Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Novel update


As you may recall, it's called Imagine, Arizona, about a community that's self-exiled from the post-1980 world.

Three chapters are done plus the outlines for most of the remainder. I was writing some dialogue last night for a chapter in which Julia, the main character, visits her mom's grave in the local cemetery. Jo was sitting next to me while I was typing away, and all of a sudden she saw tears running down my cheek and said, "What's wrong?"

I sniffled and said, "This is going to be a good chapter."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Book update


Whiskey informs me that the "F&Gs" for Naughty Ninja Takes a Bath have arrived from the publisher. That's the entire book minus the cardboard covers that are added in the final step of the process. Whiskey adds that the cover is delicious. Publication date is October.


Three Grumpy Trucks was selected by the International Literacy Association for its Children's Choice 2019 Reading List. The list of 100 picture books was voted on by 12,500 kids. This is my first book to make the list.


Bailey celebrated by showing Whiskey how to roll in the clover in Central Park.

Monday, April 29, 2019

6 things I learned this week

1. James Taylor still has his voice at age 71.



2. Frankie Avalon still has his voice at age 78. Not quite as inspiring as James Taylor, but my mom enjoyed it. And it marked the fifth straight concert for me and Jo where the performer was over 70 (Doo-Wop Show, Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, James Taylor, Frankie Avalon). 


3. My nephew Nick Tarpley is the real deal at age 23. He placed 5th at Greco Wrestling Nationals this weekend--the reason we were in Vegas.



4. The Nomad Hotel in Vegas is nice. It's modeled after the Nomad in New York, where we had our wedding reception. So of course we stayed there. And of course we used the tub.


5. I'm blessed to be a part of a great family. I knew this already.


6. I'm blessed to share my life with this beautiful girl, who would rather rent a car and go on an adventure than waste a sunny day in a casino. I knew this already too. But confirmation is always good.




It's been a fun week. We're happy to be back home in boring old New York City.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Thoughts on Ethan and college and toddlers and fatherhood

I took Ethan on a college visit to Binghamton this week. We got to spend a lot of time together.







He's a smart boy, and he's thoughtful, and rational, and funny, and irreverent, and he has a good heart. You never stop worrying about your kids, but he's going to be okay. I didn't screw him up too badly.

Ethan's primary college decision seems to be big school closer to home vs. little school in the middle of nowhere. Either will be good for him. I do worry about him getting lonely at a small school in the middle of nowhere. I worry about the culture shock, not being able to walk to the deli at 2 AM to get bacon. The evil midwest, where dinner ends at 7.

In other news, the cover of my new book is out. 



The book comes out in October. So we're in that home stretch where the cover comes out, then it shows up on Amazon, then maybe an advance review, etc. It's a very good book, I'm proud of it, and it just reminds me how lucky I am to be a picture book author. Other than fatherhood it's the one thing I've done that most accurately reflects who I am. I've never gotten the same thrill from working at a "real" job--never the same sense of identity. I don't want to be remembered as a media exec. I want to be remembered as a husband and a dad and a picture book author.

A few days ago I stopped by storytime at the book store on Columbus (just long enough that no one was freaked out by the middle-aged man at storytime). I love toddlers. I love the bond between parent and child. I love that being a parent is the most important thing in the universe, and all those parents at storytime are kindred spirits, because they know it too. Being around toddlers makes you think, "The world is actually pretty good."

Yesterday on the way back from Binghamton Ethan and I decided to stop for a bathroom break, and we were near Great Wolf Lodge. It would've been faster just to stop at a gas station, obviously. But I hadn't been there in years, and...I am me, after all.

We walked down to the indoor waterpark entrance, and as soon as we opened the doors there was this familiar smell of water and chlorine and humidity, and we both immediately smiled. Ethan said, "Mmm, I love that smell!" I said, "Me, too, isn't it great?"



It's like fatherhood. I will never get tired of it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Catskills resort from Mrs. Maisel

Ethan and I are on our way to Binghamton for a college visit, and look what we discovered a couple of miles off the main highway.

Still closed for the season, but no gate, so we let ourselves in. They've kept the "Steiner Mountain Resort" sign that was made for the show.





Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Mrs. Maisel floorplans

Couldn't resist.

Below is the floorplan for the Weissmans' apartment 12C at 404 Riverside Drive, as depicted in the show. It's based on the real-life apartment 12N from the same building. I modified the original floorplans in Photoshop after watching the first two seasons of the show.


