OH GOD, I’M DISCUSSING BLESSINGS…this should be good.

November 22, 2015


bless you

I said “bless you” to someone yesterday and I questioned exactly what that meant coming from someone like me…someone who is not “religious” and is still puzzled in my senior years with the entire concept of religion and God.

I did not say to the person “GOD bless you.” I simply said “bless you.” When you use only the two words, is the third implied? I don’t know.   I guess you interpret it as you wish, depending what your beliefs are.

When I say “bless you” to someone I think—note, I said I think—it means I am wishing goodness and happiness for them because they deserve it. In my interpretation, God is not necessarily present and doesn’t need to be. So am I okay blessing someone? Or am I practicing religion without a license?

There are two areas I rarely discuss here on my blog, they being things political and religious. I am not a very active participant in either one. That does not mean that I do not have beliefs and follow certain rules by which I live.  Nor does it mean I am void of emotion when I see children shot in school or concert-goers in Paris senselessly executed.    I started a list…

THE GOLDEN RULE – This is the one concept I attempt to live by that comes to mind first. It’s perhaps my “Bible” all in one sentence. I love its simplicity: do unto others as you would have others do unto you. How simple is that! Yet it is perhaps the most complex concept to get people to adhere to. Imagine if everyone followed the golden rule? Yeah, I know, sounds like John Lennon’s Imagine.

FAIRNESS – I am also big on fairness, to a point that it gets me in trouble from time to time. When it comes to fairness, no matter how petty the issue, I will stand on principle until my legs give out. It’s the one area in which I am most often accused of “being ridiculous.”

EMPATHY – My tank is usually filled. I regularly think about how lucky I am despite the many areas of my life in which I am disappointed, or feel I could have done better. But there are so many others who have achieved so much less and are faced with so much more. It gives me a sense of…

HUMILITY – What is it with people who cannot take a backseat every once in a while and let someone else have a glory moment? This, I think, is the one thing most lacking in the American psyche. We gloat too much, greed too much and are ungrateful too much. Not all of us…but too many of us.  It is why…

DISCRETION – is poorly defined and mostly lacking in our current way of life. It’s what makes holiday sales like Black Friday totally annihilate the heritage and meaning of some of our country’s previously sacred holidays.  It’s why only a minority of people take time out on Memorial Day to really attempt to acknowledge what this day is all about, while the rest of us go to car sales and fire up the grill for huge picnics.  We need to be still and…

LEARN – As we birth new generations we send them off to public schools that have abandoned education for test scoring.  Then, as parents, we have become tired and lazy because we work too long and hard for the sake of corporate shareholders.  The result:  we fail to attend to our kids as much as past generations have.  Our country is losing its sense of past.  We grow soft and have no…

GUTS –  especially those born after my generation’s parents, the rightfully-called Greatest Generation.  If the “Greats” were around today I think they would be outraged that the world’s freedom-minded nations have not aggressively banded together right this very moment and collectively, thoroughly taken off after ISIS in huge numbers and force to rid it from our earth.  How many more people must be senselessly slaughtered merely because of their beliefs?  Is this generation so insensitive to, or unschooled about Hitler, that it cannot see what is happening all over again?  Or is that my religious bias overreacting?

I probably could add a few more items to the list, but these pretty much define my politics and my religion. I don’t wave these things on a flag, attempt to impose them on others or put bumper stickers on my car. And, as I said above, I rarely use my blog to express them.  I just go through life with these principles in mind, using them as tools to help me stay intact, relate to others and maintain my worthiness of being part of humanity. This is my religion.  It all sounds right to me as I am sure your beliefs sound right to you. That said….Bless us!


