Monday, December 31, 2007

Runaway Year

Sorry for the lack of posts here, but as December picked up speed I didn't have time to brush my teeth, let alone sit here and think of something witty to write about life in Chez Keeble.

Needless to say, I still don't have a lot of time. Since Christmas we've had two ear infections and all the inconsolable crying that comes with them, not to mention the doctor and chemist visits. And we got a Wii, so as a family we've been playing on that an awful, awful lot.

Thinking back on 2007, it was quite an adventure. I learned a lot. I signed a deal to get my debut novel published. I scored about 100 goals on Sunday mornings throughout the year. I got a year older, as did my kids.

2008, of course, will be the year my book is published, and will also be the year my eldest start kindergarten, her first steps towards "real" school. I'm excited about the coming year for lots of reasons.

Lastly, I hope you all have a cracker tonight, and every day afterwards for the next 364 days in a row. If you're reading this, thank you for your support, friendship, or anonymous visitations here. I appreciate it all.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Almost there...

Every year, Christmas "arrives" at a random time - sometimes before the 25th, sometimes during. As of now, despite all the snow, it still isn't here yet.

I've done the wrapping, the music, all that jazz. But I'm still less than in full swing. It's going to be a very fun couple of days, with the hints of some surprises in store for everyone (but Gwen - I honestly didn't get you the Shark. Maybe you can borrow Amy's again?)

So, while I'm here, I'd like to wish you all a fun 25th. I will post again to do an end-of-year recap in the next few days.

Don't drink too much!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I meant to do this a long time ago...

What do you think of that? is actually ready to accept pre-orders. That is almost too much to comprehend!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Shock! Horror!

A curious development of becoming a parent to two increasingly personality-filled kids is my disinterest in horror movies.

This from a person who grew up worshiping at the church of Freddy Kruger. In truth, I was petrified of horror movies until I was about 14, when I fell off the deep end and even subscribed to Fangoria Magazine for a long while.

But now, they have no appeal at all. And I put it down to my having kids. It used to be, when I saw a stupid teenager get hacked up by Freddy or Jason Vorhees, it was funny because: "Huh, look at that stupid teenager." Also, many of the movies I grew up with featured a great deal of boobs and general female nakedness. Perhaps the real appeal, between all the blood, was getting to see John Cusack's girlfriend from Better Off Dead in just her underpants (and then, less appealingly, gruesomely murdered by an invisible Freddy Kruger - in fact, she was Freddy's first victim in the six-movie series.) Now that idea is too close to home, and too... real for want of a better term.

I didn't see Saw. I have no intention of watching The Ring. I just watched 28 Weeks Later and was left feeling disturbed - not thrilled or excited or scared. Just unpleasant. And that's not a fault of the film in the slightest. A 15-year-old me would have loved it. I just found it depressing.

Monday, December 03, 2007

How Winter Kills

This weekend was dominated by a snow-storm, that spread its cold fingers through everything I did or wanted to do all day on Sunday. This was not all bad.

I was hoping to play soccer in the morning, but when I woke up at about 6am and turned on the TV, the weatherman was showing live pictures from a blizzard in Times Square, 12 miles away. I put my cleats away pretty much immediately, knowing I wouldn't be needing them.

Sure enough, the snow came. Luckily the kids loved it, but it was the crappy snow that was all powder and it was so cold outside there wasn't much for them to do in it but run and get cold. So they ran and got cold... then came back inside. The wife invited a friend and her daughter over, and they all did Christmas crafts together while I sat upstairs working on one long-overdue project or another. I also had every excuse not to go out and bag leaves (as I had done all day on Saturday) because the leaves were under two inches of white stuff. To this end, I watched two football games in their entirety - including an incredible Giants comeback and victory.

This morning, there was still some snow on the ground but by the time I picked the kids up from school, there was very little evidence there had ever been snow here at all. The bad news? The leaves are back again. Bastards.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Wow, that whole Thanksgiving thing was a trip (pardon the pun, because we actually went away.)

The day itself was fun, and the traveling wasn't too horrific, but on our return I installed an update on my Macbook that killed it. This at a time when I was already four days behind thanks to the break, and one day after receiving my final, final, final draft of the novel for my perusal and approval.

The Macbook wasn't fixed until Wednesday, by which time I had just about lost my mind. The days when my son doesn't nap are never pretty for anyone (and as I type this, I'm in the middle of another one) but not having my laptop made me realize just how reliant I am on it.

"Huh, no email... well, I'll just start work on the Christmas card list... that's on the laptop... well, maybe I'll just... no, that's on the laptop too." etc etc etc.

The first thing the laptop reminded me of when it came back to life at four o'clock on Wednesday is that I'd forgotten my daughter's show-and-tell that morning (the reminder was exclusively on the laptop.)

ANYWAY I'm working through the novel for what will be the last time before its published, and will begin the new year with one book down, and one half-done one to pitch. Can't be bad.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Laptop is dead

My laptop is dead. It's sad how much I miss it. It will be examined tomorrow, but updates on here (and correspondence and pretty much everything else from the Christmas card list to finalizing my novel, and even my social calendar) is currently kaput. Cheers!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Sorry for the lack of posting. Things will get back to normal later this week. I have lots of exciting book news, and lots of horrific child-anecdotes following Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Writing Update

Between looking after the kids and looking at pictures of Sarah Silverman on the internet, I am also still writing.

I am currently working my way through the copy-edited version of my novel, I Got You Babe, published next June. I still laugh out loud at some of it - something I never did with anything Shakespeare wrote. So who is better? That's not for me to say.

Also I landed another writing gig, but it's for a non-profit so I get paid in tickets for kids events. That's better than cash if you asks me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Daughter is currently grade 3 sick (see below.) It could be worse. It might still get worse if her brother picks up this bug. Already, my Tuesday is off-course. Tuesday and Thursday mornings are all about me - both kids are normally in school. Today, no such luck. Not only am I at the beck and call of a 4-year-old girl, but I'm stuck inside.

That said, Entrourage Season 3, Part II is now in my posession. That's my afternoon/evening sorted.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Good morning!

I spent yesterday busting my buns to get the house somewhat clean for a family member who is arriving this weekend and staying a couple of days.

This morning, at 8 o'clock, the house is not only covered in pieces of ripped-up and cut-up paper, but I've also had to wash a couch cover that was covered in excretement.

Let me tell you how I got from there to here.

Upon awakening, I was lulled into a thought that today might be great. My daughter had managed to sleep through the night in her own bed, even waking in the night to use the bathroom, then returning to her own bed - something she has never done before (she would normally come into our room post pee-pee.)

It went pretty much downhill two seconds later.

My son, who spent the whole night in our room (my fault - I fell asleep with him next to me watching the NJ Nets of all things) woke up sniffing with a horrific runny nose. There are several degrees of sickness in two-year-olds:

1) a little out-of-sorts. Not much different than usual.

2) whining, moaning, wailing, hungry but not wanting to eat anything. Not enough vocabulary to express where it hurts, without the experience to know what is best to feel better, this goes on for hours/all day.

3) feverish and lethargic. Sleeping a lot.

1 and 3 are OK. 2 really sucks. This was a 2.

The only thing he wanted to eat/drink was apple juice. All those vitamins can only help, so I loaded him up. He perked up considerably. This is good.

A hour or so after starting his apple juice regimen I am reminded of one of the main reasons my son differs from my daughter. His reaction to foodstuffs.

My boy reacts to things he ingests in the most spectacular fashion. One marshmallow, and he is driven insane. I had given him three cups of undiluted apple juice to ward off his germs.

So, an hour after his first mouthful of apple juice, it all comes out of his bottom into his diaper. The diaper then leaks all over the couch as I yell at my daughter to get me some newspaper. It looks like oxtail soup, swishing in the supposed absorbent core layer that is full to capacity. It swishes over the edges as he kicks, fuelled by the sugar rush within. My fingers are covered, he is covered pretty much up to his waist. The puddle on the couch is growing.

Which is how, at 8am, I am washing the floor, the couch cover, my son and scrubbing my own fingernails in a house that looks like it hasn't been tidied in a week.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Quite a coincidence - winter is full-on here with ice on the car for the first time since... I don't know, last February... and there's no school today across the whole of New Jersey. This means I have two sets of eyes looking at me, asking: "So, no school... what else you got, Pops?"

