Well that’s an original blog title, isn’t it? I hope everyone has a great holiday season. Things here at home are going well. The kids are all excited and full of energy, but that’s both good and bad, as they think it’s too cold to play outside. Of course, if it was 20 degrees colder and snowing, they’d be out there in an instant. For now, thought, they are content just bouncing off the walls inside. Their Christmas eve activities begin in a few hours with a trip to Grandma’s for Christmas eve dinner, so it won’t be long now. You’d think they would all be talking about Santa’s imminent arrival, wouldn’t you? Nope. They are talking about who gets to log into Webkinz world first on Christmas morning to see what virtual Santa left for their Webkinz pets!

Well, I’m kinda curious about that, too.

Anyway, have a great holiday, everyone, and please be safe out there if you are traveling.

Oh, almost forgot. Some of you want some entertainment, right? Well, go to ClarkandMichael.com. I haven’t watched all of them yet, but so far it looks pretty good. I’m a big Arrested Development fan, as you may already know, and this fits right in with that kind of show.

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I’m sitting here fighting the very strong urge to spend the rest of the night watching Arrested Development on dvd instead of writing blogs and whatnot. Arrested Development was SUCH a great show. Laugh out loud funny stuff in every episode, even the early ones before the writers just went crazy and started throwing in every wacky idea they could think of. There were only three seasons and the dvd sets aren’t expensive (unlike those dastardly HBO show dvd sets) so if you don’t have them … why? What’s wrong with you? Don’t like humor? Don’t like being entertained? I really don’t understand you sometimes.

Speaking of great tv, BBC America has started showing reruns of MI-5 (Spooks in the U.K.) and if you haven’t ever seen that show, give it a try. It is SO good. Not funny, mind you, but just really great spy drama where anything can happen to any character. No one is safe. It’s fantastic stuff.

Oh, I must be in such a good mood tonight, even though I’m out of Coke Zero. How could I let that happen? Diet Pepsi is not even in the same league as the Zero (I say as I take a sip, confirming).

I just finished reading I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. Really good. Maybe one of the best books I’ve read this year. It was a Printz Honor book in 2006. If you are sensitive to such things, please note that there is a certain amount of questionable language in the book. It didn’t bother me, but then again, I’m not sensitive.

I spent the day on Sunday at the Philadelphia Eagles Carnival with my two boys. We had a great time. Got to meet Sav Rocca, who was a big name in Australian Football and now is trying to win a spot on the Eagles as a punter. Met quite a few other guys as well, played a bunch of games, won some prizes and toured the Eagles locker room. All in all a great day out. It’s one of our end-of-summer traditions. We’ve gone to the carnival the last seven years or so. It has changed quite a bit since those first few years, however. There are just too many people attending now for it to be as casual and friendly as it was before. They sold out 10,000 tickets to this year’s event. Oh well, price of success, I guess. Both boys won a little stick of what we thought was Chapstick and when we got in the car to leave I told the younger (Bud) he could put some on. Problem was, the little stick wasn’t Chapstick at all but was a stick of the black stuff that athletes put under their eyes. Eye Black, they call it, but on Bud it was Lip Black. Picture a little Goth 4 year-old. I’m just glad I didn’t let him put it on while we were still inside.

Summer Lull

July 11, 2007

Well, I’m finding it difficult to make time to write very much lately with the kids home all day. Still doing it, though. It’s just more difficult. I find myself getting angry when I’m interrupted from writing, so whenever it is likely that I’ll be interrupted (which is practically all day) I use the time to read instead. I can handle getting bothered by some kid crisis when I’m reading. I finished John Green’s Looking for Alaska and it was very good. I thought it was a bit slow during the first half, but the second half really grabbed me. Probably because I spent so much time getting to know the characters in the first half. I emailed John to talk about it a bit and he was really great in his response. I don’t know him well, of course, but he seems like a pretty good guy. I’m working on Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes now and it seems promising. I don’t know if I like the book, the author or just the concept. Maybe it’s all three. I’ll let you know.

My friend Andrea Glass is in Nashville RIGHT NOW recording her first CD. Good luck, Andrea! This is also her first time in the U.S., so it’s quite the adventure for her.

quickies:

Beach Torture Event is looming.

I haven’t published a July essay for the site yet, so maybe I’ll just put up a list of links where people can read some of my work that they have almost certainly not seen before. But wow, would that be lazy.

