iPod help

My music library got wiped out on my regular computer. I still have all the songs on my ipod, though. Anyone know how to put them back onto my computer? E-mail me.

Fun in the sun

A sudden downpour in the metro area yesterday evening during rush hour caught a lot of people by surprise, but was a nice break from the stifling heat. Here's one of the local bus stations.

Hope y'all have a good weekend and good weather. (In the case of yesterday, the rain kind of was good weather! But not for the dude in the photo.)

I will put some more photos of poor soaked commuters on the weather blog if I get a chance at some point. That blog could use an update, no?

Agreeing to disagree

A friend of mine wrote me angrily saying that she doesn't understand how I could have liked "Jersey Girl." Well, I thought it was a good movie. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Someone else complained that I don't post my political opinions here. Maybe someday, but do you really need to hear what I think of the flag burning amendment when 60,000 other bloggers are spouting off about it? Go read dailykos.



What would you do if you were in a foreign country and didn't speak the language, and someone stole all your money and ID? It just happened to Dutch blogger Jan in France, and he posts about it.
Three things of interest to probably nobody except media types

1. I only just learned that thirtysomething fiction writer Curtis Sittenfeld and thirtysomething nonfiction writer Seth Mnookin are cousins. Who knew? Well, maybe lots of people, but I didn't.

2. Dawn Eden gets into a wee-weeing match with Gawker in her post today.

3. A lot of public relations people have been phoning me at work lately and starting with the question, "Do you have a quick second?" Is a 'quick second' faster than a regular second? How slow is a slow second?

Disclaimer: PR people are just doing their job, and some of them are sometimes useful



Trivia went well tonight. Thanks to all who came out.

The winning team name was "Norfolk & Chance." Neither I nor my co-host got the joke until we pronounced it out loud.


View askew

Pretty good article about Kevin Smith & "Clerks II" in the Sunday NY Times. Although I disagree that Dogma was a good movie, and Jersey Girl a bad one. JG is underrated.
Construction near my office

I'm always a bit worried about construction projects that leave doors to nowhere.

This reminds me of the classic poem recited by Ed Norton on "The Honeymooners":

As he stepped out into
the cold night air
little did he realize
the fire escape
was not there

I like the wall across from it better.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

Robert Frost

Combonym of the day

Gawkward - What some of us have been since about when we hit puberty.

Trivia tonight

Extra prizes to be had: Tickets and merchandise related to the Putnam County spelling bee musical. Yay!



I just realized that every time I hear a song on the radio a lot and don't know who sings it, it's Matchbox 20!
Monday, Monday

Every other day, every other day of the week is fine.


I had a very nice weekend. Hope y'all did, too. Back to work.


A hot night in the life of a chick-lit author

Last night, I visited a celebration for Sarah Mlynowski's new young-adult book.

That's Sarah, signing said book.

At the reception, I traded info with writer friends.

Then I hiked uptown to meet a college friend. The sun was setting.

. I saw my college friend, whose reflexes are apparently still whip-fast.

Then I headed home on the subway. Th' end.


Are you ready for the summer?

Are you ready for the summer?
Are you ready for the good times?
Are you ready for the birds and bees,
the apple trees,
and a whole lot of foolin' around?

I think that song's from the movie "Meatballs," which everyone in my first grade class saw except for me. Luckily, it was shown on cable 8,888 times.

Anyway, summer starts today at 12:26 p.m. You've made it! Congratulations!

It's already very hot, which will mean air conditioner overuse and blackouts. Yeah, I know they fixed the problem, but thousands of simultaneous air conditioners can't be good.

Today's date is significant for another reason. "Clerks II" premieres in exactly a month. I love writer/director Kevin Smith's dialogue and sense of humor, so I am quite looking forward to it.
Non-secret project

A while ago, I said I had a secret project that I would reveal on May 1. Well, I never really had time to work on it, and probably won't have time for a long time. Too much else to attend to.

But here it is. At least it's a place for my photos.

Check out the "towns" link. NewJerseyIsBeautiful.com.

'Chick lit is here to stay'

...says U.S.A. Today in the article below. Good! Cuz I've got a book ready...



Ah, summer

I re-discovered this link to my pix of a short road trip to Upstate NY. Summer mornings can be lovely.



I will be hosting trivia with a friend (I'm not sure if I can reveal her name here; I have to ask her first) next Tuesday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m. Come play if you can!

But you can also play tonight, Tuesday, June 20. Neil and Jon B are hosting.

