I really do need to get back to blogging, don’t I? It’s been almost a MONTH since I told you about the Greenpeace activists’ little stunt! So, what’s been up?

Well, both boys have started baseball practice, both younger girls are still doing the cheerleading/gymnastics thing and the oldest girl is playing high school Lacrosse. That keeps our afternoons and evenings pretty well booked, that’s for sure.

We’ve joined some friends of ours to participate in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life this year, so the fundraising efforts have begun and will continue for the next two months or so. There’s a link to my Relay page around here somewhere … hold on … oh, HERE it is.

My local supermarket has had my current favorite coffee on sale for a few weeks, so I’ve been stocking up. We have about 18 bags now (I say “about” even though I know the exact number) and I’ll continue to stock up for as long as it’s on sale. Keep ’em comin’, Acme!

My blog friend Stephanie says that blogs are more fun and easier to read if they contain pictures. Hmmm … all right then.

dressed up!

Rats! See, even my pictures have words. I’ll have to work on that.

One more thing: The new Jack Johnson record is so good! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read reviews that he had “gone electric”, but let me tell you, Sleep Through the Static is on heavy rotation in my car and on my computer and on my iPod and anywhere else I listen to music. Great stuff.

cafe writing

July 31, 2007

Here I am, writing in a cafe. I’ve never done this before, since I thought there would be way too many distractions for me to try to write in public, but it’s working out pretty well. My short story Sharpest Knife in the Block is finished and submitted. I think it turned out pretty well. It’s a little dark in mood, but I like it. Today was the deadline, so it had to get done, although I’m sure I’ll still be changing parts of it weeks from now. The cafe I’m sitting in isn’t the type of cafe you are probably picturing in your mind. There is an indoor ice skating rink here. There is a pizza stand. There is the restaurant where I had breakfast and there is a coffee stand which will provide me with all of the Starbucks Caramel Lattes I can drink. There is not a lot of activity in here, even with all of those attractions, since the main attraction around here is located just through the doors at the end of the room. There is a beach out there. And the ocean. That’s where all of the people are.

I am not a big fan of the beach and the ocean, so I am sitting in this “cafe” banging on my iBook, drinking overpriced beverages and thinking about stories. Ahhh. This is the life.

good stuff

July 24, 2007

All right. We survived the Potter party. Got home at 3 a.m. Number 1 son slept on the floor of Borders right next to the greeting card rack. I was drinking a large sized caramel latte at 1:30 in the morning and H.P.-obsessed-14-year-old was happy and excited.

So there.

Hey, look what I got in the mail today.

Isn’t it great? Just the right size for … my wife, who confiscated it immediately.

Music: Why, oh why has it taken me so long to discover Amos Lee?

of course I can

July 13, 2007

I’ve been slowly catching up with John and Hank Green’s video blog Brotherhood 2.0, which, for me, is an excellent form of procrastination and one episode I really enjoyed was the one where John gets a phone call from the Printz Award people. It just looked like so much FUN to get an award for all your hard work!

So, I’ve decided that I need a Printz Award also. By the way, they are NOT easy to get and I know that I’ll probably have to go it alone, since you people have not been all that helpful in my quest to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Thanks for nothing. Not winning the Peace Prize may well make me violent.

The hardest part about winning an award for all your hard work is probably the actual completion of the work that is to be recognized with the award. Taking congratulatory phone calls is fun and easy. I think I’m a natural at that. I can show up at awards dinners, shake hands and be gracious. I’m not a natural at that, but can fake it pretty well. Going around and saying things like, “Don’t you know who I am?” and berating any librarian who refuses to salute me will also be fun and easy. Now, in order to win a prestigious national book award, I’ll have to complete my book and also make it really good. Those are my main challenges.

especially with 5 months of the Green brothers’ video blogs to watch.

Oh, one more thing. I went to Teavana yesterday to stock up on loose tea and one of the samples they had available was an iced tea with some sort of plum flavor. It tasted like juice to me (it was sweetened) and when I asked the counter person what kind of tea it was made with, she showed me two flavors. It was a blend. Then she told me I’d have to buy at least the minimum amount of each, so in order to make iced tea that tastes like plum juice, I’d have to spend over $12.00 for the tea leaves. I may have lost my mind when it comes to buying tea from a gourmet tea store, but that is way beyond my level of craziness. I did, however buy some other teas, so when I have a chance to try them I’ll let you know how they are. One of them was the Raspberry Black, which I already told you is very good.

Father’s Day weekend

June 19, 2007

So how was my Father’s Day weekend, you ask? Well I’ll tell ya.