We have been eeking out every minute of daylight between Patrick waking up from his nap (about 3:30pm) and the sun going down (about 4:45pm) to maximize the fresh air time and its essential sleep-inducing qualities. On Monday mornig, it was maybe 60 degrees. As I type this, it's 30. Fresh air is not as good if it's frozen.

This is not all bad. Just this morning I was reminiscing about the first Christmas we spent in New Jersey after leaving Manhattan. We woke Christmas morning, opened our gifts, and it started to snow. We then ate mucho turkey, I drank a bottle of shiraz (as wife was pregnant with our daughter at the time), put on a stupid paper hat, and wished goodwill to all men. Good and cold.

Last Christmas, as is documented on this very blog, it was about 80 degrees, we were surrounded by family who all got sick, and had to bail on what would have been a very fun adult-only party due to the vomit that ensued.

Here's hoping for more of the former, less of the latter, this year.

Monday, November 05, 2007

So cold... dark...

Last night the clocks went back, meaning that my son was awake at 4:30, thinking it was 5:30, and then by 5:30 (thinking it was 6:30) he decided he had enough sleep and marched downstairs. I was pretty much powerless to stop him as I felt the same way.

In these post-Hallowe'en days, we have suffered long, hard temper tantrums at the hands of number one son wanting his trick-or-treat candy three times a day as a meal substitute. By mid-afternoon, I was just about done with hearing about it. I tipped up the last bucket of candy, split it into two piles, took my 10% as deal-maker, and told he and the more-diplomatic, but still susceptible to over-indulging daughter, to eat it all. They did, and we were done for the year. A quick bout running around at the ever-darkening playground, where the temperature dropped 10 degrees every 15 minutes until 5 o'clock, and most of the sugar rush had worked its course.

Dinner was a far more conservative toast and a banana, with no more requests for "something to chew" (which is how he differentiates between candy and food ("something to eat".)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Don't Do This At Home

Don't eat a dozen hot wings, a bowl of vegetarian chilli and two stuffed jalapeno peppers, washed down with six lite beers and half a bottle of shiraz.

Just don't.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Right For My Rights

Warner Bros has granted permission for us to use "I Got You, Babe" as the book title, and also for us to use the lyrics inside! Cher can buy herself a cup of coffee - on me!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Musical Beds

Last night's bed-hopping was a flashback to a year or so ago when the kids were sleeping even worse than now.

After sitting up watching the Fantastic Four take on the Silver Surfer until 8:30pm, I made my first mistake by letting Patrick out of my sight after brushing his teeth. He managed to slip into Penny's room where Mommy was reading her a story.

"Great, now I have both kids!" quoth Mommy.

Somehow I lured Pat back to his own room, read him a story or two, and despite his cries for the paradise haven of Penny's Room and Mommy's comfort, he fell asleep shortly before I did.

I woke up after a scrummy dream about ponies and made my way back to my own bedroom, where a sleeping Mommy had similarly made her escape. I was mostly awake, but it was 2am, so I lay there, my head full of the typical night thoughts that fuel my non-kid related insomnia.

Twenty minutes later, Patrick wakes up. As I'm already awake, I stand up and grab him, escorting him back to his room. After what felt like an hour of his wailing for Mommy, but was probably only two minutes, I grant him his wish and carry him back to our bedroom...

... where my daughter is already camped out, woken by his wails.

It's two thirty, My bed is full (even the cat came in), but my two kids beds are empty. I climb into Penny's bed for a few minutes, but at this point I am wide, wide awake, so I head downstairs.

I watch about a half-hour of TV before summoned by my wife who is disturbed by the flickering lights from the living room. She then orders me back to bed. Our conversation on the stairs wakes my daughter, who follows Mommy out of the bedroom. I somehow convince her to come lay down with me in her bed, while Mommy returns to her own bed (where she will join Patrick.)

I lay there for about an hour, night thoughts poking and prodding, until I finally wake to semi-dawn. It is 6:30am and Mommy is downstairs, leaving for work. If I want any time to myself today, it's now or never, so I get up and make a filthy, dark pot of coffee. The kids join me at about 7am.

Last year we spent about two grand on the bed in our bedroom. I am loathe to call it "our bed" because I am so very rarely in it. And now you know why.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thank Crunchie...

I've commented many a time how there are certain things I can do on a Monday or Tuesday, but not on a Friday. Today it rained pretty much all day, and while the day was largely uneventful, the confinement has got to my son.

He spent the last hour:

Chasing the cat

Putting Floam (c) on his feet and dancing on the wood floors and couch

Pushing his sheriff star badge through the mesh screen on one of the windows (thus wrecking it,) then asking me to go get his badge from the flower bed where it landed outside

Pushing his sister

Pulling his sister

Treading on anything his sister tries to do

Refusing food (unless it's chocolate)

It gets better. My wife is out all day tomorrow, meaning tomorrow is actually "Friday," if you know what I mean, because I will be alone with the kids again all day.

What's he doing now? Let's say he's learning his lesson in his room. He must learn that "stop" does not mean "slower" or "slightly less hard" or "quieter."

Terrible twos suck for everyone.

Friday, October 12, 2007

This is pretty much all I have said since I woke up

"Stop doing that - you will hurt him/her"

"Can you hear me?"

"Calm down"

"Give it back"

"Don't touch him/her"

Right now they are playing the piano, risking hurting each other (somewhat) in an very un-calm fashion, not sharing, both pressing the same keys at the same time, and they cannot hear me over the piano. So I'm not saying a word. What is the point?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Woods

What with yesterday being a holiday (thank you Mr. Columbus,) we wanted somewhere cheap to take the kids that wouldn't involve 1) apple picking 2) hayrides 3) sales at the malls.

What better place than "the woods?"

Growing up as I did opposite a park, I still consider myself a lucky child. I would walk the ten paces down our driveway, cross the street, and be five paces from a tennis court (obviously, as this was North London, England, the court was only actually usable for two weeks a year. Most of the time it was too wet and the balls would get wrecked.) and about 50 paces from a playground.

Between the ages of about five and seven, the playground was old school. There was no fence to keep the dogs out. The legendary "witch's hat" obstacle would break at least one arm per summer, and the clearance on the roundabout was just enough to see a child's ankle wedged underneath. Once safety became an issue, the fence went up (keeping out not just the dogs, but the dog's... business) the rubber safety flooring was installed, the witch's hat was burned at the stake, and the roundabout replaced by one that looked more like a spider web than a deathtrap on a spindle.

This isn't to say that once the playground was made safe to play, I got bored with it. I would still now put "swinging" (as in, on a swing) in my "top five things I enjoy" list. But by the time I was 10, the woods was the place to go.

We would walk there, which was an adventure in itself. I was never sure if the route we took was a public footpath or not. I seem to remember walking through fields alongside horses, and sneaking over fences, but also meeting plenty of people doing the same thing. The meeting point was always the same place - the V Tree... at least, that's what our parents thought it was called. We all called it the vagina tree because it looked a bit like one. Thinking back, it was a stretch, but we were 10.

The rest of the day was spent doing one of two things: walking around or running and hiding. Certainly a big chunk of the woods was private property, belonging probably to a hooty, snooty hotel where Gilbert and Sullivan lived or something. We only snuck through the wire once or twice because we stumbled upon a real tire swing - a tire suspended on rope from a huge branch. Very dangerous, very fun.

The woods we went to yesterday in Mahwah were similar to my childhood venue of Old Redding in Harrow, but with less people around (none). The kids had fun, and we didn't spend a dime. Plus I got a nostaglic flashback. All in all: good.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Treading Water

Ok, so I'm not helping my cause by drinking a couple midweek, but I'm still totally overwhelmed and struggling to catch up. I spend an hour tidying, and within minutes of my wife's arrival home, the place needs to be tidied again.

Are things getting accomplished? Oh, yes. Plenty of things. But I still don't have clean clothes for the weekend.

While on the subject of laundry, I picked up a weird injury on Monday. I was investigating the clothes that had been left a little wet in the washer to see if they would need to be rewashed (if they smelt damp) or if they could go into the dryer. I picked up a towel that was on top of the pile and put it to my nose...

