I can’t really recall a “favorite” teacher. I do remember one that influenced me greatly, mainly because she made my life a living hell. She was my seventh grade English teacher. The following year, I showed up to eighth grade English, and there she was, having moved with us. I had her for another whole year. Painful.
3. If you could be paid to do anything besides your current job, what would it be?
Hmmm…I think I’d start a magazine called, “Best Saloons and Pubs in the Caribbean”. I’d be the primary critic, traveling from island to island and rating the atmospherics. Wait…is this where I’m supposed to say I’d feed the homeless?
4. Tell me about a public or private moment when you thought to yourself, “This is what Elvis felt like every day.”
Man, I have no idea. Do people now-a-days even know who he is? I’m no spring chicken and my only memory of Elvis is coming home from school and finding my mother crying in the kitchen. When I asked what was wrong, she told me Elvis had died. I thought I was related to him somehow. Why else would my mother cry about some guy who sang once a year at Christmas? I guess the moment would be when I dressed my daughter up like Dracula for Halloween and the collar of her cape was so tall that it kept hitting her ears.
5. What's your favorite home-cooked meal?
This is a weak answer, but it’s true: A two-inch filet cooked extra-rare and a baked potato. Drives my wife nuts because she loves to cook, but all I want is a steak and potatoes.
6. What’s the best present you ever received as a child?
Hands down, a Canon AE-1 SLR camera. I used to be a photography nut, and it was the coolest gift ever. As an adult, I traded it in for a more modern camera and have regretted that decision ever since. I traded in a piece of my childhood for something that was worthless in a year. I loved that camera so much that fifteen years after I gave it away, I became an obsessive eBay bidder while serving in Iraq (I lost a lot of bids due to dial-up internet and the damned enemy interrupting). I now have another AE-1, but it’s not the same.
7. What’s the best present you ever gave?
My sister was married while I was stationed on Okinawa, Japan. I couldn’t afford to fly all the way home for the wedding, so instead my wife and I reenacted the wedding from our house. We created a videotape (this was the era of VCR) of the whole wedding from our point of view, complete with throwing rice and having my daughter be the ring-girl. It was pretty creative and my gift to her. Parts of it still make me laugh to this day. We were supposed to be filmed only from the waist up, but a couple of times the camera pans. I’m wearing a military dress-blue jacket, complete with medals, badges and a bow-tie (suitable for a wedding) along with cargo shorts and flip-flops (suitable for Okinawa).
8. What advice do you remember your mother or father giving you? Did you take it?
“There are no firm rules. Only suggestions.” And yes, I’d say I have followed that advice for my entire life. Sometimes it’s worked out, other times I’ve been forced to say, “So THAT’S why it’s a rule.
9. Who would be on the perfect "Red Eye" panel?
I’m embarrassed to say I have never seen the show, since it’s way past my bedtime, although I could always rectify that by an appearance. Give Greg my number. Tell him “Call me maybe”. He’ll think I’m that pop singer and I’ll be in. To answer the question, I suppose I should create a panel that shows witty intelligence, so how about Chewbacca, Noam Chomsky, Jerry Seinfeld, and…Elvis?
10. What books are on your summer reading list?
Unfortunately, since I’m beginning a new novel, all of my reading this summer will be research. I just finished “The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State,” and am now reading “Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror”. As you can see, my next adventure will be set in a Caribbean saloon.
11. What would you like tomorrow's headline to say?
“Bashir al-Assad and Free Syrian Army Listen to Rodney King, Decide They Can All Get Along.” Syria is in the news a lot, but I don’t think people truly grasp how much of a debacle that conflict’s legacy will be. We’re going to be seeing and feeling the impacts of Syria into my future grandchildren’s generation, much like Mossadegh and Iran in 1953. Actually, in a six degrees of separation way, exactly like Iran. In 1953, we overthrew Mossadegh and put in the Shah. The Shah’s brutal tactics got him overthrown by Khomeini in 1979. Khomeini created the Republican Guards. The Republican Guards then created Hezbollah. Hezbollah is now fighting – and winning – for Assad. Tangled webs…
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to be more vocal about your political beliefs.
I’m not vocal about my political beliefs, primarily because I spent over twenty years in the US Army. As a commander, I couldn’t espouse a political philosophy to my troops as I had to follow the Commander in Chief without exception. Start complaining about someone’s economic policy, and you might find your troops now questioning their support for a national security issue. That has been so ingrained that I tend to shy away from political discussions unless it’s with close friends. My wife, on the other hand, froths at the mouth. She’s vocal enough for the both of us.
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