Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Movie Debut

Ever since I was a little kid I dreamed of making movies. Mostly I just wanted to write the stories. As an adult I have written screenplays, one-act plays, teleplays and more.

While no one has asked me to squish my hand and foot prints into cement for the world to behold outside of Grauman's Chinese Theater,  I did complete a video for work. I hope you like it. Please feel free to share it with friends.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mark Your Calendar for Free Outdoor Concerts in October

     I love music. There is something pretty awesome about listening to a live band on a nice autumn evening. And the only thing better than an outdoor concert is a FREE outdoor concert. That is why I'm posting this blog. Be sure to mark your calendars for this great music series.
     Fall will once again be a festive time at the Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center. Music at the Village, a free outdoor concert series, returns on Fridays on Oct. 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center, 20050 N. 67th Ave. in Glendale.
    The live music will kick off with the Classic Example on Oct. 6th, followed by the McFadden Brothers & Victoria on Oct. 13th, Lindy’s Groove will perform on Oct. 20th and Classic Example will complete the series on Oct. 27th. Spectators are invited to show up in costume for the Oct. 27th concert.  All music will be performed on the patio of AJ’s Fine Foods.  Seating is limited and attendees are encouraged to arrive early and bring a yard chair.
     AJ’s will offer free wine tasting inside the store from 3 to 6 p.m. each Friday before the concerts begin, and there will also be flash sales throughout the evening. A raffle will also be held and proceeds will benefit the Arizona Arthritis Foundation.
     “October in is a perfect time to enjoy a free outdoor concert in the Valley,” said Mary and Karen Walker, president of Power Promotions and event coordinator for the Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center.  “This family-friendly activity is a great way to listen to music, as well as enjoy the many amenities that are available to those who visit this beautiful shopping center.”
     The Village at Arrowhead offers specialty shops that provide the ultimate shopping experience with distinctive fashion, home furnishings, restaurants and personal services in one of the most architecturally unique and aesthetically pleasing shopping centers around.
                For more information contact Marks Public Relations at 480-664-3004.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Remembering my dad on Father's Day

I’ve been thinking about my dad lately. Father’s Day is approaching and even though my pop died more than 20 years ago, I still think about what kind of gift he might like to have for Father’s Day.
Dad had a weird sense of humor and wasn’t particularly helpful when we asked him for gift suggestions. Each year it was the same.

Me: “Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

Dad: “A new butt. Mine’s cracked.”

My dad is in the center wearing sunglasses. This  picture was taken 
at a Cub's game  at Wrigley Field in 1960.

This was the same response for Christmas, birthdays and other gift-giving occasions. I don’t know which was sillier, his corny response or the fact that my siblings and I continued to ask the same question.
That is not to say that we didn’t come up with some good gifts over the years. My brothers Terry and Dennis took him to ball games, my older sister, Diane, bought tickets so he and mom could go out to a show, my sister, Tina’s fiancé bought him a new television and VCR (back when the technology was new.)  My sister-in-law, Joanie, always bought him a new pair of slippers. Dad wore slippers all the time so he needed replacements on a regular basis.

However, the gift that I think he enjoyed the most was a nutcracker my spouse, John, and I bought him. It wasn’t any ole nutcracker. This little marvel held the nut in place and a weight (released from a rubber-band-type launcher) cracked the pecans perfectly in half. 

My dad loved nuts and we had three pecan trees in the yard. Having grown up in the heart of Chicago but probably being a country boy at heart, my dad loved it that he could go outside, gather nuts and pick fruit (especially citrus) and make something from scratch. Even during his years of dementia he never tired of making fresh squeezed lemonade or cracking a bowl full of pecans. 

What made this gift special is it was directly related to his passion. Now cracking nuts is not MY passion, but it was something my dad loved to do. So rather than buy him Old Spice or another useless tie, we hit the mark with the nut cracker that year.

But now that my dad is gone, I still think of how I might have done things differently.  What my father (and I think most fathers) want is to spend quality time with their children. As we get older we have the money to purchase bigger and better things, but finding the time to spend the day with dad is sometimes more difficult than cracking a nut without a nut cracker.  It makes me think of the Harry Chapin song, “Cats in the Cradle” song chronicling the busy life of a father and son.

