Friday, January 30, 2015

Five on Friday - John Clarkson

Happy Friday...and happy last Friday of January. We here in Northeast Ohio are now one month closer to nice weather again. Although you really can tell that by looking out the window. I hope you are warm and cozy where ever you are this week.

I also hope you have a good book to keep you company. I just finished up Night is the Hunter by Steven Gore, which was quite good and you'll hear about that later in February. I'm also in the midst of Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warnings. His writing is so incredible and I'm very thankful my friend helped me to finally discover that fact! What's good your way?

You may have noticed some little tweaks happening on the blog in the sidebars and such. I'm slowly doing some small makeovers, so you'll be noticing those happen over the coming weeks. I'm hoping to clean things up and give everything a more organized feel.

And that brings us to this week's Five on Friday. John Clarkson is an old hand in the advertising industry, working as a copywriter, running his own agency and consulting. He's also no newbie when it comes to publishing with five previous novels. His new book Among Thieves, out on Tuesday, pits ex-cons against Wall Street traders--a rather interesting twist on gang wars, dontcha think?

This is John's first visit to the blog and I'm delighted to welcome him. I think you'll enjoy his responses:

"Me at a favorite activity...sitting
around confabbing with a stogie,
although the stogies are very rare these days.

If I could have a secret superpower, it would be: The power to touch someone, say shake their hand, and instantly know everything they know. Have every skill they have. Let’s say for a period of one day. I think the explanation for this is pretty obvious. Imagine the depth and breadth of experience. Think of the possibilities.

My least favorite chore around the house is Shoveling snow. Hands down that’s the worst chore. We own a house in upstate New York. It snows often. Luckily, I’m not there all the time. I switch between upstate and Brooklyn. I have a guy who comes around with the plow to clear the driveway area when it snows, but I often have to shovel a path from there to my doorway. I’d say it’s about seventy-five feet.

I always start fast and try to move as much snow as I can with each shovel full because I want to get the job done and get inside ASAP. But about half-way, I tell myself, slow down. I’m sweating, winded, feel like I’m going to throw out my back, or have a damn heart attack. So then the job becomes longer. Much longer. Hands get cold. Glasses get fogged up. Nose is running.

Finally I reach the end. Great. But then I turn around and the path I just cleared is already covered with a nice, fresh coat of snow. God do I hate shoveling snow.

My last meal request would be: Medium rare NY Strip Steak, crisp, thin French Fries, haricot verts with herb butter, accompanied by a very good Cabernet from Napa Valley, maybe something from Beaulieu like their 2009 Georges de Latour Private Reserve. Dessert: a slice of New York’s Gotham Bar & Grill Chocolate Cake, coffee, accompanied by a generous shot of either 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon, or maybe Midleton Very Rare Irish Whisky. I suppose I would not be sober on my way to the gallows, but no matter…I would have done enough contemplating during my last meal.

My very first job was delivering meat for a kosher butcher in Chicago when I was twelve years old. It was strange, exciting, a little bit scary, and since I was raised a Catholic confined to church on Sundays and parochial school Monday through Friday, it certainly expanded my cultural horizons.

I remember the name of the butcher: Joe Farkus. As I recall he was a kindly fellow who smiled a great deal, but didn’t say much. He had a heavy old bike with a big wire basket that I used for the deliveries. All the meat was wrapped in layers of white butcher paper and secured with masking tape.

Some of those packages of meat were a bit weird bordering on creepy. I remember a few of them being soft and mushy. What the hell was that? Brains? Intestines? To this day I still can’t imagine what was in those packages.

The fun part was going into buildings I’d never been in. I had license to skulk around. Check out the lobbies and stairwells of various three-story brick apartment buildings that dominated Chicago neighborhoods. Peek into apartments when the doors opened to me. I have to admit, even at the age of twelve I enjoyed prowling around.

Farkus paid me a ridiculously low hourly wage, but the tips weren’t bad. At least it wasn’t interning for free. How the hell do companies/people get away with that crap?

The #1 item on my bucket list right now is: Honestly, I don’t really have a bucket list. Building a bucket list requires putting aside what I’m doing now and deciding on something to do at some time in the future. And I guess the supposition there is that whatever that thing is, it’s somehow more important than what I’m doing now. I have a hard time figuring out what that might be.
Apropos of this topic, just today I read an article in the NY Times by Ruth Chang in the Op Ed section entitled Resolving to Create a New You. (I’m writing this just after New Year’s). The gist of it is that most of us make judgments about what to do [for instance what should be on the “Bucket List”] based on the false assumption that we can figure out which of several options has the most value by weighing various facts. What has more value? Scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef, or skydiving over the Mojave Desert? Hmmm. Let’s weigh the facts.

Chang says analyzing pros and cons doesn’t work – particularly when several options seem on a par. The better thing to do is to look inward and find what you can commit yourself to. Pick the activity you see yourself throwing yourself into. Once you do that, whatever that is, it will be imbued with value.

So, my bucket list is pretty much what I’m doing right now, which is frankly, writing book #3 in the series that started with AMONG THIEVES…and specifically answering these questions.

I can absolutely relate with the snow shoveling! Although I have often been known to take the stance, "God put it there and he can take it away." You can connect with John on Goodreads and he has a website coming soon.

Thanks to John for taking time out to join us and thanks to you for stopping by. Have a warm and wonderful weekend. Happy reading.


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