TOP 10 REASONS IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE CHRISTMAS

Okay, so it’s time to blog about Christmas I suppose. I don’t really feel like it. It doesn’t feel like Christmas. I think that’s the problem. Here’s why:

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1) I’ve spent the last six weeks going out of my way to avoid Christmas carols on the radio, the television, in the stores. It’s impossible. You have to try though because if you don’t you will go insane before December even begins. I used to like Burl Ives’ song Holly Jolly Christmas, but that was before the radio put it on heavy rotation between Halloween and Christmas Day as if it were the National Anthem and every fifteen minutes a ballgame was starting.

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My Christmas ‘party’ was here.

2) Last night was my work Holiday Party. My wife looked stunning in her dress. The in-laws were prepared to take the kids overnight. All that was left was for me to get dressed. Then the eight year old came home from school in tears and with an earache and a 101.9-degree temperature. Instead of the party, we spent the night at the Immediate care center, then in line at Walgreens getting coughed on by strangers. Instead of a pasta bar, fresh salmon, and free beer, I dined on some bland bowl of something from Chipotle, or as I like to call it, the place with $7 flavored rice.

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3) I live in Chicago and it’s going to be 40 degrees tomorrow. They’re calling for rain on Christmas Eve, which should turn to snow. In other words, slush is going to fall from the sky. I’m dreaming of a slushy, sock soaking Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. The really pretty snow, the kind we associate with Christmas even though we rarely have it which is why Bing Crosby had to dream of it will come. We will get snow. We will get that pretty, heavy blanket of white, but you can bet it is going to fall after Christmas, just in time to bury the decorations my wife will want me to take down, now.

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This is what kids who don’t believe in Santa Clause get for Christmas.

4) The kids are getting older. My eldest is in high school and what he wants is either high-tech, too expensive, or it’s clothing. The other two are at the point where the clothes and the toys are about even and Santa is something they either aren’t quite convinced of, or haven’t the heart to tell mom and dad that they don’t believe anymore. Once that magic is gone, the whole thing becomes something else entirely.

5) I won’t be spending all-night, and I mean all-night, putting together little flimsy plastic toys with instructions that would make the people at Ikea scratch their heads in their complexity. ‘This was supposed to be Barbie’s Dream house, why does it look like a Pepto-Bismol factory post-apocalypse?

6) Of course it doesn’t help that right now my house is a cluttered mess and the whole place smells like chili.

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7)   It ain’t like it used to be. I don’t have to go into detail on that. If you grew up in the 1940’s, it ain’t like it was in the ‘40’s. If you were a child of the 80’s, it ain’t like it was back in the day. If your formative years were the 1990’s, it’s not like that anymore is it? Our place of reference might be different, but when I say ‘It ain’t like it used to be’, we all get it. We grew up and so did the world. What a shame, huh?

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8) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Charlie Brown are On-Demand. It used to be that those shows were Specials, events to be watched all together at the same time, and only one time each year because once it was over, it was gone. If you missed it, you were shit-out-of-luck. Now you can watch them all day any day as many times as you’d like whenever, wherever, nothing special, no event, just another damn show to choose from of the thousands on that digital jukebox of television and movies. Play it again, Sam. No need for a quarter, just hit ‘enter’ on the remote.

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9) I’m lucky. Sounds strange but, it’s a reason. So much of secular Christmas is wishing and getting. Well, there isn’t much I’m wishing to get. I mean, at least not material things. My wife and I make a decent enough living that if there is something we really and truly want, we buy it. So, there is no excitement for that gift I’ve been dying to get. Nor is there much excitement for the gift I can’t wait to give, because there is nothing special on her list either. ‘Let’s get through it without getting the flu’ seems to be at the top of the wish-list this year. Can’t circle that in the Sears catalog.

10)   I’m getting older. Shit, I’ve been through this rigamarole now forty-two times. This will be the forty-third. I have to admit, it’s losing some of its charm. I mean, I get it, Bing sings, we go to Mass, the presents get opened, I eat too much, I feel like shit, and tomorrow is depressing because it’s been weeks of anticipation, a flurry of momentary excitement, and then it’s over until next Halloween when Burl Ives starts singing A Holly Jolly Christmas.

27777393 Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Halloween too I suppose, it’s all running together now.

http://www.inthesanctityofrevenge.com

Hollywood Cowardice: George Clooney Explains Why Sony Stood Alone In North Korean Cyberterror Attack

I’m not much for re-blogging and I try to stay away from politics on here, but this is an important read and raises some very poignant questions. Take a read and give it some thought. From Deadline.com :

Blessings & Curses and Trouble on the Horizon – A Passage from the Novel In The Sanctity of Revenge

I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse…

– Moses, Deuteronomy

Skeletal arms trembled, struggling to lift the old steel revolver. Blue and purple veins popped through celluloid skin. Shaking hands with frail fingers and rusted joints fought with the trigger to pull the heavy hammer back. Jack Hanlon smiled at the sight.

