The Great Bob Lonsberry Conspiracy

The Great Bob Lonsberry Conspiracy

Last week local talk radio jock, Bob Lonsberry, was fired from his morning gig. According to the radio station, the reason for the firing was ratings. Bob’s show had fallen from the Top 10 to 29 out of 32 stations. Unable to keep his mouth shut, Lonsberry posted a 1,300 word rant on his website detailing the firing and planted the seeds for a conspiracy theory that Mike Lee, a GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate was really behind his dismissal.

Of course, being suspicious is my stock-in-trade, and the timing of my termination and the stand I’ve been taking on the looming senatorial primary and the fact I’ve been opposing a candidate [Mike Lee] who made $600,000 from one of our largest advertisers last year, does make me wonder. Strings get pulled in the real world, and politics is hardball, and our program’s effort helped tip the nominating convention, so it’s not impossible that I lost my job in Salt Lake so that somebody else [Mike Lee] could get a job in Washington.

As a talk, sports, and news radio connoisseur and having had a short-lived run in radio business, the one thing I do know about the medium is that it’s like any other business: it’s all about making the station money. You can put on an entertaining show every day but if no one’s listening, then your show gets pulled. It’s as simple as that. As long as you’re the station’s making a profit, they’ll keep you on the air forever no matter how many politicians you piss off.

Years ago I listened to Lonsberry’s program on my way to work but stopped after he spent a good portion of my drive to work talking about inane subjects with his son, Lee, and the traffic reporter, Paige Bradford. It was like listening in on a phone conversation between friends catching up on each other’s lives. It wasn’t even close to entertaining radio. It was boring. Apparently a lot of other people felt the same way.

Sadly, Lonsberry’s conspiracy has found legs. The (Provo) Daily Herald reports that Tim Bridgewater supporters are jumping on the conspiracy theory bandwagon that ratings had nothing to do with Lonsberry’s dismissal. Lonsberry is now sending out robo calls on behalf of the Bridgewater campaing furthing the conspiracy talk. I received one on Friday. Like all conspiracy theories, however, not a shred of proof is offered to back this up. Instead a few events are strung together on the hopes, fears, and emotions of their audience.

If Lonsberry really wants to get back into radio, he needs to shut up and take a lesson from Armando Galarraga about how to handle setbacks with class. You lick your wounds, move on, and live to fight another day. Instead of weaving intricate conspiracy theories to assuage his bruised ego, Lonseberry would be better off to figuring out his next career move. Ten years is a long time to be in the radio business—especially on one station. If his show was as popular as he claimed, other radio stations might come calling. However, the more he rants about his conspiracy theory, the less attractive he becomes as a radio personality and a human being.

Handling Setbacks with Class

Last week a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce cost the Detroit Tigers Armando Galarraga a perfect game—one of the rarest feats in baseball. (See video above.)

As a lifelong Tigers fan, I’m used to seeing my team end up on the wrong side of history. (Two other Tiger pitchers have lost perfect games with two outs in the ninth.) But I have to admire the way Galarraga and the Tigers handled the situation.

There could have been long-winded, obscenity-filled rants at the post-game press conference, an appeal to Major League Baseball to overturn the decision, and diatribes about the need for instant replay in baseball to make the games “fair.”

But there wasn’t any of that. At least not from Galarraga and the Tigers organization.

After the game Joyce watched the replay and admitted his mistake and apologized to Galarraga. Galarraga accepted his apology and shook his hand. The next night Galarraga was treated to a standing ovation. Joyce umpired from behind the plate. The Tigers won. Life went on.

In a world full of people who rant and rave when life doesn’t turn out the way they want it to, Galarraga’s reaction was very refreshing.

We live in a harsh, unforgiving world. Life is rarely fair. We work hard and devote our lives to building up families, businesses, and dreams only to “watch the things you gave your life to broken” by our own mistakes or the actions of others. What’s important is how we react to life’s setbacks. Do we complain and give up on our goals or shrug off the disappointment and “stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools”?

