Category Archives: Less Than Completely Serious

The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York!

rodkey_tappertwins_tearupnewyorkLook what’s available for preorder!

From Powell’s

McNally-Jackson

Books of Wonder…

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

…and Books-A-Million!

And if you’re in New York City on September 29th at 6:00pm, come by the launch party at Books of Wonder on West 18th Street off Fifth Avenue!

Tapper Twins Tear Up NY  HI-RES

I promise you this is the funniest book you’ll ever read about a scavenger hunt across New York City…

…that incorporates plush-toy school mascots…

7B (1)

…horribly mangled plush-toy school mascots…

11G

…non-mangled plush-toy school mascots in the vicinity of famous NYC landmarks like Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain…

12D

…a fistfight between Times Square cartoon characters….

16Q

…and a mass riot of 12-year-olds (photo not available due to budget constraints) all clamoring to win front-row seats at Madison Square Garden!

4G_Madison Square Garden

The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York arrives in stores September 29th…but if you want to avoid the mass riot of 8-to-12-year-olds that will likely accompany its release, you can preorder now and have it delivered to your door when it comes out! Here are those links again:

Powell’s

McNally-Jackson

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

If you want to read a preview of the opening chapters, head over to TapperTwins.com!

And if you’ve got a Kindle, download the first eight chapters for free right now!

And if you’re at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, September 20th, come to my panel discussion at the Youth Pavilion at 11:00am!

Or, if you’re in Houston, come to Tweens Read on Saturday, October 3rd to meet me, Lemony Snicket, and twenty other children’s book authors who are much more famous than I am!

Posted in Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Funniest Middle Grade Books, Funny Middle Grade Books, Humor Books for Kids, Less Than Completely Serious, Reluctant Readers, Tapper Twins | 12 Comments

Hi, 2015. Hi!

Hello! I’d start this post by apologizing to longtime readers of this blog for the fact that 2014 brought only two new posts, both of them blatant acts of book marketing.

But let’s be honest: this blog has no longtime readers.

Judging by my traffic stats, only two kinds of people wind up here: kids who googled “geoff rodkey author” because they’re trying to pad out a book report, and the unfortunate tourists who googled “best ride at Universal Studios” and clicked on this post in the vain hope of actually learning something useful before their trip.

(Sometimes, the tourists get angry. I know this because they leave comments. Like this guy. If you are one of these people, hello! And I’m sorry. Have fun in Orlando. Just make sure you hit the Harry Potter stuff early. It gets crowded fast.)

Anyway, it makes sense that if I only post twice a year, and then only for totally self-serving book marketing purposes, I won’t get a lot of repeat business.

But this year, I’m going to post a lot more!

That’s because The Tapper Twins Go To War (With Each Other) is coming out April 7th…followed by The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York in early fall…and at least two more Tapper Twins books in 2016.rodkey_tappertwins_pob

The good news is that most of these posts will NOT seem like totally self-serving acts of book marketing. I am going to do my best to just write things that are fun to read for their own sake.

Like, say, the Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp series.

Or The Slightly Strange Saga of My Son’s Soccer Ball.

Or even The Absolutely Best Ride At Universal Studios Orlando (hello again, tourists! Try not to let your kids pester you into buying a $36.95 wizarding wand that they will play with exactly twice before forgetting they own it. Although to be fair, they’re quality wands. We still have a Narcissa Malfoy somewhere in a desk drawer, and I think there might be a Cedric Diggory stuck between the sofa cushions in the living room.)

The bad news–and I’m telling you this up front because I respect you–is that even the posts that don’t SEEM like self-serving acts of book marketing actually ARE.

It’s just that their M.O. won’t so much be “HEY, YOU, BUY THIS BOOK!” Which I’ve realized is kind of tacky. (And, judging by the sales to date of The Chronicles of Egg trilogy, was also totally ineffective.)

Instead, it’ll be more of an “ohmygosh, it’s so much fun to read this post! Maybe this person’s books are also fun to read! Perhaps I should buy one” kind of a thing.