SATURDAY JUNE 5, 2010

The sun hung high in the cloudless afternoon sky, drying the sidewalks and baking away the evidence of the viscous storm of the night before. Small branches and twigs littered the lawns and gutters of the sleepy Chicago side street. The two opposing rows of brick bungalows, most redbrick, some yellow-brick, that lined either side of Mobile Street had weathered the storm as they had done for close to a century now. There was no major damage. A few basements had taken in water, but just enough to make a mess before receding back into the floor drains.

Saturday morning was uneventful at the Hanlon home. Amy had gotten up with the boys and made them blueberry pancakes for breakfast while Jack slept in. Around noon, dressed in the gym shorts he’d slept in, cheap slippers, and an old softball shirt that read “Mad Dogs” in script across the front from his Wednesday night 16” league (on the back was an ad for their sponsor Windy Ray’s Tavern), Jack lifted the lid to the black, iron mailbox hanging on the wall just outside his front door. It was empty. He stood on the front porch, and peered up and down the quiet street in hopes of seeing the mailman walking his cart down the block. No luck.

Across the street Mrs. Kelly watered her flowerbed despite the heavy rains that had doused them overnight. When she saw Jack, she waved. Jack waved back and tried to duck back into the house before the old lady could trap him into a conversation but it was too late. She’d already dropped her hose and was heading across her small patch of perfect lawn calling his name, “Jack, oh Jack. I want to talk to you.”

It’s not that Jack disliked Mrs. Kelly. In fact, he liked her very much. She reminded him of his grandmother, and he felt a sort of responsibility toward her since her husband passed. Jack would spend weekend days doing little jobs around Mrs. Kelly’s house, fixing this, patching that. Amy would take her shopping if the weather was bad and the buses were running slow. But lonely widows can talk an awfully long time, and make a big deal about things of no consequence, and frankly today Jack wasn’t up for one of those conversations. His mind was elsewhere.

“Jack,” she called hustling across the street. “Jack, I want to talk to you. Don’t go anywhere.” She hurried as quickly as a seventy-eight year old woman in Walgreen’s sneakers can. Jack stepped off his porch and met her on the sidewalk.

“Hi Mrs. Kelly, how are you?”

“Oh, I could complain, but who would listen,” she replied.

‘Apparently, this morning, it’s going to be me,’ Jack thought, but held his smile.

“Anyway, did you hear that storm last night? It woke me from a sound sleep. I thought lightening hit that big tree and that it was going to fall in on my head. Thank the Lord it was just a clap of thunder. Did it wake the children? You look like you missed a good night sleep.”

“Yeah, Timmy woke up a couple of times, but went back to bed pretty quick. Once I was up though, I had a hard time falling back to sleep. I wish I was more like Amy, she gets up with the kids, and as soon as her head hits the pillow again, she’s out cold.” Truth was, Jack was already up. He hadn’t been sleeping well lately.

“That’s because women work harder than men,” Mrs. Kelly gave a wink and a smile.

“In my house, that is certainly the case. I won the lottery when I married Amy. She’s one of a kind.”

“Don’t you forget that Jack Hanlon,” she said, her eyes narrowing, then flashed him a wink and a smile. Jack had often thought that Mrs. Kelly had probably been a very beautiful woman in her youth, and now and then a flash of that girl would appear in that wink and smile she often gave to let you know she was teasing. “Ah, she coulda done worse herself too ya know,” Mrs. Kelly continued, “Anyhow, the reason I stopped you is because I was wondering if you could do me a favor.”

“Sure Mrs. Kelly, what do you need?”

“Well, the storm last night did knock a huge branch off the neighbor’s tree into my backyard. I’ve been telling them for months now that the tree needs to be pruned, but that good for nothin’ bum sits on his backside all day doing nothing, and you know she’s not much of a housekeeper. I’ve never been inside, but from what I hear there is crusted food all over the kitchen and dust bunnies everywhere. How people could live like that is beyond me. Anyhow, I know he’d never move it from my yard, or at least I’d be waiting till my last breath for him to do it, so if you wouldn’t mind just stopping by – when you have time of course, no hurry – and just put it out in the alley for me?”

“Of course Mrs. Kelly. Give me a minute to put on a decent pair of shoes and grab a saw and I’ll be right over.”

“You’re a doll Jack, thank you. You know, since Harold died I’ve really come to realize how nice it was to have a man in the house. I am certainly for women’s equality and what not, but there’s no denying that there are some things men are better at taking care of. Maybe I’m just an old woman, I don’t know. And don’t you dare tell a soul I said that or so help me God I’ll shoot you right in the face,” she smiled and winked at him again with that twinkle in her warm blue eyes. That’s when Jack had the vision of those skinny little arms struggling to raise a pistol to eye level and fighting to pull the trigger. The thought had made him smile and he wondered if she noticed. Of course, if he knew what would eventually come of them all, he never would have found such a scene amusing.

“Okay, see you in a few minutes.” Jack turned to go inside, then stopped and turned back toward Mrs. Kelly who was about to cross the street back to her house. “Mrs. Kelly, did you happen to get your mail yet?”