I’ll try to remember to write a blog entry about my experience trying to pre-order Harry Potter and the Unbelievable Hype Machine … sorry … Deathly Hallows. Tomorrow.

David Beckham’s first game for the L.A. Galaxy is going to be a friendly against Chelsea. And it’s televised! Whooo! Yes, the DVR is set.

Speaking of the DVR, it’s time for me to go watch On the Lot, so

later.

Flow-mingo has spoken

July 3, 2007

I’m sitting here on the porch tonight watching the neighbor’s fireworks and listening to my top-rated Coldplay songs (Warning Sign, We Never Change, Kingdom Come, etc.) and I think it might be a good time for me to post an update.

book:
still working. These things take time. I’m anxious to get it done and really anxious start sending it out.

reading:
finished “London Calling” by Edward Bloor, which I thought was pretty good. Maybe a bit slow at times and just slightly predictable at other times, but still a decent read. I just started into “Big Trouble” by Dave Barry and I was laughing before I even got through the preface. Also started reading “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, just because 1. It’s an award winner and 2. John appears everywhere I look these days, so I figured I’d better read his books.

tv:
on Flight of the Conchords this week, Jemaine and Bret both have “rap” names. Jemaine is Hip-Hopopotamus and Bret is Rhymenocerous. I think that’s funny, so I’ve been trying to come up with my own rap name. The best I’ve come up with so far is Flow-mingo. I guess I’d better keep working on it.

Oh, my. Look at the time! Maybe I’ll post more later.

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. 🙂

Cool and Sad

March 22, 2007

All right. First things first. The new essay is up. I know. Finally. Hopefully, it won’t be on the front page for long, since I’m hoping to finish one about Easter by, well, Easter.

This American Life is a television show now, which is cool and sad, as I don’t subscribe to Showtime. I may have to switch from HBO to Showtime when The Sopranos is finally finished. I figure that’s probably the main reason they haven’t finished it yet. What, you don’t think, “John torture” is part of their corporate plan?

O.K., so I have to tell you this right now. If you have a speck of emotion in your heart and if you see Johnny Cash as an American icon, like I do, go listen to American V: A Hundred Highways. I put it in to have something to casually listen to as I wrote this blog entry, but when Cash’s cover version of “If you could read my mind” came on I just froze. His fragile, frail and breathless voice completely stopped me in my tracks. It’s practically heart-wrenching to hear him sing that song, knowing how close he was to his death when he recorded it. American V contains Cash’s last recordings and is a powerful and moving record, especially in that context. It feels like an old friend saying goodbye. Wow.

I was making lunch today and Bud (4 years old) was sitting at the table waiting for me to finish. We decided to play the impression game. He was first. His impression went like this: he puts his hands up to his face and begins talking in a voice that is even higher than his normal one. “Hello, I’m Steve from Blue’s Clues”, he says. Then, “Ok, Daddy, who was I?” That, of course, is my cue to say something like, “You sounded JUST LIKE Steve from Blue’s Clues!” He smiles and tells me it’s my turn. Now, I don’t do a great impression of Blue from Blue’s Clues, but I think it’s passable. It’s not even that hard. I just make a bunch of bow and bo noises. It actually sounds a lot like Blue, if you ask me. I finish with a flurry of four bows in quick succession. “Who was that?” I ask. “I know”, he says, pointing at me and nodding.

“Elvis”

Then I started laughing so much that I almost burned his lunch.

Ahhhh, truth in advertising.

February 28, 2007

There’s a Verizon commercial out there now where various people talk about how their Verizon home telephone service is “Always on”, even when the power is out to their homes. Some of the scenes include images of those people talking on cordless phones (not cell phones, by the way, cordless home phones). I’m pretty sure that Verizon does not include any type of electricity generator in their phone service plans, so talking about power outages and showing people using a device which needs power seems kind of silly to me. Don’t you just know that some nut is going to remember that commercial the next time the power is off and will try to call 911 on his cordless phone?

Here’s my review of the 2007 Grammy Awards show. I’ll break it down into 3 categories for you, starting with the good.

