Sunday, November 14, 2010


My granddaughter and I saw "Hereafter", the Clint Eastwood directed "cogitate your navel" story. I really liked it. My granddaughter gave it a six. I gave it a nine on a 10 point scale. I thought the story narrative moved pretty well, not slow and just enough reflectiveness by shuffling between the stories to make it interesting. Three stories from very appealing characters could hardly miss in my view. One having had a near death experience trying very hard to put it in context of her life. A youngster with tragic loss in his life and desperately wanted to settle unfinished business. And, of course Matt Damon as the catalyst. Some of the things are so enigmatic to the story that only someone of Eastwood's statue, not to mention clout, could have gotten this movie made. And, one does wonder if his 80 plus years didn't have something to do with the question: "Where do people go when they die?"

In some ways it is the "near death" stories of a few years ago: the white glowing light, people pulled from the brink of the abyss wherever it might be. Good movie and I will use it for discussion with my buddies for a long time. (I hang out with a bunch of old guys like myself two or three times a week. Several have seen the movie) As a Christian, I accept the mysteries of heaven. Streets paved with gold. I doubt it and accept the Biblical views as metaphors but doesn't make any difference. I believe in the very existence of heaven. I don't have any doubt where people go when they die. It is the mystery. It is even the "faith" of it. And, the idea of heaven is tremendously comforting that this life is not the end. That in some great mysterious expectations, we'll see our loved ones again. See what I mean? The "Hereafter" evoked these comments from me and maybe Clint had this in mind. Probably searching himself.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Writing the Rose Book

Recently, I"ve been discussing the process of writing the Rose book. The blog is and I'm been working close to two years to turn the blog into a book. It is very hard.

Just a little background. I became Rose's transportation for treatment mainly because she was having to expend this enormous amount of effort arranging transportion. My thinking was that when you are as sick as Rose, you don't have the energy to do all of this. What the hell: I'll become her transportaion and every week, she'll know that I am going to be there for her. It worked and in that process of every Tuesday with Rose, I watched her die slowly. And, it took a much greater toll on me than I could possibly have known. During the process, I kept a blog and after Rose died, I thought, "someway I've got to honor Rose's bravery of fighting breast cancer.

Rose's doctor and I have been discussing where I am in the process and I emailed her the following comments. The second thing I wanted to comment on was the idea of writing about Rose, maybe what I hope to accomplish--might be better or do a greater good or see a wider audience--surely in a broader sense, more than one woman's struggle. I don't think so. Not for me. When you write, especially someone like myself, you never know how it's going to end up. I don't have a clue but I know it will and I'll use it to do what I promised Rose I would do, a fund raiser. I do wish you would help me though. You could write emails whenever it strikes you, when you have something you want to say about how you are doing your job, thoughts, etc, anything.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


THE MIDDLE PLACE. This is a book kind of coincidently about breast cancer with all it comes to mean, i. e., cancer taking over your life-- a big meaning is that you can fight and beat it. The author did. No small thing. It is also about what makes up a family.

The author is a good writer and lots of talk about the Irish. She has a couple of hilarious stories about her Dad in particular and hence the title of the book--"middle place," idenity with parents and idenity with her own husband/children.

Good story teller: One has to do with a time when she was trying to break in on the dotcom craze. Her description of that time has to be read, can't be told second hand.

The diagnosis with cancer sounds very much like always: the shock. The anxiety. Cancer taking over her life. Her trips to the Infusion Center for treatment. And for me, a kind of Gestalt, an "ah hah" moment. There's a vast difference sitting in the Infusion Center as a patient getting treatment, a family, in support; and even more of a difference when you are a supportive friend. Hard to explain. I use to sit by my friend Rose's bed and almost always experience every single emotion possible.