And dare I say “bless you” to those who recently stopped by marc’s blog and left a “like”….they include:

Margie, Mike Fuller (his just-released detective thriller, Sink Rate, now available at amazon), Ron Carmen, Damyanti Biswas, Rita Petrushanski-Mastroni, Veronica Deleo, Ellen Rothstein Weiner, Ronna Woulfe Gershberg, Kathleen Neiman, Jacob Mangoro, Tom Stewart, Peter Bolger, John Hutchinson, Lynda Louise Mangoro, robertsonwrites (in fact, he’s written enough books to have his own book store…check it out at crimsonedgepress.com), pseudonymous, Mae McDonnell and Alex Markovich (check out his excellent photo skills at markovich.tv)


November 18, 2015

CAMCover BorderWell, I already did “close but no cigar” a few postings back. The only other cliché I can think of is gender specific but I guess the implied thought is neutral so here goes: Always a bride’s maid and never the bride.

The most ambitious awards competition I enter a book into each year is the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Last year I entered Dead Letter and this year I entered The 11th Year of Christopher Arthur McDaniels. I have received identical results two years in a row. The judges have a ranking system for six categories they use to get a handle on the gazillion entries they receive and I’ve missed out getting a perfect score both years by one point in one category. 5 is the highest score, 1 the least. Both years the judge did not care for my cover. Last year the judge said she had no problem with nudity on the cover; she just thought it was dull and would be more appropriate if I had put a mailbox or a small town on the cover. This year the judge did not like Christopher’s face on the cover saying, “not sure the illustration of Christopher himself on the front cover makes him especially appealing, but as an adult woman, I am not the intended audience for this book, so I suppose it doesn’t matter.” Well, it mattered enough that she deducted a point in that category. She also had an issue in the category in which I entered the book…and so did I. The two children’s categories are not clearly defined and particularly overlapping for Christopher. But the judge had nice things to say about the book and me…although she did mention I should have had a picture of myself on the back. I figure next year, the third attempt, may be the charm…but I am really shooting for the Pulitzer so who cares? Here’s the scoring for Christopher is what the judge said about the book:

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design:  4

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 5

“THE 11TH YEAR OF CHRISTOPHER ARTHUR MCDANIELS by Marc Kuhn is an excellent story following an 11-year-old boy who is engrossing and entertaining. Kids will relate and adults will be taken back to another time and place. Well done.

 The production values of this book are good. Not sure the illustration of Christopher himself on the front cover makes him especially appealing, but as an adult woman, I am not the intended audience for this book, so I suppose it doesn’t matter…That said, the few illustrations in question are whimsical and enjoyable. The author’s note displays warmth and humor. A photo of the author would have been nice.

The story itself is interesting. Christopher has an engaging and interesting personality and readers will be able to relate to his situation. The dialogue and voice are natural. Christopher has a good heart and is the kind of friend everyone would want to have, whether kid or adult. Nice work.”


A now an update for those interested, regarding the publishing of my third novel titled, Anchor.  If you follow my blog you know this book has lived up to its name.  It weighs me down every chance it gets.  It has been the most cantankerous project I’ve worked on.  Because I have been totally insecure about this book, I have shared it with a few trusted friends and relatives.  While the reviews have been mixed there are a few common themes of criticism that I need to address.  This means going back and rewriting several sections.  So exactly when I will let loose this monster, I really don’t know for sure. I would certainly expect to have it launched by the end of the year, if not by the end of November…at which time I will weigh anchor and move on to other seas.


And here’s a thank you to all who shared a laugh over my sleeping video.  I sure hope it didn’t influence my application to become a school bus driver…..anyway thanks to:  Ellen Rothstein Weiner, Alex Porro, Kathleen Neiman, Teri Griffin, Veronica Deleo, Laura Grant, Ronna Gershberg, Jim Jackson,  Rick Alpern, John Caras, Ashley Serrate, Camie Dunbar, Vandy Dev, Miriam Schulman-Kirk, and Antoinette Prato Schreffler




November 14, 2015



Like most people my age, much of the conversation has transitioned from basic everyday yada-yada-yada to everyday aches and pains, ailments and diseases. Older individuals play dueling sickness with each other. It’s sorta like a “can you top this” contest as everybody describes their symptoms and all the pills they take to keep them in tow.

Okay, I will not bore you with the suckit list of all the daily aches and pains I deal with, but I made a video of myself that displays one of the more humorous conditions I have had for a good number of years. And I boldly present it here totally for laughs.

