Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review, kind of

I was 23 years old and I had just broken up with my girlfriend of a few years, when my roommate and friend, Rob, put on the song Murder of One by the Counting Crows. We got drunk on Rolling Rock at the local bar and listened to that CD all weekend. That song is a great song but, to me, it is even a better song because it reminds me a good time.

Lauren and I started to watch the show Lost in the fall of 2004. Max, who was only six months old at that time had just started to sleep through the night around that same time. Lauren and I would put Max to bed and make Lost a TV "date night". Lost is a great show but, to me, it is even a better show because it reminds me of a good time in my life where everything was falling into place.

A few weeks ago David Baldacci's, the NY Times Best selling author, publisher contacted me and asked that I review his latest book True Blue. I have read and heard good things about Baldacci's other books but I never have read any. I usually turn down book review opportunities because I am a slow reader. I also read slow. I can never finish a book by the deadline the publisher sets to turn in the review. I had just finished reading Outliers by Malcom Gladwell (what a really cool read) and I was looking for a new book. The publisher said they would send me a copy for free if I would give it an honest review on the blog. They also gave me a few weeks to read True Blue. I figured what the hell, and agreed to the arrangement. I figured I could read a few chapters every night.

The book arrived in the mail and I cracked the spine of Baldacci's True Blue some time in the first week of October. The story is about Mace, a cop, who was framed for a crime she did not commit. The first couple of chapters cover her getting out of prison and starting her investigation of who framed her. Without her badge and her gun she knows she will have a difficult time finding those that set her up. The book starts a little to slow for my liking but Baldacci does a nice job of making me want to see what happens next. Like, all of the sudden someone is killed and Mace finds herself investigating that murder as well.

Just as I was on a roll reading True Blue the story takes another twist. Not in the pages, but in MLB. The Phillies were in the playoffs and playing the Rockies. I watched every game with the book on my lap, glancing at the words between pitches. The Phils beat the Rockies in five games. I had a few more days to read more of the book.

Just when I got the part where Mace and Roy, her lawyer love interest, get shot at by gang members in a bad part of Washington DC (or was it gang bangers? Could be the FBI is also after Mace) the Phillies start the National League Championship series against the Dodgers. Again I sit with the book on my lap, glancing at pages, while watching the Phils take the Dodgers in five games. Baldacci's True Blue is in my hands when I jump up to celebrate the fact that the Phillies are going to the World Series for the second year in a row.

The week between the NLCS and the World Series I work really hard to finish the book. I have re-read a few chapters to refresh my memory. The story of Mace and Roy and Mace's sister who is also a cop takes a couple of twists as more bad guys surface and a homeless man is taking into custody for a murder he may or may not have committed.

I am about 250 pages into the book when the World Series starts. I am not really a superstitious person but I am sitting on the couch watching the Phillies with the book True Blue on my lap. Baldacci writes some interesting characters and the story is a good story so far. The book is a good book.

If the Phils, as my friend Charlotte in PA says, don't cock it up and win the World Series True Blue may just become an excellent book in my eyes.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Inspiration and Intimidation

I have been in a funk.

It all started when we took the kids to go see Where the Wild Things Are two weeks ago. Lauren said the movie (the emotional undertones) depressed her. I left the theater feeling inspired. Visually the movie is stunning and the characters are well developed with excellent acting. Seeing a film like that makes me want to create, to be a better storyteller, to be a better writer. Then I became intimidated because I know that I will never be able to tell a story like that.

In the book and in the film there is the line “I’ll eat you up. I love you so.”

Did you ever see someone so cute you just want to squish and scrunch up their face and eat it? Like a toddlers plump round cheeks just need to be squeezed and pinched even though you know that in the back of your head you may be pinching the kid’s cheek just a bit too hard, but you don’t care, because oh my gosh, he is so cute you just want to eat him up and you can’t help yourself. Then you realize you may not be able to control yourself and you may actually eat the cuteness and so to be safe you stay away and try not to look.

