‘One Thing or Another’ Interview Podcast Launches with Guest Holly Palance


I’m excited to announce the launch of my new interview-only podcast, One Thing or Another (it gets its name from the column I’ve been writing for several years now). “Just me, a guest, a microphone, and you.” I’ll be doing these at least twice a month, possibly weekly as it gets up and rolling.

My first guest is Holly Palance, audiobook narrator, actor, writer, and the superb voice for the audiobook edition of my latest, Black Cat White Paws: A Maggie Dahl Mystery. Holly does an amazing job, and happens to be a marvelous person, too. Join me for a conversation about her life and her career change into the world of audiobook narration.

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One Thing or Another: Cruise Control (All Aboard!)

It’s always One Thing or Another… a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all.

By Mark McNease

“There’s something very depressurizing about boarding a cruise ship. The daily, mundane, pressures of life that bear on you the rest of the time are suddenly lifted, falling away like a jacket let slip from your shoulders.”

Spending time on a floating hotel was never high on my wish list. I no more imagined going on a cruise than I imagined climbing the pyramids at Machu Picchu or hiking the Appalachian Trail. I didn’t have anything against them, they were just things other people did, feature stories in travel magazines I read when I was still flying by choice and not necessity. Then I met the man I’ve spent the last twelve years with, and cruising entered my life. That can happen when we enter relationships: if you enjoy the unexpected, meet the person of your dreams.

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My first cruise was just three nights over a Labor Day weekend, out to some cay and back. I didn’t just like it. I loved it. Cruising quickly became a favorite way to vacation for me. I also like spending nights in hotels for some of the same reasons: no chores, no clean up, no appointments, unless it’s a massage or a shave/facial combination. Cruising is that times twenty, with the added bonus of feeling young at fifty-nine on a ship of retirees.

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One Thing or Another: Batty for the Country Life

It’s always One Thing or Another… a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all.

You might think moving from the city to the country means going from neighbors on the other side of your apartment walls and a general sense of overcrowding, to stillness, isolation and a night sky dotted with more stars than a human can count. Don’t be deceived. The absence of people in the countryside does not mean you’re finally alone now, enjoying the seclusion an owl might experience in a treetop.

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One Thing or Another: Not So Fast (Age and the Morning Routine)

It’s always One Thing or Another … a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all.

By Mark McNease

I hope my morning routine hasn’t stretched to an hour when I’m seventy, and I certainly hope I can accomplish it unaided. I’m trying.

I used to be able to get up, shower, dress, and ready myself for another day faster than the opening theme song to the morning news. By the time the anchors announced the top stories, I was pouring my second cup of coffee and adjusting my tie, fully prepared to meet the demands of a stalled career.

How does anyone without superpowers accomplish this? Was there a phone booth in the bathroom, into which I hurried one minute and emerged from the next scrubbed and presentable? Or was it youth itself? A youth that extended into my fifties before vanishing into the mists of a morning routine grown longer by the year?

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One Thing or Another: Not Worth the Weight

It’s always One Thing or Another … a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all.

By Mark McNease

The food magically showed up at our front door, delivered by someone who, like Santa Claus, made their rounds unseen, past apathetic doormen and suspicious neighbors with insomnia.

My Amazing Weight Loss Journey began five years ago. With great effort and dedication, I’ve managed to shed four pounds since that first fateful calorie count. How did I achieve this feat of negligible weight loss? I never thought you’d ask.

It all started with a now-defunct company called Lean Chefs. For a reasonable fee, they delivered a day’s worth of prepared food while we slept: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two yummy snacks. The food magically showed up at our front door, delivered by someone who, like Santa Claus, made their rounds unseen, past apathetic doormen and suspicious neighbors with insomnia. I would peer into the corridor first thing in the morning and there it was, a small black package at my feet, looking like something that might require a call to the bomb squad under normal circumstances. Inside it was the coming day’s food with an ice pack and an unspoken promise: eat these healthy provisions, and only these, and miracle weight loss will occur.

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One Thing or Another: All Boxed Up

It’s always One Thing or Another … a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all.