Armando Galarraga may have been robbed of his place in baseball’s history books, but his reaction to a very disappointing setback will always make him a class act in my book.

Back from the Dead

One of the side effects of using Twitter and Facebook is that I don’t blog as much as I used to. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say on my blog. Rather, with my free time at a premium right now, I simply don’t have much time to blog and find it much more convenient write a short message on one of the social networking sites. But, since I have a few minutes, here’s an update of the last month or so of my life.

On the good side, I’ve been going over some publishing contracts that will dedicate most of my free time o to forthcoming writing projects for the next year or more. Just thinking about all the writing I’ll have to do to meet certain deadlines kind of freaks me out. I know I can do the work and meet the deadlines, but the actual thought of doing that much writing is a little intimidating.

On the down side, there’s been some instability at work. Though I still have a job, there’s a chance could be coming to an end this month. As a result I’ve been taking on some more freelance copywriting work and checking out other opportunities. If you know of anyone that’s looking for some freelance or fulltime marketing writing work, feel free to let me know.

Back to the good side: I’ve accepted an invitation to present at the largest writing conference in Utah in April. If you’re a writer and want to attend a worthwhile writing conference, I highly recommend this one. I attended last year and got a lot out of it. I’m excited to give a little back to attendees this year by presenting, attending some of the other great presentations and workshops and seeing fellow author friends again.

Finally, I’ll be making a big announcement in the next week or so. (It’s really cool!) If you want to be one of the first to learn about it, subscribe to my email list if you aren’t on it already.

Stay tuned.

Should I Dump the Widower for Lying or Dating too Soon?

Dating a Widower

Originally published here.

Julie asks: I recently began dating a widower who told me his wife died a year ago. I've just learned she actually died 4 months ago. I like this man very much and we enjoy each other's company. I don't know details of how long she was ill, but he did say some of his kids (adults now) don't approve of his dating. Should I stop dating this recent widower for not telling the truth or simply because it's too soon, or both?

Abel Keogh responds:

To paraphrase an old saying: If you see one cockroach, there are 100 more you can’t see.

The fact that the widower started dating months after his wife’s death isn’t a big deal. Some people are ready to date again after a few months of grieving. For others it can take years before they’re ready to start a new relationship. When dating a widow or widower what’s important is that they’re moving on with their life and making you feel like the center of their universe.

What’s disturbing is that the widower lied about when his wife died. He may have done it thinking that the truth would scare you away. I started dating 5 months after my wife’s death. It was very hard to tell the women I was dating that my late wife had died a few months earlier. Even though I was hesitant to answer the question when the subject came up, I always told the truth – even if the truth meant I didn’t get a second date. I don’t condone his lie but, if he did it because he thought the truth would end any chance of another date, I can at least sympathize with why he did it.

Keep in mind that solid, long lasting relationships can only be built on the truth. I would seriously re-examine the relationship from top to bottom and decide if it’s worth continuing. If you choose to continue the relationship, don’t be surprised if more cockroaches surface down the road.

Widow’s Friends Disown Her for Having New Relationship

In my latest post on the OpentoHope site, I answer the following question from Anne: I lost my dad and husband within a week of each other three years ago, and life has been a battle. My dearest friends (a couple that my husband and I used to do everything with) won't accept the fact I am seeing another man and have been for nearly two years. The husband told me the other day never to come back and see them. I have given them space and continue to love and support them, Please help. I am just so sad about it. I have tried talking to them but they won't. I am also their daughter's godmother and she is heart-broken her parents are doing this. Help me.

You can read my answer here.

How Vice President Joe Biden Dealt with Grief

My latest post is up on the OpentoHope blog. It's a brief look on how Sen. Joe Biden, at the age of 30, lost is first wife a month after being elected to the U.S. Senate, overcame his grief, and put his life back together. You can read it below or here. On November 7, 1972 a relatively unknown lawyer named Joe Biden pulled off a big political upset. By just over 3,000 votes he defeated two-term incumbent U.S. Senator J. Caleb Boggs and, at age 30, became the sixth youngest Senator in U.S. history.

