Archive for April, 2011

Going to California

Made up my mind to make a new start, Going To California with an aching in my heart.”

Ah, what a great song, by a great band. For those who don’t know what I’m referring to, ‘Going to California’ was one of the many classic songs recorded on the untitled, Led Zeppelin 4 album. Although not nearly as famous as the other many hits like Stairway to Heaven, Rock-n-roll, or Black Dog, Cali was one of my favorites. The song has such a pretty melody – beautiful guitars. Don’t pay too much attention to the words I posted in the intro, I just wanted to put the song in your head.

Yes, my friends, I’m going out to California this Saturday for my first official book signing. Excited – heck yeah! Nervous – heck yeah! Expectations … unclear. I’ve never been to a book signing before, let alone, sign books for others. I plan on attending the L.A. Times Festival of Books this Saturday from 11:30-12:30 and I hope to see you there. The weekend long festival takes place on the University of Southern California (USC) campus in always exciting Los Angeles. Attendance is free, and it promises to be a very busy weekend.

What do I hope to accomplish on this amazing journey? Not sure, but one thing I do know is that I want to meet the fans of the fantasy genre. Whether you like hobbits, or wookies, muggles, or vampires, I want to meet you. Who better to converse with on the topic of Atlantis, mermaids, and dare I say … Sasquatch. I wrote this book for you, fantasy fan. Granted, I know the event may not be as exciting as a Comic-con, but I’m hopeful to meet some colorful characters to re-hash an old subject in a new light. Maybe I should hire a mermaid to stand by my side … that’ll get your attention.

Regardless of the outcome of the event, I plan on having a good time. It should be quite the experience. Who knows if, or when I’ll ever do another book signing. The only thing I think could rain on my parade is, well actual rain during my signing, it is an outdoor event after all. I just don’t want to sit there and twiddle my thumbs together for an hour. Please don’t let me twiddle my thumbs together for an hour. Then again, water would fit into the theme of my book, so if the forecast does happen to call for rain, then maybe I will hire that mermaid.

For more details on where to find me, please visit my website. I’ll return next week with an update of the event, how the experience went, and if I ever hired that mermaid. I got to admit, the more I mention it, the more appealing it sounds.

Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, Telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.”


Who You Gonna Call … Not Me

Are you a fan of the paranormal? Do you enjoy ghost-chasing shows? If so, you’ve probably seen either Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures at some time or another. Both shows are extremely popular and offer numerous experiences in how they contact and deal with the paranormal. Being a fan of both programs, I wish they teamed up, even if it were for only one show. You could call it the Ghost Hunting Adventures Variety Hour starring J.Z., (Jay and Zak) and they could investigate a well known haunting on Halloween weekend. Now that’s entertainment.

I know both shows had the opportunity to investigate the Stanley Hotel in Colorado and yes, both had their own share of personal experiences. Well, yours truly also had a recent stay in Colorado, (albeit not at the Stanley Hotel), and came away with some personal experiences of my own. Let me premise this by saying that I don’t know the first thing about investigating hauntings, and I don’t own an e.m.f. detector, or any other scientific equipment. Frankly, if you tell me the room I’m staying in is haunted, I’d tell you I’d like another room please. That said, this is my experience.

Living in Florida, my kids have never seen snow, so we were on a quest to find some – snow that is, not ghosts. We flew out to Colorado in late December, thinking this may be our best opportunity, and landed in Denver. No snow. What? Don’t panic yet; we haven’t reached our final destination. I rented a car and we drove up into the mountains, right smack into a blizzard. Yeah? Be careful what you wish for. While my wife and children were ecstatic, I was holding on to the wheel with white knuckles trying to keep control of this car going up and down the slippery slopes. I don’t know if it was bravado, or ignorance that led me on as I saw many others pull off on to the shoulder, but I didn’t want to get stranded. I had to reach the hotel.  We had snow angels to make!

