Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Is it Christmas yet?

Eric Slick and Julie Slick perform Heart of the Sunrise (off the Rock School soundtrack) with Jon Anderson of YES. Click here for a listen.

So yeah, I have news; I have big news, but I'm not allowed to say anything yet. That sucks, huh. But I'll be able to blab it all soon so bear with me. Or is that bare with me? Har har. Sorry. It's been a rough couple of days and with the holidays approaching, it can only get worse.

Kidding, kidding.

Though I swear, I'm being thwarted bigtime already this year. I bought really pretty lights to hang around the dining area and didn't have an extension cord. So I bought an extension cord which said "Contains on and off switch" and I thought, Oh cool, I can even use this to decorate the overhead light which hangs over the table. Wrong. I opened up the package -- there's no on and off switch and it's not even a fucking extension cord -- it's one of those things you use on your tree to hang multiples of lights. I mean, this thing was totally packaged in the wrong box. And who the hell saves receipts for things like that? Oh screw it, I'll use it on the tree. If I get a tree. Eric's girlfriend is allergic to real trees and if we get one, that means she can't come over for a month. Okay, who am I kidding, three months, because I put my tree up early and wait until all the needles fall off and it's usually Easter before I get around to taking it down. So we're exploring our options. I'm actually not opposed to a fake tree -- hell, I say save the trees (and my vacuum cleaner). But I don't know -- I've always had a real tree; I love the aroma, and if I take it down in time, I can even recycle it because they arrange for pick-up in Philly well into January.

Nah, I say it won't kill us to have an artificial tree this year -- I love Eric's girlfriend and would hate for her not to be able to come over. By this time next year, it won't be an issue -- I'm sure Eric will probably be touring Europe or at the very least, living in his own mansion out in LA or something. Trust me on that one.

We also baked a shitload of cookies. But woe is me, I didn't buy cookie tins, so instead of being neatly packed away as what they are meant to be, i.e., GIFTS, we set them out on plates. And then I ate them all. I did the math. I consumed 140 cookies over a four day period. And I wonder why I'm not feeling so great today.

Sigh...I also wanted to congratulate six friends of mine who have been nominated for Pushcart Awards for their published short stories and wanted to provide links to each story, but my online writing site is down for a change and off the top of my head, I can only remember four of the nominees and three of the stories. Grrr....oh well, it'll give me something to post tomorrow in case I still have to keep a lid on my big news.

Later...maybe xo

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Buy some books for Christmas! (by authors Tom Saunders, Steve Augarde, and Robin Slick!)

Okay, I've got to sit on assorted Julie and Eric news for a couple of days, so in the meantime, I'm going to appeal to you on behalf of some very talented author friends of mine to have a look at their wonderful books, because, you know, what makes a better holiday gift? And if you scroll all the way down, and I hope you do because I would not be urging you to buy these books and take the time to cut and paste in all of these reviews if I didn't think it was so, so worth it, you'll see this insanely generous and flattering email I got on Thanksgiving from a reader who'd just finished Three Days in New York City...

First up is a magnificent collection of short stories written by Tom Saunders, which you can buy right here.

Take a look at some of the reviews this book received:

Wonderful stories, superbly written. May 29, 2005
Reviewer: Tania Casselle
Two months after reading this collection, many of the stories are still vivid in my mind. I feel like I've stumbled across a modern classic, with fresh storylines, strong characters, and original language.

My favorites include Aunt Frank's Legacy, Remember Us, The Seal Man, and Nave Nave Mahana, but to be honest it's hard to pick any one story out. It's rare to read a book of short fiction where the standard stays so high throughout, but the diversity and richness of this bunch of stories kept me hooked. I read some to my husband as we drove cross-country, and he loved them too.

Saunders is a bold stylist, not afraid of examining both the dark and the tender sides of life. The mood is sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet, sometimes hauntingly scary. He shows good insight into the ridiculous aspect of human nature and doesn't hesitate to point that up. In some stories I snorted out loud at the witty observations, in others I was scared for what would happen next. Often I was just deeply moved.

I'm looking forward to re-reading soon, and for anyone who enjoys entertaining and literary short fiction, I'd say that Brother is a no-brainer.

Superb Collection!, February 25, 2005
Reviewer: Katrina Denza

In the title story, successful composer Griffin Curzon attempts suicide and his inventor brother tries to resurrect him from his rapid mental decline to the man he once was. In the heart of his illness, Griffin writes in a letter to his brother this apt metaphor for life:

" `Brother,
We see merit in numbers, in sequences. We search for the infinite in variety. We are imbeciles. Every note of music is a whole, deep symphony of sound. Play it soft, than softer still, breath on it, then strike it hard, harder, hit it so it rings on and on, the texture wavering and changing. Then add rhythm, slow, slower, a little bit faster, build it up, rat-ta-tat. There is staccato, legato, on and on and on. One note, one beautiful, indivisible note.'"

In "Aerobatics," a father must face the inevitable changes in his relationship with his adult daughter, and in "The Seal Man," a lonely woman sees hope for herself in the arrival of a stranger to her island. The characters in these pages don't just make do, they transcend their circumstances. And the reader will find a variety of people here: transients who move into an abandoned zoo; an eccentric patron of the arts; a man coming back to his grandmother's house after her death; an infirm man bracing himself for death.

From "Sweet Mercy Leads Me On:"

"Now I'm lying awake trying to think of when I was at my happiest. Because of the drugs I've been given it's difficult to focus on anything but the present. My thoughts zigzag back and forth like a dog let loose in a park, picking up a scent only to discard it when a better one comes along."

Intelligent and sophisticated, these stories showcase Saunders' ability to render imaginative lives and settings in exquisite detail. Each story in the collection is a unique and lively world, yet each carries the mark of a sure hand, and the cohesive glue that binds them together is Saunders' understated brilliance and compassion for his characters.

If you have not already done so, I suggest you purchase a copy of this superb collection. You'll be glad you did.
Exquisite stories, February 9, 2005
Reviewer: Kathryn Koromilas
Tom Saunders has tuned into the deep dark secrets of our world, of happiness and sadness, and has articulated them in the stories collected in "Brother, what strange place is this?".

The title story with the brother Griffin jumping out of a window only to survive and end up in an institution for the insane addresses the title question in an emotional and philosophical way, but really, all the stories in this collection are studies of the same question.

"Aerobatics" is the one that most got to me, the one I can't forget: A father tells his daughter about the time, when he was a boy, that he came home from school to see to his mother crying, "breaking her heart". He explains that up until that moment he was happy and then "suddenly I was landed with this knowledge about my mother...I wasn't prepared for what I saw...I wasn't prepared for a world where that sort of sadness was possible."

You have to be prepared to read this collection. You won't be, of course. Like the little boy who is suddenly faced with the shock of his mother in tears, one can never be prepared to face the depth of the world's sadness (for the boy) or strangeness (for the brother, Griffin).

Yes, I recommend this collection of stories. Tom Saunders is a sensitive and intelligent writer who is concerned with the truth of the human condition.

Rare quality. , December 29, 2004
Reviewer: Ed Touchette
A Compeling Exploration

Tom Saunders' collection is the work of a true artist.
His writing leads you through a range of human interaction and emotion. In stories like THE RED TRAIN, Saunders tackles subjects that are delicate, controversial at best and with great sensitivity lays it out for the reader to advance conclusions. Without pretense or presumption he offers the reader the opportunity to explore. A true gift Brother, What Strange Place Is This? is a remarkable collection by a remarkable writer.
Bob Arter is a happy reader, December 28, 2004
Reviewer: Robert W. Arter "Happy reader"

After decades of minimalism, modernism, postmodernism, and batty maunderings, Saunders' careful, credible storytelling is as an oasis to the parched mind. My own personal favorite in this varied collection, The Calle de Obra Pia, will sit you down on a piano bench next to a man who is hopelessly in love. You may like him--and this is true of all of Saunders' characters--or you may not, but I tell you that you will care about him, you will know him, you will very likely find in him yourself.

