April 20, 2012

"The Ascent of Isaac Steward" Available on Kindle!

Fans of Mike French, founder and Senior Editor at The View from Here Magazine, is the author of the brilliant and emotionally powerful novel, "The Ascent of Isaac Steward." Available in print, his book can now be purchased for Kindle at Amazon.com.

"Mike French creates drama in both dialog and exposition. There is emotional conflict -- and hope for its elimination -- with each turn of the page..." author Michael J. Kannengieser

About the book:"The Ascent of Isaac Steward is the remarkable and extraordinary debut novel from the senior editor of the prestigious literary magazine, The View From Here. Written with a literary, lyrical voice, the book follows Isaac Steward in an emotional and original tale as he struggles to deal with the resurfacing of a suppressed memory of a car crash a year ago which killed his wife, Rebekah, his son, Esau, and left his other son, Jacob, in a coma. Isaac becomes increasingly dysfunctional and delusional as the story unfolds in a hypnotic and startling way bringing into play childhood memories of a Punch and Judy show and the revelation from his half-brother, Ishmael, that in order to be reunited with Rebekah he must be brought to a tree from his father's wood called The Dandelion Tree. To help him, Isaac slips in and out of being Major Tom Donaldson, an SAS commander fashioned by his mind to help him regress back to a time of naiveté and happiness before the accident. But Donaldson brings only death and violence and Isaac struggles to keep a grip on reality as he descends into his mind and starts to question if he himself has already died. Atmospheric and sensual and dealing with universal desires of love and reconciliation, The Ascent of Isaac Steward is reminiscent of the surrealist literary experiments of James Joyce but highly readable. Readers will be astounded, transfixed and immersed in the world long after turning the last page."

The Kindle app can also be downloaded on your iPhone or Droid phone! Order your copy today!

Be sure to visit these sites: Author Mike French's website. The View from Here Magazine.

April 7, 2012

Eight People to Avoid While on a Diet

When you're on a diet, there are people who will sabotage you. Some will be friends, others coworkers, and still others who like to see fat people squirm. These are eight types of individuals to stay away from while you try to lose weight.

1) The friend who is ready, willing, and able to help. This person may or may not even be a real friend. Yet, they see you passing by the fresh bagels in the break area at work. They sniff the air like wolverines at the scent of the container of 2% milk fat cottage cheese you brought in for lunch and they realize you want to lose weight. Whether they are a coworker or someone you're related to, this pain in the ass is going to count every calorie you put in your mouth as if they have a personal stake in your health.

"Are you sure you can have that, honey? You shouldn't have the toast unless it's whole wheat." It doesn't matter which plan you're following, they are the one who is going to make sure you will stick to it, whether they are familiar with your diet plan or not.

2) The Devil in the Devil Dogs. This person is someone you really don't like and you're only polite to him/her because you work with them. Because food is present in most work places for in the form of birthday cakes, doughnuts and bagels for breakfast, cafeteria cuisine, and catering for other corporate functions, this person senses your weakness and derives a gleeful pleasure from watching you squirm while others nosh.

"You can have one, it's not going to kill you," they say. Unfortunately, the food item they point to while grinning as you fight temptation can actually kill you in the long run.

3) The formerly fat person. This saboteur does not understand the damage they do. Having been obese and successfully losing enormous weight, they see others struggling with weight loss as sick patients whom they will both counsel and tutor in the exact same way weight loss occurred for them. They feel camaraderie with you. They are in this battle with you whether you like it or not, or if you need their help or not. Little do they realize that not everyone has the same physiology, mental makeup, and taste buds they do. Also, there is more than one diet plan and some of them make sense for one and not the other. The formerly fat is staked to their system and everything else seems like folly.

"You're allowed five grams of fat a day? That's not good. You'd better read the instructions again."

They become the unwelcome cheerleader in your life, seeking you out at every function, usually waiting for you at the buffet line with their hands clasped in front of them and a helpful smile.

"There's a fruit tray right over there; and, they have melon!"

4) The loving, denying, enabler. This person is most likely a close friend or a family member who needs you to stay the way you are, for fatter or for worse. There is no evil or bad intent with this person. They simply refuse to believe there is anything wrong with you. They invite you to their home, prepare a tray of lasagna, and seem vaguely insulted when you explain that your cholesterol number has a comma in it and you need to lose weight.

"But, I made this because you LOVE lasagna!"

5) Anyone for any reason dining with you in a restaurant who hears you order a salad, and ONLY a salad. You might as well ask for a revolver with one round in the chamber.

"Come on, you're in a restaurant, you can have the pasta. They make it fresh here." Yes, they also sell it in boxes, in cans, and at the pizza joint down the block. That's how you became fat in the first place.