And you really should. Because The Tapper Twins Go To War (With Each Other) is a whoooole lot of fun. And its sequels will be, too!

And they have pictures! Tons of them. Like this one, which appears in The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York and was shot in Times Square last fall: TT2_Times_Square2

I’d explain what’s going on there, but crotch-kicking jokes are pretty much self-explanatory even out of context.

The last time I counted, The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York had about 100 photos in it. So there’s a lot more where this one came from (although at the moment, it’s the only one that involves a kick in the crotch).

Since the Tapper twins characters are mostly 12 years old and all live in NYC, I plan to write a whole bunch of posts in 2015 about either A) 12-year-olds or B) New York City.

So if you have any particular questions about either of those topics–or, really, anything at all you’d like me to address in future posts–feel free to leave a comment below. It doesn’t have to be about 12-year-olds or New York City, either. I’m happy to discuss anything.

(For example, if you came here looking for information about my screenwriting career, and are wondering why Roger Ebert’s review of Daddy Day Care was so vicious and mean-spirited, I can discuss that, too. I have theories.)

And please come back! There will be new stuff here all year long. And it’ll be much less blatant than the old stuff.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for a great blog full of stuff that’s fun to read, check out Laura Belgray’s Talking Shrimp blog. Laura’s hilarious, she posts regularly, and she’s not nearly as blatantly self-promotional as I am. (Warning: Laura’s a marketing copywriter, not a middle grade author, so some of her posts may not be appropriate for 8-to-12-year-old kids. Hey, kids: quit reading this and get back to your book reports.)

(You know what’s another great blog? Wait But Why.  Just don’t go there if you’re trying to get work done today. You could lose a week of your life on that site.)

Okay, now I’m rambling. Bye! Come back soon.

Posted in Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Film and TV, Funny Middle Grade Books, Humor Books for Kids, Less Than Completely Serious, Tapper Twins | 3 Comments

Best Blog Post Comment Ever!

In the short history of this site, I’ve gotten 176 reader comments. But I’d never read one that made me laugh out loud until the following appeared, at the bottom of the “Absolutely Best Ride At Universal Studios Orlando” post.

mark says:

Thank you for wasting my time. I read all of this and went to the end just to get angry at you. Please stop writing these if you are just going to waste time.

Mark, if you’re reading this, all I can say is I’m sorry.

And if you think I’ve wasted YOUR time, imagine how much of my own time I’ve wasted writing all these posts!

I should probably get a day job or something.

Happy Holidays!

Posted in Less Than Completely Serious | 1 Comment

More Excerpts From My Personal Correspondence

Dear _____,

Hello! I notice that in your latest blog post (http://indietutes.blogspot.com/2013/07/books-of-june.html), the list of recent books you’ve read includes The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geraldine McCaughrean.

Are you quite certain Geraldine wrote that book? Because I believe I did.

Unless Geraldine ALSO wrote a book called The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise. Which would be a rather extraordinary coincidence — and in which case, could you please let me know how I could get a copy? I would be fascinated to read it, and a perfunctory Google search only yields editions of Deadweather which were written by me.

In the event that this was a mistake of attribution, and you did in fact read the Deadweather and Sunrise that I wrote, I’d suggest (per your stated request for good book recommendations) checking out its sequel, New Lands. It is quite a good book!

Although to be honest, I’m not only biased on the subject, but I have a financial interest in making such a recommendation. So take it with a grain of salt.

If, again, this was not a mistake of attribution, please let me know if Geraldine is planning any sequels, and whether any of them are also called New Lands.

Have a great day!

Best wishes,

geoff rodkey

[ETA: Upon receipt of this email, the blog’s author corrected her original post. Which, while very gracious, was actually kind of a shame, because it renders this whole post totally pointless. Not that it wasn’t already.]

[ETA 2: The blog’s author, Charity Beasley – which I half-suspect is a pseudonym borrowed from a P.G. Wodehouse novel – just published our full correspondence here: http://indietutes.blogspot.com/2013/07/letters-from-mr-rodkey.html. Worth a look, if only to get Charity’s perspective on the matter.]