And this is the truth that infects Saunders' stories, and draws the reader into them: he does not write about Everyman; instead, he continues to show us variations on the species. None is wholly good nor entirely sympathetic. Each is as imperfect, as yearning, and as capable of greatness in small spaces as are you, as am I.

This collection is clean air. Do yourself a favor.

Pure Genius, December 28, 2004
Reviewer: Robin Slick

Tom Saunders' debut short story collection took my breath away. These are timeless classics -- quirky, colorful, and incredibly intelligent. Each story stands alone as a perfect little gem; they are a rare treat for the reader who not only likes to be entertained but for the reader who likes to be challenged as well. Think Raymond Carver; think Barry Hannah; think Tobias Wolff and maybe, just maybe, you'll get an idea of the genius of Tom Saunders. There are tinges of subtle humor throughout certain pieces, bittersweet reflections in others..just an amazing, amazing read. Brother, What Strange Place is This is akin to discovering a wonderful hidden treasure...a treasure to be shared and savored.
unique and stunning , December 28, 2004
Reviewer: susan_d
British author Tom Saunders' debut collection of short stories, Brother, What Strange Place is This is a glorious success. Multi-layered and eclectic, the work showcases the literary talents and broad imagination of its creator. Saunders breathes life into a multitude of styles, characters, and settings, weaving strings of charming wit, gorgeous description, interesting plots, and heartfelt pathos into this gorgeously crafted tapestry.

From the title story, turn of the century brothers, one a talented pianist relegated to a mental institution and the other desperately trying to reach and understand him, to a modern-day father coming to grips with daughter's independence, he never fails to strike a unique and human chord. The language and phrasings are thick and lush, nearly an embarrassment of delightful, dizzying prose. Saunders has a keen knack for plucking unusual, but perfectly suited, words to highlight and accompany the themes and voices and tones of the pieces. His styles and subjects have a diversity and range. He plays with the clever and cheeky, such as in "Not For What You Are", which tells the story of a baker who believes he is the reincarnation of painter Dante Gabriel. And he doesn't shy from the tragic, such as in "The Seal Man" - the story of a man shipwrecked on a small island with brutal people. He takes a leap inside an abandoned zoo in "Nave Nave Mahana", where the homeless congregate and make shelter for themselves while finding hope in a stray monkey.

This is a captivating read, where the stories are fresh and engrossing, unpredictable, sometimes disturbing, and all of them are rendered with precision and a finely-tuned wordsmith's care.
Emotional Depth, Memorable Characters, December 28, 2004
Reviewer: Lydia Theys
This is a collection of incredibly varied short stories with one thing in common: the characters are quirky and often inhabit unusual worlds, yet I almost always recognized something of myself in them.

Mr Saunders does a beautiful job of setting the mood and of drawing the reader into it. There is a sense of quiet introspection about the stories that will leave you thinking that for a few brief moments, you got to know these people, and that you are happy you did. You won't find any convenient plot turns, melodramatic coincidences or neat-and-easy endings. Just a collection of stories about people and about big and small moments in their lives, all of which seem to matter.

I would love to see a novel from Mr Saunders and judging from the quality of the writing in these stories, I think we will.
And from Steve Augarde, Celandine, the second book of his Various trilogy, has just been published, and you can purchase both books here.

Below are some reviews for those two magnificent books. Now, Steve says they are "young adult", but I can tell you firsthand that they are also very much for grown-ups; Steve writes beautiful, intelligent fantasy like my other hero, best-selling author Neil Gaiman. And if that's not enough, he is also an amazing artist and responsible for the covers of both books, as well as the incredible artwork within:

Here are some reviews for Celandine and The Various:

Celandine, November 8, 2005
Reviewer: reabooks from Nr. Exmouth, E. Devon United Kingdom
Every once in a while a children's book bursts upon the literary scene and carries children of all ages before it. Celandine is one that belongs in the company of such classics as Watership Down, The Secret Garden, and the later Harry Potter books.
Set in the Somerset levels at the time of the First World War, it brilliantly evokes the brutality of home education under a sadistic governess, the even greater tribulations of a callously cruel boarding school, interspersed with flights into the world of the Various.
Running parallel to the troubles of our heroine, Celandine, the Northern tribes of the Various are engaged in a hazardous trek to seek the long lost Southern survivors that have formed a secret enclave in a wood on the farm where Celandine lives.
The course of the narrative, although riveting, must remain unrevealed here for fear of reducing the huge pleasure that any reader is boumd to experience.
5 out of 5 stars Worth the wait!, November 6, 2005
Reviewer: Joy from Leeds
This long awaited sequel to "The Various" will take you back to an era almost a century ago, just before the outbreak of World War I and before women’s’ rights. Celandine is “different”, an exotically beautiful and high spirited young girl not only misunderstood by adults but by those her own age, too. Her parents fail to recognize that she has a very special magic, and therefore she is the forgotten one in a family of two older brothers, a loving but helpless mother, and a stern, unforgiving father. So not knowing what else to do with her after Celandine finally retaliates following several incidents with a cruel, sadistic governess (which her parents refuse to acknowledge or believe), they send her off to boarding school, where she is teased and taunted by the other students and severely disciplined by her teachers. But Celandine has a secret. Before being sent to away to school, during an accident in which she strikes her head while playing with her brother on the vast property owned by her father, she meets Fin, a member of The Various, a tribe of little people living unnoticed among the “Gorgi”, or giants – humans, like Celandine herself, who are fighting for their survival. Breaking all rules of the tribe, Fin takes her through a secret tunnel to meet them. Once Celandine convinces the Various she is not their enemy, they accept her help – everything from useful gifts like fishing hooks to teaching them to read and write. Their trust in her is complete when they offer their home among the hidden caves in the forest as a refuge when circumstances at school become too horrifying to bear and Celandine learns of an unspeakable tragedy at home…events that make it impossible for her to return. She is lost, she is lonely, but somehow she becomes part of this strange, mystical community as she struggles to come to terms with all that has happened while realizing that The Various themselves are in terrible danger as well from not only the outside world but from forces within their own ranks -- and that this danger extends to her, too. Celandine's experiences are a fascinating mixture of humor and heartache that make for a fast paced, nail biting adventure, and there is a direct link to her own personal torment and joy to that of The Various. Like them, she is a lost soul who is searching for a place in what seems to be a cold, cruel world, and the book’s tender, beautiful conclusion will have many reaching for a box of tissues.

5 out of 5 stars a wonderful read, March 9, 2005
STRING(top-500-reviewer_5245) Reviewer: ilonacat from EASTHAM, WIRRAL United Kingdom
I was attracted to this book by its cover and by the Somerset setting- I deliberately don't say "background" because the landscape in this book is almost a character in its own right. . Suffice to say that Midge, a contemporary girl, encounters a winged horse in a disused barn. . .and nothing will ever be the same again. There are fairies galore, and none of them is of the glittery Disney variety-they are the genuine article-British fairies,many of whom are squat, grotesque and hairy whilst a few are unnervingly beautiful. Both Midge's world and that of the "Various" are rendered in superb and lively writing.The landscape of field and forest is rendered beautifully, as is the Somerset dialect that the fairies speak.

I'm very much looking forward to the remaining books of the trilogy.

