PBS launched a new Ken Burns series this week, this one on the Roosevelts. What I’ve seen so far reminds me of why I’ve always idolized this family. The documentary focuses on Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor — how they each overcame deep personal demons and rose to the top of American politics. In the process, they changed millions of lives for the better. I’ve written quite a bit about them over the years. The launch of Ken Burns’ latest…  [Read More]

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There’s a pretty awful story unfolding here in Massachusetts, about four children living in filth and neglect at a home in Blackstone. It reads like a horror movie: The house was infested with vermin, 2-foot stacks of dirty diapers were everywhere and feces covered the walls. The two youngest kids showed signs of neglect. Police found the remains of three infants and a number of dead animals in the house. Mood music: The mom, 31-year-old Erika…  [Read More]

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I Didn’t Know Danny Lewin, But I’m Grateful For Him

by Bill Brenner September 12, 2014 Gratitude

As an Akamai Technologies employee, I practically inhaled Molly Knight Raskin’s book, “No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet.” It’s a spectacular look at the history of the company, and it captures the Danny Lewin I’ve heard about from colleagues who knew him. Mood music: I was laboring unhappily at a newspaper on Sept. 11, 2001, when Lewin died aboard American Airlines Flight 11. It’s largely…  [Read More]

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9/11 Lessons: We Rise Again

by Bill Brenner September 11, 2014 Courage

As we take time to remember those we lost on Sept. 11, 2001, let’s also remember what we’ve held onto. Mood music: As the years have passed, I’ve found myself comparing the terrorist attacks to the personal demons we all deal with at various points in our lives. Many of us have fears, regrets, dreams and nightmares. Like terrorists who threaten to blow up buildings and people, our personal demons threaten to destroy us. But as I’ve…  [Read More]

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Making Sense of a 9/11 Obsession

by Bill Brenner September 10, 2014 Compulsive behaviors

It happens every time the calendar rolls into September. I start watching documentaries about 9/11 and can’t stop. It’s as if an unseen force is controlling my actions. I go from one YouTube clip to the next. Many people do this in the days leading up to the anniversary, but for me there’s the OCD element, where after I watch something I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll forget the rest of the world exists and…  [Read More]

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Those Scars Are for Life

by Bill Brenner September 9, 2014 Dealing with life

Yesterday I came across this quote from Rose Kennedy, late matriarch of the 20th-century political dynasty: “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” –Rose Kennedy Whatever you may think of the Kennedys, it’s a fact that Rose lived through more than her fair share of grief. Her…  [Read More]

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Gene Simmons Can’t See the Rock Through the Dollar Signs

by Bill Brenner September 8, 2014 Communication skills for the crazy

When KISS bassist Gene Simmons commented negatively on depression and suicide, I cheered Nikki Sixx for picking his argument apart. Now it’s my turn to pick apart a comment Simmons made. He said rock is dead. Mood music: Truth is, I like Simmons. He’s given a lot to rock, and I still love listening to KISS, especially the music it put out in the 1970s and early ’80s. I love, too, Gene Simmons Family Jewels,…  [Read More]

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New SIXX A.M. Music

by Bill Brenner September 5, 2014 Music therapy

The Prednisone is making me pretty stabby of late and I’m relying on some heavy-duty music therapy to keep my temper in check. Happily, there’s a new SIXX A.M. album coming out next month and four songs are already available on YouTube. I’m digging the new material, and decided to make a playlist here. So here you have it, four new songs from the upcoming album “Modern Vintage.”

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Opinions Are Like Assholes, Especially on Facebook

by Bill Brenner September 4, 2014 Political discourse

There’s an old saying that opinions are like assholes: everyone has one. Nothing amplifies the point like a typical day on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. Mood music: The scenario typically unfolds in five steps: Someone posts a status update with emotion. It can be anger over personal situations (they stubbed a toe), sports (their favored team lost), politics, etc. Or it can be something whimsical or nostalgic, like marveling at how fast…  [Read More]

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5 Things I’ve Done That Scare Me

by Bill Brenner September 3, 2014 Courage

A while back I wrote a post celebrating Eleanor Roosevelt’s call to “do something every day that scares you.” Rereading that post recently, I realized I forgot something important. Mood music: I forgot to mention how I’m living that advice and not simply parroting it to be cool. If this blog is to mean anything, I have to lead by example, though not in the ways you may be thinking of. I’m not about to skydive…  [Read More]

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