A New Beginning

“Begin Again,” my favorite movie of this young summer, tells the story of a down-and-out record company exec (Mark Ruffalo), an up-and coming free spirit singer/songwriter (Keira Knightley) and a breakout rock star who looks and sounds an awful lot like Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. It’s a solid follow-up to writer/director John Carney’s debut effort,…
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In Defense of Malcolm Gladwell (Not that he needs it)

I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. In books like “Outliers,” “The Tipping Point,” and “David and Goliath,” he takes complex counterintuitive concepts and makes them understandable for people like me. One of his strengths is using the power of story to create an emotional connection with his readers as he discovers underlying connections between…
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Pen Pals

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Dear Mr. Battaglia: My name is Ricky (short for Eric) Walker and I am 11 years old. My Sunday school teacher, Miss Peabody, is teaching us about being nice to other people and gave us homework to write to someone who is in the hospital or in the army or can’t find a job or…
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Life-Affirming Songs for the New Year

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Sometimes a good optimistic song is the only thing that will pull you out of a deep funk. As we head into the New Year (always a delightful combination of hope and dread), I thought I’d share the ones that do the trick for me. “A Beautiful Morning” – Rascals. The 60s were one part…
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Slot Zombies

My friend Andrew Hall said, “You should write a story about zombies in Las Vegas.” So I did. Thanks Andrew.   “Hey Boss,” Ike Johnson said, “come on over here. You need to see this.” Tom Stafford, assistant head of security for downtown Vegas’ Lucky Cuss casino/hotel, hoisted himself with a groan from his genuine…
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Pass the Popcorn

One of the best things about having an eleven-year-old grandson is you’ve got a built-in movie buddy to see the big stupid summer blockbusters your wife won’t sit through. He and I have been on quite a roll lately. Here are my capsule reviews of our last three Saturday matinees. “Man of Steel” – The…
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Be Grateful

I needed to take a break from the novel I’m working on. So I wrote this.   “Write this down,” the speaker said. He waited until he had the crowd’s full attention. “If you remember nothing else today, remember this. Ready?” He flashed a too white smile, scanning the room for poised pens. Satisfied, he…
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That Old Time Rock ‘N’ Roll

On the way into the office today, I was the recipient of another dose of “radio luck,” that happy circumstance when whatever’s on at the time perfectly matches your mood and just keeps going through three, four, even five songs before the magic is gone. (It also helps to catch the first tune from the…
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Writing is a Puzzle

Aaron, my 11-year-old grandson, is really smart. That’s not just the opinion of a proud papa; we have definitive proof in the form of recent school aptitude tests. Currently, he’s reading (yes, reading!) at a 10th grade level and solving math problems at an 11th grade level. He can figure out any Rubik’s cube in…
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