Me. Books. Silence.

So I am officially concerned that my greatest fear is about to come true. In fact, before I get to that, here are my three greatest fears, in reverse order.

3. Being locked in a shopping mall after it closes.

2. Overflowing the toilet in a stranger’s house.

1. Doing a book signing where I star as both the author and the only person in attendance.

Hell, I get chills just thinking about it. Which is why, right now, I’m straight chillin’. Just got this e-mail from the HarperCollins’ publicist, a nice Australian dude named Campbell:

We’ve already set up one event at the big Borders in Dallas. This is for your calendar:

AUTHOR GUEST(S): Jeff Pearlman
TITLE: Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty
DATE: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
TIME: 7:00 PM
EVENT TYPE: Discussion and Signing
10720 Preston Road, Suite 1018
Dallas, TX 75230

My first-ever book signing took place four years ago at the public library in my hometown of Mahopac, N.Y. Not only didn’t they publicize the event—they didn’t even say what type of book I had written. The turnout: Me, my wife, my dad, Dennis and Vinny Gargano (my old neighbors) and Andrew Honohan’s little sister. It was sort of humiliating, because Andrew Honohan’s little sister was the only person who wasn’t ordered by the law to show up.

In short, it sucked.

Things have improved since, but I still have a brutal fear. My good friend Jon Wertheim once told me the story of promoting his (fantastic) book, Transition Game, in Indiana and being sent to a Barnes & Noble for an event—only to find the store had permanently closed years earlier. Then, late last year, I was sitting at the nearby Borders when a sci-fi author had a signing. I was literally the only person there. And, naturally, I bought the book. How could I not? I felt his pain.

So, if you live in Dallas or have long dreamed of visiting Dallas or just wanna mock a loser author with bad breath and the complete Hall & Oates CD catalogue, well, you know where to find me.

PS: In case you’re wondering, the photo of Tattoo and Ricardo has nothing to do with anything.

Norma & Me

You have my absolute word that I’m not gonna go all Marley & Me with this blog. But give me a minute to whine, please …

We’ve had our new dog Norma for five days—and she’s driving me f-ing crazy. Very nice personality, very cute, eats moderately OK … but absolutely, positively refuses to poop/pee with any sense of predictability. I follow all of the dog trainer’s instructions—take her out of the cage X hours after she eats; walk her in the same spot; wait five minutes; if she doesn’t go, bring her back in and return in another 20 minutes. Then—nothing. No poop. No pee. I repeat this time and time and time again—nothing.

Inevitably, when Norma is damn well ready, she shits/pisses in the house.

When I was a kid, my mom wouldn’t allow my brother David and I to have dogs. Instead, we had guinea pigs. Seriously, guinea pigs. There were four of them. Waldorf, Sparky, Spunk, Sedric (after former Knick guard Sedric Toney). Hmm—maybe five. They would live for, oh, 1 1/2 years, develop some ailment and croak. We’d hold a mini-guinea pig funeral in the backyard, then go to the pet store, fork over $14.99 and grab a new one. There was a familiarity my mother liked—they smelled like poop, but they never bit, never ran away, never had to be walked. And when they died, well, they died.

For a long time I resented my mom’s dog stance. Now, however, I sort of get it. They say a dog is like a member of the family, and I agree—it’s the fucking drunk uncle who shits himself at the BBQ but refuses to clean himself up.

I am s-l-o-w-l-y losing my mind.

And yet, against all logic, I love the damn thing.

Shoot me.

PS: Any dog advice hugely appreciated.

F$%^ the police?

By “F$%^,” I mean “feed.” I’m sitting in a Cosi, writing away, as the local cops stop by for their free food.

That’s right—free.

For some reason, police officers across America seem to consider it their right to receive free food from restaurants within their turf. I see it all the time—they come in, order food, then never pay.

