Search Results for: label/j.k. rowling

Why Do So Many Authors Use Initials Instead of Their First Name on Book Covers?

why did J.K. Rowling use initials instead of full name?Author initials. A.A. Milne. G.K. Chesterton. E.E. Cummings. E.B. White. C.S. Lewis. J.R.R. Tolkien. P.D. James. J.M. Barrie. H.L. Mencken. E.L. Doctorow. B.F. Skinner. T.S. Eliot. W.H. Auden. M.K. Gilroy. What’s with that? Why do so many authors use initials instead of their first name?

I’m guessing F. Scott Fitzgerald never forgave his parents for naming him Francis. But he could have gone with Frank.

When my first novel, Cuts Like a Knife, was introduced, my sister Susan asked me, “What’s with the initials on the cover of the book instead of using your full name?”

My first response was it seemed to have worked out fine for Joanne Rowling—and no, no one has been able to confirm whether her middle name is Kathleen or Katherine. (Do you know why?)

That raises a much bigger question than why I went with M.K. rather than Mark. Why did Joanne become J.K.? To my knowledge she’s never answered that question directly.

When I headed up marketing for a publishing group early in my career we made cover decisions on the basis of the old advertising rule that females will relate almost equally well to a picture of a female or a male—but generally speaking, males relate almost exclusively to a picture of a male.

I’m not claiming that rule is still true, but I suspect there’s significant truth to it. I just can’t prove it. If someone can point to research on the topic, please message me!

I have to assume that J.K. used initials to make her author name gender neutral, which makes sense for the launch of a series categorized as children’s literature.

Is that the same reason why I went with M.K. instead of Mark?

I’ll make a confession. I originally wrote the novel under a female pen name and attempted to sell it that way as an agent. After all, my lead character is a female. I got a lot of interest but to my surprise there was near universal resistance to buying a novel by a pseudonymous author – which I thought would be a marketing benefit. I wonder if Nora Roberts had a hard time convincing her agent and publisher to introduce a mystery series under the name J.D. Robb? (Hmmm. There are those initials again.) On the gender switch, Rowling got “outed” pretty quickly when she wrote as Robert Galbraith for The Cuckoo’s Calling.

But back to the question. Why initials on my book cover? Was it because M.K. is more gender neutral than Mark or is it because M.K. Gilroy fits easier on one line than Mark Gilroy – a decision based on style?

The former. It was a marketing decision. My guess is that is the same reason many authors use initials.

But there is another reason I went by M.K. instead of Mark. And maybe I’m not alone.

My Kristen Conner series was acquired by Jeana Ledbetter who let me know a pen name wasn’t in the cards. But then she said, “But we do think ‘M.K.’ sounds kind of cool.”

Cool. I liked the sound of that. Is it possible J.R.R. Tolkien was showing off by adding three initials to his book covers? His friend and contemporary C.S. Lewis was satisfied with just two.

I’ve always wanted to be kind of cool—so there you have it. Mystery solved. Now you know why so many authors use initials instead of full first name.  We want to be cool!

Author Interview With Mark Gilroy

As the launch date for Cuts Like a Knife rapidly approaches, I have been doing a series of interviews for radio, print, and internet book programs. Here are a few of the common questions I’ve been asked.

Noir image of author M.K. Gilroy

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am the father of six great kids – with just one left in the house now. Oh – wait – one came back after college graduation – so there’s two around here somewhere. I’ve spent 30 years in publishing – from packing boxes, writing articles and curriculum and ad copy, editing and managing editorial departments, creating marketing plans and directing art design, and finally serving as exec vp and publisher for three companies. I love book publishing! I’m president of the Ravenwood High School track program (contributions welcome) and participate in our football boosters as well. I freelance publish for retailers, publishers, ministries, and businesses. My lovely wife Amy and I live in Brentwood, Tennessee, and attend Brentwood Baptist Church.

What was your motivation behind this project?

