For Better or Verse

Local author and poet Jeanpaul Ferro‘s recent, critically acclaimed collection, Jazz, is now available online or from your favorite bookstore. As part of the promotional effort, Britain’s Honest Publishing asked guest authors to read and record selections from the book. Jeanpaul was kind enough to invite me to participate, and always willing to jump at a shameless promotional opportunity, I accepted.

I must admit it was a bit out of my comfort zone, but it was fun nonetheless.

Best of luck to Jeanpaul and his continued success.


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The Kanc – a short story

My new short story available now!

Good news!

My new novel, Manisses, is still on schedule for a summertime release. With a little luck and if the wind remains to my back, it will be ready as promised.

But in the meantime, here is a short story I sketched out years ago. It was inspired by a trip I took along The Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire in a snowstorm, late for a meeting. I was convinced that road was out to get me.

The story is only 6,000 words long and has a significant historical element to it. It is only .99 cents in e-book form.

It is available for Nook and also available for Kindle.

Thank you and enjoy!

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You Look Great! Are You Sick?

Steven R. PorterI lost one hundred pounds. Intentionally. On purpose. I am not dying of any horrible diseases. If you don’t believe me, you can read the story in the Providence Journal, because we know they wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true. (Oops, sorry, no you can’t do that anymore.  You have to pay for an unprintable, unreadable, PDF, e-version now. So go to the library.)

My inclusion in the story, which was mostly coincidence, was part of a P.R. feature they were doing on the National Weight Control Registry, for whom I once filled out a survey.  At some point, I accidentally checked-off that I would be willing to speak to reporters. I didn’t know the ProJo had any of those left.

I was also contacted by Roy Wallack, a journalist, exercise guru, and contributor on fitness to the Los Angeles Times. He is working on a book on weight loss, and shared some interesting conclusions of his own with me, based on a recent Harvard University study.

It took two years, but now, it seems everyone wants to know how I did it. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be. So people will stop asking, here is some advice you, too, can follow to lose your own 100 pounds.

Step 1 — Do not follow my advice. I am not a doctor, I have never played one on TV and what I know about medicine I learned from the Internet and those exploitative shows about conjoined twins on The Learning Channel. I have a primary care physician at the moment  who I like, but the last one treated me with a backpack full of questionable pharmaceuticals, soaked my insurance company, then dumped me and his practice to open a weight-loss clinic. I am medically ignorant, yet abashed by the irony.

Eric Cartman

I am not fat. I am big boned.

Step 2 — Gain 100 pounds — You can’t lose what you don’t have, and if you only weigh 150 pounds to start, this will likely kill you, which may not be a good thing, unless you are that ass who cut me off near Route 37 in Garden City last week. Go eat some lettuce, you scrawny, emaciated  bastard! Gaining 100 pounds can be an enjoyable hobby  — I once polished-off  48 oz’s of prime rib at Austin’s Steakhouse in Albuquerque, and was rewarded by the restaurant with a free dessert — and the dessert was so good, I ate my wife’s, too. Statistically, the weight I lost is equivalent to that of an entire European supermodel (not one of those cute, hair-blowing-in-the-wind, aloof-looking ones, but one of those skanky, sunken-eyed, heroin chic ones). My personal weight gain occurred gradually, 4 or 5 pounds per year  across 25 years. Those who see me every day barely noticed the change. Being 6 ‘4″, I was often told I “carried it well.” And I now know that “carried it well” is a euphemism for “holy crap, you’re fat.”

Step 3 — Eat Less — Don’t put so much food in your mouth.

Step 4 — Don’t Worry About the Holidays. I learned that there are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. So if you blame those high-calorie Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners as the reason you gained 100 pounds, put on your magic hat and polish off a few more pies, Frosty. I have learned that weight loss and maintenance are about the other 1,000 meals you eat the rest of the year, and whether you have good, daily, balanced eating habits. So instead, put down the Diet Coke and enjoy the eggnog,  then go home and throw away the bag of Ruffles and boxes of Reese’s Pieces hidden in the broom closet.