... and it felt like I got a burn on the tip of my nose. What could have caused that? It wasn't like a static shock, just an instant itch that has now developed into a raw patch. I'm clueless as to what did it. Did the towel bite me?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Spread too thin

I really am struggling right now. I wonder if I have taken on too much in trying to write books, trying to write for the newspaper, trying to write for magazines, trying to serve on a school board, trying to serve on a board of trustees at the library, shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry-ing, and keeping two kids alive.

On top of all this, I am sleeping so badly, not helped by the recent heatwave that hit right after I put the air conditioners away.

I need a break, not just from the kids (especially "the boy" (c) Homer Simpson.

Here's an example that just happened this very second. Penny is pouring herself some milk (she can get the stuff from the fridge and do it herself.) Patrick decides he wants to put the top back on the milk carton every time Penny takes it off. The result is a little spilled milk, which I shouldn't cry over. But there's more. Patrick then hits Penny very lightly on the arm with a drum, which makes her whine, flail her arms, and knock the cup FILLED to the brim with milk on the floor. This whole incident took less than three seconds from start to finish. That's potentially 20 such incidents a minute. And it's not quite 9:30am.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Not Drowning, but "Drowning"

I've been overwhelmed by parenting before, but this week is a joke. Even supposed break-times are exhausting.

After a weekend away, we arrived back after a drive up from the Jersey Shore, on Monday morning. Both kids were a little sick - sick enough to up the whining level to an 11. Neither wanted to eat, except at the times when all they wanted to do was eat. We skipped school for them, but by Monday night I was walking around with no idea of what I was doing and all our bags from our trip sat unpacked as trip hazards between the kitchen and dining room (ie. that's where I dropped them and that's where they stayed.)

Tuesday was no better. Normally, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my days when both kids are in school and I can milk my alone time for all it's worth. But, given the co-op nature of the kids' school, I was the "working mom" in Penny's classroom - and somehow also had to attend a social coffee morning with the moms in Patrick's class at the same time. I can't say it wasn't fun to goof around with the kids, but it meant I got home at nearly noon and nothing had been done around the house. I walked in, and tripped over the same bags.

Yesterday, Penny had a field trip at a farm 20 minutes from home, and had a shortened school day because of it. So, I dropped her off at 9:30, then still had Patrick to worry about, and was a 40-minute round trip away from unpacking. All the other moms stayed in the farm's cafe and gassed over coffee. I joined them. And again, I can't say it wasn't fun, but... home, trip, curse at bags for the third day in a row.

By last night, things were getting desperate. I had no clean clothes that weren't still packed and very little money for dinner or anything else. A hastily put together meal meant I had time to tip the bags on to the couch - the first step of actually putting them away. I then had every intention of putting Patrick to bed, then coming down and working on the clothes mountain. Instead, I must have fallen asleep next to him as I woke up at 5:15am, stumbled downstairs, and found the cat nesting on the peak of Clothes Everest, shedding his fur all over my white linen shirt.

Yeah, little overwhelmed here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Abort! Abort!

Too... much... urine...

As hastily as the idea was adopted, I surrendered early this afternoon. We will try again. Some day.

Going Potty

I would write more on this topic, but I dare not become too distracted from the task at hand.

For whatever ridiculous reason, we started potty training my 2-year-old son this weekend. With two adults present. With nothing else to do.

This morning, it's just me, with plenty to do. And in the last hour, the success rate has been less than 50%.

Which means I have been mopping us piss since my son woke up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

R-rated post follows

The following story is not for the squeamish. For at least two reasons. That's my disclaimer.

When Patrick was born, he took a liking to a small mole on my neck. I had never really noticed it before, what with it being almost flat to the skin and, while a darkish-brown, not so dark that it stood out any. When he was a few months old, he would actually suckle on it like it was a nipple, which made us all laugh and made me feel like Scaramanga (James Bond villain with... an extra one.)

Two years later, he still had a liking for it, but it had been put under great stress. It was no longer flat to the skin. Rather it dangled from an elongated thread of mole tissue. While being put down for a nap, he would touch it, squeeze it a little with his fingers (the suckling days stopped when he stopped taking a bottle), and every so often he would grab it and twist it, which is even more painful than it sounds. Imagine laying quietly with your two-year-old, quiet music playing in the dark, then feeling a stabbing - actually a pulling - pain as your son grabs a piece of your neck the size of a pencil eraser and threatens to rip it off.

So this morning, I went to the dermatologist and had it removed. It took 30 seconds, and early signs are that it wasn't any more than a harmless mole. The doctor said: "It seems to have undergone some trauma over the past months." Well, no shit, doc. Being almost twisted off nearly every day could certainly be considered traumatic.

And the second gross-out story of the day? I was shopping in a clothing store and Patrick suddenly stopped walking and told me to "Go away" meaning he was in the act of filling his diaper. No big deal. I finished my shop, carried him out to the car (where I found my portable supply of diapers exhausted) and drove him home to change him. I lay him on the couch and went to find a diaper and some wipes. When I came back having eventually located the last clean diaper in the house and last packet of wipes, there was light brown shit all over the couch, his clothes, his back and his shirt.

Nearly an hour later, I still have the windows open. It was a motherload for sure.

So, here's hoping the afternoon is better than this morning. I am about to put Pat down for his nap. I hope he doesn't absent-mindedly finger the wound where his mole-buddy used to be, because that would really, really hurt.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Buggin' Out

Bugs treat me like a prime cut of beef. When I put on bug spray, they consider it a marinade. I get bitten even if I sit with a citronella candle practically singeing my eyebrows. I am too tasty.

As a result, I spent last night scratching my ankles raw as I "discovered" the delightful bites the skeeters applied to my fair skin during Sunday night's farewell to summer cook out. The kids, who ran in the grass, threw ants at each other, and must surely have more tender flesh than my leather old cells, are lump-free.

Bastards! (the bugs, not the kids)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Dog Days

Although summer is over now Labor Day has been and gone, this weekend is pretty spectacular. Lots of sun-frolicking this morning ahead of my first taste of soccer coaching. Out for a boozy BBQ tonight, then playing soccer tomorrow before coaching more soccer, and more BBQ for dinner.

And Monday, Penny goes to school! Yay for an hour with only one kid! THEN on TUESDAY, BOTH kids are at school. Yip-yippee! They are just as excited as I am, and I have plenty of work lined on both the second book and also some suprise work that will actually earn me some money - something of a novelty of late.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Two Things

If you read the link below, you might be a little confused. The title of the book seems to have changed along with the name of the hero.

You may well have read even further below that Marvin Allen was to be no more. He is now Dean Allen.

The book's title, for now, is "I Got You, Babe" which I like more and more. The original title "The World Is My Changing Table" may live on when the book is published in the U.S. But time will tell.

Just a little clarification there.

Bring it

I believe the expression is: game on...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


In The Sun today:

"England legend Ray Parlour..."

Big Day

Regardless of the status of the manuscript (finished, submitted yesterday - one day late only because Monday was Labor Day) I have some kick-in-the-bollocks days ahead, followed by some massage-around-the-sensitive-neck-region days next week.

Today already kind of stank before my wife called me and asked me to take the kids to her parked car on the highway and collect the paperwork she needed in Manhattan today, but left on the passenger seat, and bring them home and scan them and e-mail them to her. The main reason is, today the kids have their belated two and four-year old check ups, and the result (ie. if they aren't sick, and they get their jabs thus enabling the completion of their school health forms) will determine whether they start school next week or not. The prospect of jabs looming, they have been promised a very rare and special treat if they are good at the docs - a McHappy meal - but as far as I'm concerned, the chicken and french fries will be a celebratory feast, not a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. The day rounds off with chiropractor's appointments for everyone, and a school board meeting for me.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Post Vacation Stress Disorder

We got back from a week-long vacation yesterday, and I walked into potentially the busiest few days of the year.

I've come back a little sun-blessed, but other than that it doesn't feel like I've been on a break at all. Such is the joy of traveling with a 4 and 2-year old, regardless of how much support players are on line with me. I now have to finish the final, final draft of my novel by next Wednesday. In my absence I have been confirmed as the coach of a Kinder Soccer team (on which my daughter will be the star striker), which comes with all kind of responsibilities. And then there's the fundraising stuff for my daughter's school - a school which has its first days in two weeks time. I have doctor's appointments for me and the kids, laundry up the wazoo to put away...

... so I'm sitting here, typing, watching the Yankees get ready to beat Boston as the kids... I don't know... do something in the other room.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So what?

