Thanks and New Glasses

Thanks everybody for the birthday wishes. I had a pretty good day. I was treated to lunch by a friend at work and treated to dinner with my family. Also, my wife somehow managed to take care of our rambunctious two year old and still bake a cake, clean the house, wrap my presents, and decorate the house. She went above and beyond a great birthday.

I also wore my new glasses for the first time. Last week I went to the eye doctor for the first time in four years and picked up some new contact lenses and glasses. My daughter and wife helped pick out some frames and we decided to go with some cool ones rather than the same old ones. Anyhow, here’s a pic:

Pretty cool, huh? I still have the beard too. The Penguins play tonight, with a chance to make it two games to two. Let’s hope they can do it.

An Interesting Day

It was an interesting day thirty-one years ago. In many ways, not too different from today. George Lucas had a #1 movie out then (Star Wars) as he does now (Indiana Jones). People were nervous about gas then and they sure are now. Mainstream music sucked then, and mainstream music sucks now. The more things change, the more they stay the same, right?

It was on this day, thirty-one years ago that God looked down and said, “This one won’t cause too much trouble”, and for the most part I don’t think I have caused too much trouble. In fact it’s only been the last couple years that I realized that I think we’re supposed to cause some trouble ever now and then. After all, trouble is what makes life interesting. Plus, I’ve finally come to realize that if you don’t like something you can’t just sit there and complain about it, you need to make some trouble to change what you don’t like with the world.

And those are your philosophical ramblings of an old guy for today. *bows*

Anyhow, as I was driving to work this morning I heard this song on the radio. Actually, I heard the Phil Collins version, which is good, but I prefer The Supremes.

If you want to give me something for my birthday, how about giving the Penguins those good vibes Saturday night that you gave them Wednesday. Oh, and I always appreciate you comments here ๐Ÿ™‚


(AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Frank Gunn)

Well, whatever you all did yesterday, do again Saturday because the Penguins won last night 3-2! It was an absolutely amazing, hard-hitting, exciting hockey game, and my stomach still hasn’t calmed down a bit. It was intense. If you care about the details, Empty Netters is a fun, entertaining blog done by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (and cool to look at even if only for the pictures of “vintage jerseys”). Thanks to everyone for the vibes. The series will now go at least two more games, which means the playoff beard has at least five more days of life ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, I don’t want to put too much emphasis on this sports thing. I’m not someone who “lives” for the games, or gets in a bad mood when the team loses (maybe I was like that when I was much younger). I know I’m not part of the team and “we” didn’t win. However, when you watch a team through the good times and the bad, it’s nice to see them succeed.

OK, totally unrelated to hockey, I saw this amazing video the other day and had to share. It’s from a television show I don’t watch called So You Think You Can Dance. You have to watch it. It’s quite amazing. This dude can clearly dance!

Luck Needed


I need some luck. Well, I don’t really need luck. Rather, the Pittsburgh Penguins need some luck. They are down two games to none to the Detroit Red Wings and have yet to score a goal. The teams play tonight in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins lose tonight the math will be severely against them.

Here’s where I need all of you. The Pens need all the good vibes they can get. I’m doing my part with the beard and all. It isn’t enough. Tonight, around 8:00 PM (eastern), rub your lucky rabbit’s foot, break a wishbone, put on the lucky socks, eat some chicken parm, or whatever you do for good luck and think of the Penguins. They need all the help then can get.

Tell me about your good luck superstitions? Do you really believe they work?

Besides, the Penguins are the underdogs in the series, the youth against the more experienced Red Wings.ย  I read an article today that called the Red Wings style of play machine-like and joyless.ย  Meanwhile, the Penguins style is full of speed and energy.ย  Honestly, who would you rather win?

Also, be sure to check out my post yesterday with my waterstones story and tell me what you think. Pretty please? ๐Ÿ™‚

My Waterstones Entry

Well, I wound up entering that writing contest at Waterstones I mentioned here last week. I’m pretty pleased with my entry, though I submitted it with a typo. My wife spotted it after it was already submitted. Oh well.

Their site is done in Flash, so there is no way to link to my entry directly. Instead, I did a screen capture of my story and am posting it below. Let me know what you think (I edited the typo).

The neat thing about the contest is that I was able to design the card background on their website. It’s not the most imaginative of designs, but I think it matches my story. After all, my strong suit is not graphic designer. My wife posted an entry as well, but her’s is much nicer than mine (she IS a graphic designer).