“No, he hasn’t been by yet Jack. It’s that new fella. I don’t like him very much. He’s slow. When we had the black fella…” she said the word ‘black’ a little quieter than the rest, almost a whisper but not quite, “… we always got our mail by ten o’clock, even on Saturdays. This guy though, you never know when he’s gonna decide to show up. I’ve complained several times.”

“I’m sure you have. Thank you Mrs. Kelly.” Jack took another look up the street for the mailman, then dropped his head and went in the house to fetch his shoes and chainsaw.

Fog and smoke in Chicago at 4 am – a Passage from the Novel: In The Sanctity of Revenge

Jack reached in his shirt pocket for his cigarette pack, but it wasn’t there. As if snapping out of a dream, he was suddenly aware of his surroundings. It was nearly four a.m.  His kitchen was dark except for the lights under the cabinets at the far end of the room that shed just enough glow to cast faint shadows on the opposite wall and door. Jack looked around and found the cigarette box on the table in front of him. He picked it up. It was empty. He got his shoes, reached in his pocket and found a balled up ten-dollar bill, grabbed his keys and went out the back door toward the gas station at the corner.

The morning air was humid with a slight chill. Fog hung high in the alley, gathering around the lamplight like a swarm of mosquitoes. Though it was six miles east of his alley, Jack could smell the lake in the air, a mix of fresh water and stale fish. He liked it.

The city was quiet on Sunday mornings. The four o’clock bars were just emptying out and a few muffler-less cars roared down Montrose Avenue, but for the most part, everything was still. Jack breathed in the Lake Michigan air as deep as he could and exhaled slowly.

At the gas station, the store area was closed and locked. Jack had to make his transaction through an aluminum drawer and a tin speaker. From behind the glass, the muffled voice of the attendant reverberated through the speaker in a thick accent. Jack assumed he’d said something along the lines of ‘how may I help you’ or ‘what the fuck do you want’.

“Box of Marlboro Lights,” Jack pulled the ten out of his pocket and placed it in the waiting drawer. The drawer closed then opened again. The sawbuck was gone, a box of cigarettes and some change left in its place. Jack walked off smacking the pack against the palm of his hand.

When he got back home, he sat on the back steps smoking and admiring the peacefulness of the pre-dawn, the sky dark as night but on the verge of daybreak. Jack teetered between the peaceful city around him and the clanging clatter in his mind.

         — In The Sanctity of Revenge is a gripping tale of anger, betrayal, and vengeance set in Chicago in the wake of the Great Recession.

Available for purchase:  http://www.inthesanctityofrevenge.com http://www.amazon.com/Sanctity-Revenge-Brian-Schnoor/dp/0986297410/

Lyrics to Live By Volume 2 – Sadness and Sundays

My mood is often affected by such arbitrary factors such as weather, time of day, and day of the week.  I don’t know what it is, but I know I am not alone.  I hate dusk.  To me dusk is depressing.  The day is dying and the cold darkness is creeping in.  Once it’s dark, I’m okay again, but that transition between day and night is depressing.  I should add though, that in my mind, dusk does not exist in the summer months.  In the summer, that same period is called sunset and it is warm and beautiful and romantic and soft and lovely.  In fall and winter it is cold and hard.

There is no dusk lonelier, nor more depressing, than a Sunday evening dusk.  In fact, Sunday is, in my opinion, the loneliest day of the week.  It is no accident that Church is held on Sunday.  It’s no mistake that the NFL plays the majority of its games on Sunday.  It is a sad day in dire need of hope and distraction; enter church and football. Sunday is the lonely nursing of the resulting hangover from Saturday night’s fun, Sunday, especially in the cold of winter is dark even when the sun is shining.  Sunday is the deathbed of the weekend and the dying breaths of the week.  Sunday is sad.  Always has been.  I assume, it always will be.

I know I am not alone in feeling this way, because Kris Kristofferson wrote, and Johnny Cash brought to life, a beautifully sad and lonely song that truly captures the way Sunday has always felt to me.  It’s all here, the sounds, the smells, the emotions.  One of my favorite songs because it puts into words my feelings of my least favorite day.  Gotta love a song that sounds like the songwriter was following me around one day.  Enjoy.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad
So I had one more for dessert

Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes
And found my cleanest dirty shirt
Then I washed my face and combed my hair
Stumbled down the stairs to meet the day

I’d smoked my mind the night before
With cigarettes and songs that I’d been pickin’
But I lit my first and watched a small kid
Playing with a can that he was kicking

Then I walked across the street
And caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken
And oh it took me back to somethin’
That I’d lost somewhere, somehow along the way

On a Sunday morning sidewalk
I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone

And there ain’t nothin’ short of dyin’
As half as lonesome as the sound
Of a sleepin’ city sidewalk
And Sunday mornings coming down

In the park, I saw a daddy
With a laughing little girl who he was swinging
And I stopped beside a Sunday school
And listened to the songs that they were singing