A question I always ask about books: is this a book I want to give to someone battling this horrible disease? Yes! Most cancer patients already understand the risks, will laugh with the book and more than anything appreciate the hope.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Book By Email

Often, people say they want to write a book, their memoirs, the great American novel. However, they just can't seem to get with it. Email is a great way and one of the best ways I've found to encourage those who want to write. Simply sit down and write someone you know an email with your story and keep it up, daily or whatever or however you can. Below is a war story of Vietnam. I have two guys I'm encouraging to write their experiences. I am having trouble with them but if they get off their asses and start out, the first thing you know, we'll have a book.

I remerber the day like it was yesterday. B Company had just had this gosh awful firefight. It went on for what seemed like forever. In actuality, it only lasted a day. We had sustained about a dozen KIAs (kiiled in action) with about twice that many badly wounded.
I had just left the company when it started. Probably a company sized unit of NVA (North Vietnam Army). They were regulars, not guys in black pajamas.I took off to Phu Bai to the hospital to see my troops. They were really banged up. I was always pretty crushed after I saw them and knew that the grim reaper would probably claim a few more and if not, some would lose arms and legs and sight. War was a sorry business.And for me, by this time in my tour, I knew the war was bullshit. I had been reading stuff and simply had to do everything in my power to suppress my feelings to the Higher Ups. They were still doing what they do, bullshit to me but to the ones I was exposed to, I could deal with it. They were mostly just doing their jobs I guess. I was down to a double digit midget and figured I coud do this standing on my head.I was the chaplain, the poor man's psychiatrist and needed to focus on my own misssion of being the chaplain. I did the religious stuff. For men at war, ritual is important. And, I could accept the "Foxhole Religion" idea. They could sort it all out after the war.
I was bone tired and walked outside, not really outside but these mobile hospitals were set up in such a way, they snaked in all kinds of directions with kind of hubs which were like a bunch of intersecting hallways. Most of the rime, I got lost but this time for some reason, I found myself at the right spot. Across from the hospital was the Chaplain's office and my absolute best friend, Father Vince. I had first met him in Basic at the Chaplain's school in Brooklyn: good old Fort Hamilton. It was the Army's best kept secret. Right at the foot of the Verazano's Narrows Bridge, fabulous is all I know to describe it. To think that we were getting paid when I often felt like we should be paying someone to be in such a glorious spot.The chaplain's school's basic was suppose to teach us how to be soldiers. For most, they failed miserably. It was two or three months of a combination hell, play, study. We learned to wear the uniform, salute. I stood in front of the mirrow for hours practicing my salute. We went to the field and played war. It was at a camp in Virginia called Camp Picket. We made a joke: Camp Pickett, way down in the thicket. When we finished Basic, we were suppose to be ready to go to war.Father Vince was this "Eyetalian" and proud of it, Giamono, he would say and elongated it, Giamonooooo. We would laugh. He took me under his wing and vowed to show me anything and everything in New York. He would introduce me as a guy who hated yankees but was OK. I learned that in a big Italian family, to have a priest was a big honor. In Vince's family, besides him, a sister was a nun.
Standing in the little outside waiting room till Vince finished talking to some young troop, I made up my mind. I was quitting the war. How do you quit a war. Damn if I know. Maybe Vince had an idea. Regardless, I QUIT.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I am often encouraging my friends or most anybody I meet to write their memoirs, start a blog, anything if they think they might want to write. And, I am amazed constantly at the fact that everybody has a story. Really and for us older than dirt types, when we "hit the road," our story is gone if we don't write it. So...The below are some comments to a couple of my Vietnam buddies that I am trying to get to write their stories. What they can do is send to me on emails or write it as though they were telling me the story.

