Sunday, October 30, 2011

Looking Good, Feeling Good

I’m going into my fourth week of diet and training. I work out at the Power House Gym a few blocks away from me. I’m up to twenty minutes of good, hard cardio on the elliptical machine. I’m not pumping huge amounts of iron just yet, but I am doing a lot of reps with a small amount of weights. I feel absolutely great! I should have done this months ago, but it’s never too late. My entire outlook has changed, and I feel positive and strong.

Lately I have been going back in time, digging up some of my favorite music from the 80’s. I have already shared a lot of Elvis Costello, and if it’s not already obvious, I worship the guy. There were a lot of great bands that came from that decade—Joe Jackson, Squeeze, the B-52's, and a slew of others—but Elvis Costello was by far and away the most intellectual and had the most to say about the world around him. He is a genius, but his best work was in the early 80’s.

I’d like to share an old classic that rocked my world when I first heard it. Love Shack¸ by the B-52's. A great song, but then again, they had a lot of great songs, and their music had its own feel. Going back in time is so much fun when you are reliving the good times. Best to let go of the bad and hold on to what was right and good.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Perils of being Over-Medicated

For the last few months, I have been so over-medicated I was falling asleep at my desk after lunch. When I came home from work, usually I nodded off at my desk in front of my computer at around 7:30.

I complained to my doctor, and he reduced my Depakote, a powerful mood stabilizer, by two hundred milligrams, with the intention of weening me off it slowly for good. I had had enough. I was gaining weight too fast, I had absolutely no energy, and when I didn't have the kids, I'd sleep all the way through an entire weekend, so I simply stopped taking Depakote at all about three weeks ago.

When I told my doctor a few days ago, he was angry because I could have flipped into mania or gone into a deep depression. But as it turns out I felt better than I had in years. Much of this has to do with my new diet and exercise program as well.

Upon talking with me for an hour, he told me that I sounded better than he has heard me in years, and decided to cut back on my Seroquel, Klonopin, and Ambien. This pleases me to no end, because I finally have my edge back, and I am feeling very content and confident, even in the face of several setbacks I have suffered recently.

I feel great, guys! I just might start writing something serious again...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two Little Hitlers by Elvis Costello

Why are we racing to be so old?
I'm up late pacing the floor
I won't be told
You have your reservations
I'm bought and sold

I'll face the music
I'll face the facts
Even when we walk in polka dots and chequer slacks
Bowing and squawking
Running after titbits
Bobbing and squinting
Just like a nitwit

Two little Hitlers will fight it out until
One little Hitler does the other one's will
I will return
I will not burn

Down in the basement
I need my head examined
I need my eyes excited
I'd like to join the party
But I was not invited
You make a member of me
I'll be delighted

I wouldn't cry for lost souls, you might drown
Dirty words for dirty minds
Written in a toilet town

Dial me a Valentine
She's a smooth operator
It's all so calculated
She's got a calculator
She's my soft touch typewriter
And I'm the great dictator

Two little Hitlers will fight it out until
One little Hitler does the other one's will
I will return
I will not burn

A simple game of self-respect
You flick a switch and the world goes off
Nobody jumps as you expect
I would have thought you would have had enough by now

You call selective dating
For some effective mating
I thought I'd let you down, dear
But you were just deflating
I knew right from the start
We'd end up hating
Pictures of the merchandise
Plastered on the wall
We can look so long as we don't have to talk at all

You say you'll never know him
He's an unnatural man
He doesn't want your pleasure
He wants as no one can
He wants to know the names of
All those he's better than

Two little Hitlers will fight it out until
One little Hitler does the other one's will
I will return
I will not burn

I will return
I will not burn


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Getting back into Shape

"Spider" by Bob Murphy, El Cajon, San Diego, CA
Last Sunday I joined Power House Gym in Bayside, NY, not more than fifteen minutes away from me by foot. I have not worked out in years and am severely overweight and can barely make it up a flight of stairs without gasping for air. God help me if the escalators aren’t working in the subways, because some of the stairways are steep and long.

Several years ago two discs in my lower back were herniated overtraining in Israeli Survival, a pretty brutal form of mixed martial arts. The only form of exercise I have done since then is study salsa at DanceSport in NYC, but even that was hard on my back.