Then I headed down the streets
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringing
And it echoed through the canyons
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday

On a Sunday morning sidewalk
Oh, I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday
That’ll make a body feel alone

And there ain’t nothin’ short of dyin’
Thats half as lonesome as the sound
Of a sleepin’ city sidewalk
And Sunday mornin’ comin’ down

Songwriters
KRISTOFFERSON, KRIS

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Christmas Eve Remembered – a passage from the novel, ‘In The Sanctity of Revenge’

From the new novel, In The Sanctity of Revenge available now on Amazon:

Mrs. Kelly awoke Christmas Eve morning to WGN radio on her alarm clock. She shuffled to the kitchen and made a pot of coffee. Sitting alone at the kitchen table, she remembered Christmas Eves past. She could recall the children bouncing off the walls almost as soon as they got out of bed waiting for night to come so they could go back to bed and get up for Christmas morning. She remembered Harold getting up, grumbling his way through the morning’s first two cups of coffee and first three or four cigarettes. Then he’d announce to the kids that it was time to get dressed. The kids would immediately rush upstairs to their bedrooms and change out of their pajamas and into the day’s clothing.

Once dressed and back downstairs they would tug at Harold’s arm begging to head out to the stores for the day. It was their annual tradition. Harold thought it important to include the children in the shopping for their mother’s Christmas presents since it was they who benefitted most from her hard work and sacrifice.

He’d finish off his coffee and take a last drag from his cigarette, then he’d head off to the bedroom to get dressed in his cleanest white t-shirt and a pair of brown polyester pants for a day at the department stores. He’d take the kids to Sears and they would shop for dresses and slacks and scarfs for their mother. Mrs. Kelly didn’t know it, but Harold saved a few bucks a week all year long for her Christmas present. Whereas Jack shopped on Christmas Eve because he liked the fun of the spontaneity of it, Harold Kelly shopped on Christmas Eve because that was when he finally had saved enough money to give his wife a proper Christmas. Along with his yearlong savings, each child contributed a little from his/her allowance. Money that, upon their father’s orders, they were supposed to have been saving for their mother’s Christmas since August.

From there, they would take the bus to the Ideal Pastry bakery where they would buy their mother her favorite cookies and donuts, plus a cookie for each kid. After that, he’d take them to the Irish Imports Shop, where they would usually purchase a record of Irish songs like the ones Mrs. Kelly’s parents would sing when she was a child.

Her folks had both been born in Ireland and met here in the States. While little Irene was growing up, her parents would play songs from the homeland and dance around the front room of their one-bedroom apartment with their little girl. Mrs. Kelly didn’t know what happened to those records after her parents died, but every Christmas Harold would surprise her with a record album of the songs of her youth.

Harold was a stickler for tradition, and so, there was never an artificial tree in the Kelly residence, and there was no tree in the Kelly residence until Christmas Eve. So after the Irish Imports shop, it was straight to the C-Davis Truck Rental lot, where the trucks had been temporarily replaced by Christmas Trees, to choose the perfect tree for the Kelly family Christmas. Mrs. Kelly often wondered if it was truly tradition motivating her husband to shop for trees on Christmas Eve or if it was the fact that he could haggle the salesman down so easily at such a late date. The pickings were scarcer, but you couldn’t beat the price and he always managed to bring home a tree that, once decorated at least, would be brilliant.

She smiled a bitter-sweet smile as she conjured up the vision of her husband dragging a six foot tall Christmas tree onto a city bus with children in tow dragging shopping bags from Sears and the Irish Imports, bumping into other riders, needles flying and falling off the tree throughout the bus, bags and packages bumping against knees and seats. It was no wonder she never got a porcelain tea set or Waterford crystal for Christmas, it never would’ve survived the journey.

Once home, the children would run the shopping bags up to their rooms where they’d wrap them while Harold took the tree and a hacksaw to the yard and sawed off the bottom few inches. She could see him in her mind’s eye out there in the dark snowy yard in his work boots, polyester pants and plaid winter coat sawing off those few inches of tree trunk so that the fresh cut could soak up enough water to make the tree last until the Feast of the Epiphany when it would finally be taken down and the Christmas Season would officially end.

Next came the annual hour of Harold lighting the tree, mumbling words not appropriate for such a sacred Holiday, as he fought with tangles and burned out bulbs and flashing strands that had never flashed before.

Then, with the tree firmly placed in its stand and fully lit, Harold sipping from a fresh brewed cup of coffee (with a three count splash of Jameson), and enjoying a well-earned cigarette after a long day of children, store-clerks, crowds, tree salesmen, and those goddamn Christmas lights. Then Mother was presented with one record from the Irish Imports (the others to be saved for the morning). The sounds of the Emerald Isle would play on the phonograph as the children decorated the tree with the family ornaments Mrs. Kelly had brought up from the basement while they were out shopping.