Good

-seeing the Police perform together for the first time in approximately 52 years.
-Corinne Bailey Rae, who could sing an instruction manual while sitting in a garbage dump and still be stunning.
-Chris Brown’s performance, while it didn’t include much singing, did have quite a bit of jumping around. It looked like a hip-hop circus.
-John Legend, John Mayer and Rae performing together.
-The wacky faces Mayer makes during a guitar solo.
-Stevie Wonder being moved to tears.

Bad

-The much hyped Police reunion consisted of just one song at the opening of the broadcast, while people like Justin Timberlake (2 songs) and Mary J. Blige (3 songs + awards) seemed to never leave the stage.
-What was wrong with John Legend’s mouth? He sang like he had dental surgery done backstage before his performance.
-The “My Grammy Moment” contest. It brought a sad, low-budget feel to the show. That sort of thing should be far beneath the Grammy Awards show, but apparently it isn’t.
-Prince and his self-promoting, transparent “Thank You” commercial.
-I know I’m not a big hip-hop/rap fan, but how many songs do we need to hear where one person sings and 2 or 3 other people dance around with microphones and say “Yeah”, “Uhhh” and “C’mon”?
-Rascal Flatts should NEVER again be allowed to sing Eagles songs. NEVER. I got the feeling that during their version of “Life in the Fast Lane”, Carrie Underwood was sent up to save them.
-Where was Rick Rubin? How many times is his name going to be mentioned before they either get a camera on him or at least show a picture? Answer – all of them.
-John Legend, John Mayer and Rae lumped together instead of having their own performances. Another Grammy missed opportunity.

Blah

-Red Hot Chili Peppers performance. What a snoozer that was. Even Flea’s manic, displaced leaping around couldn’t inject any life into that thing.
-Gnarles Barkley. How many times have they performed “Crazy” on an awards show? Is that all they do? It’s getting tired and I’m disappointed that they didn’t dress up as stormtroopers again.
-The “My Grammy Moment” winner was a pretty, petite girl with a decent voice, much like about a thousand other people.
-Couldn’t the Grammy people give James Blunt a decent microphone? Would it have made a difference?
-The Dixie Chicks. OK, good for them. The more Natalie Maines spoke, the less I wanted them to win. This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with being annoying.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably have to edit this post as I remember new things. It’s still early.

I’ve got to tell you, I’m struggling with letting these blog entries stay informal and not working on them to shape them into mini story nuggets wrapped up in nice, little packages.

Ummm … just thought you should know.

O.K. here are some quick thoughts before I lose them:

I listened to samples of Katherine Mcphee’s new cd and it sure sounds to me like her producers and songwriters have completely thrown out everything she was on American Idol and tried to make her into some dance/hip-hop moaning diva. Just take a look at the album cover and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, that is the same sweet girl who almost won the competition on the strength of her emotional version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. The samples I heard just sound like overproduced, mindless junk. Unless she wanted that image change, she should fire everyone involved.

right. now I’m rollin’!

Chris Daughtry’s cd, on the other hand, is really good. It fits who he is (based on what we know from his time on Idol) and it actually rocks. Kudos to Chris, who wrote or co-wrote all but two of the tracks and producer Howard Benson for “keeping it real, Dog”.

I haven’t taken the time to listen to last season’s Idol winner Taylor Hicks’ record yet. My wife has listened to it and tells me it’s just O.K. I was hoping Hicks would win even though I knew I’d not want to hear a whole cd from him. He’s different and seems like a decent guy.

Now, the cd we have both been enjoying lately is by Corinne Bailey Rae. I know the record has been out for a while, but it’s so good I had to mention it. Easy, jazzy, intimate little pieces of audio heaven. How’s that for a description? Do not listen to this cd if you’re in a “Daughtry” mood. However, if you’re in the mood to hear easy, jazzy, intimate little pieces of audio heaven (had to use it again, sorry), take a listen. Rae is scary good.

One more music thing. The other day I heard a snippet of the old They Might Be Giants song – We Want a Rock. If you are not familiar with the band, let me tell you that They Might Be Giants have some of the oddest lyrics you’ll ever have trouble getting out of your head. It’s not often that I sit in front of my iBook and laugh out loud, but I’d completely forgotten about the part of that song where they sing

If I were a carpenter I’d
Hammer on my piglet, I’d
Collect the seven dollars and I’d
Buy a big prosthetic forehead
And wear it on my real head

No, I don’t know what it means. I just know that it’s knocking around in my head right now (my real head, not the prosthetic one).