Posts Tagged ‘family

02
Jun
12

An open letter to Disney and Muppet Studios

To the powers that be at the Walt Disney Company and Muppet Studios:

I’d like to tell you about my niece, Maggie. Maggie is 19 months old and completely in love with the Muppets. She can recognize Kermit on the spine of a DVD from a wall of over 500 cases. She carries her Walter doll everywhere she goes. She is not yet speaking in complete sentences, but she will sing along with “Mahna Mahna.” Her current record for watching The Muppets is four times in one day, and it would have been higher had her parents not carefully snuck in some of the other DVDs when she wasn’t paying attention.

Although the most recent film, The Muppets, is her favorite, Maggie has gleefully consumed every Muppet movie and television special currently available on DVD, as well as the first three seasons of The Muppet Show. When she sees me, her Uncle Blake, working on my computer, she gives me pleading eyes until I hoist her onto my lap and start finding clips of Kermit, Gonzo and the others on YouTube. The number crunchers at Google probably find it rather unusual that a 34-year-old man can spend upwards of an hour watching the same clips over and over and over and over and over again.

We’re trying to branch out. We’ve started sneaking episodes of Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock into the rotation, and although Maggie enjoys these programs as well, her heart belongs to the Muppet Show Muppets.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful. I’m a Muppet fan from as far back as I can remember, and if Maggie is going to be obsessed with something, I’m glad it’s the Muppets instead of some of the truly insipid shows that are on the air for the preschool set right now. (I’m not going to name any names, but I’m sure you can think of a few.)

The thing is, we’re running out of stuff. Oh sure, Maggie is perfectly happy watching the same Muppet movie over and over (and over and over) again, time after time, but for myself, her grandparents, and especially her parents, we’re really starting to crave new material.

Which brings me to the point of this letter. Please. For the love of God. Get the next Muppet movie made as fast as you can.

And while we’re waiting, why not release the last two seasons of The Muppet Show on DVD to help tide us over? And for that matter, the 22 episodes of Muppets Tonight? (I’d ask for Muppet Babies too, but I understand the legal hurdles involved with clearing all of the short film clips that program included that make such a DVD highly improbable.) I would have happily purchased these DVDs to add to my personal collection even before Maggie was born. Now, they’re practically a necessity.

We need — desperately — more Muppet product. And you, my friends, are our only hope.

In closing, let me just introduce you to the little girl you’ll be disappointing if you don’t produce these DVDs as quickly as possible:

Seriously. How can you say no to that face?

24
Apr
12

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.)

13
Sep
11

A good kind of busy

I have a lot of work to do. I was going to do a lot of it tonight. But my sister and her husband’s work schedules happened to overlap an hour or so, and I got recruited to babysit.

It’s worth putting off the work.

Still, I’ve got a column due tomorrow, I’ve got reviews I should have done, and I’ve gotta get more work done on The Light Man.

Also, because I’m a stupid, stupid person and a glutton for punishment, I’ve started a Tumblr account. I’m the sort of person who always wants to try out new gadgets, new technology, and new ways to communicate, but I’ve already got a couple of blogs, a Facebook account, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn… what was I going to use Tumblr for that I wasn’t doing already?

A few days ago, an idea occurred to me. I’ll use Tumblr for “story bursts.” A Story Burst can be many things: my thoughts about a character or property I don’t own, random idea chunks that I may or may not want to play with later or also pieces of art that I find inspirational, exciting, or just plain cool. Plus, I’m going to use it when I’m writing to post the occasional fun quote or line from my work-in-progress. If you don’t want to get a Tumblr, I don’t blame you. You won’t have to get one to see this. I’ve got it set up to automatically post anything from Tumblr to Twitter and Facebook. You follow me there, you’ll see what I post on Tumblr.

And if you’ve got a Tumblr of your own, I’d appreciate a follow. I’m new there.

12
Jul
11

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

25
Apr
11

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.

HEATHER: What?

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.

12
Feb
11

Good days…

…are those you get to spend with a lot of people you love for no reason other than the fact that someone decided it was time for everybody to get together.

Hope you all have one like that soon.