Here's the linkage, if you are unfamiliar with team trivia at the Baggott Inn in the West Village: http://www.dempseyspub.com/trivia.html

Note Bene: There will be no trivia on July 4.

Everyone loves a wiener

Recently, I went to a baseball game. The company was excellent. Unfortunately, said "company" did not find his hot dog equally excellent. He promptly lobbed 11.5 inches of his disgusting foot-long hot dog to the ground. I thought hot dogs were supposed to taste better at a baseball game?

I always enjoy the electricity and atmosphere of America's pastime, the green of the field, the shine of the lights. And my pretzel was excellent. Much better, apparently, than the wilted wiener.


Scam artists

When I was at the Book Expo a few weeks ago, I picked up a card for a company and it said, "I don't want people to die with a book still inside of them."

Ow, that would hurt. But really, there are several companies around to take advantage of writers' dreams: Including scam publishers and scam agents. I can't even imagine the thought process: "Hey, let's find people out there who have a dream, and rip them off by falsely leading them to believe we can make their dreams come true."

One popular bait-and-switch goes like this: An agent will advertise that he or she is looking for new writers. (Real agents do NOT need to place display ads desperately seeking writers.) Then they send you a letter back saying they love your book, and for $1,000 they will send it out to editors. Or even better, they say that if you use such-and-such editing company to get your book in shape, for a pretty penny of course, they will represent it. They are in partnership with the editing company.

Recently, a list has been going around of the "20 worst agents." One agent got so incensed that she's on it that she successfully shut down a website mentioning her. Someone else wrote about it on a blog:

Remember Barbara Bauer, that horrible old harridan and scam agent who tried to get me fired because I reproduced the Twenty Worst Agents list and she was on it?

Apparently Barbara Bauer made a screaming, abusive phone call to one Stephanie, the person who owned the web host. Bauer claimed that having AW's scamhunters post her email address at AW was illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)...

For more discussion:


Note: I do not believe that the company that had the "book inside them" quote was itself a scam publisher; it seems like it just offers tips. I thought their sloga was cute. But there are scam artists out there.

Agents should not charge you for representation. The way they make money is: They love your book, they sell your book, and THEN they get 15 percent of the profits. You don't pay them up front. That's why they're picky about what they take on.

Lazy Sunday

Enjoy yours!


The exciting conclusion

More stuff that was on my camera for weeks...

One night, I walked home from work in the wee hours. I literally shook when I saw this:

My usual weekend fun:

Yeah, I felt really threatened...

Sic 'em, Lassie.


Clerks II - July 21, 2006

Ned Vizzini's new novel is being reviewed Sunday in the Times Book Review. That's swell!

It looks like it will be a beautiful weekend. The sun has come out to kiss you all with his big yellow cheeks. Enjoy!


Am I on candid camera?

My young adult novel is tentatively called "Paper and Fire." So anyway, just now I went to my office mailbox and there was a package in it. I opened it and in it was a published novel called...Paper and Fire!

It's just a coincidence. But, ergh. It's not similar at all (this one's about Iraq), and titles aren't copyrighted, and the title is generic enough that it can be used a few times. Still, it had me goin' there for a second. It was like I just wrote a book, and here's a copy of it in my box...


One of the trivia team names at Wed trivia last night was "Ben Toothlessberger."



This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the federal, state and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency.

If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news or instructions.

This blog serves the tri-state area.

This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.


Data dump

Okay, I got a new card reader. Here are some street scenes from the last two weeks, that I was finally able to download this evening. Starting with:

OLD FRIENDS - I saw these two women together and thought they looked cute, so I took a picture...

When I turned on the camera to take it, I saw this scene through my viewfinder and though it looked neat, so I snapped it too:

Meanwhile, a few months ago, the nice couple that owned the dry cleaners up the street sold their building (for a pretty penny) and high-tailed it to Florida.

They took their quiet old Labrador, Baby, who used to put his paws on the counter when I came in and say hello. One time I said to him, "Have you had breakfast? Go eat your kibble." And he actually got down and went to his huge bag of dog food. I don't really think he understood, but it was a little weird.

Anyway, once the sign was removed, it unearthed that before the dry cleaners, there was...another cleaners!!

This woman knew how to protect herself on a windy day. I liked the pink and green here.

This photo is actually in Brooklyn Heights. I enjoy finding old signs, especially ones that look like they say "TOILET FLATS," because I have the sense of humor of a five-year-old.

That concludes the boring slide show for today. Who will turn up next in my evil viewfinder? Beware - it might be YOU!