An Enjoyable Book, February 17, 2005
(top-500-reviewer_5245) Reviewer: cogsworth from United Kingdom
An enjoyable story about 12 year-old Midge, who comes to stay on her cousin's farm and discovers a fairy world in a soon to be demolished forest. These are not the Enid Blyton twee fairies - or the gun toting elves of Artemis Fowl - but something much more believable. There are several races/communities each with their own cultures living in uneasy alliance with one another. When Midge rescues a tiny winged horse, she is invited to share her knowledge of the forth-coming demolition with the Fairy Queen (described as a tubby little creature in faded finery), and so doing, puts her cousins in mortal danger.

The author has created a believable world, paying immense attention to detail. However, this strength means that the book is quite lengthy for its intended age group and at times the pacing is rather slow. Illustrations are pleasant, but rather too few. I like the notion that the race of Fairies considered to be of the lowest rank are, in fact, the only ones who have learnt to read and who appreciate art and music. Their world, however, is in danger - and it is up to Midge and her cousins to save the day. But only if they can escape the bows and arrows of those faries who believe their intrusion is a threat rather than a rescue mission. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

5 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books this year, October 27, 2004
Reviewer: A reader from England
Other reviewers here have well covered the plot. I would simply like to add that this is a fantastic book. The cover is lovely - it stood out on the bookshelf and made me pick it up - and the story, characters and style are wonderful.

I didn't want to finish it but at the same time couldn't put it down. Now I cannot wait for the follow up book. It will be well worth the wait I'm sure.

5 out of 5 stars From the New York Times. July 11. 2004, July 10, 2004
Reviewer: A reader from United Kingdom
Written and illustrated by Steve Augarde.
David Fickling Books, $16.95. (Ages 10 and up)
In this rousing addition to the durable genre of British fairy lit, a 12-year-old girl named Midge is packed off by her violinist mother for an extended summer vacation at her uncle's ramshackle farm in the West Country. Grumpy about being left alone with the family eccentric, Midge discovers he is actually quite kind, if a bit dotty, and begins to feel at home as she explores her rural surroundings.
One day she discovers a tiny winged horse wounded by an old piece of farm machinery. When she nurses it back to health she learns -- telepathically -- about the realm of the ''Various,'' five tribes of ''little people'' confined by human encroachment to a dense, bristle-protected patch of woods known as the Royal Forest. With the tribes' resources drying up and extinction looming, the horse was sent to scout for new frontiers, unaware, until Midge tells him, that the forest had already been put up for sale by her Gorji (human) uncle.
Before long, Midge and the winged horse are making their case before a full muster of the knee-high Various, presided over by the comically addled Queen Ba-betts. From there, the story swings back and forth between the Royal Forest -- where we learn of the ancient ways of the Troggles, Tinklers, Irckri, Wisps and Naiads -- and the farm, where Midge is soon joined by her two cousins and where the two worlds inevitably collide.
Steve Augarde, an illustrator and author who has worked on two animated BBC television series, sprinkles a few black-and-white line drawings into the narrative, but is careful to leave his characters' appearance to the imagination.
The first instalment in a planned trilogy, ''The Various'' is long on atmospherics and rolls along at an unhurried pace that might test the patience of more jaded young readers. But there's also plenty of action -- including a gripping showdown between some little people and the hulking, remorseless barn cat Tojo the Assassin (''the scourge of all living things that dared cross his path'') and enough foreshadowing of mysterious secrets and future culture clashes to lock in an audience for the next two volumes.

5 out of 5 stars From The Washington Post, May 23, 2004
Reviewer: A reader from Yorkshire. United Kingdom
Sunday, April 11, 2004; Page D08

Twelve-year-old Midge, whose father is dead and whose mother is a concert violinist, has been shipped to spend the summer with her rather bumbling Uncle Brian. Midge has a strange sense of having been on the family's old farm in western England before, and almost immediately odd things start to happen.

For one, she discovers a tiny, wounded, winged horse. The horse leads her to several tribes of small beings, called "the Various." The creatures are barely eking out an existence in the woods on her uncle's property -- woods that are slated for development. When good-hearted Midge tries to warn the little people, some of them turn on her, and things go badly. Then her two cousins show up, complicating the already dangerous situation she has made for herself and for the Various.

This book mixes the fanciful with very real situations, such as missing a mom and not getting along with cousins. Midge and her family are easy to relate to and the Various are convincingly detailed, so you'll find yourself lost in this story. The magic seems real, the real seems magic and the book weaves a spell you'll be reluctant to break. Thankfully, it's the first in a trilogy.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

And of course one more time, let me hawk my book because the sequel is finished and like, you need to read part one before jumping into that. But a few days ago, on Thanksgiving, I received a fan letter from a woman who is part of my online writing group. This letter thrilled me, because as I've noted on several occasions, there are over 65,000 people worldwide who belong to that group and it contains some of the most talented people in the world, such as the above mentioned Tom Saunders and Steve Augarde.


I just finished Three Days In New York City, and this is my poor attempt at some resemblance of half-ass intelligent feedback.

Reading this was my greatest gift-to-myself since my hysterectomy (and this is a compliment. If you haven’t had one, do it, you’ll never regret it!)

(Note from me: Um, I think I'll pass but I'll take your word for it)

I won’t tell you that reading it changed my life: It didn’t, and I have some serious doubts about anyone who says that merely reading one book could actually change a life, but I will say it gave me a good, wholesome, maybe I’m not totally nuts and perhaps there are other people like me out there who aren-t really nuts either feeling that I haven’t experienced in a very long time. To say the book made me laugh out loud, rue my current sexless marriage, and pat myself on the back for being so at-one with the guilty pleasure of sex-via-reading about it would be too much to actually say on paper. After all, I am paranoid at sounding like a total idiot, and this fan letter is beginning to sound a lot like Richard’s porn writing fiasco. (All I need is a few phrases like “his blood-engorged member” or “feint with wanton lust” ---no, even he wasn’t that bad.

(Note from me: Richard is the name of the male character in my book, and yeah, he does write porn as a side thing though his primary occupation is that he's an attorney)

You drew me in on the first page – the paragraph about woman next to you and the guy in the turban – and then that wonderful sentence-I wonder if men can sniff these things out. I didn’t put it down ‘til the last page.

Ok, I lie. I went to the bathroom a couple of times. I checked on my 16-year-old, who had her wisdom teeth out yesterday and is high/comatose on real drugs. But it was a nonstop read, right down to those last few pages that signal the inevitable end you don’t want to happen yet. You rock. Truly.

I have always read a lot, and wanting/trying to write has really called my attention to how much has already been written and how much there is I haven’t read: Even to call oneself “well-read” is a near-impossibility in this age. I won’t say that you have invented a new genre, since I guess this is close to impossible as well, I’ll simply say that I, in my lowly, southern redneckedness, have never read anything quite like it before now. And to say “thank you” for making it available to me is not near enough.

No matter how I try to dress it up and disguise it, all my fiction is in some way autobiographical. I know (from some online “conversation” whether through email, workshopping at Zoe, or IM) that your life finds its way into your work as well, but you are a stellar example to the rest of us. You take a fantasy, a mid-life crisis, or simply an insoluble situation and use it to make something creative, intellectual, and damned funny all at once. This is what our alter egos, the ones that never really surface, do in our lives, yet you’ve put it out there and shown us that it can be done for real. Like I said before, a mere “thank you” is just not enough.

Two years ago, you helped me with a flash story I really liked, one of my favorites that no one else seemed to get. You red-inked it like a pro and made it exactly what I wanted it to be all along.

Now I can order you from this may be my only touch with greatness in this lifetime.

But I’ll always remember the perfect teacher that made me feel like F. Scott Fitzgerald. To find out that’s really who SHE was, is just that more amazing. (Okay, I’ll stop gushing now, I realize you’re seeing Gina and John without the sex. God, how boring….)