After two very stressful, but beautiful hours, we arrived at our hotel and checked into a suite. The kids couldn’t wait to go outdoors, but we had to get into our gear. We arrived at the room and when you first opened the doors it immediately brought you into the kitchen, which also opened up to the living room. To the right of the living room was the master bedroom, and to the left was the guest room. Pretty basic, but the bedrooms were separated, the suite was spacious, and the view was magnificent. All in all, we were pleased, and within moments, we exited the room to go outside. Bring on the snow!

Night one. This was the only one that I personally didn’t experience, so you’ll have to take my wife’s word for it. It had been a long day and we were all pretty exhausted, so we went to bed at a decent hour. My wife awoke in the early morning hours due to a bright light that was apparently examining me. When she rolled over, the light flashed into her face, gave her a quick once over, and then went immediately back to me. Before long, it went out. She didn’t think much of it, because she thought the kids were playing a joke.

In the morning she asked which one had entered our room during the night and who had the flashlight. Their blank stares and answers told us that they were all sound asleep. No one had entered our room during the night and I know I certainly didn’t pack a flashlight.

Night two. Ok, we decided to write the previous night off to fatigued. After all, it was early in the morning, and maybe she was still half asleep. Well, after another long, exhausting day on the mountain we closed the night with some dinner and a movie in the living room. Movie done, lights out, kids to bed. This time, I was awoken around three am by the sound of the television in the living room blasting on full volume. I know what you’re thinking, a kid got up, turned on the TV, heard the noise, and in a panic, ran back into their room. I thought the same thing.

So I yelled for them to turn the volume down. After no response, I got up and went into the living room. All the lights were out, but the television was on. I turned the television off and checked in on the kids. They were all sound asleep. How they can sleep through all that commotion was beyond me, but I assure you, they were asleep. In the morning I asked once again, who turned the TV on late last night? My reply was the same as the day before, not me looks staring me in the face. Hmm.

Night three. By now, my wife and I are kind of half joking about having an unwanted visitor in the room, but I shrugged it off thinking, no, you only see that stuff on TV, it’s not real … is it? This time I went to bed much later than usual, waiting for our unwanted friend to arrive. I wanted to solve this mystery once and for all. I would finally be able to tell if it were the kids playing tricks on us, or if it were something else.

I stayed up pretty late that night, waiting and waiting, until finally exhausted, I fell asleep. My wife and I were both awoken the next morning around five am with the sound of our shower turning on. What? C’mon. No, it’s true. We both looked at one another and then looked in the bathroom. We asked who was in there and the water suddenly turned off. I got up to look around and the room was empty. Ok, now I’m convinced, this room is haunted.

Now the normal person in this scenario would have probably checked out of the room by now, but not me, no. I was stubborn. I wasn’t going to be kicked out of my room by some stupid ghost. Plus I only had one more night to go before we left this hotel and moved on to another. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t want to freak out my children. I decided to tough it out. What a mistake that was.

Night four. This night was pure torture. For starters, it was a weird day of happenstances. The lights would turn on and off at will. The radio would turn on and when I went to shut it off, it would continue to play. There were also sporadic temperature drops that would happen throughout the day in a well-heated room. By the time I had to go to bed, I was on edge. This night I wanted to go to sleep. I didn’t want to see what my friend had in store for me. Try as I might though, I couldn’t sleep.

Now I admit, I’m an insomniac, but by now it’s around four in the morning and nothing had happened – nothing. I tossed and turned, waiting, just waiting for something to occur. The anticipation was killing me. Will it be the lights, the TV, the water, how was it going to mess with me tonight? Nothing? Are you kidding me? I stayed up all night and nothing happened? Relief, I guess. Disappointment, not really. Sleepless in Colorado, most definitely.

We checked out of the room the next morning and drove back to Denver. We were out of the mountains, away from the snow, and removed from my frenemy. The wife and I decided we wouldn’t mention anything to the kids until we were back in our home sweet home in sunny Florida, but they did share some pretty questionable experiences of their own to me. I simply shrugged it off and said they must have been dreaming. Do I think the room I stayed in was haunted? I don’t know. Did I encounter some unexplainable experiences? Absolutely. Would I ever stay there again? No way. Maybe someday I’ll share my experience with the Ghost Hunting Adventurers, but until then, I need to watch some different shows.

