Sunday, December 14, 2014

Everyone Needs a Doppelgänger

In 2013 it was written, and in 2014 it was sealed.

The German term “doppelgänger,” dating back to 1851, was used in fiction and folklore and meant a spirit that looks like a living person. Often, the look-alike signified bad luck, illness or even death. Doppelgänger is now in the top 20% of terms searched on Merriam-Webster.com and we view it positively, simply meaning someone who looks like someone else but who is not related to that person.

The first time I recall hearing "doppelgänger" was last fall, and I immediately began searching for mine. Though everyone needs and ultimately has one, the catch is that you cannot actively find your own doppelgänger because, according to ruBENstein folklore, that signifies horrific luck, the plague, and eternal suffering. Your doppelgänger must come to you spontaneously or be presented to you by someone else.

My coworker presented me my doppelgänger just a few days after I learned what the term meant last year, and last week JT validated my doppelgänger when he texted me out of the blue, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Brian Hoyer?”

Author Benjamin Rubenstein and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer are doppleganger look alikes
 Author Benjamin Rubenstein and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer are doppleganger look alikes
Michigan State-product Brian Hoyer started the Cleveland Browns game on September 18, 2013, when quarterback Brandon Weeden sat out due to injury. He threw 54 passes and completed 30 of them, with three touchdowns and three interceptions, in a 31-27 victory over the Vikings. The following week fake Ben Rubenstein went 25-38 with two touchdowns in the Browns 11-point victory over the Bengals.

I was playing some good g-damn football.

Later that week while watching me play on Thursday Night Football, I took a bathroom break and felt a sting in my knee. I suspected the worst: fake Ben Rubenstein tore his ACL. His season ended right there. I would get the chance to play again in 2014.

The Browns drafted Heisman Trophy-winner Johnny Manziel, also known as Johnny Football. Manziel and I competed to be named the starting quarterback during preseason. Is it selfish to root for myself when doing so hurts another upstanding citizen? I beat out Johnny Football for the Browns’ starting quarterback job earlier this year. I beat Manziel, I beat Manziel!!! But I have played poorly and I am the backup in today’s game.

Ah well, you can always have a backup doppelgänger when your previous one starts to suck.

My Brazilian friend showed me my new starting doppelgänger.
Author Benjamin Rubenstein and Brazilian comedian Paulo Gustavo are doppleganger look-alikes

Most of the results after I search for Brazilian Paulo Gustavo are in Portuguese, but I did see the word “humorista” several times. So if I can’t play football anymore then I guess I’ll be a comic, and apparently really popular on Instagram.

Johnny Football rules. Go Browns.
Johnny Manziel Flips Middle Finger to Fans

Have an open mind regarding your doppelgänger. Unless your doppelgänger is the new Renée Zellweger, in which case find an immediate backup who just vaguely looks like you.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

At Least I Don't Sound Like a Complete Doofus: Part II

My speaking skills are improving at an alarming rate: my responses during my interview with Cyrus Webb tonight on ConversationsLIVE were only stupid 15% of the time, up from 93% two years ago. If you have 25 free minutes then listen for yourself through the cool thingy below. Or if you have the otherworldly LG G3 like me then you can listen while centuple tasking. So basically listening to the conversation between Cyrus and me will inspire you to cure the future disease ostrich flu, also known as H7N7#F*&KTHESEVIRUSCODES, within those 25 minutes. Either that or you'll just cry while listening because you started Matt Forte in your fantasy football playoff game and not because I'm that funny. Enjoy.




Postscript: Matt Forte scored a touchdown six minutes after this posted. Sorry, Matt.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

The Artist’s Dilemma

In the 1989 fantasy film Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner hears a voice that says, “If you build it, he will come.” Costner, a farmer, interprets this as an instruction to build a baseball diamond in his corn fields. Costner builds it and now his family struggles financially due to diminished revenue from Costner having plowed his crops. Costner maintains faith in the message, refusing to tear down his baseball diamond and instead going on a journey to find the source and meaning of the voice he heard.

Too bad Field of Dreams was full of shit when you apply “If you build it, he will come” philosophy in the marketplace. If you create a work of art and just put it out there, nobody will know it exists. You must understand your target markets, approach them with unique selling points that show the power of your art, and price your art in their preferred range or zone of indifference. You must promote your work frequently and on many platforms which spreads your risk of failure, because you will fail over and over though really each failure is a success because now you have learned one more way that does not work.

I began writing and speaking ten and four years ago, respectively. I also began marketing my first book when it published in October 2010. Twice was one of my greatest personal accomplishments. I dedicated myself to making it a hit, and even considered quitting my job and moving back home so I could work on marketing 90 hours a week with fewer financial burdens. Sometimes real success doesn’t correlate with commercial success.

My new book published a month ago. I face the artist’s dilemma: reaching sustained income in those passions that currently pay very little, while continuing to succeed at my full-time position until the former ever happens.

In Brad Pitt’s latest movie, Fury, the crewmen in an M4 Sherman tank share that their war duty is the “best job I ever had.” Trying to make Secrets a hit is the best job I ever had. All I can do is give my all within the delicate balance of work, hobbies, health and happiness. So long as I put my heart into it, Secrets will be a success to me even if I never push through the artist’s dilemma.