Despite the amazing victory, he almost never took the oath of office. On December 18, 1972 while Biden was in Washington D.C. looking at his new office, his wife, Neilia, took their three children shopping for a Christmas tree. They were involved in a fatal automobile accident. Neilia and his infant daughter, Naomi, were killed. His two sons, Hunter and Beau, were critically injured.

His life suddenly and unexpectedly changed, Biden suddenly found himself as a 30-year-old widower and single father. He also found himself filled with anger and doubt. In his memoir Promises to Keep Biden wrote, "I began to understand how despair led people to just cash it in; how suicide wasn't just an option but a rational option ... I felt God had played a horrible trick on me, and I was angry."

A career in the U.S. Senate suddenly didn't seem that important as being there for his two sons. He considered resigning before even taking the oath of office. Beau recalled his father saying, "Delaware can get another senator, but my boys can't get another father."

Eventually other U.S. Senators like Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy convinced Biden to take the job the people of Delaware elected him to do. In January of 1973 he took the oath of office at his sons' hospital bedside. However, because he still wanted to be there for his sons, he gave up his the home he and his late wife were planning to buy in Washington D.C. and commuted by train to and from his home - a practice he still continues.

Still, life wasn't easy for the young Senator. At first he did the least amount of work required for his job. "My future was telescoped into putting one foot in front of the other ... Washington, politics, the Senate had no hold on me," Biden wrote. Senate staffers began placing bets on how long Biden would last.

No one would have blamed Biden for quitting. After all, he has lost half his family. But Biden didn't quit. Despite his grief, Biden he hung on and slowly began rebuilding his shattered life.

It wasn't until 1975, however, when Biden met Jill Jacobs that the pieces really fell into place. Falling in love again renewed Biden's interest in life and politics. "It had given me the permission to be me again," Biden wrote in his memoir. Two years later they married.

With his renewed passion, Biden continued what was to become a successful political career. He was re-elected five times to the Senate. He served as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987-1995 and currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In 2008, after a second failed attempt to become the Democrat's presidential nominee, he was asked to be Sen. Barack Obama's Vice Presidential running mate.

"Failure at some point in your life is inevitable but giving up is unforgivable," Biden said during his Vice Presidential acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

It's impossible to say what would have happened to Biden if he had decided to give up.

But he didn't.

For those who have lost a spouse, Joe Biden's story is one of hope. If you continue to put one foot in front of the other, no matter how difficult it may be, there are better days ahead. Despite the challenges and obstacles he faced as a 30-year-old widower, Biden rebuilt his life and his family.

Each day we make the decision to push forward or give up. Each day that decision will bring us closer to rebuilding our lives or falling back into darkness. Though difficult, Biden chose to live again and reaped the rewards of his efforts.

***

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More widower-related articles by Abel Keogh

  • Up with Grief NEW!
  • Dating and Marriage: One Regret NEW!
  • Widowers: They're Still Men! NEW!
  • 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers
  • Photos of the Dead Wife
  • 5 Signs a Widower is Serious About Your Relationship
  • How Vice President Joe Biden Dealt with Grief
  • Life with a Widower
  • Dating a Widower
  • The Grief Industry
  • Suicide Survivor
  • A Letter to Elizabeth
  • Sex and Intimacy with Widowers
  • The Widowerhood Excuse
  • How to Talk to a Widower
  • Red Flags to Watch for When Dating A Widower
  • Blogging for the Open to Hope Foundation

    A couple months ago I was approached by the Open to Hope Foundation about writing a blog for those who had lost a spouse. (I was a guest on the foundation’s radio show last November. You can download the MP3 of the program by right-clicking here.) I was hesitant to accept. Between my widower blog (no longer updated) and Room for Two I didn’t think I had anything left to say on the matter. Besides, I’ve been happily married to Marathon Girl for five and a half years. I haven’t thought of myself as widower since the day she agreed to marry me. In a lot of ways, I’ve put that sad chapter of my behind me. Thought thoughts of the late wife and daughter occasionally enter my mind, 99.9% of my thoughts are on making a better life for me and the family I have now.