26
Dec
10

Merry Day After Christmas…

I know some of you guys are anxiously awaiting this week’s 2 in 1 Showcase podcast. I can’t blame you, the podcast is AWESOME. But, this being the day after Christmas, I’ve got a family thing I’ll be going to in a little while, and don’t have time to sit in front of the microphone. You’ll still get your Showcase, peeps, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

The good news is, that means we can push back the voting int he 2010 Showcase Awards one more day. If you haven’t done so already, hit me up with an e-mail at Showcase@cxpulp.com with your votes for the best comics of the year, as selected from the nominations made by Chase, Kenny, and myself. Your nominees are…

Best Ongoing Series:
Action Comics
Booster Gold
Fantastic Four
Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors
The Walking Dead

Best Miniseries or One-Shot:
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade
Justice League: Generation Lost
The Last Unicorn
Shadowland: Ghost Rider:
Superman: Earth One
Untold Tales From Blackest Night

Best Storyline
Adventure Comics, “Legion Origins”
Batman, Inc.
Booster Gold: Deja Blue and Gold

Deadman’s Quest from Brightest Day
Superman: Grounded

Best New Series
Birds of Prey
Darkwing Duck
Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors
I, Zombie
Morning Glories

Best Writer or Writing Team
Gail Simone (Birds of Prey/Secret Six)
Ian Brill (Darkwing Duck/Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers)
J. Michael Straczynski (Brave and the Bold, Superman, Superman: Earth One, Wonder Woman)
Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis (Booster Gold)
Paul Cornell (Action Comics, Knight and Squire, Soldier Zero)
Tom DeFalco (Archie, Spider-Girl, Thunderstrike)

Best Artist or Art Team
Mike Norton (Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam)
Nicola Scott (Secret Six, Teen Titans)
Pascal Ferry (Thor)
Pete Woods (Action Comics)
Rob Liefeld (Deadpool Corps)

Title Deserving of Wider Recognition
Batgirl
Life With Archie: The Married Life
The Lone Ranger
Savage Dragon

Best TV Series
Community
Fringe
Lost
No Ordinary Family
The Walking Dead
Smallville

Best Movie
How to Train Your Dragon
Inception
Iron Man 2
Predators
Red
Toy Story 3

The Next big Thing
Anti-Social Networks
Larfleeze
Nick Spencer
Turning Fairy Tales into Teen Dramas
Waffle-Based Faith

Merry Christmas, friends!

30
Nov
10

Thanksgiving Week With Erin

IMG_0396It’s incredible, really, how much things can change in a short period of time. When Erin and I first got together, I began the tradition of marking each of our visits with one another with a photoblog, first on my old LiveJournal, and now here. But thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare, it seems likely that most of you actually followed along with us as the events happened. But Erin and I love having this sort of record of our time together, so I hope you’ll all indulge me as I talk about how we spent last week, the week of Thanksgiving, together.

IMG_0083Erin came in on Sunday and, as you may imagine, immediately wanted to see my sister Heather and her new baby, Maggie. Erin has of course been following the Keller family online, but she was anxious to see the baby in person. And really, who can blame her? The kid is damned cute. She’s already mastered the art of picking up her head and looking at you. She has not, however, gotten the hang of putting her head back down again. Fortunately, neither Erin nor I, nor Maggie’s parents, typically wear sharp objects, so there’s little danger of her hurting herself when her little head invariably flops down on whoever is lucky enough to be holding her at the moment. We went out for dinner with the family Sunday night, where Heather and Will joined Erin and I, plus my parents, as we sat down for a meal at a restaurant and proved that we were all perfectly damn happy watching the baby sleep in her car seat at the end of the table.