I have always loved character driven mystery and suspense. From the Hardy Boys in grade school, to James Bond and Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe in my teen years, then on to spy thrillers by Deighton and LeCarre in college, and then discovering a plethora of great mystery thrillers from Hillerman, Block, Grimes, Child, Leonard, Mosely, Crais, Silva and a host of other great writers throughout my adult life. I even went through a crime noir faze where I had to reread everything from Chandler and Hammett – The Long Goodbye was the creme dela creme. I can’t forget Graham Greene. The common denominator? Great lead characters. I’ve spent 30 years in publishing and have a couple graduate degrees, but the best training I’ve received to pen my debut mystery thriller comes from the sheer volume of great books I’ve read – and not just thrillers, even if they are my default fiction genre.

I had a tremendous amount of fun writing Cuts Like a Knife – and count it as a tribute to the writers who have brought me so much enjoyment as a reader.  I hope readers fall in love with my lead character, Detective Kristen Conner, in the same way. She’s tough and in-your-face. And she’s a fragile mess. She loves God, her family, the Chicago Police Department – her dad was a cop – and anything you put on her plate. Doesn’t mean she gets along with all parties mentioned above – except the food. Kristen also has a secret – but don’t expect me to tell you what it is for at least a couple of books!

What do you hope folks will gain from this project?

I did my best to write a great thriller that has all the twists, turns, and suspense readers love. The fact that my character is such a “graceful mess” to watch in action should make the experience even more fun – I’ve been told by reviewers that there are some real laugh-out-loud moments. I think there will be deep appreciation for Detective Kristen Conner’s simple and honest faith.

How were you personally impacted by working on this project?

I earned quite a few frequent customer awards from Starbucks while writing Cuts Like a Knife. I wrote early morning and late night so I could do the day job. But I’ve never been one for a lot of sleep anyway! I do feel a sense of gratitude from the critical response to Cuts Like a Knife.

Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists?

See above! LOL. Let’s just say I like a great plot as much as the next person – but the writer that creates a wonderful character is the one I read over and over. Probably my favorite character over the past 10 years has been Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon. The author that inspired me to try and write a Christian character into a general market mystery was Tony Hillerman. His character Jim Chee is a deeply religious and self-reflective Native American – his faith is part of his inner dialog as he solves crimes on the Navajo Reservation.

Anything else you’d like readers to know?

When books don’t do very well you often hear an author complain that his publisher didn’t do very much to get behind and promote the book. Having been a publisher I know there are a lot of factors. I’ve personally worked hard on some books that never caught on – and basically spectated as some others have taken off in the marketplace. But what I can state very boldly is that my friends from Worthy Publishing have done a tremendous job bringing Cuts Like a Knife to market. They hired Jeane Wynne as publicist and she has performed miracles securing reviews from periodicals like USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly for this first-time novelist. If Cuts Like a Knife should fail commercially the fault will be all mine. However, I think we have something special here. The Worthy leadership team has somewhere around 170 years of combined experience in publishing. I’ve asked Byron, Jeana, Kris, Rob and others who holds seniority – but no one will claim most years of service.

Bestselling Books of 2012

2012 was a good year to sell books as an author if your last name was James or Collins.

The January 4, 2012, online of edition of Publishers Weekly provided a chart with three bestseller lists, all dominated at the top by Fifty Shades of Grey (E.L. James) and The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins).

