Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Wally Amos still enjoys a good cookie, although
he makes his way in life now as an author,
not a baker.

A cookie for
your thoughts

'I lost a company. So what?
It's just stuff,' says Wally Amos,
who definitely has discovered
the recipe for happy living

"The Cookie Never Crumbles: Inspirational Recipes for Everyday Living"
By Wally Amos with Eden-Lee Murray (St. Martin's Press, 202 pages, hardcover, $19.95)

By Burl Burlingame

Cookies are round; no edges. A little dough, some sugar, special ingredients and a fair amount of TLC -- what could be simpler? -- and you wind up with a mouthful that makes everyone, even Taliban mullahs, smile.

No wonder Wally Amos chose cookies as his personal metaphor, his heraldic crest, his private mandala, his baby. The one-time music-industry A&R genius who chucked it all to sell gourmet chocolate chip cookies as "Famous Amos" in 1975 became one of the most-recognized corporate spokesmen in America, only to lose possession of his own name in a legal tiff -- not just the "Famous," but the "Wally" too! -- and has since gone on to promote literacy, self-esteem and other products, such as the "Uncle Wally" brand of no-fat muffins (not yet available in Hawaii!).

In other words, the guy's been around the block a couple of times, and is full of advice on getting from here to there with minimum stress, and so it's probably a good thing that he writes books about it, studded with street-savvy like chocolate chips in a, yes, cookie.

The latest is "The Cookie Never Crumbles: Inspirational Recipes for Everyday Living," and his co-author is Eden-Lee Murray, another multi-talent.

Sitting back with the sniffles in his Lanikai home, we caught Amos as he geared up for a unbelievable round of book signings this weekend. The house is decorated in pure Wallyana; everywhere you look is an object that triggers smiles. He even painted watermelons on the outside! Wally Amos' personal credo actually spells out W-A-T-E-R-M-E-L-O-N:

Whatever you believe creates your reality
Attitude is the magic word
Together Everyone Achieves More
Enthusiasm is the wellspring of life
Respect yourself, as well as others
Make commitments, not excuses
Every day can be a fun day
Love is the answer
One day at a time
Never give up or become a victim.

And so, given such an attitude, his view toward the new book is a slam-dunk: "I think I've finally written a best-seller!" says Amos, who speaks in fluent italics.

"I've always worked with a co-writer, and Eden-Lee worked our phenomenally. Our belief systems are so parallel. I'd scratch out my experiences and leave town, and she'd email what she'd done, and I'd go over that on the road, and by the time I'd get back all we had to do was touch base.

"Email is the greatest thing. My first book was written in longhand on a yellow pad, and I typed it on an IBM Selectric. Hard to imagine doing that today! The structure of this book is in short bites -- yeah, like a cookie! -- and we even have recipes. It was a lot of fun. I didn't know if I had another book in me, but a friend suggested the title and we went from there. The karma of the cookie, I guess -- it all comes back to you.

"I couldn't have done a book like this back in the beginning. This one has the wisdom -- ha ha! -- of all I've picked up over the years. A book of my wisdom back then would have been a shorter book. A pamphlet!

The book's easy-to-read page-long "bites" have subtitles such as "Kiss the Cook," suggesting that you realize how great you are instead or tearing yourself down, and "The Tao of Cookie," with a recipe containing faith, acceptance, patience and balance.

Even though the book has been written, the positives keep piling up for Amos: "The muffin business is doing very well; we're taking over a 43,000 square-foot building as a main plant. And we've got the Chip and Cookie dolls and books and stuff coming out. And I've got two more days to promote Famous Amos cookie -- part of the settlement was that I'd help them promote the product 10 days a year. Done eight so far in 2001, two more days of being Famous. And I've still got my work with literacy; that's so important.

"I lost a company. So what? It's just stuff. Can't take it with you. I have it on good authority that you never see a hearse towing a U-Haul. The World Trade Center crumbled, but it's just brick and mortar; the spirit cannot be destroyed. The thing is not to leave unfinished business; make every day count. And if you get called -- well, my bags are packed. Have faith! Faith gets us through.

"Peace of mind is what it's all about. These are challenging time, but all times are challenging. It's not the event that creates tunnels and closures, it's your reaction. Life itself is an iffy situation ..."

Wally Amos paused and switched on that famous smile.

"Hey, you want some cookies? We've been baking."

Is there anything better than a cookie after an interview?

Meet the author

Wally Amos signs his new book:

Tomorrow: 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Bestsellers Downtown, and 5 to 7 p.m. at Waldenbooks Ala Moana
Saturday: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Waldenbooks Pearlridge, and 2 to 3 p.m. at Borders Ward Centre
Sunday: 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Waldenbooks Windward Mall, and 2 to 3 p.m. at Borders Waikele

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