You know when I find myself saying: "I don't care!" the most often? When I really, really care and I'm trying to tell myself I don't. Sigh!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Marvin Allen R.I.P.

So, as the deadline for the final submission of the manuscript approaches, we have our first casualty.

Marvin Allen, the hero of TWIMCT, is no more. That is to say, he won't be called Marvin. In choosing such an unusual name, I wanted to make sure my hero wouldn't actually like his own name - so would outright reject the American tradition of naming the first born son after the father. My editor told me yesterday that it wasn't going to work, and another respected source at the publisher told me it needs to be a cool name to make the readers fall in love with him. The name, it would seem, is that important.

I have had a few suggestions so far, and there is a clear front-runner, but all this thought is distracting me from my kids, one of which is sick, and one of which cannot scientifically be far behind. Just as I start to feel better, naturally.

Oh, and the title will need to be amended for the UK edition. Just tweaked probably, but changed none the less.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Here's something funny. I am getting sick - nothing major, and it's been a long time (since the well-documented write-off that was mid-February) so I'm due. But the kids are starting to show signs too now, which is a bigger deal.

And here's all I can think about:

"I hope they get sick now, so they get better before they have their next doctor appointment."

That isn't as crazy as it sounds. If they are sick when they are supposed to go in for their immunisations, they won't be allowed to have them. If they don't have them, they can't get their clean health form to start school. And if they can't start school until they are better, then have their jabs, I will be stuck with them while ALL the other kids start school, making me the town pariah and Worst Parent Of The Year 2007.

For all those parents to be or new parents taking notes: Don't take your kids to the doctors when they are a little bit sick. They can't help if Junior has a cold, and it could wreck the next week or two of your scheduling.

Friday, August 10, 2007


They say every day with children is an adventure and a blessing.

This morning, as I was making the Cheerios he soon would refuse to eat, my darling son took a pair of scissors and cut a hole in the only pair of clean shorts I have.

So, the adventure of today is that I will either wear dirty clothes, clothes with a freshly cut hole in, or nothing pending my doing some laundry. Wow! I feel like Indiana Frickin' Jones!

And the blessing is... well, I guess I'll let you know.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Baby Steps

When people refer to me as "Mr. Keeble" I am still in the habit of looking over my shoulder for my dad. It is especially funny when a 4-year-old child I have known all their life does it. Clearly, some parents want their kids to grow up respecting their elders, but I much, much prefer "Penny's Daddy" to "Mr. Keeble" as a title. I am obviously better at losing my identity as an individual regarding my children as I am losing it to my parents. Hmmm...

Anyway! Taking the long process towards becoming a published author, I am happy whenever an inch advancement takes place. This morning I was confirmed a member of the Society of Authors, of which membership is limited to... well... authors. I was already a member-in-waiting since they went over my contract with a fine-toothed comb on my behalf, but now I have been approved ("just a formality in your case" wrote their membership secretary, giving me a huge swelling of ego-boost power) and now I've been voted in no less.

Yay me!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Suddenly Summer

You know, being a stay-at-home-dad in the summer used to be the shizzle.

I would wake up, cart the kids the park, hang out chatting with the SAHMs, come home, kids would nap, I would sunbathe in the back yard, they would wake up, I would throw some meat on the grill, wife comes home, snip snip, Bob's your uncle, Fanny's your aunt.

I also swore, as is well documented, that I would never complain about the heat. I don't "do" cold well, and every February I find it hard to get motivated.

Well, this summer is the most oppressive I can remember since the infamous summer of '03 where it rained all weekend, every weekend. It might as well be February. To go outside is no fun at all. I am bug-bitten from head to toe. The house is either like a sauna, or rattling to the tune of the air-conditioner shuffle. The kids aren't napping or sleeping well, and we've grilled maybe three times this season.

All this is made worse because there is no school, and we didn't send either kid to summer camp. So, at this point, the kids are sick of the sight of me. There's also no money in the bank, as is usually the case three days before payday. So, on a budget of $4 a day, with 120% humidity outside, and with the threat of rain not actually becoming actual rain, I have a couple of hard, sweaty days ahead. I need a break from this job, and this family, so badly - for at least two reasons: 1) I have to deliver my final, final draft of the book in about four weeks. 2) I am losing my effing mind.

Friday, August 03, 2007

My vow

I swore in the dead of the snows of February that I would never complain it was too hot. Really, I would rather it was 90 than 40 degrees.

Today, I am coming very close to abandoning that stance because it's so darn hot - and it's not even 8am. My temper is on a hair trigger, my sanity about to snap. The kids aren't doing anything too crazy (refusing their third option of breakfast is hardly unusual nor the worst crime they could commit), but because I am already a sweaty mass, holding off from turning on the noisy, bloody annoying air conditioner, I am ready to consider offers from white slave traders looking for two bargains.

All that said, I managed a trip to the town's swimming lake this week and was able to sit under my umbrella and watch my kids frolic in the sand and water WITHOUT EVEN STANDING UP MYSELF for nearly two hours. It was a corner I have long waited to turn.

This afternoon sees a birthday party at one of those indoors gym places parents will be all-to-familiar with. I am actually excited about the prospect of adult interaction while the kids play unattended (by me at least.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007


The kids have been as good as exclusively under my jurisdiction since my wife was put on emergency night shifts this week. As a result, they are increasingly sick of the sight of me.

We have already cancelled one proposed weekend away, and the next break away (which was going to be Sesame Place) is on a knife-edge. That said, my wife is doing such important work and helping a lot of people with her sacrifices, a fact I am making sure the kids can comprehend.

In a possibly related story, my daughter asked me this week if I was mad because "Patrick won't eat his bloody Cheerios". She was right, I was. But I was laughing so hard at seeing my little mirror bounce back something I had said without realizing she was listening, I didn't even chastise her. Note to self: they are both listening all the time.

Patrick then played his part when I told him, as a special treat, we would be going to the kids favorite place to hang out - a video game arcade nearby. "Daddy, that's awesome," said my little two-year-old buddy before we played The Fast and the Furious together (him steering, me working the pedals.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How Do You Make Flour?

A simple question - here are my children's answers:

"Take a real flower and crunch it up" - Penny, 4

"Use a rope!" - Patrick, 2

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Material World

When I first moved to New York City, I lost a lot of interest in material things. Firstly, I couldn't afford them, and secondly I had nowhere to put them in our apartment.

I always imagined, as a pre-teen, that my Transformers toy collection would be on the mantle as I sat puffing on a pipe as a 60-year-old. SInce then, I have found I don't need a lot of stuff. I wear functioning clothing, my CD collection has been ripped and exists only as invisible data, and even my Smurfs have been sold on eBay.

But here's another reason I've learned not to take too much pride in too much stuff. Actually here's several:

My Nintendo DS - currently AWOL, presumed dead. Last seen with my daughter, broken at the hinges.

My Luke Skywalker lightsaber - snapped twice and converted by the kids into "magic wands."

My notepads, used for work - drawn all over, rendering at least one set of notes redundant

My Rocky III DVD - recovered after being jammed in the VCR by my son, but scratched beyond repair

My treasured Darth Vader figure - cape-less, lightsaber-less, head-less now serving as a bath toy

And so on... When buying anything now, I hesitate and ponder how I would feel if my purchase was chewed on and later found in the garden. I'm certainly saving money this way too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Total Recall

Many apologies for the lack of posts. Things have just gotten too much lately, what with the news I am going to have a book published coinciding with the hot summer weather.

To update y'all on the book, it's going to be a paperback out next March, and the title "The World Is My Changing Table" seems to be sticking. The contract is going back and forth and will be ironed out in the days ahead. In other book news, the wonderful James Hampton has provided his foreword for what will be my second book and work will pick up pace on that after September (after I deliver the final, final draft of TWIMCT to the publishers.)

The last two days have almost dipped into the hundreds, so needless to say it's hot and everyone's a little cranky. It's not been so bad, but I really have an avertion to air conditioners. They are noisy, expensive, inefficient things. But... they make sleep possible at night, and as I type this I have one rattling over my shoulder to stop me dripping on to my new Mac Book.

More news as it's made.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday Haiku

Patrick's Breakfast

Cheerios in bowl
On floor, under couch, in shoes,
Crunchy little shits

The Calm After The Storm

After the insanity of the last week, things have slowed to almost stopping.

