Thursday, October 31, 2013

Plain Cloud

Plain Cloud

For Mac/iCloud users, one of the frustrations can be trying to find your work in the iCloud environment. I mean, it’s terrific to make files that can then be read or edited from several other devices (iPhones, iPads) or iMac or Macbook located far from home, but working with those files on your home/or/office machine can drive you nuts. You sign into iCloud, upload this, download that, search for this or that. Half the time things go wrong and the file ends up where it doesn’t belong.

For a couple years now I’ve been using the OS (note, not iOS) “app” (it’s in the Mac app store for desktops and laptops) called Plain Cloud.

The thing is “genius.” It opens a menu that lists all your Keynotes, Numbers, Pages, Goodreader, Notes… on and on. When clicked-through these headers become regular FINDER windows and operate just like FINDER because that’s what they are.

Plain Cloud brings iCloud to your desktop in a manageable and familiar way that makes working with all those iCloud documents a piece of cake instead a piece of sky.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Few Favorites Book Covers and One...Not So Much

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

Lots of people compile lists of their favorite books.  So why not book covers?  I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.  I'd start with Joseph Hirsch.  He was a Social Realist painter whose cover of Arthur Miller's classic play, "Death of a Salesman," is...well, social realism at work.
Now, going way more commercial, how about Chip Kidd's iconic vision for Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park?"  (It was so good the moviemakers used it, too).  Many people regard fellow Penn State grad Kidd as the finest book cover artist at work today.
Then there's Tony Palladino's fractured cover image for Robert Bloch's "Psycho," which of course was adapted into the scary-as-hell Hitchcock film.
I like (but have mixed feelings about) the cover of Joseph Heller's "Catch-22."  It was designed by Paul Bacon, known for large type and small illustrations.  Hey, you need good eyesight to find the B-25 bomber.  The cover wouldn't fly in the era of the Internet with postage-stamp size images on Amazon, Barnes & Noble et al.  Still, the wacky image representing Captain Yossarian strikes me as just the right note.
(Like the fictional Yossarian, Heller was a bombardier on a B-25 in World War II, flying 60 combat missions over Italy.  When I met him once in Key West, I told Heller he was my father's favorite writer and that my father had been a navigator on a B-29, flying combat missions over Japan.  "Then your Dad's my hero," Heller replied).
Now, you may disagree with me here, but I really don't like one of the most famous book covers of all time.  It's Elmer Hader's illustration for John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath."  Hader wrote children's stories and this cover, it seems to me, is too optimistic and cheery.  I would have liked something more grim, along the lines of Hirsch's tone with "Death of a Salesman."  But I could be wrong.
Certainly, Steinbeck would not agree with my position.  He chose Hader for the book, approved the cover, then had him do both "East of Eden" and "The Winter of Our Discontent." 
What say you?  And do you have any favorites?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Shuffle one, shuffle two, shuffle three, step step

Patty here

There is something about the transition from summer to fall that makes me want to shake things up a bit, try something new. It was in the fall some years ago that I began training for the Los Angeles marathon. My coach was a former Olympic marathoner for Ireland. I ran in my misspent youth but never more than 5 miles. Soon she had me doing half marathons along trails in the Santa Monica Mountains—and loving it.

Another fall I wondered what it would be like to knit socks. This is how they turned out:

At the moment, I’m hearing the siren song of tap shoes clicking against a dance floor. It’s not the first time I’ve dipped my toe into the tap waters. Many years ago I had a friend who lived in Tarzana in the San Fernando Valley. Visiting her from Westside L.A. was like taking a car trip to Iowa. She had chickens in her backyard!—along with a tennis court and a large swimming pool but still...

Because getting together required planning, we signed up for a series of tap dancing classes at a small studio in a strip mall on Ventura Boulevard. We bought matching “Mary-Janes” with grosgrain ribbon ties. The experience did not inspire Ginger Rogers aspirations in my friend, but by the end of the classes, tapping was in my blood—or at least in my funny bone. The image of a room full of out-of-shape women flapping and hopping across the dance floor still makes me laugh.

After the classes ended, I set out to find another beginning adult tap class, this time closer to where I lived. That was more difficult than I had imagined but eventually I succeeded. Around 20 people started the class. That number dwindled to around six after the teacher announced we were required to perform on stage at a recital in Santa Monica. As it turned out, we were the only adult performers in a sea of three-year-olds in tutus.

