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Four guaranteed coping hacks, two excerpts, a book tip, and Groucho

1. I’m having trouble coping with the news of wars, toxic politics, and the inevitable holiday season. You too? Here are a few hacks that might keep you as sane as me:

a/ Become a Swiftie. Okay, I’m not going to a stadium show, but I love listening to her pandemic albums – Evermore and Folklore. They comfort me and nourish my crush.

b/ Talk to the cat. Noonie is not following the news, but she will give me a full report on her ongoing battle with lizards and grasshoppers, check the status of a missing rubber ball and two mouse toys, and remind me of my ongoing neglect of her food bowl. 

c/ Go see Stop Making  Sense.   I clapped. I danced. I spilled my popcorn. I left the theater grinning madly with people who were total strangers two hours before but were now my best friends for life. 

d/ Take a nap. Never underestimate the healing powers of THE AFTERNOON NAP!

2. This week’s excerpt from Florida Hustle

“Is everything okay, Michael?” Alex stepped closer; his eyes moved from his son’s placid face to the butcher knife dangling in his fingers. “Would you like…maybe…to talk?”
“Everything’s good, Dad. Thanks for asking.” Michael stepped out of the doorway. “Listen, I gotta get back. I’m working on something. Okay?”
Alex put his hand on Michael’s shoulder, leaning toward his son.
“You’re not…you’re not. Um. Michael, listen, I gotta ask – how do you feel about Satan?”
“I mean, you’re not one of those kids worshipping Satan, are you? There was a story in the Journal. It’s apparently a thing.”
“Dad,” Michael said, suddenly smiling. “We’re atheists, right? You and Mom and I talked about it. There is no God. That’s what we all agreed. Remember?”
“I do. But – “
Michael waved him quietly.
“So, no God. No, Satan. They’re kind of sold as a set, you know? Dad, I’m in the middle of something here. Okay?”
“Right. Sure. I’m still your favorite dad, right?”
“Absolutely. Maybe we can talk more tomorrow? Okay?”
“Okay then. See you tomorrow. And, you know, be careful with the knife.”
“Yeah, I will. See you tomorrow.”
Stepping into the hallway Alex turned back to look into his son’s bedroom as Michael closed the door in his face, the lock clicking into place. Alex leaned forward, pressing his forehead against the door. The feel of the wood against his skull was comforting somehow. He held that pose a long time before padding back down the wide hall to his bedroom.

3. From the new book – title TBA!

“How’d it get so late?”
Trip knew exactly how it got so late.
Charlie had insisted on a fourth Old Fashioned at The Turf, waving a twenty at Betty, a woman who looked like she had spent 100 years behind the polished wood bar, softened by a long elbow of dark leather. Betty’s face was a mask of bones and wrinkles. Her helmet of gray hair was yellowed by decades of cigarette smoke. When she spoke, it sounded to Trip like a graveled road – “You sure, Charlie? I think your level is good.”
On most subjects, Charlie had a philosophy he lived by, except when he didn’t feel like it. His philosophy of drinking was like that. About once a night, usually in the Turf, his favorite among several old-school hangouts around downtown Tampa, the old philosopher would rise slowly from the barstool and straighten his shoulders, his long, lanky frame draped in his standard uniform — a seersucker suit that grew larger every day. Or maybe it was Charlie, born on a spring morning in 1900, who was shrinking after 85 tumultuous years on the planet. 
“People drink the wrong way,” Charlie would explain to his barroom companions – often total strangers – his high lonesome voice a mix of southern aristocrat and cracker cowpoke.  “A wise man only drinks to here.”
He drew a flat hand across the middle of his chest, letting his fingers wiggle there.
“A little higher. A little lower. It’s okay. When a man gets in trouble is when he drinks to here.”
He raised his flattened hand so it slid across his neck, the index finger dragging against the flap of his wattled skin like a knife blade.
“It’s neck drinkers that give liquor a bad name.”
Betty had heard it plenty of times. Usually, after Charlie had let the booze rise to neck level. But she knew you didn’t argue with Charlie. People had died after arguing with Charlie. Sure, it was a long time ago, but still they had died. In cars. On front porches. In trash-strewn alleys behind Ybor City dive bars. All rising to meet their maker courtesy of a double-barreled blast from a shotgun wielded by one of Charlie’s guys

4. What I’m reading now:

The Hank Show by McKenzie Funk

The Hank Show by McKenzie Funk, a fellow fellow at the Knight-Wallace Center for Journalism. About a colorful Florida Man who changed the world – and not for the better.


A quote from Groucho Marx


An image of Paul Wilborn

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