( Note from me: Gina and John are the characters in "Richard's" abortion of a porn story which he reads to the female heroine during one of the "hot" scenes in the book)

Well, today is Thanksgiving, and I guess this is my shot at being thankful.

Thanks for making this a happy holiday.

And when can I get the next installment?

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, and the Best of Ground Hog’s
Wow. So how cool was that letter. It really had me choked up.

I am not exactly sure when the sequel will be out, but look at the cover -- isn't it pretty?

Oh, regarding Three Days in New York City, you can buy an autographed copy here.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving: Three Days After (or oh, my stomach...)

I'm sorry, I know I've posted it before, but I just love this picture of the old Rock School gang taken in LA last summer -- right to left on front row: Eric Slick, Madison Flego, and Teddi Tarnoff; back row right to left -- Julie Slick, C.J. Tywoniak.

So yeah, I'm still in after-Thanksgiving hell, which means I haven't stopped eating and am actually going out to dinner tonight because tomorrow is Gary's birthday and no one will be around to celebrate due to work, etc. so we may as well do it now. We're going to Rembrandts, where Julie works, so that she can be our waitress and we can torture her and she can bring Gary dessert with a candle, etc. etc. Since Gary hates computers and thinks they are responsible for the decline of society today as he knows it (and also thinks the government is watching him through the monitor but that's a whole 'nother story) and therefore goes nowhere near them so there's no way in hell he's reading this blog, I can tell you that we got him an official Flyers team jersey -- Simon Gagne, who ironically wears #12, for his birthday present -- and that is the kind of thing Gary will love because we save the music stuff for Christmas and it's hard to come up with something else original just one month before. I can thank Julie for this one because I didn't have a clue and this was her idea so good on her.

I have to laugh, though. Do you know what those things cost? I was shocked! Even the stupid hats are $50.00. I'm talking the official team versions. Well, what did I expect? It costs $85.00 a ticket if you want a lower level seat at a Flyers' game. So that means for a family of four to go to a two hour game, you're spending $400.00. I'm sorry, but that's fucking pathetic. Anyway, along those lines, the other night, we're watching a hockey game on television and Gagne gets a hat trick, which, in hockey world, means he scored three goals. Common tradition is that if you are wearing a hat and you're in attendance at the game, you throw your hat to the ice and then the security crew comes out and collects them all and they are stored in a big glass display case at the Wachovia Center where the Flyers play and they list the names of all Flyers who scored hat tricks.

So Gagne scored his third goal of the evening and the T.V. camera scanned the crowd. Not one person tossed their hat.

"They're not tossing their hats! They're not tossing their hats! What's wrong with those stupid yuppies?" Gary screamed.

Heh. They didn't toss their hats cos' they're $50.00. See, I knew that because I just bought the jersey for him on line and tried everything to find them cheaper than list price, but if I did that, they were bootlegs which of course would have been unacceptable. Had I bought him the damn hat and he'd have tossed it anonymously to the ice when Gagne scored a hat trick, I'd have killed him.


I know you're all dying to know: Did Eric get the gig with the Control Freaks? He jammed with them all day today. Well, what do you think?

Ha ha - actually he doesn't know yet; they are deciding between Eric and another drummer and will get back to him Monday or Tuesday so whatever. I'm not worried about Eric -- he's going to fulfill that legend prophecy one way or another. But this band has a potential major record deal, so of course it would be excellent. Stay tuned for the answer. Either way, he's totally cool.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Eric Slick has major music news; Julie Slick bakes awesome pies; Robin Slick is depressed her online writing group is offline until Monday

Ike Willis and Eric Slick at Zappanale 16, Bad Doberan, East Germany 2005

Cool pic, huh. I just found it online somewhere.

Anyway, as hinted in this blog earlier in the week, here is the awesome news about Eric. This morning he met with a major producer, David Ivory. David Ivory has produced everyone from Paul Schaeffer and Anton Fig of the Letterman Show to the Roots. So Eric auditioned for him this morning, and like everyone else who hears my son, was extremely impressed, told Eric he plays very much like Chuck Treece which is an incredible compliment, and said he's going to be actively using Eric for studio work. Also, his first project for Eric is looking like it might be as drummer with Control Freaks, a rock trio featuring two chicks - one on guitar, one on bass, and I listened to their stuff and was way impressed. Great songwriting. More importantly, they played over 150 shows last year, opened for Neal Schon, won a bunch of contests/ like, this means that Eric would be really gigging a lot as well as recording their brand new CD at David Ivory's studio. They've auditioned some other drummers and said they'd get back to Eric next week so we'll see how it all pans out. But even assuming he's on board with them, this doesn't mean he's no longer drummer for Shannon Penn, Chris Opperman, Doctor Dark, or Flamingo, it just gives Eric even more exposure and a chance to get out there and play and you know, show the world he's a drum legend. (Ha ha - quoting Paul Green Uberlord of Rock School there though of course I feel the same)

ETA: Eric just got home -- Control Freaks called him on his way home - he's in the running and he has to meet up with them Sunday for some more jamming.

And of course Philadelphia being the city it is -- mini New York City but small enough that everyone in the music scene is connected in some way -- Eric indirectly got this gig via Paul and Rock School. Paul introduced Julie to musician/producer Chuck Treece; Julie recommended Eric to Chuck, Chuck recommended David Ivory to Eric, Eric contacted David Ivory and sent him his resume (pretty impressive with Rock School creds like Carlos Alomar, all the awesome Zappa alumnae, Jon Anderson, and Eddie Vedder, etc.); both David Ivory and the manager for Control Freaks immediately contacted Eric, and then like it's all not crazy enough, it turns out that the band knows Katie Jacoby from Downingtown Rock School because they're all from Wilmington. It's sort of meant to be in a weird way, huh.

So Thanksgiving yesterday was absolutely fantastic, despite Gary having the toothache from hell, which prevented us from going to see Julie and Eric perform with Sweatheart at Silk City. I was so bummed out! This is when not having a valid Pennsylvania driver's license brings me down. With Gary out of commission, I had absolutely no way of getting to 5th and Spring Garden at midnight by myself other than a cab, only cabs were totally booked because the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel evening of the entire year, and though I kept hitting redial, all cab companies had busy signals when I tried to get them on the phone. I was so, so screwed. But I hear that Sweatheart was really well received and had such a blast that they're going to definitely play some more shows so at least I'll get to see them eventually.

Dinner was amazing; I ate way too much and am feeling it today. We pretty much stuck to the menu I posted but Julie, who was in charge of baking, changed the desserts to roasted sweet potato pie with homemade whipped cream and because Matt loves coconut and he was able to make it over later in the evening, she concocted her own recipe of a pie made from homemade coconut pudding in a graham cracker crust studded with chopped Almond Joys. And this whole thing she topped with whipped cream into which she added a teaspoon of almond extract. Sick, sick, sick. She did make Eric the old fashioned apple pie but she did something to its lattice-topped crust and caramelized it with brown sugar and butter that was seriously obscene and with that we had Dove Ultimate Vanilla ice cream. Of course I had to sample all three. I was moaning and groaning all night from overeating and will probably fast today; I'm serious. For once, I can't even think about food, and it hurt me bad to just type those pie descriptions.

Anyway, I'm kind of out of sorts today. Zoetrope, my online writing group goes down every freaking holiday and since this is a four day event, I won't get to talk to any of my friends in cyberworld until at least noon on Monday. This totally depresses me -- both that Zoetrope is down and my social life is dependent on it. But it's true. We're all writers on that site and the written word is very, very intimate. I've known most of my friends there for three-four years already and as I've mentioned here many times, have met many in the real world. Now if I were a normal human being, I would email some of the more local ones and see if they wanted to do anything this weekend but that would require effort and I'd much rather sit here in my pajamas with my hair in a ponytail and not face the outside world, especially on a weekend such as this where the roads and public transportation will be a fucking nightmare. And besides, I've never pretended to be a normal human being so why should I start now.