It can be difficult to find the time to spend an entire evening or afternoon with dad, but there are options - even for those of us who are time challenged. Why not ask dad to come and join you for a simple errand? It could be a trip to the post office, a walk to the store, or you could even ask your pop to ride shot gun while you pick up the kids from school?

I miss my dad, but when I think of the corny things he used to say, it still makes me smile. The other day I was helping my granddaughter with her toilet training. She goes to preschool and she is obsessed with naming things.  She pointed to her butt and said, “What’s my butt’s name?” I told her “Briannah’s butt.” If she would have said “I want a new one, mine’s cracked” I would know that my dad had reincarnated back into our lives again.

Briannah is the ghost on the left and her sister, Rosannah, is on the right.

Of course she didn’t say that, but when she smiled at her question (she knew she was being funny) I couldn’t help but think a new nut was born.  And with her budding sense of humor it would seem the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

If you’re interested in a unique gift for your dad, consider buying a copy of my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. You can buy it through Amazon, Smashwords or by contacting me through this blog. For more information about the book go to

Monday, May 29, 2017

Whale Tale Rerun

This blog is a summer rerun from a year ago, but hopefully you will enjoy it anyway.

It was the day after Labor Day and my spouse, CB, and I were headed out for a whale-watching adventure. During our drive we saw plenty of school buses packed with children ready to start the first day of school. Some of the kids looked excited, others nervous. I can appreciate both sentiments.

As a child I started off the school year with one of two new outfits I would wear that year. I remember wanting to put my best foot forward. I was a scruffy-looking kid, but a new outfit managed to put a coat of varnish on my otherwise rough exterior. My family wasn’t exactly impoverished, but we weren’t well off either. Plus, I did not take a lot of care in how I looked. My mom made sure my hair was brushed before I left the house, but I never gave it another thought the rest of the day. And as a kid who loved to play outside, hang upside on the monkey bars and chase other kids around the school yard, I’m sure I was a big mess. Actually, I have school pictures to prove I was a mess, but I digress.

When a new school year begins, I feel a nostalgic desire to learn something new. However, over the years I have found life’s lessons do not always come as a result of traditional education. While I do enjoy reading, taking classes and watching documentaries, I have found that some of my most valued lessons have come from observing nature. 

However, fun, rather than education was my goal that September morn.  We hopped into the truck and set off to the dock where we would take our four-hour tour. If the theme song from Gilligan’s Island comes to mind, remember that their ill-fated journey was a THREE-HOUR tour. That extra hour makes a big difference and we suffered no shipwrecks.

We enjoyed learning about the geology of the nearby terrain, history of area, as well as information about the mammoth Stellar Sea Lions. However, what impressed me most was s story our captain told us about orca whales.

These creatures (also named killer whales) swim in pods. When one of the females is about to give birth, the other females surround her and buoy her up so she is able to take in some oxygen. Once the calf is born, the entire whale community celebrates with breaches and tail slapping. One of the resident grandma whales in the San Juan Island area (reported to be more than 100 years old) recently had a new great, great grandson and researchers saw that the old matriarch was showing the little guy the ropes. The other whales chipped in doing what they could. The male orcas let the youngster ride on their backs. 

I found this whale tale inspiring. I know humans are supposed to be the superior species, but I think all of us could learn something from the community spirit of these sea mammals. 

In school, in our spiritual communities, work and our daily lives we have the opportunity to be a part of a supportive environment, or we can turn our backs on others. We can offer words of kindness and encouragement, or we can gossip, tease and humiliate others. Ironically, a child’s introduction to the latter is often in a classroom or playground. I’ve even witnessed snobbery, prejudice and cruel remarks snickered about others in a spiritual setting where some well-dressed hypocrite feels the need to measure some “poor unfortunate’s” worth by their bank account or the cost of their apparel.

That is why I was impressed by this quote from Daisaku Ikeda from the August 2012 edition of Living Buddhism magazine.

“Religion must contribute to the elevation of the human spirit. It must be a force for developing the inherent goodness within us with the aim of happiness for all. It must be a force promoting respect, wisdom and personal empowerment.”

