Sunday, December 20, 2015

Nicki Milin Comeback Story

Nicki Milin thinks Popeye had a brain injury. The telltale signs are
all there. The cartoon sailor’s iconic squint and fixed scowl. The way
he talked. (“I yam what I yam.”) The way he ate his leafy greens with
only one side of his mouth.

Could the lumbering Bluto have knocked him one too many times in the
head? Or was it internal—say, a brain bleed—out on the high seas without
the care of a certified specialist at hand?

If so it could not have been any worse than Milin’s own experience.
Milin, who is no stranger to brain bleeds, never thought she would ever
need brain surgery until she suddenly could not stop the world from
crashing down around her. Or what she refers to as her “tsunami moment.”

Full story:

Nicki Milin Brain Bleed

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

....then you win

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, November 9, 2015

BBC - 50 Women Who Made It Happen

BBC - 50 Women Who Made It Happen

A treasure trove of comeback stories here, courtesy the BBC.....

Friday, August 21, 2015


“It is courage, courage, courage, that raises the blood of life to crimson splendor. Live bravely and present a brave front to adversity.”  Horace, Roman poet

Sunday, July 26, 2015

To not give up is all we can do

Beethoven suffered from deafness and lead poisoning.
We attended the final installment of the 2015 Steans Institute for Piano and Strings at Ravinia.  It featured string quartets by Mozart, Bartok and Beethoven.

"Did you really like it?" my companion asked after it was over.  "I didn't hear anything, just notes."

I have had that experience, too, very recently, and it is frustrating.  Nothing is worse than being ensconsed in a concert hall, with glorious sounds pouring forth, but unable to receive or decode any of them because one is tired, or distracted or depressed or whatever.

Yesterday, however, on closing day as it were, I was able.  I didn't hear notes, per se, or even the melody-harmony-rhythm that makes up music, per se, but rather I experienced each personage behind their pen.

Perhaps it had been because I had earlier come across this quote from Virginia Woolf, and it was rolling around my subsconscious:  "How Shakespeare loathed humanity -- the putting on of clothes, the getting of children, the sordidity of the mouth and the belly!  This was now revealed to Septimus;  the message hidden in the beauty of words.  The secret signal which one generation passes, under disguise, to the next is loathing, hatred, despair.”  From Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

What did these three composers think of humanity, I wondered.

In Mozart, we have the quintessential Opera Man (in business centuries  before Adam Sandler created the comical character).  We have the creator of both Figaro, and Don Giovanni, the admirable, and the reprobate.  Mozart takes it all in, and says with a wry smile and perhaps a scatological invective (he was famous for that), 'for better or worse, this is humanity, God save us all.'

Bartók, the severely intellectual Hungarian, seems on the surface, not so optimistic about things.  In fact, his SQ No. 2, has a wonderful caprice in the middle movement, but movements one and three are dour, pessismistic, depressed.  For many, this is life, not television life, but the real life.  Bartók doesn't recoil from it, or whitewash it over.  Life as pain, suffering, tragedy unspeakable.  Much of his music takes this straight on (though his final and major work, Concerto for Orchestra, affirms life nonetheless.  In his own words: “except for the amusing second movement, the general character of the work represents a gradual transition from the harshness of the first movement and the solemnity of the death song in the third movement towards the affirmation of life in the final movement.”)

Beethoven, however, writing in his Op. 131, in his penultimate year, seemingly never wavers in his embrace for all that God is and has for us,  at least in his music, and all that humanity is or isn't and ever shall be.  Beethoven is the will, the volition, the comeback, the never give up that each one of us must have to some degree just to start the next day after getting knocked flat on our back the day before by things great and things small.

The mighty Beethoven, knocking on God's door, speaking for like-minded humanity, saying in effect, "Don't forget us, don't give up on us, because we don't give up on life.  We don't give up on you, Lord, even though you are hidden from us today, some day we shall see you face to face."

Beethoven once wrote that apart from music, everything in his life he had done had been done stupidly or badly.  Mighty Beethoven, deaf, wracked by lead poisoning, miserable from that condition much of his life, would not give up on his music, (thank God) and so left a legacy and blueprint and trust of the human will for every human who came after him. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Paul Blart, er, Kevin James on Making a Comeback

The star of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 knows all about characters who thrive when the odds are against them. He’s been there.

