Saturday, October 30, 2010


Couple things I've learned my first two weeks
as a New Kid on the Blog:

1. Size matters (the shorter, the better)
2. Jell-O rules
3. Harming varmints is a crowd pleaser
4. As are babies
5. Self-serving topics are only read by said self!

Thank you all for your patience and support

Oct 16, 2010, 10 comments
234 Pageviews

Oct 12, 2010, 4 comments
200 Pageviews

Oct 21, 2010, 11 comments
133 Pageviews

Oct 10, 2010, 7 comments
104 Pageviews

Oct 26, 2010, 4 comments
98 Pageviews

Oct 19, 2010, 3 comments
95 Pageviews

Oct 16, 2010, 2 comments
76 Pageviews

Oct 23, 2010, 1 comment
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Oct 28, 2010, 3 comments
54 Pageviews

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Deja Boo!

NOTE: The following originally appeared in the Connecticut Post in 2007, back when I was still writing my "Get Out" column. Call it lazy, but I plan on rerunning my holiday "greatest hits"pieces  in the coming months. 

As a kid, I loved Halloween, but could care less about the dressing up part. While my friends spent much of the month designing elaborate disguises, I was content to simply make do with whatever was in the beat up old costume box my dad hauled out of the attic every year. 

Usually I settled on being a “Hobo,” a costume requiring nothing more than some raggedy clothes and a dirty face – pretty much my year-round appearance anyway. But, since it was Halloween, my mom would add a special touch by smearing my skin with these ancient charcoal tablets she kept in the medicine cabinet. I became fascinated by these after learning that they were not created for their decorative purposes, but were actually intended to be eaten (to alleviate what the label discreetly described as “stomach maladies” - which I now know meant excessive gas – something that would have added a bit more realism to my hobo costume.)

But I wasn’t interested in authenticity; all I cared about was the candy. And I knew that the more creative my costume was, the longer I’d have to stay in each neighbor’s house while I explained how I made it, posed for some pictures and waited impatiently for disinterested husbands to be dragged from their hiding places to come see what a cute little alien, monster, etc. I was.

So hobo it was – besides, if I was going to be begging for candy, why not look the part? Unfortunately my friends had other ideas. Ones that usually involved a group theme, and we would often wind up touring the neighborhood as a weird version of “The Wizard of Oz” (Dorothy, Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man…and a Hobo) or some twisted take on “Happy Days” (Richie, Potsie, Joanie, the Fonz…and the Hobo.) which confused the neighbors (and wasted time) as they tried to figure out how I fit in with the group. “And who are you supposed to be?” they’d ask, eyeing me as they dropped some candy into my pillowcase. “Toto?” “Chachi?” 

But that was a small price to pay for free candy. And since back in those days, everyone handed it out, I would arrive home hours later with a serious sack full of treats.  Nowadays, kids come back (if they go out at all) with their pathetic plastic pumpkins “filled” with maybe a dozen “fun-size” candy bars – and most of the good stuff already eaten by their flashlight wielding fathers (something else we never had to deal with.) But I can just imagine my neighbors’ reactions as they greet today’s trick-or-treaters, “Oh, who do we have here? A Princess. Harry Potter.  Spider Man. And…,” eyeing the disgruntled dad at the bottom of the steps, “… a Hobo!”)

Alas, my hobo days are over.  But strangely enough, the older I got, the more creative I became with my costumes. So much so that I recently spent several days searching the state for a pair of size 16, red, high-heeled shoes to complete my Tina Turner outfit.  And I’m not the only one.  It seems we so-called grown-ups get more excited about Halloween than our kids.  Party stores stock more adult costumes than kiddie ones. Invitations to Halloween parties request that kids be left at home. And bars and clubs sponsor costume parties and Halloween-themed evenings that cater to the over 21-crowd.

So whether you’re home handing out candy, hanging out at the bar, or taking the kids trick or treating, I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween – and if you happen to over-indulge, my mom might still have some charcoal tablets for you. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Halloween Part 1

Sarah and I were invited to a 30th birthday party Saturday night (what up, Nicole!) so we needed to find a sitter for our 19-month old. Since our daughter (pictured above) was already committed to working at a local haunted hayride, we asked Sarah’s dad to come over and look after Eli. He was more than happy to do it, but knowing we would probably be late, we worked it out with darling daughter that she would come home as soon as she could to relieve her “Poppy.” Which she did – unfortunately, it was a very busy night at the hayride, so “as soon as she could” was not until after midnight.  

But she did come right home, sent her tired grandfather on his way, and was in the process of getting herself ready for bed when Eli started crying.  Being the caring older sister that she is, Julianna went directly to her baby brother’s room to soothe him back to sleep.  Problem is, she forgot she was still in full fright make-up from the haunted hayride!  So the poor baby looks up from his crib to find a white faced witch staring down at him. Needless to say, he was still awake when we got home.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

That Kid in the Hall is Sowing his Oates

While I’m still waiting on the fame and fortune, publishing my book has provided me with some other opportunities and experiences that are almost as valuable. From my very first reading at a library, where almost 100 people showed up, to my sell-out signing at a major bookseller (thank you Barnes & Noble) I have been overwhelmed with the support from both friends and strangers. 

