Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's good to be a rock star

Jen and the boys and I spent the weekend in York, Pennsylvania, where I made an author visit to an elementary school this morning. I was the feature attraction--"a real author"--at an assembly for 400 kindergartners through third graders.

I read two books, answered some questions, then all 401 of us wrote a "book" together.

The view from the stage:

I could definitely do this every day.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Samuel's egg-drop device, part 1

How do you design a device made out of paper that keeps an egg intact when dropped from 25 feet?

Here's Samuel's idea.

Stand by to see if it works.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Holy multiple curse words

This is from JamesPatterson.com. It's the list of James Patterson's upcoming book releases. Are you @#$ kidding me? A new book every @#$ ten days? And I'm not talking dinky, 32-page picture books. These are chapter books and novels. Man, that's some serious output.

I've always admired soap opera writers, because they crank out the equivalent of three feature-length movie scripts every week. James Patterson is on that level, but by himself.

I'd never read anything by James Patterson before my trip to LA last week. I picked up "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life" in the airport. Gotta say, it was a good book.

I was telling Jennifer earlier today, "You know, I'm proud of being a published author, but if I want to do it full-time, or even if I want to collect any royalties in my old age, I've gotta step on the f-ing gas."

She laughed at my use of profanity in a sentence about writing children's books.

I said, "Yeah, I know, that's how a children's author who used to be an Iowa wrestler talks. The competitiveness still bleeds through."

Then I came home, looked at James Patterson's upcoming release schedule and unleashed a torrent of multiple curse words--out of awe, mostly, but with some underlying jealousy as well.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go write for an hour.

Monday, March 18, 2013

5 real-life implications of the Higgs Boson discovery

1. Old people can now safely drive 56 mph in a 55-mph zone without fear of the universe being violently ripped apart.

2. CERN announces it will fund the next twenty years of Hadron SuperCollider operations by launching a line of Higgs Boson glue products with the tagline, "It holds the universe together." Elmer's stock plummets.

3. A high school science teacher in Fort Wayne, Indiana high-fives with students and colleagues in the hallways for seven straight days until someone asks him to explain what the Higgs Boson actually is.

4. A Poughkeepsie man named Boson Higgs enjoys a free extra Bingo card at the local Elks Club's Tuesday night Bingo game. He protests, "Now, don't go makin' a fuss over me over this hooey."

5. In a rare moment of consensus, scientists and theologians agree that "Higgs Boson" sounds like a character from "The Andy Griffith Show."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Late-night with Ethan

At 11pm I asked Ethan if he wanted to go out for a late-night snack.

We went to Haru on Amsterdam, where I had salmon-avocado rolls while Ethan shared the latest news in his life.

He hates that there are no bars or alcohol in Sims 3. "At least there should be, like, different kinds of bars. Not just juice bars."

He likes his current hairstyle. "I like to look at myself in the mirror."

"Do you tell yourself how great you look?"

"Well, I don't need to say anything, because I already know what I'm thinking."

He has an idea for a performance art project called The Robert Expedition, where you walk through Central Park asking people if their name is Robert. If it's not, you say thanks and go to the next person. If it is, you ask the person to sign their name, which goes on a giant Wall of Roberts.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

This dress is happiness personified

It's in the window at Granny-Made on Amsterdam & 82nd, which also sells my books, so I like to show them some love.

If you will agree to have a daughter and let me adopt her I will promise to buy her this dress when she turns three. And the universe will be better.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I'm at Disneyland...

...waiting for a shuttle van to take me to LAX, to catch a redeye to JFK, to go back home to my family.

I've spent the past 36 hours in LA on a business trip. We finished up our business at 1pm today, then six colleagues and I spent the afternoon at Disneyland.

Was it weird with no kids?

It was the best day I've had in a long time. You can't walk three feet into Disneyland without seeing joy on a thousand tiny faces. I'm a big fan of joy. I'm a big fan of tiny faces.