Bestselling Books of 2012
Nielsen Bookscan Top 20
Amazon Kindle Top 20
Amazon Print Top 20
1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage)
1. Fifty Shades of Greyby E.L. James (Vintage)
1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage)
2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James (Vintage)
2. Fifty Shades Darkerby E.L. James (Vintage)
2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James (Vintage)
3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage)
3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage)
3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage)
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)1
4. The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
5. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press)
6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
6. Fifty Shades Trilogy Box Set by E.L. James (Vintage)
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)
7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
8. No Easy Day by Mark Owen (Dutton)
8. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
8. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
9. Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
9. Bared to You by Sylvia Day (Berkley)
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)
10. Fifty Shades Trilogy Box Set by E.L. James (Vintage)
10. The Racketeer by John Grisham (Doubleday)
10. No Easy Day by Mark Owen (Dutton)
11. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
11. Reflected in You by Sylvia Day (Berkley)
11. The Hunger Games Trilogy Box Set by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
12. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)
12. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central)
12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
13. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Hyperion)
13. Defending Jacob by William Landay (Delacorte)
13. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Hyperion)
14. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
14. War Brides by Helen Bryan (AmazonEncore)
14. The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd Edition by the College Board (The College Board)
15. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)2
15. A Game of Thronesby George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
15. A Song of Fire and Ice, Books 1–4 by George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)3
16. The Innocent by David Baldacci (Grand Central)
16. Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
17. The Hunger Games Triology Box Set by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
17. No Easy Day by Mark Owen (Dutton)
17. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Amer. Psychological Assn.)
18. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (Little, Brown)
18. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
18. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
19. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)
19. 11/22/63 by Stephen King (Scribner)
19. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)
20. The Racketeer by John Grisham (Doubleday)
20. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Berkley)
20. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander (Simon & Schuster)
Nielsen/BookScan (week ending Dec. 30, 2012)
Amazon Kindle (as of Dec. 31, 2012)
Amazon (as of Dec. 31, 2012)

M.K. Gilroy Novels

In 2012 Mark Gilroy put on a new hat in the publishing industry as M.K. Gilroy with the release of his first novel, which introduced the Kristen Conner Mystery Series. The third KC Conner book, Cold As Ice, will release in Fall 2014.

Just Before Midnight is a standalone Christmas novella. And in addition to more Kristen Conner novels, a new series will be announced soon.

Cuts Like a Knife by M.K. Gilroy

“Gilroy’s debut novel is a sure-fire winner!” USA TODAY

Every Breath You Take by M.K. Gilroy

“Action-packed – will keep you flipping pages.” FRESH FICTION

Cold As Ice by Mark Gilroy

Kristen Conner is back – what she doesn’t know, just might get her killed.


Just In Time for the Holidays -

A Christmas Eve Novella From M.K. Gilroy

Just Before Midnight by M.K. Gilroy

Christmas Eve is the time to be home enjoying the warmth and laughter of family isn’t it?

 

“Kristen Conner is the freshest voice to hit the Christian market in a long time. She’s beautiful but doesn’t believe it. She can’t shoot worth a hoot, but can knock an assailant twice her size on their butt with her hand-to-hand fighting skills. She’s Miss Congeniality-meets-Castle’s Kate Beckett; a lethal, smart, and fun combo.”

USA TODAY

J Mac – 3-point Scoring Machine

Tune into the next edition of ESPN SportsCenter and you’ll probably hear about another athlete arrested for drunk driving or for testing positive for steroids or for getting in trouble at three in the morning for some form of disorderly conduct.

Of course many athletes are outstanding citizens and terrific role models. And some sports stories transcend the category to break down our walls of cynicism. Jason McElwain – J Mac to his teammates – will never play professional basketball but he has become an internet legend not for getting into trouble, but for suiting up in his final game as team manager and catching on fire behind the three-point line.

Truth can be stranger than fiction and right now I’m inspired enough that I might head out to the driveway to work on my own three-point shooting.

Put me in coach!

Contact Page

Snail Mail:

2000 Mallory Lane, Suite 130-229, Franklin, Tennessee 37067

Kristen Conner Interview

Kristen Conner: An In-Your-Face Interview

Detective Kristen Conner Interview

Light as a feather – tough as nails. Kristen Conner is a student of mixed martial arts. But she’s lousy with a handgun.

Get to know Detective Kristen Conner through 10 questions that cover hobbies, goals, fears, relationships – and a whole lot more.  Conner is the lead character in the M.K. novels Cuts Like a Knife, Every Breath You Take, and Cold As Ice.

Self-Promotion: I Wanna Talk About Me

I wanna talk about me.

