My wife and I are often asked why we chose Las Vegas as the place for us to live and raise our kids. After all, we’re both from the east and besides, Las Vegas is more the place you think of to get away from your family! To be honest, even my wife felt that way, but let me back up.
What first brought me out to this desert paradise, was my dad - he was a great man – hard working, good family man, but he had one vice, he loved to play craps. He was first introduced to the game when he was in the Marine Corps and he started taking us out here in 1972, when the hospital where my mom worked offered a “junket” (remember those) to Las Vegas. Every year from then on, while other kids went to Disneyland, my brother and I grew up on the south Strip - Flamingo & Las Vegas Blvd. He would give us some money and say, “I’ll see you guys in the lobby at dinner time.” We loved it – total freedom. I’d go in the resort’s pool (we always stayed at the MGM Grand, which later became Bally’s), hang out in the “penny” arcade and SWENSEN’S ice cream parlor, and oh yeah, when I found out that my Dad’s “comp” allowed me to order room service, I ordered a steady stream of tuna sandwiches and Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry sodas, but I digress…
From the time I first visited Las Vegas, I wanted to live here, so when I met my wife in 1996, I immediately took her out here in hopes that she may share my enthusiasm. We spent four days having a great time, partying, seeing shows and dancing the nights away, but when I asked her if she’d like to move here she said, “NO WAY! The school’s are the worst in the nation and look what we did while we were here – we drank, we gambled and we partied around the clock… that IS NOT how we are going to raise our kids!”
Ouch! Okay, so we didn’t move here in 1996, we ended up living in my apartment in Brooklyn for a few years and then built a house in central New Jersey, in a place called Manalapan. We lived on an acre of land, on a cul-de-sac with only eleven homes on it surrounded by hundreds of acres of farm land. For two city folks, we thought we were in Kansas, but we had the greatest neighbors, most of which are still good friends of ours to this day. It was really a “dream-come-true” for us ...but then came September 11, 2001.
We lost a lot of friends on 9/11; the dearest of which was our neighbor and friend Danny Afflitto. His wife Stacey remains one of my wife’s best friends and mine (love you Stacey, if you’re reading this). 9/11 was the end of Camelot for us there. Lisa also lost her brother in the same year. I have never seen anything sadder than a pregnant woman with tears of sorrow in her eyes; Lisa was pregnant with our third son Jordan, so we named him Jordan Daniel, after our friend Danny Afflitto. Lisa’s grief became too much, so by March 2002, she finally said to me, “Find us a home in Las Vegas.” By July, we closed on a beautiful home in the foothills just southeast of the strip, in a place called Green Valley Ranch. We love the foothills and we love our home. As for the school systems here, they’re the worst in the nation, for the most part – but we solved that by deciding to homeschool our kids. Though, that’s a story for another day…
We love living here and so do our kids, it’s a beautiful place to live, raise a family and visit, so hey, if y’all do visit Las Vegas, let me know! If I’m not on the road, the first round’s on me! ‘Till next time… Peace!
Turn up your speakers and soak in Joe Cocker’s version of this timeless tune! I picked this version of this great song because my old and very dear friend Warren McRae is the bass player for Joe (he’s in the video) – so it makes it the coolest video for what I wanted to express here – and that is friendship!
"Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with."
- Mark Twain
I want to salute friendship in all its forms – from the strength you feel from your old mates, childhood friends, etc. to the excitement you feel from making new friends. Friends that have been there for you through the “thick and thin” and even fair weather friends …they’re okay with me too!
"My friends are my estate."
- Emily Dickinson
To my writing brothers and sisters from LinkedIn, David Nicholls, S&M Carrière, Ronnie Dauber, and all the rest from Cafe Niente` …cheers!
"My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me."
- Henry Ford
To my friends from my music career, y’all know who you are, but special mentions to Greg, Crissy, Mick, Mikey “Bones, Jill, who I just saw at the Nugent show – next time I’m hanging longer, I’ll bring my own Prilosac! 9-) p.s. Mike Fesler, sorry I missed you brother, hope you did well in the tournament – catch you next time! Must mention Nicky Kalliongis, 2 questions brother! 9-)
"The making of friends, who are real friends, is the best token we have of a man's success in life."
- Edward Everett Hale
To the friends I grew up with in Ridgewood, NY, Dominic, Tony, Frankie, Jimmy and especially my cousins (who are friends too) Diane, Rock, Mary, Johnny “V”
"Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you."
- Elbert Hubard
..And to all the rest of my friends, all over the world – I can’t wait to see you again and bend an arm with you!
Let’s hear it for our friends – one can never have enough and every single one is special!