(I got the picture above from Disneyland's website because I didn't want to creep anyone out by taking pictures of their kids...but you get the gist.)

It brought back lots and lots of happy memories of Disneyland with Samuel and Ethan when they were little.

The world can be a wonderful place and a yucky place. You have to grab the wonderfulness whenever you have the chance.

Monday, March 11, 2013

An open letter to the mother of my high-school girlfriend

Remember back in the summer of '79 how you told your smokin' hot seventeen-year-old daughter--let's call her "Jo"--that she couldn't date me anymore because I was a bad seed? Even after I came to your home for dinner and was really, really polite, even when you said that you hoped that everything you'd heard about me wasn't true? And I just kind of smiled like a doofus even though I knew I was being abused, because what was I gonna say, "Same to you"? I even agreed to go to church with Jo just to prove that lightning wouldn't strike me (I wasn't totally sure), and I drove her and her sister in my red van, and they must have told you about it, because the next day Jo told me she couldn't see me any more.

Do you remember that?

And you probably also remember that Jo was upset about it, because--I don't know if you knew this, or cared, but--we really, honestly liked each other. I thought Jo was the sweetest person in the entire universe. It took me three dates to even kiss her, and two more to French kiss. Okay, you didn't like that part of the relationship, but, you know what? That first night that Jo and I French kissed in your driveway, and you turned on the porch light and opened the front door for her to end the date and come inside? Man, that was the greatest night of my life to that point. You tried your best to ruin it, but you didn't even come close.

I liked her so much that even after we broke up, I was like, "The hell with your mom, man, we're like Romeo and Juliet," and I honestly believed that we were just gonna ride out the storm.

But then Jo stopped returning my calls, and the next time I talked to her she was telling me about some weird ceremony at her church where she had to wear a white dress and get dunked in water, and I was like, "Oh, crap, this is like in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' when Jack Nicholson gets lobotomized." And that's when I realized that you won, Nurse Ratched.

So anyway, to catch you up on my life, I wrote this cute little baby book that was inspired by how much I love my own kids, and how being a parent pretty much trumps everything else in life. And this week I started noticing that it was showing up in the computer algorithms as being bought by people who also buy "My First Bible."

I laughed when I saw that, because it reminded me of you all of a sudden, and how much I hated you when I was seventeen. I realized, you know, maybe in retrospect we aren't so different after all.

And then I thought, "Nah, I still hate your guts."

Anyway, you were on my mind today. Thought I'd share.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ethan at 12

This is the first picture of Ethan at 12.

We walked to school together this morning as the snow was falling. That's our normal routine. Most of our conversations are monologues by Ethan about the previous night's dream, random observations about life, or jokes about body parts and bodily functions. Sometimes I contribute to those.

Today the first thing he said was, "Whoa. I didn't know it was snowing. Whoa! Look at the trees."

I asked him if it felt different being twelve. He said no, but he really missed being nine, because life was so much easier back then.

He kept stopping every few feet to make snowballs and throw them at me.

On the final block to school we passed a man carrying a small child on his shoulders. Ethan laughed and said, "For a second I thought that guy was wearing, like, a really big hat."

Then he threw one more snowball at me, I told him goodbye, and he disappeared into the school.

He is truly one of the greatest things about my life.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Highlights of the weekend

  • Went to an event at Ethan's school Friday night and fell in love with an 18-month-old. 
  • Wrote a couple pages about a choo-choo train who plays peek-a-boo. Very high testosterone.
  • Saw that "Ten Tiny Toes" bounced back into the top 50 new baby books. Take that, Jewel.
  • Had a dinner date with Jen.
  • Stayed up 'til 2am last night singing the entire Herman's Hermits karaoke songbook to Bailey while Jen made jewelry, Samuel and Ethan played "Half Life 2," and Kahlua slept under the dining table.
  • Went for a run today, didn't pull any muscles.
  • Had take-out tonight from Shake Shack.