Speaking of nightmares, how sad is it that I watched Annie Lennox perform on something as mainstream at The Today Show this morning. Wait. How pathetic is it that I watched the The Today Show. Oh well. At least I didn't watch Regis and Kelly.

It's even sadder that I know who Regis and Kelly are.

Okay. Know what? I'm going off to do what it is I do. Write novels. National Novel Writing Month ends in five days and I need 15,000 more words to win, or reach 50,000 words. That's 3,000 words a day. Piece o'cake., no cake. But still easy. Right. I'll keep telling myself that.

Later xoxo

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Eric Slick and Julie Slick with Sweatheart at Silk City Lounge; Robin Slick in Virginia Beach; and err...Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, let's play catch up.

First of all, before I forget, and this is way important, Julie and Eric will be playing bass and drums respectively with Sweatheart at the Silk City Lounge Wedmesday, November 23 at 11:00 p.m. Silk City is located at 5th and Spring Garden in Philly and it's going to be a really cool kick off to the Thanksgiving holiday. It will be a sell-out for sure because it's an annual tradition and always mobbed with partiers. On guitar is artist Thom Lessner, and on vocals are the absolutely fabulous Rose and Amanda. Just think B-52 type music but way better...they rehearsed at my house today and I was blown away. It only costs $5.00 to get in, and you can eat some really great food at the adjoining's the menu if you don't believe me. Of course this is way past my bedtime, but I will take a nap and will be there for sure. I know I'm biased, but Julie and Eric have been playing together for years and there's a tightness and perfection when they jam together that is pretty much unparalleled in any other projects in which they've been involved.

And while I think it's kind of lame for parents, especially parents of Rock School grads, to be serial posters on the School of Rock (SOR) forum board, I still love reading Paul's comments and was teary eyed this morning over this exchange, which appears in the "Ask the Uberlord" section of the forum:

Subject: Real Potential

Posted by Anonymous on 11/21/2005 at 11:40 PM
Ok, let's face it. There are tons of students at SORs all over the country. Obviously, very few will really make it professionally in the rock business. Of the students you know, which ones really have "rock-star potential"? Who do you think is really going to make it?

Der Uberlord
Super Administrator

Posted on 11/22/2005 at 12:03 AM

1st of all, please remember that the primary message of SOR is that hard work, dedication, and honesty in your work will greatly benefit you and your abilities, whatever you choose to do with your life.

Secondly, you don't have to "make it" to enjoy playing music. There are many SOR students, and there will be many, many, more to come. If the vast majority of them do nothing more than play in a band in college, or use their skills to make recordings at home, that is great. I never made it, but i would not trade my memories of trying for anything.

Also, making it is tough. There are LOTS of variables, including tons of luck, and a very conservative music industry to contend with.

That all being said, Eric Slick, Julie Slick, CJ, Branden King, Louis Graff, and Max DiMezza are all fantastic musicians who could easily have careers in the field and never work a day in their life.

Jeremy Blessing, Dom Malandro, Joe and Gina Randazzo are all amazing performers, and could easily be some kind of rock stars with the right breaks.

Coming up, Sara Zimm, Courtney Cox, Anna Marrinelli, and Sara Neidorf are well on their way to writing their own tickets.

The whole band Flamingo are great, and will due some things, together or separately, once they figure a few things out. Same with Atlas.

Kenny Lu and Bosco could easily play guitar for a living. Courtney Drew could play bass-once she learns to believe it herself. Madi-Diaz Svalgard I have always said has "it."

If I had to pick just one kid: Eric Slick. He will be a drum legend one day.

Yep, that's a post by Paul Green himself. Eric Slick will be a drum legend one day. Oh god, here come the tears again. But I know it's true. And of course Julie's going to be a star as well -- let's not forget Paul mentioned her, too. I know she's got a gig somewhere next week with Chuck Treece and I'll post details about that in a few days.

And one more note regarding Eric, you can now hear sound clips from some of the show he performed with Doctor Dark right here.

In other news...

So yeah, my book is finally available in a few brick and mortar book stores, most notably in Philadelphia at Voices and Visions Bookstore at the lower level of the Bourse Building, 4th Street between Market and Chestnut Streets. You can type "Three Days in New York City" in the search box provided on the site and order it on line as well. I will be talking with Voices and Visions about giving a joint reading with Leslie Van Newkirk, author of Crush, and look for more info on that in a future post. Les and I are discussing the possibility of doing a tandem reading thing in both New York and Philly and since she is just an awesome person/writer, that would be just too cool.

The reading in Virginia was a blast. I met a bunch of other authors published by Phaze, met a real dominatrix and her slave, attended a BDSM workshop...ha ha...I really wish I could go into detail here but the innocent must be protected. I suppose had I been interested I would have been "fed by a submissive" in a loose sense of the word but I wasn't hungry and turned down his kind offer of refreshments.

Speaking of food, for those of you food freaks, below is the official Slick family Thanksgiving menu. We made a unanimous decision a few years ago that in order to avoid stress at all costs and concentrate solely on what Thanksgiving means to us -- being thankful for each other and stuffing our faces with food cooked in my kitchen -- that our holiday would always just be the immediate family at our house.

So here's what we are eating for dinner on Thursday:

Seven pound turkey breast stuffed with my standard recipe - a mix of toasted baguettes, onions, celery and carrots, along with a beaten egg and tons of fresh herbs.

Corn pudding, which is self-explanatory and so good it's sick cos' I make it with heavy cream.

Macaroni and cheese for Eric because he wants to relive his childhood.

Cranberry chutney -- a mixture of fresh cranberries, oranges, diced apples, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, and a touch of vinegar.

Yukon gold mashed potatoes with crispy shallots.

String beans with ricotta cheese and bacon and string beans with just fresh tomato chunks and basil for Julie.

Eric wants a traditional lattice topped apple pie; Julie wants chocolate pecan pie though I just saw a recipe on T.V. yesterday that I want to do instead and have to run it by her though they used cranberries instead of chocolate chips. They made upside down individual bread puddings but they used croissants for the bread and the upside down part was caramel made from brown sugar and butter, pecans, and said cranberries. If I substitute chocolate, I think that'll be outrageous, especially topped with fresh whipped cream.


Anyway, that's all for now -- be back later with a review of the show tomorrow night and any breaking news, of course.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Robin Slick reads from Three Days in NYC in Virginia Beach tomorrow and Saturday; Eric Slick and his music

Eric Slick at Toad's Place in New Haven, Connecticut

So, here's some cool news. I got an e-mail today from Playgirl, and they want to publish an excerpt from Three Days in New York City! Do you think I'm a little bit excited about that? They are also planning an author profile in the magazine, so they asked that I send my bio and bibliography. Woo hoo!

And as I said, I'll be in Virginia tomorrow doing a reading from Three Days in New York City and then being fed by submissives -- which I still can't get over though an insanely funny writer pal of mine had to make me crazy by joking that's it's going to be grown men crawling around on their hands and knees serving canapes from between clenched buttocks which kind of ruined the moment for me (ha ha, not really, but his remark was hilarious, what can I say?) -- and then I have the actual book signing on Saturday, but in the meantime, here's what else is going on.

Eric will be sitting in on a song or two with Project Object tomorrow night at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. Read all about it and order tickets here.

Also, Eric is officially listed as drummer for Doctor Dark on his website so that's pretty cool. I see a sound clip of their show at Toad's Place will be up on the site soon which is awesome because these are some top class musicians. Check back from time to time...I also see the "about Eric" feature is under construction so all the more reason to visit the site again.