I have been trying to figure out a way I can take this blog to the next level. What that level is I am not sure. Blogs have kind of gone out of fashion with most people finding their online voices through Facebook and Twitter. I do both, but they are not the same to me as writing or reading a blog post. I don’t find Twitter or FB inspiring. I am inspired by people whose blog writing, photography, style or just their outlook on life makes me want to do better as a person and as a writer. You can’t get that from 140 characters.

Lately I have been inspired by bloggers like The Bloggess, BHJ, Whit, and The Pioneer Woman. I have been reading each of these bloggers for a while now (Pioneer Woman for a few years) and I have come to the conclusions that these people are just flat out excellent at the craft of blogging. I do follow them on Twitter but it is their blog posts inspire me to be a better writer, a better storyteller.

When I compare what I write here to what they write at their spaces I get intimidated. Sometimes I look at what I consider their success and I feel that maybe I should give up on the whole blogging thing.

Inspiration; I want to tell stories like they do.

Intimidation; I know that I could never tell stories like that.

Inspiration and Intimidation.

I want to eat them up but then I find it better to take a break and stay away. Stay away from reading and stay away from writing.

I try not to look.

I am inspired. I am intimidated. Mostly inspired.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Neighborhood Watch

This morning, as I walked to my car, I a folded flier tucked behind the flag on my mail box. I scanned the street to see if there were pieces of paper sticking out from other mailboxes. I thought it strange that my mailbox was the only one to receive some type of solicitation in the middle of the night.

The flier is from my township's Neighborhood Watch Program inviting me to volunteer. Part of it reads "volunteers patrol our neighborhoods on foot...between 8 and 10 each evening." It also states that "volunteers assist the police department" and that "training will be provided".

It did not say anything about them providing uniforms or costumes, which is okay because I am sure Lauren will make me something if I join.

I am going to need to take a break from the Internet and blogging for a few days while I work on my utility belt.

What kind of weapons should I make? What kind of superhero name should I give myself? Help me out.

While I am gone try these other cool blogs.

The Bloggess



Creative Type Dad

Sci Fi Dad

Honea Express

the Meanest Mom


Monday, October 19, 2009


Lauren and I (mostly Lauren) are in the middle of Begatting our living room. We (she) are doing it in stages. We tore up the carpet to find beautiful hardwood floors which begat taking out the old base molding which will begat adding new molding etc, etc. We hope to make some "built-in" bookshelves and create a new computer/office space.

In preparation for the project the whole family went to Lowe's to pick up supplies. The first ten or so minutes went well until the kids started getting antsy. Lauren and I agreed that I would find ways to entertain the kids while she finished the shopping. The kids became even more rambunctious. Max wanted to ride in the cart which begat Wyatt wanting to ride in the cart. There was not enough room for both so I told Max he had to walk which begat him crying and having a temper tantrum which begat Wyatt having an attitude and causing both kids to argue with each other which begat me to become extremely agitated.

I decided to take the kids to see the Christmas decorations in Lowe's (yep Christmas decorations in early October) hoping that that would make everyone happy. As we passed the paint aisle I saw Lauren at the other end talking to the Paint Guy. He was all smiley and flirty with Lauren. I called down to Lauren to let he know I was going to the decorations. It took me five or six tries to get her attention. When she finally looked up I told her where to meet us in the store.

The Christmas decorations turned out to put everyone in a worse mood because Max told me he wanted the new Geo-Trax Timbertown Railway for Christmas which begat Wyatt saying he wanted the new Geo-Trax Timbertown Railway, which begat Max telling Wyatt he could not ask for the same thing, which begat a battle of "yes-I-can-No-you-can't". Anyone familiar with YIC-NYC battle knows that the volume gradually increases 10 decibels with each volley. When the kids hit about 120 dB I had had enough and hurried them to the front door where Lauren was finished making her purchases and we left.

