Friday, May 29, 2009

Back to the Funplex

I was so upset by the evil A-holes from Michigan and their sickly mongrel mutt (see previous blog entry below) that I needed a distraction. So I took Samuel, Ethan, and their friends Leila and Jenan to the Funplex in New Jersey.

Ethan got carsick, which slowed us down, but he apologized and I only docked his allowance for one week, so we were back on the road quickly.

First stop at Funplex: MagiQuest. Samuel and Ethan have their own wands.

Next, the foam balls.

A short break for nachos and Icees.

Then go-karts,

laser tag,

bumper cars,

and Freefall. (Samuel says he mastered his fear of Freefall, and now he wants to go skydiving.)

We capped off the evening with one more round of MagiQuest before the inevitable 10:55pm announcement that Funplex was closing for the night. A quick drive-thru at Taco Bell, and we were back home on our beautiful Upper West Side with full bellies and sleepy eyes by 12:15. Life should be like this every day. Except for the car sickness, Ethan says.

Monday, May 25, 2009

New dog? Not so fast

It's taken me three years to convince Jennifer that we desperately need another dog. Dogs are like bathrooms. You think you really only need one, but if you have another one, you find that you are glad that you have it.

In fact, scientists in Helsinki have proven that two dogs are actually less trouble than one: not only do they keep each other company, they also help put the kids to bed, and they even help clean the house.

But why am I trying to convince you? Jennifer already agreed, under the following conditions:

1. The dog must be a Cocker Spaniel/Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix.

2. It must be a boy.

3. It must be black and tan.

4. It must be housebroken or old enough to be on its way to being housebroken.

5. It must be really cute, and sit on her lap when she is cold, and not bark very much.

6. Todd, Samuel, and Ethan must take care of it.

So I found a 10-week-old, black-and-tan, male Cockalier on the Internet. He's in Michigan. I sent an email to see if he's still available. They responded yes. I responded that we wanted it, and we'd pay for the airfare and the shipping crate.

And silence. Tumbleweeds.

They've either decided they don't want to go through the hassle of shipping him, or they think we're trying to pull some sort of Internet scam on them, or they just think people from New York are weirdos.

Whatever the reason, as of this moment, everyone from the state of Michigan is officially a loser. I hope their property values drop even further, and I'm happy GM is going bankrupt, and "Pistons" is a really stupid name for a sports team. So ha-ha.

And back to the drawing board on the new puppy.

School Play

Samuel and Ethan both played dogs in their school play. They had no lines, but they had to do things like fetch and pant and lap water.

For the big finale everyone sang "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Yes, they stole that from "Spamalot," but it was still good.

I tried to get quotes from them just now but they're busy watching Cartoon Network and not in the mood for interviews. In any case, they were a hit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Drill, Sword & Shield, by Ethan Tarpley

I have a new game. It's called "Drill, Sword and Shield." I just made it up. It's just like "Rock, Paper, Scissors." Drill looks like this. (Holds up two intertwined fingers.) Sword looks like this. (Holds one finger straight up.) Shield looks like this. (Holds his palm up.)

Drill can cut through a Shield. Sword can break a Drill. And Shield can protect against a Sword.

My iPod

I listened to my iPod to and from work today. I do that occasionally, to prove to strangers that I'm cool. Assuming you think Billy Joel, ELO, and The Cars are cool.

Music always puts me in a good mood--it's fun to have a soundtrack to your life. Everything plays like a movie scene. Try walking down a New York street listening to "What I Like About You" by the Romantics. Titles start appearing over people's faces. Life is a montage.

I was listening to "Carol" by Chuck Berry when I turned on to our block on the way home from work. I could see Samuel in front of our apartment, skating around on the sidewalk in his Heelies with two neighbor girls. His long, John Lennon-like hair was blowing in the wind, and I decided right then and there that he doesn't have to cut it if he doesn't want to. He can grow it down to his ass if he wants to. Just seeing him happy makes me happy. Rock and roll is here to stay.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Samuel and Ethan's school play, part 1

I just dropped off Samuel and Ethan for play practice at school. They both play dogs. Ethan says he was told he could act as much like a dog as he wants but he is not allowed to steal the play.

I have a bad feeling about this.

Tour of Ethan's castle, by Ethan Tarpley

My castle is actually a combination of three castles: Imaginext, MegaBlocks, and Playmobil. I got Playmobil first, when I was maybe four.

I like Imaginext best because it has the most pieces. I got all three from different Christmases. I spent three years getting castles. Then I put them all together to make one ginormous castle.

Almost all of the figures have weapons. They fight all day. I guess they get paid to fight. That's their job. And they get to have parties at nighttime.

This guy's name is King Bravemore. And this guy's name is King Blue Silver. Sometimes I make up their names by colors.

(In character)

"Dude! That's a boat!"

"Uh-oh. I think I broke it."