Step 5 — Run around More. Exercise sucks. In New England, it’s either too cold or too hot to be outdoors, and since no one knows how to drive anyway, every walking or running activity is abound with the stench of danger, fear, doom and Johnston’s Central Landfill. (Little known fact: Hitler could have used the Central Landfill to help build his master race! Just ask our local State Rep. Mike Chippendale…)

Johnston's Central Landfill: Creating a fuhror.

And if you elect to frequent the local gyms, you are more than likely going to bring home  athlete’s foot, head lice, a beefy same-sex date, or all three.  But exercise is a critical and key ingredient in the weight loss brew… but not for reasons you might think.

That recent study out of Harvard University I mentioned suggests that the reason exercise is important as a component of weight loss has little to do with calorie-burning or the alleged euphoric feeling that the compulsive exercise addicts claim (with a straight face) you get from working out. The vast majority of those surveyed who maintained significant weight loss relied on some sort of consistent exercise program. And the most popular? Walking! But wouldn’t you need to walk half way around the planet to burn that many calories? Well it seems that regular, repetitive exercise creates a physiological change in the part of the brain that is responsible for executive function. Simply put, exercising may improve concentration and determination, as an unexpected side effect, not only helping you stay on a calorie-reduction program, but also helping you accomplish great things, start businesses, or finish life-long projects… like writing the Great American Novel.


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Dumps, Bumps & Mugwumps

Working two full-time jobs can take a toll on one’s free time, health, family, household chores — and more importantly — one’s blog. I can’t believe it’s been over two months since my last update, so  to clean out the filing cabinet and get myself caught up, here comes a whole flock of mini blog posts. Ignore them one at a time, or all at once, at your leisure.

Buy Local RI

Shopping Maul

Buy Local — Why do I seem to be the only one not to get the buy local campaigns? On its face, they sound like a great idea — why spend my hard-earned dollar in Providence Place or on  if I can support one of the bustling three or four stores occasionally open right here in Chepachet! I get that part. But doesn’t “shop local” also mean that people from Worcester or Putnam will stop coming to Chepachet, and shop in their own obsolete, dreary downtowns?  The effort all  seems circular to me and represents a collective waste of energy  better focused on improving prices and service.

Things That Go Bump in the Night — An era ended quietly this Fall when The Town removed the speed bumps from the end of Absalona Hill Road near Route 44. No longer will residents be able to sheer off their mufflers and set their minivans onto their front grills as they speed through the countryside. The nearly invisible, badly-signed bumps have been the bane of commuters since they were installed, and we will now, sadly, have only our repair bills and memories to honor them.

Steven R. Porter

"Through tattered clothes, small vices do appear."

In the News — Eagle-eyed friends, relatives, and those who still pay attention to local TV news coverage may have caught a glimpse of yours truly on a number of local stations last week including Channels 11, 12, 10, 6 as well as, rallying the cause of my new employer Big Brothers Big Sisters, who were recently victimized by the theft of bins and donations meant to fund mentoring programs for kids. Can there be any act more shameless than stealing from needy children? Perhaps not. But in the spirit of this season of shamelessness,  look for me to make another surprise, self-indulgent media appearance in the feature section of next Tuesday’s Providence Journal.

Oscar the Grouch

Trash Talking

Dumps — Is an unpopular “Pay As You Throw” trash program the inevitable result of a poorly operated transfer station, an irrelevant Town Council whose messages are ignored, an apathetic populace too lazy and self-indulgent to sort out their own bottles and cans, or perhaps all three? Despite the grumbling, evidence is clear that “Pay As You Throw” programs not only work but show dramatically positive results — and if you don’t like it, you can just dump your stuff over the border into the woods in Burrillville.

Chronic Town

It's the End of the World As We Know It

REM — In September, after 31 years together, REM announced it was disbanding. The news came as a shock to many who thought the band disbanded years ago. But no matter how irrelevant and uninspired their songs had become in the modern era, their influence on rock is permanent, and deserving of Rolling Stone Magazine once calling them the greatest rock band in the world. REM invented and defined the sound of music for my generation. So beware, that ear-splitting sound you hear in the middle of the night may not be the screeching mating call of the fisher cat after all, but might just be me with my guitar in my basement belting out one last cover of, What’s the Frequency Kenneth.