This morning I could hardly find the energy to do anything. A trip to the park with the kids ended prematurely after it got a bit windy (force gale seven) and the kids whined all the way back to the van. We returned two hours later, after terrorizing the patrons at the library, only to leave five minutes after that when my son had a melt down when I "accidentally" snapped the stick he had been waving around in the faces of his peers.

At this point, the house is semi-clean, the laundry is all done, and the kids are either asleep or playing at some Candyland website. So, back to wasting time on the computer for a while then!

As I sit back having done all my publisher (heehee!) has asked of me, I'm hardly getting a break. Tonight I have to attend a pre-school committee meeting, albeit at the bar in town, and then tomorrow I can focus of somehow shaking off this strange post-best-news ever lethargy and get back to work on the book I was writing when I managed to land a deal for the first one I'd written.

As of the last hour, all I've done is put bids in on some throwback sports jerseys on eBay.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Big Love

OK, so let me catch my breath.



So, I have agreed to a publishing deal for TWIMCT! The wonderful Friday Project will be publishing the book in England, and negotiating the rights sale to a US publisher. The book will be out, all going well, in time for Father's Day, 2008.

Now, obviously this is crazy. Last Wednesday, I was plodding along working on my current writing project, and now here I am with a deal, and having to think about the cover concept.

There is so much to say about this, but I will spread it out rather than vomit it out all at once. Needless to say I am 1) happy 2) excited 3) dizzy

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nice ways to wake up #1

"You know that thing you did? I loved it!"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Done napping

Parents out there will groan with sympathy when they hear this - my son has stopped napping.

More so than that, he used to go down for FOUR HOURS on some days, but rarely less than three hours. Now, for the second day running, he is refusing to nap at all. Yesterday, he reluctantly took an hour off, but only after I had tried for nearly an hour and a half to get him down in the first place.

Put it this way - if not for my son's naps, there would be no books, no articles in the newspaper, and no blog. I am so tired, it is only the fact I am too irate to sleep that is keeping me functioning. To rub salt in the wound, we left a beautiful sunny hot day at the park, where I had several mom-friends to chat with, because my son tearfully * asked * to come home because he wanted to go to sleep.

The best I can hope for now is an hour at about 3pm. If I put him in the car to go anywhere he will fall asleep and will not transfer successfully to his bed without waking.

This stinks - an exclamation I just made to myself too loudly as to be appropriate.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What's Going On

For the second day running, I have woken up exhausted. This does not bode well. In an average week there are certain things I can manage on a Monday, but not on a Friday, because I start to lose my mind. This phenomena happened early this week, meaning Tuesday is the new Friday (and as Tuesday, being the new Friday, was yesterday, today should be the new Saturday, but it isn't which sucks twice.)

Following the positive feedback after my Parent Paper article, and with some good news from a couple of fronts on TWIMCT, things are looking up work-wise. My little town (pop. 6,500) is good to me, with me getting a call usually once a week from someone saying: "I know you work for the Town Journal, and I've got this idea for a story but I don't know if you would like it..." These stories are pretty much always excellent, in a local paper way. The last example of this was a couple who are getting married next month who first met in pre-school when they were three. I presume they haven't been dating exclusively since then - I'll find out later this week when I speak to them.

The weather is starting to get on my tit-end though. It's supposed to be summer, but this current season rivals the summer of 2004 (Worst Summer Ever) where it was wholly unpleasantly humid or raining for four months, with the heaviest rain coming Saturday morning and ending on Sunday night. When I woke this morning, it was spectacular sunshine. It's now totally overcast and the rain (I will bet you a U.S. dollar) will start at 9:45, just in time to piss on my potential playgroup/interaction with adult humans at the park.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sore Legz

Playing soccer shouldn't hurt this much after the event, and yet my legs feel like they are filled with rocks. I wouldn't mind so much if I had played well, but my best effort - a full stretch header - was tipped over the bar, leaving me with just one goal in four weeks.

At least it's hot - a little too hot for my somehow mainly black t-shirt collection. I took three showers yesterday and lost about 40lbs through my sweat glands. Luckily, there was 7-11 with a Super Big Gulp of root beer to put that straight for $1.29.

Lots of stories coming up in the local paper, and potentially some nice book news soon. My redrafting of my current project is progressing nicely, though the 1989 Batman movie should be condemned to the "not anywhere near as good as you remember it being nearer 20 years ago" pile. Apart from the one bit where Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne is ready to go at the Joker with a poker from the fire. That was cool then, and is cool now. Even the Batmobile looked a bit rubbish.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Has it really been two weeks or so since I wrote anything here? I guess my blog wouldn't lie to me.

Well, there is much to discuss - and yet, not so much. This month's Parent Paper (available online - google it, top link, last page, go back two pages, voila) has an article of mine in it. Plus, I am redrafting what will become my second book as you read. It was funny, now it's 114% funnier and with 96% fewer grammatical errors!

Oh, and I scored a goal yesterday at soccer - the first in weeks. Yay me!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Here comes the story 'bout a Hurricane

Actually, not a hurricane. Nor a tornado (although I was sitting in the middle of the bastard, and let me tell you, if you told me it was a tornado, I would have believed you.)

The little town where I live was visited by this non-tornado, and left a mess in its wake. Trees down everywhere, power lines live in the street, torrential rain, cars smashed to pieces, houses all but destroyed and close to collapsing - I even had to step up the parenting when we lost power and I couldn't use the TV as the primary caregiver.

All this meant my little town made the TV news, and no less than a good friend in a starring role bemoaning the hole in his roof caused by one of three trees that fell on his house. Totally surreal.

Here's a pic I took when I (and with hindsight, I'm not proud of this) took the kids in the car and drove around looking for good photos in the aftermath.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Celebrity News

In the most exciting turn of events since I finished the first draft of TWIMCT, I have incredibly landed a celebrity to write a foreword for my new project.

I will write more specifically later, but 1) it's confirmed and 2) it's someone you will recognize from the 1980s. Apart from the role that convinced me he was the guy I wanted, he was in The Dukes of Hazzard, The Rockford Files and Police Academy 5. He even appeared in The Red Hand Gang - but no, it's not the infamous James Bond III...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Whole Tooth

Roll up, roll up to be the first to make a joke about the British, their teeth and the quality of their dentists!

Here's the scoop - I was driving along a couple of weeks ago, chewing some lime/raspberry Trident when *pop* out comes a filling dating back to the 1980s. The impending dread hit me right about then.

Yes, I grew up going to National Health Dentists - for free. Including for no added cost were the following quotes: "It's just a small filling, so we won't use any Novocaine" "It won't hurt - this drill goes really fast!" and "We'll wait until you've finished school before I do this (dental work) - so you will pay me full price".

Now, I have the joys of U.S. dentists, who say things like: "Holy sh!t! Did a butcher work in here?" "This bridge (from the U.K.) is like a piece of cardboard" and "Hey! Get in here and look at these x-rays! They're hilarious!"

Of course, no trip to the dentist has caused me any pain since 1990, but the trauma is still something I have to deal with. I was born with no adult teeth in the two "vampire tooth" spots, so until 1997 I had the baby teeth there. As you can imagine, they looked like something that was supposed to last 10 years and had been abused for more than 20. One was almost hollow where the adult "fang" beneath it, being made of stronger stuff, wore its way inside it to within a hair's breadth of the nerve. Even fixing that gubbins wasn't painful. Just boring.

But in the days when fillings came with stern looks and several dozen rinses to get the blood out, I would suffer. Even through my 20s when I went to the dentist I would write myself affirmation notes:

"Dear Adam -

When you read this, you will be getting ready to go the dentist. When you wrote this, you just got back and it didn't hurt at all. It was boring, and your jaw will hurt afterwards, but the nurse is rather fruity so that makes up for any discomfort.

Your trusted friend:

Needless to say, today's trip took about 20 minutes, was totally painless, and I sat back and watched Toy Story 2 with my son on the TV as the guy replaced the missing filling and shook my hand to thank me afterwards.