If you want to stay updated on everything Secrets, such as book spotlights and events, then like me on Facebook so that my posts make it to your News Feed. And if you are in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, then come join us for our great Win the Fight by Eating Right event next Sunday, November 23, from 1-4 p.m. at The Spa @ Westgate. We didn't build the spa though we hope you come!

Author Benjamin Rubenstein book event at Spa at Westgate in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, November 23, 2014

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two-Time Cancerslayer, Two-Time Author

Secrets of the Cancer-Slaying Super Man children's book by cancer survivor and author Benjamin RubensteinFour years ago when my memoir Twice: How I Became a Cancer-Slaying Super Man published I did not feel like a writer. I lacked formal education in creative writing and dozens of publishing companies had rejected the book. I did not know if the book was good or whether people would like it; I feared that it wasn’t and that they wouldn’t. I feared my family and friends would react negatively to the book’s raw honesty, after I spent a decade not talking about cancer.

My dad’s cousin Bionic sent me an email that made me so proud of my work; so proud to be a Rubenstein: “Your grandparents, my Aunt Nettie and Uncle Julie, would have been so proud of you. They would have greatly respected the writing and publishing of Twice and they would have admired your superman persona that conquered all.”

My dad’s parents passed away before I had a memory and my mom’s dad passed away when my memory just began. This coming weekend we will visit my only living grandparent to celebrate her 93rd birthday. She read Twice and told me she loved it so much that she would read it again. She read it several more times, telling me the same thing, maybe because she is 90+ and forgot the previous times she read it or maybe because each subsequent read moved and taught her even more.

I hope Bionic is right. I hope my grandparents would also be proud of me for my second book which publishes today: Secrets of the Cancer-Slaying Super Man. This book for teens and preteens shows in riveting detail and testosterone-fueled humor how I survived cancer and its cures in two harrowing bouts. This inspiring and instructive chronicle shows the procedures that saved my life and the attitudes that saved my soul.

Secrets is now available in hardcover from my publisher and on all Kindle-compatible devices. My mission is to get this into the hands of every single child with cancer and his or her family: to uplift them; increase their laughter while reducing their fear; show them that they, too, can be superhuman.

Thank you to all my readers and to those who believed in me and my writing over the years. Thank you. Thank you.

"Secrets of the Cancer-Slaying Super Man is one of the more unique boyhood stories of survivorship and overcoming unexpected challenges during our maturing years. Rubenstein’s positivity serves as a reminder that no matter the setback, obstacles can always be overcome with the right mindset and a great support system around you. Children and teens with cancer or other illnesses will find Secrets funny, truthful and inspiring." – Doug Ulman, President/CEO of LIVESTRONG

"It would be an understatement to say Rubenstein had a positive attitude in how he approached his battles, how he approached his treatments, and how he approached life. I especially enjoyed his candid perspective of the many treatments and procedures he went through. That personal perspective is a gift to all who are fortunate enough to read Secrets of the Cancer-Slaying Super Man." – Gary DePreta, 2014 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society National Man of the Year runner-up

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Derek Jeter Taught Me How to Survive Cancer

I was 16 years old. I hated talking to girls and other emotional and fearful situations, and I loved imagining talking to girls and being a good kid and sports. Derek Jeter taught me how to survive cancer in October 2000, the month after I was diagnosed and began treatment, and 11 months before finishing it.

Cancer consumed my left ilium, so I couldn’t play. And chemotherapy had killed nearly all of my white blood cells, so I couldn’t visit friends. And chemo also had killed half of my red blood cells, so simply standing up made me dizzy. But I could still begin the first Saturday of October the same way I would had I not had cancer, by watching College GameDay on my favorite couch in my parents’ rec room.

I remained on the couch through the Miami-Florida State “Wide Right III” game, and through part of an extra-innings National Leagues Divisional Series playoff baseball game. I finished watching that 13-inning game on a 13-inch television at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on my retractable hospital bed, after my doctor admitted me with a fever and neutropenia.

The next day: NFL pregame show and two afternoon games. NIH did not offer cable television, so I could not see NFL Primetime and Sunday Night Football; I could not complete my 13-hour NFL Sunday ritual. My dad recorded them and brought the tape the next day.

When cancer took control of much of my life, I retained the things I loved—most notably, sports. I watched every televised college and pro football game and baseball playoff game (except those I missed while at NIH), including most of the Yankees' 16 games. By the time Derek Jeter and his Yankees won the World Series three weeks later, I learned when my blood cells would rise and fall; how I’d feel and where I’d be on any specific date; how to transform anger and sadness into motivation; how to believe that cancer would never change me. I learned so much about surviving cancer that I had become the self-proclaimed Greatest Cancer Patient Ever; I had become Superman.

Today, after 20 seasons on the Yankees, Derek Jeter played in his final game. Sports fans across the country are remembering Jeter. They are sharing what Jeter means to them, like the 36-year-old man who feels that Jeter’s retirement represents a piece of his youth dying. Jeter is also sharing how grateful he is to New York City.

I may have retained more vivid memories during October 2000 than any other period in my life, which makes that month historical and important to me. I connected that month’s activities with learning how to survive cancer. Like he has represented his sport, adopted city and team—and youth—Derek Jeter represents one of my life’s most important lessons. Though I will never forget it, I am grateful that I no longer need that knowledge.

Benjamin Rubenstein visiting Yankee Stadium in September 2009
My dad and me at Yankee Stadium, September 2009

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