Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving video

This year: Hitchcock meets ninjas. As always, we can't show the whole thing, but here's the trailer...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ethan's new book

Ethan has been complaining all week that he has to read 10 pages of a book every night for school.

So the first thing he did this weekend was get the new "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book, which he has been reading for the past two hours.

He just came in to read me a funny part.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Minecraft party!

As everyone in the free world under the age of 18 apparently knows, today is the official release ("not just the beta") of an online virtual world called Minecraft. Samuel and Ethan are having a pizza party with friends, and everyone is playing the game on their laptops together.

For my generation, I think the equivalent was when "Hotel California" came out and we all gathered around the turntable.

Here's some play-by-play to give you a sense of the excitement level...

Cobblestones, yeah!

I'm taking all the supplies!

Hey, Lindsey, where are you?

I found land!

Ethan, where are you?


I'm invincible!

I'm scared!

Samuel, kill the skeleton! Kill it! Kill it!

I'm gonna turn up my render distance!

I see a creeper!

Oh my god, it's a creeper!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dear Baby

I just submitted a new manuscript this week. I started it at the writer's retreat a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued by the idea of a dad and baby writing love notes to each other...

Dear Baby,
Welcome to the world.
Love, Daddy

Dear Daddy,
Good to be here. Milk, please.
Love, Baby

It always makes me happy to finish a manuscript. Not as good as it feels to sell one, but it's the only part of the process that I can control. In my next life I'll rule the world and things will be better.

In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away and hope for the best.

Dear Baby,
I love nibbling on your belly and making you giggle.
Like this.
Nibble, nibble, nibble.
Love, Daddy

Dear Daddy,
Love, Baby

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do you hate country music?

Okay, but listen to these songs first...I guarantee you'll be humming at least one for the next four hours.

"A Fool Such as I" by Elvis Presley. It was a country hit for Hank Snow before Elvis took it to #2 on the pop charts in 1959.

"End of the World" by Skeeter Davis. A simple, honest, beautiful melody that stands the test of time. #2 on the pop charts in 1963. Amazingly, it also hit #4 on Billboard's R&B chart!

"When Will I Be Loved" by the Everly Brothers. Holy cow--no, that's not a faulty treble setting, that's Phil Everly's damn voice!

"Rock Around With Ollie Vee" by Buddy Holly. Recorded in Nashville in 1956, it was released after "That'll Be the Day" in 1957 but didn't chart. The quintessential rockabilly song.

"I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" by The Beatles. John and Paul channel Phil and Don. This is a lesser-known song from the 1965 "Beatles For Sale" album, and pretty catchy. The Beatles did several other country songs, including Buck Owens' "Act Naturally" and Carl Perkins' "Honey Don't."

This concludes today's public service announcement on behalf of the Country Music Association. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Writer's retreat

I'm on the 5-hour train ride home from a children's book writer's retreat at an historic lodge on Lake George.

It was cold, there was no cell phone reception, and no TV, so I'm lucky to be alive.

But I met some nice editors and fellow writers, got a manuscript critiqued, and got lots of creative inspiration, so it was a win overall.

Would've been better in summer, that's all. (Some people like to look at leaves and drink coffee. I like to jump in the water and drink Coke Zero.)

Here's some free advice, courtesy of a real book editor: the title and first line are by far the most important elements of any picture book.

That's my freebie to you--I just saved you a few hundred bucks. You're welcome.

Okay, one more: "Every day we make new children--let us also make new children's books."

Buddy and Maria's table

This is Ethan sitting at table 53 at P.J. Clarke's on 3rd Avenue, where he and I had an early dinner. It's the table where Buddy Holly proposed to Maria on their first date in 1958. That's their wedding photo on the wall.

I've been on a Buddy Holly kick for the past month, starting around the time I discovered that his NYC apartment is for sale. I've read four Buddy Holly books, scoured the Internet, even sent a letter to his widow, Maria, asking if I can co-author her memoir.

Some people go on month-long drinking binges; I do stuff like this.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Another Halloween is in the books.

Samuel was an Aperture Science test subject from the computer game "Portal." He finished installing the LED lights in his portal gun moments before trick-or-treating began.

Ethan was Rainbow Dash from "My Little Pony," with wings and a magical rainbow tail. Mac, his puppet-who-doesn't-like-to-be-called-a-puppet, was Spider-man.

Hey, we never claimed to have normal kids.

Jennifer was a cat, and I was just a guy with a mask, although in retrospect, I think with just a couple of tweaks we could've been Catwoman and The Riddler. Oh, well.

We tricked-or-treated in our building, then visited friends on 95th Street, where the kids compared their booty.