I find this quote profound, but not unique to the teachings of spiritual sages and philosophers. I learned about it from an orca and I hope you will pass this whale tale on to others as well.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hopping, Shopping and Music Popping Fun to Kick Off Spring

I am all about free concerts (and free things in general) so I wanted to pass this info on to my followers. Please spread the word.

Spring has sprung at the Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center, 20050 N. 67th Ave. in Glendale with music, raffles, wine tastings, an Easter event, and more.

Music at the Village, a free outdoor event, will be held Friday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. from March 17th through April 7. The music will kick off with the 360 Sound Machine on March 17th followed by The 8-Racks on March 24th and 31st and the spring concert series will wrap up with the Classic Example Band on April 7th

Seating is limited and attendees are encouraged to arrive early and bring a yard chair. Also, during the duration of the concert series, AJ’s will conduct free wine tasting inside the store from 3 to 6 p.m.

The fun will not stop when the concert series ends. There will be an Easter party on Saturday April 8th from 12 to 4 p.m. Children can get their picture taken with the Easter bunny, decorate Easter Eggs, and create a festive Easter hat. There will also be an Easter raffle to benefit Juvenile Arthritis.

“There will be bunny hopping, shopping, and music-popping fun this spring at the Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center,” said Mary Walker, president of Power Promotions and event coordinator for The Village at Arrowhead. “We have our Music at the Village with free concerts, and a great Easter Party. Be sure to mark your calendar and join in on the fun.”   

The Village at Arrowhead offers specialty shops that provide the ultimate shopping experience with distinctive fashion, home furnishings, restaurants and personal services in one of the most architecturally unique and aesthetically pleasing shopping centers around.

For more information contact Marks Public Relations at 480-664-3004.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Sign of Creativity

     Board & Brush Creative Studio, the fastest-growing wood-sign entertainment chain in the nation recently opened at the Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center, 20022 N. 67th Ave. in Glendale.
      The 1,100 square foot studio fills a unique niche – providing a venue to create a custom-made home décor sign from scratch, with a bonding experience that can be shared with friends, family, or even co-workers.
      Board & Brush’s staff guides individuals and groups through all phases of the sign-making process to create a sign that looks like a vintage heirloom. In addition to instruction, Board & Brush offers work stations, pre-cut wooden signs, different stencils, seven types of stains, and 50 different colors to give each sign a customized look.

      “Board & Brush is a great place for a ladies’ night out, an imaginative refuge for moms who need a break, or even a creative alternative to a traditional bachelorette party,” said Denise Clark who co-owns the business with Glendale resident Kristyn ZumMallen. 
      Other occasions for a Board & Brush DIY wood-sign get together includes: private parties; children’s birthday bashes; corporate events and fundraisers. The store is a perfect complement to the unique offerings of the West-side shopping center. To sign up for a workshop or view Board & Brush’s calendar of events visit or call 602-281-3531.
     The Village at Arrowhead offers specialty shops that provide the ultimate shopping experience with distinctive fashion, home furnishings, restaurants and personal services in one of the most architecturally unique and aesthetically pleasing shopping centers around.
     For more information about events and activities at the Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center contact Marks Public Relations at 480-664-3004.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Memories

It's time to put the Christmas tree up again!

For many of you this may involve schlepping an aromatic pine or spruce into the living room. For others it might be a trip to the garage to haul out the annual plastic model. For me, it means it's time to re-post my favorite Christmas tree story.  So once again for it's annual airing, here is my story about the ugliest Christmas tree. Please feel free to share this others.

I was relaxed, taking in the stereo when a commercial interrupted my listening pleasure.

"Make this Christmas one that she'll never forget," droned the announcer. "Yeah," I thought. "Spend big bucks and everyone will love you. Spend enough and we may even have peace on earth."

Christmas commercialism, it seems to get worse ever year. Do not get me wrong. I enjoy Christmas. It just bothers me that everyone thinks you have to spend a lot of money to have a merry one. I thought back to the commercial, "the best Christmas ever." It took my memories back to the Christmas of my 10th year, my most unforgettable holiday.

My family and I had moved to Arizona from Chicago four years before. Arizona was in a serious recession. My father, who had always provided a healthy paycheck for his wife and five children, could not find work. We got by on unemployment checks.