Not everyone who takes a beginning class is a beginner. I was a relative tap virgin but many in the group had prior experience. The music for our recital routine was the Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, which probably plays a mere three minutes but seemed to go on for an hour as I struggled to learn how to count and to remember the steps. One of my “beginning” classmates was a professional dancer who later took over teaching the class. She worried I’d forget the routine and ruin her big chance at stardom. She offered me remedial tap practice at her place, this from a woman who came to class with red scratch marks on her arms from the two pet iguanas she kept in her spare bedroom. Being iguana averse, I declined. On the other hand, tap failure was not an option, so I began practicing at home on a piece of plywood until I felt like this

Even though I probably looked more like this

This fall, I’ll be looking for a new tap class. I’ll have to start from scratch, relearning the steps and all that counting dancers do. I’ll have to buy new shoes. A couple of years ago, I finally dusted off my Mary-Janes and gave them to the Goodwill. But I’m psyched and ready to shuffle off to Buffalo. Any kindred tappers out there?

HAPPY MONDAY (shuffle right, ball-change, ball-change)!

Friday, October 25, 2013


from Jacqueline

Even before I ever knew the meaning of “retreat” I understood what it meant – to withdraw, to go back.  For me it meant to go back inside myself, and I have been doing that since I was a child.  My withdrawing had nothing to do with being a would-be writer – or perhaps it did.  I would always find myself a place to ponder, to think about my world, sometimes in a big way, sometimes in small, perhaps insignificant ways.

My first place of retreat was the lilac tree that stood about ten feet away from the back door of the house I grew up in. It overhung the narrow footpath that led past the major’s house, before veering left along the old farm track and out to Robin’s Wood.  The lilac tree was massive, not one of those suburban lilacs that stood to attention in line outside faux Tudor homes just outside London. No, this lilac had country roots and seemed to have taken one look at the oak tree and thought, “I can do that, I can get that big.”  It didn’t quite make it, but its branches were wide enough and snaking enough to provide a seat for a child with a book, and its fronds formed a useful camouflage when I didn’t want to be found. I could spend hours in that lilac tree alone, often just sitting there watching my mother when she went out into the garden and called my name, always ending that call with, “I’ve got a job for you.”  Who in their right mind would leave the comfort of the fragrant lilac tree and the gymkhana scene of Jill Has Two Ponies for sweeping out the grate of the stove in the kitchen?  No, it was always best to stay in my tree, my retreat.

Behind the back door at the top of the stairs between the kitchen and the dining room was another favorite place. I could pull that door back on myself, and snuggle into the small space. I could see who came in and out of the back door and when, and could hear their conversations.

            “Where’s Jackie?”
            “Haven’t seen her all morning.”
            “Perhaps she’s down the woods.”
            “Well, the dog’s still here.”
            “I’d better go and find her then.”

Perhaps my parents knew where I was all the time, because at that point I would crawl from my place, abandon my retreat and show myself.  “Did you call me?”

As I grew older, retreat became more of a place I went to in my mind, to the extent that time seemed suspended.  At college my friends said I must have a bit of the Aboriginal in me, because I would go for a walk and not come back for hours and hours, and it would surprise even me, how long I had walked.  My mind seemed to be on a different plane – no wonder I would be greeted with, “Been walkabout again?” My brother’s the same – can go off for a walk and get lost in time.  Reminds me of something one of my cousin’s once said, “You Winspears are all a bit fey

I’ve retreated to different places through the years, finding small guest-houses by the beach, or a quiet hotel just to be on my own.  About fifteen years ago I went on my first real retreat – a silent retreat at a convent in the mountains near Santa Cruz.  I am of no fixed religion (though I was loosely raised “C of E” – I remember being in the hospital when I was six and when my mother filled out the admission form and put my religion as “C of E” I said, “What’s that?” – “Church of England,” she said.  I was a bit miffed – I had not long seen The Nun’s Story on TV, and I wanted to be in the church of Audrey Hepburn).

The retreat was run by Catholic nuns, but was for retreatants of any religious persuasion, including complete unbelievers.  There was nothing to do except keep your mouth shut.  You could go for walks, come to the dining hall to eat, or remain in your room. There was spiritual guidance, if you wished, and there were religious services, if you wanted to take part.  But your time was your own.  I loved the way the nuns walked around the premises with their big, soft German Shepherd dog at heel.  There was something quite calming yet incongruous about that.  But I loved being there, loved the meaningful silence – and when I drove away it was at a very slow speed.  Time had been suspended again, and I didn’t want to break its spell.  Coming back into the world after just three days was a challenge – even the smallest sound reverberated in my ears as if a band were playing.  My mind had become used to the silence.

