Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meeting Imerman Angels

I had the great privilege and honor to attend an event on Tuesday night where I met the amazing volunteers and supporters for Imerman Angels. The lovely, Jemma, invited me to the function and I was not going to pass up the chance to meet my teammates who are racing various events throughout the 2011 year on behalf of Imerman Angels as part of the Imerman Active team. Johnny Imerman was diagnosed with cancer when he was twenty-three years old. It was then that he discovered there was not a national database of other cancer survivors to whom he could turn who could get him through his fight against this disgusting disease. When he was twenty-nine, having beaten off the disease, Johnny began the Imerman Angels organization to pair up cancer survivors who could mentor and support cancer fighters. The non profit pairs up individuals with the same cancer who are of the same gender, age, ethnic background. The organization does its best to find as many similarities as possible between each pairing. As most of us in this world, I have experienced cancer through family and friends who have beaten the disease over the years. Unfortunately, not all friends or family members were able to win their fight. I do not know what it is like to live with cancer. I do not know what it is like to go through the treatment. I hope I never will. I have seen others go through it and I realize that I have a chance to do my part to help Imerman Angels by running the Chicago Marathon all the while raising funds and awareness for the wonderful work IA does. I had the chance to meet so many individuals with whom I have developed friendships mainly through Twitter and Facebook. It was such a joy to finally come face-to-face with these great individuals. It was such a joy to meet Johnny Imerman. Everyone with whom I talk can not stop speaking about how amazing he is as a survivor and as a human being. I have to say, the words "amazing" and "spectacular" do not do him justice. He is such a special person. I am so glad to be on his team. I am thrilled to be a member of Imerman Angels and Imerman Active. I already know I have friendships for life through my association with IA. I hope you will consider donating to my marathon cause so that no one faces cancer alone. A donation to my fundraising cause is a donation for life to triumph over cancer!

Please log on to donate here:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Serial By Jen Knox

I just read the first installment of a serial which promises to be great! Jen Knox is a brilliant writer. Her latest venture is posting installments of her non fiction serial on her blog. My friend, screenwriter and filmmaker, Michelle Amor, once told me about how, after so many years of reading screenplays as a screenplay contest judge who has to read hundreds if not thousands of scripts, she developed a test in which she would read the opening line of a film script and would determine immediately whether it was worth continuing. Many directors of development for production companies may thumb through a screenplay to check the format and page count as an early indication of what kind of screenwriter with which they are dealing before finally beginning to read the screenplay itself. Often, they will read the first ten pages and make a judgement on whether to continue or just toss the screenplay in the garbage. Michelle does not wait until the tenth page to decide. After all, a screenplay does not suddenly get good. A screenwriter does not suddenly find talent. A few years ago, I did not know of Michelle's test when I sent her a copy of one of my theater pieces. After reading my play, she informed me of her test and told me that my play had passed the test with flying colors. In fact, she had a copy of it, but she did not have the time to read it all at once so she planned to do it later, but she wanted to at the very least, put my piece through the test. She ended up reading the entire piece right then. I had drawn her in with my opening line and kept her interest all the way through to the end. Nowadays, I will write a play or screenplay all the while keeping Michelle's test in mind. When I read other people's work, I always find myself examining that initial line. I write all this to state that using that test, Jen Knox is able to grab my attention from the initial line of her non fiction entry. I invite all to read this interesting work. It reminds me of the days gone by when so many writers made their mark and money by submitting a few paragraphs and having local or national newspapers and journals print them for readers everywhere to enjoy. Those talented writers grabbed readers' attention and left them anticipating the next issue. Similarly, Jen did so with this story. I can not wait until next week for part two!!

To read the work of the very talented Jen Knox, please log on to:

Friday, August 26, 2011

GLASA Twilight 5K 2011

When I was growing up, I was short and skinny. I was not very strong. I weighed about sixty-five pounds in sixth grade. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had only put on enough weight to weigh 108. I always had speed. In gym, we would always have to run five warmup laps before playing the sport of the day. I would pride myself on trying to always be the first one to complete the laps. With maybe two exceptions over a two year span, I was always the first one to finish. In the summer which I turned twenty-one, I dedicated myself to bulk up. For the next five years, I pushed myself to get bigger and stronger. Along the way, I did my best to eat everything in sight so that I may turn all of it into hulking muscle. Of course, I became huge, but lost my trademark speed. When I was twenty-six years old, I took it upon myself to forgo all that heavy weight and reclaim the speed from when I wore a younger man's clothes. I had become comfortable running double digit miles. In fact, I once asked my brother to time me as I tried my best to run one mile in under ten minutes. I figured, ten minutes is more than attainable considering how fast I was when I was growing up. I performed this test on a treadmill. I started at a very slow pace increasing the speed every minute or so. I hoped that by the time I neared the one mile mark, I would have the machine rolling along at ten miles per hour. I would probably only need to run at that pace for twenty to thirty seconds before reaching the one mile mark so it would not be a big deal that my little legs would be pushing that speed. My brother kept time. I rolled along. I was huffing and puffing as he informed me I was getting close. Finally, the machine was up to ten miles per hour and my legs felt like jello. I could not hold on much longer. Luckily, he told me I had crossed the one mile mark. I checked my time which was 10:21. That could not be. A few days later, I tried it again. Once more, my time was 10:15. I had lost my speed. Even as I had hoped that I was slowly working my way back, it turned out, I was not. It was time to concern myself less with speed and focus on distance. Maybe the more miles I ran, the fitter I would become and then eventually, I would get in better shape and could return to being fast. I kept adding miles to my body. the weight kept coming off. Little by little I noticed I was at 9:30 per mile. then 9:00. 8:00. One day, I noticed I was running comfortably at 7:30. With the help of a philosophy change in my weightlifting routine which saw me go from massive weight to less weight more reps while jumping rope and dedicating myself to more martial arts training, I had lost fifty pounds and had become faster able to run 3.1 miles in 23:15.