And Now a Few Words from our Sponsor

Is it me, or is the amount of commercials being aired before you actually get to view a movie increasing? The other day I took my son to see Battle: Los Angeles. He’s a huge Halo fan, and we were both really looking forward to seeing this film. We knew it was recently released, so we wanted to make sure we got there early enough to get a good seat. We allowed time for traffic, getting the tickets, and buying some food, and were successfully in our seats (middle tier center baby, yeah!) fifteen minutes before the movie was scheduled to start. Great timing, or at least I thought.

The commercials of course were already playing, not actual video mind you, but photo ads, very common practice. No biggie, great time to bond with son and catch up. People were still entering the theater and everyone appeared to be in a good mood. We hold off on eating our food to make sure we have something to pick on during the movie. Then, the lights dim and they cut from the picture ads to the video ads. Most people are now talking in a low whisper and begin to shut off their cell phones. Did I just say cell phones? I think I’m dating myself.

Is it time to dig into my popcorn yet? No, be patient, the movie is scheduled to start at 7:00, it’s only 6:55, hold out five more minutes; or at least until they get to the previews. I love the previews. So I sit back and the marathon of ads begin.  Hey there’s one for Coke, of course, you wouldn’t be in a movie theater if you didn’t see an ad for Coke. Speaking of which, I’m thirsty, I think I’ll have a sip of my Diet Coke … got to watch those calories. Who am I kidding, as I sit there with my large tub of popcorn filled with bunch-a-crunch (don’t judge until you try it).

Hey there’s one with a hamster, or is that a guinea pig, (I could  never tell the difference), doing rap, “you can give her this, or you can give her that.” Funny, but why a hamster needs to drive a car – a Kia, no less – I’m not sure I follow the connection. And why is he singing about being a black sheep … he’ a hamster wearing a jump suit. No matter, funny, catchy jingle, stuck in my head. Alright, I’ve seen about six ads in a row, we must be getting close to the previews. I look down at my popcorn and I see that the chocolate has melted. Crap, that’ll be messy. Good thing I have my Diet Coke. By the way … condensation on the side of the cup is useful for cleaning your hands.

Ba ba bap ba baaaa, I’m loving it. Yeah, and ad for McDonald’s, haven’t seen one of those since I left the house. What I’m not loving is the wait. I look down at my watch and it’s now 7:10. What? The movie was supposed to start at 7:00. We haven’t even gotten to the previews yet … love the previews. The smell of popcorn is becoming over powering … must maintain control, ah, what’s a few pieces. I still got the whole bucket. Uh oh, now I’m thirsty. I better have another sip of my delicious Diet Coke. Whoa, soda’s almost empty … better hold out. The ads have got to end soon. The previews must be right around the corner. You know how I feel about the previews. Three more ads crawl by and I think they’re finally done.

Hooray, I made it! Preview time. The curtain draws down a touch more – dramatic, and the lights get even dimmer, and … oh wait, another coke commercial. Man, now I have to use the bathroom. I’m going to miss the previews.

I run to the lobby, use the facilities, and make it back inside. I ask my son what I missed. He tells me I only missed a few, Pirates IV, and Captain America. Damn, best ones! No worries, there will be some others to get excited about. Well about five more previews and another ten minutes and they finally wrap up all the previews. I’m sick of previews.

I look at my watch and it’s now almost 7:30. What? 7:30? The movie was supposed to start at 7:00.  No matter, the curtains have drawn in yet again, and the lights are as dim as they can be. Oh, this is it, I think we’re about to begin. Another Coke commercial?!? For the love of God … wait, I think it’s ended. Yes, the ads have stopped. The movie is about to begin! Now, give me that popcorn, oh wait it’s gone.