    I also have a novel and other writing projects that take up most of my free time. Even if I had something to say, I was unsure I’d have the time to write regular blog posts.

    Then I checked my email.

    There were three new emails in my inbox. Two were from women dating widowers. One thanked me for writing an essay that helped her see that her widower boyfriend wasn’t ready to commit to a serious relationship and she was going to finally end it. The other was from a woman asking for advice about her widower boyfriend’s behavior and whether or not she should be concerned about it. The third was from a young widower who thanked me for my website and telling me it had given him hope that he could one day again be happy.

    These kinds of emails flood my inbox every day. (I’m not complaining about them – just stating a fact. If you have something to say, you can contact me here.) In the back of my mind, I thought the number of widower related emails would stop after my book came out and this blog focused on other things than widower related issues. But every day there are new emails in my inbox similar to the ones above and I realized there are a lot of people that are hurting out there.

    And I thought back to a wintry afternoon six years ago. I had just spent most of my Saturday afternoon searching for something – anything! – online that would make me feel that I wasn’t the only young widower in the world. Something that would give me hope that tomorrow would be a better day and if I just put one foot in front of the other and stuck with it.

    I found nothing.

    And in that brief moment of grief and anguish I vowed if there was some way I could help someone else from feeling the pain and loneliness I felt at that exact moment, I’d do it.

    So I called to the foundation’s director and expressed my concerns about writing a blog and we came to mutual agreement. I will write an occasional blog post (three or four times a month as time allows). And instead of making it a traditional grief blog, I’m going to focus on putting your life back together and moving on instead of becoming bogged down with self pity and the “woe is me” attitude that infects so much of grief literature and makes it completely worthless – often hindering people from putting their lives back together.

    It’s going to be very different from typical grief blogs. It’s going to have an attitude.

    So be warned.

    If you’re content wallowing in grief and self pity then the blog’s not for you.

    If you don't want to think of yourself as anything other than a widow or widower, then find another grief blog to read.

    If you don’t want straight up advice about learning to put your grief aside, making the most of your life, and becoming happy again, then do not read it because I’m not going to mince words.

    Finally, though I have permission to do so, I won’t be reposting the content on this blog. However, I will post the first paragraph or two and link to the latest entry for those who are interest in reading it. (As soon as I complete some other projects, I will create a URL on this website for them, however.)

    Also, I have about 30,000 words of material that I cut from Room for Two before it was published. Some that content will probably find a home there – in a slightly modified form. (My first entry is a part from my book that was cut from the book and tweaked for the blog.) For those who have read the book and want to read vignettes that were cut between the first draft and the published manuscript, I’ll let you know when those are posted too.

    The website I'll be writing for can be found here.

    You can read my first entry here and my second one here.

    I’ll let you know when the third one is up.

    Self-Management: The Key to Success

    Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami never wanted to be a writer. He just “had the strong desire to write a novel.” Or so he writes in his essay “The Running Novelist” in the June 9 & 16 issue of The New Yorker. This essay is a must read for anyone who wants know what it takes to be successful not only as a writer but profession or endeavor. (Side note: I wish this essay was online. It’s a keeper – one that I’ll be cutting from the magazine and saving for the rest of my life. So run out and find the aforementioned issue of The New Yorker at your local library or bookstore and read it. If you can’t find a copy, e-mail me or leave a note in the comments section and we’ll figure out a way to get a copy of the essay to you.)

    Murakami’s essay tells the story of how he became a professional and successful writer and a daily running. But a deeper reading of Murakami’s essay reveals it isn’t about being a dedicated runner or becoming a best-selling author but mastering the art of self-management – the ultimate trait of successful people.