Rep. Mike Chippendale

Rep Chippendale: Dancing Around the Real Issue

Connecticut Junkies — A rash of serial break-ins in the Foster area in October inspired State Representative Mike Chippendale to alert his friends and constituents, via email,to be alert and lock their doors —  a bit of absolutely wise advice, of which my family has dutifully followed. However, the eyebrow-raising part of his message surprisingly identified the bad guys, “...when we see serial break-ins, it’s usually junkies from over the CT border…” Egad! Who knew all those old people driving down 395 to Foxwoods were heroin addicts! Considering Foster has had its own share of serious crime stories this year, and the recent and troubling raid in Chepachet that netted marijuana, cocaine and two semi-automatic pistols, Rep. Chippendale’s finger pointing at “them” and not “us” not only demonizes whole communities who are more than likely innocent, but also provides a false sense of security in our own communities where the real culprits may lie.

The War on Christmas

Out on a Limb — I have been baffled at the attention everyone is giving Governor Chafee’s big, dead evergreen at the Rhode Island State House. Rather than express my opinion on whether  to call it a “Holiday Tree” or a “Christmas Tree” I’ll say this. I know how hard it is to motivate people to volunteer, coach Little League, help at their schools or mentor a child in need. So when people who are enamored with their own self-righteousness are suddenly motivated to show up and rudely interrupt the Rhode Island Children’s Chorus with a protest-inspired rendition of Oh, Christmas Tree, I know, at least, what I want to call them.

The New Book — Many have asked, and yes, my new novel is underway! But it will not be a sequel to Confessions of the Meek and the Valiant. The new book is titled Manisses and if successful, I hope it will change how people view history and their role in it. But don’t worry, it won’t be some boring textbook — there will be Indians, pirates, spiritual channelers, shipwrecks, lobsters and lots of other fun stuff, too. I promise.

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Signature Moments

Association of Rhode Island Authors

Association of Rhode Island Authors

Come join me this Saturday and Sunday at the Johnston Apple Festival, along with Rhode Island authors Lynne Holden, Erin Whalen,  Jo-Anne DeGiacomo-Petrie and others, as we sign and sell copies of our new books. The special group signing is brought to you by the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA) — a recently organized collection of local writers interested in selling and promoting their works, and who have recognized that it is time that Rhode Island authors stand up and take their place in the state’s vibrant arts community. There are over 20 published RI authors who have voiced their support to the new organization.

The formation of ARIA is partly in response to the upheaval that is underway in the publishing world. It is difficult to explain why revenue from adult fiction sales (according to the New York Times) is up 8.8% the past three years, while companies like Borders are liquidated through the bankruptcy courts. The answer has something to do with the 300 year-old business model that doesn’t include little old ladies in retirement homes huddled around  Kindles. To make a long story short, power has shifted from the Publishers and Booksellers to the Writers and Readers.

Irish Soda Bread

Gaelic Breath

The Apple Festival will be held at Johnston Memorial Park on Saturday and Sunday (9/24 & 9/25) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. If you cannot attend, come see me at the Harmony Library next Wednesday, September 28 at 6:30 p.m. where I’ll be reading from Confessions of the Meek and the Valiant as part of the Harmony Library’s “New Authors Series.”  (NEWS UPDATE: Sources have confirmed that Dawn’s delicious Irish soda bread will be making an encore appearance.)

Tuesday night, Harmony’s own Lynne Holden read at the Harmony Library from her recently published memoir, The Pastor Has Gorgeous Legs. For those of you who missed it, shame on you. It was a treat.

One of the unexpected side effects of this new power shift? Many of these emerging, new works — once ignored or suppressed by the status quo — just happen to be pretty good.

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Power Brokers

It’s been almost a week since I last woke to the soothing, rhythmic hum of our neighbor’s gasoline powered Briggs & Stratton generator. Last weekend, electricity was restored to the final corners of the neighborhood, re-introducing flush toilets, hot showers and Facebook status updates to all the fervent, technology-starved Robinson Crusoe’s.

