Awhile back, I wrote about learning to roll with the unexpected punches life hurls at you. I called those occasions plot twists. Yesterday I got one hell of a plot twist, and at first I had trouble following my own advice. Mood music: The back injury I wrote about yesterday is much worse than I thought. I went to the chiropractor, figuring he’d fix me and I’d be on my way, even though I’d reached…  [Read More]

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After eight years of life without any significant back pain, I’d forgotten how threatening an injury can be to one’s mental health. This past week and a half, I’ve gotten all too clear of a reminder. Mood music: A couple Fridays ago, I twisted my tailbone out of joint while plugging in a power cord. It has never the heavy lifting for me that’s caused injury; it’s always been the quick, careless movements. I spent…  [Read More]

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“Crazy Mike” Lives

by Bill Brenner August 23, 2014 Mental health

A couple years ago I wrote some posts criticizing fellow Haverhill residents for making fun of a mentally ill man — Crazy Mike, as he is unfortunately known. Some jerks created a Facebook page dedicated to making fun of the man, whose real name is Michael Nicoloro, which was taken down after a wave of complaints. Mood Music: There’s been a lot of debate and speculation regarding Mike’s mental state and how he got that way,…  [Read More]

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Suicide Is Not a Rational Act

by Bill Brenner August 15, 2014 Suicide

As this week has gone on, we’ve seen discussion continue about suicide and depression as more details about Robin Williams‘ death are made public. Two conversations in particular highlight an important fact. Mood music: The first is a comment someone made regarding my post on Shepard Smith calling Williams’ suicide a cowardly act. Bert Knabe wote: Looking at his words, I don’t think [Smith] was calling Williams a coward, he was saying one of those…  [Read More]

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A (Small) Defense of Shepard Smith

by Bill Brenner August 14, 2014 News

A lot of people are incensed with Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who suggested Robin Williams was a coward for killing himself this week. My first instinct was to call him out for being an idiot, an enabler of insensitive motormouths uninterested in learning about how depression really ticks. But I’m going to take the road less expected. I’m going to defend the guy a little bit. Mood music: First, let me clarify three things: I…  [Read More]

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Was Robin Williams Suicide a Selfish Act?

by Bill Brenner August 13, 2014 Depression

The death of actor Robin Williams has left many in shock, myself included. I can’t imagine a world without his talents, and the nature of his death has brought all my old memories of depression and suicide back into focus. A couple friends have suggested that Williams committed a selfish act that will ravage his friends and family for years to come. I can see where that line of thinking comes from. After my best…  [Read More]

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Dumb Stunt or Change Agent?

by Bill Brenner August 12, 2014 Medicine

Like pretty much everyone else on Facebook, my news feed has been full of videos of friends and relatives dumping a bucket of ice on their heads to raise awareness of ALS and money for research that may one day lead to better treatment. Some people have suggested this is a useless exercise, something people are doing so friends on Facebook can say, “Wow, look how awesome that person is.” Is that so? Mood music:…  [Read More]

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What I Learned About Myself at DEF CON

by Bill Brenner August 11, 2014 Fear and anxiety

I’m just back from Las Vegas, where I attended BSidesLV, Black Hat and DEF CON. I’m jet-lagged as hell and feel like toxic waste, but I’m also feeling pretty good about myself. Mood music: Here’s the thing about DEF CON: Attendance is huge, the lines are long and it’s easy to find yourself wedged between crowds of humanity moving in different directions. Like all of Vegas’ casinos, a thick cloud of cigarette smoke hangs in…  [Read More]

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Telling the Tate-LaBianca Story: Truth and Embellishment

by Erin Brenner August 9, 2014 Crime and punishment

A while back I wrote a post about how, in my opinion, Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice by Alisa Statman and Brie Tate, was the most important book ever written about the Manson Murders. Since then the book’s accuracy has been thrown into question. So let’s talk about it. Brian Davis, host of the online Tate-LaBianca Radio Program podcast, which posts Sunday nights, contacted me…  [Read More]

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Tate-LaBianca, 45 Years Later: A Strange Society of Manson Watchers

by Bill Brenner August 6, 2014 Crime and punishment

This week marks the 45th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders. I’m marking it first with a prayer for the victims and second by making note of some interesting people I’ve met as a result of this lifelong Manson obsession I have. I’ve been to L.A. twice, and both times drove around to the two murder sites and other places. I’ve also read Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and…  [Read More]

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