With the kids in bed, the stockings stuffed, and the presents beneath the tree, Harold and Irene Kelly would slip off to bed where it was time for another Christmas Eve tradition. Both of them bursting with love – love for their family, love for their blessings, love for their Savior, and love for each other – they would nestle in beneath the covers, legs rubbing the other’s to produce some warmth, arms wrapped around the other, bodies pressed together, they would embrace and envelope each other in a physical love that only years of marriage can invoke. That well practiced tradition complete, they would both settle in to drift off into a solid slumber.

In The Sanctity of Revenge can be purchased at Amazon.  If you buy a paperback, you get a free Kindle version.

http://www.amazon.com/Sanctity-Revenge-Brian-Schnoor/dp/0986297410/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418233642&sr=8-1&keywords=brian+schnoor

Available world wide on Amazon:

United Kingdom-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sanctity-Revenge-Brian-Schnoor-ebook/dp/B00Q41PODW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418774369&sr=8-1&keywords=In+the+sanctity+of+revenge

Brazil —

http://www.amazon.com.br/Sanctity-Revenge-English-Brian-Schnoor-ebook/dp/B00Q41PODW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418774530&sr=8-1&keywords=brian+schnoor

Austrailia –

http://www.amazon.com.au/Sanctity-Revenge-Brian-Schnoor-ebook/dp/B00Q41PODW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418774619&sr=8-1&keywords=In+the+sanctity+of+revenge

France –

http://www.amazon.fr/Sanctity-Revenge-English-Brian-Schnoor-ebook/dp/B00Q41PODW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418774686&sr=8-1&keywords=brian+schnoor

A LITTLE SEX, A LITTLE VIOLENCE, AND A LOT OF SWEARING

I was sitting in a hot tub about two years ago. I did this in lieu of a workout. I sat with the water bubbling all around me, a jet hitting the soreness near my tailbone. I watched women walk by in bikinis. I watched fat guys limp past in baggy trunks and thought maybe I should’ve worked out after all. Then, without notice, I slipped deeper into my mind and wandered around in those dark corridors for a while.

It’s strange how the mind does that. One moment you’re right here in a loud hot tub at the health club fully aware of everything going on around you, and the next you’re oblivious to the outside world and lost in meandering thoughts you didn’t even know you had.

Well my mind meandered, down one hallway and up the next, then in circles and winding pathways. The economy was in the tank. I had, a few years before, watched most of my friends lose their jobs. I’d seen a gigantic corporation lie to its employees about their job security and then three months later yank the carpet out from beneath their feet. I understand business is business, but my father taught me a long time ago that “there is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing something, and that asshole did it the wrong way.” Such was the story of that workplace scenario.

On the news, there was story after story about businesses shutting down. Some with notice to their employees, others with no notice and no intention to cut those final checks for work already done. I heard horror stories from friends about how simply shifting some paperwork and new filings rearranged long-standing companies so employees lost benefits and seniority. It was happening everywhere. In every industry, nationwide, stories of this sort were coming out. Add to that the fact that even responsible people were losing their homes to foreclosure and retirement accounts were slashed almost overnight, it was frightening.

“What happens,” I thought, “when you take and take from someone, mess with his livelihood and life to the point that he has nothing left to lose? That’s probably where all these ‘going postal’ stories come from. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of that given the events of the past few years.” Of course, anyone with something to lose, be it freedom, spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, a reputation they value, wouldn’t go to that extreme. He might daydream about it, but would never actually seriously consider it because he has a lot to lose and it just isn’t worth it. “But,” I thought again, “what about those few who get pushed to the point that they have none of that, or worse, had all of that and lost it. Those are the ones who can go nuts!”

Then, for whatever reason, maybe a hot mom in a bikini walked past or a fat guy almost fell, but my mind snapped back to the world and shut the door on those darkened corridors. “Why am I still thinking about that stuff from so long ago?” I thought. “I need to shake that shit… but… I did pose some interesting questions. A curious scenario. Book fodder? You bet!” That night I drafted a rough outline of what would eventually become In The Sanctity of Revenge, my debut novel.

Yesterday, after two years of work and many drafts, I published it. I don’t know if it is any good, but I do know that it isn’t going to get any better than it is right now. I’m not going to get rich off of it, but I worked too hard for too long to save it to a hard drive and forget about it. So I put it out there, for the world to read, and that is scary.

Up until yesterday, if it really sucked, it was a private failure. Today, if it sucks, it is a public one. In this day and age, a stranger from Brazil or Pakistan can read my book and send me a message telling me how horrible it was and that I owe them hours they can never get back. Of course, the opposite is true too. If it’s good, I can relish in the accolades from around the world. In any event, I had to put it out there to live beyond my computer. Good or bad, it is there. I’m proud of it. Its value beyond me is up to each individual reader.

With Thanksgiving this week, I am anticipating the questions: what’s it about? Can my kids read it? It’s not a bunch of liberal bullshit is it? or I hope it isn’t one of those Bill O’Reilly type books and Is this a true story? Is the main character you?