Both kids were upset that we did not see all of the decorations and they started to whine and cry. Lauren and I did our best to ignore them as we drove away. Lauren could tell my nerves were shot. She had to raise her voice over the volume of the crying in the back of the mini-van to ask me what happened

While you were flirting with the Paint Guy, these two" I said pointing to the back seat and loud enough for her to hear me, "decided to throw fits.

I then announced that because of their behavior we were going home and not to the toy store like we originally planned. The boys cried louder. We tried to ignore them.

"I was not flirting with the Paint Guy." Lauren yelled back over the noise of the boys. She rolled her eyes

"Well he was flirting with you." I hollered back

"No he wasn't"

"Yes he was. With his short sleeved maroon apron showing off his tatooed bi-ceps. He was flirting

"Oh my gosh." Lauren yelled tyring to over power the sound of the crying. "I can't believe you are jealous of the Paint Guy

"I am." I shouted back.

"You are? Really? " Lauren asked.

"Yes. I am jealous that he is back in the store and I am sitting here listening to these kids screaming."

Thursday, October 15, 2009


When I was a kid, the Number One Rule, set down by my dad, in our house was "Don't hit your brother." It was good rule since there were 8 boys in the house (There was never a need for the rule "don't hit your sister" because my parents knew that all of the boys were afraid of my sister). There were other rules (some self explanatory, others were family rules) that were enforced like, "Be home at 5." "Don't talk back to your mother." "No ball in the house." "Quiet time." Etc. Etc. But on the list of rules they all fell below the Number One Rule (not that there was an actual written list of rules, all rules in our House were just known) .

We broke the number one rule many times. Most of the physical fights amongst the brothers were of the nature of wrestling or some type of rugby scrum, until someone "gave-up". But every now and then, during one of the altercations, someone, somehow, would break the rule. An errant fist would fly and make contact. All hell would break loose and we all knew that dad was going to be pissed when he found out. It was the Number One Rule.

Now that I am raising boys of my own I realize that I too have to implement a list of rules of the house. Right now, the Number One Rule is "Don't hit your brother." Boys are boys and they like to fight. It is a good rule. I think it gets broken everyday.

Here is the list of other rules we set down.

2.-Everyone must wear pants to eat dinner at the dinner table.

3.-No picking your butt.

4.-Everyone must wear pants to eat lunch at the table.

5.-Use a tissue

6.-No jumping on the furniture.

7.-Put your shoes in the closet.

8.- Everyone must wear pants to eat breakfast at the table.

9.-Lillian can not use the telephone.

10.-No throwing toys.

After reviewing my list I think I need to re-evaluate my Number One Rule.

What is your Number One Rule at your house?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brotherly Love

Lauren and I were at a wedding reception, sitting at a large table, talking with a bunch of friends when another friend's (who was not at the wedding) name came up.

"I love him like a brother." I said proudly.

"Well that's not a big deal." joked one of the guys across the table. "You have like 8 brothers."

"Exactly." I said as the table became quiet. "Let me put it this way. I love him enough to let him pee between my legs if he really really had to go and I was sitting on the only toilet in the house and the tub and the sink were occupied."

Everyone at the table erupted in laughter.

I leaned over to Lauren and said under the noise of the laughs "Did I just reveal too much information about how it was growing up in a large family?"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Family Snapshot

There is a picture of Lauren, Maxfield, and Wyatt hanging in my cube at work. The picture was taken on a perfect day two years ago, on our trip to the pumpkin patch. I loved the picture so much that Lauren had the photo enlarged and framed and gave it to me for Christmas.

This past weekend we decided to go to the pumpkin patch. I told Lauren I wanted to take some pictures of the family (now with the addition of Jackson) to replace (update) the one hanging by my desk.

Within 5 minutes of arriving at the pumpkin patch I discovered that Lauren forgot to put the camera card into the camera. This was going to limit the number of pictures we would be able to take to about 12. I am the type of person who will take 100 pictures of the same thing just to get a decent photo. Without the camera card, getting a family picture was going to be difficult.