My most profound retreat came a few years later, when I went to what has become one of my favorite places – The New Camaldoli Hermitage in the Santa Lucia Mountains, overlooking the Pacific Ocean just along from Big Sur.  This really was retreat, and again, silence was the order of the day.  Home-cooked meals - all made from produce grown by the monks - were left in the kitchen for retreatants to serve themselves, and then take the meal to their “cell” – a simple room with a half-bathroom.  If you happened to see someone else on a walk or in the kitchen, you did not speak.  The exception was if you went to the shop to buy a book or – like me – to indulge in the monks’ amazing home-made cakes – even then, when making your purchase, you had to keep conversation minimal if you had a question. And regarding the cake - those boys know how to ladle in the brandy, that’s all I can say. 

The interesting thing about that retreat, more than any other, was that the silence was so grand, so present and so there with me all the time.  I began to realize that the everyday noise in my head was a cacophony, crashing around like an orchestra of baboons doing a warm-up.  How could I ever even think with that racket going on?  Then it began to calm, and I found the silence I was aching for.  At night, standing in the small patch of yard outside my room, I would sit to look up to the heavens, where the Milky Way seemed to be putting on a special exhibition of itself.  At once I felt both my insignificance, and a sense of being part of something miraculous – then taking that in without self-importance, because at the end of the day I was just a silent speck.  Stardust, yes, but still dust.

I left the Hermitage at 4:30am on a Monday morning, so I could be at work on time.  Driving along Highway 1 in the pitch black silence felt comfortable, but of course in time I had to join the world again – traffic, phones, people, life.  At first it was so jarring, like being pounded by sledgehammers, but soon I was able to touch that place of silent retreat inside me – the place I found in the lilac tree, and behind the door at the top of the stairs between the kitchen and the dining room. 

I think this season inspires thoughts of withdrawal from the fray, a hibernation of sorts.  And we all have our places of retreat, don’t we?  A garden, a shed at the end of the yard, a hobby, walks in the forest, our writing.  They key is to be able to find that place wherever you are – it’s a freedom, of sorts.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Edit Conspiracy

I am currently balancing working with four editors on a single project (Kingdom Keepers, Book VII The Insider) because we have over 20,000 writers contributing text to the book though a free app (Kingdom Keepers Insider) and the structure of real time on-line publishing along with print publication (coming in April) requires many eyes on the same work.  

Working with Dave Barry when co-writing Peter and the Starcatchers and other books, I learned the “get it right the first time” school of writing. Dave likes to weld a draft and move on. I came into our partnership from the multiple rewrite approach—post first draft—and had to learn to do all the rewrites up front in order for our styles to work together. It turned out to be great training ground.

Dave and I aren’t writing together at present, but with the Insider project up and rolling, I’m faced with editorial comments from three editors, and copyedits from a fourth, all the same week I write a chapter. What’s interesting to me about the change in process is that I am typically a spew-it-out-and-fix-it-later writer. I like to get on a roll and write new pages each and every day. I can’t do that in the Insider project—and I couldn’t do that while working with Dave—so I’ve had to learn to adjust to a slower, more determined way of writing in which you lock the draft and never look back. In my case that’s because we publish the chapter for the world to see on-line, and it’s out there for good.

This method has bled into my suspense writing as well. Where I used to crank out 2-3,000 words a day, I now typically get out about half that. But I find I’m less likely to rewrite those fewer words as many times I would have the larger figure. Now, instead of four to six drafts per suspense novel, it’s more like two and couple of polishes.

I share this only because it recently occurred to me how much my methods have changed now 30 years into my career and how that showed me that the writing process is evolutionary. I never pay much attention to “process” or the other catch phrases tossed about at writers’ conferences, but getting hammered by four critics each week for over six months now has both hardened my skin and made me aware “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” In fact, I’m in Missouri, but that’s for another blog posting.


"Identical"--Scott Turow's Books in Order

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

Scott Turow’s "Identical" was released last week, and John Grisham’s "Sycamore Row" drops today. In the world of legal thrillers, Grisham is the king of the bestsellers, while Turow generally garners the better reviews. Grisham is regarded as the whiz-bang storyteller and Turow the deeper thinker with richer, more complex characters.

