Too Early for Shark Tank

Jumped on Twitter after doing a small load of laundry and having a great breakfast of Bisquick’s Gluten Free pancakes with sweet apple sausage.  I am attempting to interact every day even if it’s only for 15 – 20 minutes at a time.  We’re all busy and I know that you know that.

While reviewing my notifications I noticed a tweet from @jamesoliverjr and long story short we had a few things in common.

1) Shark Tank

2) Both of us lived in Brooklyn

3) Both of us went to the same HS

This is why I love Twitter!  It makes our great big world so small.  But the real reason I’m writing this post is because of his post about how he did not get to pitch the Sharks for the final round to get on the show.  You can read his post here.  While you would expect a rant session in his post you won’t find one.  James has a balanced viewpoint and he is still very enthused and confident in the success of his company WeMontage.  His company creates montages out of your photos utilizing photo wall paper, stickers, decals, etc.  You can then transform any room, or space, with your own personalized photos.

I read his post with an understanding smile on my face.  In the days before Shark Tank, I had a business that was I so passionate about I did not sleep.  I worked several 24 hour days to fulfill orders.  I raised funds from friends, raided my 401k — I did the grind as well.  My business was a vegan bakery.  At the height of my business, I supplied 13 restaurants/diners with my baked products in the mecca of vegan eateries that was (and still is) New York’s City’s the Village.

Restauranteurs told me customers came from Connecticut to get my baked goods on a weekly basis.  But I was baking from my home.  I became partners with a couple and we went into a lease for a space in a location that could have been pretty good — by the entrance of the Long Island Railroad on a busy street in Brooklyn.

SharkTank Sharks

However, for reasons too numerous to recount here, the business did not fly.  I was able to release myself from the lease without penalty and walked away from my business and my customers.  So, I know a thing, or two, about disappointment.  While I highly doubt the Sharks would have been interested in my business due to the relatively low revenues generated.  I know Mr. Wonderful would have asked me if I would want a royalty deal.  Barbara may have asked me if I would be willing to license my recipes to a large manufacturer.  Mark would have been out along with the other Sharks who would have cited scalability issues.

But Barbara might have done the deal.  I grew something out of nothing in a niche market that was then just beginning.  I was at the forefront of the vegan baked goods upward trend (maybe a couple of years prior to the big hit).  This was in the late 90’s.

I’ve been an entrepreneur at heart for a long time.  I respect people like James Oliver, Jr. and his incessant grind towards making his business dream a reality.  To that end, please share your business’ website/links in the comments below to let us know what you’re grinding towards this year.

I wish James and all of the other Shark-preneurs out there a very profitable 2015.

Ta-ta for now,


Book Thoughts: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers was recommended to me by a colleague.  At the time of the book suggestion, the HBO TV series based on this book had recently started.  Because no one in the office had read the book, having a discussion about the book as opposed to the TV show couldn’t happen.  So, I decided I would read the book and begin watching the HBO show.

Let’s just skip through pretty much the whole season of the show because that’s how long it took me to read and digest the book.  Granted, I did finish editing my new book and published it on Amazon then began a book promotions blitz but I digress.

The point being, I did not get into Perrotta’s book until approximately 10 days ago.  From the time I started reading it, I couldn’t get into the characters.  While they were interesting and a catastrophic event called the Sudden Rapture took place (where thousands of people disappeared instantly never to be seen again) making all of the book’s character incredibly traumatized — I couldn’t get past what I saw as a huge negativity problem.

Generally speaking, I tend to read books with some sort of positivity &/or an upbeat tempo with a fast-driving plot.  I am very plot-driven when I write and when I read.  The Leftovers is written in that more literary style where the story is about the characters, their interactions with one another and the emotional evolutionary arc they travel from the beginning of the book to the end of the tome.

Perrotta is an excellent writer.  He keeps you awake with pithy believable conversations between the characters and great phrases that I recalled even after I put the book down for the day (and yes, I read this in its hardcover edition; no Kindle for this book).  One phrase I particularly enjoyed is “One Nut, One Speech.”

I’ll back up and tell you the set-up of the story.  In the book’s timeline, three years ago, an unthinkable thing occurred.  Thousands upon thousands of people simply vanished.  They were driving their car, eating dinner, walking to school, sitting and clowning around with friends and then the next second they were not there.  The book is the story about what happened to the people who did not disappear — the leftovers.

There is no general governmental consensus as to what happened and why the people who disappeared — disappeared.  Some people believe that it was God’s Rapture where the Holy were taken up to the heavens to be one with God.  Others didn’t believe that because the people who were taken were not all God-fearing people.  In fact, many of those taken were full of transgressions (i.e. – sins) but they were still taken.  Yet, others who were saintly and strove to be the best they could be were not taken.  There seemed to be no clear hard and fast rules for who was taken and who was not.

