The magic number is: 40,097

Yes, the next book (tentatively titled “Bobby’s Back”) has hit the half-way point.  Soon it goes to the agent for perusal.  He wanted to see it when it was partly completed.  I’ve got to finish the first 1/3 of the story, about 20 more pages, and then it’s ready for my first submission. The first third in terms of the story arc, that is because it’s the first half in volume of words. AS the first big story about this character there’s a lot of back story that needs to be put in place for it to work.  That makes the next book about him much easier (and, hopefully quicker) to write.

Kind of nice having an agent waiting to see the book.  I’m hoping it’s what they expect and then I can call him “my agent.”  And, if not him (and he’s a great guy from what I can tell) there’s another agent who’d like to see the book, but only when it’s completed.  She’s pretty awesome as well.  This could be very interesting when all is said and done.

Now, what I need is some peace and quiet to just write…… In December?  I must be on drugs.  Oh, maybe that has to wait for the end of Santa season.  But I’m still sneaking in about 2000 words a week and I’m not throwing in the towel.  God’ll get me through this one as well.

Red Suit Rampage.

What the commercial looks like from the camera's point of view before editing.

The first week of full madness has almost come to a close.  Last week I was blessed to shoot some television commercials for  ShopNBC as their Santa.  The crew were magnificent and fun to work with  on the shoot.  Not only were they professional and quick, but they fed me cookies.  Lots and lots of green cookies.  Why green cookies?

Well, let me tell you a tale out of school.  When you shoot television or movies you have to worry about something called “continuity.”  This means that you wear the same shirt, same jewelry, same hat and have the same position in the scene for each take.  And because you do some shots from a wide angle and some close in, it’s the details that kill you.

Green cookies were a killer.  Santa had a plate of them in his hand the whole time, and there had to be three uneaten cookies on the plate and one in his paw when the shot was taking place.  Turned out that I chose a green sprinkled cookie for the first take.  And, consequently, that cookie had to be replaced with another green cookie for the next series of takes.  It would be subliminally jarring to people for the cookie in my hand to change color three times during the commercial as it went from wide to close up to wide.

And, since we weren’t using a “spit bucket” to get rid of the food between takes (yeah, kind of gross but a reality.  I once did a commercial without one and didn’t eat pancakes for over a year.  Kind of overdosed on the buggers) I was forced to eat about 8 cookies.  The first 4 were tasty, the next two were so-so, and the final two were a bit of a chore.

But, we wrapped it up in a reasonable time frame and I was off to bed.

The next event was Saturday and I spent 4 hours doing photos with the families from Hope Kids.  If you’re looking for a charity to support this year with your “gotta have a deduction” dollars, go to and do your soul some good.  These are truly fine people.  Most charities have a detractor or two around, but I’ve yet to hear a bad thing about this bunch.  We hold an event called “Cookies with Santa” each year just before Thanksgiving so that the kids have the pictures when they see family for the holiday.  I am honored to be their Santa, and we turn out some very special moments each year.  I’m blessed to be allowed to know those kids.

Finally, got word that my audition last week was a hit, and I got the job as Santa two weeks from now via video!  I’m ready and willing to take it on.  I did find out that pants were required, no shorts.  I have to be able to visit the kids in the room if there’s a technology failure along the way.

So, one week, two events and a successful audition.  God’s looking out for me as usual.  It’s been a lovely start to my favorite season of the year.

Today is the day it really begins… Red Suit Time!

Just after noon today I’ll be interviewing for  job as an Internet Santa.  I have the potential to work from the comfort of a computer speaking to ill children in the hospital.  It is a great gig because there’s no travel from place to place (as is usually the case for Santa), you can talk to a huge number of kids all in one shot and you don’t have to wear long pants. (I have to check on that, but it seems they shoot the camera from the waist up.  Perhaps red shorts would be prudent…)

It protects the kids from my germy old hide and any diseases I pick up in the course of meeting thousands of children each year.

It allows me to minister to people using technology (they don’t have to know I’m silently praying for them, do they?)

And, it allows me to work on camera (which I love) in a non-studio setting. (NO hot lights!)

So, if you’re inclined, say a prayer for me about the audition.  I know whom I answer to when I put on that Red Suit.  God.  Only God has blessed me with this ministry and love of the Holy Days.  Only God has given me the gift to do this every year.  Only God has entrusted me with his lambs.

I appreciate His trust and will do my best to honor those children, their families, my employer, and the client.  I walk away from every Santa visit with a smile on my face and a glow in my heart.  Unlike what you’ve seen in too many television shows and movies, the great Santa’s do it for love, not money.  The guys I know who are really top shelf are making a great wage during the hours they “work” but they do more free visits to the poor and sick than you will ever know.  They sponsor parties for the military and the families of those deployed, they go into their own pockets for gifts, candy, cards and wrapping paper, and they give their time.  For a group of men who can only earn money doing the thing they love for about 45 days each year, giving a day of your time (or, several in many cases) is a big thing.  Could you give 10 days a year to a charity where you didn’t work for a wage?

But most of all, the men I estimate to be the best Santas are servants of the True and Living God.  Men of faith and love.  Men of dignity (and that includes their silly behavior at times) and courage.  Men who take a small child with just hours or days left in their lives into their hearts and share the life within them.  Men who cry quietly in their cars when the emotions overwhelm them in the wake of a visit. Men who do honor to Nicholas, Bishop of Myra.

I’m proud to wear that red suit.  It’s my favorite.  As a matter of fact, I choose to own no other.

Let it snow, let it snow… GET ME OUTTA HERE!

Yes, it snowed last night.  Nothing stuck, flurries only.  But it was a taste of what’s about to hit the area for real.

So today becomes the day to remove all the crud from the yard.  All the leftover shingle and tarpaper bits, the wrappers the wind blew in and the lawn furniture.  It’s time to mulch up the remaining leaves with the lawnmower and spread them over the flower beds in anticiption of spring.

Then, and only then, it is time to grab my blankie, suck my thumb, and sob in a corner of the bedroom with the lights out knowing that spring is 5 months away.  If we’re lucky.

Before anyone get’s too worked up, the next post is not about me.

I’ve been thinking about suicide a lot lately.  Seems that ghosts of the past, present, and  future have all conspired to gain my attention.

To those of you reading this (all three of you!) I’d like to beg you to spend some time thinking about this issue as well. 

If you are suicidal, quit reading my nonsense and pick up the phone to a suicide hot-line.    1-800-273-8255.  You are precious and irreplaceable and … well, suicide truly has never made anything better for anyone.

For those of you who know someone who has been acting out of sorts lately, depressed, distant, dark and moody, etc., find out why.  You might really annoy them by asking, but if they kill themselves you will never have the chance to ask or annoy them again.  Is your dignity worth more than their life?

You are probably wondering why this is on my mind?  Too many people I know have taken their own lives.  Too many people I know are in the process of taking their lives and I’m not yet aware of their plight. I wish I was.  I’d drop to my knees and start praying for each of them right now. I’d beg them to get help.

Suicide is preventable.  It is only a fatal issue if nothing is done to prevent it. 

So, pay attention to those around you and make sure that the troubled ones get some help.  Sometimes just your asking how they are and probing a bit can bring the darkness to the surface and allow you to help the person.  Knock on their door and drag them out to breakfast.  Make them  be a part of life before death claims them.

If you are in need of help, get it right now.  My friends know they can call me for that help.  You  have a friend that will do that for you.  Call 1-800-273-8255 and talk to someone today.

And, for those whom we’ve lost to suicide, our memories are tinged and darkened.  We all wish we’d known so that we could have helped.  But since there are  no time machines available, go and help those in need today.