As this is written (and it changes hourly), "Sycamore Row" is the number one bestselling legal thriller on Amazon Kindle. "Identical" is second. (My latest, "State vs. Lassiter") logs in at a distant 54, but climbing).

Grisham, Turow & Levine...sounds like a law firm.  We are all trial lawyers by profession, with Turow the only one still practicing. (He’s an outstanding and eloquent advocate against the death penalty).

Let’s examine Turow’s body of work, as we did in this space with Grisham a few weeks ago. Turow graduated with high honors from Amherst, studied and taught writing at Stanford and graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. Bright, well educated, and most impressive of all, he performed with The Rock Bottom Remainders band, along with our own Ridley Pearson.

Turow’s books:

ONE-L (1977) Basically a journal of Turow’s first year at Harvard Law, it is still in print and required reading for anyone contemplating the rigors (and mortis) of law school.

PRESUMED INNOCENT (1987) My favorite legal thriller of all time. Prosecutor Rusty Sabich goes on trial for the murder of his colleague...and mistress.

THE BURDEN OF PROOF (1990) Sandy Stern, the defense lawyer in "Presumed Innocent," suffers a tragedy when his wife commits suicide and thus begins a journey of self-discovery and another foray into the criminal justice system.

PLEADING GUILTY (1993) Money and a star litigator go missing from a law firm, and it’s up to an ex-cop turned lawyer to find them...and trouble.

THE LAWS OF OUR FATHERS (1996) Judge Sonia Klonsky, from "The Burden of Proof" narrates a complex tale involving a murder trial. As is frequent in Turow’s novels, secrets of the past emerge in explosive ways.

PERSONAL INJURIES (1999) A P.I. lawyer with a penchant for bribing judges gets nabbed. Wearing a wire to trap others, he is supervised by FBI agent Evon Miller (who will re-appear in "Identical"). Their relationship is the heart of the tale.

REVERSIBLE ERRORS (2002) This one has it all: a man on Death Row, a reluctant defense lawyer, and possible new evidence that can exonerate the condemned. Not an original concept, but in Turow’s hands, a richly woven tale.

ORDINARY HEROES (2005) Family secrets are again at the heart of the story, but this one is a change of pace as a man searches for the truth about his father’s combat and court-martial during World War II.

LIMITATIONS (2006) The shortest of Turow’s novels, "Limitations" was originally published in The New York Times Magazine. A judge, a rape trial, and questions about morality are at the center of the story.

INNOCENT (2010) Rusty Sabich from "Presumed Innocent" is back. Now, he’s a judge having an affair...and accused of killing his wife. One of my favorites.

Which brings us to...

IDENTICAL (2013) A state senator runs for mayor just as his identical twin is released from prison, 25 years after pleading guilty to the murder of his girlfriend. The novel is said to take its inspiration from the myth of Castor and Pollux, identical twins born to Leda, after she was raped by Zeus. (I have to confess I had no idea Zeus was such a lout). Early reviews have been mixed. Writing in "The New York Times Book Review" last Sunday, Adam Liptak complained:

"‘Identical" is stuffed with so many themes and reversals that readers may end up feeling the way you do after a long family meal with too much talk and food: disoriented, logy and a little nostalgic. Turow has many gifts. He might consider being a little more parsimonious in doling them out."

At another point in the review, however, Liptak states:
"Still, the rich, sharp courtroom scenes, always Turow’s specialty, are the best parts of the book. He is particularly good at showing how judges use minor rulings to nudge a case to their preferred outcome."

Now, Scott Turow doesn't need my help selling books.  But, as always with reviews, it’s better to read the book...and make your own decision.

Paul Levine

Monday, October 21, 2013

Memories of the Way We Were

Patty here

I come from a family that saves stuff. Not valuable stuff. They never had much of that. It’s sentimental stuff and some of it has been passed down for 4 generations. Lately, I’ve been wondering what will happen to the collection once I’m sitting at that big typewriter in the sky.

For example, above is a steamer truck that was a fixture in my grandmother’s house, although I suspect it once belonged to my great grandmother. The family moved by covered wagon from Nebraska to South Dakota in 1897 when my grandmother was just a child. The trunk is made of canvas and wood with leather handles. I’ve always imagined it scraping against the wood slats of a wagon that bumped along some dusty trail to its new life. It’s full of treasures like this fuzzy, hand-painted plaque that was part of a floral arrangement on my grandfather’s casket. He died before I was born, but my mother kept his memory alive with stories. More times than I can count she told me he was the finest man she'd ever known.