    Before he decided to write full time, Murakami ran a jazz club. He would come home late at night (or early in the morning) and type until he was sleepy. After publishing two novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973, he decided writing was something he wanted to do for a living. The first thing Murakami did was get rid of things that could distract him from writing.

    So, after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to close the business and focus solely on writing….Most of my friends were adamantly against my decision, or at least had doubts about it. “Your business is doing fine now,” they said. “Why not just let someone else run it while you write your novels?” But I couldn’t follow their advice. I’m the kind of person who has to commit totally to whatever I do. If, having committed, I failed, I could accept that. But I knew that if I did things halfheartedly and they didn’t work out, I’d always have regrets. (Emphasis added.)

    Everyone has dreams. But most people won’t totally commit themselves to make their dreams a reality. They lack the ability to stick with something until it’s a proven success or failure. All it takes is a few days or a couple weeks for them to become distracted or give up entirely and return to their old habits and routines. Murakami gave himself two years to either succeed or fail. Note that Murakami didn’t just quit his job overnight. He achieved some modest success first so he knew he had the talent and ability to succeed. But he also put a lot of thought into the decision. He didn’t drop everything and rush into it. He was patient and planned it out. He self-managed.

    Once he started writing full time, Murakami noticed two bad side effects: he started putting on the pounds and was smoking 60 cigarettes a day. He realized this wasn’t good for his health or his writing. To help him write and combat the side effects of writing he started running, and quit smoking.

    After I closed the bar, I resolved to change my life style entirely, and my wife and I moved out to Narashino….Not long after that I quit smoking. It wasn’t easy to do, but I couldn’t really run and keep on smoking. My desire to run was a great help in overcoming the withdrawal symptoms. Quitting smoking was also like a symbolic gesture of farewell to the life I used to lead.

    Often when someone tries to change their life, they have a hard time letting go of past places, friends, or habits, that keep them moving backwards instead of progressing toward their new life. Murakami not only quit smoking and started running, but he moved somewhere new to help get a fresh start.

    Next Murakami was able to discipline himself (there’s that self-management thing again) and get on a writing schedule that meshed with his body’s internal clock.

    The best thing about becoming a professional writer was that I could go to bed early and get up early….Once I began my life as a novelist, my wife and I decided that we’d go to bed soon after it got dark and wake up with the sun….Different people are their best at different times of the day, but I’m definitely a morning person. That’s when I can focus.

    He also used the afternoons, after he was done writing to run. As a result, writing and running become part of his life just “like eating, sleeping, and housework.” And he doesn’t let other people or things get him off track.

    Thanks to this pattern, I’ve been able to work efficiently now for twenty-seven years. It’s a pattern, though, that doesn’t allow for much of a night life, and sometimes this makes relationships with other people problematic. People are offended when you repeatedly turn down their invitations. But, at that point, I felt that the indispensable relationship I should build in my life was not with a specific person but with a unspecified number of readers. My readers would welcome whatever life style I chose, as long as I made sure that each new work was an improvement over the last. And shouldn’t that be my duty – and my top priority – as a novelist? … In other words, you can’t please everybody.

    Part of self-management is being able to set priorities. Murakami decided what was important in his life and did it. Period. He didn’t make excuses or exceptions when things – even good things -- would interfere with his writing schedule.

    Of course everyone has days where they feel like they don’t like doing whatever is on their plate that day. Murakami is not different. Often writing is a chore for him but he continues to work at it one day at a time. There are even days when he doesn’t feel like running. But he pushes through those days when he doesn’t feel like running just like he does when he doesn’t feel like writing.

    No matter how much long-distance running might suit me, of course there are days when I feel lethargic and don’t want to do it. On days like that, I try to come up with all kinds of plausible excuses not to run.

    Now, whenever I feel like I don’t want to run, I always ask myself the same thing: You’re able to make a living as a novelist, working at home, setting your own hours. You don’t have to commute on a packed train or sit through boring meetings. Don’t you realize how fortunate you are? Compared with that, running an hour around the neighborhood is nothing, right? Then I lace up my running shoes and set off without hesitating.