As an example of what I want you and Larry to do for our book, here's an example: My wife and I have watched two movies of late. Both very religious. It happened by accident as I am in charge of selecting our Netflix movies. The first one was called Faith and Potatoes. It was very evangelical, not subtle at all. Good story, farmer in South Africa, well done but bad theology. Meaning, of course, that life does not work where God rewards the good and righteous and zaps the others, just makes God too arbitrary. "OK, I'm zapping this one, giving this one cancer." See what I mean. Please! The second one was done by the Catholic Church, very subtle. Also, a good movie but bad theology. A handsome young guy comes into town and transforms it: rebuilds the Baptist Church which are mostly AA. Encourages Priest who wants his own parish but has another senior priest looking over his shoulder and not liking his approach, etc. Then he restores sight to blind girl to show that some faith healer who has a tent revival is scamming the people. And, he takes a black man, stuttering who wants to be preacher and raises him from the dead and he no longer stutters. (Are you still with me. This is why I love to write, could you imagine telling this story to the GFs)) And, finally he is summoned to Rome where he tells the Pope that the Church needs more love and less judgement. In the little town back home, they are all a bunch of Republicans loving each other and saying "yes." Just kidding. But, amazing to contrast the two movies. Jackie and I had long discussion as we were both raised in the environment of the first movie; much of it is still with me but more healthier I hope. Amen. God bless.

Therein is the lesson for you and Larry to write your stories and I'll collect them. Why not start with your joining the merchant marines. People would love it. God bless. I am going to attempt to be more on top of my responsibilities. Let's plan a trip but GFs to Tahoe. I'm ready for one night

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This is a great comment and one to keep in mind as you look for help in your writing.

And I do want to say something here and hope you understand my intent. You have asked me, previously, to work on two projects for you (marketing Brothers...and now you see you really did NOT need me at all...and then trying to get your writing published in magazines and newspapers), and I declined both. I want to make sure you understand that I declined both of those kind invitations based solely on the fact that I felt strongly that I would not be able to help you (at least not enough to justify you paying me) with either. Just so you know, I always love working for and with you, but have to assess each project with an eye to whether or not I could do you any good at all. Since you are now working on another book - and I'm about to sound VERY bold here - I would love to be considered when you look for an editor for that book, if you decide you need an editor. But I won't be at all distressed if you decide on someone else....I just wanted you to know I really love working for you when I think I might actually be of some use. ES

Friday, January 8, 2010

An email group that I'm involved with, called the 10 chaps have decided to do a collective book, mostly of their calling into the ministry. We think, not sure so stay tuned.
I would encourage all of you to write your memoir. Everyone of you have one in you and when you've hit the trail, your experiences, etc. are gone forever. "Brothers" is the hardest thing I've done, primarily because it was so difficult getting our stories straight as much of our extended family had died.

I think the best comment was somebody said it was the best example of how to do a memoir they had seen, i.e., tell a story as opposed to geneology stuff. I think that's what they meant. The struggled was worth it I think, even if I would not do it again. I thought I offered to send you guys a book. I will, have a few left and have gone for a reprint. All the proceeds go to four charities. I don't have the figures yet but so far, looks like we've raised about $5000 for them and that is very rewarding.

One thing that might interest you guys as the skim is coming over your eyes, Plus, as I am thinking, I was planning to do one more book, this blog I've kept while I drove Rosey, a breast cancer victim, to her treatments each week. I want to honor her ten year bravery in fighting the insideous disease. But, now that I think about it, I am going to retire with the chaplains book. So, file that away and keep writing. Where are we with that? I have some of mine written and some from Dave. When I get time, I'll get us all an email of what we said we'd do. I think we are all ADD anyway. God bless.

I am beginning to put my input together, but it will be at least February, maybe later. Thank you for taking on this project. LH

No sweat. We are talking probably two years down the road. So, the goal is that none of us can "depart the area" until we get this book done. I will have to say that the one thing that happened to my brothers in the seven years that it took to write Brothers is how their health had changed. When I do a book, both as author but mainly publisher, I carry the rough draft around with me constantly, look at it, read it, go to bookstores, look at books, maybe finding one I liked. With my next book about the bravery of Rose, this gal I took to her chemo treatments and watched her die slowly. I have something in mind but I don't have something in mind. I'm hoping to see a book like I want hers to be. It is for me, an enormous process. All this to say, stay working and let's keep it on at least the back burner. JDA