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Life is Magical…

January 1, 2012 at 11:47 pm
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… when you’re a Giants fan, and you get to kick some Cowboy ass and knock them out of the playoffs to boot.

Quite a game tonight at the Meadowlands. Tony Romo gave a gutsy performance, given that his hand was the size and color of an eggplant, but the Giants pass rushers came to play tonight. So did Eli, Hakeem, and especially Victor Cruz. I’ve been singing this kid’s praises since the beginning of the season. Was I right, or was I right?

The game looked like a laugher in the first half, the Giants dominating on both sides of the ball and running up a 21-0 margin. That all started with Cruz, again, when he turned a short third-and-one pass to the flat into a 70 yard touchdown scamper. And the D did the rest. Osi, Kiwi, Canty, JPP, Tuck… they never gave Romo time to breathe.

Third quarter, though, things started to sour. Suddenly the momentum shifted, as it will in the NFL. Suddenly it was the G-Men going three-and-out and the Cowboys driving down the field. They made it 21-7, stopped the Giants, got the ball back, drove down to the shadow of the goalposts, then went for it on a fourth-and-one instead of taking the chip shot field goal. The Giants stuffed ’em and got the ball on downs, and you’d think that would have shifted the momentum back… but it didn’t. The Cowboys D shut down the Giants in another three-and-out, the punt was short, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty got tacked on, and wham, bam, Romo led them down and now it was 21-14.

At that point I was sweating bullets and moaning, especially when the Giants got the ball back and went nowhere on their first two downs. Suddenly it was third-and-ten, and it looked as though we’d have to give the ball back to the Cowboys again, with all that momentum. Falter now, and we were staring down the barrel of a tied score. Then the ball was snapped, Eli faded back, rushers came crashing in all around him, it looked dire… but somehow Eli spun away, just as he did in the Superbowl, and he heaved the ball way way downfield, and instead of David Tyree it was Victor Cruz, and the kid went way up in the air above the defenders and snatched that ball for a great catch… and just like that, the Giants had the momentum back.

There was more excitement to come. A fumble near the goal line that stopped my heart (but thankfully the Giants recovered). More Giant sacks. More great Victor Cruz catches. A couple nifty catches from Hakeem Nicks. Great play for Eli. The final strip/ sack of Romo. But that long Eli-to-Cruz bomb, under heavy pressure, just when things looks darkest… that was the fulcrum on which the game turned.

And now the Giants are in the show, and live to play another week, facing the Falcons next Sunday at MetLife Stadium. And Jerry Jones is flying home wearing his pissy face. You have to love Jerry Jones in his pissy face.

Ah, football. Nothing like it.

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Life is Meaningless…

January 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm
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… at least for Jets fans.

Pfui. What a terrible way to end the season, losing to the hated Dolphins. With the season on the line, Mark Sanchez played an awful game, and Santonio Holmes failed to show.

Oh, well. It’s “wait till next year” for Gang Green. Rex is going to have to make a lot of off-season changes. I still hold out hope that Sanchez can be the franchise qb we need, but the team needs to get back to the “ground and pound” attack of 2010 and (especially) 2009. We may need another RB to pair with Shonn Green, especially if Tomlinson retires as he threatens. Maybe Joe McKnight can fill that role, but I’m not sure. And the D needs help as well. A safety to take the place of Eric Smith, the weak spot in an otherwise outstanding secondary, and a kickass pass rusher / sack artist so Rex won’t need to blitz so much.

I suspect we’ll have a new offensive coordinator as well, though I am not convinced that Shottenheimer was the problem.

The Dolphins played with a lot of heart, considering they had nothing to play for. Must say, though, the number of empty seats in the stadium was shocking. Almost the entire upper deck appeared empty. That would never happen to a Jets or Giants game, no matter what the team’s record was. I know Florida fans have a bad rep for turning out only for winning teams… certainly true for the Jaguars in the NFL, and for baseball’s Marlins as well… but I’d thought better of Dolphins fans. And the condition of the field was pretty shocking as well. Torn up to hell and gone. Players were slipping and tripping all afternoon, and there were big divots everywhere you looked.

Let’s hope the Giants can salvage some joy for me and the Big Apple tonight. Die, Cowboys, die!

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Year’s End

January 1, 2012 at 12:11 am
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What a long, strange trip it’s been, this 2011.

The ball has already fallen in Times Square, so the new year is on hand back on the east coast. Here in New Mexico, as I write, it’s still 2011… for another forty-five minutes or so, at least.