By Mark McNease

Who doesn’t want to gaze at a baseball cap or coffee cup forty years after buying it and remember that special vacation?

How many boxes does it take to hold a life? It’s a question many of us ask when we find ourselves moving from one home to another. A home is in many ways who we are: that place where we’ve spent most of our time, where we’ve created identities linked to the rooms in which we sleep, eat and bathe, and where we contemplate our daily existence. Then a new phase beckons, a new adventure, and we see it all in front of us, boxed and packed to be taken by car, truck or hand cart to the next phase, the next identity with a few revisions.

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One Thing or Another: The Kids Are Not All Right

It’s always One Thing or Another … a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all.

By Mark McNease

Imagine the despair young people feel today. Imagine the frustration at being governed by the old who ignore their fears, anxieties, terrors, hopes, dreams and concerns …

Not long ago I was among those crusty older people who bemoaned and occasionally belittled younger generations for effectively forgetting I’d existed. As a sixty-year-old man (I tend to round up), I was embittered to know so many people even a decade younger did not share my memories of the devastation of AIDS, of my government’s indifference to that plague, of Madonna’s performance in a wedding dress at the Grammys, or of the celebration in the streets of West Hollywood following Bill Clinton’s election. It was, I insisted, a matter of preserving history, without admitting it was as much my personal history I wanted preserved as that of my country or tribe.

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One Thing or Another: Name Your Poison

It’s always One Thing or Another … a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all. 

By Mark McNease

Anger is a quick and easy fix, a rush injected straight into the vein, but it’s poison, and I named it. I asked for it. I ordered a lifetime supply.

Observing the current cultural and political climate, I’m reminded of a scene from the westerns once so popular with American moviegoers. A bartender in a grimy, dusty saloon, says to a weary customer, “Name your poison.” The customer asks for whisky—they all drank whisky in the movies, with names like Rot Gut and Dead Eye—and the bartender serves him from a bottle on the shelf. The customer throws back a mouthful from a greasy shot glass, grimaces as it burns its way down his throat, then smiles, slaps the glass on the counter and orders another one. That sure felt good.

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One Thing or Another: Still Life with Benefits

It’s always One Thing or Another … a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all. 

By Mark McNease

I read once that the most revolutionary thing we can do is slow down … And now, in the woods, with darkness and animals just on the other side of the wall, I am doing that: slowing down. It is revolutionary. It changes and transforms.

It’s that time of year when custom encourages us to take a look back over the past twelve months and contemplate what we’ve been through.  It’s always a lot. Have you ever reached the end of a year when there weren’t events of great significance? January begins with hope and December ends with surrender—that’s the annual passage we take again and again until the journey ends. Some of us lose loved ones, some of us change jobs, some of us find joy above and beyond simply waking up each morning slightly amazed we’re still here. I don’t know about you, but that’s really how I feel most days when I find myself conscious once more: what in the world is this? How did I come to be, and how am I able to ask that question? It’s as miraculous as anything will ever be.

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One Thing or Another: Straws and Camels

It’s always One Thing or Another … a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all.

By Mark McNease

There are shadows overhead for all of us, and we sometimes live our lives as if those shadows will suddenly grow larger and darker as something dreadful finally swoops down to take us away. But we can choose another way.

I can’t name a specific date and time, but at some point the past few months I stopped paying attention to the news beyond what I need to stay informed. Is there a significant natural disaster nearby I need to know about? Has a foreign invader breached our northern shores? Have scientists discovered that drinking eight cups of coffee a day leads to a long life or that it causes permanent memory loss? There’s the local political stuff I want to know about, like who the next governor of New Jersey might be, even though I haven’t registered yet to vote here, and which dismal choice I’ll have to make next year for health insurance. But the overall big picture, the cloud of dread and anxiety that is our current 24/7 news cycle? I just can’t indulge in it anymore. Very little of it uplifts me and much of it depresses me. It’s as if, given the possibility we are not living in the end times, we’ve collectively decided to make it appear as if we are, like that Buck Owens and Roy Clark song I remember from Hee Haw, “Gloom, despair, and agony on me …”

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