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Sharing a link to a story I wrote about a college professor who changed my life.

RIP Tommy Smothers

The nation lost one of its comedy icons Tuesday. Tommy Smothers died.

Before Saturday Night Live set the modern-day standard for a television political-comedy variety show there was The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Hosted by Tom and Dick Smothers the show changed television forever by pushing the boundaries of network censorship.

While their act appeared to be traditional network fare – they performed a corny, but consistently funny routine where they played American folk music but continually interrupted each other, bickering as brothers often do – they laced their musical variety show with satire poking fun at sensitive subjects like the War in Vietnam, sex, racism, and marijuana use.

I loved the show and their act. Tommy Smothers was the comic of the pair, lampooning himself to Dick’s straight-man routine, making famous the line, “Mom liked you best!” While he always portrayed himself as the weaker of the two brothers, he began one show sitting on the floor with pommel handles on either side of him. He lifted himself into the air with his feet elevated and then curled his body into a plank position, using only his arms. He then let go of one of the handles.

Employing writers like Carl Reiner and Steve Martin, the show was consistently funny and consistently controversial. It featured comedians Bob Newhart, George Carlin (the Hippy Dippy Weatherman), and Richard Pryor along with musical performances by Simon & Garfunkel, The Who, the Doors, and Joan Baez.

The show was so outrageous (for late 1960s television) that then-President Johnson called the head of CBS demanding the show be taken off the air. After only two years the show was indeed canceled, despite its high network ratings.

Tom went on to help John Lennon record “Give Peace a Chance” and received a special Emmy award in 2008.

A sad day for America

FK Your Diet and Give this Holiday Season

For some reason, I stopped at the ATM machine on my way out of the hotel.  I didn’t really need the cash but something inside me made feel it was necessary.  I was in Fort Meyers for guys weekend, playing golf, and our host for the trip told us to meet at a breakfast place before our first tee time.

When we pulled up at the address, however, I was a little skeptical. It was adjacent to a massage parlor and looked a little, well…off.  Garish paint colors of orange, bright blue, bold yellow and pink covered the place outside and in, and child-like letters boldly proclaimed its name.

FK Your Diet.

The twelve of us walked in, sat down, and were greeted by a middle-aged man in an apron and a tee-shirt stained with food. He had a broad smile and a devilish glint to his eyes.

“I could be part of this group.” He ribbed us, handing out menus, “if I had a collared shirt.”

His name was Doug Miller and he is the owner of the establishment.  His restaurant’s theme is “Eat to Give” and “FK” stands for “Foster Kids.”  Having grown up in a series of foster homes throughout his childhood, Doug along with his girlfriend Amy Eldridge decided to give back to the foster care community after he retired from a career in sales.

They created FK Your Diet as a vehicle for funneling money into services devoted to Foster Kids.  For years, there were no prices on his menus because many of his customers had no money and he refused to let anyone leave his place hungry.  He asked customers to pay what they could, relying on the better angels of their nature to keep his place in business and to send money to his charities.

When Hurricane Ian hit the Fort Meyers community like a sledgehammer, thousands were left homeless.  He and his merry band of waiters and volunteers served 300,000 hot meals to those impacted by the storm.  They brought in a thousand trucks filled with household goods and appliances for those who lost everything. And they continue to help the needy at Fort Meyers Beach by providing free breakfast and lunch meals from Monday to Friday.

And then there are the foster kids.  In addition to a place where they can always count on a hot meal, he donates a large portion of his proceeds to the agencies that provide for the foster care community.  He throws Thanksgiving dinners, graduation celebrations for Foster Kids and works with the local high school, holding regular lunches with teachers and at-risk kids to improve connections between the two.

The icing on this cinnamon roll is that the food is amazing. Served by cheerful waiters who call everyone and each other “boss” the food is over-the-top good.  The menu is based on the meals Doug prized most from his youthful tour through foster homes.  The breakfast burrito is the size of a football and his turkey gravy is to die for.  I had a “breakfast sammie” and it was about twice the amount of food I could eat.

The twelve of us left his restaurant for the golf course, deeply moved by how much one person’s passion could affect his community. It was, to be honest, a very humbling experience.

But, at least, I understood why I had stopped at the hotel ATM for cash.

To give, please head to their website:

Loving this narration!

I just got the audiobook narration files for Crown of a King. I’m two chapters in and am already blown away. Not only is it flawless and professionally done, but listening to Deborah Balm VO is like having the story in my head come to life out loud. She’s absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to hear the rest.


I’m so glad it’s finally here!  Hope you enjoy it!!

Here’s some of the accolades received by the series so far…

“Utterly confident novel. Gleason’s grasp of characters is nothing short of marvelous; dialogue is sharp throughout, and the book’s obviously vast research is smoothly worked into the narrative.”           – Historical Novel Society “Highly Recommended”

“This historical “game of thrones” is engrossing, with fast-paced, crisp prose and smart dialogue. An enticing read, sure to please lovers of historical fiction.”      Kirkus Reviews

“Sweeping Historical Epic. Anvil of God moves at a swift pace, accentuated by its engaging characters and tension-filled plot. A perfect narrative pace that sustains attention with suspense.”    – Clarion, Foreword Reviews  “Four Stars” 

“Literally unputdownable: as good as anything written by literary giants such as Ken Follett, Bernard Cornwell, Philippa Gregory, and Stephen R. Lawhead.”  –Blueink Reviews  

“Gleason’s gripping historical novel offers readers a vivid mix of bloody battles, intriguing characters, and pagan sex rites…a page turner.”–  Publishers Weekly  “Starred Review”