Cheers, Peace & God Bless!
My former band mate Greg Smith is now the bass player for Ted Nugent. They came to town and played a fantastic gig last night at the Green Valley Ranch Station Resort. I’m gonna tell you something, whether you’re a fan of Uncle Ted’s music and/or all of his political and world views or not, no one can deny that Ted Nugent is a patriot and Ted Nugent is pure in his beliefs. Those were the two things that I took away from his performance last night.
Nugent played to a packed house of believers in Ted, and Ted, as he always has, whipped his believers into frenzy after frenzy of true red, white & blue patriotism and pride in our country and the men and women that protect it. Nugent always has members of the military in his audiences and this show was no different – he’s always been loyal to them and in return, they show their loyalty to him by coming to his shows and shouting their support.
Though I was a guitarist in a heavy metal band for a few years and have listened to Ted’s music, I wouldn’t say I was ever a die-hard fan, at least not back then, but now, I’ll say this …I’m a fan of Ted Nugent, the man, the patriot, the Motor City Madman. Can you believe, I learned something at the show last night? That’s right, I learned something, as if I had gone to see a lecture by some PhD. Ted told us that he’s 61 years old and has been rockin’ with the same energy and enthusiasm has he did when he first started in 1960. That tells me that he really loves what he does and believes in his message. As I launch my writing career, I find myself constantly questioning my message, “what is it that I’m trying to say?” I sometimes find myself getting bogged down with second-guessing myself and then not projecting 100% confidence in my beliefs, my message. Ted taught me, to hell with second-guessing! Once I examine my beliefs and find them righteous, I should be backing them up with my talk and my swagger, like he does! I learned that from Nugent’s show last night.
I also learned that when you do what you love and believe in – you are not only blessed but you convey sincerity to those around you. The people punching their fists in the air and shouting their support for Ted last night, buy into him because he’s totally pure – what you see is what you get with Ted Nugent.
Ted talks a lot about spirit during his show – the spirit of the buffalo – the spirit of freedom – the spirit of independent thinking. I can tell y’all this; Ted Nugent’s spirit is alive and well. I pray that stays that way for a long time to come!
Taken from the "Arjay Books" website, "Christian speculative fiction (Christian SF, ChristianSF, or CSF) or, as some prefer to call it, Christian futuristic fiction (CFF), and Christian fantasy (CF) combine one or more aspects of speculative or fantasy fiction with Biblical themes to examine Christian doctrine, ethics, and relationships (with God and other people) in a fresh context."
Ten years ago, when my oldest son Jared was born, I wanted to introduce him to Christian heroes, right from the start of his life. The problem I found was that, although the Bible is filled with real Christian heroes, there weren't many fictional heroes that authors created as truly Christian - that is, deriving their supernatural powers or special gifts from God. That frustrated me and made me ask the question, “How can that be?” Well, since I couldn’t find one, I decided to create one, my friend “Bian-Athar.”
That’s right, Bian-Athar was living in my mind for ten years, without a home on paper, mostly because I couldn’t make up my mind into which reality I wanted to drop him. I had written a small manuscript in 1999 that materialized Bian into a “middle earth”-type setting. I gave it to my wife Lisa, who after reading it had her critical eyebrow raised. She asked me one simple but crushing question, “Is THAT what you wanted to write? She was right of course; it wasn’t what I wanted to write – the setting just wasn’t realistic enough.
I spent the next ten years trying to think of the proper world for my Christian hero, Bian-Athar. Then one day, after having a lively conversation with my wife about how dumb so many of the speculative, that is “set in the future,” stories that were being published and even turned into movies were, it finally came to me… THAT’S where I wanted to place Bian-Athar, in the near-future!
Bian would help me get the word out to the world about just what fate REALLY befalls mankind! I mean, people are accepting the most ridiculous premises – the world is going to end from another ice age; the world is going to be invaded by aliens; an asteroid is going to destroy the earth, etc., and look at the “heroes” people are accepting – mutants, sorcerers, even the son of SATAN! <Sigh> you know what, the world may be accepting all that rubbish because that’s all there is out there. Well, not anymore. My Saga of the Seven Seals (S7S) 7-book Christian Speculative Fiction series tells the story of the last seven years of Satan’s rule of mankind, the time known as the “Tribulation.” Bian-Athar leads a special group of men – God’s “Champions of Righteousness,” who are tasked with protecting God’s Elect through the Tribulation. Book 1, The First Seal-Year of the White Horse-Introducing Bian-Athar & the Champions of Righteousness, does just that, introduces my friend Bian to the world… finally, he’s out of my mind and on paper.
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Dean Wesley Smith