I have had a sleep disorder since I was in my late 30’s. Part of it is sleep apnea which is a collapsing of the airway in the throat while one approaches deep sleep. When this occurs, the body can’t breathe so it is, for all practical purposes, suffocating itself. So the body wakes itself up in a very jarring fashion and tells it “Hey, stupid, you ‘re not breathing!

There are machines to help with sleep apnea that involve wearing a face “harness” or mask with fittings that force air into your nose and down your throat, thereby forcing your air passageway to stay open. Many people find this cure worse than the ailment because they cannot fall asleep with the contraption wrapped around their head and forcing air up their nostrils. I am one of them.

So for years I have been a very restless sleeper who usually falls asleep and wakes up constantly throughout the night and rarely gets a good night’s rest. The toll for this is paid with bouts of sleepiness all day long because I didn’t sleep all night long.

My daytime “crash” periods usually strike when I am in a still position. As long as I am active I am ok…most of the time. I have crashed my head many times on my desk after falling asleep with no warning. If I am at the computer, sometimes the mouse will go shooting across the room as my body lurches upon being told to wake up. It is actually quite comical at times….and a tad scary.

Before I retired, I had a reputation for “crashing” during meetings–the more boring and longer they were, the more likely I would black out. My good friend Camie Dunbar used to purposefully sit next to me so she could give me a kick if she saw me starting to “leave” the meeting. Now that’s a real friend!

Lately, since I retired, I have explored new territory for my “outages.” While on the stationary bike at the gym each week I will often fall asleep while peddling away at a good clip. I even fell asleep riding my regular outdoor bike. Thankfully, I was on a bike path in a park and all I did was ride off the trail and into a clump of bushes.

So it is no surprise that as this problem has reached new levels, I have been officially diagnosed as now having narcolepsy. This is condition that can have one falling asleep without any warning or knowledge whatsoever. In several cases, people will actually collapse on the floor. I don’t do that….yet.

The benefit of being declared a narcoleptic is now my insurance company will allow me to have a certain pill which it previously refused to pay for. It helps me stay awake and alert during the day. I still have to fork over the co-pay. That runs $20/pill. Consequently, I take them sparingly, only on days that I know I need to be alert.

The most offensive thing about all this, besides never getting enough sleep, is that it is very difficult for me to read and to work on my books, which is what I am attempting to do in the video above. “Ah-ha!” you say. Now you know why my books are all sleepers!


While I’m awake, I want to make sure I thank some of those nice people who recently stopped by marc’s blog…and they are:

Almost Iowa, Patricia Beykrat, Ron Carmean, E.I. Wong, Chris Nicholas, Hungry Monster, Ellen Rothstein Weiner, Alex Porro and Kathleen Neiman


November 9, 2015

Maze background

October 28th has come and gone. I blew it. I missed my deadline. I don’t recall ever missing a deadline. Well, like a lot of things in my life, those days are over. Woe is me.

October 28th was my self-imposed deadline for publishing my third adult novel, Anchor. It was an arbitrary deadline, but I am a compulsive individual and I like to have things organized and proceeding according to plan…typical Taurus personality trait. But I should have known I wasn’t going to make my deadline, not with this book. This book as been…let me see, how can I accurately describe what writing this book has been like…ah, yes, let’s just say it was a puzzlement. That is what the king in The King and I called things he did not understand.

Anchor was originally conceived as a story about a young priest who wandered a bit too far from the altar and wound up doing things unpriestly.   As it turned out, I trashed that idea (too Thorn Birdie) and I changed the priest into a Catholic radio news anchor. That was a logical transition, I told myself. Actually, this immediate change in characters should have been a warning sign that writing this book was going to be volatile.  I suspect now I should have bypassed writing anything religious since I am not and it would be God’s way of punishing me.

Well, to cut to the chase, we are just about halfway through November and I still haven’t finished Anchor. I though I did, but then my son started reading the manuscript and declared it a disaster, at least as I defined his criticism. I talked about this unnerving moment in an earlier posting.