Look at me!

Self-promotion. How much is too little and how much is too much?

In his smash hit, “I Wanna Talk About Me,” Toby Keith makes a case both directions – some promote (or at least talk) too much and some too little. It’s a great reminder of what Dale Carnegie taught us in How to Win Friends and Influence Peopleeveryone wants to get a word in edge-wise.

With Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so many other social media to connect us with people we know, the question of self-promotion gets relational.  Now it’s not only a question of how much self-promotion is appropriate for the world at large – but with the people we know and call friends. Are we driving them crazy?

This is a personal question for me. As an author my publisher tells me I have to promote my books – if I don’t, no one else will either. As  a publisher, I tell my authors the same thing.

But no one wants to lose friends by being obnoxious.

So when promoting your activities – particularly with friends – particularly in the social media age we live in:

How much self-promotion is too much? not enough? just right?

Be aware that no matter what you do you will always get one of three responses:

  • Anything you say to promote yourself will be too much with some.
  • Others sincerely want to know what you’re doing – everything you’re doing – especially Mom.
  • Still more aren’t going to notice anything you say anyway – they’re too busy self-promoting – so who cares since you’re just talking to yourself?

So really … how much self-promotion is just right? Because it’s true, if you don’t believe in yourself and what you’re doing, who else should and will?

There is obviously no single answer. You can already read my mind on the topic. My typical response: the answer is yes and no, more and less.

Better go with your own comfort level, knowing you can’t control your intended responses no matter how careful or reckless you are. A few simple words of counsel – as much a reminder to myself as a word to anyone else – include:

  1. Keep a sense of perspective and humor – your project is not the center of the universe or a matter of life and death for others – even if what you are doing is life and death in your mind.
  2. Err on the side of caution – do not overdo it lest you become a nuisance to your friends. The rule of thumb for Facebook and other high relationship networks is keep your posts relational – don’t promote your products more than one, possibly two times a week from your personal account. Sell indirectly by being interesting and staying engaged. Trust they’ll find you. On Twitter you can promote about as much as you want – but beware, you still need to be interesting and interactive or people will tune you out.
  3. In general conversation, make sure you listen as much as you speak – do you know what others are up to? (Do you care?)
  4. If your purpose to be on social media, at least in part, is to promote what you are doing, be sure to return the favor to others who are likewise promoting and acknowledge what they are up to with Likes, RTs, Shares, comments or whatever else helps. Create some quid pro quo relationships.
  5. Keep your message “soft sell” – especially with friends – as most people don’t like to be pushed.

If none of what I wrote helped you on the topic, maybe you can pick up some more direction from the guy who just wanted to talk a little about himself!

Mark Gilroy is the author of the bestselling Kristen Conner Mystery Series and a veteran executive in the publishing industry.
Updated on March 5, 2015

Klarissa Conner Interview

Klarissa Conner – Sibling Rivalry and the Edge of a Knife

Klarissa Conner interview

Kristen Conner and her media star sister, Klarissa, couldn’t be more different.

Enjoy this interview with Klarissa Conner, media star and younger sister of Detective Kristen Conner.

Klarissa is a recurring lead character in M.K. Gilroy’s mystery-suspense thrillers, Cuts Like a Knife, Every Breath You Take, and Cold As Ice.

The sisters couldn’t be more different.

Klarissa wants a day at the spa – Kristen wants to do a triathlon;

Klarissa worries she broke a nail – Kristen worries she broke a knuckle punching the boxing bag;

Klarissa enjoys fine dining and small portions – Kristen is the mood for a Kansas City Strip steak.

Kristen still feels guilty about how Klarissa got hurt. Even though she saved her sister’s life – she is the one that put her in harm’s way.

The sisters love each other deeply – and drive each other crazy!

The Problem With Young People Today!

What’s wrong with America’s youth?

