Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sledding in Central Park

So we survived the deadly Nor'easter blizzard of 2010 (known in other places as simply "snow"). Today we demonstrated our conquest over the savage forces of Nature by sliding down small hills on pieces of man-made, non-biodegradable plastic.

Manly Men 1. Nature 0.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in NYC

Last night we went down to Rockefeller Center, and guess what? There actually IS a big Christmas tree down there. This morning we woke up and opened our gifts in our own living room.

Tonight, as a gift to ourselves, we saw Pee Wee Herman on Broadway.

It was my idea--I thought it'd be a fun way to spend Christmas in New York. And, to be honest, I have a soft spot in my heart for Paul Reubens, who had the talent to create this lovable character, then almost inadvertently destroyed him. I was rooting for him. I wanted to see him give Pee Wee the chance to go out on a high note. They both deserved that.

If art could only be created by perfect human beings, there'd be no art. Heck, if human beings were perfect, would there be any need for art?

Okay, okay, I don't wanna get all maudlin about Pee Wee, but you know what? The world needs all the redemption it can get, and I for one am willing to settle for it in small doses. I'm happy to report that Pee Wee, like Santa Claus and NYC at Christmas time, is alive and well. Our hearts are all a little bigger.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Great Wolf Lodge

We're at Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. An early Christmas present to ourselves.

Samuel and Ethan are in their PJs in the fold-out sofa bed right by the fireplace. Jen and I are in one of the queen-sized beds. We have an entire unused bed next to us that would hold another two kids if only we'd had a little more foresight.

I love Great Wolf Lodge because I love water parks, I love being with my family, I love seeing Samuel and Ethan happy, and I love being surrounded by toddlers and babies whose positive energy rubs off on me.

Aside from the fact that it's so cold outside that even the indoor water park is only around 75 complaints.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ethan's Christmas List

1. Nintendo DSI

2. Animal Planet Deep Sea play set

3. Magic Plastic Bubbles

4. G.I. Joe movie figure

5. Nintendogs game for DS

Samuel's Christmas List

1. BTTF video game

2. K-11 EMF Detector

3. EyeClops Mini Projector

4. Micro Sonic Grenade

5. Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver

6. Personal Soundtrack Shirt

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wonders of the World

Today in school we studied the Wonders of the World. They were mostly boring things like pyramids. They didn't even include dogs or computers.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Amazon Author Page

One of the many benefits of being an author, in addition to Hollywood galas, fabulous wealth, and occasionally being mistaken for Truman Capote, is that you get to have an Author Page on Amazon.

I just posted my photo, a bio, and a video clip. So now the world can rest a little easier.

It looks a little sparse with just one book, I know.

Rome wasn't built in a day.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Imagining eating makes you eat less?

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon conducted a research study in which they asked people to imagine that they were eating 30 M&Ms. Afterwards they gave them actual M&Ms. Those who imagined themselves eating M&Ms ate fewer than those who did not.

When I conduct the same experiment with myself, I get slightly different results. I imagine eating 30 M&Ms. Then I eat 60. Then I imagine that I only ate 30.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday photo

This year's theme began as "Leave it to Beaver." I got the costumes (plaid shirts), the background image (the Cleaver house), we did the photo shoot, and I put together the rough composite.

I showed it to Jennifer that night and I said, "You know, it's fine, but I'm not sure it's zany enough. You know, like it needs a DeLorean in the driveway or something."

So Jennifer went to sleep and I stayed up looking at photos of the '50s on the Internet. I had a Eureka moment at about 1:45am (very dangerous), and typed in "Back to the Future Lyon Estates" in Google image search...

Do you remember this scene from the movie?

Well, I'm not sure many people are gonna get it,'s definitely zanier. What do you think?

It'll be at with the holiday newsletter in another week or so. I'm pleased with myself.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Little Airplanes

This week Samuel, Ethan, their friend Natalie, and I took a tour of Little Airplane Productions, a kids TV production company downtown.

Sophia and Frankie were supposed to go too, but were sick, so this is a virtual tour for them:

Melanie, a producer, taught us about the script-writing process. (Is it just me, or does it seem like it would be a lot easier if they didn't have to type on those giant pieces of posterboard?)

I think they are used to younger kids taking the tour. When they started explaining how they use computers to make the pictures appear to move, Ethan said, nonchalantly, "I use Photoshop to create my virtual world characters." Samuel said, "I use AfterEffects for special effects."

Jeffrey, the musical director, gave us a tour of the sound studio, where they record voice-overs and live orchestra music for the shows.

Then he gave the boys and Natalie an opportunity to add their own voices to a musical soundtrack.

In what parallel universe do Emmy-winning TV producers, animators, and musical directors take an hour out of their busy afternoon to show four strangers how they make TV shows? I expected Woody Allen to pop out at any minute and say, "Wouldn't it be great if real life were really like this?"

Sophia and Frankie, we missed you--you would've liked this a lot. Feel better.