There's no moral here - I just hadn't posted in a while, and wanted to show you why. This is the most interesting thing that has happened in days. Although tonight I have to give one of those speeches to the entirety of my kid's preschool parent population again. At least the new and improved Novocaine has worn off so I won't be dribbling as I speak.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Daaan to Margit

As some of you will know, I pass the days away sometimes by mailing celebrities and asking for signed photos. These primarily make cheap Christmas presents, but some I keep for myself. Ray Charles is a personal favorite, as are George Foreman, Angelina Jolie and the cast of Pimp My Ride - including Xzibit.

But my most recent success was from the heart. I e-mailed cheeky cockney duo Chas 'N' Dave via their website, explaining I was looking from some nostalgia from my past life in England. They sent back, not only a signed photo ("To Adam...") but also a copy of their Greatest Hits CD with a note saying: "We don't do this for everyone, but you're a long way from home." I had never really thought about being a long way from "home" - my "home" as I see it is Manhattan, and that's just a few miles away. Of course, my REAL home is in the New Jersey (Noooo Joisee) suburbs. So now I am all confused.

Either way, I'm off daaan to Margit. And if you're reading this boys, I'm snooker loopy for the CD.

Friday, April 27, 2007

For Ed's Sake

Here's a funny thing. Last night I went to one of my favorite restaurants in the world - Cowgirl at 10th Street and Hudson in the city. Better than that, I was joined by one of my oldest friends (as in I've known him a long time - he's only 33) from high school and a couple of his buds who had come over to Manhattan for a vacation.

As we dined on Frito (TM) Pie and sank pitchers of frozen margaritas, and talked about such nostalgia from our youth as poker at Duncan's house, Julie Martin from Neighbours, going to the dump in Wealdstone and Ed's mom's shocking performance on 15-to-1, it occured to my pal Ed that I was the one person from high school that had kept in the most regular contact. This despite living 3,000 miles away.

The world sure is a small place these days.

In other news, the article on my son will be in Parent Paper in June, and I should have two stories in the Town Journal this coming week.

How I'm going to spend all the money I'm earning from these three articles, I just don't know. Maybe a cup of coffee? Perhaps a small one so I can pick up a NY Post too, though I won't get much change.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sunny Day/Down With The Sickness Part 1738

Yesterday was pretty spectacular. The glorious sun didn't help my soccer game any, and I played pretty poorly. I blamed my need to get used to seeing the sun again, but I am still carrying some extra pounds after my long-term injury and in the heat I might as well be wearing deep sea diving boots.

Then there was the trip to the literary fair. I think it went well enough, given the short time span. I guess the next few days will tell.

Regardless, today I came down to earth with a bump. A flat tyre/tire meant, in a round-about-way, a drive to Manhattan, stopping for food and bathroom breaks on Route 4, and a whole lot of throw-up, thanks to my sick daughter. So that's how come I'm inside typing this when it's 80 degrees outside and everyone else in town is at the park. Sometimes, being me really bites ass.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sunday Girl (Boy - ie. me)

This Sunday is the big day I've been gearing up to for weeks, and so far, so good.

I will be attending a literary festival in Brooklyn, where I have the traditional ten-minutes to pitch TWIMCT to an agent who is "interested" in the proposal I submitted to the festival organizers. Naturally, having sat on this information for about a month, I've done a considerable amount of homework on not only what I'm supposed to do and say at this pitch, but also into the agency my contact works for. After all, I'm driving a 100 mile round trip for a 10 minute sit-down. I should at least know what is expected of me.

Most of what I have read leans towards not getting too excited, but to learn from the experience of pitching and not expect to be signed on the spot (because that won't happen.) On a more optimistic note, this is the foot-in-the-door I have been hoping to get - the moment I stop being another ass with another manuscript, and start being a potential client. Like I said, he knows a little about the book and is still interested. That bodes well.

My wife, ever the source of common sense, has told me not to pay too much attention to "playing the game" at the expense of not being myself. After all, a client-agent relationship will work better if we actually like each other. Here's hoping my magical (but fading fast) English accent will work its charm and take me to the next stage. You, dear friends, will find out soon enough.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wet Weekend

This Spring has been a real downer because of its unpredictability. Saturday was 65 and sunny. Since early Sunday morning, it has rained non-stop. Our sump pump has dusted off its own cobwebs and is hard at work clearing the ground water for the first time since our basement flooded last January.

Luckily, we made the best of things and enjoyed a family weekend on a low budget. Meet The Robinsons was probably the highlight - very funny. Made me forget I didn't get my regular Sunday morning soccer fix (although I did play under a dome on Friday night, though that came with its own issues.)

This Sunday is the day I meet my most concrete lead in my search for a literary agent. I have a lot to do between now and then, and not all relevant to the book. Tomorrow is tax deadline day, so mailing those off is top of the agenda. Watching Teen Wolf is also high on the agenda, for reasons some of you will know...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Swimming Cat

Yesterday, while trawling through my hard drive for a photo I took five or six years ago, I came across a file title "Stories For Penny." Once upon a time (hah!) I used to make up stories for my daughter to get her to nap so I could get 45 minutes to shave, eat, clean, pay the bills etc. etc. This was before we had a second child, so at the time it was terrible but looking back it was more than twice as easy.

Anyway! Here's the text of one such story called Swimming Cat. I think I must have had sunstroke on 1) the day I made this story up and 2) the day I thought it would be a good idea to immortalize it.


Once upon a time there was a cat called Swimming Cat. He loved to swim, but none of his cat friends would ever come with him to the swimming pool because they hated getting wet.

Swimming Cat would say: “Ah, come on guys! It’s fun!” But they would always say: “No way man. We hate getting wet. Swimming isn’t for cats.” So while Swimming Cat was out swimming by himself, the cats all played Cat Tennis. Swimming Cat didn’t mind so much, because he really loved swimming, but he always wished he could have some of his friends with him because it would be much more fun if he had someone to talk to about swimming.

One day at the pool, Swimming Cat met a fish that was just leaving as he arrived. “Hey,” said Swimming Cat. “Do you want to come swimming with me and be my swimming buddy?”

“No way man,” said the fish. “I hate swimming. I hate getting wet. I’m only here because I got lost on my way to the Cat Tennis courts.”

Swimming Cat was sad.

Even when he was sad, he loved to swim because it made him feel better, and he never wanted to give up the thing he loved so much. Eventually he became so good at swimming, he was spotted by a Cat Olympic coach and went to the Cat Olympics held in Austria and he won a gold medal. And that made him happy.

When he got back, all his cat friends were so jealous and wished they had gone swimming rather than goofing around playing Cat Tennis. They all asked Swimming Cat if he would give them lessons… all except one, whose name was Catty. Catty said: “I just don’t like the look of swimming. I would rather play Cat Tennis.” But unfortunately for Catty, all his cat buddies went off to the swimming pool and left him all alone – and you can’t play Cat Tennis by yourself.

But then, the fish came along and said to Catty: “Hey! I never saw the Cat Tennis courts empty before! Do you want to play a game?” And Catty said: “Yes!” And they played all day and all night. And then a Cat Olympic coach spotted them and they played Cat Tennis in the next Cat Olympics in four years time and they won gold, although the officials weren’t happy about the fish playing (what with him not being a cat).

And they all lived happily ever after. THE END

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring Showers

Yesterday was almost like a beautiful summer day. Today is 30 degrees cooler, wet and windy. Needless to say, I preferred the former to the latter - mainly as I was banking on getting the youngest child out to the park to run around for two hours.

A few of you have been asking about book progress. TWIMCT is at a stand-still as I wait for my meeting with an interested party on April 22. But I'm not just sitting around watching SeaLab 2021, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and the new season on Pimp My Ride! Oh, no!

My new writing project, which manages to combine parenting and the 1980s, is plodding along nicely. Once a first draft is done in about a month or so I will be preparing that one for market also, but this time a little better forewarned and forearmed.

In other news, efforts to sell my Smurf collection online has resulted in a huge haul - and a big disappointment. Still I've sold about 40 of the little blue buggers and made about $100. And if I don't beat myself up about the fact some of them, individually, have sold for $40 EACH, I am happy with $100 to spend on... well, actually diapers and coffee top the list.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Ska Face

You haven't lived until you've had your four-year-old daughter singing along to Ska favorite "On My Radio" by The Selecter as you drive through the suburbs in the sunshine, in a minivan, with the windows down.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


The sun makes everything better. Right now, I'm exhausted after my fourth or fifth night of restless sleep (and the kids aren't doing any better than I which might be part of the reason I'm doing as badly as I am.) I have about $3 and a pocket full of change to my name. I have no school or dance class or playdate to dump the kids off at today. While I spent yesterday prepping a piece to write, I have yet to start it (and had to use a stand-by piece to make my self-imposed deadline). I haven't heard a whisper from any of the interested TWIMCT parties in weeks, and the newspaper I depend on for pocket money hasn't come up with anything for me in days.