Within ten minutes of arriving at the pumpkin festival I was stung by a bee on my thigh. It hurt a lot.

With in twenty minutes of arriving at the pumpkin festival Max cut his finger. It bled for a bit. Within 30 seconds of that, I put Purell on his hands because he was just petting farm animals. The Purell in the cut hurt a lot. Like 140 decibels a lot.

My leg, where I was stung, hurt so much that I told Lauren that maybe I was bitten by some kind of rare Pumpkin Spider and that I may die. She basically told me to "man-up".

After a frustrating far trek trying to push Wyatt in a wheelbarrow and Jackson in a stroller over mud, smashed gourds, stalks, stems and tractor ruts out into the patch I was ready to stop and take the family picture.

We were all in a "mood".

Max was mad that we did not pick out any pumpkins yet.
Wyatt was mad that we wanted to put Jackson in the wheelbarrow with him.
Lauren was mad at me for complaining that my leg was stung by a swarm of killer bees and bitten by a tarantula.
Jackson was mad about the bumpy ride.
I was mad that I only had a few pictures left on the camera card.

In picture one, Lauren is asking Max to remove his sunglasses for the photo. Max refuses because he wants to pick pumpkins. Wyatt sees an opening and figures he can get rid of Jackson. Max gives Lauren attitude and she starts to correct him.

In picture two, Max is still giving attitude to his mother. Lauren is telling him he better "knock it off." Meanwhile Wyatt goes in for the kill which really upsets Jackson.
With only one more picture left on the camera I started to laugh at the whole scene. Everyone stopped and looked at me to see what I was laughing at. I yelled "Say cheese!" which gave me the pic I was looking for, picture number three.

I really am the luckiest.

I can't decide which one I want enlarged to replace the one at my desk. Which one would you pick?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Cow Lick

So I posted this picture,last month, about how I looked in kindergarten. I am shocked and awed at how my parents let me go to school looking that way. I dug out some more pictures from elementary school.

First grade. Notice the Cow Lick on the back of my head.

Fourth Grade- Look closely, same Cow Lick.

Fifth Grade-ummm....very close to sporting a...ummm...seriously what the hell is up with my hair?
No wonder I am very vain about how my hair looks now.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I call you out

"I call you out! Behind the church!" was how my fellow classmates in elementary school handled disputes.

Being "called out" meant someone wanted to fight you. "Behind the church" meant they wanted to fight you behind the little red brick church that was at the end of the school property. Even at an early age I felt it somewhat ironic that the kids in my school settled their differences through physical violence behind a church. Kids were "called-out" for the strangest reasons. One may have disrespected someone on the kick ball field; they were "called out." One may have said something mean about another kid's mom; they were "called out." Stuff like that.

Usually it was the bully "calling out" the weaker kids in an effort to boost their street cred and keep up with the scare tactics. Nine out of ten times the bully "called-out" other kids because he was embarrassed and hurt by something that was said or done to him. The main reason for "calling out" someone was to save face, make a point and to prove that you were better than someone.

I never called any out and I was never "called out". I was friends with Steve L, who was pretty tough, and Colin, who, as far as I am concerned was the (pronounced thee) toughest kid I ever knew. Colin was also the funniest kid and most of the other kids in our class did not know how to take him. Maybe they thought he was crazy like Murdock from the A-Team so no one wanted to mess with him. Since I was his buddy, they did not want to mess with me.

I also had four older brothers. The other kids, the ones that would want to beat me up because I made a joke about them, would say to me, "I would call you out but I don't think it would be fair because I am sure your brothers would just jump in and save you."


I have been Maxfield's best friend for three-fifths of his life. For the past three years, if you asked my oldest son who he wanted to hang-out with for any occasion, any event, he would say, "Dad." I have always relished in the fact that Max would choose me over anyone else. It warms my heart knowing that he likes his dad.