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg, Less Than Completely Serious | 1 Comment

Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp, Part Three

Today’s letter is the first one I ever sent to my kid at summer camp.

Although technically, it wasn’t camp. But it was pretty much the same thing: the first time he ever went a way for an extended trip, when he spent two weeks at his grandmother’s apartment in Paris.

(I know! Nice, right? Too bad it’s only a 300-square foot studio, and she’s not willing to put up anyone bigger than a 10-year-old…which was my kid’s age when I sent this to him.)

 

Subject: Re: Paris

Date: July 1, 2010 6:59:13 AM EDT

Xxxx [again, not his real name]:

Thank you so much for the update!  It is very good to get emails from you.  I was also relieved to hear that you fixed the problem with the flip video.

Now I have a problem that I am hoping you can help me with.  Since you’ve been gone, no one has left their underwear on the bathroom floor.  You might not think this seems like much of a problem, and when you left for Paris, neither did I.

But to my surprise, I have discovered that if I don’t have to remove dirty underwear from the bathroom floor every evening, my life feels strangely empty and lacking in purpose.  I have tried to leave my own underwear on the bathroom floor and then remove it later, but it’s just not the same.

I spent most of last night lying awake in bed trying solve this problem, and I have come up with two potential solutions.

First, would it be all right with you if I took some underwear from your bedroom and left it on the bathroom floor for a while before picking it up and taking it to the laundry room?  Before you answer, consider the fact that — and I am not certain of this, but I strongly suspect it — for my life to feel truly purpose-driven, the underwear must be dirty.  Which means I will have to make one of your brothers wear it around for a while beforehand (I would wear it, but I am too big; and I would ask your mother, but she is too picky about her underthings). I assume you would prefer that Zzzz wears the underwear and not Yyyy.

If you do not approve of this, there is a second option.  I believe that if I take the phone into the bathroom at the usual hour of 8pm, call you, and yell at you to come pick up your underwear, my life might feel just as meaningful as if you and your dirty underwear were actually present.  Given the time difference, I’d be calling at 2am Paris time.  Would this be all right?

I realize it is something of an imposition to call you in the middle of the night, but to make it worth your time, while we’re on the phone I could also yell other things — not just the obvious “Xxxx, will you PLEASE hang up your towel?” but also things like “Get your shoes on!”, “Seriously, you HAVE to get off the computer now!”, “Stop touching Zzzz!”, and “Are you listening to me?!  What did I just say?”

Thanks in advance for helping me with this.  You are a good son.

I hope you’re having a great time!  Has Grandma taken you to see the view of Paris from the steps of the Sacre-Coeur yet?  I know I can’t pronounce that name, but I believe I spelled it correctly.

Love,

Dad

 

Tragically, this may be the end of the series — at least until my kid gets to camp next week and I start sending him letters again — because while I have more of them, the quality tails off pretty dramatically after this.

But you can always re-read the first two! They’re here:

Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp, Part One

Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp, Part Two

And if you’re hungry for quality reading material, there’s always The Chronicles of Egg series! Which you can purchase by clicking one of the links under “Get the Books!” on the right-hand menu. Or, for more information, click on the “About The Chronicles of Egg” link on the top menu.

Or just email me and ask for a free copy. I probably won’t send you one, but you never know.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg, Less Than Completely Serious | 3 Comments

Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp, Part Two

 The first Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp went over well enough that I’m raiding my archives (and exploiting my kid) for another one.

This is from two years ago, and it contains what I like to think is some very valuable career advice.

July 25, 2011

Dear Xxxx [still not his real name],

[Mostly dull opening paragraphs redacted; they included a discussion of the camp’s policy of forcing newly arrived campers to write a two-sentence-minimum note to their parents, which was then scanned into a computer and emailed to us as proof that they were still alive.]

Candles. I understand, unless I misread your handwriting once it was scanned into the computer, that among your activities is “candles.” I assume this refers to the making of candles and not, say, the lighting of them, which seems like it would get old in a hurry.