To those questions I can best respond, it is politically neutral while still having something to say. There is a little sex, a little violence, and a lot of swearing… just like my real life, but that’s where the real ends. The rest is pure fiction.

Now Available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Sanctity-Revenge-Brian-Schnoor-ebook/dp/B00Q41PODW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416928439&sr=8-1&keywords=in+the+sanctity+of+revenge&pebp=1416928441212

Now Available at Amazon

In The Sanctity of Revenge is available for just $2.99 now on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Sanctity-Revenge-Brian-Schnoor-ebook/dp/B00Q41PODW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416928439&sr=8-1&keywords=in+the+sanctity+of+revenge&pebp=1416928441212

Paperback available on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Sanctity-Revenge-Brian-Schnoor/dp/0986297410/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1417203150&sr=8-2&keywords=In+The+Sanctity+of+Revenge

Here is the link to the trailer: http://youtu.be/t97mbRhRnzg

Available World-wide on Amazon:

United Kingdom-

Brazil –

http://www.amazon.com.br/Sanctity-Revenge-English-Brian-Schnoor-ebook/dp/B00Q41PODW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418774530&sr=8-1&keywords=brian+schnoor

Austrailia –

http://www.amazon.com.au/Sanctity-Revenge-Brian-Schnoor-ebook/dp/B00Q41PODW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418774619&sr=8-1&keywords=In+the+sanctity+of+revenge

France –

http://www.amazon.fr/Sanctity-Revenge-English-Brian-Schnoor-ebook/dp/B00Q41PODW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418774686&sr=8-1&keywords=brian+schnoor

HELLO FRIEND: BILL COSBY, GRANDMA’S PIRATED TAPE, & SHOELESS JOE JACKSON

“The grandparents come over… ‘now just come here and kiss your grandmommy, muh muh muh muh muh, grandmommy love you to death.’ And my children think that my mother is the most wonderful person on the face of this earth and I keep telling my children, ‘that’s not the same woman I grew up with. You’re looking at an old person who’s trying to get into heaven now.’

Those are not my words, however, I didn’t transcribe those words either. I didn’t look them up, read them, or research them. No, those words are emblazoned in my mind. My Grandma Julie came over to visit one night with Grandpa and LB, and she handed me a cassette tape (this is the early 1980’s). “You like that Bill Cosby don’t you? My friend has one of his records and I made a tape for you,” she said and she handed me a cassette tape, the kind you might use to make a mix tape off the radio. That little tape was one of the greatest presents I ever received. I took that tape up to my room, popped it into my tape recorder, (you know the little silver and black plastic things that people would dictate into) and I would listen and I would laugh and I would laugh and I would laugh. I laughed hardest when he made fun of his father. I don’t know what it is with fathers and sons, but my own son loves to laugh at me and at that time, I loved to laugh at my dad. Must have something to do with the coming of age, in any event, I laughed and laughed until I stopped laughing and began to mimic. After I could mimic, I began reciting parts of it. “I’m sick of this and I’m sick of you. So sick I don’t know what to do with myself. I am just sick and tired. ‘And tired’ always followed ‘sick’. Worst beating I ever got in my life my mother said, ‘I am just sick…’ I said, ‘… and tired’. I don’t remember anything that happened that day.”

The record Grandma Julie had pirated was Bill Cosby Himself. (I later purchased the record album, which I believe absolves Grandma of her innocent piracy) Now at that time, Mr. Cosby was already famous. He’d co-stared in I-Spy, had his own sitcom ‘The Bill Cosby Show’ in which he played a gym teacher, had been on the Electric Company (which is where I first saw him), had a short segment on PBS called Picture Pages, and of course was the host and creator of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, one of my favorite cartoons growing up. He’d already had hit comedy albums, was a stand-up major headliner, and a legitimate star, but it was this album Grandma had taped for me that would propel Bill Cosby into the realm of superstardom. This was the album that inspired the Cosby Show, the 1984 television show that is credited with single handedly resurrecting the nearly dead television format of the situation comedy. This was the one. And I had it all memorized (well, all but two bits, Chocolate Cake For Breakfast and the Dentist because Grandma Julie didn’t record those). Not only did I have the words memorized, but the delivery, the cadence, the pauses, the inflections. It was comedy school 101 taught by a master craftsman, one of the best to ever stand on stage and tell a joke.

Well, that isn’t exactly accurate, is it? Because Bill Cosby doesn’t stand on stage and tell jokes, he sits. And he doesn’t tell jokes, he tells stories. It just so happens that his stories are hilarious. Perfectly worded, perfectly timed, and perfectly delivered. I learned a lot about comic delivery and story telling from listening to that tape. But that isn’t what makes Mr. Cosby so funny. His true talent lies elsewhere.