A year ago, this very evening, I was just being released from the hospital after a week’s stay, including the worst Christmas of my life. It was my first hospitalization since 1973, and a scary time for me and my loved ones. Hard not to look back, and reflect on the close call I had. It was an infection, as I wrote last January, and the antibiotics knocked it out… but if I had delayed going to the emergency room another day or two, things could have been much worse.

Things turned out for the best, though, and I’m glad they did. 2011 was a hell of a year.

I would love to write something profound and deep about everything that’s happened to me this past year… but, truth be told, words fail me. I’ve had good years and bad years before… more of the former than the latter, thankfully, but plenty that were mixed… but never a year like 2011. The first part of it was incredibly stressful, as I struggled to finish and deliver A DANCE WITH DRAGONS while still recovering from that aforementioned hospital stay. The rest of it was just incredible.

Even now, looking back, I hardly know where to begin. So many amazing memories from this year, so much that I will cherish forever. My work has always been well received and well reviewed, I am pleased to say, and I’ve won my share of Hugos, Nebulas, and the other genre awards… but the kudos and honors I’ve received this year went far beyond genre. To be named Author of the Year by USA TODAY… to have TIME magazine list A DANCE WITH DRAGONS as the best book of the year (not the best fantasy of the year, or the best SF book of the year, but the Best Book, period)… to be profiled in THE NEW YORKER… to be named as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME magazine… to be recognized by ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY as one of the entertainers of the year… to have the New Jersey State Assembly vote to recognize my achievements and invite me to address them… these go way way WAY beyond anything I ever dreamed of, beyond anything any Sci-Fi Guy could ever hope to achieve back when I was breaking into the field, way back when. And maybe this is all a sign that the world outside our literary ghetto is starting to recognize all of us… for I could never have achieved any of this without the efforts of those who went before. I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Which doesn’t mean it wasn’t a kick. And even more than the honors, the joy was the work itself. I would have to work another six years to find the right words to express how good it felt to finally deliver A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, after struggling with it so long and so hard. And after all that, to have the novel meet the incredible response it did… as I write, DANCE is STILL on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list (at #14 in hardcover for the week of 12/26), where it has been since its publication on July 12… and the reviews have been the best I have ever received for anything that I have ever written… well, all that was a vindication and a relief. After six years wrestling with Kong, I was way too close to the beast, and truly had no idea how the book would be received. The publication of DANCE, and my summer book tour to promote the book, was one of the highlights of my year… and my life. My thanks to all of you who came out.

And then there was the show. I’d been involved in television before, of course, but I’d been away for a long time, and I really had no idea how the HBO series would go. The trailers and panel at the TCA last January, the LA premiere party at HBO, the food trucks, the pedicabs, all the fabulous HBO promotion… and then the debut of the show last April, the ten week run, all the kudos it received from the entertainment press, and the TV viewers… it was an incredible ride. And the Emmys! Hot damn. Yes, we lost… (third time for me, since I’d lost twice for BEAUTY AND BEAST back when)… but Peter Dinklage won, and we were there, and the parties were amazing, and it IS an honor just be nominated, to be recognized by the industry itself as one of the five best dramas on television. And for all that, my thanks to all the good folks at HBO, to our fantastic and talented cast, and especially to Dan Weiss and David Benioff.

The book… the series… all these honors… some great conventions and trips and tours… all that would be enough to make 2011 a truly great year… but, hey, I haven’t even mentioned to real highlights yet. That of course would be my two weddings — the legal one here in Santa Fe last February, and the fannish one in Reno in August. They were both amazing, as is my blushing bride, Parris. None of this would mean a thing without her.

Or without my friends. Should auld acquaintance be forgot? Certainly not. So let me lift a glass to them all. To Ty, my acerbic assistant, who shared many of these adventures with me, and helped kept me semi-sane. To Raya, and her unfailing good cheer. To Michael Engelberg, who gave me the best news I got all year, and is always there when I need him. To Michael Cassutt, who is usually there whether I need him or not, to get me into trouble. To Howard and Gardner and Steve and Denise, old pals who know where all the skeletons are buried, and to Mara and Ti and David and Dan and Bryan, new friends I hope to hang with for many years to come. To my amazing agents, Kay McCauley and Chris Lotts and Vince Gerardis, and my amazing editors and publishers, Anne Groell and Scott Shannon and Jane Johnson and Joy Chamberlain. And of course to Melinda, best man, best friend, partner in crime and Wild Cards… hey, thanks for the bachelor party, kid.

And look… while I’ve been writing, a whole new year has begun.

It’s going to have a hell of time topping this one.

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