What kind of future can America expect as the “Millennials” enter adulthood and the workforce? (Albeit a couple years later than people of my generation did!) Kind of scary isn’t it what with their self absorption, their demand to be entertained, and their overall cavalier attitude towards morals, traditions, and the things in life that really matter? What’s the problem with young people today?

What’s a society to do? And in my case, what’s a parent to do with four millennials of my own? (I’m not sure what to call my two kids who are still at home.)

I’m glad I’m not the only one keeping a wary and vigilant eye on this troubling demographic in the American landscape.

WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) — Young Americans have a reverence for national institutions, traditions and family values, a U.S. survey indicates. A survey of so-called “millennials” – those between 21 and 29 – revealed the group overwhelmingly said they support monogamy, marriage, the U.S. Constitution and the military, The Washington Times reported.

“We were completely surprised. There has been a faulty portrayal of millennials by the media — television, films, news, blogs, everything. These people are not the self-entitled, coddled slackers they’re made out to be. Misnomers and myths about them are all over the place,” said Ann Mack, who directed the survey and is the official “director of trend-spotting” at J. Walter Thompson, the nation’s largest advertising agency.

In addition to indicating 94 percent of millennials respect monogamy and parenthood and 84 percent revere marriage, the survey found 88 percent said they respect the U.S. Constitution, 84 percent respect the military and more than three-quarters believe in the “American dream.”

There it is. The proof I was looking for. Now I can state unequivocally, without any doubt or hesitation whatsoever, what’s wrong with young adults today. And it starts with that attitude of theirs. Namely, it just might be a whole lot better than that of my generation!

RIP Stan Musial: Just a Few of His Incredible Numbers

Stan Musial died at age 92 - he was married 71 years.

Hall of Fame baseball player Stan Musial died on Saturday, January 19, 2013, at age 92.

Just a few numbers to consider:

  • 22 seasons in the major leagues (1941-1963), all with Saint Louis
  • 3,630 hits – 4th all time
  • 1815 hits at home
  • 1815 hits on road
  • 3,026 games – 6th all time
  • 6,134 total bases – 2nd all time
  • 20 straight years as an all star
  • 3 NL MVPS
  • 3 World Series championships as a player
But perhaps the most impressive number and the true measure of his greatness.
71 years married to the same woman.
A tip of the hat and shout out to the legend known by his fans as “Stan the Man”!

The Four Queens of Crime – When Women Ruled Murder Mysteries

Ngaio Marsh was one of the Four Queens of Murder.While growing up I consumed a lot of Agatha Christie novels – I even solved one of the murders before the ending. (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.) I met another of my favorite “locked room mystery” authors – almost as popular as Christie – when I was a junior or senior in high school – Ngaio Marsh.

Marsh was born in New Zealand and split time between there and London. She wrote 32 crime novels and was considered along with Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Margery Allingham one of the “Queens of Crime.” Women novelists dominated the genre in the 20s and 30s – and they don’t do too bad today either.

Marsh’s most famous character was Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Alleyn was smart and witty but didn’t have the noir edge of a Spade and Marlowe – two detectives “across the pond” as mysteries and all genres became more “modern” and heroes were shown with all their flaws.

Circling back to read A Man Lay Dead took me back to a different era of entertainment, when even murder was polite, civilized, and almost wholesome!

I highlighted Ngaio Marsh from a Pinterest board I keep with book covers that feature my favorite spies, detectives, hit men, and vigilantes.

 

The Man Who Killed JFK

Roger Stone builds the case that LBJ was the man behind the assassination of JFK.

I was in kindergarten when President John F. Kennedy was shot. To say that the Kennedy brothers were popular was an understatement. The two hottest Halloween costumes at the class party that year, less than a month before JFK was shot, had been John and Bobby plastic masks. My first inkling that something big had happened on November 22, 1963, was when I got in the car and the mom who was driving carpool that day said nothing but only sobbed the drive home.