I suppose I could part with it now that my mother is gone but I haven’t. Her stories about my grandfather's many kindnesses and the three hundred people who attended his funeral are always at the edge of my memory. Also in the trunk are piles of vintage photos, including one of my grandmother's early boyfriends. I know that because long before my mother died, she and I went through the pictures and I made notes.

Other items in the trunk: my grandmother’s cookie jar, the original poster from the auction of my grandparents possessions when they sold their small farm. The flyer itemizes equipment and buildings for sale, the number of dairy cattle (4) and the number of work horses (7). Also in the trunk are my braids, which were lopped off before I entered first grade but preserved by my mother in a silk handkerchief...

First grade. My first perm. Two missing front teeth. Disaster.

...and baby dresses and bibs that my mother and grandmother made for me, my grandmother’s wedding dress, every stitch handmade and embroidered, and a leather-bound Bible (in German) published in 1904, in which all the family births and deaths are recorded. There are a couple of cheesy silk-with-fringe Army pillow covers my dad bought for my mother, probably in the PX, during WWII. His Eisenhower jacket, garrison cap and an olive green sewing kit from that era still reside in my closet.

My dad was assigned to an Army artillery unit in Europe

My grandfather made a wooden box circa 1930s that I also have. He decoupaged poinsettias on the bottom, which suggests he might have given it to my grandmother for Christmas. She was proud of his workmanship. Among the items inside are a leather coin purse engraved with the name of a general mercantile store in Warden, Washington once owned by my grandfather and great grandfather, a hook for button shoes and my mother’s 1934 autograph book.

Below are my grandmother’s noodle cutter and her nut grinder, the best I’ve ever used. It looks like somebody mounted a handcrafted gizmo on top of a jam jar. These items bring back memories of the my grandmother's Great Threshing Crew Adventures. Beginning around 1912, she and two of her brothers traveled from farm to farm with their threshing machine, threshing grain for area farmers. My grandmother ran the cookhouse in a wagon pulled by horses. She had no heat, electricity or refrigeration. All cooking was done over a wood fire. She made three meals, two lunches and baked eight loaves of bread every day plus an additional batch of donuts for lunch. Each night she stayed up until midnight preparing potatoes for the next morning’s breakfast. After that, she fell asleep under the wagon, her only sleeping quarters for weeks until the threshing season was over. She was only 22 years old and of all the events in her life, she seemed most proud of these accomplishments. She looked for any opportunity to regale me again and again.

Remember those glass milk bottles with the cardboard flip tops?
I'm not terribly sentimental about the things I own. If something happened to them, I’d say boo hoo and move on, but I would mourn the loss of these family “heirlooms.” Attached to each is a story that deserves to be remembered.

What treasures from the past are you harboring?


Friday, October 18, 2013


from Jacqueline

It’s mid-October and 82 degrees in the Bay Area.  There’s not a cloud in the sky and I know it’s probably pretty much the same throughout the state.  But I’m ready for a few clouds. I’m ready for rain, and to be snuggled up by the fire with a good book on long dark evenings.  

I’m ready for fall, and winter. Technically, it’s fall – there are leaves of gold, brown and red across my lawn, and the sun is low in the sky.  And I’m in the midst of changing the curtains and chair covers.  It’s something that almost everyone did when I was a kid.  The clocks changing in late October meant that it was time for the inside of the house to reflect what was expected outside the house.  Down came the summery cotton or linen curtains, all cabbage roses and bright colors, and up went the heavy velvet or wool drapes in burgundy or gold.  Light slip covers were lifted from the chairs and sofas, laundered and put away for the next year, to be replaced heavier fabrics you had to wrangle into place, ready for those evenings of sweatered-up lounging. I have to admit, the house I grew up in was likely to have more ice inside the windows than outside, so you were thankful for those heavy curtains keeping the drafts at bay.