"It's blowing fire."

"Let me try, dude."

"That thing is awesome!"

"What's this? Oh, no!"

"He is making a tornado with his sword. Dude! I'm drowning!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Highs and Lows

The current highs and lows of my life:

We have AfterEffects. Samuel and I are slowly learning how to do green-screen video effects.

We've had no time to finish Ethan's movie, "Attack of the Evil Monsters and Spies." We're down to the special effects editing, but each scene takes a block of time to figure out how to do. I have a 45-second attention span. That's a bad combination.

My manuscripts are getting positive feedback from several editors. No one is saying, "Please, don't send more." My agent hasn't dumped me. All I can do is keep writing. That's the only part I can control.

I haven't sold a second manuscript. Book #1 is delayed until 2010. I need to sell another manuscript in 2009 in order to feel like a real writer. I'm feeling like Billy Ray Cyrus, Right Said Fred, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood all rolled into one: a one-hit wonder, and my book isn't even out yet. I'm not writing enough. I need more time at night. I need to be more disciplined. I hate stressing out about it, but I can't help it.

I'm playing on the company softball team. We suck. If we were twice as good, we'd still suck. The other teams suck too. That's me sliding into third. Look--the stupid third baseman doesn't even have the ball, and he's coming to try to tag me out. Sucking is a great thing. It takes all the pressure off.

My kids are growing up so fast. I don't mind getting old--there's only one way to avoid that, after all--but...I don't want Samuel to start growing facial hair. I just don't.

I walked home from work yesterday through Central Park. It's spring. Summer is coming. Little kids in strollers are everywhere. I want to play chase through sprinklers and have tea parties with every toddler in the world. (Okay, I didn't actually see Katie Holmes and Suri, but that's not the point.) Why would anyone who is rich continue to work in an office, spending their days having meetings about productivity, capex, and ROI? For the life of me I can't understand it. (And, on a side note, is Suri not the cutest baby ever?)

I'm not rich, so I have to work in an office and spend my days having meetings about productivity, capex, and ROI. I can't play chase through sprinklers and have tea parties with toddlers. Even if I were rich I wouldn't be able to play chase and have tea parties with toddlers, because their moms would say, "Who the hell is that old bald guy trying to play with my kids? He should be at work with the other white bald men having a meeting about productivity and capex. Police!"

I'm employed. In 2009, that makes me practically a rock star. Did you hear me complain? No, that was the guy down the hall in Provisioning. His productivity is too low and his capex is too high.

My family is healthy. My wife, my sweet boys, my parents, my siblings. Like all good things, it is an all-too-short window, I know. Appreciate the big things.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Samuel and Ethan's favorite web sites

Samuel: I just started going on it a few days ago. It's a book about two kids who go in a competition to become the most powerful person in the world. The source of their power is hidden around the world in the form of 39 clues. On the website you can compete in a competition exactly like it, but you win money instead of being the most powerful person on earth.

Ethan: Your character is a wizard. You battle giant rats, and other players. And also farmers. You can kill farmers.

Todd: Why does it let you kill farmers?

Ethan (laughs): I don't know.

Todd: I thought your favorite was You don't like that one anymore?

Ethan: I like Runescape a llloooottt more.

Todd: How long have you been playing Runescape?

Ethan: Probably about...three days.

Todd: You used to love Club Penguin. Do you still like Club Penguin?

Ethan: Not as much. Because it gets boring after all I've been through. I'm tired of Club Penguin.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ethan's field trip

Dad! Guess what? Today we went on a field trip! We let 45 fish go! We had them in an aquarium in our classroom, and we took them on the field trip and let them go!

And Dad! I confronted one of my worst fears!


Uh-huh! At one part, after we let the fish go? We looked at this paper and it showed a bunch of bugs. About a hundred of them! It said all of those bugs were IN THE WATER! I got really scared! The water was only 10 feet away from us!

Then a guy brought a see-through bowl? And he scooped up some water? And there were 20 of those bugs! I was so creeped out! They were all creepy and just floating around in the water!

And Dad! Then he demonstrated picking one up with a spoon! He picked one up that would nip your finger.

(Did you touch it?)

No! I said I didn't want to touch it. And so I didn't have to.

Also, guess what? We had to EAT LUNCH THERE. I had a bagel with cream cheese!

Sophia's birthday party

Ethan's classmate Sophia just turned 8. Her parents were cool enough (or uncool enough) to invite the grown-ups over too.

There was bed jumping, Twister, dog kissing, back bending, gross-mixture-in-a-bottle shaking, silly giggling, baby coddling, and--yes--even birthday cake eating.

Birthday parties represent everything good about the world. They bring out the best in people. They make you happy to be alive. Like all great things, they pass too soon. But isn't it nice to know that there will always be joy in the world, because every day is somebody's birthday?

Happy birthday, Sophia.