But, the sun is out, so I'm smiling like an Andorran goalkeeper.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nostalgia... now that takes me back

It's funny - not living in the country I grew up in, I find very little in my daily routine that reminds me of when I was a kid. No kids in school uniform, no chip shops, and none of the TV shows I grew up on (except, of course, the ones that were made here like the A-Team which I remember as a prime time Friday night show, not a 3pm semi-comedy.)

At times, it's like my memory has been erased. I have lived in the US for nearly 10 years and never been back to England. Not so long ago, my parents sent a photo of the family home - a place I lived in for 23 years or so. It looked different, of course. The trees around it were bigger - stuff like that. 10 years of nature will do that.

Then, every so often whether I'm looking for it or not, I find something that takes me back. A name or a song or a feeling. In the 1980s, Johnny Hates Jazz sang a song called "Turn Back The Clock" where they sang about being an adult and reflecting on being a kid. Clark Datchler sang about being: "The boy he still resembled, but could no longer understand." But the most poignant line was where he said: "If I could have it over, live my life again, I wouldn't change a single thing." My childhood was happy enough, but there were some pretty sad and monumental events that shaped me. That's true of everyone I suppose.

I wonder if my kids will feel the same way as Clark, because I wonder if I would change anything myself for better or worse if I were given the chance.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More news is no news

I have another agent who is interested in me, but it's hard to get more than just a little excited. I'm meeting him at a literary festival in Queens next month, which means three more weeks of not knowing if I should be excited or not.

Most of the foul, lethargic mood I'm in is down to the weather. The snow is all gone and yesterday, for whatever reason it was 70 degrees and sunny enough for no coats (and having seen An Inconvenient Truth last week, it was slightly petrifying, especially with the huge thunderstorm that followed overnight.) This morning it's a day that reminds me of growing up in North London - wet, but not raining. The roller coaster of weather-based emotion, along with "I might be interested in representing you - let's talk about it in a month" and so many toys all over the floor due to hours stuck inside... well, that will do it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sick again (and more)

Unbelievably, we had the rearranged birthday party for my daughter on Saturday - the first one being cancelled because she was sick.

So of course, she got sick again.

With two hours to go until the party, she was lethargic on the couch, hot to the touch, and miserable as sin despite the upcoming gift/cake fest. The party went well, thanks to modern medicine at its maximum recommended dose for 4-year-olds, but by the end she was crying and that kind of took the edge off the fun that had gone beforehand.

One of the things not talked about in the whole life-changing that comes with parenthood is that you get sick more. One of the others is, unlike when you were a kid, as a parent you are now expected to make it all better for someone else. Since December we as a family have been sick once a month with some kind of bug. My daughter's class hasn't had a full attendance since the start of 2007, and a class of 13 has been reduced to less than half at times because of coughs and colds or worse.

In other news, I repeated my life-list achievement of five goals last Sunday morning. Still no news from Big Agent man, and because of my condition of late (assisted by spending the last two nights next to a four-year-old coughing and/or whining that she wants water and/or mommy) I haven't written enough to cover the back of a postage stamp in the last few days. I even ditched my writer's group meeting last night because I felt so unpredictable.

But come on March! Help me out here! The sun is out, which is a start, but I need something you stupid month!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Boy Of Summer

Last summer I took a much-needed vacation alone. I drove from New Jersey to Philly, booked into a hotel, and saw the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves (baseball for you English types) that night. I then slept alone in a king-sized bed. That was almost as good as the game.

Next morning, I woke up and got back in the car to drive the few hours to Washington D.C. where I saw the Washington Nationals play the Chicago Cubs before getting back on the NJ Turnpike and heading home, arriving back on Saturday night.

The relevence? I just booked this year's baseball double-header. I leave for Pittsburgh on a June Saturday morning to see the Pirates play the Los Angeles Dodgers before staying the night, then moving on to Cleveland to see the Indians play the Detroit Tigers.

Booking this trip became a necessity after the last couple of days. The kids have been anxious and stir-crazy. The only outings we get are still in-nings in that we are indoors. Couple that with the wife getting home late from work, and the destruction of a batch of highly-sugared peanut butter cookies, and it doesn't bode well for yours truly. And it didn't bode well at all.

Then this morning, the straw that broke my back and that of my metaphorical camel? Snow. Not a lot, but it's been coming down constantly since 5am and it's gathering. The two minute drive to school this morning took 20 minutes because other people can't drive.

So I had to get myself thinking about something fun that I would do alone. And after I did that, I booked the trip *.

*(c) Les Dawson, 1977

Monday, March 05, 2007

February By The Numbers - and more

First, a numerical recap of Feb:

1 - the number of goals I scored during my Sunday morning soccer games.

1 - the number of games I played in because of the bastard snow and ice.

4 - the number of days my daughter attending pre-school during February due to above-mentioned snow and ice, winter break week, and illness. In other words, about she went to school about half of the time she could have done.

20 - the number of pages written for my newest project

1 - the number of famous people targetted to write the forward for aforementioned new project. If I can't get him to do it, I have no plan B as yet.

Having written off my digital camera as a bust, I discovered that some batteries are not strong enough to power a digital camera, even for one second. I put in some premium batteries, and the darn thing came back to life, with all the pics still intact. So, what are these low-power batteries good for? My camera is tiny, and low maintenance - like a shy, skinny college girl. And yet these name-brand batteries couldn't provide enough juice for it to even open its shutter. Next time I find myself in possession of an appliance that I want to work, but not for long and not to its maximum capacity, I will happily invest in the low-power battery again. Until then, it's the copper-colored top thankyewverymuch.

March is a tough month. Now I am on the board for two volunteer organisations I have two meetings a month. Then there's the rearranged party for my daughter, my writing group meeting, my wife's birthday - all needing significant work before the event. Then there's the usual host of doctor's appointments, birthday parties, and the start of the Easter carnival that lasts about two weeks. If I can manage to get any writing done inbetween, it will be a feat indeed. That said, today should be a good opportunity. I dreamed long and deep last night, thus getting my first R.E.M sleep in more than a month.

One more thing - watching the highlights of the weekend's English Premiership soccer games in England, the reaction of Charlton manager Alan Pardew to his team's equalizer at Watford was very funny if you speak London:

"You beauty!" he yelled, jumping off the bench. "****ing hell - 'ave that!"

My wife suggested the following alternative if you speak New York:

"Yeahhhhhhhhhh! Holy ****! You succccckkkkk!"

Oh, and here's that photo I talked about with the candle about to go out:

Friday, March 02, 2007

"Digital cameras are so great, I... oh shat!"

Yes, it was inevitable.

I've heard all the horror stories about entire weddings/births/parties wiped from a digital camera at the simple accidental press of the 'format' button, but that would never happen to me.

So I'm snapping pics at a surprise re-arranged birthday party for my youngest and it looks like the batteries are about the fail, so I snap one last pic and put the camera away. And now, it's dead. New batteries don't make a difference, the card is reading as 'invalid.' It could have been much, much worse, but lost forever is this one spectacular picture a split-second before my son blew out his birthday candle with the flame bent 90 degrees about to disappear.

Sigh! Bastards!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Return of the Snow

Driving home from our Oscar party last night up in the highlands of Tuxedo, NY, the snow was coming down at a lick. We had planned ahead, cramming the family into the all-wheel drive Subaru as opposed to the zero-traction minivan, but it still was a hairy ride down and across the NJ border.

This morning, we woke to find four inches had fallen. This time yesterday I was playing soccer - in shorts - and glorious near-spring sunshine. The snow from the storm a couple of weeks ago had pretty much all gone.

Today school is cancelled (on the first day after the winter break week) and it's effing freezing outside, meaning once again the majority of the day will be spent indoors, bouncing off the walls and wishing I lived in Arizona.