I started reviewing the book myself and, like never before, discovered all kinds of things that I wanted to change. The problem—or part of the puzzlement—is that once one thing is changed, it winds up having a cascading effect throughout the entire book, causing even more changes. Remember, as also previously discussed in a posting a long way back, this book was put together a little differently too. I had a beginning and end, but no middle. So I wrote the two sections—front and back—before I ever knew what was going to happen in the middle. Surprisingly, this did not seem to pose a problem…I think. Or maybe that’s why this minorpiece (vs. masterpiece) has become such a puzzlement. Then too, the entire ending has changed from the original one I had in mind.  When it did, I didn’t know how the story was really going to finish up until I wrote the last chapter…and then all kinds of things began busting out.  This entire book has simply been out of control with a life of its own.

So that’s what I’ve been doing…writing a book and then writing it over again. Sometimes I imagine myself a great creative type, famous but temperamental as hell and never satisfied with his work. Then reality hits and I realize I should maybe “get real” and take up patchwork quilting as a new activity and dump this writing gig.

Well, if you are among my terribly small but cherished group of loyalist who have implied you are actually waiting with open arms to grab a copy of Anchor, I will tell you this: I am not sure what to tell you. I think I may finish the rewrite this week and then I may be crazy enough to publish it. But if you are asking me if it’s any good, I can’t say. I have no idea. It could be my tipping point to success…or total pee-yew! Like I said…it’s a puzzlement.


No puzzlement here…these are some of the fine folk who stopped by marc’s blog lately. I need to catch up on my list and thank them!  Here they are:  Chris Nicholas, Rita Petrushansky-Mastroni, Stumbleton, Writingfest, Mike Fuller, Ron Carmean, Jacke Wilson, Margie, Mae McDonnell, Writeformasses, Almost Iowa, Classy Canuck, Chitkala, unbolt and Robert Okaji.  Hope I didn’t miss anyone…if I did, I apologize!



November 6, 2015


There is a piece of poetry by Robert Browning that my mother was quite fond up, especially as she was eventually forced, as we all are, to adopt senior citizenship. Here’s the main verse:        

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”

I never had any feelings, one way or the other, about this verse…until now. I am sure it currently has significantly more meaning because I turned 70 this year. Still, my mind may be more receptive to the rhymes of an Irish limerick, but I guess I am finally relating to what Browning had to say.

There are similarities I share with my mother that make the poem more substantive now. The primary one is that we each married someone whom we genuinely loved and we stayed married to that person until death did my father part and until I or my wife eventually do likewise. My parents were married for 43 years when my father died. Rosemarie and I celebrated our 48th this year. So we’ve all grown old together.

There is, however, one thing that my mother and I do not share regarding Browning’s message. She revered it; I feel just the opposite. Call it seeing the glass half empty, but I have absolutely no faith in the concept that the best is yet to be.

Based on the fact that my body deteriorates in painful increments just about weekly and that my income deteriorated in one big chunk upon retiring, whatever is “best” already has been and certainly is not to be.

I was once a materialistic guy who liked buying “stuff” that was useful or lasting or just plain fun to have. Tools, cars, televisions, computers were all turn-on’s. Now I seldom find myself using the phrase, “That’ll come in handy someday,” unless maybe I’m thinking about a wheelchair or a cemetery plot. If those are the things that represent the best as it’s going to be, I am not sure I could do worse.

Meanwhile, I am having second thoughts as to whether or not Rosemarie and I have the fortitude to get through the aging process. It seems the older we get, the less tolerance we have for each other’s habits and idiosyncrasies. This is especially true when we are in the car together. All of a sudden, neither one of us can stand the other’s driving. This has never been an issue before. In fact, when we first started dating I had a stick-shift Chevy with the stick on the steering column. Driving the car involved both hands. One of the things that made me fall in love with Rosemarie was that she was a young lady of many talents.  She even knew how to drive a stick-shift car—an exceptionally rare skill for a high school girl in 1963. So to fulfill the desire to sit closely together in the front bench seat of the Chevy, me with my right arm nicely placed around her, I would have to work the clutch while she changed gears with the stick.   We thought we drove just great.

