Archive for the 'Family' Category


Things I love Erin more than

For a long time now, I’ve occasionally taken a moment to tell Erin something that I love less than her. This is, of course, a substantial list. It has gotten rather long over time, as I would glance over at her and say, for example, “I love you more than The LEGO Movie and Titleist Golf Balls.”

Since I’m going to get to marry her this afternoon, I thought I would share with you a few of the things that I love Erin more than. This is, you understand, a woefully incomplete list. There are many, many things I love less than her that are not represented here, simply because really, who has that much time to do a complete list? But for now, until I see her walking down the aisle, here’s a partial list of things I love Erin more than.

A&W Root Beer
AA Batteries
Action Comics #1
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
All you can eat salad and breadsticks
Aluminum Water Bottles
Andy Richter
Back to the Future Part II
Barbecue Fritos
Barq’s Root Beer
Bejeweled Blitz
Benjamin J. Grimm
The Blue Lion from Voltron
Bluebell Ice Cream
Blueberry Pancakes
Bob Sagat
Bottled Water
Breaking Bad
Bryan Cranston
Bugs Bunny
Cadbury Creme Eggs
Candy Crush
Cap’n Crunch
Carrot Cake
Cheese Grits
Cheese Pizza
Cheesy Pita Bread
Chex Mix
Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
Chocolate Bunnies
Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Chocolate Pickles
Christmas Crunch Cereal
Christmas Trees
Chuck Jones
Cinematic Titanic
Claw-Foot Bathtubs
Clerks II
Coke Zero
Color pencils
Comic Book Conventions
The Complete Works of Herman Melville
Conan O’Brien
The Constructicons all together (i.e. Devestator)
Corn Pone
Count Chockula
Cracker Barrel
Dalek/TARDIS Salt and Pepper Shaker Set
Drake’s Coffee Cake
The Dewey Decimal System
Digital Chickens
Don Knotts
Drive-In Movies
Ducky Momo
The Easter Bunny’s Chocolate Droppings
Egg Nog
Electric Blankets
The Electric Light Orchestra
Every German Gymnast
The Films of Matt Damon
Flintstones Push Pops
Forever Stamps
Freddie Mercury
French Toast
Fruit Stripe Gum
Garlic Bread
Garth Brooks
Geoff Johns
Ginger Ale
Girls with Scottish accents
Glazed Donuts
Glitter Paint
Grape Soda
Grilled Cheese
The Guild
The Hadron Supercollider
Hall AND Oats
Hershey kisses
Hot Dogs cut to look like Octopi
Hyperactive turtles
Ice Cold Spring Water
Ice Cream Cake
Injection Molded Plastic
The Internal Combustion Engine
Iron Man
Ironing Boards
Kettle Corn
Kinetic Balls
Kosher Dill Pickles
The Last Day of School
Lime Sugar Free Jell-O Cups
Lipton Green Tea
The Loch Ness Monster
The Lone Ranger
Lucille Ball
Macaroni and Cheese
The Magical Comedy of Mr. John Cleese
Malted Milk Balls
The Man-Eating Shark Saturday Night Live sketch
Marshmallow Peeps
Marvin Gardens
Maxwell House Coffee
Men’s Wearhouse
Michael Phelps
Mister Bean
The Mona Lisa
Monty Python
The Moon
The Mountains
The Movies of Jerry Lewis
MRI Scanners
The Music of Jerry Lee Lewis
The Music of Mr. Conway Twitty
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Nacho Cheese
Nasal Decongestant
National Novel Writing Month
Nestle Qwik
Not Being Sick
Olympic Bobsledding
One Froggy Evening
Optimus Prime
Pancakes, Blueberry
Park Place
Pasta Primavera
Paul Harvey
Penguin families
Period Costumes
Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
Pickled Beets
Pixie Dust
Pizza Bagels
A Platypus?
PERRY the Platypus!
The Power of Shazam!
Precious: Based on the novel Push by Saphire
Pop Rocks
Pop Tarts
The Prometheus and Bob Tapes
Promotional Giveaway Lantern Rings
Pulp Fiction
Pumpkin flavored foodstuffs
Pumpkin Pie
The “Puppet Master” series of films
Radial Tires
Radon Detectors
Rick Riordan
Ritz Crackers
Robin Sparkles
Ryan Styles
Salvador Dali
Santa’s Elves
The Seas
Seinfeld reruns
Sesame Street Old School DVDs
Slumdog Millionaire
Smoked Turkey
So Long and Thanks For All the Fish
Socratic Method
Spaceballs: The T-Shirt
Spaceballs: The Coloring Book
Spaceballs: The Lunch Box
Spaceballs: The Breakfast Cereal
Spaceballs: The Flamethrower (Da kids love this one)
Spirit Halloween Superstores
Spring Rolls
The Stars
The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man
String cheese
The Sun
Swizzle Sticks
This List
The Tick (animated series)
The Tick (live action series)
Tide with Bleach
Totino’s Pizza Rolls
Traffic Cones
Troll 2
Twenty Percent Off Sales
Vinylmation Figures
Wayne Brady
Whipped Cream
White Chocolate Reese’s Cups
The Works of Agatha Christie
The World and Everything in It