I’ve always loved the underdog.

I think most people do. In my case,  it’s because I was one. When I was born, I weighed less than eight pounds! I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t chew solid foods and I’d go to the bathroom right in my pants. I cried a lot, too.But I overcame the odds and conquered all those things.

When I was a kid, my favorite movie was Rocky.  I  can still remember throwing punches in my seat, trying to will Rocky into beating the invincible Apollo Creed.Ever since then, I’ve always rooted for the underdog, both in movies and in life. There’s something truly American about being born with nothing and making it on your own, with only your brains, your talent or whatever it is that makes you special. And when you come up against bigger, stronger, faster people, to not give up because beating them at their own game, when all logic says you have no chance, is the sweetest victory of all.

We love underdogs because we’ve all been there in one way or another—when every bit of reason and sense would tell you that you have absolutely no shot, but you toss reason aside and jump in anyway. And that’s what motivates Paul Blart, mall cop, to put on his uniform every day—the hope that he can defy the odds.

That’s the kind of guy I wanna see come through in the clutch. When nobody thinks Paul Blart can save the day, he’s just getting warmed up. He’s gonna be the hero. He’s like Batman—no, wait, he’s betterthan Batman. You heard me. No offense, but anybody can be a hero with 180 pounds of sculpted muscle and all of the gadgets a billion bucks can buy. All Blart has to work with is some non-lethal pepper spray and a wicked pair of love handles.

When I was growing up, my dad sold insurance and my mom took care of me and my brother and sister. I wasn’t the greatest student. I dropped out of college and got a job driving a forklift, which I thought I was pretty good at; but I got fired, so apparently not. After that, believe it or not, I worked as a personal trainer at a gym. I’m not saying I was any good; I would lose count of the reps my client was doing, and then I’d be like, “Uh, that’s good enough—let’s go grab a chocolate energy bar.”

When I started doing standup, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I didn’t have industry connections. I was on Long Island—not in New York City—so even if I did great with an audience, who knew if anybody would see it? One time, an agent asked me what my goal was, and I said to have my own sitcom. He laughed and said that would never happen: “You just don’t have the look.The sooner you embrace that, the better.” Well, I’m glad I didn’t embrace that, or The King of Queens would’ve never happened. And I would never have been in movies.

So here’s to all the underdogs, the Paul Blarts, the Mets, the Jets, the Knicks... all of you. Keep fighting. Ignore those who tell you that you can’t do something. Find that inner strength—or just relax and go have a chocolate energy bar. Because anything is possible. I know that firsthand.


Starring as deliveryman Doug Heffernan on the hit CBS sitcom The King of Queens and in a number of supporting and starring movie roles, standup comedian-turned-actor KEVIN JAMES has a natural feel for chumps who turn into champs. On April 17, he’ll be back on the big screen as the Segway-riding security guard spurred to heights of heroism in the new comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The remarkable comedown of Serafim Todorov

A victory in the ring, and a regrettable decision sent his life on a downward spiral.

In the multitude of counselors there is safety......


Friday, February 13, 2015

Turned down for a job you wanted?

A family member reminded me today:

A young computer scientist interviewed at Facebook for a programming job and was rejected. He later started Whatsapp and sold it to Facebook for $17 billion.

Hence the saying:  "sweet are the uses of adversity."

To which we say:  Amen.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


"I'm so thankful for what is because I know how bad things could be."  Bluesman Bobby Rush

Gratitude is a necessary ingredient when setting out to make a comeback.  Things are bad, yes, but they could be worse....if you don't think so, read some of the things our subjects overcame in Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph and Success, volumes 1, 2 and 3.  At Amazon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ohio State national champions: a comeback within a comeback

Got to thinking today after speaking with a friend, and the topic turned to Ohio State's national championship win just 10 days ago.

Big comeback for the team, bigger still for Cardale Jones.  In spring 2014 practice, he was the no. 1 QB, got passed in the fall by J.T. Barnett.  He kept his mouth shut, head down, worked hard -- and his time came, and he was ready.  He electrified the nation for 38 days, leading the time to win after important win to make it all the way to the top.

This is what life is really all about.  The 2014-2015 OSU Buckeyes were all about comebacks, against the early VTI loss, against the odds (they were underdogs in their last several games, never favored to win), and for individuals like Cardale Jones.