The ‘villans’ in the book is a group that sprung up after the Sudden Rapture called the Guilty Remnant (GR).  The GR’s leader is a man whose son disappeared.  His moniker is Holy Wayne (and the Wayners – how cool is that?).  The GR are people who are so traumatized (read: damaged) from dealing with the fallout of their loved ones being taken they need to escape.  The GR is not a religious group but they do wear white and smoke cigarettes.  The kicker is they follow people around to remind folks that there’s someone always watching. GR patrols follow the townspeople around and take a vow of silence to make those they follow feel uncomfortable.

The Leftovers is a book that explores the boundaries of the human spirit and its capacity to deal with the unknown.  While I do not find a true plot, I would say that this book is, again, using a literary device and making plot as theme.  For me, that theme is people must have something they believe in that is greater than themselves.  Why?  Because when something so unfathomable happens it takes a while to believe in anything good again.  Yeah, that’s the theme as plot.  While there are other threads running through the story such as:

* since the world is unhinged must I still adhere to morality?

* since no one knows if we be will here tomorrow there’s no room for regret

* because there is no point in getting excited about the future let’s wallow in the thick sludge that is our present reality and stay there; no weddings, no parties, no fun

Needless to say, the book is not one overflowing with the Pollyanna viewpoint.  However, if you can get past this, The Leftovers is a really fascinating read.  You get to see the world have a physical, emotional and psychological meltdown and this goes across ethnicities, countries, sex and sexual orientation — everyone is affected in the world.

I have not watched the HBO series but I wonder how those writers will treat this material.  You’ve heard it time and again that the book is never as good as the book, right?  I’m wondering how this will compare as the book has many tangents that were not fully explored that may be exploited/expounded upon in the TV series.  I guess I can start watching it now.

In the meantime, I give this book…

4 Blogairy NoteBooks

FOX’s Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow, a new television show on FOX, started last Monday (9/16).  I became interested because the trailers being shown on various cable stations (Starz, Encore, etc.) showed actors that were extremely passionate about their characters.  While they are actors for some reason the passion in their demeanor and the interesting story line caught and held my attention.

Wasn’t quite sure what the story was about other than the TV series would be based (in some way) on the short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow written by Washington Irving (1820).

Turned on the boob tube on the 16th and was blown away by the full story and plot twists that the writers of Sleepy Hollow created!  This is my take on this new show’s storyline/plot:

Abigail Mills (Nicole Beharie) is a cop that is about to move away from Sleepy Hollow to run away from her checkered past.  In her youth, Abby and her sister, Jenny, saw something in the forest they could not explain.  Something that scared them both very badly.  The town really never let the two young girls forget it.  They called them crazy.  Abby stopping talking about the experience and basically recanted what she saw while her sister did not.  Jenny is now in a psychological facility.

The night the series begins, Abby and the Sheriff (her mentor and almost father figure), are out and investigate a murder.  The Sheriff is murdered by a headless horseman and Abby witnesses this incredible event.  In her mind, it takes her back to that unforgettable time in her youth where she saw something that others did not believe.  Therefore, since she’s leaving the following week she does not divulge what she saw in its entirety.

Later that evening, a stranger man is picked up and brought into the jail.  It’s Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison).  He identifies the killer to a ‘T’ including mode of dress, scar on hand and the missing cranium.  Abby is astounded and ensures that Crane is made a consultant on the case with her.  All this even though Crane tells Captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) that his last memory was from 250 years ago!

Okay, here comes the historical/paranormal/time-bending stuff. 

The headless horseman is really the first of the 4 horseman of the Biblical Apocalypse (Revelations).  Crane and Abby are the 2 witnesses that are charged with preventing the 4 horesmen from destroying the world.  Crane’s wife, Katrina, is a witch who is caught between the two worlds.  She acts as an oracle and helps Crane know what to do next and what is to come.  So, the events in this little town can affect everyone on the planet if they don’t do all they can to stop the headless horseman from reuniting with his head.

The other part of this puzzle is the Sheriff (who died in the first few minutes of the first episode) had a slew of secret files that Abby found only after his death.  These files point to murders that have been taking place for years up and down the Northeast and around the country.  The Sheriff knew they were somehow linked but could not find out how.

The Sheriff did know that 250 years ago there were two sets of people that were trying to change the outcome of the war.  The first was a group of dark witches and the other a group of white whites.  It was the white witches that put the spell on the headless horseman that kept him in stasis for these last 250 years.  The white witches also took his head and buried it separate from his body.

Crane and the headless horseman are linked in death because the horseman (who still had his head) gave Crane a death blow on the battlefield.  However, Crane was able to decapitate the horseman before he died.  The blood of the two of them commingled tying them and their fates together.