In 2013…

I will not be posting a list of New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions are vague and half remembered and frequently destined to fail. But 2012, in most of the ways that matter, was a good year for me. And I want 2013 to be good as well. So rather than Resolutions, I’m going to tell you my goals for 2013.

• Keep writing. I have twice as many items in the ebook market today than I did on January 1, 2012. I don’t expect to double again, but by 2014 I want you to have THE PYRITE WAR, OTHER PEOPLE’S HEROES 2 (title TBD), REEL TO REEL: LUNATICS AND LAUGHTER and an undetermined number of short pieces in the market.
• Get better at marketing. Having stuff available is great, but if nobody knows who I am or what I’ve done, what does it matter? I need to get my name out there.
• Get more involved in the creator community. I’ve been really lucky to be involved with my frequent cover artist Jacob Bascle and the fine folks of the New Orleans comic scene, and I find those relationships to be satisfying personally and inspiring creatively. I love that. I want more of it.
• Along with Erin, plan a wedding that rides the line between being affordable and sane and giving her the fairy tale she deserves. Prepare myself for the inevitability that I will never again complete a meal, snack, or beverage without her stealing some unless it has nuts in it.

There are other things I would like, of course, other things I want, but these are the things over which I have the most direct control, so for now, I’ll leave it at that… And wish you all a wonderful, Happy New Year.


A very good day at the zoo

“So what do you want to do today?” Erin asked me. I didn’t actually have an answer. She didn’t know it, but I wanted to think of something nice, something special, something she would remember…

“How about the zoo?” she suggested. My mind started racing. The zoo? I can’t do it at the zoo, can I? Well… maybe… I guess that might be–

While I was thinking, my face must have shown a little hesitation, because she started suggesting alternatives. “Or we could do the Honey Island Swamp Tour.”

Not on the Swamp Tour. Not on the Swamp Tour.

“The zoo sounds like fun,” I said.

We’ve been to the Audubon Zoo before, of course, but it had been a couple of years and, really, it’s the sort of thing that always has plenty of repeatability. It’s a fun little outing and, on a Tuesday in November in New Orleans, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. We went in (she bought the tickets because on the way she managed to coerce me into calling the Swamp Tour people and making us a pair of reservations for Wednesday) and started to go through the exhibits. She spent a long time taking pictures of the elephants, we took silly pictures together in front of the fountain, we saw the White Tiger and the monkeys and the alligators.

And throughout, I kept looking for a chance to do it. Too many people here. We’re standing on a wooden bridge, what if I drop it? Not now, that vulture just pooped.

I thought I would have a chance in the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit. She was sitting on a rocker in a mock-up of an old swamp store front. There was no one around. We talked and I tell her I love her and how much she means to me and–

And she saw the wasp nests overhead and said, “Nope!” and started walking away.

“There aren’t any wasps here!” I said. “I don’t think those are even real!”

“Nope!” She kept going so I jogged after her. After a few minutes she says, “I interrupted something really sweet, didn’t I?”

“Kind of,” I said.

We kept walking and looking at the exhibits. Again and again, other people show up and break the moment, or I can’t find a good place to stop, or there’s an emu staring at us that’s kind of creeping us out.

Finally, we went to the sea lion exhibit. She loves the sea lions. She could stand there and watch them swim around all day. After a few minutes, we went to the bottom part of the exhibit, a secluded little spot where you can watch them swim through the glass. She took out her camera to take a “blue picture” of the two of us, lit by the sunlight coming through the water. She didn’t know, when she took the photo, I already had it in my hand behind her back.

She looked at the picture. “The only thing that would be better is if we turned around and there were three sea lions waving at us.”

“The only thing?” I said.

“Well… not the only thing.”

“What could be better?” I asked.

“If you had a puppy in your pocket,” she replied.

“I don’t have a puppy,” I said. “They don’t fit in your pockets.”

“Okay,” she said.

“But this does,” I said, and I took out the ring.