Played horrible golf on Friday and had a blast of a time. Went to the Soul game on Saturday night when they beat Columbus in the final minute to clinch a playoff spot. Had a cool day on Sunday which included a little softball and horseshoe playing, a lot of crab eating and a bit of beer drinking. My brother-in-law and I have taken to buying those little 7 oz. Corona bottles so our beer is always really cold and we can drink twice as many. So, all in all a pretty good weekend, wouldn’t you say?

Summer has begun (I don’t care what the calendar says about it) and the temps have been getting higher. Those of you who know me know that I’m a cool-weather guy. I love cool, rainy, overcast days. LOVE them. Most people would describe that kind of weather as “gloomy”, but to me it is heaven. I’m don’t have a gloomy personality at all, I just like the weather. Summer here in the northeast is not my cup of tea, in fact, every June I threaten to move my family to Ireland. So in the spirit of positive thinking, here are the GOOD things about Summer:

evening thunderstorms
ice cold seedless watermelon
growing things in the garden
Fall comes next

Does anyone remember the television show “Project Greenlight”? It was produced by LivePlanet and, for my money, was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve ever watched. It was all about the nuts and bolts of film making. You got to see the cast and crew recruitment. You got to see location scouting. You got to see the writers struggle through rewrites. You got to watch a rookie director try to keep it together during filming. In the end, you got to see the finished film and I really enjoyed watching the process from start to finish. I waited for new episodes every week. Unfortunately, not enough other people loved it like I did and it looks like Project Greenlight little more than an afterthought for both the Bravo channel and LivePlanet. Disappointing.

The Fox network has a new show called “On The Lot”, which I was hoping would be even a little bit like Greenlight, but it’s not. It’s just a finished-project popularity contest. Still interesting in its own right, but not what I was hoping for. It’s kind of cool to see all of the short films the contestants make and some are really good. Others are unwatchable. I like seeing the process first and then seeing the films. On The Lot doesn’t let us see the process. Those unwatchable films would be a lot more fun if we could have seen it coming.

Let’s see. What else?

Oh, I went to the New England Coffee website and discovered that I could order my coffee from them directly and it would cost less than buying it at my local supermarket. Yes, I know it makes sense in a way, but I thought the volume of the supermarkets would result in a more competitive price. I mean, I can’t order my Coke Zero directly from Coke and pay less, could I?

Could I??

That being said, I’m still on the lookout for a quality, local coffee roaster to buy from.

I would say that ScriptFrenzy has been an unmitigated disaster for me if I had taken any time at all to even attempt to participate. It sounded like so much fun, but things have been so busy around here and today is already the 13th of June. I even have the script started in my head (it’s been there a while), but I haven’t taken any time to type it out. Also, script formatting without special software is a PAIN. As far as my Young Adult novel, well actually Middle Reader novel probably, it has been slow. I haven’t taken the time to write like I should. Also, my plot is getting slightly convoluted and I’m having trouble keeping track of all the ends that will have to get tied up. I’ll gladly accept any advice from you other novelists out there regarding plot tracking and planning techniques. Maybe I just need special software. ­čÖé

dipping into the well

May 22, 2007

Yesterday, I went to the Post Office. I thought I could make a decent, little blog entry out of the story, so I opened up a new Word doc and started writing it all out. Once I hit 700 words, I decided that it was a bit long for my blog and thus was born next month’s JPChambers.com essay. The essay itself will not have the same boring opening that this blog entry has. :0)
It was a pretty satisfying morning overall, but I’m still beating myself up for delaying work on the book. Instead of writing, I went to the library yesterday and grabbed a copy of M.T. Anderson’s The Game of Sunken Places to read for research into the genre. Also, I’m still working my way through the audiobook version of Sarah Vowell’s Assasination Vacation. I only listen to it while I exercise (about 45 minutes at a time) so I guess I’m actually woking out my way through it.

bad joke, but I like it.

All right, here are your quickies:

Chelsea won the FA Cup. Nice job. Maybe next year, the Champion’s League? Maybe?

I bought some coffee made by Papa Nicholas. Cinnamon hazelnut flavor. It’s ok. In my experience, cinnamon hazelnut coffee always sounds better than it is. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from buying it.

I found a great deal on iTunes for all you John Mayer fans. They have an ep called “The Village Sessions” on which you get Mayer playing 6 acoustic versions of his songs and also an 18 minute video documenting the creation of “In Repair”. Price? $4.99. I’d probably have paid twice that.

Well, I’ve already used the titles of “Bits and Pieces” and “Flotsam and Jetsam” so there’s no way I will use either of them for this post, even though that’s pretty much what this one will be.