My husband thinks this is a strange ritual, this changing of the curtains and slipcovers – it’s right up there with what he calls “British women’s throw pillow disease.”  Yep, I kind of like pillows – they go nicely with the lounging. But there’s a sense of excitement when I take down my white curtains and replace them with the gold velvets – the evenings have been getting nippy, and the windows in my 1942 bungalow are the breezy originals.  The white slipcovers are still on the sofa – after all, it was very hot yesterday, so it doesn’t seem quite right for the darker covers to go on, but it will be time, come All Hallow’s Eve. 

It’s just a funny old ritual of mine, a way to mark the passing of the season, a connection to the rhythm of life.  And as soon as those velvets come out, it’s as if I’m a child again – I can almost hear the wood-saw in the distance, and smell leaves being burned on days when a silk-scarf mist barely rises above frosty ground.  The cows cluster in the corners of fields for warmth, and it seems that even the sounds on the air are different, as if muffled against the cold.  

Everything is ready for sleep – until, that is, I break out those white cotton curtains, come Spring.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Football Plus Family Equals Everlasting Memories

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

You gotta kiss a lot of frogs to see a prince of a game like this.

You gotta sit through rain and snow and fog and an occasional abomination  like the infamous 6-4 loss to Iowa in 2004.

But last Saturday night was warm and clear in Beaver Stadium as Penn State won a MIRACLE come-from-behind, quadruple overtime game against Michigan, 43-40.

Here, tailback Bill Belton scores the winning touchdown in the fourth overtime, and the players celebrate.
There were four of us who traveled from Miami. My lady Marcia, son Mike, and his wife, Aja, who happens to be seven months pregnant. (I have lobbied unsuccessfully that the child be named "Nittany" or at least "Lion").  Yes, we watched the Homecoming Parade, had dinner at the Tavern, ate grilled stickies at the Diner, and hit the Creamery for bittersweet mint ice cream, vanilla/peanut butter, Danish apple-pecan, and various derivations of chocolate. 

Here we are having breakfast before the game with long-time comedy writer and Penn State pal Carmen Finestra, one of the creators of ABC’s "Home Improvement."
Nineteen years ago, Carmen,  Mike, and I attended the Rose Bowl together, watching Penn State paste Oregon, 38-20, to complete an undefeated season. But this year is different. The Nittany Lions are on probation as a result of the Sandusky child abuse scandal. The team’s record coming into the game with undefeated Michigan was a modest 3-2, and there will be no conference championship or bowl games. 

A boost in morale is what the doctor ordered, and the team delivered. It started as a rainy, chilly weekend. Here’s Marcia in the mist at the University Arboretum two days before the game. (We get our football weekends started early).
Seeing all the students in their "whiteout" togs, Marcia delivered deadpan a statement with which no one could disagree. "They have a lot of school spirit here, don’t they?"
What a weekend it was. The new $100 million hockey arena, paid for by  generous alumnus Terry Pegula, opened with a sellout crowd and a 4-1 victory over Army.
The perennially terrific women’s volleyball team defeated Minnesota 3-2.

And, the football team kept us on the edge of our seats for 4 ½ hours before delivering us from cardiac danger. 

It all got me to thinking.

I attended my first game at Beaver Stadium as a high school student in November 1964, a 28-20 shutout of Pitt. The wind chill was zero, and oldtimers – hey, I’m one – regard it as the coldest game every played there. I’ve been at many memorable games since.  In 1967 – Joe Paterno’s second season as head coach – there was the 13-8 upset of number three ranked North Carolina State, with future Grammy-winning musician Mike Reid providing the defensive firepower.

The next year, I watched Ted Kwalick return an onside kick for a touchdown in a 28-24 win over Army to help preserve what would be a undefeated season. Let’s not forget the Todd Blackledge engineered 27-24 come-from-behind victory over Nebraska played under temporary lights in 1982...leading to the national championship victory over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Yep, I was at both of those games.

I was at the Fiesta Bowl following the 1986 season when the two-touchdown underdog Nittany Lions upset powerful Miami 14-10 for Paterno’s second national championship. And I was there, way back on January 1, 1969 when Kansas had 12 men on the field at the Orange Bowl, allowing Penn State a second shot at a two-point conversion and a 15-14 victory.

But of all the games – and I include that horrific 6-4 loss to Iowa – none was as memorable as the Miracle Over Michigan. Why? Family, of course. Three generations of Levines in attendance, if you include the one carried by Aja. There, too, was Marcia, who brings infinite joy to my life, and will defend me if I am ever charged with a felony. Lifetime memories are made of weekends like this. And I intend to savor this one forever and a day.

Paul Levine