If you can keep your mouth shut, head down, work hard -- even during adversity -- you can exceed your wildest dreams.

Having the chance to enter the NFL draft this year, Cardale opted out, and will return to Ohio State for his junior year.  We wish him, and the entire team, well for 2015.  They certainly provided those of us in Buckeye Nation with tons of thrills and chills this past year.

We also got to thinking about a tragedy that deflated the team along the way.  Sadly, the journey was marred by the November 26 suicide of a team member, Kosta Karageorge, 22, a talented wrestler and athlete and football walk-on who earned his spot among the very best.  We don't know much about his story, or his pain, but one wishes he could have been around for the triumph.  Suicide can never be the right course for one so young and full of promise.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hats off to THE Ohio State Buckeyes, national champions

All we can say:  after VTI loss, they just decided to

An extraordinary comeback.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

California Comeback


The New Year has brought change and new faces to much of our political landscape, not least on Capitol Hill, where Republicans took control of the Senate this past week. From out of the west, though, a different sight -- a familiar face on the Democratic side taking the oath of office yet again . . . many years after his political debut. John Blackstone reports our Cover Story.

Six years ago, the sun appeared to be setting on the California Dream. Plummeting home prices and soaring debt were robbing the Golden State of its luster.
As we reported on "Sunday Morning" back then, plenty of Californians were ready to give up hope:
"Is the California dream kind of dying?" Blackstone asked.

"It's not dying -- it's dead," said Harvey Schwartz of 20th Century Props (which closed its doors for good in 2009).

It was a crisis, to be sure. But in politics, "crisis" is just another word for "opportunity."

"The state was in massive debt, $27 billion," said Gov. Jerry Brown. "There was great uncertainty.

Over a million people had lost their jobs. Well, that was then. Now, California's coming back."

"Is that your doing?" Blackstone asked.

"It's in part my doing, certainly," said Brown.

Gov. Jerry Brown with correspondent John Blackstone.
CBS News
It's hard to imagine who would have wanted to become governor of a state that was in such a sorry state, but in 2010 Jerry Brown certainly did. And last November, voters rewarded him for leading California back from the brink, electing him to an unprecedented fourth term as governor.

The state once again boasts the world's eighth-largest economy -- bigger than Russia's -- and it even posted a budget surplus last year.

The governor regularly receives foreign dignitaries, befitting California's status as a high-tech superpower.

The secret to Brown's success? Raising taxes while cutting spending -- policies that have angered his fellow Democrats nearly as much as Republicans.

"You had to push Democrats in California to accept a lot of the cuts that you proposed," Blackstone said.

"I still have to push Democrats, and Republicans," he replied. "There's endless desires. The way I say it is, first, you have a desire, and then you make it a need, then you make it a right, and pretty soon you got a law. Then as soon as you got a law, you got a lawsuit.

"You've got to be able to say, 'No.' Because this government is not something you just milk forever."
"I don't like to spend money. But that's not because I'm conservative -- it's just because I'm cheap!" - Jerry Brown, in a 1976 speech
For decades Jerry Brown has always charted a unique course in politics. His father, Pat Brown, was elected governor of California in 1958. Edmund Brown Jr. was hardly the heir apparent: at the time, he was studying to become a Jesuit priest.

But politics proved to be his true calling, and in 1974, Jerry Brown won his father's old job.
"It is a unique experience at the age of 36 to find myself elected governor of the largest state in the union," he said at a 1975 press conference.

He encountered a political landscape that's all-too-familiar today...

"An election is not an end, rather it's a beginning," Brown said then. "It's fair to say people want a new spirit, but they don't want to pay a lot of money for it!"

Famously frugal, Brown dispensed with the limos and private planes of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, favoring blue Plymouth sedans.

He was a creature of the 1970s, and the bachelor governor made waves for dating singer Linda Ronstadt.

Full story:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

He beat cancer by how he lived

Stuart Scott dies at age of 49 - ABC News

And he saved his best for his last year on the air. At the ESPYS on July
16, shortly before his 49th birthday and following another round of
cancer surgery, Stuart accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance with
strength, humor, grace and these eloquent words: "When you die, it does
not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why
you live, and in the manner in which you live."