After that other things were said, other questions asked and answered, but it was a little bit of a blur and I don’t remember them exactly and it’s none of your damn business anyway. There was one important word.


And she said it.


Happy Birthday Addie

My brother Kerry and his wife Kayla welcomed their first child today. Adalyn Renee was born at noon, and everybody is doing great.

Good day. Good, good day.

(Don’t worry. I worked on The Pyrite War in the waiting room.)


A wonderful week with a wonderful girl

Erin and I have been together for quite some time now… since before the days when Facebook and Twitter (and now, I suppose, Google+) were hard at work keeping everybody appraised of what everybody else was doing at any given moment of the day. As a result, I sometimes worry that my compositions telling the world how we enjoy our adventures together have become redundant. But I enjoy telling and sharing, and I know Erin enjoys it as well. So while you may well know an awful lot of what I’m about to say if you follow us on those aforementioned social networking sites, that’s okay. It was worth living all over again.

  • Erin arrived on Sunday, July 3. This wasn’t a trip that was planned months in advance — just a few weeks ago, Erin realized she could sneak in a visit with me and my family in time for our annual Fourth of July extravaganza. Being an extravaganza on the Fourth, though, that meant there was an awful lot of work to do on the Third. After I picked Erin up from the airport and got us lunch, she was sweet enough to help my mother watch my niece, Maggie, while I joined my father, brother, and brother-in-law in assembling the tents for the barbecue and taking care of other such preparations. After it was all done, we went out for dinner and then headed our to the St. Charles Parish Independence Day Fireworks, held (as always) on July 3. We got there a little later than expected, however, and Erin and I joined my sister Heather, her husband Will, and little Maggie on the side of the interstate watching the fireworks from a distance. And despite some mosquito invasions, it was still great.
  • Monday was the bash. My family has had these barbecues for as long as I can remember, and once again Ama was flooded with Petits, Faucheuxs, and numerous other families that have married into or befriended ours over the years. There was — as always — way too much food, but there was an unexpected surprise this year. My family has done this for over 30 years, and on all but a handful of occasions, the event has been soaked by rain. This year: not a drop. So we all got to swim, there was a marathon Pictionary session, we ate several herds of grilled animals and several vats of homemade ice cream, and everybody went home happy.
  • On Tuesday, the excitement calmed down, Erin and I got down to a more conventional visit for us — beginning with helping to babysit Maggie while my sister was at work. Maggie was little more than a month old the last time Erin saw her, and now she’s close to nine months, so she was looking forward to playing with her again. She also introduced Maggie to her friend Wash T. Dynosaur, the traveling Apatosaurus. After Maggie settled down we headed out — I got Erin (and Wash) a snowball that matched the pendant I gave her for her birthday, we did a little shopping, and went to see what has become my favorite movie of the year so far — Super 8. I’ve seen it before, but Erin hadn’t, and she was very satisfied in her choice of film. (She also got some Raising Cane’s chicken, something she can’t yet get in her home state of Pennsylvania.)
  • Wednesday was the day we began to get adventurous. Erin, being more of a traveler than I am, was looking to do things we’d never done before. We decided on a tour of Destrehan Plantation, one of the many gorgeous old plantation houses that line the Mississippi River here in Louisiana. I’ve been to the Plantation many times for various events, but I don’t think I’d ever taken the tour before, so we both got an education before heading out for some more shopping (it was Wednesday, new comics had come out), then meeting up with my family for dinner at the Quarter View restaurant in Metairie.
  • Our adventures continued on Thursday as we traveled to Baton Rouge, a place Erin has wanted to go for some time. We realized early that we would have to do this again, as there were just too many things to do in that lovely city than we could accomplish in one day. We did manage to get lunch at Cheeburger Cheeburger, found a used bookstore Erin located online, and hit the Mall of Louisiana. Later, we met up with my brother Chip and his wife Kayla, who live in nearby Gonzales, and they took us to a great Mexican place for dinner. It was a great little visit, especially since (living in Gonzales as they do) they don’t get to join us as often as the rest of my family.
  • On Friday we headed into the French Quarter in New Orleans, something we’ve done many times before, but always enjoy. But my friends, I’ve got to tell you something. Friday… was… hot. I’m talking about “gallons of sweat cascading down your face” hot. After a few hours walking around and talking pictures of Wash at local landmarks, we headed off to the New Orleans Area for our next “new thing.” Will — an athletic trainer whose job happens to include working the New Orleans Voodoo arena football games — got us tickets to the team’s final home game of the season. We met up with Heather there, bought some dry Voodoo shirts to change into (we’d sweat through our other ones) and enjoyed the festivities. The Voodoo didn’t have a great season, but we had fun.
  • Saturday was the day we got together with my friends, something we try to do at least once each time she’s in town. We met up at Izzo’s Illegal Burrito (it’s as good as it sounds) before heading back down into the French Quarter. After a few hours of wandering around, we decided to find some place a little cooler and went into Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans. With our semi-regular Vegas trips, Erin and I are old hands at casinos, and we find we really do enjoy doing them together, especially when we come out ahead. The rest of our group didn’t fare as well as we did (sorry about losing that parking garage ticket, Mike), but we put in $20 and came out up $139. Not too bad. Afterwards, we all had dinner at a new TGI Friday’s that opened in Metairie — good food, but you could tell it was a new restaurant. The servers were overwhelmed. I’ll go back to the restaurant, but not for a few months.
  • Sunday was the day Erin went home, which is always sad, but was made worse in that she had an early flight. We managed to have lunch before I had to take her off to the airport and fare her well, but it wasn’t as bad as it sometimes is. We’re going to see each other again in just a couple of weeks, when we travel to Maine together for a friend’s wedding.