As I have written in previous entries, I found myself having to go into production for a play which I had written and in which I was starring so I could no longer find the time to continue my work outs. Over the years, my pace for races have fallen back closer to double digit minutes per mile, but I was able to average just under nine minutes per mile at a 5K event last September. The Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association's Twilight 5K in Lake Forest, Il. I had a wonderful experience running with a coach and Ironman triathlete who kept me going. In fact, at one point very early in the race, we were going just under eight minutes per mile. We settled into a nice pace and hung on at the end. It is a flat fast open course since there is usually 400 to 500 runners allowing for some wide open running. I am excited about returning for the third year in a row. Maybe this year, I will get closer to those training days of seven and a half minutes per mile. I will enjoy the experience and hope many of you come out and participate in this great fundraising event for a wonderful organization. You can see me run my minutes per mile whatever they may be this year. You can also register to hopefully set a new personal best. Either way, I hope you come out to this great race which has plenty of entertainment for the entire family with popcorn, refreshments, beer, live music, games, and a race.

For more information about the GLASA Twilight 5K, please log on to:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jennifer Pfaff For Team Refuel

Last year, I happened to comment on a status on Facebook posted by a long time friend I met in acting class in April of 2004. One of his friends read my comment and responded. Shortly afterwards, I corresponded with her via FB messages and before long, she and I had become friends on Facebook. It was another two months before she and I finally met in person. In fact, the way in which we met came as a result of me registering for the Chicago Area Runners Association Ready To Run 20 Miler in September. This twenty mile run was the last long training run in preparation for the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 10. The young woman offered to guide me for at least ten of the twenty miles. I had one gentleman guide me for the first ten miles and we arrived at the exchange point where he handed me off to the talented Jennifer Pfaff to push me through the final half of this challenging run. I could not have asked for a better person to get me through what at that time was my longest distance ever. Prior to that day, my longest run was 18.6 miles at the Sugar Land 30K in Texas on a Sunday morning in December of 2009. Jennifer had never guided a person without sight and she had never met me, but she jumped at the chance to be there for me. What a fun, tough, and memorable way to meet someone for the first time.

Jen was there for me on that September day and I am excited that she has volunteered to be at least one of the guides who will get me through the 26.2 miles of the Chicago Marathon later this October. As I did last year, I will run the 26.2 mile distance and it looks as though I will do so with the help of two individuals. Two amazing talented accomplished women! I can not wait. Before that day arrives, I and all of you have a chance to help Jen become a member of Team Refuel. All we have to do is vote for Jennifer Pfaff. We can vote once a day throughout the entire time for which voting is open. Please log on to the following site, search for Jen, and cast your vote. You have the power to get her on Team Refuel which will enable her to receive a grant to fund her athletic dreams. Please vote. Tell your family and friends to vote for her too.

The link to vote for Jen is:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

To Begin Again At A Discount

Regular readers to this site have read my posts on the talented Jen Knox. I am so grateful that the work of such an amazing woman has entered my life. I receive such inspiration and motivation from Jen and her pieces. If you wish, you can search this site to find more posts about Jen. You can also link to her site and get all the information about her pieces and teaching. A wonderful way to learn more about Jen is to log on to the following link and purchase her book, To Begin Again. You will fall in love with Jen's talent and you will want to read more. The great news is more and more of Jen's work can be found online. Jen is a tremendous talent and I hope you will support her pieces. Feel free to rave about Jen to all your friends too.

To purchase To Begin Again at a ten percent discount today, please visit the link:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ladies Night Friday Night Fun

A great way to spend your Friday night in Chicago is to watch many talented women show off their ability to make you laugh. This coming Friday, August 19, you can attend Ladies Night as part of Chemically Imbalanced Comedy's Foot In Mouth Disease. One of the women displaying her talents will be one of my favorite friends and actresses, Cynthia Shur. You will love the show. More important, you will laugh and be entertained by the fabulous, Cynthia. Show begins at 8:00p.m. Tickets are $10.