Trip report

We just spent a long weekend in Washington D.C. and it was, overall, a really nice time. The hotel was nice, but the rooms were mediocre. We had connecting rooms with the other family that was traveling with us and it’s a good thing, since the toilet in one room only worked intermittently. Also, the hotel charged $25/day to park. That’s hard enough to swallow, but our vehicle is too large to fit into an indoor garage (which is where most hotel guests with cars park and is nice and secure) so we had to park in “oversized” parking which turned out to be an alley behind the hotel. I paid $50 to park in an alley! I think next time, we’ll stay outside the city. Maybe Arlingon. Anyway, we walked the kids’ legs off the first day, but we did see a lot. We adopted a much more relaxed pace for the rest of the weekend and had a really good trip.

What is with these geneology sites?

I’ve been kind of casually researching my family tree and the amount of information available on the internet is astounding. Even more astounding is the amount of money you have to pay to access it. You can get a sampling of info from Ancestry.com for a reasonable fee, but to really research you need full access, which costs almost the same as the Gross National Product of a country like Belgium. So imagine my glee when I discovered that my local library will give me access to all of the census data for free. They use a site called HeritageQuest and it comes with a decent search function. It seems, though, that the search function isn’t quite as decent as I’d hoped, since I have been unable to locate information that I know should be there based on my Ancestry.com research. Maybe I just need to tweak my search a bit. I’ll investigate that more in the coming days.

Overpriced Beverage Report

I had a really good Chai Latte at Starbucks while in D.C. A well made Chai is a true thing of beauty.

Where the #!*& did he get that?

My 4 year old son knows he’s not supposed to pick his nose, so last weekend he asked his grandmother if it would be ok for him to pick his eye. I don’t know, maybe he just HAD to pick SOMETHING.

It’s just time

Time, that is, to redesign my website. JPChambers.com has had the same layout since its inception and I think it’s time for a new look. Maybe something cleaner and easier to read. I definitely need to make more room for the writing and less room for the other design elements. I’m also probably going to finalize my conversion to an all Mac workflow. Until now, I’ve been using Frontpage (in Windows) for my website design and maintenance and the iBook for all of the writing and research. There are at least a couple of good options for me to investigate, so that’s what I’ll be doing.

That’s all for now.

more bits and pieces

April 13, 2007

The new essay has been posted over at JPChambers.com. I know it’s a little late to be commenting on the Chocolate Jesus sculpture controversy, but I had some thoughts on it so there’s your April essay.

I also realize that I’m a little late to the party regarding The Decemberists cd The Crane Wife, but I recently picked up a copy at the library and gave it a listen. Pretty good stuff. I’m not in love with the fact that a couple of the songs are over 11 minutes long (getting impatient as I age, I guess), but there is certainly some standout music in there. It’s growing on me.

I tried two new varieties of tea this week. Raspberry Black is a straightforward flavored black tea. Nice, subtle raspberry flavor. Would make a really nice iced tea also. Strawberry Slender Pu-erh is marketed as a diet assisting, energy balancing tea. It’s good, but I’d choose the raspberry over it. That being said, I’d still recommend either one to anyone who likes a mellow, smooth, subtle fruit flavored tea.

Here’s one for you guitar players out there. Watch this video of a guy named Andy Mckee playing Africa by the band Toto on his acoustic guitar. He’s a pretty talented guy. Thanks to “Volfan” from the Good Eats Fan Page for turning me on to the clip.

Simple man

April 5, 2007

Quick little update here. I’m still working on the Easter essay for the site and it seems to be turning into a piece about the chocolate Jesus controversy. Well, that’s how it works. Sometimes writing takes its own direction. Last year’s essay turned into an expression of my guilt over hoarding large quantities of Matzo, which by the way, ended up being fed to chickens. Chickens are God’s creatures too, so relax. I mean, I guess they are God’s creatures. It is possible that they are spawn from Hell, though. Great. Now I feel bad for feeding all that Matzo to chicken Hell spawn. Thanks a lot.

Also been enjoying my tea EXCEPT for the Honeybush Vanilla. Sorry, Teavana, the Honeybush Vanilla gives me a headache. I don’t know why and it doesn’t really matter as long as I stay away from it.

Hmmm. So I’ve mentioned chicken Hell spawn and headaches. I guess I should end on a positive note. I’ve been playing the guitar for the better part of 20 years, never really well, and rarely in tune. I’ve never had a really good tuner. I’ve had pitch pipes and I’ve had those tuners with the needle gauge that never completely stops moving back and forth. The technique with those is to get the needle to wobble somewhere near the center and hope for the best. Well, I finally got a good tuner. It’s the Sabine STX-1100 and it rocks. Here’s a pic for you.
Sabine STX-1100

I’m such a simple man.