6) The fitness freaks. They are the ones who go the gym before work for an hour of "cardio," so they can work on their abs during lunch and go home after work so they can run through the neighborhood until ten o'clock at night in an orange, reflective vest. They'll pass by you in your cubicle while you open a container of Dannon Low Fat Yogurt with the not-quite-real-fruit coating the bottom of the cup. They'll skid to a stop on one heel, a la Fred Flintstone, and double back to offer you their unsolicited advice.

"How many hours a day do you exercise?" Hours? Per day? The only exercise you get is pushing a shopping cart up and down the freezer aisle of the supermarket searching for fat-free fudgesicles. Sure, you'd love to work out more, but that comes after dropping fifty or sixty pounds so you can reach for a fallen paper clip next to your desk without wheezing.

7) The quasi-medically-trained person. This person can be a nurse, nurse's aide, medical technician, or merely answer the phone in a doctor's office. Aside from an actual medical doctor -- a trained professional who knows you, your history, and who obtained a medical degree -- this person is to be avoided at any cost and more than any of the above. Why? Because a little bit of knowledge is enough to kill you, and certainly is inadequate to help you. This is the person you meet at a party or social gathering and is someone you either know a little or not at all. Usually, you already dropped a lot of weight and you're feeling really good about yourself. Others are beginning to notice your weight loss and you are free for a night out and not have to worry about your diet for a few hours. This person is seated at your table. They may be the boyfriend/girlfriend or one of your cousins. While others congratulate you on your hard work, the quasi-medical person sits back and gives you the once-over with a look reserved for an undated Tupperware container of tuna found in the back of the fridge.

"Your doctor put you on Atkins/South Beach/Weight Watchers/Nutri-System? That diet makes your adrenal-muscular-adenoidenal-hypo-sub-systemic-glandular-cardiac-renal-tryptphanic-glycemic index spike to hyper-abnormal levels. I wouldn't go back to that guy. He doesn't know what he's talking about."

8) The product/system/workout-device salesperson. Anything you're doing is pointless because the dietary supplement, exercise equipment, diet plan, or psychological self-help book, video, or audio tape they are selling is not only the best way to lose weight, improve your sex life, give you energy, improve your memory, kill your appetite, reverse the aging process, it can make you money!

"Not only can you buy this product from us at wholesale prices, you can EARN MONEY by becoming a dealer just like us! You can sell to your friends, co-workers, family (if they still talk to you after pestering them relentlessly until they buy your crap). You can throw parties and invite every single person you ever stood behind on line at the supermarket. You'll be thin, healthy, rich, and friendless. Never get invited to a family function again!"

-M.J. Kannengieser

April 6, 2012

The Neighborhood Network

A common, American phenomenon disappeared sometime in the 1990’s. I blame it on cell phones. When I was a kid in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, I’d hop on my bicycle on a Saturday or during summer, and ride off to my friend’s house for the day. The only admonishment I’d receive from my mother was to be home by dinner time. I was no different than any of my friends. We all had an internal clock which ticked louder and louder as suppertime loomed. Our ears were trained to listen for a distinct signal which meant it was time to go home; our parents calling out our names from the front lawn.

It didn’t matter what I was doing or where I was, I could hear my dad’s booming voice from blocks away. My friends immediately understood they were next and their mothers or fathers would signal them soon. Before there were 4G networks and text messages, there existed the “neighborhood network.” Often, the message would be passed along by adult neighbors or other kids, who would relay the dispatch to me. “Michael, your father is calling you.” Sometimes, I’d be too involved in a game of basketball, or watching television in a friend’s living room and I would miss the call. If one of my siblings came looking for me, or if my father had to get in the car and drive through the neighborhood, I knew I was in trouble. 

Doing this today with my children would be odd and unnecessary. They both have cell phones. My twelve year old son, Jeffrey, has one so he can text us from his friends’ homes or from school if he needs a ride. My seventeen year old daughter, Juliana, has one for those reasons and to maintain contact with her intricate network of friends. My wife, Nina, and I would be considered bad parents if we deprived our kids of these devices. During my teenage years, I couldn’t imagine digging into my pocket to answer a call from my mother in the middle of a baseball game with my buddies. Today, my children expect me to text them.

Just once I’d like to stand on my front porch and shout my son’s name at dinner time. He’d be at his friend’s house down the block. I imagine him in the driveway, riding a skateboard with his pal, and he’d stop the moment he heard my voice. He’d look up, I’d wave and be transported back to a time in my life when simplicity and necessity merged together and created a charming and unique tradition. Moments later, I’d reach into my pocket and read a text message from my son asking, “Why are you yelling at me?”