Anyhow, let me know if you enter the contest so I can read your story. I believe you still have a week or so before the deadline. If you write your story online, you get 600 characters (letters, punctuation, etc.) to work with.

More Photoey Beardie Goodness

Here’s another picture of me with the beard. As you can see it’s getting quite scraggly. My wife took this one after we woke up, hence messy hair.

I watched game one of the Stanley Cup finals on the internet last night, as it was on a channel we don’t get (Versus). My Penguins got soundly defeated 4-0. I hope things improve next game.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day in which we celebrate those who have given service to our country by seeing how many hamburgers and hot dogs we can eat while we cook our pale skin in the sun. Good times ๐Ÿ™‚

My Day of Celebrity

I felt like a celebrity yesterday. First of all, I was reading my favorite weekly hockey column by John Buccigross on and saw my name! I had completely forgotten I had entered a caption for his “Shot of the Week” feature and he had picked mine as one of the best. It’s the little things like this that can brighten a day. Check it out:

At least I still have my humor.

Saturday night is the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals. My Penguins are playing the Detroit Red Wings. It’s going to be a good series. The Penguins haven’t been to the finals since 1992, when I was 15 years old. Those games were the reason I started playing hockey in the first place.

Here’s a pretty cool Pittsburgh sports video set to Aerosmith’s Dream On (the only Aerosmith song I like). I get chills every time I see the old Roberto Clemente footage:

Gary Roberts is a player on the Penguins team. Well, he’s more than a player. Here are some facts about Gary (via ultimate hat trick):

– When Gary Roberts is in a crowded area, he doesn’t walk around people. He walks through them.

– If Gary Roberts were a calendar, every month would be named Garytober, and every day he’d kick your ass.

– What’s known as UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, doesn’t use it’s full name, which happens to be “Ultimate Fighting Championship, Non-Gary-Roberts-Division.”

Here’s a cool tribute to Gary Roberts, set to the tune of Mrs. Robinson:

Making a Character Likeable

Wikimedia Commons

I had my writing group on Monday and it went well as always. Everyone seemed to enjoy my Chapter 4. I even got a “this is the most exciting chapter so far”, which was nice. It was the most fun chapter to write.

There were a few suggestions, one of which I need to fix right now before I continue writing. It turns out my main protagonist, Art, is proving to be not too likeable. I need my audience to want my main character to succeed rather than want him to be captured by the villains of the story. My audience needs to care about Art.

Part of the problem, I’m hearing, is that they don’t like some of the choices Art makes. For example, he is told not to go somewhere and goes there anyhow. One of the members of my writing group has sons in my target audience and they were both turned off by this. I really need this plot point, so I’m not going to abandon it. However, I could soften it a bit.

Also, when confronted with a very arrogant manner. Should I soften this with some internal doubts?

My question is this: How do you make a character likeable? How do you get the audience to care whether or not your character succeeds. I don’t want him to be flat. I want him to have flaws and act in ways I or the audience does not. However, I don’t want them to wish harm on the guy.

Any help would be very much appreciated.

Unrelated, my weekly children’s review is up at This week I review a book by Eric Carle.

Glasses and Music and Waterstones


Had a busy day yesterday. The borough took care of the plumbing problem, so no cost to me there. Yay!

I got new contact lenses and glasses yesterday, something that was MUCH needed. The glasses I chose are super cool, thanks to help from my lovely wife. I’ll share some pictures when I get them (in about a week).

Yep, still have the beard. The Penguins have made the Stanley Cup Finals (yay) so they have anywhere to four to seven games remaining in their season. That translates to a few more weeks of the beard.

I’ve been getting into a site called lately. Just a cool music site. Basically, it’s a music site that you can search for you favorite artists on and play many of their songs for free. It’s like radio, except you’re the DJ. It’s all free too! If you get really into the site you can create an account and create a playlist. Here’s a link to my playlist:

I’ve found some pretty cool music there from artists I hadn’t previous been aware of. I particularly like Regina Spektor. Particularly the song On the Radio. You can hear that on my playlist.

I found out via Neil Gaiman’s blog that Waterstones is having a writing contest to celebrate the National Year of Reading. Several published authors such as J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, and Lauren Child have already submitted stories which will be viewable in June on the website. In the meantime, us “other” authors are invited to go there and tell our short stories.

The idea is to write a story that will fit on one of their cards. They have a neat web application that lets you write your story online on one of their “cards”. Anyhow, I think it’s a pretty cool writing opportunity.