I heard Roger Stone do a radio interview on his book and realized I had read little to nothing on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I didn’t go see the Oliver Stone film. I found it strange that I’ve read books on the Viet Nam War and Watergate – the other two defining political events in my growing up years – but I had never taken the time to accept or reject the Warren Commission. It’s interesting that in the back of my mind I’ve sort of known there are two self-contradictory popular beliefs that guide popular perception on the Kennedy Assassination:

  1. the Warren Report is seriously flawed
  2. anyone that presents an alternative view of the Warren Report is a kook

So who does Roger Stone – longtime political strategist for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, and George W. Bush – say killed JFK? Since he has a picture of President Lyndon Baines Johnson on the cover and subtitles the book, The Case Against LBJ, I’m not giving a spoiler to tell you where this book is going. (Note: Stone is equally hard on Republicans as Democrats; he is an equal opportunity sledgehammer.)  [Read more…]

A Time to Fast

 

A Fast Food Fast Can Be Toughest!

A Fast Food Fast Can Be Toughest!

One of the hot new trends in the diet and exercise world is known as IF – intermittent fasting. Tyler Graham explains in Men’s Journal, The Magazine:

IF is not what most people typically think of as fasting – going without food or sustenance for days. Instead, IFers believe you can reap all the benefits (and more) of chronic calorie restriction after as few as 12 hours without food. Which means that simply skipping breakfast and waiting until lunch to eat any food (most say it’s OK to put a splash of cream in your coffee) counts as IF.  It seems counterintuitive, but skipping meals helps you feel more energized, recover better from exercise, blast fat, and retain lean muscle mass, and even protects your body from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and cognitive decline – which is why NASA is interested in looking at fasting to improve the cognitive functioning of pilots and unmanned-aerial-vehicle operators.

But many doctor’s warn against using a fast for weight-loss. A WebMD article argues:

“Fasting is not a weight loss tool. Fasting slows your metabolic rate down so your diet from before the fast is even more fattening after you fast,’ says Joel Fuhrman MD, author of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Plan for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss and Fasting and Eating for Health. Fasting for weight loss carries other health risks as well.  While fasting for a day or two is rarely a problem if you are healthy, “it can be quite dangerous if you are not already eating a healthy diet, or if you’ve got liver or kidney problems, any kind of compromised immune system functioning, or are on medication – even Tylenol,” says Fuhrman, a family physician in Flemington, N.J.

But the time to fast I’m speaking of isn’t about health or weight loss. The spiritual tradition of fasting is that there is a time to abstain from food in order to focus on God in prayer.  [Read more…]

Don’t Eat That Frog First

Eat that frog?

Eat that frog?

In his bestselling book, Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy tackles the issue of personal productivity with 21 ways to conquer procrastination, beginning with his classic breakfast recipe :

If the first thing you do when you wake up each morning is eat a live frog, nothing worse can happen the rest of the day!

If you’ve ever met Brian, read one of his books or heard him speak, you know what a disciplined, talented, savvy communicator – and person – he is. I have a lot of admiration for him. Better to listen to him than me! I’ve been known to procrastinate at times.

But I would humbly suggest that there are some days you will get more done by foregoing the frog for breakfast – it tastes nothing like chicken – and enjoying your Cheerios, oatmeal or bacon and eggs. [Read more…]

Imagine Tat! What Do Tattoos Tell Us About a Person?

Do tattoos matter?

Do tattoos tell us anything about a person?

A friend in my age range – let’s not get too specific and just say somewhere between age 49 and 51 – just got a major tattoo.

I was at one of my 14-year-old’s AAU basketball games a couple Saturday’s ago and the mom of one of the players from the other team had also recently got ‘tatted’ up; a shoulder to wrist floral arrangement on both arms. Naive as I am, I kept thinking she had some sort of arm-nylons on under her sleeveless t-shirt. That’s what I explained to Amy who elbowed me because she thought I was looking over there too much.

Imagine tat!

Of course head for the local high school or even middle school and you’ll see a large number of young people with low ride jeans, high-rise shirts, and lots of tattooed skin. And then there’s the girls.

What do tattoos tell us about a person? Anything? (Is there an age limit on when you can get your first tattoo?)

