Monday, January 30, 2012

A Very Practical Guide for Bridging the Gap between Generations in the Workplace - Review of "Fuse" by Jim Finkelstein with Mary Gavin

Jim Finkelstein and Mary Gavin have at their disposal a vast database of wisdom culled from decades of consulting, advising and operating a variety of companies. In "Fuse - Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace," they offer a series of practical and easily-applied insights into how to bridge the considerable gap that makes it a challenge for Baby Boomers and Millenials to communicate and co-exist with each other. The major take-away from this useful handbook is that it is well worth the effort that it takes for us Boomers to be able to see the world through the same lens that the Millenial Generation uses. Conversely, the rising generation in the workplace can learn not to dismiss my generation as nothing more than obstructionist dinosaurs who are Luddites and technophobes. In other words, the insights offered in this book allow Boomers to walk a mile in the Crocs of the Millenials; it also enables Millenials to walk a mile in our wingtips!

The vision that the authors share in this book is that we are capable of moving beyond pejorative dismissal of the other generation and move to a place of synergy - where the divergent views and practices of the two generations become complementary and supplemental to one another. In other words, by fusing our separate sensibilities, everyone wins. They share specific examples of individuals and companies that have moved into that "fusion" mindset.

The book is useful to older managers and executives who seek to hire and fully utilize the rising generation of well-educated and creative Millenials. It is also helpful in guiding young workers in how to understand and appreciate older bosses to whom they report.

Enjoy reading and applying the wisdom contained within this useful tool.

A Story That Gets Under Your Skin - Mini-Review of "A Good and Useful Hurt" by Aric Davis

Aric Davis has drawn deeply from the well of his own experience as a body piercer in Grand Rapids, Michigan to craft a tale that draws the reader into the intersection of the worlds of the denizens of a tattoo/piercing parlor and a serial killer and his victims. When Mike, the owner of the shop, is asked to include a small pinch of the ashes of a deceased loved one into a tattoo that would serve both as a memorial and a psychic connection to the departed loved one, his whole world changes as indelibly as the ink that he uses to decorate his clients. Davis writes with passion and artistry - wielding his pen as skillfully as his protagonist wields his tattooist's needles. The layer of mystical and dream-state connections that emerges after the ashes have been injected take the narrative to a fascinating and metaphysical level.



Friday, January 27, 2012

Review of "The Seventh Angel" by Jeff Edwards - A Book I Literally Could Not Put Down

It is not often that I will stay awake until 3:00 in the morning to finish a book, but I could not sleep without learning how the many threads of Jeff Edwards' thriller, "The Seventh Angel," would weave themselves together into a coherent fabric of denouement. Edwards offers a spine-chilling action thriller in the style of Tom Clancy. He demonstrates enough technical proficiency to give himself "street cred," but not so much to get in the way of the galloping narrative and character development.

As a former Navy Chief, Edwards clearly has some strongly help political beliefs, but these passions help to drive the story rather than become off-putting or didactic. The writing is crisp - sometimes even "literary" - and such that I was held in its thrall until the final paragraph.

This book is near perfect. My only quibble is with the author's falling into the all-too-common trap of misusing the word "disinterested" as if it meant "not interested." Technically, the word should only be used to denote "Not influenced by considerations of personal advantage." Otherwise, he handles the language and the drama with the same technical proficiency that the crew of the USS Towers (DDG-103) handles their state-of-the-art weaponry.

The novel's premise is that a rogue Russian Governor of Kamchatka steals nuclear warhead-equipped ICBMs and holds the world's superpowers hostage to nuclear blackmail. Given the state of decay of the former Soviet military arsenal, the premise is frighteningly plausible.

I look forward to reading more of Edwards' offerings.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

The White Rhino Returns to the Stage - Information about "12 Angry Men" at the Players' Ring in Portsmouth, NH - Feb. 17 - March 4

A number of my friends have asked me for details about my long-awaited return to the stage in an exciting production of "12 Angry Men" at Portsmouth's Players' Ring.