Quite frankly, it’s bullshit. Why are cops more entitled to free grub than, say, teachers or accountants or balding, anxiety-stuffed, lazy-ass book authors who spend their days sipping from the same cup of hot chocolate while fantasizing over one day running hand-in-hand on a beach with Conrad Bain while rubbing coconut oil on hi—uh, never mind. That’s another topic. More to the point, the whole cop-food thing is an enormous conflict of interest. Is the free food just free food? Or is it an unspoken payoff for protection? Will there be eateries that are punished for not providing nourishment to our public servants?

I’ve got no real beef with cops in general. Sure, as a product of the tough streets of Mahopac, N.Y.—where a Jewish brotha without his Glock was a dead Jewish brotha—I certainly popped a few caps back in the day. And sure, I ran with the toughest gang the ‘Pac ever saw—Cub Scouts Troop 371. But, uh, what was I even saying?

In the state of South Carolina …

… there is a state senator named Kevin. L Bryant. He is currently running for re-election against a Democrat named Marshall Meadors. The other day, on his blog, he ran this photo:

When Bryant caught a lot of grief, he removed the picture from the main page (one can still see it at http://www.kevinbryant.com) and issued the following explanation:

I have been very impressed with the reaction to my blog post on Barack Obama. I originally posted the photo without commentary to stimulate an examination of Sen. Barack Obama’s foreign policy. I remain certain that his foreign policy ideas pose a great threat to American security no less than those of Al Gore or John Kerry might have. I believe that America has avoided another terrorist attack precisely because President Bush has been office for the past 8 years. I’m convinced that an Obama presidency will plunge us back into the failed foreign policies of the Clinton administration and put us in great danger.

For example, General Colin Powell said of the enemy during the first Gulf War that, “First we’re going to cut it off, then we’re going to kill it.” On September 19, 2001, Sen. Obama said of our enemy that, “We will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe.” I am extremely disturbed by Sen. Obama’s solution for the war on terror, and hopefully, you will consider this too.
The posting, not surprisingly, only drew out the virulent and vulgar members of the liberal left whose immediate reaction to any criticism of their candidate includes charges of ignorance and bigotry. This reminds us of their criticism of those who cling to our guns and religion and strikes me only as par for the course.

I have no regrets from this picture, however, I’m sure that a further examination of Obama’s foreign (and domestic) policies must occur in order that voters might truly understand the vast, vast differences between him and Sen. John McCain. I refuse to cower to the cultural police who evermore seek to censor our political discussion.

Personally, I love politicians like Kevin Bryant. First off, they’re funny. Secondly, I’m smarter than they are. Third, they offer hope that anyone—absolutely, positively anyone—can reach elected office.

Surely to nobody’s surprise, Bryant is a self-professed “Christian” who is in touch with The Lord—but hates gays, African-Americans, social programs to help people, etc. What makes me personally happy is that one day, just maybe, Bryant will find himself living eternally alongside those he loathes most of all. He will look up toward the pearly gates and say, “But God, I worshiped you?”

And God will say, “Dude, I’m Muslim.”

*** For the record, most of my closest friends are Christians. Heck, I love the teachings of Jesus. But they’re not the type of folk who consider it their duty to keep you from hell.

**** One final thought: I was just thinking how downright wonderful it would be to have men like Kevin Bryant have to call an African-American Mr. President. Because you know, behind the shit-eating smile, it absolutely, positively kills them.

Batman & Friends

According to my pal Jemele Hill, The Dark Knight is going to knock me off my feet (I’m seeing it tomorrow). I hope so, and I’ll certainly offer my take here. But while we wait for that inevitably exciting post, here’s my Top 5 All-Time Superhero Flicks: (I’d love to hear your take, dear readers …)

1. Superman: The Movie—Critics tend to say Superman II was better—and they’re on crack. Superman is the perfect superhero flick; engaging from beginning to end. This is my favorite scene, but there are a million of ’em. Chris Reeve (I call him Chris, not Christopher, because doing so makes me sound in the know) was the perfect man for the role, and Gene Hackman is Lex Luthor.