Update: No data dump

I brought my camera yesterday to J&R Camera World and asked which card reader would work with that camera. The guy specifically showed me the one. And today, I went to use it and it doesn't fit at all. Now I have to trudge all the way back to the WTC area to return it and trade it. Hopefully they'll have the right one. I want to put new pix up. How irksome.

Book 'em

Remember that book I've been working on for three years? I put it aside three months ago to finish up some others. But I had the urge to work on it recently, so I did so this morning. I was able to look at it with a fresh eye, and it was more obvious what I needed to cut in the beginning. I'm glad about that.

Data dump

I bought a digital card reader for my camera, because I haven't been able to download anything for three weeks due to some sort of power cord problem. So tomorrow I'll post some random outdoorsy pix that I haven't gotten to post in the past few weeks.

Random poem of the day*

Shake and shake
The ketchup bottle
None'll come and
Then a lot'll

*(I have to Google the author's name later and put it here, because I can't think of it now. And no, it's not me.)


Mickey writes:

Her next line was “It is sad that I must kill each and every one at the next stop.”
Why, thank you

Yesterday, as I was stepping off the PATH train, I noticed that a girl was writing in her journal. I read the top line, and it said, "There are a lot of cute people on the train."


"Keeping up with the Steins" is a really good movie. There are some sweet, evocative moments that are nuanced enough to not be overdone. I think it's hard to do a family film these days without resorting to cliches, and they really did a good job. I don't know how much longer it'll be in theaters. If you go, see it with a sensitive guy (or gal, if that is your preference).

My friend Jane said that after reading a recent entry of mine, she backed up the documents that were on her portable hard drive. So yes, please back up your stuff.
Take on the Garden State

I'm revising my essay today that will go in this anthology of New Jersey memoirs, to be published next June by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. It's nice enough that I have this vehicle for my writing, and just an extra bonus that I'm getting a check for it this September too.


Wanna hook up? (No, that's not what it means)

Since I'm writing a young-adult novels, I'm on a listserv (that's a newsgroup, to you usenet veterans) for young-adult writers. Sometimes, we authors post questions about teen lingo.

I wanted to know about teen dating terms, because my main character has a boy she really has the hots for (he's a poet and a loner, naturally...)

So I posted this to the group:

Hi. I'm wondering about teen terms for dating. I know that kids say "hooking up" these days, and that can mean anything from kissing to sex (I think). But do they still use "going out" for dating, or "making out" for kissing etc? Any other terms I should know?

Here are some responses:

Subject: Re: teen terms
According to my 17 yo teen, kids "go out" or are "going out," but she neveruses the terms "going WITH" or "steady" even if they are steady dating for along time. They're always just "going out." She also never uses the term"dating." :-)

Subject: Re: teen terms
Ditto in Florida in the world of 11 to 13 year olds. "Going out" is what I used to think of as "going steady" and, at least with the 11-year-olds, doesn't seem to involve actually "going" anywhere.-- Phyllis.

Subject: Re: Hooking up
Teens still say "making out," but the term "parking" is archaic. Then there's the silly slang like "tongue tango" and "swapping spit."

Subject: Re: Hooking up
"Going with someone" is dating with commitment.
And "talking" is the stage right before you commit, when you are actually dating, kissing, and doing everything that is still considered "slightly innocent."
I think the term "talking" is a bit more urban. But it'll be used like, "Oh, yeah, we hung out Friday night, but we're just talking."

Subject: Re: Hooking up
Last weekend we had a party and my mom was saying how they went to some place and got "High." But when she says it she means drinking alcohol. So I said, "Ma, you have to stop using that in mixed company because it means drugs to most people." And she said all of her friends know what it means.
So see there, two different generations, two different phrases, two people who won't let go of their phraseology. LOL

Just thought you folks would find that interesting.

No bull

A guy wrote to me the other day saying he likes hearing about New York life from my blog. So here's another slice:

I went to Nobu Wednesday evening. It's the swanky NYC restaurant that I often joke about with a certain friend of mine because it's where wealthy Wall Street dudes bring their dates. There was an article in NEW YORK Magazine a few years ago about how the recession was hurting guys who couldn't afford to take women to Nobu. That just broke my heart. Also, in the movie "Kissing Jessica Stein" (which I love; it's quite funny), Jessica gets a message from her mom on her answering machine: "Honey, your dad got us reservations at Nobu, and not at 5:30 this time!" I remember a bunch of people in the theater laughed, but one guy in my row said to his wife, "I don't get it."