Tone and Melanie and Jeffrey and Josh and Jessica and everyone else at Little Airplane, thanks for sharing your magic with us. We had a great time, we learned a lot, and I predict that you will be seeing some animated Cocker Spaniels that look suspiciously like Wonder Pets on YouTube very soon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back on the charts, baby

Eureka. My book has made a stunning resurgence to #46,578 on Amazon, even making its way back into the top 100 "new baby" books, ranking just above some weird bilingual hide-and-seek book and just below the evil Beatrix Potter.

One of my relatives must've bought, like, six copies all at once, and it threw Amazon's ranking algorithm into a tizzy.

And while we're on the subject, may I just point out what an excellent Christmas gift "How About a Kiss for Me?" would make?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving video

Another Thanksgiving, another holiday family video. We've covered virtually every genre over the past 15 years, from horror ("The Lair B**ch Project") to game show ("Dysfunctional Family Feud") to reality ("The Apprentice: Marsha Brady") to teen dramedy ("Sixty Candles"). This year we checked daytime drama off the list.

For professional and personal reasons (e.g., some people in the family would like to remain employable), we don't post the movies on YouTube. Which is kind of lame, really, because who would want to work for a company that doesn't appreciate juvenile toilet humor anyway?

If you marry into the family you're automatically subscribed to the full slate of holiday videos in their entirety. In the meantime, all I can offer is a sneak peek...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Beatles are now on iTunes...yawn

Did Yoko not realize that the entire free world already uploaded all their Beatles CDs to their iPods about 3 years ago? Whatever.

In celebration, here is never-before-seen archival footage of Samuel and Ethan from pre-iTunes days...


I was born here and spent the first five years of my life here...singing in the toddler's choir at Boston Avenue Church, skating at Parkey's Roller Rink on Mingo, opening Christmas gifts at the grandparents', walking to kindergarten with the smokin' hot Jenny Miller.

We made the trip down for Grandmother's funeral, and it was a good trip. We even made some new memories.

My family on the spot where my Tarpley grandparents' house once stood, now surrounded by the runways of Tulsa International Airport.

Samuel and Ethan showing their cousin Ryan the iPad.

My niece, Addie, looking for trouble.

Ethan's first time driving a Go-Kart by himself.

My cousin Mark and his wife Jenny, whom we'd definitely hang out with if we lived closer.

My own little family.

I feel very old and very young all at the same time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New baby

Liza, the editor of my forthcoming second book, Ten Tiny Toes, just had a baby boy over the weekend. Welcoming someone new into the world takes away some of the sadness of saying goodbye to someone else.

Congratulations to Liza, and here is a reminder of why babies are the greatest invention of all time.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


My Grandmother Needham passed away last night. She was almost 96 years old, and I think she'd be the first to tell you that the key to happiness is to not live past 93.

I was blessed to have her for so long, and I'm grateful that Samuel and Ethan and Jennifer got to have her for so long as well. She was a grandmother to be shared.

Some things I've learned from her:

1. Smile.

2. Forgive.

3. Try not to giggle when you're bluffing in poker.

4. Make the world a better place because you were here.

I'll do my best to pass it on.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Wipeout Island"

From wunderkind producer Ethan Tarpley ("Attack of the Evil Monsters and Spies," "Superhero Wrestling") comes the all-new reality/adventure TV series, "Wipeout Island!" Follow seven strange people as they face their greatest fears--each other! Who will be voted off? Who will survive? Who will vomit? Tune in and find out...on "Wipeout Island!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


"If someone fell out of a plane into a ginormous bowl of rice, would they survive?"

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Dad, only 364 more days til next Halloween"

Another Halloween is in the books.

Samuel went as Marty McFly (surprise) and Ethan was a scary skeleton creature. We terrorized our own building before heading up to 95th Street to meet more friends from school.

I never did find the bag of candy that Jennifer bought a couple of weeks ago, and she still won't tell me the hiding place because she wants to use it again next year. But when she brought out the candy she was definitely coming from the direction of the bedroom. Note to self.

I had my fill of candy last night, and bought an additional $4 worth from one of Sam's friends, including Almond Joys, Reese's Cups, and Peanut Chews. Thank you God for people with nut allergies.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


If you wonder the number of years that I am
It's the number of states all connected by land

It's the number of hours over 2 different days
It's 2 dozen eggs cooked in 2 different ways

It's the smallest whole number with 10 whole divisors
It's the number of 6 whole adults in incisors

It's 31 more than the age of a minor
It's one number less than a pro 49-er

It's 3 pints of soda as measured in ounces
It's 12 4-bounce ball drops as measured in bounces

It's a third of a gross, and it's four feet in inches
It's the number of slats in 8 6-slatted benches

It's a precinct in Gotham where cars may get stolen
It's the number to call if you want to reach Poland

It's all of these things, and while all are quite fine
In 12 months I'll tell you about 49