Today, getting in the car with each other brings a whole new meaning to the term, “buckle up.” Each of us is assuming the driver’s role even though the one in the passenger seat has no brake or steering wheel. That person is still prone to slap his/her foot on the floor in an attempt to stop the car, while bare knuckling the dashboard or grabbing for the handle that’s mounted above the side window. Here’s a typical half-mile’s conversation:

“Must you jerk the car so much every time we start to move?”

“You do the same thing. The gas pedal on this car is very sensitive and it wasn’t that jerky anyway.”

         “Watch this truck. He looks like he’s coming over.”

“For God’s sake I see him, I see him. Will you just relax and let me worry about the driving?”

         “I could do that if you’d just—HOLY SHIT!


“Well, you were coming across the line on my side and I could count the number of teeth the kid has lost—the kid sitting in the back seat of the car next to us.”

“Do you want to drive?” D O  Y O U  W A N T  TO  D R I V E?    I’ll pull over right here. It’ll be easier on my nerves than having you scream every time you think I’m going to hit someone.”

And so it goes…as we grow old together, falsely being led down the path where things that are to be,  will supposedly be at their best. I think maybe what would be best is someone finding a cure for arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s and a bunch of other deteriorating diseases.   It would be good, too, if there was a way to painlessly avoid knee and hip replacements. The best would also include a higher social security payment or a larger 401k…and I personally think the bestest yet to be would maybe actually happen if Rosemarie and I traded in our automatic and got a stick-shift so we could sit close and drive together again.




November 1, 2015


I’ve been busy trying to “birth” this book I’ve been writing all year. That’s it on the right: Anchor.  Normally I would have been finished by now. In fact, my self-imposed publishing date was October 28th. Well, that didn’t happen.

If you are a creative type, whether writer, painter, knitter, chef or whatever, you understand what it is like to have your work—your baby—called ugly. That’s what happened to me this past week. It’s a semi-long story. I’ll be quick.

My son and I have a lot in common. We also have just as much not in common in any way whatsoever. Oil and water could be mixed more easily than some of the concoctions he and I pour ourselves into.

Last year, when I was just about finished putting together my middle school book, The 11th Year of Christopher Arthur McDaniels, my son picked up the manuscript and read it. He did not like it. He began hammering on me like an out-of-control little league father ripping his son’s inept attempt to play baseball. I ran off to my room, hurt, slamming the door and swearing never to come out again, even for ice cream.

A day went by and my blood pressure settled back down to a reasonably high level and I began going over all my son’s observations once more. This time I was more patient and receptive. There is something about a father/son relationship that sometimes makes criticism of either become volatile at the moment it’s happening. It must be one of those natural phenoms like volcanoes and earthquakes. Anyway, the more I thought about his “edits” the more sense they made and I wound up redoing a lot of the manuscript to accommodate them. Christopher became a better book because of it.

So last week, as I am rushing but feeling pretty good to get my latest grown-up effort put to bed and sent off to printing land, my son started reading it and all hell broke loose. It was worse than last time. He had a gun this time—a shotgun—and he unloaded both barrels into my manuscript.  Then, he reloaded and did it again! Boom! Boom! We argued and yelled and flung our arms all over the place as we did. It’s a wonder one of us didn’t get hit. And this was after his reading only the first seven chapters.

So I did the only natural thing an author could do. I ran to my room, slammed the door, kicked the cat and ripped up my manuscript in a gazillion little pieces. Well okay, maybe I didn’t do any of those things…but I wanted to.

As before, when the smoke settled and the room became clear and I had time to review my son’s totally incorrect and obnoxious criticism of my writing, not to mention rude, I stubbornly began a drastic rewrite of a good portion of the first seven chapters.

They are better now. And so am I…but the process is exhaustive.   He hasn’t begun reading the remainder of the book. This is a good thing. I need the rest before he starts reloading.


A side note for anyone who had interest in reading my posting about Ed Walker (October 23rd)…his family joined him bedside at his nursing home last Sunday night, October 25th to listen to his final broadcast that was recorded a few days earlier from  his  hospital room. After 65 years on the air, Ed died just three hours after signing off the air for the last time, his fight with cancer finally over.