Now, look here: this is fine so far as it goes – you want to make some candles at summer camp, I won’t stand in your way – but I have to strongly caution you against falling too deeply in love with the candle lifestyle. Candles as a means of illumination – and, by extension, a marketable consumer product – have been obsolete for well over a century. Personally, outside of Hanukkah and birthdays, I have not used a candle since the mid-1990’s, and offhand I struggle to think of a single personal acquaintance who has not similarly switched over to electric light, usually exclusively.

What am I trying to say here? Only this, and please forgive me for being blunt: there is no future in candles, son. If you don’t believe me, do a Google search on “Top Careers in 2020,” which is approximately when you will be entering the work force. You will find “Candle Manufacturing/Sales” near the rock-bottom of the list, sharing space with such dead-end, dustbin-of-history occupations as “Blacksmithing” and “Screenwriting.”

I want you to have fun this summer. I do. And if candle-making floats your boat, have at it! Go nuts! Just don’t get too attached. Because in the long run, candles will only break your heart.

Also, I understand you can change your electives at the midway point. Do they offer accounting in the second half? Think about it. I’m just saying.

Anyway… I love you and miss you. I am also jealous of you. Not so much for the candles, but the kayaking and the sailing. And also the part where you write “the sleep situation is fine.” I wish I could say the same. Your mother can be a very trying bunkmate. And your brothers…eeesh. Don’t get me started.

Love,

Dad

Click here for Part One of Letters To My Kid at Summer Camp…or click here for Part Three.

Posted in Less Than Completely Serious | 7 Comments

Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp

It’s been a while since I posted. Partly, this is because writing books, while a fine way to make a living, has the unfortunate side effect of decreasing the amount of time I can spend writing blog posts that have absolutely no financial value whatsoever.

Mostly, though, it’s because I haven’t had any good ideas for blog posts.

Sadly, that’s still the case. But in honor of my oldest son’s imminent departure for summer camp, I thought I’d dig into my archives and post the following letter, which I sent to him while he was at camp last summer.

If you enjoy reading this kind of thing, please post a comment to that effect — if there’s sufficient interest in my continuing to exploit my family for material, I’ll post others.

August 3, 2012

Dear Xxxx [not his real name],

By the time you get this letter, over a month will have passed since I dropped you off (nauseous and underfed, but really, whose fault was that?) at the airport departure gate.

Which means I have gone an entire month without writing you a single letter.

I apologize for that. But it has been quite a busy month. As you may know, the Olympics are currently underway in London, and when I was driving back from dropping you off at the airport, it occurred to me that at 41 years old, I am not getting any younger, and this may be my last chance to represent my country in an Olympic event.

So I spent the next three weeks in intensive training at the U.S. Olympic Center in Colorado Springs, hoping to secure a spot on the national judo team.

I was unsuccessful.

And I can tell you this: it stung. Words cannot express the pain of seeing your dreams collapse into dust, even if they are dreams you only had for a couple of weeks.

Also, judo itself is painful. Some of the other fighters are pretty merciless, even in practice, and the fact that I was not an “official” member of the squad—and so was facing them not in the practice ring, but in the parking lot as they walked to their cars at the end of the day—meant that our bouts usually ended in a few seconds, with a submission hold resulting in loss of consciousness.

At least, I think that’s how it went down. I kept waking up in the parking lot, to the sound of cars pulling away, and with no short-term memory of the previous several minutes. (Here’s a fact, by the way, that might surprise you—in my experience, the women’s judo team is much more ruthless in combat than the men’s team, especially if you startle them while they are holding a set of car keys).

So that was a tough three weeks. After it was over, I went through a period of soul-searching. Judo had been my whole life, at least for the better part of July, and once it was gone, I felt a yawning emptiness that I didn’t know how to fill.

For some reason, it didn’t occur to me to fill it with letter writing. Sorry about that.

Anyway, I’m in a much better place now. And I’ve learned a lot, too—about the value of hard work, the wisdom of letting go, and why you should never challenge a martial arts expert to a fight in a parking lot.

What else can I tell you? It turns out it was a mistake to rent your room out to the elderly Uzbek man who smelled like rotten cheese. His check bounced, and when we confronted him about it, he skipped out on us. So, lesson learned. But we can’t get rid of the rotten cheese smell in your room, so I guess in a manner of speaking, he’s still with us.

