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.