Robinson Crusoe

Your power will be restored by Friday.

There was much we learned from Hurricane Irene. We learned that neighbors are always willing to help neighbors. We learned how to light kerosene lanterns without setting ourselves ablaze the way our ancestors did. We learned how to check email on cell phones from the front seat of our cars in the dark. We learned that the stupid traffic light at the intersection of 44 and 102 is unnecessary. We learned what it takes to make people who make over $250k per year to line up at Red Cross trailers to get free lunches and non-potable pond water. We learned that the new DePetrillo’s Pizza & Bakery in Chepachet was closed for serving unsafe food that could make you sick . (Attention Health Department, really, it’s OK.., those pizza strips are supposed to taste that way, and always make your stomach rumble even on good days. You are ruining the denouement.)

And we learned that in the absence of any quality puns for the word “Irene,” the chronically lazy of the world adopted the moldy, nauseating  Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ hit Come on Eileen to fill the void. (Acceptable, of course, only if you are willing to sing it karaoke-style with one of those racist, fake-Asian accents.)

In its aftermath, we are now left with piles of dead batteries, several cord of free firewood and a petty political storm of protest that would have made old Thomas Wilson Dorr burrow deeper into his grave. (Outlaw Governor Dorr is buried in Providence’s Swan Point Cemetery in a neighborhood that did not lose power.)

Snake Hill Road, Glocester

Branch Managers

But when it leaked out that National Grid intended to re-connect our  northwest corner of the state last, based on the concept that no one actually lives out here, and not on the fact that we simply have more trees, our elected wooden Indians suddenly came to life to wag their termite-infested index fingers in disgust. The whining even caused Governor Chafee to pack his overnight bag and come all the way from Providence out to Harmony Farms to see for himself what a felled and broken apple tree looked like. Like Governor Dorr, Governor Chafee never lost power at his house either.

So now Sen. John Tassoni of Smithfield is chairing a state senate  inquiry into the response to Irene. Possessing no political influence is OK when things are calm, but when it is unwittingly revealed during a crisis, it is unacceptable. Someone must be blamed. When the kids are home, campaign donors must maintain Xbox Live service at all times.  Memo to Foster, Glocester, Smithfield, et al.– work on that political influence thing before the next big natural disaster.

I waited to write this hoping it to be the last word on Hurricane Irene. No such luck. Sen. Tassoni will extract his pound of flesh, fry it up on

Senator John Tassoni

A Dark & Stormy Knight

an old propane grill, and sell it to the highest bidder. National Grid and EMA will stand chastised and we will hear it over and over again throughout the next election cycle. And when both the Chepachet River Bridge and Chestnut Hill Bridge construction projects miss their deadlines as we all knew they would, they will have their patsy, the maladroit Irene, to blame.

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Making an Author You Can’t Refuse

I owe a tremendous thanks to Liz and her staff at Brown and Hopkins Country Store in Chepachet for allowing me, my wife, friends, book buyers and our rum pudding to invade and occupy her shop for our “Book Release Launch Party” on August 20th.

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If you were one of those who found something better to do on an 80 degree, sunny, summer afternoon, here’s what you missed (besides the chance to buy the next Great American Novel) —  rum pudding, rhubarb crumble, Panforte,  Gamberi e Fagioli, Insalata di Olive, Crema Formaggio all’Olio, Irish soda bread and much more.  All the Irish and Italian recipes were homemade (by Dawn) and were more interesting and popular than the novel’s author.

So if you still need a copy of Confessions of the Meek and the Valiant, Brown and Hopkins has them in stock, as does Amazon in both paperback and for download to your Kindle. And if you would prefer one signed and personalized, I will be doing several bookstore and library readings over the coming weeks, including Barnes & Noble in Warwick and Tatnuck Booksellers in Westborough, Mass. (near Worcester). My next event is at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13 at the Lincoln Public Library. The complete schedule is posted on my website,

Thank you again to everyone who came by and helped Dawn and I enjoy a great day!

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