Fast forward to our time.  The descendents of both sets of light and dark witches are still at work.  The progeny of the dark witches have cast a spell to awaken the headless horseman.  This also awakened Crane.

The Sheriff knew that no one in the town of Sleepy Hollow could be trusted because he did not know and could not figure out how to ferret out who was working for which side.  So, he kept his research and his files secret.

The Sheriff had a very good idea as to what Jenny and Abby saw in their youth but he was afraid to share any information.  So, he kept Abby close and helped her as much as he could without telling her what he knew.

The writers of Sleepy Hollow have given us the skeleton of a fabulous story!  We know the foundations run back 250 years.  We have a way to gain information from that time (Crane’s wife, Katrina).  We have ample research to delve into to get more information as things reveal themselves and to find connections via the Sheriff’s files.  We know why this is so cotton-pickin’ important — we need to save the world.  And, we have a crazed demonic murderer wreaking havoc on the town of Sleepy Hollow for immediate drama in each and every episode (if need be).

Now some folks on Twitter have been saying there are loopholes in the story’s plotting.  Where?  I don’t see them.  The writers have given us a pretty clear but incredible set of parameters for our modern-day cop and the recently revived Crane to work through.

What’s missing?  Please share with me!  I want to see what you see!  I appreciate all comments and will be watching and waiting to interact with all of you.

Ta-ta for now,
The NoteBook Blogairy

Movie Review: Vegucated

Watch Vegucated, a documentary about trying to convert three traditional eaters (read: carnivores) into vegan in the space of six weeks.  I was sparked to watch this film by a tweet I received a few days ago.  Being a reformed vegan of over 12 years, I decided that I wanted to watch this one and see how it was presented.  After my own self-education back in the day (Diet for a Small Planet, Diet for a New America, etc.), I wanted to know if people were still being converted (coerced) into a new way of thinking and eating through fear.

Vegucated is pretty good in that the goal of this film is positive motivation.  They use your future better health as inspiration for going vegan.  They do show and tell about the facts of traditional American meat and poultry production however the message is coming to you from three people in conversion.  These three people were hardcore meat-eaters and their refrigerators at the beginning PROVE this! LOL.  One of the three guinea pig meat-eater converts didn’t even cook for herself — her Peruvian Dad did all of the cooking for her.  This made eating meat not even a question for her — until Marisa Wolfson asked her to try going vegan for six weeks.

This film does not go into heavy visual detail about the practices used in commercial meat production but it does show some very graphic and disturbing scenes of animals going through various steps of the process (a pig being lowered into a vat of boiling water and the carcass being de-haired by a machine.  It looks very painful…).  So, viewers you will not be spared some of the realities of how your meat and poultry get to your dinner table.  However, it is not slammed in your face; it comes towards the end of the film.

The entire beginning is about the health benefits of becoming a vegan.  How you can lose weight almost effortlessly, how your body’s vital signs improve in a short time (blood pressure, cholesterol levels…) and how much better and healthier you will feel.

Vegucated is focused primarily on accentuating the positives of being a healthy eater that consumes fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes.  The normal American eats only 9% of these things which is extremely unbalanced.

While I am no longer a vegan I still consume A LOT of veggies, grains, salads, and fruit.  I drink plenty of water and make sure to eat fish and poultry as my main sources of proteins along with root vegetables and ground foods (for complex carbs that take longer to burn than rice or grains).

Being a vegan made me a much more conscious eater.  I understand the purpose of food and try to balance out my carbs and proteins.  I also know that I have to watch the idiot foods.  For me, idiot foods are the sugar-filled stuff that makes me smile.  But, it’s bad for our bodies over the long haul.

I think everyone should watch Vegucated so they will not be in the dark about how their food is being handled.  However, what you do with that information is your own personal choice — however educate yourself so no one can surprise you, terrorize you, or preach at you.  Be an informed consumer about the most important thing in your life — what you put in your body.

4 Blogairy Notebooks

Notebook Blogairy Finds "The Notebook"

So, I am 6 1/2 months pregnant and had just come in from completing the baby registry with daddy-to-be.  We’re both dog-tired and in need of sleep (our dogs were barking!! Uh…feet.)

But, my brain wouldn’t shut down.  What do I do? Flick on the TV, of course.  I find The Notebook is on and decide to watch it this time.  You know, the Ryan Gosling love story?  You’d figure that with my moniker being The Notebook Blogairy anything with ‘notebook’ in it would be something I gravitate towards, right?  LOL.

Anywho, I am drawn into the story and fall in love with the endearing love story and figure out what’s happening and who the two mature adults really are and from that moment I became a waterbag!  (You know you cried throughout this movie too!)

The story goes back and forth in time from the past to the present and does it beautifully!  I am so glad I took the time to watch The Notebook.  It reminded me a bit of Bridges of Madison County except for the ending — of course.

Blogairy Notebook Rating: 4