Now, I'm no snow expert, but this seems at least to be more like "good snow" - that is, big puffy flakes that stick together allowing us to bombard neighbors houses with snowballs. But regardless of the quality of the stuff, I have little choice if I want to leave the house and go anywhere and do anything but to get out the shovel and clear the drive, dig out the car, and clear a path for the mailman. And that bites the big one.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Never has so much been going on, but so little happening.

Oh, and I scored a belter this morning. 25 yards out, curling, dipping under the crossbar. Made up for the pansy shot straight at the keeper, sidefooted from about six feet.

Tonight's Oscar party will hopefully provide a distraction and cure my melancholy. I have seen just one of the best picture nominations (Little Miss Sunshine - despite having The Departed sitting in my DVD player unplayed for a week), a staggering NONE of the best actor performances, and just one of the best actress performances (Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada - which I actually only enjoyed because him out of Entourage was in it and it was funny seeing an actor who I know for playing a different actor in a T.V. show acting in something else.)

My only shoo-in pick is Marie Antoinette for Best Costume Design. Although that movie was spoiled by Alan Partridge being in it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


What is the worse sin to confess?

1) Walking around the house singing "Stars Are Blind" by Paris Hilton?

2) Admitting the song has been stuck in my head since hearing it on an episode of "Pants Off, Dance Off"?

You decide, but only after listening to the song and watching PODO at least twice each.

Some Velvet Morning

My best friend throughout my teenage years, Desmond Lambert, has just seen his band's first single released. And it's awesome. Go to to hear "Losing My Mind."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Year of the Keeble?

I have had more success in the last two weeks than in the entire second half of 2006.

Currently I have an agent and a publisher looking over my manuscript, and I'm progressing with my new project at a lick not seen since the early inspired days of TWIMCT almost a year ago (and pretty soon I'll have enough done that I will be less scared to talk about it - right now I'm very excited, but it's all about getting something actually written for me to build on.) I've already had a publisher very interested in picking up TWIMCT this year. It's reassuring that perhaps I wasn't wasting my time this last year as some form letters had led me to believe.

Then today I get an e-mail confirming an article I had submitted and forgotten all about will run in the Parent Paper in an upcoming issue. I am particularly pleased at this news because it was a funny article, very much in the style of TWIMCT, and therefore something useful I can point to. I will put it here in all its glory once it's published for real.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New Year, Pneu-monia

So for the third time in three months, I find myself ill.

This one was probably the sickest I've ever been with a diagnosis of full-on pneumonia. It came at the worst possible time, as the entire family (including my parents visiting from England) all came down with bronchitis and a fever at the least. The highlight was some pretty spectacular hallucinations before my own fever broke.

Needless to say this took the edge off the good news that I had a publisher and an agent show some interest in TWIMCT within 24 hours of each other. The agent now has the first 50-odd pages to look at; the publisher should be top of the 'nicest people in the business' list. That said, no concrete publishing or representing so far.

My recovery will be complete in a day or two, but I am in no mood to leave the house. Yesterday I stupidly ventured out to the store and ended up wasting $40 worth of gas as I skidded up and down the drive in the minivan for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Did someone whisper the word "progress?" I'm far too scared to talk about the recent developments (of which there are two, both arriving within 24 hours of each other) out loud, but if you want to know, you know how to get hold of me...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

January in a nutshell

The first month of the year is done (clearly I don't have a lot of faith in tomorrow), so I present my summary of January in the form of a list of numbers.

1 - the number of rejections received from agents this month.

6 - the number of goals I scored during my Sunday morning soccer games.

4 - the number of stories I wrote that were published in the Town Journal newspaper.

60 - the number of party invitations sent out to our kids birthday parties to be held next month.

1 - the number of feature-length movies I watched this month (King Kong)

7 - the number of days it took me to watch it in its entirety.

6.45 - the time in the evening I took the kids and myself to bed lst night due to the revenge of the stomach bug that's 'doing the rounds.'

0 - the number of pages I have written in the new book I'm working on.

6 - the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit outside my back door last Friday.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Handy Manny

To the makers of Handy Manny:


Love Adam

Seriously, was it meant to be an affectionate rip-off of Bob The Builder? Or a Dora for boys? Because it fails miserably. My boy didn't need another Bob, and watches Dora regardless of his gender (which would bring me on to the lack of any need for Diego, but that's another complaint for another day.)

But my biggest problem with Handy Manny? His phone. When it rings on the show, and I'm in another room, I instantly scramble for my cell. And after the third time it happened, I got really pretty pissed off. So Manny, if you are going to hang around - and please, don't feel you have to on my family's account - download a new ringtone amigo.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Things That Make Me Feel Bad

* Rejection letters. I got another one today (bringing the total to four). This agent didn't read a word of my manuscript, which isn't such a bad thing - it would be far worse if she read it before rejecting it, but it filled me with self-doubt.

* Playing soccer badly. This Sunday the field was slick and wet, which meant I had the close control of a 16-wheeler. I scored a goal (kind of - a shot took a deflection off my knee and went in) but that was the only thing that went right for me in the whole game. Plus my knee injury is, according to one respected source I know, the start of a chronic problem. That's not good.

* People taking the fun out of things. I was playing this on-line game thing and found I was 9th out of 80 something people competing. I thought my total of 6000 points was pretty good considering I had played about 10 times, so I took a look at the leader board. The leader and the other seven people above me had 3,000,000 points and had been playing every waking minute. They haven't been having fun so much as devoting hours and exploiting every chink in the beta version game just to win it. What jerks. I don't bother playing anymore - what's the effing point?

* Cold. All those complaints about it not being cold over Christmas? Screw that. It's 20 degrees outside and I'm not going out there again without my big coat.

* February 3 - March 15. Every year I get the shaft in this time frame. I have to deal with three big birthdays, Valentine's Day and my wedding anniversary. Why can't they be a little more spread out? It's not that I don't want my immediate family (wife, both kids) to have the lavish birthdays they deserve, but when do I get time to plan for them? Well, I guess I could be doing that now...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name

Book news!

Easy, tiger. Not my book.

Back when I was a clueless teenager, wanting to be a journalist but scrambling to get an 'E' grade in Media Studies, my friend Paul Rose gave me my first foot in the door.

Paul's talent with graphics and art earned him a job with the company that hired me in 1994 on his recommendation. That company would eventually pay to send me to The Editorial Centre in Hastings, one of the most respected schools of journalism in the business, where I earned my diploma. But it was those first heady days where we were both being paid to play and review computer games that I will always be most grateful for. After all, I was just another teenage scrote waiting for a break. Paul provided it, and it changed everything.

There were other mentors between then and now, but without Paul's influence and belief in me, none of them would have mattered as they would have been mentoring someone else.

In the last decade, Paul has earned a cult following for that early writing work, but has flourished as a T.V. writer, working on many kids shows airing in the U.K. He even wrote an episode of soap opera EastEnders and is now waiting to hear if not one, but two, sitcom pilots he has worked on and going to be made into series.

And now, he's having a book published in May. You can go here to read about it. I'll be buying it, and you should too.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Funny Old Games

I'm not sure the USA has a real equivalent of the wholly British expression: "It's a funny old game" but it really needs one.

Coined by one-time sensational footballer (soccer player if you insist) and alcoholic from back in the days when the two went hand-in-hand, Jimmy Greaves, he was referring to the twists and turns that often occur in a football match. But being English, he said it almost stoically, downplaying the emotion sporting events can create. In the USA I noticed after a recent crop of very exciting College Bowl Football (American Football if you insist) games, polls were everywhere crowing: "Were these the best games ever?" (considering the first recognized game was in 1869.) In England, the likes of Jimmy would have commented: "What a fine advertisement for the game" and left it at that.

This last weekend saw crashing defeat everywhere in my sporting life. My one-time obsession, Aston Villa, lost to Manchester United at the first hurdle of the F.A. Cup. The New York Giants lost to a last gasp Philadelphia Eagles field goal, thus eliminating them from the playoffs leading to the Superbowl. The New York Knicks, who are having yet another fast-becoming-customary dreadful season, at least spared me from another defeat - they didn't play.

Amid all that horror, I actually played in my first soccer game of 2007 on Sunday morning and scored three goals in a 8-4 victory.

So while I will be spending time in the coming days saying how "we" were robbed by United, or the referees robbed "us" by favoring the Eagles, I will also be saying how I scored the decisive goals in a deserved win in the one sport I actually participated in.

As Jimmy would no doubt say, it was a funny old weekend.