Here are the details. I encourage you to call ahead or go online to reserve your spot. If you are coming from Boston, make a special outing of it and have a meal at one of Portsmouth's fabulous restaurants. Ask me for recommendations.
See you in Portsmouth!
Reserve your tickets by calling the The Players' Ring (603-436-8123) or buying online at

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Heinz Spices Up Support for Wounded Warriors

The other day as I was adding a dollop of ketchup to my hamburger at a local diner (McKenna's at Savin Hill, Dorchester!), my attention was drawn to the "Wounder Warrior Project" logo above. I was thrilled to learn that ketchup aficionados who also want to support our veterans can do so easily by texting "THANKS" to 57000 or by scanning the code, and Heinz will donate $.57 for each customer who responds.

Clicking onto the website also gives you an opportunity to send a quick electronic thank you postcard to a veteran.

Hats off the Heinz for their innovative support of our men and women who have fought all over the globe - including Vietnam's "Hamburger Hill."

Take a minute to respond right now.


Harvard Business Review article by Anne Kreamer: "The Business Case for Reading Novels"

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Anne Kreamer writes convincingly about the business case for reading fiction:

"I've been a devoted, even fanatical reader of fiction my whole life, but sometimes I feel like I'm wasting time if I spend an evening immersed in Lee Child's newest thriller, or re-reading The Great Gatsby. Shouldn't I be plowing through my in-box? Or getting the hang of some new productivity app? Or catching up on my back issues of The Economist? That slight feeling of self-indulgence that haunts me when I'm reading fake stories about fake people is what made me so grateful to stumble on a piece in Scientific American Mind by cognitive psychologist Keith Oatley extolling the practical benefits to be derived particularly from consuming fiction."

I encourage you to read the entire article. If you already read fiction with gusto, it may remove some of the guilt that occasional creeps in about "wasting time." If you are not a fiction reader, it may give you a bit of a push to try it out. It could add to your bottom line!

(Click on the title above to engage the link)

I concur with her comments about Dickens' "Bleak House":

"Charles Dickens, Bleak House — Dickens' tenth novel explores the human cost of prolonged litigation through the eyes of Esther Summerson, who is caught up in a multi-generational dispute over the disposition over an inheritance. Anyone who has ever been entangled in a lawsuit will revel in the characterization of the process. At the time of publication, 1852–1853, public outrage over injustice in the English legal system helped the novel to spark legal reform that culminated in the 1870s."



How Black is Black Enough? Review of "Erasure" by Percival Everett

The writing of Percival Everett is new to me, but if "Erasure" is a fair sampling of his work, I will be back for second helpings soon. In this sardonic novel, he points a critical and satirical eye at what it means to be Black in America, what it means to be a "Black Writer," and how an educated artist who happens to be Black can find his way in this world. Using the ironic pseudonym of Stagg R. Leigh - a tip of the cap to the iconic Stagger Lee mythology in the Black community - the protagonist, Thelonius "Monk" Ellison dashes off an outrageous short novel voiced in pseudo-Ebonics. The book is a surprise hit, and Ellison-Leigh must decide ow to respond to the success while hanging onto a modicum of pride.

Along the way, Everett takes a swing at the worlds of academia, publishing, literary awards, popular culture and what it means to be "Black enough."

The writing is razor-sharp, challenging, acerbic and profoundly entertaining. Is it a comedy,a tragedy, or a political and sociological commentary? You decide.



Monday, January 16, 2012

Review of a Remarkable Novel by Neal Stephenson: "Reamde"

Neal Stephenson reeled me in with his remarkable novel "Cryptonomicon." Since then I have also discovered the Baroque Cycle. I love the way in which he uses his broad erudition as a polymath to inform both the content and the style of his novels. This behemoth book of over 1,000 pages is worth its weight in the "gold" that is traded in the novel's multi-player game entitled "T'Rain."

The plot pinballs back and forth among several settings and rapidly shifting clots of characters - from Seattle to China to Manila to British Columbia to the wilds of Idaho. Along the way, we are exposed to a band of young Chinese hackers who launch a computer virus that steals money and encryption keys, the Russian mafia, an Al Qaeda affiliate terrorist cell, the off-the-grid apocalyptic crowd in the mountains of Idaho, a fascinating extended family with roots in the heartland of Iowa, and finally a couple of intelligence officers who have gone rogue. The pace of the narrative is breathless and the writing is engaging and exhilarating.

My only quibble with this delightful tome is that the denouement - an OK Corral-style shoot-out in the mountains and mines of the Idaho-British Columbia border area - seems too protracted. But that is a minor point. Overall, I loved this novel and its colorful and memorable cast of characters.