Zzzz [my youngest son; also not his real name] has been difficult lately. I now think that among our family members, he is more likely than Yyyy [my middle son; ditto] to end up in jail. His soccer camp counselors think so, too.

Your mother—as she may have already told you—will not be contacting [Xxxx’s friend]’s mom about the summer reading list, or mailing you the appropriate books, because this is the kind of thing that you are old enough to be responsible for yourself. There will be plenty of time to read the books when you get home, unless you blow it all playing Ipad Monopoly or watching Storage Wars.

I hope you are having a great time! We miss you.

Love, Dad

(Click here for Part Two of Letters to My Kid At Summer Camp.)

Posted in Less Than Completely Serious | 12 Comments

How To Lose A Major Literary Award

The winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize was just announced in London, and as I predicted on the day the shortlist came out, Deadweather and Sunrise got its scruffy little butt kicked by R.J. Palacio’s Wonder.imgres

Earlier this morning, my British editor emailed me to request that I write an acceptance speech for her to deliver on my behalf at the announcement ceremony in the event that I won.

While I more or less knew this was a complete waste of time (I mean, have you read Wonder? It is heartbreaking), I complied. Because, really, who wants to let down their British editor? I feel lucky to even have a British editor.

But as I wallow in the bitter tears of defeat, it occurs to me that, well, I have this blog…the whole point of which is to post things that are a complete waste of time. So here’s the speech my British editor never had to give on my behalf:

TO BE READ IN THE EVENT OF MY WINNING THE WATERSTONES CHILDREN’S BOOK PRIZE

I am flattered, honored, eternally grateful, and thoroughly convinced that you are all out of your minds.

I can only hope that you do not come to your senses until tomorrow morning at the earliest, so that I can enjoy the spectacle of reading more headlines like the one that appeared in the Telegraph when Deadweather and Sunrise was first short-listed. That particular headline, “Beavis and Butt-head Writer Short-Listed For Literary Award,” provided me no end of joy — irrespective of how relatively minor my two co-written episodes of Beavis and Butt-head were in the context of that show’s several hundred OTHER episodes, none of which I had anything to do with.

This honor also comes as a great relief from a purely nativist perspective. For nearly as long as the United States of America has existed, our domestic writers have received the lion’s share of the blame for the decay of English-language culture, while the United Kingdom has held itself up as the last bastion of eloquence and civility in an increasingly barbarous world.

Having grown up watching repeats of The Young Ones, listening to the Sex Pistols, and quoting Monty Python’s Wink-Wink-Nudge-Nudge sketch from memory, I have never fully understood this affectation.

Which is why it gives me great pleasure to see that you stepped over such a touching and frankly high-class work of genuine, American-bred art as R.J. Palacio’s Wonder in order to recognize a book in which unpleasant young boys employ foul language while bashing each other on the head with cannonballs.

This seems, at long last, to be incontrovertible evidence that Western civilization’s headlong rush off a cliff and into an apocalyptic abyss is, while still arguably America’s fault, at least being abetted by our more putatively cultured forbears across the Atlantic.

In all seriousness, folks, thanks much. If I seriously believed I had a snowball’s chance in Bermuda of winning this award, I would have spent more than three minutes composing my speech. I might even have gotten on a plane to deliver it. If you get a chance, please send an email and let me know if the canapés would have been worth the price of a ticket.

And please do let all the schoolteachers and librarians in the U.K. know that I’m available for school visits and Skype talks.

Thank you again!

Sincerely,

Geoff Rodkey

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg, Less Than Completely Serious | 3 Comments

The Slightly Strange Saga of my Son’s Soccer Ball

This is a story that begins in a simpler, more innocent time–specifically, mid-October, before Hurricane Sandy came and took away our power and water (an event my children will forever remember as The Day The iPods Died And Could Not Be Recharged).

