Sunday, September 19, 2010

a gift?

Sarah Brightman and Jackie

Above is a photo of world-famous soprano opera singer Sarah Brightman, and even more famous 10 year-old, America’s Got Talent contestant, Jackie Evancho.

For the past few months, Americans have been gushing over the talent of this opera prodigy.  “Isn’t she great?!” was heard everywhere. 

But, what we really meant was “Isn’t she great (for a 10 year-old)!?”  Like Susan Boyle, the ugly duckling singing darling of of last year, we judge people in the context of who they are, where they are, not in the context of the general world of talent.  They are unexpected.

There are many, many unknown, unheard of opera singers who are much better than Jackie Evancho.  But, they are not 10.  They are not wearing patent leather shoes and playing Barbie.  And, that’s why she’s so special.

That is not to diminish the skills and marketing prowess of the Jackie Evancho machine.  All you have to do is go to and you can find out all about it.

I worry for her.  I worry because when she answers a question, I hear an adult voice coaching her what to say, what to think.  I don’t see the joy of a child.   

Please, mom and dad, let her be a kid for a while.  Please don’t make this gift a curse.

Friday, September 17, 2010

see this one….

"Animal Kingdom Movie Poster"

a new beginning….

Angelo Surmelis and I, along with a great crew of people from Kittle's Furniture in Indianapolis just installed the very first angelo:HOME store at Kittle’s.


I couldn’t be prouder of my affiliation with both Angelo and  Kittle’s.  If you’re defined by the friends you keep, I can only hope these friends define me.  So, when the names of Leslie, Chris, Lynne, Mark, Lance, Eric, Jim and more come up, there will be a smile on my face.


This is more than a partnership; it is a relationship.  I see these people as the people I want to be like, be with, and succeed with.  At the end of the day, it does no good to do a bunch of business with a bunch of people who don’t matter to you.  These people matter.SAM_0551

As Angelo says, “Good times.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

what a shame….

A friend of mine, Jim,  killed himself a couple of weeks ago, shot himself in the head.

He was a former state patrol officer.  He knew my kids and my family.  He was always good to everyone I knew.

I’ve been trying to come to terms with what he did and how he did it.  He was 70 years old, but appeared much younger.  I coached baseball with him, and we talked baseball a lot.

He had a son who was an excellent pitcher, better than anyone I’d ever seen in this town.  The ball just exploded out of his hand.  When he was in high school, there would be five or six scouts watching him every game.  But, he had drug issues, and nobody wanted to take a chance.  That was devastating to Jim.

Two years ago, he contracted meningitis and it affected him, but not so much it was noticeable to anyone who didn’t know him.  But, he was different and it bothered him.

He called his son the day he decided to kill himself, so his wife wouldn’t find him.  He told him he needed the lawn mowed.

I think I know why he did what he did.   I’m hoping the way he did it wasn’t some sort of payback to the son who disappointed him so much.

And for me, I’ll never think of him the same again.  That is a shame. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore…

Steven Slater

Jet Blue no longer desires the services of Steven Slater.

I’m sure, by now, just about everyone’s heard of Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who basked in the glow of victimhood, as he cussed out a passenger, grabbed a brew and slid down the emergency slide of life at the end of a recent Buffalo to New York flight.

The bravos were being shouted from every corner of the country supporting this employed victim of life, a victim of being run over, a victim of every malady of society, the real life Howard Beale of “Network”  fame.  “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”   

But, this angry everyman smiled and waved.  His arrest looked more like a coronation than a perp walk.  He did say he loved being a flight attendant for Jet Blue, and would like to keep his job. 

When asked about this adventure, he commented he thought about it.  Are you kidding me?  Thought about it?  And then, he did it? 

What a selfish move.  Going down the emergency slide with a couple of beers?  This guy needs help, not his old job at Jet Blue.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

things I like….


I like the fact that Dennis Kucinich runs for president knowing he has no chance of winning, that he runs because he has something to say, something important, something he believes in. 

I also like it that he has a very tall wife who looks more trophy than….well, she’s good looking.  He reminds me of the old George Gobel quote, “Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?”

I like that Senator Russ Feingold voted against the Patriot Act after the attack on the World Trade Center, that he was the only vote, 99-1 on your scorecard, a sort of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” act of political suicide, to defend what The Constitution really means.


I like that Senator Orrin Hatch went against the party line when he defended the rights of Muslims to build their mosque near “Ground Zero” and Senate Majority Leader, and major league hypocrite, Harry Reid decided The Constitution was not worth defending, when placed against his need to be re-elected when he came out against it.  

I like that Carly Fiorina was caught on an open microphone calling Senator Barbara Boxer’s hair “so yesterday” when Hewlett Packard apparently felt the same about her when they fired her as CEO.

I like it that “Winter’s Bone”, emotionally raw and intelligent, was available for me to watch in a sea of blow ‘em up, stink ‘em up movies.  While Judd Apatow can make me laugh for a minute, this movie will stay with me for years.

I like that I can put on the glass slipper and live my fairy tale, fast life and return to my home, just two miles from my birth, where nobody cares.

I like the simple wisdom of Satchel Paige when he said, “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.”

I like that my kids still come to me when they have a problem.

I like beef stroganoff and lemon ice.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I know you’re good, but……

I am full of food, really good food, but really, really full. 

For some reason, the women in my life seem to think I’m not fat enough.  And, for yesterday, that food pusher was Judy Kessler.

Yesterday, we did a furniture photo shoot at the Los Angeles home of Judy Kessler.  Judy is a diminutive lady held together by various pieces of hardware meant to keep her from flying without going through the airport version of an MRI machine. 

She is a former executive in the television industry, a former movie producer, and author.  To underestimate her would be at your own peril.  

No is an answer that seems to be filtered by Judy’s brain to mean maybe, or even yes.  Many times she said to me, “Do you want some (notice, no question mark)”…  And most times I said, “I’m good.”  And then she would say, “I know you’re good, but”…., and then some sort of food was being ingested by my growing body.

The banter went on for hours, and each time I had to think of  how to decline this force of nature in a polite, yet creative way.  She was and is too cunning, too smart, too persistent. 

At the end of the evening, Judy won.  I ate everything that wasn’t moving.  Really, was there any chance there was going to be any other outcome?

And, at the end of the evening, I won.  I had the chance to be around one of the most interesting, smart, caring and selfless people I’ve ever been around.  Thank you Judy.

I love my life!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the power of sports….

If you’ve been around me, you know I like sports.  Let me rephrase that, I love sports.  I love that there’s a result, that it says you won or lost, that the effort pays off.

I’ve coached some, and I will coach some more.  There’s not another classroom like the performance field.  In some sports, if you make a mistake, you get hit in the mouth, or worse yet, your buddy gets hit in the mouth.   I don’t recall that ever happening in the classroom without a teacher getting fired.

In sports, you need to give up yourself for success, at least the good ones do.  And, leadership is required, not optional.

Each year, when I coach, I break down each player to his or her game to basics.  I make them reach beyond their grasp.   I build them up, build their confidence, build their ability, build their IQ. 

In sports, there are no shortcuts.  Achievement is gained through sweat equity.  You can’t look at somebody else’s paper.  You can’t just figure it out.  You have to do it, over and over.  Because, unlike the classroom, your opponent is doing the same thing.  And, in sports, you don’t win by thinking; you win by doing.      

In business, I can tell the people who have played sports.  They think, act and move differently.   There’s a swagger.  They laugh from their belly.  They don’t quit, and they don’t hand off the tough stuff to others.