Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Five with Tom Rizzo

1. Most exciting day of my life.

I've been blessed with several exciting days over the years--exciting in different ways, and from the simple to the profound.

For example, I can still remember getting excited when I watched a computer geek show me - on  something called a computer - how it was possible to highlight a paragraph, make it disappear, and magically insert it on a different part of the page, or how you could delete one or several words and replace them with others.

The idea of convenience and speed wasn't lost on me. Around 1973, I had graduated from carbon paper and white-out correction fluid to a big blue IBM Selectric II that featured a ribbon to correct mistakes. And, I didn't think anything would replace it.

I experienced a different kind of excitement, however, when I took delivery of my first novel. It was an amazing feeling to rip open the box and see the physical results of the time spent creating a fictional community of friends and enemies, and watching them interact for good or evil.

2. My favorite food.

For the most part, I'm willing to try almost anything when it comes to food. However, in the interest of health and sociability, I make an effort of devoting equal time to several important food groups:

*Pasta              *Pizza             *Salmon            *M&Ms 

3. My favorite cars.

Over the years, I've had a lot of different cars--too many to count. But three of my favorites were:

  • 1947 Ford Coupe, candy-apple red with '53 Mercury engine shoehorned under the hood.

  • 1950s era temperamental Sunbeam Talbot I drove while living in England. It came with a hand crank to start the car in cold weather; sometimes, I forgot the importance of setting the handbrake and shifting the car into neutral, before cranking. 

  • 1966 MGC, a six-cylinder limited production model that I got cheap from a neighbor who was staging a fire sale of his worldly possessions to raise money for rent and other economic priorities. A fun car to drive. 

4. Something you may not know about me. 

In high school, I worked as a rock 'n roll DJ for the local radio station (late 50s). Among my only remaining mementoes are letters from Dick Clark, Paul Anka, and Ricky Nelson. Each letter is in a protective plastic sleeve, and kept in a file so secret that I'm having trouble finding them. 

A couple of times a month, I would hire a four-piece rock band to play at record hops. Taking a page from the TV Western Paladin, I called my one-man enterprise: "Have Record, Will Hop."

When I was in England, I happened to visit Liverpool once and heard a group that called itself the Beatles,  but that was pre-Ringo.

Years later, I worked as public relations director for the Ohio State Fair and once flew to Las Vegas with the GM, to have lunch with Col. Tom Parker, who managed Elvis Presley, in an attempt to lure the King into making an appearance at the fair. The rest of the story, as the saying goes, is too bizarre and lengthy for this space.

5. Favorite authors. 

This is an exhaustive list that includes Raymond Chandler, David Morrell, Dorothy M. Johnson, Elmore Leonard, Louis L'Amour, Daniel Silva, Jory Sherman and other friends at Western Fictioneers, who are among the best authors in any genre.


  1. HA! Hoist by your own petard for a change, eh, Mr. Rizzo? Kudos to the bounty hunter. :-D

    These Friday Five posts are always interesting. Yours, Tom, reveals someone who takes himself way too seriously. ;-)

  2. Yep, these Friday Fives can be fun. And yes, Kathleen, I take life waaaaay too seriously. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. What great cars to have had. I'm jealous.

  4. Man, Tom, you sure do bring back memories. I had a 1955 Austin Healy with a four banger. It was popular for road racing because it had the same displacement as the six. Trouble was if you took a tight turn, the opposite door flew open.

  5. Great Friday Five, Tom. You saw the Beatles before Ringo AND you had lunch with Colonel Parker? Fabulous. I like the Have record, will hop. And those fantastic cars.

  6. Livia, Those care were great fun but most frustrating at time.

    Phil, I had always wanted an Austin Healy because it had the look of a real sport car, I thought. However, I didn't know about the temperamental door problem. lol

    Keith, the funny thing about the Beatles was that, at the time, even the name sounded strange. I remember being asked - because I was a former DJ - how they would do in the US, and I cleverly responded something like, "Hey, no big deal. We've got music that good and better already." I never again was asked or consulted about the music business again.

  7. Livia, so much for editing.: care should read cars.

  8. What an interesting group of memories you have. Looks like a life lived well. Keep it up! Doris
    Also, love the cars.

  9. And what a great list of favorite authors!

  10. Good stuff, Tom. It appears that our careers go along similar paths, mine a little kinkier than yours. My DJ tour was 1975-76 at Radio KOHO in Honolulu. I did Midnight Express and played J-pop before it was called J-pop. Advertising and marketing, copywriting and campaign planning. Magazine and newspaper articles. Fiction and nonfiction books. Much the same, I figure.

  11. Thanks, Doris and Troy. Cars and authors--can it get much better?

    Chuck, great description of your career path being a little "kinkier" than mine. There are similarities for sure. Reading between the lines it sounds as if you played advertising exec at day, DJ at night, wrote copy during lunch, and freelanced the rest of the hours--all a necessity to make ends meet if you worked in radio.

  12. Since no one has mentioned your food groups, I have to say - M&Ms!!!! Great choice. They go with everything. Pasta & Pizza - are you Italian, by any chance? ;-D As for salmon, hey - you need fish oil.

    Living in England - pea green with envy!! Tea, scones and clotted cream. Somehow those didn't make it onto your list. LOL

  13. Meg-Thanks for agreeing with my choice of food groups, especially the M&Ms.

    Yep, I am Italian. On my way out to Walgreens to pick up fish oil.

    No, Tea, scones, and clotted cream didn't make the list, but I didn't want to appear too pretentious, actually.