Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sammy's Ballers

So I'm here again at the beach furiously working on my book (up to 40,000 words) and I've taken Sammy on some really cool adventures and some that will surprise you.

Just left Cafe Du Monde and now he's at the bowling alley ... What do you think?


CHAPTER FOUR



        Mid-City Rock’n Bowl came alive with lights and music as soon as 'Sammy's Ballers' checked in at lane ten. The girls were giddy now as they picked out their brightly colored balls, finally settled on which bowling shoes they wanted to wear and  picked their positions to bowl. 
“Sammy. You want to go first?” Sally asked.
“Ladies first. I’ll watch and help any one that needs it.” Truth was, Sammy was feeling a little stiff and had that shooting pain in his shoulder. Better to just sit and wait, he thought.
“I’ll go.” Audrey spoke up and balanced the ball as she stood at the line.
“Hey Audrey,” Sammy yelled. “Stand about three feet back and walk up to the line when you are rolling the ball like this.” He demonstrated with an imaginary ball shuffling three steps while swinging his right arm.  
“Do I have to shuffle like an old man when I do it?”
Sammy flipped her off and sat down.
“Okay here goes.” Audrey said as she took three steps and rolled the ball. A turtle could have caught up with it as it gradually plopped into the gutter.
“That’s okay honey,” Layla said. You looked pretty doin it.”
Sammy laughed. He stood up and balanced on his cane. “I’m gonna check out the men’s room.” Once he was out of sight, he headed to the front desk. A tall pimple faced adolescent wiped down the counter as Sammy stepped up. “Say, son, does a Walter Smith work here?”
“Yes sir. He’s probably in the equipment room polishing bowling balls right about now.”
“Where’s that?”
“Um, third door on your right. Not marked but you’ll see it.”
Sammy walked past the dividing line between the lanes and the big dance floor where a zydeco band played Cajun music to the crowd of  rednecks (as they were lovingly called by their peers). He pushed open the door to the equipment room and there was Walter Smith, his former young employee at Holtzman’s whom he mentored and took care of when he was just a teenager. Walter still had his tiny moustache and “cookie duster” as Walter called it below his lower lip. But the facial hair was greyer now and a stark contrast to his dark skin, drawn and wrinkled with the passage of time. He was wearing a one piece blue uniform with the Rock’n Bowl logo on the back.
“Walter?” Sammy asked. “That you?”
Walter paused and peered over his glasses at Sammy. He put down his polishing cloth and stepped closer. “Mr. Sam?”
Sammy nodded yes.
“Well as I live and breathe. I ain’t seen you in what … 30 years or so?”  
“That’s probably right.” Sammy said. “I hoped you were still here. You’re on my bucket list.”
Walter gave Sammy a big hug, careful not to squeeze too hard. “I am honored Mr. Sam. Yeah, I have been here for about 40 years I guess on and off.” Walter smiled. “How’s Miss Esther?”
Sammy held up the bowling ball bag he was carrying and showed Walter the urn.            “Unfortunately, she passed a few years back.”
“I’m so sorry,” Walter said.
“We all are here for such a short time.”  He looked at the urn. “I know she would be so happy to see you Walter.”
Walter moved some papers off a folding chair. “Sit, sit. Lemme look at you Mr. Sam.” He studied him. “Looking good!”
“Liar! I look like crap.” Sammy smirked. “You too.”
Walter laughed. “Well you haven’t changed, that’s for sure.”
“Was thinking about you this morning coming down here. I remembered when I found you crouched in the corner of my store, hiding from the NOPD, with a bunch of candy bars and cigarettes in your pockets.”     
“I think about that time in my life a lot.” He sat across from Sammy. “You saved my life, you know? Giving me a job, buying me clothes and stuff when I needed them.”
“And calling your mother to give your ass a whupping for stealing.”
Walter put his head back and laughed loudly. “That too.”
Sammy looked around the room. “I also remember when you said you were ready to be on your own and started working here. It was when I lost the business.” Sammy looked down at the floor. “I let so many people down.”
“Stop it.” Walter said. “You never let nobody down. Actually, working here, having to rely on myself … changed my life.” 
Sammy put his hand on Walter’s shoulder. “You have a family now?”
“Sure do. Beautiful wife, two boys who live right here in New Orleans and have families of their own. I’m a blessed man.”
Just then, the pimpled faced boy popped in and handed Walter a piece of paper. “The guys from AMF just got here.” 
“Thanks, Reggie.”   
Sammy stood. “Hey, is Willy still around?”
“No. Willy sold the place in the 80s.”
“Who bought it?”
“Me.” Walter said.
Sammy stopped. “No way.” He continued. “Wait a minute. What the hell are you doing polishing balls? Don’t you have people to do that?” 
“I like polishing balls.” Walter leaned closer. “I polish them at my other 5 bowling alleys too.” Walter put his arm around Sammy. “What do you think of me now?”
Sammy laughed. “Think?  I think I might be able to bowl for free today.”     

Sunday, May 20, 2018

There's a PODCAST Out There For You

Podcasts are a wonderful thing.

My daughter Alissa introduced them to me a couple of years ago and I've been listening faithfully ever since. My commute from St. Pete to North Tampa takes anywhere from 45 minutes to three weeks depending on traffic. So I've definitely got the time to listen. I have discovered some real gems in the podcast universe that you can subscribe to as well. It's all free too!

The first one I was introduced to was a series called "Serial". The focus was on a homicide investigation into the death of an 18 year old girl named Hae Min Lee, who was found in a shallow grave, and the subsequent trial and conviction of her ex boyfriend, Adnan Sued. The interviews were fascinating because they were not edited to fit a 60 Minutes kind of format. They were raw and real. The interviewer was not slick and clever ... she was hesitant and thoughtful and refreshingly genuine. There was a subsequent season about an army deserter that's worth a listen as well.


"How I Built This" is one of my favorites. It's a PBS series that has been adapted to podcast format and should be on every entrepreneur's top ten list. Interviews with everyone from Sarah Blakely and her Spanx to  Michael Dell and Dell Computers give you insight into what makes these guys tick, how they got started and where they are today.  The most recent focused on two brothers who were from Ireland and sold their first company before they were 20. John and Patrick Collison then founded Stripe, a software company that uses a few lines of code to power the payment systems of companies like Target and Lyft. They talk about their early years (which was less than 10 years ago) when they were 16 and won science awards, moved to the US to attend Harvard and MIT and now are worth an estimated $9 Billion ... and they are not even 30. 

"The Daily" is a product of the New York Times and airs 20 minutes a day five days a week. It is really what news should sound like. In depth coverage of the biggest stories from experts that you'll want to hear from. Not into petty name calling or partisan debates ... just right to the core of the store, researched and presented expertly by Michael Barbaro.

"Revisionist History" is from the mind of Malcolm Gladwell. Each episode re-examines something from the past ... an event, a song, an idea ... and asks whether we got it right. His latest was called "Divide and Conquer" and it was a study of the Constitution of the US and the use of semi colons. It was an incredible look into punctuation that caused some of our basic laws to be reinterpreted just by the way they were divided (accurately or not) by semicolons. I know that sounds dumb ... but it truly is not.

"Serial Killers" is another favorite. This one is just what it says ... and if you love the gory details of some of the great murderers of the 20th century, this one's for you.

There are so many more out there. Just click on the podcast app and explore. I promise you'll find something you'll love.