    Pushing through the times when we don’t want to do something is the ultimate form of self-management. Right now I could still be sleeping, reading from the pile of books, or going for a walk outside on what looks like a perfect summer morning – both things that ultimately have more appeal then waking up and writing at 6:00 a.m. But I’m not doing those other things. I woke up early today to write this entry because I made the commitment that I’d have this posted on my blog today. I’m writing this early because this is the only time I have to write a blog entry. After the kids go to bed is when I spend a couple hours working on my book because I committed to have it done before summer is over.

    It doesn’t matter if you want to be an athlete, artist, entrepreneur, salesperson, doctor, lawyer, police officer, mason, or entertainer. In order to succeed, you need to self-manage every aspect of your life. Control your emotions. Eliminate the distractions. Give the most on the days you feel like giving the least.

    Your dreams aren’t going to be handed to you. You have to work in order for them to become a reality.

    To Blog or not to Blog, That Is the Question

    The Job Hunt

    After reading my post on job satisfaction, Littlest Bird emailed and asked why I hadn’t blogged more about being unemployed, looking for work, and the entire job search process back in November.

    Here’s why: Blogging under your own name is VERY different than blogging anonymously. Anyone who knows your name can find your website with a few clicks of the mouse. It’s made even easier when you have unique name like mine.

    The day after parting ways with my old job I started sending out resumes and queering friends and family about any writing-related jobs they might know about. Within 48 hours I noticed an uptick in Google and Yahoo queries for my name – most of which could be traced back to potential employers. It was amazing to watch how many potential employers were spending anywhere from one minute to 20 minutes on my website.

    This, in and of itself, wasn’t a bad thing. I haven’t posted anything that would make an employer think twice about hiring me or calling me into an interview. (At least I don’t think I have.) And where I was mostly applying for writing-related jobs the fact that this website generally highlights some of my more creative writing efforts tends to be a good thing. Additionally, there’s a hidden URL on this website that contains my professional writing portfolio. (Don’t bother searching for it. It’s password protected.)

    Based on the number of interviews and job offers I had from employers who ended up on my website (both the public and password protected section), I’d say the website was by far more of a positive than a negative. I even had one employer bring up the password protected and public part of this website during an interview and we talked about some of the documents and blog entries I had written. (He made an attractive job offer the next day.)

    Yet this website could have just as easily been a negative. For example, the last thing I wanted was potential employers to know how good or poorly the job search was going. I didn’t want someone to come to the site and see that I had multiple offers and decide not to even call and see if I was interested in working for them or, conversely, see that the job hunt was going bad use that as leverage to lowball any salary or benefit things if a job offer was extended.

    I’m also under the opinion whether your blogging anonymously or under your real name, what you write about and say about others says a lot about you so I generally try to blog and post things that I wouldn’t have a problem with sharing with a stadium filled with people I don’t know. It’s not that I care what people think about me, rather, I believe that if you wouldn’t spread malicious gossip or say certain things when actual people are present, you should have the same decorum on your website or blog.

    It’s not that I didn’t want to blog about it -- I just thought it wasn’t in my best interest to keep those thoughts and feelings private. And, yes, I did keep a detailed account of that time. However those are safely stored in my journal to which only Marathon Girl has access.

    Everyone else can read about it after I’m dead. :-)

    I'm Grateful for Trials

    During our life, we'll experience moments of joy and happiness. At other times we'll be met with misery and despair. Our brief time on this planet can be summed up in how we reacted and dealt with these experiences. Ruyard Kipling, I believe, said (or wrote) it best.

    If

    If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or being hated, don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

    ***

    So this Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for the moments and experiences that keep me teachable and humble. I'm thankful for the trials that help me realize how much I've been blessed with. I'm grateful for a wonderful, supportive wife, Marathon Girl, who is different enough from myself that she can provide insight and ideas that I hadn't considered when it seems as if there are no other options. And I'm grateful for the chances we have to grab life by the horns when it comes charging at you, learn and grow from our mistakes, and become a better person from all the we go through.