When my grandmother gave me that tape, there were other popular comedians around with best-selling albums. It was 1982 and I was nine, going on ten. George Carlin had just released ‘A Place For My Stuff’ two years before. Eddie Murphy released his self-titled album and the next year would release ‘Delirious’. There was Richard Pryor, Cheech and Chong, and others. But, not only would my parents never let me listen to those… I’m not sure I would even think they were funny. (Some kids got a kick out of hearing the swears, but if I wanted to hear those all I had to do was hit my sister, wait for her to cry and I’d get my fair share of those words for free and in person from my dad.) The jokes on those records would’ve been way over my head. But not Bill Cosby. And that’s where his true talent lies. He can relate to, and remember what it was like to be, every age. His best stuff is from the perspective of a child. His own childhood is vivid. Not in the sense that he remembers every event, but rather in the more rare ability to remember what it was like, how he felt, how he thought. Those are the things that escape most of us. We can all tell you the story of the time when I was eight years old and such-and-such happened. But, not many of us can reach back and tap into the mindset of your eight-year-old self. Bill Cosby can. And when he does, he reminds us of our own eight year old selves, because though it’s difficult to bring ourselves to that mindset, that way of thinking and feeling of that little ‘me’ of so long ago, it is right there on the tip of the consciousness and we go willingly and easily along when Mr. Cosby takes us there, and that is where the fun is, and where the funny is. That is his true talent. He takes us back to that perspective, of how we viewed our parents, our siblings, the world and ourselves. For a split second we are eight again, or ten, or eleven, or twelve. And then, in the next breath, he brings us back. Back to now, to the other side where we have to deal with those ‘brain damaged’ people we call children. Where we have to try to reason with those eight year old minds. He articulates our frustrations, our failures, our inabilities to be the ‘perfect parent’ by pointing out that none of us are, that we all share that shortcoming that is to successfully communicate with, understand, and guide these small, still developing people with this strange view of the world.

He can at once make us laugh at our own parents from the perspective of a child looking up at authority, and as an adult looking at aging, softening at the edges, grandparents “that is not the same woman I grew up with”. And we can identify and laugh with both because he takes us there so effectively.

I don’t know when I first saw Mr. Cosby on TV. I think it was on the Electric Company. By the time I was watching Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in the late ‘70’s, I recognized him. I knew him. “This is Bill Cosby comin’ atcha with music and fun, and if you’re not careful you might learn somethin’ before it’s done, okay? Hey Hey Hey!” I’d see him on Picture Pages, Jell-O commercials, Coca-Cola commercials. He was everywhere. It’s worth pointing out too that the civil rights movement hit its peak in 1968. Real Jim Crow style segregation was still very real in many parts of the country. By 1971, Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman were on PBS teaching all us kids phonics and math. He is a large part of the progress America has made in race relations. He is the first African American to be on mainstream television in his own show without it being about ‘a black guy’, but rather a guy who happened to be black. He co-starred, with equal billing, with Robert Culp in I-Spy in 1965. Only twelve years earlier, American TV sets were tuned to Amos and Andy. Mr. Cosby is criticized by some for not being ‘black enough’. As a white man, I can tell you that he’s black enough for racists to dislike him just the same as they would any black man, maybe even more so. What he did, is he changed the way white-middle-class-suburban people viewed African Americans and their culture.

For once, a black man wasn’t emptying the garbage, or working as a butler, or a barber… he was a doctor. He lived in a nice house, not in the projects like on Good Times, and not in some “Movin’-on-up, one-in-a-million-shot-success-fish-out-of-water-highrises” like the Jeffersons, but in a realistic, honest way, he was upper middle-class, and he was black. And he was the first to be that on television, and while white suburban families across the country sat every week in droves watching this successful black couple make them laugh on TV, Mr. Cosby made a point to integrate African and African American culture and history into the show. Yet the very existence and scope of the popularity of the show is due to the fact that, despite racial, sociological, cultural, and economic differences, there is a thread of commonalities throughout American culture that transcends those differences; shared thoughts, feelings, and experiences that come not from being black or white but from being American and in a family. There’s a lot to be said for having achieved that at the time he did, and in the manner in which he did.

So, needless to say, I am, and have for a long time, been a fan of Mr. Cosby. I respect him. I studied him. I can identify with him even though he grew up with black skin in the projects of Philadelphia thirty years before I was born and I grew up with white skin in working-class neighborhoods of Chicago, I can identify with him, as can millions of people of all races and classes across America.

So this weekend, thirty-two years after I’d first gotten that tape from my Grandma, I finally got to see the man in person. He was performing at the Rosemont Theater. My wife and I sat about five rows back from the stage, but off to the side. Good seats, had they been center, they would’ve been extraordinary seats. On stage was a chair and table. Across the chair was draped a cloth of some kind that had embroidered into it the words “HELLO FRIEND” in a rainbow of colors. On the table sat a bottle of water, a glass, and a box of Kleenex. Behind the table, a little garbage can like you’d find under a desk in an office.