It was a great time, and as always, I’m left more in love with her than ever. If you spent a few minutes with her like I have, I know you’d feel the same.

Here are some photographic highlights of the trip. If you want, you can see more in my Flickr album: Family Summer 2011.

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Good week

It’s been a fine week with Erin, but it’s not done yet. We’ve hit a Plantation house, a Voodoo game, the French Quarter, and today we’re hanging with my friends. Expect regular updates to resume on Monday.

In the meantime, I’ve added a handy new set of links to the right-hand side of the page. If you look under the twitter feed, you’ll see “Blake’s Books For Sale.” It’s the handy-dandy way to find all of my projects currently available for purchase on the web. It shall be updated.


A quiet week for me…

Just wanted to pop in and explain my lack of updates this week. Erin is in town, we’re spending time together, so things like the ol’ blog take a back seat. Hope you all understand. Have a great week!


Conversations With My Sister: Ugly Babies

So the family is sitting around, watching my six-month old niece roll around on a blanket, which is a frequent past time for us these days. And my sister suddenly says the following:

HEATHER: I’m so glad I didn’t have an ugly baby. ‘Cause I’ll be honest, that’s something I was worried about. So many people have ugly babies and don’t even know it.

The rest of us, including six-month-old Maggie, all just kind of stared at her.


Conversations are not transcribed verbatim. They are altered for length, to provide appropriate context, and to make them funnier whenever necessary. Frankly, all you can count on in these posts is that at some point, I had a conversation with somebody about some subject.


Erin, Vegas, Love

Every time Erin and I have a trip together, be it in Louisiana, Pittsburgh, or someone else entirely, I’ve taken the time to write a detailed yarn about it afterwards. That’s gotten a bit harder to do as time goes by, not because my love for Erin has abated in the slightest (quite the opposite), but because it’s getting harder to think of new things to say. Also, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I often feel like I’ve already covered everything that happened, such as on our trip to Las Vegas last week:

  • Sunday: Erin’s flight is delayed. As this happens on roughly 80 percent of the trips in which she flies, neither of us are surprised. It is a bit inconvenient, however, as we are supposed to be checked in to our hotel — the Stratosphere — by 11 p.m. and now we don’t have a chance to get there until 2 a.m.
  • Monday: We’re supposed to borrow a car from Erin’s dad for the trip, but he’s not feeling well and is unable to meet up with us. Instead, we take the ride to the top of the Stratosphere and take in the best view of Vegas, provided you aren’t afraid of heights, which I am. (I was actually okay up there for the most part, because it was enclosed. But I wasn’t getting too close to the glass…) Erin also succeeded here in getting shirts for both of her nieces, one of whom had put in an order for a purple shirt, the other for pink. That night, we caught a cab to the Strip where we met up with my friends Jason and Andrea, who also happened to be in Vegas that week. We walked the strip for a while, topping things off with a wonderful dinner in an Italian place in the Miracle Mile. It’s the only place in Vegas where you can have a classy Italian feast sitting “outside” of the restaurant, and look across the plaza to see a 20-foot fiberglass stripper.
  • Tuesday: Again, Erin’s dad was unavailable. We decided to rent a car, picked up Jason and Andrea, and went down to Fremont Street. This is “old” Vegas, with some of the classic casinos and joints, live musicians and street performers, and the world’s largest LCD screen overhead, flashing a musical show every hour on the hour. We went there last year and did it again this time, stopping in for a prime rib dinner at a place Jason found, and Erin found a stuffed puppy dog that we decided would be a perfect present for my niece, Maggie.
  • Wednesday: I’m a geek, which means that on Wednesdays I need to go to a comic shop, even in Las Vegas. After finally meeting up with her dad at the Stratosphere brunch buffet, Erin and I sought out a place we’d been to before called Maximum Comics, a very nice (and female-friendly) shop that’s a lot of fun to visit. It also helps that it’s only a couple of stores down from a place called Rocket Fizz, which is full of sodas and candies from all over the country, many I’d never heard of before and others I didn’t think were still in production. We also walked the Strip a bit more, with visits to two of my favorite shops, the Coca-Cola store and M&M’s World, where I picked up another Maggie present.
  • Thursday: We indulged Erin’s love of nature (which, I confess, is greater than mine) with a drive up to Red Rock Canyon. While I’ll never be a nature boy, this is a really lovely national park, with a fantastic visitor’s center well worth the trip before you begin the 13-mile drive through some of the most gorgeous mountains in the world. I’m led to believe that these mountains are also the 5th most popular destination for serious rock climbers. I’ll take their word for that. We made it back to the city in time for dinner with Erin’s dad, his wife, and Erin’s aunt and uncle. We capped off the night with a visit to the Rio hotel and casino, where we saw their “show in the sky” — a Mardi Gras-style parade with floats running along a track in the ceiling. As a New Orleans native, I was very impressed with the look of the floats, less impressed with the bead-throwing prowess of the performers.
  • Friday: Jason and Andrea were flying out Friday afternoon, so we met up that morning to catch a movie (Battle: Los Angeles, which actually wasn’t that bad) and have lunch at the Orleans casino. We then bid them farewell and went on for our longest day on the strip — and also our most profitable. We won small amounts of money at the Imperial Palace and Paris Casinos, the latter of which included me showing Erin how to play roulette. We only won $10 at the roulette table, but it was a lot of fun regardless. We began a system of playing the same $20, cashing out any time we went over $30, pocketing the difference and continuing on with just the original $20. By the end of the night, we were up about $70, which we decided to put towards dinner at the strip’s newest restaurant, the Sugar Factory. After putting in our orders, we were told that there was a “wrinkle” in the kitchen and the restaurant couldn’t serve any hot food. It’s a good thing this place also has a candy store, because a restaurant that can’t cook won’t last long. Erin, whose heart had been set on the chocolate fondue dessert, was understandably disappointed, but cheered up when we got to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, which featured great food, strong drinks, the best waiter we’d had on our whole trip, and a great live band performing.
  • Saturday: On our last day in Vegas, we checked out of the Stratosphere and then took our our still-viable $20 from the night before, playing a bit more. Erin wound up closing the trip winning $42 on a “Deal or No Deal” machine and we decided to quit while we were ahead. Our flights weren’t until that evening, so we had time to do a lot of things we still wanted — lunch at The Egg and I (our favorite breakfast/brunch place in Vegas), a search for a second comic shop (which was a little disappointing), one last trip to the Coke Store and M&M’s World (where I finally got to see the free 3-D movie, something that had evaded me in the last three visits), and a bit of cruising which brought us to a Disney Character Store, where remainders from Disneyland were sent and sold at a discount. We’re going to have to go there again. Finally, we made it to the airport where — fortunately — we were both flying out of the same concourse. For the first time, we got to go to the gate together and I kissed her goodbye before going back my own flight, a red eye about two hours later.

This is the short version of the story, of course. It was a wonderful trip, and I’ve got a ton of pictures to share. I’ll include a slideshow here and send you on to my Flickr album as well. But I’m not quite done yet. Erin and I have one more tradition that we’ve done on every visit we’ve ever had: we write each other notes. It started on our first trip, where I wrote her a little letter and left it for her to read, and she did the same for me. Since then it’s become a tradition. The problem with having all day together on the last day of the trip is that neither of us remembered to do it in secret until we realized we’d have no other time to do anything in secret. So I promised her I’d send her one later.

I started to write it here, to let the world to see, because I thought that would be a romantic gesture. Halfway through it, I stopped because I realized it’s too personal. It’s just for us. But here’s the gist of it:

I love Erin more than anything or anyone I’ve ever known, I’m thankful every day that she’s a part of my life, and everything in my world is better because she’s in it.

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Even more pictures available in my Flickr album.


From my wonderful girl on Valentine’s Day…

A priority mail envelope full of sweet. I love you, Erin. Thank you.

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