Friday, March 23, 2007


Yahoo!!! I won first prize in the NCAA college basketball bracket pool.

What's that you say?

The NCAA basketball championship hasn't been decided yet?

Not to worry folks. I'm convinced I'll win, because I know THE SECRET.

Let me explain.

About two weeks ago, my niece sent me an email, inviting me to enter a NCAA bracket pool competition. Around this same time, my sister Kathy called my wife, and told her about a wonderful new book called THE SECRET. She said that through the power of positive thinking, we could improve every aspect of our lives-money, health, relationships, happiness, just by asking a higher power for it. The "laws of attraction" will realign the universe and make our wishes come true.

Back in the day, I think they called this praying, but I guess someone needed to write a book, so atheists could have something to hope for too.

My wife and I got caught up in my sister's excitement, so we went out that night and bought the book. We found it in our local Stop & Shop, (side note: once Oprah gave this book her seal of approval, it's been impossible to find, but my wife and I found it immediately. Coincidence? I think not.)

When we got home that night, my wife went to bed and read THE SECRET, while I poured over my NCAA brackets and chose my winning teams. When I went to bed, my wife read me a few book excerpts, and we talked about the future millions we'd make.

Just by asking, we'll finally get a new deck. We'll put on a new roof. We'll go on fancy vacations. We'll drive luxurious cars. It's like rubbing a genie's latern... but wait...maybe I should start small:

"I want to win the NCAA bracket pool," I said.

"You can't want to win," my wife said. "You have to envision that you've already won."


Yahoo!!! I won first prize in the NCAA college bracket basketball pool.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Steve is a friend and coworker of mine from Ireland. A native of Dublin, he speaks in a lilting Irish brogue (which I love.) Whenever I work with him, I find myself slipping into a brogue of my own. I'll say things like, "Saints be praise us" or "Frosted Lucky Charms...They're magically delicious or "Manly yes, but I like it too ." In my head I sound like Barry Fitzgerald in "Going my way," but if truth be told, I probably sound more like Chief O'Hara from Batman.

When Steve first heard my feeble attempt at a brogue, he gave me a wary smile and said: "You're nuttin but a knacker."

"A knacker?" I asked.

"Look it up." He said.

Knacker: The term knacker is sometimes used in Ireland to denote an Irish Traveller, though it is considered extremely derogatory. In Ireland this term may also be applied to a rural character equivalent to the urban scanger or scum bag which are both derogatory terms in themselves. For more information see scanger. or the word GUG.

A few days after our conversation, Steve brought in a copy of the "Irish Echo" newspaper. There, on the back page, was an ad for a wrestling match in which The McDonough Clan of Galway was to face off against some other clan in a fight to the finish, "Tickets now on sale."

Steve pointed to the article, gave a self satisfied smirk and said, "What do you know? You really are a knacker."

After talking with several of my Irish passengers, I discovered that Steve was right. The McDonoughs are a bunch of knackers. Apparently, in Ireland, my family name has become synonymous with these travelling people or gypsies. Oh sure, some people were kind and used euphemisms like "peddlers," or "tinkers" or "travelling people " but the truth is, we're all a bunch of knackers."

I say, let's no longer be afraid to use the "K" word. In fact, I think we should own the word as a way of empowering ourselves.

Say it loud:
I'm a"KNACKER" and I'm proud.
If you're less militant, you can say:

"Knacker"...manly yes, but I like it too!!"


Monday, March 12, 2007


Seasons of Love
from RENT

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
Measure a year

Last May, my sister Sheila was kind enough to take my 14-year old daughter 'A' to see the Broadway show RENT. Little did she know, she was turning my daughter into a “RENT-head.”

For some reason, RENT really speaks to adolescent girls and gay-adolescent boys. I’m not really sure why, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the show’s rebellious spirit, and the fact that the characters are trying to find themselves in a world that doesn’t seem to understand them. I do know that 'A' is obsessed with this show, and the rest of the family is paying the price.

'A' constantly wants us to watch the RENT DVD, and she seems perplexed that the rest of the family doesn’t share her enthusiasm for the show. The soundtrack regularly blares from her upstairs bedroom and she constantly plays it on her Ipod when she’s doing her homework. She even has the “Seasons of Love” song set as her ring tone on her cell phone.

Our 12-year-old daughter 'C' doesn't share her sister’s RENT passion. In fact, she calls her sister a geek for liking it. She says that she's sick of living in a house surrounded by the show’s omnipresent soundtrack and shakes her head in disgust whenever she hears its music playing.

The other morning I drove 'C' to school. When I turned the key in the ignition we heard:


'C' screamed from the backseat For the love of God, turn that stupid song off.” A few minutes later I inadvertently started humming the same tune. 'C' sighed, patted my baldhead and said, “You poor…poor man.”

I must admit, the soundtrack is now ingrained in my brain. Just yesterday, I was getting ready for work and I started singing the show’s title song:

How we gonna pay, how we gonna pay, how we gonna paylast years rent?”

“I know,” answered 'C', “We can sell 'A's “CDs and DVDs.”

'A' will be 15 next month. You’ll never guess where she wants to go on her birthday…

Monday, March 05, 2007


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My 82-year-old Uncle Bobby is one of those renaissance men; electrician, artist, pilot, comedian. He got a big kick out of the recent New Haven Register article that featured the "Conductor to the Stars" and he used it as the inspiration for this poster. I received it in the mail last week in one of those cardboard poster tubes (I've always wanted to get one of those.) I think he did a pretty good job (although, I hope I don't really look that old.)

Thursday, March 01, 2007


From the Associated Press
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - February 2, 2007 - Singer-songwriter Marc Cohn will return to Colorado for concerts in three cities next week, his first performances in the state since he was shot in the head during a carjacking attempt in Denver nearly a year and a half ago.

Cohn will play in Boulder, Breckenridge and Aspen, according to his Web site.

In August 2005, Cohn was shot during a botched carjacking. Joseph Yacteen, 27, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder in the shooting and was sentenced in October to 36 years in prison.
Cohn, 47, told The Daily Camera he feels some anxiety about his return: "The truth of the matter of is, and I'm well aware of it though it's hard to convince your brain, the chance of anything like that happening again, especially where it's already happened once, are pretty slim."

Cohn, who's married to ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas, had a hit with "Walking in Memphis" and won a Grammy in 1991. His latest album is due out next summer, his first since 1998 and fourth overall.

That's good news!

Several years before this horrible carjacking, I met Marc Cohn on my train. He and his 5-year old son were returning to New York after a weekend in Connecticut. His son was seated across from him, using his dad's legs as a highway for his "Hot wheels" cars. When I collected his ticket, I said something original like:

"Marc Cohn, right?"

"Yep" he said.

The traffic on Cohn's leg came to a stand still, as his young son looked up at me in wide-eyed amazement.

"I really enjoy your work."


Marc's son now sat frozen, staring up at me with his mouth agape.

I saw you singing backup for Carly Simon when she did her free concert in Grand Central.

Yeah, that was a lot of fun.

I put Marc's tickets in my pocket and moved on to the next passenger. I could feel Marc's son's eyes glued to me as I walked away. It was then I heard the boy utter this memorable line:

"WOW dad!... You know the Conductor?"

I guess celebrity is a relative thing.