2. Batman Begins—Very, very dark, as a Batman movie should be. I don’t love Christian Bale as Batman, because I think he’s soooo dark the character lacks charisma (any charisma). But, as with Superman, the dedication to the true essence of the title character is wonderful.

3. Batman—I remember when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman, and everyone sort of shrugged. Well, I still consider him the perfect actor for the part. Much was made of Jack Nicholson’s Joker portrayal, which was certainly good. But Keaton proved perfect.

“Who are you!?”

“I’m Batman.”

4. Spider-Man: Another one where everyone praised the sequel—and everyone was wrong. I’d say the best single scene from a superhero movie is Peter Parker (Toby Maguire) trying to figure out how to shoot his web. Brilliant—and the wrestling scene is a close second.

5. Superman II: Not as good as the first, but still high quality. “Kneel before Zod!” has a place in my heart. Sadly, Superman III sucked, and Superman IV, well, sucked sucked.

My favorite teacher

So whenever I go to SI.com there always seems to be the following ad staring me in the face:

Now, here are the things:

A. Any true teacher wouldn’t pose for a singles ad with a facial look that says, uh, well, “f— me.” (Writer’s Note: I am not saying this look actually/literally says, “f— me.” What I am saying is that the exclusively male editors of Maxim have designed a look that women are supposed to use that says “f— me.” Oddly, it’s very similar to the look that says, “F—, I have to go to the bathroom and the one upstairs is really nasty but I’m gonna be at this lame-ass party for another four hours, so, maybe I’ll just go outside and squat behind a tree.”)
B. Any true teacher wouldn’t pose for a single ad wearing that.
C. Any true teacher wouldn’t look like that to begin with.
By that, I don’t mean like an Aguilera/hooker wanna-be. I mean, well, I look back at the teachers I had throughout the years, and they were all wrinkly and conservatively dressed; sort of like Ward’s wife, minus the girdle. I think of my wonderful fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Hart, who wore her brownish-gray hair in a bun and waddled around like Danny DeVito’s portrayal of “The Penguin.” (Sad sidenote: Mrs. Hart died when she fell asleep on her couch while smoking a cigarette. True story).

Hey, as a kid I loved Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” video as much as the next 12-year old Mahopacian. But reality ain’t Van Halen. It’s doo-wop night at the Heritage Hills Senior Center.

Caller ID and Hangin’ Tough (oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

So I’m deep into research on my next book project, which means a ton of random calls to a ton of ex-teammates, ex-coaches, ex-friends, ex-enemies, etc. For my first three books, random calls went relatively well. They’re always uncomfortable (I’m actually sort of shy on the phone, which makes my profession an odd fit), because you have, oh, eight seconds to convince someone you’re not a telemarketer. But in the old days, if I cold-called 10 people for a book project, seven or eight would work out.

No longer. Because 90 percent of Americans seem to have caller ID, 90% of Americans know ahead of time that JEFF PEARLMAN is calling on the other line. And since none of these people (with rare exception) know who JEFF PEARLMAN is, they don’t pick up. Which has me doing one of two things:

A. Leaving as vague a message as possible, asking for a callback for a “project” I’m working on (Details are never a good idea via message)

B. Hanging up and calling again later—only to get voice mail yet again.

It’s insanely frustrating. Tonight I probably called 20-30 people without getting a single interview. I’m really starting to lose my mind …

On another note, let’s take a moment and appreciate what the New Kids on the Block have accomplished—one of the greatest musical comebacks in modern history. An early-’90s boy band with minimal talent (I’m being polite here) regroups, records a decent single (Summertime) … and cracks the Top 40. As a 36-year-old guy with fading hair and an aching lower back, I’m psyched to see my fellow geezers bilking the young folk out of their dough. So Joey, Jordan, Marky Mark’s less-talented brother, Bob, Justin—go get ’em!