endings

I have a pen name for my political thrillers, writing as Nick Harlow. About four years ago I wrote a novel about a reality show celebrity running for President. My former agent read it and told me it was "way too over-the-top and totally unbelievable."

Have I mentioned that I can predict the future?

Needless to say, the book started selling this year. 


Earlier this year there was talk of a "brokered convention" when it looked like candidates of both parties might not have enough delegates to win the nomination. What might have happened?


My best-selling book this year which has been in the top 100 political novels chart on Amazon is definitely the most fun. "Hit List" is the story of how the Mafia gets so fed up that the entitlement society has destroyed disposable income that they decide to get the most flaming liberals in the country "out of the way"... but not by killing them.


There have been plenty of administrations in which the President and Vice President did not get along, and, in some cases, actually hated each other. In "The Race" there is so much animosity that the Republican President and Vice President run against each other.


Finally, a change-of-pace book set far in the future after liberalism goes off the rails and the resistance finally gets fed up.

(Really, I should buy a lottery ticket)


Monday, September 26, 2016

In honor of tonight's debate, some tales of what politicians are really like...

As someone who spent my career as a TV reporter, I had the opportunity (excuse me, cross to bear) to meet and interview local and national politicians. Most made me want to take an immediate Silkwood shower.  But at least they gave me plenty to work with when writing political thrillers. And right now two of my books are in a bundle with some other terrific authors:

Recently another author who reviewed one of my works in progress asked me if one of my characters needed to be so unlikeable. While I never base a character on anyone in particular, throwing together a good composite from my personal experiences often results in a character who makes Lord Voldemort look like a choirboy.

The vast majority of politicians I've encountered are phonies, egomaniacs, rude, and often not terribly bright. All, regardless of party, have the same common denominator. Their number one priority is getting elected.

But I always have a good political character to balance things out. There are a few out there in real life.

So I'll share some of my favorite stories about real politicians as you get the popcorn ready for tonite's debate:

-She's in a better place. Really.
The mother of a candidate I'd been covering passed away, and I thought I would drop by the wake to offer my sympathies to the guy. Upon arriving at the funeral home I found the candidate, along with a few other politicians, talking strategy about the upcoming election. About three feet away from his dead mother's open casket.

-The honey-do Senator.
I was assigned to produce a live shot for Meet The Press with Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and told to do it from his home. So I arrived at his house and realized we could never get a live shot since there were so many tall trees. I knocked on the door and was greeted by his wife. "Saxby will be right back. I sent him to the grocery store for ice cream." Now in the annals of reporting that would seem to be an incredibly lame excuse to get out of an interview. But thirty seconds later, the Senator pulled in the driveway and unloaded a few bags of groceries from the trunk.

-Well... at least he's honest. 
Me (on the day a man with no political experience announced his candidacy): "What would you do if you're elected?"
Candidate: "I have no idea."
(He won in a landslide. It helps to be rich.)

-Forget Paris.
During a debate, a candidate for the House of Representatives says that unless drastic steps are taken, America will turn into a third world country. Like France.

-Long time no talk.
At the 1988 Democratic convention I was walking down the stairs and Senator Paul Simon of Illinois was walking up. He locks eyes with me, smiles, sticks out his hand and shakes mine. "How are you? You're looking so well! Great to see you again! (I had never met the man.)

-I never had sex with that woman, part deux. 
I cornered a gubernatorial candidate who was rumored to be having an extra-marital affair and asked him about it. He gave me the death stare, said, "I won't even dignify that with a response" and stormed off. The day after he lost the election his wife filed for divorce. 

-World's cutest entourage.
I'm producing a Sunday morning live shot with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He talks tough during the entire interview. As soon as we wrap up, the door opens and a bunch of little kids run in and grab him yelling, "Grampa! Grampa!" He immediately turned into a regular person. (By the way, he's funny as hell off camera. Who knew?)

-And yes, these people can vote.
During a political forum, a man with wild eyes steps to the microphone and begs the politicians for help, since he feels he is in danger of "being deported to Hawaii."