My wife, Lauren, had another art show this past weekend (or as Wyatt, my three year old, likes to say "arts and Crabs.") She was going to be gone most of the day and I was looking forward to hanging out with my three boys. We planned a day of playing in the backyard to be followed by watching football and eating snacks that are not healthy for us. After Wyatt and Jackson would go down for their afternoon naps Max and I would play checkers or Uno. It was going to be a good day.

Then Kenny, a kid Max's age who lives up the street, stopped by with his mom. Kenny's mom asked if she could take Max with her and Kenny and Kenny's older brothers, who are eight years old, to the pumpkin patch. I asked Max what he wanted to do figuring he would rather stay with me. Max chose to go with Kenny. I couldn't believe it. I was a bit heartbroken.

Max, I think, has a new best friend.

I am ready to call him out.

But Kenny's older brothers would probably jump in and save him.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Last Quarter

At the beginning of the year I wrote this post about what I wanted to write about in 2009. As I mentioned in that post some of the stuff already happened and I just needed to write about them. The other topics were stories I knew would happen or that I was hoping would happen. Below is the same list from that post back in January with links to the actual post and/or a quick explanation.

A new baby story --Here. I never did write the complete story but Lauren did here. I kind of knew this was going to happen since Lauren was pregnant and all.

a guest post by my brother Anonymous--I asked him two months ago. He said he would send me something. He must not have my email address.

stories about me meeting other bloggers that I never met before --I had no idea I was going to meet other bloggers and I was pleasantly surprised that the opportunities came up-Here and Here . There is till time this year to meet others that I linked from my post in January.
my 1000th post -- Cooler than David Boreanz

Bathroom Begats -The details of this project are still not completed even though the bulk of the work was done last December. I still have to do some spackling, painting and minor floor work.

my 500,000 visitor --Cooler Than David Boreanz

a story about me winning the lottery --I still have my fingers crossed.

Stories about Maxfield entering Kindergarten--Here. Seriously click on that link. I have been told that people go to that post if they are feeling down and it instantly cheers them up.

I Could Have Been a Contender parts 4 and 5 -I hope to write these over the next few weeks.

Wyatt going to pre-school--Here

the vibrating testicle story --Any decent testicle story needs to be told in two parts. Part ONE and Part TWO.

being in a play -Only half complete. I am cast in a show which is scheduled for performances next March.

meeting someone famous--I had no idea at the beginning of the year I would be meeting celebrities. -Here and Here and also I met this writer.

nerve conduction study -This happened last year I have not yet written the story. I still don't know the outcome.

how advertisers keep asking to pay me --I have some advertisers. Not much but I have some. I am still waiting for the big one (That's what she said).

a book deal --Clearly I am not a writer.

lose 15 pounds-- I have three months to go.

My Dad and the assistant principle-I will write this story by year's end.

I win fantasy football --I am in two leagues. I am 0-3 with players like Drew Brees, Colston and Dallas Clarke in my work league. I can't figure it out. I am 2-1 in my other league. We'll see. C'mon Drew Brees.

Tripling my readership--Not yet, but someone did start a fan club and Dr. Phil reads me (no really he does). If I can get more readers then I am sure I will get more advertisers.

Poop and Boogies turns Four--Clearly I am not a writer.

LawnWhisperer returns--He is waiting for reader demand.

I write a screenplay --I am actually working on this. In my mind.

finish begatting my man space --I have better chance at completing the next thing on the list.

Take photos of UFO,Bigfoot,alien,or ghost --I have a better chance at completing the prior thing on my list.

guest post from Momo9 --She read this so I think she will send me something to post.

get invited to speak at some blog convention--I do not think this is going to happen.

win an award--Still have a couple of months for this. Someone nominate me for something. Anything.

Thank you to everyone who stops by here on a regular basis to read Poop and Boogies.