My 10-year-old is soccer-obsessed, which is mostly a good thing. I say “mostly,” because A) his steadfast conviction that he will one day play professionally in Europe–and thus will be dropping out of middle school as soon as he’s recruited into FC Barcelona’s player development program–has severely undermined our efforts to get him to take his homework more seriously; B) his rabid hatred of all things Real Madrid, which extends to strangers wearing Real Madrid jerseys on the streets of New York City, is not only psychologically disturbing but threatens to end with one of us getting socked in the jaw by an angry Spanish guy on Sixth Avenue; and C) his school is on the East River, with a playground fence that’s only ten feet high.

Here’s why C) is a problem: my kid loses a lot of soccer balls. I mean, a LOT. Like two a week. They don’t all end up in the East River. He’s lost them in playgrounds, parks, rooftops, construction sites, the overhead heating ducts at his indoor soccer camp… We even lost one in our shoe closet, which I still can’t figure out, because it’s a very small closet.

So when the line item in our family budget for “soccer balls” surpassed the one for “real estate taxes,” I decided it was time to implement some kind of soccer ball retention policy. This was easier said than done. Those of you who are familiar with soccer ball design will agree it is impossible to chain a ball to a kid’s wrist without compromising the ball’s structural integrity; those of you with children will recognize the self-defeating nature of ultimatums like, “lose this one and I will NEVER buy you another soccer ball;” and those of you with better ideas failed to share them with me when I asked your opinion.

Ultimately, the best policy I came up with was to write my cell phone number on every soccer ball before releasing it into my kid’s (maddeningly temporary) custody. Like most of my good-parenting initiatives, this was meant less to solve the problem than to make me feel like I’d at least made an effort. And the first few soccer balls that disappeared with my phone number on them seemed to confirm that this new policy was, in fact, totally useless.

Which is why I was so surprised when my cell phone rang on a Thursday afternoon in mid-October, and a friendly but anonymous stranger informed me that someone on a kayak had just fished a soccer ball with my phone number on it out of the East River. After a brief discussion of logistics, we agreed that the best thing would be for him to leave the ball at the North Brooklyn Boat Club for me to pick up later.

That the North Brooklyn Boat Club existed was news to me, but he gave me the address and told me it was conveniently located underneath the Pulaski Bridge.

That the Pulaski Bridge existed was also news to me. After I hung up, though, I went on Google Maps and worked out the geography of what must have happened:

The pizza place isn’t really germane to this discussion, but if you’re on 14th Street and hungry, it’s between First and Second Avenue on the south side of the street.

Anyway, about the North Brooklyn Boat Club: my mental image of the place was mostly derived from the yacht club scene in Caddyshack, but it turns out “boat club” and “yacht club” are two VERY different things. For one thing, you’ll never find a yacht club just downstream from a wastewater treatment plant (see map). And the NBBC ethos seems to be less, “let’s drink gin while wearing cable sweaters draped over our shoulders” and more…actually, it’s hard to tell from their web site. Or their Facebook page. As best I can figure it, they’re some kind of “hipster enviro-boaters.”

And they don’t have a phone. This proved important when, a week later, I found myself driving from a Saturday morning soccer game on Roosevelt Island to a Saturday afternoon soccer game in Red Hook, a route that took me conveniently over the Pulaski Bridge. Unable to reach anyone at the North Brooklyn Boat Club via their email address, I decided to just drop by and take my chances.

What I found looked nothing like the yacht club in Caddyshack, and a lot like the kind of back alley where low-level hoods get shot in gangster movies. But there, right in the middle of the alley, and not far from what may or may not have been the dismembered body of a Gotti family traitor, was my kid’s soccer ball:

I know, it’s hard to tell that’s a soccer ball from the photo. Here’s a blown-up image:

No question about it, that was my kid’s soccer ball. But the Boat-Club-cum-Sopranos-episode-execution-site was padlocked, and there wasn’t so much as an angry Rottweiler on the other side of the fence.

My kid, who had convinced himself (if not me) that this wasn’t merely the 18th soccer ball he’d lost since Labor Day, but in fact his FAVORITE SOCCER BALL EVER, was more than a little disappointed to be thwarted so tantalizingly close to a heartwarming reunion. But the next Saturday’s soccer game was also going to take us pretty close to the Pulaski Bridge, so I promised him we’d come back and try again.