    I Am Legend and Mystic River

    Back in college I had a friend who would reference Richard Matheson's I Am Legend whenever the topic of vampire and other horror books would come up. Through him I learned about the plot and character of the book and, since I wasn't into vampire books then, I never got around to reading it. Nine years later, I'm still not into vampire books but since I'e seen the trailer for the new I Am Legend move staring Will Smith -- something I really want to see -- I decided to pick up a copy of the book at the store.

    The story itself is only 160 some odd pages -- much shorter than I thought it would be. The writing is crisp and clear and took only about two hours to read. Since Matheson was one of the early science fiction/horror pioneers it reads like something from an earlier generation. But it's still a wildly imaginative story and one that had me going all the way until the last page.

    For those who don't know the general plot of the book, it centers on a character named Robert Neville who is apparently the last human on the planet. The rest of humanity has been consumed by a virus that has changed them all into vampires. Neville spends his nights inside his vampire-proof house while the undead creatures roam around his house attempting to find a way in. During the day scavenges for supplies, hunts and kills sleeping vampires, and looks for any other human survivors.

    The most interesting part of the story for me was watching how Neville adapts to being the last man on earth and how he learns to cope with being alone so that he won't go insane and then what happens when sitting on the porch of an empty house he sees a beautiful young woman running through an empty field in his direction.

    I'm curious to see what adaptations they'll make to the movie. The most obvious change from the promos is that the story takes place in New York instead of Los Angeles and it looks like they've spiced up the action scenes with the vampires quite a bit so it certainly looks like a very fun movie to watch.

    My only request is that they have a better ending than the books. You know, one where Neville comes out on top. Those who have read the book will know what I'm talking about.

    ***

    It's rare that I read a book a second time only to enjoy it more than I did the first time around. This week I picked up Mystic River after not having read it in about four years. (It was the best book I read back in 2003.) Part of the reason it took me so long to pick it up again was that I thought the Clint Eastwood movie version of the book was plain awful. I thought that the screenwriter and Eastwood failed to capture the relationship that the three main characters -- Jimmy Marcus, Sean Devine, and Dave Boyle -- had as kids and how that affected their actions 20 years later. Thankfully instead of watching Eastwood inept adaptation, I can always return to the novel and get that experience again.

    Dennis Lehane is a good writer. I'm three books into his Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro detective book and have liked what I've read so far. However, I think Mystic River beats the pants off the other books I've read so far because the characters are so much more real and compelling.

    Jimmy Marcus is an ex-convict who's spent the last 15 years trying live within the law. Then his daughter, Katie, is murdered the night before her sister's first communion and his world that he's built up so carefully suddenly falls apart and he finds himself being torn between building it up again or going down the wrong side of the tracks again.

    Sean Devine is a homicide detective for the state police and Katie's murder happens to land on his desk. Despite a decent upbringing and being a top-notch cop, His life is in shambles. His wife had and affair and left him but still calls on occasion even though she says nothing to him when he answers. He feels the weight of the world on his shoulders and all he really wants is his wife to come home.

    And then there's Dave Boyle who's just a shell of a human being after being abducted by child molesters right in front of Jimmy and Sean when they were kids. He's married and manages to eek out a decent life for himself and his family until he comes home one night unexpectedly with blood all over his clothes and the rage and anger of what happened to him all those years ago is finally boiling to the surface.

    Mystic River isn't a make your day brighter book. The neighborhoods and general atmosphere of the book isn't pretty. Everyone and everything in the book seems to have the crapped kicked out of them at one point or another. But therein lies what makes Mystic River such a good read is that it's really a story about how characters react to the different tragedies that shape their lives. Some make good decisions, other bad ones but all the characters have things we like about them and things we don't. The're very human, very believable, and very compelling -- even more so the second time around.

    Add those characters to a sad but intriguing plot and you have one heck of a book.