Well, normally I don't get it either. But hey, thanks to the generosity of a good friend and her momma, we went. (And no, the friend is not a Wall Street fella, although I'm sure a few of them are nice.)

So, the food was delicious and interesting. They brought lots of small fish-based dishes for us to try, one at a time. I also had a fig martini.

Highly recommended.


Snowball's chance

Today I was wondering what happened to Snowball. Last year, during Hurricane Katrina, CBS showed footage of a police officer taking a little dog away from a boy as his family got on the bus to leave the Louisiana Superdome. The boy cried, "Snowball, snowball!" and threw up. People across the country saw this and were outraged.

It was reported a few days later that the dog had been captured and was safe and sound. But then another report said the first one wasn't true.

To this day, no one knows where the boy is, or the dog. Even though thousands of dollars in reward money have been put up by animal lovers for returning the dog to his boy. Even though you'd think the cop would have brough the dog SOMEWHERE. Even though the House of Representatives just passed the Federal Pet Evacuation and Transportation Law, spurred by the images of Snowball.

There is also an organization called Snowball's Chance that helps to reunite pets with their owners. Sadly, their message boards are currently frozen out of respect for one of their volunteers, a beautiful 36-year-old woman who apparently killed herself last week. (It says it vaguely and you have to read between the lines.)

When a creature gives you so much love and doesn't understand what is happening, to lose that animal is heartbreaking. I am glad that lawmakers are seeing fit to make sure animals are taken care of in times of crisis.

Someone mentioned in a newspaper column that the officials were right to reject pets during the hurricane, as 15,000 people could have meant 7,500 pets. Maybe, but they shouldn't have all been left to drown or turn into wild animals. People are still put first - but some of those people love their pets.

Passing on

I saw an obit in the paper today of someone whom I think it would have been neat to know:

Jean Keenan, 83

Mrs. Keenan was a writer for the Silver Burdett Co. in Morristown for many years before retiring. Earlier, she was an English teacher at Hillside High School and worked in the advertising department for Hahne's department store in Newark. She was also a copy editor in Chicago.
...Mrs. Keenan was a member of the Short Hills Ski Club, the Hunterdon Hiking Club, the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey and the Union County Hiking Club. She was also a member of the Morristown Free Wheelers and the Frost Valley Trail Walkers.

First off, she was 83 and involved in all of those organizations. Even if she was only involved in her 70s - wow. Also, it seems like she was a smart working girl back before it was common for women to work in corporations. I'd have loved to hear what it was like to advertise a Nylon sale at Hahne's, or copyedit at some big buliding in Chicago, as the only woman on the 20th floor.
She also was born in Detroit and was working on a Ph.D at Rutgers.
I think she really would have had some cool stories to tell.


Book 'em

Something I read today: An inmate held in the Essex County Jail says that there is a plot by the Bloods gang to assassinate incoming Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Is Newark so messed up that they can't have an orderly transition of mayors without gang threats? There are bigger cities that seem to elect a mayor without these problems.
Booker says "My hope is that in a year or two, every resident feels as safe and secure as I do." GOOD. Newark is a $1.50 PATH ride away from Manhattan. It could be beautiful someday.

Today is 06/06/06. Watch out for true evil!

Too much time

I am going to cut down on the time I spend on the internet. Usually, my main purpose is just to e-mail whatever writing project I'm working on to myself, so it doesn't get lost if my hard drive crashes.

But then I have to check e-mail, and then I start checking blogs, and links...I'm going to cut down, at least, at night.


Ever since I finally got a record player a few weeks ago, I've developed a temporary tradition of playing records on Sunday mornings. I'm not sure why I enjoy it so much, but I think it's because it's something done for pure pleasure. Often, I end up mixing pleasurable things with work; I eat at my desk, or I watch a movie in my room while I'm filing papers. I tend to do two things at once. But it's nice to gingerly lift a vinyl record, especially one I remember from the '80s, and place it on the platter, listening to the scratchy notes ring out. Last week I listened to a Steely Dan song, Kid Charlemagne, that I grew to really like when I first discovered classic rock stations in high school. I taped the song back then, of course, and then listened to it dozens of times before I learned that it was about a drug dealer in San Francisco. I kind of miss the discovery of music and what it meant, now that it's so easy to just download it or look the lyrics up. But teenage years are a time for discovering so many things - music, love, new interests, and of course, yourself. For a few years, all of those discoveries rushed at me, and I wouldn't trade the feeling for anything.


You know what's weird?

Do you? Well, what's weird is when they use one type of food to describe another type of food.