I also had the chance to go on my first mini-book tour when several appearances on the Cape were scheduled for the same weekend. I took the family along and they got to frolic on the beach while I schlepped from store to store – but it was fun to come home and treat them to an ice cream with my earnings – okay, it was a single cone split between the four of them, but still. I can’t say I felt, or was treated like, a celebrity that weekend, but I did get to feel like an author (as opposed to a teacher who wrote a book.)

And then there were the book clubs – groups of woman (many hot women!) who on their own decided to choose my book for their summer reading. I was nervous at the idea of speaking in front of total strangers in such intimate settings, but luckily the first one I was invited to was being held at a brewery. Yet even that wasn’t enough to stop me from saying to my wife, “I’ll probably be back in an hour.” Five hours later, in I stumbled, more drunk on the praise and attention than the beer.  And a rock star was born!

My friend and unpaid agent, Margie, also organized two clubs. One consisted of old “friends” from high school and the other was made up of mostly strangers (to both of us) from her town, and both went wonderfully. It was nice to hear so many compliments about the book, but for me, the best part was I could now remove the quotation marks from the word friends when referring to the pretty, popular crowd I remembered from my high school days. It took twenty years, but I finally got to sit at the “cool kid” table!

But the coolest thing for me so far was writing a check (for $50!) to Darryl Hall for the rights to use lyrics to his song, “Kiss On My List” in my book. Cool really isn’t the right word -I’m just a sucker for a smooth segue – weird is probably more accurate, but the idea that an iconic 80’s singer had to cash my paltry little check just makes me laugh.

As will my book (shameless plug alert.) If you love the 80’s, or love love, or mysteries, or manatees, check out Alchemy.  And even if you don’t, try it anyway, it just might change your mind!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chip Off the Old Blog

Being new to this whole blogging thing, it didn’t occur to me that posting a feature length discussion on my big toe might not be the best way to gain an audience.  I realize now that in order to build a following, I have to give the people what they want.  But since I can’t write about Jell-O every week, I’ve decided to go with the next best thing…Eli!

Over the past 18 months, my son Eli has changed me almost as much as I’ve changed him…only in my case, there was much less poop. You see, I was never a baby person. I liked kids, but babies weren’t my thing. I wasn’t one to want to hold them or tickle them or blow raspberries on their bellies.  And I certainly didn’t want to watch videos or look at pictures of them. But now when I see a baby, I need to get my fix. I’m respectful of boundaries of course (unlike most of the population, where complete strangers feel free to glom onto any baby in their path) but I am definitely much more interested in them than I used to be.

And I’m much more interested in my own than I thought I’d be.  During her pregnancy, I’d “joke” with my wife that if she took care of the baby for the first four years, I’d deal with it for the rest of its life.  I also worked out agreements where I would never have to change a diaper, clean up puke, or get up in the middle of the night, so long as she was around to do it.  I was even granted naming rights.  I confess, I took advantage of the fact that Sarah was much more intent on having a baby than I was, and used that to work out sweet deals for myself. Surprisingly, she agreed to all my demands, and I’m proud to say that since the baby was born, she has not honored a single one!

Okay, I was swindled. They say there’s a sucker born every minute, only I’ve been a sucker since the minute he was born. Not that I’m complaining, or keeping score (but if I was, let the record show that I’ve changed 73.4% of his diapers, cleaned up 95% of his puke, and given him 2% of his baths – the one job I really don’t like and have somehow managed to avoid. That and cutting his nails. Never gonna do it) But not only do I change his diapers, I’m a dork about it. We sing Bon Jovi songs: “I’ll diaper you. I’ll wipe your poo. I’ll do anything, I’ll powder you. You know it’s true, baby I’ll diaper yooooo!”  Then I kiss his belly, tickle his chin, and pretend his feet are stinky.  Like I said, total dork.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s so freakin’ cute. But I honesty don’t mind doing it.  And while I certainly don’t love getting up in the middle of the night, I love him, so that make’s it all right. Not that he wakes up all that often, good baby that he is.  He must take after his mother, who also doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night, and hence never seems to hear him crying.  I'll look over at her, soundly sleeping, thinking, “We had a deal…” but then remember the ordeal she went through to bring him into this world, and dutifully climb the stairs to soothe him back to sleep. 

Sure, there are times I want to slap people when they say, “Aww, I bet you can’t even remember what life was like before him…” I'm like, “HELL YES I DO! I remember it quite fondly as a matter of fact.”  But to tell you the truth, I don’t really want to go back to being that guy…well, maybe for an hour or two. Three, tops.  Just so long as when I return, Eli is still there giggling and smiling at me. Hopefully fresh from the bath with his fingernails trimmed.