Below is the floorplan of the real-life apartment 12N, courtesy of streeteasy.com.
The main differences between the two:

  • The foyer and living room in the show both appear to have been bumped out to the west by about two feet. It makes the foyer two feet longer and adds the same amount of new walking space between the living room and dining room/den.
  • Two rooms from the real apartment are not depicted in the show, including a large bedroom. It's unclear why poor Midge was relegated to the small maid's room since childhood instead of one of the much larger bedrooms.
  • Midge's bedroom is directly accessible from the kitchen in the show. In reality there is a pantry there, though a door to the maid's room could conceivably have been there originally.
  • In addition, Midge's room appears to be a couple of feet wider than the actual maid's room (at the location of her bed) with no door to the maid's bathroom, which should be located there.
  • The layouts of the kitchen and master bathroom are slightly different.
  • No clue as to why they changed the apartment number from 12N to 12C. But if you look closely in episode 1 you'll see that the letter C on the door is slightly smaller than the numbers, as if a Production Assistant made a hasty run to the hardware store prior to shooting. It is the correct size in later episodes.
Perhaps the show's set designer will weigh in on anything I missed. Until then, enjoy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I'm writing a novel

It's called Imagine, Arizona. It's my first attempt at a YA novel. (I'm not giving up picture books yet, just trying to expand my repertoire.) The story is about a Utopian community purposely "frozen in time" in 1980, before John Lennon died.

There's a chapter in which one of the characters meets the Beatles in India in 1968. While doing research I came across photos of the ashram (meditation camp) where the Beatles stayed with the maharishi. It was abandoned in the 1990s.

More details on the novel later. For now, here's a current shot of the bungalow where the Beatles stayed:



Here's a photo of John and Paul at the same location in 1968 superimposed over the newer photo:


If you know my obsessive personality, you will know that my chapter set in 1968 will be so historically accurate that Paul McCartney would scratch his head and say, "I don't remember meeting that bloke, but everything else is exactly right, so it must have really happened."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Our new thing is Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


We watch it together, and I'm constantly hitting pause so that I can figure out where they are. Thankfully Jo is a patient woman.

Tonight we trekked down to the Village to see the real-life locales.

First up, the Music Inn on West 4th Street. This is where Midge shopped for comedy albums.


It looks exactly the same in 2019. 


Next, the site of the original Gaslight Cafe, 116 Macdougal. In real life it was a "poetry cafe" that also hosted folk music acts and comedians. In the TV show it's where Midge gets her start in stand-up.


The old entrance is still there, but it's now a bar.




The interior is much smaller than depicted in the TV show.





It's nice to live in NYC. And have an adventurous spouse.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Ethan is sort of an adult


So I have no more children under the age of 18.

That's okay. We can make more.

And our new puppy, Whiskey, is kind of like a new baby.



We have not gotten a good night's sleep yet.

And there are lots of messes to clean up.


Bailey is rolling with it pretty well.


In other news, we had a little snow, Sam came home for a weekend, and I desperately need to finish a couple of manuscripts. Life goes on, and I'm happy to be here.


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller's wedding


I'm not a Marilyn fanatic, but I was intrigued to learn that the house where she wed Arthur Miller is for sale, so out of curiosity I did some research. Here's the scoop:

The house is at 122 East Ridge Road in Waccabuc, NY, ninety minutes north of NYC.



This is what it looks like now:



In 1956 it was the weekend home of Arthur Miller's literary agent, Kay Brown. It was a modest, single-story structure:


Here is the original house superimposed over the current house:


A four-minute civil ceremony took place a few days earlier, in White Plains, with no photographers present. The wedding that took place here was a Jewish ceremony presided over by a rabbi and attended by about 25 guests.

Based on archival photos and videos, it appears that the ceremony was held in what is now the dining room, which was then the main room of the house:


Here's the same room with Marilyn and Arthur superimposed:


At the conclusion of the ceremony, the couple and guests walked out the back door to a patio, where a reception was held:


Here's a video and some photos of the reception:






At some later point a second story was added and the rear patio area was enclosed. This is what the rear of the house looks like now:


Here is the old house superimposed over the new:


And here is the approximate location of the wedding cake:


In short, the reception took place in what is now an enclosed living room:





Who says history isn't fun?