The next day, Erin and I went out for lunch at Izzo’s Illegal Burrito, a delicious little place I’ve been telling her about for some months, then caught a screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Erin was seeing the movie for the second time, but I was going in fresh. We both enjoyed the movie quite a bit. Afterwards, we did a little shopping and headed home. We weren’t looking for a busy night, since the next day was supposed to be packed. On Tuesday, we loaded up and drove across Lake Pontchartrain so Erin and I could do something we’ve been planning for quite some time — a tour of the Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, Louisiana. Erin loves this Louisiana-based beer, and in fact the only commercially-available beer I’ve ever found that I actually like is an Abita product (their seasonal Strawberry Harvest blend, which typically means I can only drink beer for a brief window between March and June). We had a great lunch at the Abita Brew Pub (their original facility, now a restaurant) before going to the factory, where we made a startling discovery. Erin claims that I didn’t read the website properly before we left home that morning, but my version of the story is a little different. I believe that we suffered a sudden, spontaneous power surge which briefly allowed our wireless router to actually pierce the internet veil of a parallel universe — one almost identical to our own but with one crucial difference: in this parallel universe, unlike our own, the Abita Brewing Company offers tours of its facility on Tuesdays. In our dimension, however, it does not. We decided to return on Friday.

Wednesday was a big day for us, thanks to some smart thinking by my buddy Jason. He and his wife Andrea asked us to accompany them on the New Orleans Cocktail Tour, a great afternoon featured by Gray Line tours. This is a walking tour of the French Quarter, where the guide takes you to several notable bars and restaurants and tells you the history of the building and the company, as well as some of their signature drinks. He also stops at various places along the way, giving you more great information. What makes the tour even better is the fact that there are so many places in New Orleans that are a part of it — the tour is pretty much never the same four stops twice, making it the sort of thing you can do over and over again and not get bored. Our little group visited the following spots:

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Muriel’s French Quarter, a lovely restaurant that we’ve sworn to come to some time for lunch. The place is gorgeous and has a really interesting history, including one of New Orleans’ legendary ghosts. It also has two really good drinks, the Pimm’s Cup and the Fleur De Lis:

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Next was the Court of Two Sisters…

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…another fantastic establishment which supposedly features a famous brunch buffet that Erin and I, again, have sworn to partake of in the future. Here, I tasted a traditional Mint Julep, while Erin got (what I think we both agreed was) the best drink on the tour, the Bayou Blast:

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Next was Arnaud’s, the sort of restaurant I’d love to visit, but I wouldn’t want to spend the money on. It’s a bit more highbrow than my usual fare. It does, however, have a more reasonably-priced adjoining restaurant, Remoulade’s, which is where the four of his had dinner after the tour ended. And the food was great.

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We had drinks at their bar, the French 75. Our drinks included, appropriately, the French 75 and the New Orleans standard Sazerac:

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I was still feeling the Sazerac when we made our last stop at the Bombay Club, a great Martini Bar that featured a live jazz band and an array of dessert-based martinis.

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I didn’t want to drink anymore, but I tasted both of Erin’s Martinis, and I approved of both the German Chocolate and the Mistress (a non-cream based sweet with a Hershey’s Kiss at the bottom):

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With the tour over, we walked back to Remoulade’s for dinner then continued walking New Orleans for a while, Jason showing Erin places she missed and eventually taking us back to a place he’d gone to on a previous tour, Tony Seville’s Pirate Alley Cafe:

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This quaint little place was right next door to St. Louis Cathedral and embraced its Pirate theme wholeheartedly. I got Erin the book our tour guide had written about New Orleans bars, History With a Twist, Lemon and Lime, and Jason treated her to her first drink of real (and, may I add, totally legal in Louisiana) Absinthe:

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I tasted this one too, and may I say, Oh my GOD, what the HELL are you people thinking sweet mother of God I understand now why this drink was illegal until three years ago! In other words, it was kind of strong.

Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving. We watched the parade together, while Erin sweetly allowed me to catch up on the NaNoWriMo writing I didn’t get to do the previous day, and then it was off to spend the day with family. As always, we spent the afternoon with the Petit clan, including my father’s brothers and sisters and their children, then in the evening we went on to my mother’s family, the Faucheux clan. In both cases, most of the photo opportunities mainly involved passing around my niece like a hot potato nobody wanted to get rid of…

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Perhaps the crowning achievement of the night, photographically, was getting my grandmother, mother, sister and niece together for a picture of four generations of Faucheux women:

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IMG_0316Friday was take two on our effort to visit the Abita Brewery. This time, my internet browser was functioning properly and we got there on a day which actually did feature a tour. Or, as my cousin Jennifer remarked, “an excuse to drink free beer.” When you arrive for the tour, which is free, you’re escorted to the bar, where you can taste Abita’s regular brews for free. Again, not being much of a beer drinker, I opted for their fantastic root beer.