For more information and to buy tickets, please visit:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Virtual Run For Amanda

A few weeks ago I came across a blog maintained by Amanda Brooks. She was discussing how she would celebrate her thirtieth birthday soon and the way in which others could join in on the fun would be to agree to have a virtual run between the dates of August 12 and August 15. In the interest of full disclosure, I do not know Amanda, but I have quickly become a fan of her blog. I am fascinated by her posts on running, health, and life. Today, I had planned to meet with coach and triathlete, Kimberly Shah for a run in the afternoon. I was not sure if she would want us to do a double digit run, meaning at least ten miles, so I did not want to over extend myself, but I wanted to celebrate Amanda's birthday with a morning run. I was able to get in 3.1 miles in 23:15. I was tired by the end, but knew I would have plenty of energy for the afternoon run with Kimberly. As it turns out, the weather prevented us from getting it in, but I was satisfied with being able to have my Amanda virtual run! I will try to get a couple more runs in on Monday for Amanda. For now, I say, happy birthday Amanda Brooks. Welcome to the thirty club.

For those interested in reading Amanda's blog, please visit:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Screenplay Online

In the last couple weeks, events have been moving quickly towards a major breakthrough for my writing career in the Hollywood circles. Some friends know some of the story while others have yet to hear what has been going on. It is always fascinating to me that there are times where someone will ask or say something which unintentionally opens up the floodgates or begins a chain reaction of events creating a whirlwind of opportunities. Thus was the case with a question a friend posed to me a couple Thursdays ago. A very simple question for which I did not have a good answer. After much soul searching, I discovered I only had excuses for what was preventing me from "putting myself out there" for producers, agents, and other industry folks to take notice. The interesting part is that industry people have taken notice of my talent and stories. They have expressed interest in producing my work, but for whatever reason, I have been scared to follow up with them. I truly believe that there was a time in my life when I was driven by the fear of embarrassment and failure. Yet, in these cases, I am scared off by a fear of success. Almost as though I can not believe that people who can make my artistic dreams come true would actually want to do just that. They want to read what I have to say. they believe in my ability to evoke a response, inform, and entertain. They want to give my project money to come to life. In many respects, is that not what all struggling artists, playwrights, screenwriters want? In one instance, not only did a high powered producer with Hollywood connections express interest in my screenplay, she was excited about me being one of the stars in my own film. When I wrote the piece originally, that was my dream, but as time went on, I began to realize that it may not work out that way. Yet, after my dazzling pitch, that is what she said! I would be one of the stars. I would be the one going on tour as the screenwriter and one of the stars. I would be on all the celebrity magazine shows and maybe on all the late night shows promoting my film. All I had to do was deliver a script equal to or better than my pitch. The thing is, the script was written. All papers were signed ready for delivery. Something held me back. Fear. What if I was not good enough? On the flip side, what if I was great and my career took off to overwhelming heights? With interest in this film and others scripts, why was I not making a film? Why am I languishing? Again, no real reason. Just excuses. That all changed last Wednesday when I finally decided to put myself out there. the response has been tremendous. the feedback for my film, the support from my friends, and as important, the interest from Hollywood. Unlike the past, these are opportunities I must not pass up. Writers and actors would die to have these chances I have been given and I must not blow them.

As I continue to refine my work, I have finally decided to do what so many have suggested over the years. Read everything. I have not been able to successfully download scripts from the internet. Often, the format is not industry standard. Other times, my screen reader did not allow for me to access certain file formats such as PDF. That looks to have been resolved over the years and while there are still many hurdles for me to overcome when it comes to technology, I have been able to read some scripts online in the last few days. I have taken a look at the Social Network, Phone Booth, and Pulp fiction. My question to those who check on these and other items on the internet is which sites do you recommend I visit to download screenplays to read? Now that I have apparently been able to figure out how to access them, I want to read more. I want to be able to trust the formatting and site from which I am downloading so if anyone has any suggestions, please reach out to me. thank you! Much more is on the horizon and I am excited that you will be a part of it by following this site.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Amanda Grace In Original Grease

Are you a Beauty School Drop-Out? Do you look back on your Summer Nights fondly? Are you into hand jiving? If the answer to any of those is yes, then you are in for a tremendous treat with American Theater Company's latest production of the original Grease. What makes this production better than any prior to it is that this one includes the very talented, amazing, and beautiful, Amanda Grace!! She is one of my favorite people, a wonderful friend, and a spectacular artist. The show runs through August 21. Amanda Grace has been an understudy during this production, but she will star in the performances which will take place next weekend. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You will be in for a tremendous treat watching her sing, dance, and act her way into your heart.

For more information, please check out American Theater Company's web site:

Groups of ten or more get $10 off tickets.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Italians In Lincoln Square

She is a talented actress, writer, and artist. She is a beautiful person, woman, friend. She is the amazing Laura Shatkus. You can read a poem she wrote which is published on the following web site. Anyone who so pleases can also express his or her art by drawing, painting, sculpting a work of art which takes Laura's poetic words and brings them to life. If after you read the poem, you feel you can create a piece to go with her words, then please submit your information to the contest.