Then came the hurricane. The North Brooklyn Boat Club was submerged under several feet of water, the soccer game was cancelled, and while we’ll never know for sure–because there’s no way I am driving all the way back over there–I can only assume the soccer ball was reclaimed by the sea.

There’s a lesson in all this–about our responsibilities, not just to ourselves and our athletic equipment, but to each other…or maybe it’s about how Mother Nature makes fools of us all…or maybe it has something to do with the importance of maintaining a working phone line, even if you’re a local community non-profit whose members likely all know each other.

But for the life of me, I can’t figure out what that lesson is. All I know is I had the photos, so I figured I’d post them.

And seriously, that pizza place on 14th is worth checking out.

Posted in Less Than Completely Serious | 16 Comments

In the event of our untimely demise

There is a mosquito in our apartment. Ordinarily, I would not bother to document such activity. But this mosquito’s methods are so cunning, and its purposes so inscrutable, that I feel compelled to leave a written record in the event that something mysterious and inexplicable happens to us, leaving only a void of questions without answers.

It began four nights ago. I was awakened shortly after two by a fiendish itching, emanating from two locations on my upper left arm and a third just below the elbow. It was one of those I-know-I-shouldn’t-scratch-or-it’ll-just-get-worse-but-oh-my-lord-this-is-unbearable kind of itches, and after ten minutes of hapless writhing, it eventually propelled me from my bed in the direction of the kitchen, where I found a wrinkled tube of Cortaid in the back of a cabinet and applied it to the fingernail-sized welts rising on my flesh. It took me ninety minutes to get back to sleep.

So what, right? It happens. And that should have been the end of it.

But the next night, the mosquito struck again. This time, the victim was my wife. This was highly anomalous. Bugs tend to find me pheromonally irresistible, usually to the exclusion of all other available targets. In well over a decade of marriage, there had never previously been a documented case of my wife being bitten by anything, ever, as long as I was lying next to her like a honey trap made flesh.

So, kind of odd. But certainly nothing worth getting all excited about. Although my wife did get sufficiently agitated to roam the bedroom for forty minutes at 3am, wielding a magazine. She found nothing.

We were both groggy the next day. Even so, not a big deal. Yet.

Night fell again. This time, the mosquito came for my ten-year-old. Morning found him in a state of itchful agony, with prominent bites on either side of his face near the jaw line. He lathered on enough Cortaid to tranquilize a small animal and went to school once his argument that this was grounds for staying home and watching TV all day was politely rejected.

Outwardly, my wife and I remained calm. But now we were on our guard. Over the course of the day, an exhaustive room-to-room search was conducted. Aside from a fleeting, unconfirmed sighting on a bedroom wall, it proved fruitless. A subsequent google search of “mosquito lifespan” yielded the unfortunate news that this could potentially go on for two weeks.

But surely it wouldn’t. Surely, after three nights, this was the end.

Then the sun went down, the moon rose, and my seven-year-old woke up this morning with a welt on his arm as big as one of those impractical European coins. The Cortaid tube came out again. At the victim’s request, a Band-Aid was applied.

It’s now the morning of the fifth day. The house is in a state of siege. It’s not just the duration and the severity of the attacks. It’s that they’re so unnervingly methodical. This mosquito clearly has a plan, which it is executing with a pitiless and terrible precision.

The pattern is clear. We know the twelve-year-old is next. And yet, short of evacuating him to sleep at grandma’s (which we would have done, except she’s out of town), we feel powerless to protect him.

And the worst thing about it is the lack of motive. We can only guess at this mosquito’s intentions. Manhattan being what it is, it’s possible he has his eye on our real estate, and hopes to drive us into exile in the suburbs while he snatches up our apartment for well below market value.

But this is just a theory, offered up in a panicked attempt to bring order to the chaos, and useless as a road map to our possible future.

The fear lies in the not knowing.

Posted in Less Than Completely Serious | 5 Comments