Why New Year’s Resolutions Are Crap Without This One Important Thing

YOU FINISH your list yet?

If not, you don’t have much time. It is the 31st, after all. If you don’t figure out how to be a better you in the next 15 hours or so, you’ll have to spend the next year as the current, subpar you.

Then again, if you’re like me, you can make it easy by recycling past years’ resolutions. My annual late-December self-reflection tends to yield the same goals: Continue reading

Why My Body Is Thanking Me for Getting So Damn Sick a Couple of Weeks Ago

IF THERE is any advantage to losing a week in December to an illness that knocks you on your ass, it is that you are forced to slow down and take everything easy. You simply lack the capacity to do anything else.

I’m still playing catch-up on sleep, and because my strep-ravaged throat made swallowing a new adventure in pain, I haven’t eaten much over the last couple of weeks. As a result, I have lacked the energy to over-exert myself, as well as overindulge. Last night I drank all of two beers, the most I’d consumed in a fortnight. It’s hard to envision wanting to have more than that at any point in the near future. Continue reading

A *Guaranteed* Way to Lose Weight This Holiday Season

soupEVERYONE KNOWS how difficult it is to maintain healthy habits over the holidays. Parties abound, and overindulgence is practically expected. We tell ourselves that things will change in January, that we’ll right the ship and get to the gym and all that, so we may as well get our calories’ worth in December.

Well, what if I told you I had a sure-fire way to lose weight during the holiday season? With no fancy diets, no expensive workout equipment, no tracking of foods?

Today, friends, is your lucky day.

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In Which My Creative Efforts Take an Unexpectedly Melodic Turn

pianoEVERY MONDAY evening since last summer, I’ve taken R. to a house on the edge of our neighborhood, where she spends a half-hour seated at a gorgeous grand piano learning melodies and chords from a wonderful, fun, funky, funny teacher.

After she’s finished, she moves to a chair near the fireplace, and I take her place.

At the tender age of 43, I am finally learning how to play a musical instrument. (I choose not to count the air guitar I’ve played for many years.)

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The Spy Who Came In and Got Old

AS GREAT as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War were to the cause of peace, they were hell on people who made their living telling spy stories. Tom Clancy had to start writing about the drug war, 007 began chasing nefarious media barons, and Reagan-fearing pop singers were forced to record lute music, for Christ’s sake.

OurKindofTraitorCoverFormer spook turned spy novelist extraordinaire John le Carré was among the hardest hit. The foremost writer of Cold War fiction found his creative center blown up by a few sledgehammers and a progressive Communist. His stuff hasn’t been the same since.

I recently listened to the audio version of le Carré’s Our Kind of Traitor. The writing was as terrific as always; le Carré long has transcended the genre into which publishers stuffed him. But the storyline, centered around a few maverick British intelligence officers trying to take down … a money launderer, was fatally insignificant.

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It Didn’t Take David Beckham to Get Me to Like Soccer … Just a Bunch of 11-Year-Old Girls

CometsA LITTLE over a year ago, as I walked R. to the car following soccer practice, she said to me, “Sorry about this, Dad, but I think my sport is soccer, not softball.”

It was beyond sweet for R. to consider her baseball-loving father’s feelings in making this declaration. Of course, I told her that it was fine and that all I wanted was for her to be happy playing. If that happiness came from playing soccer, so be it.

My problem was that I knew little about the game beyond the soul-crushing boredom caused by six hours of play resulting in a 0-0 tie. I played organized baseball as a kid and more games of pickup football, basketball, and street hockey than I can remember. As an adult I got into tennis and even golf. Soccer? That was one of them furner sports. Continue reading