Jobs were plentiful in Chicago and my father's former boss was anxious to take him back. However, after four years of quiet, safe and sunny Arizona living, my mother refused to return to the Windy City. If my father could not find employment he would return to Illinois, send money, and the rest of the family would remain in Arizona.

It was a sad time - the bickering about money, worrying if my dad would have to move away. Christmas was an added burden. Money was tight enough without the added expense of the holiday. My mother explained the financial situation to us and we knew not to expect much in the way of presents.

Of course the brightly decorated evergreens we had enjoyed in the past were out of the question. We never even asked about one. Instead we pulled a three-foot aluminum tree out from the garage. The cold tinsel stalk inspired about as much Christmas spirit as a box of Reynolds wrap.

While everyone else decorated the tree, I decided to take a stroll. As I walked toward the end of the block, I turned right so I could investigate the bowling alley parking lot where they had been selling Christmas trees. I loved the scent of the pine in the cold air, another of many reasons I hated our artificial tree. As I neared the lot, I saw that it was bare. I kicked at the fragments of broken branches. In the corner, lying on its side, was a long misshapen evergreen.

It was easy to see why the tree was discarded. However, something inside of my brain clicked. The poor tree needed a home. My home needed a tree. I grabbed the trunk, but I was not strong enough to move it. I ran home to fetch my younger brother, Terry, who I was sure would assist in my plight. As it is so often the case with brothers, Terry lacked my enthusiasm.

"I don't even think a dog would use that tree," he laughed.

"Maybe so, but it would make a fine fort," I replied. With that in mind, Terry helped me transport the tree down the block and into our back yard.

My mother looked up from washing the dishes as we walked up the driveway, and warned us against bringing that "filthy thing" into the house.

"Its for a fort!" Terry exclaimed. I just smiled.

Once the tree was in the back yard, I sent Terry on another mission. I had no intention of turning the evergreen into a fort - at least not yet.

My dad walked up and looked at the tree. It was long, sparse on the top with heavy branches on the bottom. I was sure I could win him over, so I explained my scheme to him.

"You could chop a foot off the bottom and cut the branches off and drill holes where the tree is bare and do a little transplanting," I said.

My older sister, Diane walked out and spied the tree. "Father, you are not going to let her bring that thing in the house are you?" Diane shrieked.

"I don't see why you don't like it," I said. "It looks just like you. Not enough on the top and too much on the bottom."

Diane walked off in a huff.

Whether dad was bored, liked my idea, or was caught up in my enthusiasm I cannot be sure. But soon a drill and saw were out and "Ernie" the unwanted evergreen became a beautiful Christmas tree.

Dad brought the tree inside and we placed the few ornaments we had on Ernie. To help fill in the uncovered areas, we strung popcorn and pyracantha berries and cut out little ornaments from paper. Even my 18-year-old brother, Dennis, who was fond of imitating Scrooge and saying "Bah Humbug" to any mention of Christmas, helped to get Ernie into shape.

We did not have any Christmas lights, so Terry and I pooled our money, about 90 cents, and we got the rest of the cash from "Jack rabbit," my little sister Tina's bank. I am ashamed to say it was an unauthorized withdrawal.

One string of lights did not cover much, so we pushed the tree into a corner and decorated only the front. Despite the circumstances, I was happy. We all were. Never before, and unfortunately never afterward, do I remember my family working together so joyfully. For a short while, we were happy to be together and share what we had, each other.

That was the last Christmas we celebrated together as a family for a long time. Shortly afterward, my father returned to Chicago, unable to come home permanently until I was 16.

Except for my nemesis, Diane, my siblings and I still live in Arizona. Most holidays, we get together to exchange insults and presents. Our Christmas trees are always magnificent and the presents are plentiful and brightly decorated. You will not find strings of popcorn or pyracantha berries anywhere.

Christmas carols, if they were sung (and they are not) would be drown out by the big football games that are always scheduled in honor of the birth of Jesus.

I still think back to my childhood and that yuletide of my 10th year, and I know a truckload of presents could not match the happiness I felt that day. It was a special time when my father listened to me and made a small dream come true. And it all happened because of a poor misshapen Christmas tree that nobody else wanted.