For instance, I've eaten cheese that is described as having a "nutty" taste. But there aren't any nuts in cheese.

I bought some Cerignola olives from FreshDirect that were described as having a "fruitier" taste than most. Is there fruit in the olives?

And...how can a tomato be meaty? Or more specifically, beefsteak?

Also, is Sprite really CRISP and clean? And how can air be crisp?

The truth is, there just aren't enough adjectives for food, so you have to kind of manipulate the ones you have for certain foods. If you've done occasional food reviewin' like I have, you've found that there are only so many times you can say "succulent," "savory," and "tasty" before someone hits you.

By the way, I just had a really meaty salad with some crisp, cool club soda. The tomatoes were beefy and the cheese was both nutty and fruity.

Floppy disk drive you up a wall

Today I had to find an old essay I wrote in college in order to include it as part of a book proposal. I went through about 20 of my old Macintosh disks from the '90s to find which one it was on. I had to go down the street to the print shop that has one Macintosh with a floppy disk drive. I would insert each disk, listening to it humming (or clicking if it was broken), and see what showed up. Some of the old disks wouldn't even show up on a new Mac. Some of my disks were named after things in the news at the time that I named the disk (there's one called "Clinton").

Eventually I found the essay. When I was putting all the disks back in the box, I realized that at some point, I had printed out a list of what was on each disk. So I could have just checked the lists. D'oh!

But anyway, I had a truly lovely weekend. Hope y'all did too.


'What gives fandom a bad name'

Okay, I am down to 47 e-mails now. Some of them were just me e-mailing my novel to myself so there was a copy in cyberspace in case something got lost (highly recommended, but I also back things up on another drive. Do it, people...back up, back up, back up).

There are still some links to music etc. that people have sent me, and I have to follow the links.

One thing I had e-mailed myself was this message on the "Greatest American Hero" listserv. I was a big fan of that show in the '80s, but usually I don't have time to read the messages. But I read this one and found it an amusing example of how seriously some fans take things:

P[Name of girl redacted by me] I'm sick and tired of the bashing you've given me and my site for years. You either stir up trouble with members, complain constantly about the site because it doesn't please you, or attack me personally for not selling you a cape, or something else from my collection. For years I stood by and have taken your abuse, I constantly interact with fans ("Do you know what PP says about you?") that inform me of the bashing I get from you in personal e mails to them. Once again you were banned for impersonating William Katt with a post on the new board, your ISP was traced and matched. Those kind of activites will not be tolerated. Your love/hate relationship with this show and everything in general IS WHAT GIVES ALL FANDOM A BAD NAME. It's childish and pathetic. Now since I've asked over and over to stop mentioning me or my site in a negative manner and you will not stop, you will be hearing from my attorneys.


176...it's a magic number

I have 176 e-mails in my box. They have been collecting over the last few weeks of writing/revising mayhem. I think I have at least responded to all of them with at least a short message and a "more later", but if for some reason something fell through the cracks, I apologize.

I will try to catch up on some e-mails soon rather than spending the time making lame Pitt jokes on this blog. Someone sent me a good one that ends in Jolie-Pitt but now I forgot which of the 176 saved e-mails it is.

[Update: It's "Peanutbutter Ann Jolie-Pitt," submitted by Sam from Hawaii. Thank you, Sam. You know, I like that name, Peanutbutter Ann. If I ever have a little girl, maybe I will name her that.]

My writing group meets this week. I'll have to bring the beginning of one of my new attempted novels so they can all trash it to bits.


Second-class phones, they're making second-class phones

My dial tone is missing. I guess the storm soaked the phone lines at home. This happened once before and it came back on once it dried out. Meanwhile, I called the phone company, and they have scheduled a technician to come look at the problem some time between later and forever.

Thanks to the two people who send me "Mosh Pitt" as a final name for the young lad.


They just can't stop Pitt

I can't get into my personal e-mail from work today, for some frustrating reason, so if you sent me something breathelessly fabulous, sorry I haven't responded yet.

And if you called me mean names, I just haven't seen them yet. So I'm telling you in advance: Nyah nyah back to you.

I'm sure there are a bunch of Pitt names we are missing. How about Pum Pitt? Vom Pitt? Well, that's stretching it (stretching Pitt)... Inspector Gadge Pitt?

How about, Watch Where Yousssss Pitt?

His favorite song will be: Q. Pitt, throw back your bow...and let your arrow go.

He is likely to attend college at U. Pitt.

This blog has sunk to a new low. And that's not easy!

Oh well. I really just can't....

I really just can't Hel Pitt.