While I worked with Ed for only a few years, he left a lasting impression on me and my life was enriched by having that opportunity.




October 26, 2015


There are things buzzing around my little environment right now that are frustrating since I do not know how I can ease them into a less volatile state. I am sure you go through similar circumstances from time to time. It’s all part of the process of living…and living with others.

There are two books that I always recommend that people read if they want to get some help, some guidelines if you will, to get through life. They are Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Both of these books have been around for a good number of years, each having sold a gazillion copies. This alone is testimony to the timeless and highly insightful advice they offer.

Covey’s book, when I read it back in the late 80s, actually motivated me, at age 47, to go back to school and get an MBA…while working full-time in a pretty heady job. It wasn’t easy, but it was a true learning experience. For two years, I had to give up sleeping and just about everything else in my daily routine in order to meet the demands of both school and work. My wife, meanwhile, had to pick up just about all my share of the household chores and errand-running.   Think of it: two years of really dig-in sacrifice on both our parts simply because I had read and reacted to a book.

Getting back to the state of volatility that whirls around my environment right now, I have thought about my own bullet list of guidelines that people, especially younger people, might adopt to get through the “stuff” we all have to deal with from time to time. This is “sage” stuff. It didn’t come to me in a dream or a bolt of lightning. It took years to accumulate the failures, mistakes and mishaps that formulated my list. So, off the top of my head, here are some of my “habits” that I wish I had developed at a much earlier age:

  • Manage well that which you control. If you don’t control it, give it up because you have no influence in changing it. This is not my original advice. It’s been around for a long time. It was the favorite saying of a boss I used to have and over the years I have learned how accurate it is. There is a natural tendency for us, especially parents, to take charge, handle, guide or otherwise manipulate our environment and those who reside in it. Beyond the basics of safety and wellbeing, give it up.
  • There is no such thing as common sense. “Common” to me means just that—spot-on identical to all. Not everyone, in fact probably no one, thinks exactly as you do. There is nothing common about the way human beings act. Perhaps on the surface it appears that way, but most of our “commonalities” are derived from rules and regulations.  Traffic rules are a good example and even those are not always perceived as common sense.  But take the concept of common sense someplace more radical, say to the Middle East where conflict and differences in thinking have perpetuated a hatred resulting in an endless war that has existed since I was a young child reading about it in my third-grade Weekly Reader.  In fact, it goes much further back than that. If we all thought similarly, or more “commonly,” imagine how much more pleasant the world would be. There is nothing common about hatred, ruthless treatment to others and disregard for human life.
  • Neatness Counts. Orderliness is necessary. Okay, I know lots of people are slobs and are disrespectful of others and the environment we all share, whether it’s the home we live in or the earth we walk on. If we allow these people to have their way, disease and conflict, rape and pillage with eventually obliterate us.
  • Learn how a thermostat works. It will not only make the temperature consistently pleasant, it will help you get through life. I’ve written a posting on this topic. Few people know how to work a thermostat. They usually jerk it way up or way down depending how cold or hot they are. They do not approach setting the thermostat in the increment of individual degrees—one at a time. Going to the extreme in either direction will eventually lead to a subsequent readjustment because when the extreme is met it is either too cold or too hot. ‘Tis best to take things one degree at a time until they have reached a permanently comfortable state.   The concept goes well beyond the thermostat on the wall.
  • Chew before you swallow or spit it out. This is the basic concept of stop and think before you react. Too many of us never chew.  Man of us are more apt to explode or implode the minute we are attacked by someone or something we object to. Often, the reaction only worsens the circumstances, heightens the conflict and enrages the rage–especially when things are found not to be as they originally appeared. Take a moment or “punt” as I like to say.

I’ve got more, but that’s enough for one day’s gulp. I like to wallow in my mistakes and give them time to ferment and grow mold. Then I extract from the goo some kind of meaningful learning experience. Too bad this process takes so long to happen. I should be grateful it at least happens…for some of us, it never does.



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