But look for some possible brand new and potentially mind blowing music news out of the Eric Slick camp next week...

Julie's got some exciting stuff in the works as well but of course I'm too superstitious to say anything further about that, either, until it actually materializes. Right now she's having a blast recording official Paul Green School of Rock Music poster artist extraordinaire Thom Lessner who has a fun music project on the side.

Anyway, in closing, below is a photo of my daughter, son, and their dad two months ago on an amusement ride which looked more like a death wish to me, but I love this picture because it pretty much captures them as they are -- INSANE! And beneath that photo, is one I absolutely adore of the whole Slick clan (minus me, the wussy photographer) about to risk their lives on yet another roller coaster from hell.


So I'm currently waiting on some other breaking news, and if anything should happen between now and my flight tomorrow morning, I'll be back! (Oh god, that sounded like the terminator. Kill me now, please)


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Phaze in the Pink

The Pink Banana Boutique Crystal B. Bright

So this Friday-Sunday, I'll be in Virginia Beach meeting fans and signing books. Here's the press release as well a newspaper article:

Erotica Book Signing for a Great Cause

Virginia Beach, VA – Eight erotica authors want to make readers feel good this holiday season. On Saturday, November 19, 2005 from noon to six p.m., authors from the publisher, Phaze, the erotic imprint of Mundania Press, will have a second erotica book signing called “In The Pink” at The Pink Banana Boutique, an adult toy store located at 352 Newtown Road in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The authors will sign copies of their CDs and print books with prices ranging from $3.50 to $15.00. A portion of the proceeds from all book sales during the signing will be donated to a leading breast cancer research foundation.

“I was thrilled at the reception that three Phaze authors had for their signing back in July,” says Stacey L. King, Phaze publisher. “I knew I wanted to do another signing at the store but I wanted to do something special. We all agreed that bringing in more authors would be great, and donating a portion of our proceeds to breast cancer research was the right thing to do.”

During the signing, customers can enter a drawing to win one of two (2) gift baskets filled with items from Phaze authors and from The Pink Banana Boutique. Authors will also be doing readings throughout the day.

For more information, please contact Crystal, manager at The Pink Banana Boutique, at (757) 671-8869 or Crystal Bright at (757) 619-1748.

And in today's Hampton Daily Press:

The Pink Banana Boutique, 352 Newtown Road in Virginia Beach, hosts "Phaze: In the Pink" noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. The event features nine authors - Devi Sparks, Leigh Ellwood, Madeleine Oh, Bridget Midway, Laura Bacchi, Jessie Verino, Jayelle Drewry, Petula Caesar and Robin Slick - and their books. Some proceeds from the event will be donated to breast cancer research. Admission is free.
Yeah, so that's where I'll be Friday. Tomorrow I have one of those days from hell - a 9:45 a.m. appointment at the blood pressure doctor (no, I haven't lost those ten pounds nor started an exercise program and no, no, I don't have a death wish, just an unhealthy love of food and unhealthy love of assuming the fetal position and staying that way); an 11:30 hair appointment at a fancy salon where they give you champagne and cookies and sometimes even chocolate covered strawberries...see, I'm not dumb, I booked the hair after the doctor but I still hate going anywhere where I have to sit still for two hours...and then I have to go to the post office and do mundane things like pay bills, figure out why they haven't successfully done the mail forwarding thing for me from my old office, where I haven't been since July 29 but still haven't been getting my mail delivered to my house addition to sending out an autographed copy of Three Days in New York City to a friend who actually sent me a paypal payment today...I didn't even know I could receive money that way; I only knew I could spend it...and then, if I have any energy left after that, I need to come home and seriously get caught up on NaNo or I will never have my 50,000 word novel completed by November 30 as per the rules of National Novel Writing Month.

Other than that, things are cool. Life is quiet on the music front though Eric is gigging right now at the Pontiac Grille and Julie's been recording a bunch of bands...but there's nothing out of the ordinary to report right now. I'm kind of bummed I'll miss the Project Object show at World Cafe Live this Friday because once again, Eric will be sitting in on drums on a song or two, but as I said, I'll be in Virginia. More on those events later. Just a little hint: Always worried about food, I asked the other Phaze authors if they were up for going out to dinner in Virginia Beach Friday night prior to the big signing Saturday. Apparently, I don't have to worry. We're going to be fed by submissives at a T.I.E.D event. Umm...T.I.E.D.? Somehow I don't think that's got anything to do with laundry detergent.

Err...I do believe I will do more "research" on that...otherwise, look for me to be happily munching solo at the nearby Cheesecake Factory. And no, that's not a joke. There really is a Cheesecake Factory and oh my god, it sounds like a dream come true. And by the way, also not a joke is the Phat Phuc Noodle House in London. Yep, it's true, this restaurant can be found on Sydney Street. And for the first time ever, I'm considering a tattoo.

Just kidding, just kidding.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

More odds from the sod and a friend of a friend of a friend knows Neil Gaiman!

The above is a new book by my pal, Leslie Van Newkirk. You can order it right here. Leslie asked me for an author quote for the book, and I was more than happy to oblige. This appears on the back cover:

'"Crush Dot Com" is a delicious, wild ride through New York City's singles scene. The story delivers both a poignant and hilarious commentary on our universal fear of loneliness and under-achievement in today's complex society. What an enjoyable read!" -Robin Slick, author of "Three Days in New York City."

On the front cover, Les was lucky enough to land a quote from our mutual good friend and rising superstar Ellen Meister. Not only does Ellen have a major book, Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA coming out this summer, she just sold her second book and here's how the announcement appeared at Publishers Marketplace:

Ellen Meister's THE SMART ONE, in which three sisters trying to shake their childhood labels of "the smart one," "the pretty one" and "the wild one," discover that there's no place like home (even after finding a dead body in an industrial drum beneath the house next door), again to Carrie Feron at Morrow, for publication in 2007, by Andrea Cirillo and Annelise Robey at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Yeah, I know, I hang out with some heavy hitters, don't I?

Ha ha - not only that, someone I should know but don't though many of my close friends do actually just hung out with my current heartthrob (not really -- just dig his writing and okay, his looks) Neil Gaiman in London. That would be Suw Charman. The reason I should know Suw is that she's also a member of Zoetrope Virtual studios, the international online writing community which I've discussed here many times -- where I've been a member for the past four years -- and our paths have crossed in some of the private offices there but never long enough to, um, bond. I know from her Zoetrope bio that we share the same interests; in fact, she's a music journalist. She's someone I've always wanted to get to know, but in checking her Zoe stats, apparently she has a life in the real world, cos' she hasn't signed on to Zoetrope since August. But it was just so weird to see her name in Neil's blog over and over and then I read her blog and I like totally ate my little homesick for England American heart out some more.

Ah well. I think I do have a higher power, and I think "she" has a very wicked sense of humor and adores torturing me. You have no idea how much.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Odds and Sods - part 969

Andy, drummer with McRad, and Matt Rothstein, Julie's bass playing boyfriend, prior to the show in...Liverpool? Guildford? Hmm...can't remember, probably because I wasn't there. By that time, I'd managed to successfully separate myself from the tour and happily went off on my own.

So I'm still in a funk since my return home to the U.S.; I can't quite put my finger on why but here's a couple of possibilities: (1) A life long dream was realized when I finally made that trip to the UK and now it's over; (2) I want to go back in a big way and stay longer than a week -- like, maybe forever; (3) I know I have to get really serious and finish the final revisions to my creative non fiction novel which means I need to stop fucking off with other projects; (4) I know that if I don't do (3) and do it really well, I will eventually have to go back to some sort of part-time "real" job because apparently I'm a bigger spender than I realized and haven't a clue as to how to budget.

Oh well.

