Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Big Boom

Recently, I heard this remark: “What is it with your generation?” I have a problem with labels, and this is one I especially get revved up about.

I never considered myself a member of a ‘generation.’ I was once doing a newspaper column about the deteriorating health of the Baby-Boomer Generation. The physical therapist I was talking to found out that I was born during World War Two and said, “Oh, you’re a Baby-Boomer too.”

That stopped things dead in their tracks. “No,” I replied, "I was born during the war, so I can’t be a member of the Post-War-Baby-Boom, which is of course how that generation gets its name."

Well, she said it didn’t matter—I was still a Baby-Boomer. "Now wait a minute," I said (I told you the interview stopped dead). "It’s called the Post-War Boom for a reason—because it took place after the War. I was born during the War."

Close enough, she said.

Sorry, I guess that’s why I’m a writer. Words—and the phrases they construct—are important to me. I am not (cannot) be a member of the Baby-Boom Generation. And by now, you’ve probably become quite aware that this is a sore point with me.

I don’t like being categorized—in any way. I’m not a member of the Greatest Generation, nor a Boomer, a Gen-xer, a Gen-yer, a Gen-zer…I’m me. And therein lies the root of a problem in our culture. People have to be pigeonholed—branded. And why? So we can be targeted by a marketing campaign.

I’d like to think a little more of myself than a simple member of a group whose actions, thoughts, values…can be easily quantified and qualified. You see, pigeonholing people is what can ultimately lead to prejudice and bigotry.

Oh, he’s a so-and-so; you know what they are like!

The only so-and-so I am is Joltin’ Jim Vanore. You want to know what I’m like? Don’t ask when I was born, or where I grew up. Just go to You’ll find out what I do, who I am, and what I write.

There you’ll also find you can download my novels for the price of a gallon of gasoline. And, whereas that gallon of gas will be gone after about thirty minutes on the highway, my novels should stick with you for the rest of your lucid life.

In fact, I personally believe that reading my material can help you maintain your lucidity well past the time when most of your generation has lost theirs.

If you believe in that generational sort of thing.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Save Your Lungs; Improve Your Mind

I quit smoking thirty-two years ago, when cigarettes were well under a buck a pack—about sixty-five cents, as I recall. Today, here in Jersey, I was surprised to find out that they hover around eight bucks a pack, and in New York, they can cost twelve dollars.

That means each smoke you light up today can cost essentially what an entire pack cost in 1980. You would think that economics alone would bring the tobacco industry to its knees, and in fact, that largely is what’s being done—or at least being attempted, because the majority of that price increase over the years has been from taxes, as opposed to the actual cost of tobacco.

So if you smoke a mere pack a day and gave up the habit, you would stash away more than three grand a year—tax free! And even if you’re not a saver, think what you could do with an extra eight dollars a day. Every day!

Someone once scoffed at the price of my first novel—Grave Departure—which retails for $9.95. “Ten bucks is a lot to pay for a book by an unknown novelist,” he told me as he lit up a cigarette.

Now, I have a pretty good brain, but not a terribly quick one. If it were quicker, I would have done the afore-mentioned calculations and told him that if he gave up smoking for two days, he could afford my novel. If he gave it up for a week, he could afford the top tier of the New York Times Best-Seller List!

Well, today, all of my published work—short stories and novels—are available as e-books, that is, every one can individually be downloaded to your Kindle or Nook e-reader. It’s quick (takes seconds, literally); It’s cheap (even the novels are below four bucks); and heaven knows, it’s healthier for you.

And, whereas a pack of smokes may last you a day, it will probably take you several day’s worth of reading to get through Grave Departure.

Both activities—smoking and reading—will (or should) cause you to think. Grave Departure will compel you to think about how you would have acted, had you found yourself in such a position as the detective portrayed in the novel finds himself.

Smoking will (or should) compel you to think about how your health is deteriorating with every passing day. So, in paraphrasing the Surgeon General’s remarks: Warning, failure to download Grave Departure can be hazardous to your health!

Be good to your body, and start clearing up both your lungs and you mind…download a bargain instead of lighting up.

For Kindles: Amazon

For Nooks: Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

So Who's Abusing Children Now?

NCAA President Mark Emmert recently placed punitive sanctions on Penn State University for allowing a known pedophile to victimize boys on their campus from 1998 to 2011. That felon has been dealt with by the legal system and is now facing a lifetime behind bars.

The “big four” administrative department heads responsible for allowing this abuse of children, are University President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy Curley, and head football coach Joe Paterno.  Paterno died earlier this year, and the other three face their own day in court.

Emmert said, “…the cultural, systemic, and leadership failures at Penn State had to be addressed, and that the NCAA’s  approach demands that Penn State become an exemplary NCAA member by eradicating the mindset that led to this tragedy.” 

His words.  You see, he just wants to eliminate the “mindset” that placed football above the welfare of innocent children.

So who is he punishing? Obviously, Emmert thinks that the football team (all of whom were in grammar school when this crime began) must answer for those who were complicit in these crimes. That's sort of like the IRS telling your children that they must take a year off from their 7th grade studies and do time in prison, because you cheated on your tax return.

After all, the IRS would want to eliminate the “mindset” that it’s good to cheat the Internal Revenue Service.

So why is Emmert sticking it to Penn State and their thousands of students, alumni, and followers? Surely he can’t consider them guilty of anything more than pride in their school and their football team. The guilty parties are either deceased, behind bars, or likely soon to be.

Abusing those younger and less powerful than yourself is not condoned by many in Western Culture, at least outside of Oscar Wilde and his admirers. Some people abuse those they consider subordinate for a simple, albeit psychologically cruel reason—because they can!

NCAA president Mark Emmert certainly can punish the thousands of innocent fans and students of Penn State who were completely ignorant of anything wrong with the football program outside of its failure to win a national title since the 1980s. So he did—punish the innocents, that is.

What good these punitive measures do for the football program, the university, its student body, or its legacy, is beyond me. And keep in mind; I said what good do these measures do.

This isn’t the first time there has been a massacre of innocents. I just wonder if King Herod the Great rationalized his slaughter of the innocents by declaring that he was taking this punitive action to eliminate the mindset that anyone but he should be king.

Crowned heads seem to still have a way of abusing those younger and less powerful than themselves.