It says: Hello Friend

It says: HELLO FRIEND

The house lights were still up and the audience still conversing and moving about, when, unannounced, this larger than life figure with a familiar walk, strode across the stage to the seat and said ‘hello.’ With that, the show began. Unlike every other show I’ve ever seen, the house lights stayed lit. Mr. Cosby began talking and soon asked the ‘soundman’ to turn down the level so his voice wasn’t bouncing around the room so much but rather it “sound more like a living room”. And that is exactly what the next two hours felt like. Like an old friend, an old man you’d known forever, stopped by the house for a glass of water and a long chat. And it was funny. Admittedly, it started out slow, but most visits usually do. Conversations don’t usually start with a bang, we ease into them. That’s what he did. He eased into it and before you knew it, you were engrossed in the conversation, one-way though it was, and laughing. My wife chuckled. She elbowed me a couple of times as if to say “you do that” or “sounds like my parents, doesn’t it?” But me… I was laughing. I laughed so hard a few times that it caused me to go into a coughing fit. I started sweating, I had tears running down my cheeks. By the time the two-hour show was over, I was wet. Which brings us, unfortunately, to the news reports of earlier that day. (Hell of a segue, huh?)

I’d waited, like I said, for 32 years to see my favorite comedian perform his craft in person. (I’d seen Carlin and Seinfeld years before. Carlin is like my devil on the shoulder favorite, while Cosby is like the angel on my shoulder favorite. Seinfeld’s funny, but I saw him for my wife. Great show though). So, here I am, the day I’m finally going to see Bill Cosby in person! And he’s all over the news. And it isn’t good news.

There are reports surfacing, that he drugged and raped a woman. Then reports that others, several others, have reported similar instances of having been drugged then raped by Mr. Cosby. I’ve been in the television industry myself for close to twenty years now. I’m not naïve enough to believe that the people we see on TV are the same in real life as they portray themselves to be. In interviews, on the Tonight Show, in magazines, it is a carefully orchestrated strategy at work. This is, after all, a business and their product is themselves. And so they market themselves in such a way, at least the smart ones do, that people will like them and buy their albums, watch their sitcom, go to their concerts, see their plays, etc. I’ve also been in this business long enough to know to never trust anything I see on TV. That’s the other side of the business. Grab as many eyeballs (or clicks) as possible. You have video of a fire, run it! You have footage of Japanese politicians beating the crap out of each other, it’s news! Lindsay Lohan goes to rehab or Paris Hilton gets arrested, lead with it! If it’s not salacious enough, find a salacious angle to it and present it that way! (Fox News is brilliant at that, but they’re all guilty of it to some extent) America’s favorite TV dad is accused of rape; goddamn right that’s news. Front friggin’ page. Tweet it, Instagram it, Facebook it, just tell them about it and let them know to turn to us for more info, they’re starving for it!! It doesn’t have to be true or proven; the mere allegations are newsworthy in and of themselves! Find me more women who’ll say the same thing and do it before we go on the air at six!

So what’s a fan to think? There are women who will have sex with a TV star, simply because he’s a TV star, so I find it difficult to believe someone who is the top TV star at the time this was supposed to have happened, would have to resort to drugging and raping a woman just to get laid. All he’d really have to do is walk into the right club and say “Hi”. I also know that doesn’t mean a thing.

I know there are people who will do some low-down dirty-rotten things to extort money from someone, and that includes falsely accusing him of rape. I also know it is strange that so many women have such similar stories.  It’s also strange, though, that no one did anything about it at the time.  He was very famous and very wealthy.  The woman who claims she sought representation from an attorney who laughed her out of his office can’t be trusted because if there were any way to even possibly sue him for rape, any lawyer would’ve jumped at it just for a piece of the settlement money, and yet, she was ‘laughed out of the office’.  Even a slimy lawyer couldn’t see enough to make a case out of it.  But that’s one.  Rape is too serious an allegation to dismiss it easily.  It’s also too serious an allegation to convict the accused without due process based on stories on the news.

I hope those women are lying. I hope he didn’t rape them, for their sake and his. He’s done some great things in his life, and as I stated in a previous post, it is difficult to not like someone who makes you laugh, and he has made me laugh since I was a little, little boy. My thoughts on this can be summed up with the words of another little boy to his idol nearly a century ago when Shoeless Joe Jackson was confronted with the words “Say it ain’t so.”

Please Mr. Cosby, say it ain’t so.  In the meantime, I’m getting together with some old friends for a furious game of ‘Buck-Buck’ and try to remember the mindset of that nine year old boy with a cassette tape that made him laugh so much.

Bill Cosby in concert at the Rosemont Theater, November 15, 2014

Bill Cosby in concert at the Rosemont Theater, November 15, 2014

I don't get dressed up for just anybody.  I was even going to wear a tie, but my neck outgrew the shirt.

I don’t get dressed up for just anybody. I was even going to wear a tie, but my neck outgrew the shirt.

Kim Kardashian doesn’t realize she’s the butt of an old racial joke

I was going to write my own reaction to this Kim Kardashian photo spread. Then I saw this. Nothing I would’ve written would’ve been as thoughtful, nor as insightful, as this piece is. I don’t make a habit of Reblogging other’s posts, but this is one I thought should be shared. From theGrio :