But in other news, I was overjoyed this morning that the Democrats claimed solid victories in New Jersey and Virginia and that the Nazi Republican terminator was soundly defeated in California. So maybe there's hope for this country yet. But I saw a horrifying news report on BBC news last night (what, you thought I watched American news? Ha!) about Uganda. Ever since Bush took office, the AIDS virus is back on the rise. During the Clinton administration, they'd managed to cut the spread down to 4% with an active campaign to use condoms. Now, because most of their anti-AIDS funding comes from the U.S., the Bush administration has seen fit to see that all the money now goes to faith based organizations SOLELY in Uganda. They have decided that the condom campaign isn't good enough, they put ABSTINENCE in place, and all over Uganda, there are huge billboards with ABSTINENCE on them, not condoms. So it's a no brainer as to what's happening - all of the hard work of the medical profession is down the drain because of these insane religious zealots currently running our country. An entire African nation is being wiped out by AIDS.

Err...maybe that's what Bush is hoping?

Okay, must shift gears before I pop a blood vessel.

In music news, just a reminder that Eric and his band, Flamingo, will be at the Pontiac Grill at 6:00 p.m. this Sunday night. Julie's next gig with McRad is December 2.

And someone must be buying my book! My Amazon numbers were abhorent, but today I came downstairs and they are soaring! So thank you, thank you, thank you whoever you are, and I'm going to attach a link to Amazon one more time so that you, too, can join the masses reading Three Days in New York City. It's right here.

Oh, one more thing -- I will not be reading in New York on Monday -- I got an email last night from the guy who organized it saying he's no longer in charge. I'm kind of relieved. I'll be in Virginia Beach Friday-Sunday next week hawking Three Days in New York City and hopefully the sequel or at least talking up the sequel so that's enough travel for one week, eh? More on that later...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Some pics of the Slicks in the UK

So I've got no news at the moment...strange, huh. But yay, Julie finally found it in her heart to direct me to her photosite for a couple of pics of our UK trip. So like, here they are:

The first few are in Manchester. Up first is Julie and Matt in Albert Square.

The back of my head in Chinatown, Manchester (which is exactly like Chinatown, Philadelphia, even down to the arch currently under construction)

Roy (Leiana's drummer), Leiana, the back of my head, and Matt in Albert Square.

A cool street in Manchester.

The following series are from the show in Liverpool. I'm both sad and relieved I missed that show; and extremely happy that Matt didn't think it was too lame to take pictures because these are awesome. First up is Leiana's band - that's Roy, who is a kick ass drummer and also plays guitar, and Eric, her bassist.

Leiana and Eric


A couple more...

Andy, drummer for McRad

Chuck Treece of McRad and a fan, James Gregson

Chuck Treece and Andy

Julie Slick, bass player for McRad

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Quick note...

Just spoke to Julie on the fly and the McRad gig is not at 5:00 p.m. tonight, it's later in the evening and it's also not in Manayunk. As soon as I get the correct info I will post it here but if anyone reading this knows it, email me.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Robin Slick in Playgirl Magazine; Julie Slick gigging with McRad at the Bungalow, Eric Slick and Flamingo at the Pontiac Grille

Ha ha - yeah, it's true, I'm on page 29 of the December issue of Playgirl Magazine, already available to subscribers and in a bookstore/newsstand near you this Monday, November 7. And in real life, it's huge, it takes up an entire page! I know this surprises you all, you probably thought Robin Slick in Playgirl meant me dressed as a dominatrix with a nasty whip, forcing some poor guy I have shackled by the ankles to read my book.


So that's very cool, though I should mention that Phaze is not strictly ebook as Three Days in New York City is in fact a paperback, and if you are a Philly resident and should you wish to avoid ordering it online, it will be available next week at Voices and Visions Bookstore, 4th Street between Market and Chestnut, which is very, very cool. One, because they are like one of the last independent book sellers, and two, because they have a wonderful room solely devoted to local writers. I just happened on it by chance when I went to the Philadelphia Stories reading Tuesday night to hear a brilliant series of vignettes read by just an incredible local writer, Randall Brown. Also in the crowd was another extraordinary writer/artist pal of mine, Joseph Young.

Anyway, I know the above Playgirl article is kind of hard to read so use a magnifying glass. Ha! Just kidding, though I should also mention that it's not entirely accurate because obviously, Playgirl Magazine was furnished with that info a few months ago prior to publication. So to bring you up to speed, the sequel to Three Days in New York City is already finished, and it's called Another Bite of the Apple and Phaze already has it in their possession. Additionally, The Tour is no more, it's been retitled Babyboomer and it does not focus on Rock School, it focuses on a hipster babyboomer who struggles to come to terms with middle age and the fact that she's no longer considered cool while she tries to live vicariously through her rock star kids. So yeah, okay, it's creative non-fiction and the Rock School tour is merely a vehicle for my character to go through certain changes...Paul Green and other kids are not even mentioned. Sorry if this disappoints anyone.

So I know I promised to write about the bands with whom Julie toured in England, the beautiful and talented Leiana and the fucking genius that is Chuck Treece, but as I did some preliminary research, I realized there is just way too much material to put here now without further picking their brains, as well as gathering more info about the other musicians who accompanied them. So watch this space for updates as concerns print articles and interviews I intend to put together on this very cool, unique group of local musicians.

In the meantime, should you wish to catch Julie playing bass with McRad, she's gigging with them tomorrow as follows:

The Boils, McRad, Cranked Up!, Low Budgets, Kids United @ The Bungalow, 111 Cotton Street, Philadelphia, PA 5:00 PM. All Ages.

I believe 111 Cotton Street is in Manayunk. (calling the Atlas House, calling the Atlas House...hahahahaha....Atlas is a band of Rock School grads and those lucky bastards all share a house together in Manayunk, which is one of the coolest sections of Philly. Ah to be young and free...)

Oh actually, in just talking with Julie and Eric, I learned that Branden King, drummer for Atlas, will be sitting in as drummer for McRad for the Bungalow I'm gonna assume said Atlas will be out in force to support him. Branden is my second most favorite drummer in the world, next to Eric of course, and as I said, another Paul Green School of Rock Hall of Famer.

And you know Eric is gigging as well - he'll be at the Pontiac Grille on November 13, 2005 with his band, Flamingo, opening for another fantastic band, 722. I will of course be reminding everyone of that again next week.

Soo...I think that's the news for now but one can never be sure and if anything else comes to mind, I'll pop on for another post.

I'm currently doing that insane 50,000 word novel thing in 30 days during the month of November so it's kind of hard for me to keep up with the blog on a daily basis, but I'm trying, I'm trying.

Later xoxo

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Robin Slick finally gets to visit England...

An official UK rainbow

(Sorry about this -- I still don't have the benefit of the cool band and touristy photos Matt and Julie took which of course are on their laptops, but I did manage to get this one.)

So yeah, in case you haven't noticed the billboards I've posted all over the universe, I spent last week in England with my daughter, Julie, who plays bass with McRad. Her boyfriend Matt also came along, and well, what can I say, I'm finally able to write about it without crying. Meaning: I WANT TO GO BACK!

You have to understand -- being the music nut I am I've wanted to travel to the UK ever since I heard my first Beatle song. (Yeah, yeah - I probably said that somewhere here in another post, but it's just so true)(and wait...isn't that a lame Bad Company song...Johnny was a schoolboy, when he heard his first Beatle song? Yeah, it is. I knew it sounded familiar when I typed it). But you know, life got in the way...everything from when my Mom died and I became legal guardian of my little brother...then had kids of my own, blah blah blah. So how crazy that it was ultimately my daughter who made the dream come true; though okay, okay, I was planning on getting there within the next year or two anyway now that both kids are more grown up than I am.