I did see a podiatrist, and he gave me some basic tests. He said my discs were no longer the problem; the muscles around the injuries had restricted and needed to be stretched and strengthened. He recommended physical therapy, but it didn’t help much. Nothing has ever helped my back, and I have tried everything. The reclining bicycle is about the only cardio workout I can do.

So, last night I had my first workout. I did fifteen minutes on the reclining bicycle at level one, keeping my heart rate up at about 110 beats per minute. After that I did a few sets of stomach crunches. To my surprise, I am still able to pump out twenty pushups without breaking a sweat. My upper body must still be pretty strong, even if my cardio vascular system is barely working anymore. When I was done I did some light stretching, realizing I had lost most of my flexibility. It will take a while to get it back, and I need to do it slowly. Pushing it is the fastest way to get injured.

With my membership, I get a free session with a personal trainer. Although I am familiar with most of the machines and working with free weights, I am 53-years-old, extremely out of shape, and need an expert to design a program for me that won’t kill me.

I am looking forward to working out again, and I hope to drop thirty or forty pounds over the next six months. I just need to watch what I eat and cut sugar out of my diet. Staying away from the carbs will be difficult, but with enough discipline I can do it.

I will post pictures of my progress as time goes by.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to Sell Books at Book Events

Most writers sit at a table with a stack of books in front of them, playing with their BlackBerrys until someone approaches them. This is fine if you are a big name and you know people will come, but if you are just starting out you need to be a lot more aggressive.

People by nature will try to ignore you as they come through the door and walk right past you. You need to get their attention immediately by holding out your hand and introducing yourself. Unless they are total assholes, they will stop to shake your hand. At this point you pick up your book and show them the cover, and then flip it over so they can read the back cover blurb. There will be questions, and you need to have answers ready with confidence. From there you always ask for the sale. The inflection in your voice and attitude makes all the difference in the world. Remember to always smile.

If they still seem disinterested, ask them to read the first page. If that draws them in then you will have a sale. I usually have a sale after they read my blurb and a few questions and answers. Sometimes I let them take the book with them and read a chapter or two, and if they are still disinterested, just drop the book off with me on the way out. I always go to events with plenty of bookmarks advertising my book and listing my website, which I give to them as they leave.

I also print full-color flyers from a template I created that has my synopsis and a few of my best reviews. Often times people will take one and then come back and buy a book. This is not hard selling, but you need to be a bit aggressive without being completely obnoxious. Lots of bookstore managers have told me that I have outsold some of their bestselling writers. It's all about attitude.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Writing Seriously

When I do write, I take my work seriously. That’s why I have been an avid pen collector for many years. My favorite pen is the Fisher Space Pen. I have several models, but the most recent addition to my collection is the Space Shuttle Commemorative Edition. It really is beautiful, and I never take it out of my office, unless I am going to a book signing. These pens have an unconditional lifetime guarantee, and are pretty much indestructible.  

From, I give you the history of Paul Fisher and his association with NASA:
Here's a little history about the Fisher Space Pen Company.
In the 1950's there were dozens of ballpoint models, and nearly every one took a different cartridge. In 1953 Paul Fisher invented the "Universal Refill" which could be used in most pens. It was a good seller, since stationery store owners could reduce their stock of assorted refills.
Not content, Paul continued to work on making a better refill. After much experimentation he perfected a refill using thixotropic ink-semisolid until the shearing action of the rolling ball liquefied it-that would flow only when needed. The cartridge was pressurized with nitrogen so that it didn't rely on gravity to make it work. It was dependable in freezing cold and desert heat. It could also write underwater and upside down. The trick was to have the ink flow when you wanted it to, and not to flow the rest of the time, a problem Fisher solved. Fisher's development couldn't have come at a more opportune time. The space race was on, and the astronauts involved in the Mercury and Gemini missions had been using pencils to take notes in space since standard ball points did not work in zero gravity. The Fisher cartridge did work in the weightlessness of outer space and the astronauts, beginning with the October, 1968 Apollo 7 mission began using the Fisher AG-7 Space Pen and cartridge developed in 1966.