Once everybody was checked in — and I do mean everbody, this tour was packed — we were shown an informative video about how beer is made before the tour began. Now I want to reiterate, I really did have fun, so the snarkiness inherent in my description of the tour should not be misinterpreted as a warning not to attend. Basically, all that happens on the tour is that you’re taken into a room full of vats of various liquids that are on their way to turning into beer. Then, the guide tells you how beer is made, which of course was also explained to you in the video you just watched. You then return to the bar for more samples. Fun? Yes. But in terms of expediency, the guide could simply have said, “Remember that video you just watched? This is where we do that stuff.”

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The tour over, we returned to New Orleans for dinner at Star Steak and Lobster house, a fantastic little place Erin found on Restaurants.com, and a little more shopping, before heading home. Saturday again featured family/Maggie time, as we watched the little one while Heather and Will had lunch. It was during this time that I took the greatest photograph I, or anybody else, has ever taken:

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It’s the face Maggie is making, I think. I mean, look at that face. Every time I see this picture I start giggling. Is it just because I’m a new uncle? Because if that’s the case, I’m okay with that. Seriously, guys, I totally recommend becoming an uncle, provided that your niece is as cute as mine, which I’m sorry to tell you probably isn’t possible.

Oh, and just in case you think Uncle Blake didn’t sneak in some time holding Maggie…

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After lunch, we met up again with Jason and Andrea, as well as Mike and Nicole, Daniel and Lauren, and a last-minute addition (as he just got in from working offshore that afternoon) Kenny for a screening of Disney’s Tangled. The general consensus was that the movie was pretty good. If you want more details, may I recommend that you check out the review we recorded of this film and Harry Potter for the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast?

After the film, we all headed out to Christmas in the Oaks at New Orleans City Park. You may recall that Erin and I went there back in January, shortly after New Year’s, which gives us the distinct pleasure of having attended the event twice in 2010, neither of which was in December. If you don’t know what this event is, it’s the NOLA version of the grand outdoor Christmas Lighting display. The lights take up a large section of the park, although sadly, still not as large a section as it did before Hurricane Katrina. Still, we all had a great time, especially Kenny, who in this photograph looks like he’s standing in the front because he’s hired all of us to be his top-secret squad of Ninja Assassins. This is silly, of course, as I am the only certified Ninja in the group.

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From left: Andrea, Jason, Me, Erin, Kenny, Mike, Nicole, Lauren, and Daniel. That big red thing in the background is a tree made of Poinsetta flowers. Not pictured: a large mound of stray cats who nibbled on the tree and had to be carted off with a rake.

 

IMG_0444On Sunday, as sadly happens, Erin went home and I went back to missing her. I think sometimes that the rarity of our time together makes it more precious, and I think that’s fair. But I’m still looking forward to the day (the approaching day, I should add) where our time together isn’t limited to short trips, and instead becomes a way of life. I love you, sweetheart.

Kenny, I just think you’re nice.

These are, of course, only a few of the pictures we took last week. If you want to see the rest of them, they’re all uploaded to my Flickr album: Thanksgiving Week 2010.

25
Nov
10

Happy Thanksgiving!

A quick, simple message for you today, my friends. Go out today, eat too much food, be with the people you love, and take a few minutes to think about everything in your life that really matters. I’ll be with Erin and the rest of my family, and that in mind, there’s little else that matters.

I do often feel negligent on this blog when it comes to Thanksgiving. It’s easy to come up with lots of movies, books, comics and more to review at Halloween and Christmas. There’s considerably less available for a “Thanksgiving Party.” But if you really want a quick review fix, I’ve popped a couple of Thankgiving comic book reviews over at the Back Issue Bin this week:

Hmm. Evidently there’s a rule about Thanksgiving comics only being identified by initial. Who knew?

22
Nov
10

Erin is here!

Erin is here to spend Thanksgiving week with my family and me. As such, updates will be sparse. Live with it.

The first thing she did when she got here? Obviously, she had to meet Maggie…

Maggie, of course, met with her expectations.




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