The old adage claimed that “clothes make the man,” which seems way too superficial, just as getting worked up about tattoos seems judgmental, turning a matter of taste into a moral issue. Right?

Along those lines my grandpa insisted you could tell everything you needed to know about a potential job candidate from his shoes: “you don’t have to be rich to have your shoes shined.” He obviously hadn’t anticipated casual Fridays and Ecco comfort shoes.

But back to tattoos. Just in case you were wondering –

* 15% of Americans have been tattooed – about 40 million people
* 38% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 40 have been tattooed
* Democrats(18%) are more tattooed than Republicans (14%) and Independents (12%)
* Geographically the West (20%) outpaces the East (14%), Midwest (14%), and South (15%) among adults with tattoos
* About 20% of those who have been tattooed regret it, with the number one cause of regret being the person’s name in the tattoo (16%); 11% admit “it was stupid”
* Of those with tattoos 26% feel more attractive, while 5% feel more intelligent; 29% feel more rebellious and 57% of those without a tattoo agree that those with tattoos look more rebellious
* On google searches, more people are interested in Angelina’s tattoos than any other celebrity

I think the numbers speak for themselves. Besides proving that Democrats have a higher propensity toward rebelliousness, that Brad may or may not find tattoos attractive depending on which news source you take most seriously in the grocery store checkout line, and that the 5% of those who are tattooed may not be smart enough to know that ink on skin didn’t make them more intelligent, the conclusion really is quite evident and irrefutable … kids, the answer is still no … under no circumstance are you to get a tattoo!

Not even if you want a heart with Mom and Dad inside it.

Note to College Football: Get Rid of the Bowls and Improve the Playoff Model

It's time for college football to kill the bowls and improve the playoff model.

I have always loved the traditions of college football, but many, including the bowl system, are dead anyway!

Note to college football: it is time to get rid of the bowls and improve the playoff model.

My first memory of watching an entire college football game was January 1, 1969, when Rex Kern and a group of “Super Sophs” led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 27-16 win over the USC Trojans and their Heisman star, O.J. Simpson.

The Rose Bowl was the epitome of tradition. A great parade, followed by a matchup between the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions. Sure, there was 1942, when the game was moved to the campus of Duke University due to fears of a Japanese West Coast invasion (or terrorist attack) during World War II. But for more than half a century it was synonymous with the Big Ten and Pac-10. That ship sailed a long time ago with the coming of the BCS Era. I’ve gotten over it.

When it comes to college football I’ve been a traditionalist and have dragged my feet on most changes, including the BCS and the rampant conference realignments. In terms of declaring a national champion, I’ve never felt like we had to have a perfect system, free from any controversy. It never bothered me that many years there were multiple champions crowned. It was never more than two and it wasn’t like boxing where there might be three welterweight champions at one time. But now that we’ve made the first move to a four-team playoff  for the NCAA Division I Bowl Subdivision – the only division in college football without a playoff – I want to finish the transition.

Here is how I would to it: [Read more…]

Christmas Reminds Us That Angels Watch Over Us

Christmas reminds us that angels watch over us.

Angels Watch Over Us

Believers, look up—take courage. The angels are nearer than you think. - Billy Graham

 Christmas reminds us that Angels watch over us.

Angels play a leading role in the story of Jesus’ birth. They appear to Joseph in a dream and tell him of the coming child. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her she has been chosen by God. And then a heavenly choir proclaims the message of the Christ child to a group of terrified shepherds.

But I wonder if angels played a behind-the-scenes role in other events surrounding Jesus’ birth as well. Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem would have been difficult and dangerous—doesn’t it make sense to think that angels helped them find their way safely and arrive at just the right time?

Mary gave birth in a barn full of animals, her first birth, with no midwives, no family except her new husband, no sterile medical conditions, no place to put the baby other than the manger. Under those circumstances, it seems that Providence was watching out for the young family—through the care of angels, perhaps? [Read more…]