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Let’s talk about the World Cup

My daughter playing soccer at age 4

See, Americans play soccer. Including my daughter.

I’m going on a business trip to a part of the world that cares a great deal about what is happening in Brazil. I’m not talking about the destruction of the Amazon rain forest or the civil unrest. I’m talking about the World Cup (although it is a source of that civil unrest).

Why don’t more Americans get into the World Cup, even though we now qualify for it fairly regularly? And why isn’t soccer more popular here, even though the MLS is growing in popularity and global reputation and a large number of children play youth soccer? It’s not for the reasons people think.

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Help me retitle my book

As I revise The Ghosts of Reseda High, I’m questioning whether I should keep that as the title of my novel. My book is intended to be a YA novel for ages 13 and up, but books and movies with “high school” in the title tend to appeal to younger teens who are looking forward to high school.

What do you think? Please reply to the following poll of different titles or suggest your own title. The poll closes on Update: My poll is still open! Cast your vote through Sunday, 8 June. Thank you for your help.

Do trolls have any value?

Troll doll

These do. (Image from Fanpop.com).

“Don’t feed the trolls,” is an Internet author’s mantra. The best thing to do when confronted with some racist, sexist, homophobic, or just hate-filled nonsense gushed out of some attention-seeking jerk is to ignore it. Or do you? Even some YouTube commentators are unsure about what to do with them.

But if trolls are going to pop up in our online lives (and if you express an opinion, they will), is there a way we can get some value from the experience? Can we turn crap into fertilizer?

There are ways, but we need to get some perspective and objectivity. That’s not easy, especially when their words upset us. Here are some things you can do.

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When do you become an adult?

Embroidered tallit bag

Tallit bag my mom made for my bar mitzvah ceremony

Today marks the 39th anniversary of my bar mitzvah ceremony. Technically, I became a bar mitzvah ten months earlier when I turned 13. When boys reach the age of bar mitzvah (and girls reach the age of bat mitzvah at 12), they are considered adults in the Jewish community. They receive all the rights and are expected to fulfill all the responsibilities of being an adult Jew.

The ceremony (which is not simply a way to crowdfund a first car) enables these newly adult Jews to demonstrate that they can fulfill their responsibilities. They show that they can understand Hebrew, read from the Torah, and lead the congregation in prayer.

For me, the sense of accomplishment that came from fulfilling these responsibilities, especially when I had to catch up in Hebrew school after my parents’ separation, was more valuable and lasting than any gift I received. It was the first time I saw myself as an adult.

What does it mean to become an adult, and when do you truly become one?

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“I’m sorry, Anne, but I have to let you go.”

Anne Frank ca. 1942

“That’s all right. I found a new position through Monster.com.”

We can learn valuable lessons from Anne Frank. One thing I learned is that anything in a manuscript is fair game for editing.

I wanted to include quotes from Anne Frank’s diary in The Ghosts of Reseda High, so I sought permission to use them. I wrote to the appropriate foundation, who referred me to the publisher. The publisher said I could use the quotes if I paid a licensing fee. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I hope my publisher is as aggressive in protecting my copyright as Anne Frank’s is. The amount of the fee isn’t important. If my book becomes the next The Fault in Our Perks of Being a Divergent Twilight Book Thief in the Hunger Games of the Sorcerer’s Stone, the licensing fee is like tossing change in a tip jar. But the licensing fee raised another question: Did I need to include Anne Frank at all?

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