Anyway, I really want to talk about the music but I want the accompanying photos and I should really make that a separate post. So let's make this one the tourist piece.

In a week's time, I got to see Manchester, Newcastle, Lancaster, Leeds, and London. I skipped over Liverpool, which was the final leg of the tour, because it was Halloween and well, I'm a wus frightened of punk rockers let alone punk rockers in masks. Okay, I'm more afraid of being moshed or thrashed, having had it happen to me once before as previously mentioned and not ever wanting to go through it again. Nah, the real reason is, I adored London and wanted to stay longer which is why I made the decision not to go on to Liverpool, but eventually I ended up going back to Manchester early because that's where the hotel was and we had to wake up early for an 11:00 a.m. flight home. Manchester is so much like Philadelphia I could not believe it, and what do I see there but a big sign announcing "Coming Soon: Urban Outfitters".

Hahahaha - that's the store that started in Philadelphia as an arty, hippie place selling everything from Indian shirts to bongs, but rapidly changed with the times so that now it's a staple for every rich suburban kid to buy their own $40 CBGB t-shirts in an effort to look as cool as their downtown counterparts, who ironically buy their clothing at thrift stores.

Newcastle was insane. One thing that troubled me about England in general, though, was the similar problem we have in Philadelphia and New York. Here, we have all this gorgeous architecture downtown - buildings erected 200 years ago -- and now because of outrageous rents in the city, the only ones who can afford their rentals are the big corporate chains. So imagine my dismay to see 500 year old buildings in the UK with the same atrocity - a Subway Sandwich Shop, a Starbucks, etc. in these structures which should be fucking museums. So Newcastle was especially disconcerting, because they have these gorgeous, cobblestone roads which are straight up and down (walking down them is fun; but while trying to make my way back up the hill and realizing that it was next to impossible for an out of shape, former smoker like me, I had this terrible vision of Julie having to fly me home in a body bag...the true end of my lifelong dream to be in the UK) and these crazy, ornate old buildings...and they are fucking chain stores. It's just so depressing.

Anyway, I love the accent; I love the culture. The following evening in Lancaster, when presented with our meal, we were told "You's is whose these is for". I laughed with delight -- just hope I didn't offend. When I went for a walk down Penny Lane -- and damn it, I thought it was the Penny Lane but that's not in Lancaster, it's in London -- I think -- and suddenly stumbled on a river practically adjacent to the street, I asked which river it was and was told "it's not a river, it's me radiator. It's sprung a leak."

Oh man. Such great, great stuff.

I broke away from the band altogether to explore some more in Leeds the following day. That was a very cool city, but again, I was struck by the similarities to both Philadelphia and New York, as well as a little bit of Boston. I wandered around; got an unexpected tour of their public library which is all stained glass and marble and just totally breathtaking. (and of course I didn't have the camera...I'm getting really nervous that the reason Julie and Matt haven't sent me photos yet is that I'm about to get 1,000 more photos of Matt. Ha! Oh well...Julie already just sent me one of Matt in Manchester in front of a beautiful church in Albert Square (?)(can't remember the name) which I would post now had she not sent it to me sideways and I have not a clue as how to photoshop it).

So now I'm getting hungry and there's cool little kiosks set up within an enclosed, outdoor mall type place. Okay, that's confusing. I mean, it's outdoors, but it's in a three or four block courtyard type setting where no cars are allowed and yeah, these little kiosks sell all kinds of interesting food, but what caught my eye was a UK staple, stuffed baked potatoes. Oh man, England is surely the land of the potato, and next to my family, writing, music, and's the potato that does it for me. So over the course of the week, I had them stuffed, fried, chips saturated in curry; and even some flavored with Thai Chicken seasoning. (I don't even want to know how they manage that one...just hope I'm not the first person to die of Avian flu via a chicken flavored chip but that of course would be poetic justice as well, I suppose).

But just as I'm about to order my potato, I look up and see a Virgin Records Megastore.

"Oh, let's go in there," I say excitedly, even though there's one in New York for fuck's sake and I have a no corporate chain policy when it comes to CDs. But...this was England, and I wanted to see if they carried my kids' CD (Rock School soundtrack) and really, just to browse and see if they had certain CDs I've been trying to find in the States for years...for example, the American Dream, whose album I've had since the seventies, briefly released their CD 20 years ago via Rhino Records. (Yeah, so like, if any of you reading this have this your price). I was so excited that as I passed through the open double glass doors leading into the store and was yapping a mile a minute as usual, I failed to see that there was a second set of glass doors and they were closed.

Ever walk head first into a thick, glass door? Ever do it while you're talking and walking fast?

Once again, that body bag flashed before my eyes.

I thought I had a concussion and I did a nice job on my kneecap, too.

I don't even remember what CDs I looked at...I kept touching my forehead to see if I was bleeding and I no longer wanted that potato, damn it.

But even though concussive and dazed, I had such an incredible time -- so amazing I'm still not sure if it really happened or it was a dream...and the day ended up with me getting seriously drunk on Stella Artois.

Yeah, it's true what they say about the pubs in England. They are everywhere and they are fucking fantastic. I'd be a full blown alcoholic if I lived there. The beer is so much better. In fact, I think next year I'm going to go on a beer tour of Europe. Yeah! But in the meantime, I promised my son a trip back there for his birthday in May, and I'm seriously thinking of renting a place in the lake district for an extended time so that I can write. Because just being there made my creative juices flow, and I know that I could probably knock out the first draft of an 80,000 word novel in a month.

So next it was on to London, and really, London is New York. Soho in London is Soho in New York. Well, okay, London's Soho is cooler. But that could just be me. I also hung out in the posh (and tourist) district by Victoria Station and also ended up in a section adjacent to Soho which could very well have been Times Square. was just all so incredible.

I'm probably leaving tons of stuff out so I may be back from time to time today to edit and add things.

Okay, so now that I've probably bored you all to tears, I solemnly swear that tomorrow I will talk about the music. Man, I met some really talented musicians on this tour and I'd really like to introduce you all to some of them via links, photos, and sound clips. Hey, I wonder if I can do sound clips on this blog. Gotta ask my son when he gets home.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More Les Paul w/ Eric Slick, Max DiMezza, and C.J. Tywoniak

The trouble with having a son for a drummer is that it's hard to get a good shot because he's always blocked by either cymbals or another musician. But good old Carolyn Pagnotta -- my son's girlfriend -- managed to get these pics of Les Paul watching Rock School Hall of Famers Eric Slick, Max DiMezza, and C.J. Tywoniak pay tribute to him despite a packed room and a tiny stage. You can see by the look of joy on Les Paul's face that he was wowed by Eric, Max, and C.J. To be honest, C.J.'s brilliant rendition of Brazil had my jaw dropping, too -- I'm used to C.J. being a shredder and to hear him execute that song so Les-like brought tears of joy to my eyes. And Max's bass playing is always wonderful...he's in a band called Atlas and I'm sure they must have a My Space site if anyone is inclined to go check them out. I think C.J. has a site as well - I'm so tired it's all I can do to write this post today let alone provide links but if you strike out, just write to me and I'll find them when I come back to life.

I'm still not ready to talk about England. There's just so much I want to tell, so much I can't tell...and as usual, I have a million photos but they are all on Julie and Matt's laptops so I may as well wait until I'm in a better head and I have the benefit of the photos to go with each little vignette.

Tonight, however, I will be at Voices and Visions bookstore on 4th Street for a reading on behalf of Philadelphia Stories where I am former fiction editor -- a brilliant writer friend of mine, Randall Brown, will be among the readers and I wouldn't miss that for the world. And today is the start of National Novel Writing Month - 50,000 words in 30 days -- so I've got to really get on with that right now because it means 3,000 words a day until November 30.

Piece o'cake.