Review of Phil Taylor’s “The Sneaker Tree”

From the first time I read Phil Taylor’s blog, I instantly knew this was a blogger I wanted to follow. Phil has a fresh and accessible voice and his sense of humor is both witty and familiar.

Thanks to Phil’s brilliant marketing tactics, I was quickly made aware of the fact that Phil has written a couple of novels (all available on Amazon) one of which is “The Sneaker Tree.”
My first thoughts on finding this out was, yes please, I would like to read this book. But being that I am a typical New Yorker, I was also skeptical. After all, writing a blog is one thing, but writing a book is something completely different. Would it be any good? And what would it be like? Judging from Phil’s blog, I could only imagine that it would read like a very long episode of Seinfeld (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Anyway, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.
At it’s inception, The Sneaker Tree is a first person narrative, coming of age book of boyhood (think ‘Christmas Story’) that quickly takes a dark turn (think ‘Lord of the Flies’). From there, the story morphs into an edge of your seat thriller which manages to incorporate suspense and fantasy without alienating the reader, and maintaining that fresh, accessible voice and sense of humor we have all come to know and love. The Sneaker Tree not only conjures up comparisons to the classics above, but is also reminiscent of, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Stand By Me’.
On a personal note, I think all Gen-Xers will appreciate the childhood references, and…C.H.U.D. Phil, really? I don’t know if it’s scarier for me to think about how many hours of Googling it took for you to scare that one up or how fresh in your mind it was. Never thought I’d hear that one again.
In summation, ‘The Sneaker Tree’ was a delight to read and very well worth the money. I highly recommend it for adults and young adults as well.

Kill The Rat-Why Chuck E. Cheese Must Die!

The weekend rolls around again. The play dates have all been play dated, the movies have all been seen and there is NOTHING TO DO. “What do you want to do this weekend?” I ask my children hoping they will suggest something doable, affordable and tolerable, but they just shrug in that ever adorable childlike way and say, “I don’t know.” Friday afternoon turns into Friday evening and I ask the children again if there is anything they would like to do, hoping some words of wisdom to escape them, but the answer remains the same. It is almost bedtime when I finally say it. The words come out of my mouth in slow motion as if I am watching a train coming towards me but am powerless to move out of it’s way, “Would you like to go to Chuck E. Cheese?” And so I have sealed my fate.

Saturday afternoon arrives as I enter the third circle of hell. I am greeted by the smell of congealed cheese and sweaty feet. My sentence has begun. But although I have to ask a couple of the dads to hold me back from the kid who hovers over my son while he plays air hockey, a little too eager for his turn, or the toddler that seems to have no concept of personal space, finally an hour and a half has passed. I have done my duty as a parent and tell my children it is time to leave. Amazingly they agree and before I know it, I am on my way to the ticket muncher (ha,ha, she said muncher) and we are soon to be on our way.

But wait, WAIT!! An announcement comes over the loud speaker. Chuckie will be out soon to do a stupid dance and throw out some tickets in 3 minutes. “Can we stay?” my children ask. And of course I relent.

3 minutes turn into hours as I wait for the rodent to appear. Finally he emerges in all his glory. The floor is crowded with children of all ages doing the hokey pokey as they shuffle without sense or direction to the right and left, hurling into each other. A child clings to Chuckie’s legs for dear life, certain that this will secure him all the tickets he has ever dreamed of. The dance finally comes to a spectacular finale as a 16 year old boy comes out to release the tickets, sure to die of embarrassment if his homies should be passing by. He goes to throw the tickets out once, then twice, then three times, psyching the kids out with every motion. “For the love of God man” think I, “throw the tickets out and release me from this torture!”

Finally the tickets are thrown as a swarm of bodies hit the floor. It is a massacre that I can only look at through the spaces between my fingers that are now covering my eyes as, not only children, but mothers, fathers and even grandparents prepare to fight to the death for precious tickets sure to secure half a Tootsie Roll for their snot nosed offspring.

Satisfied with their winnings, my children are now ready to exit this arena of death and I breath a sigh of relief…until the next time I prepare to do battle in the Lair of The Rat. There is no doubt about it…Chuck E. Cheese must die.

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23 Things You Should Do Before You’re 23

So over the weekend Suzie81 wrote a blog about another blog, 23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23. I had never heard of the original blog, but apparently, the girl who wrote this blog got called a slut and a whore for writing about alternative activities she would partake in rather than getting engaged before turning 23. Also, apparently, this girl’s blog went viral. In the meantime, I can’t seem to get arrested in this town. So taking the point of view that all publicity is good publicity, here’s my list but it’s late so I don’t think I’ll get to 23. Bring it on bitches!!

1. Sleep with at least 10 people
2. Go out without any underwear
3. Strip in a strip club
4.Hang out with Miley Cyrus
5.Go through a goth phase
6. Go through a heavy metal phase
7. Go through a punk phase (complete with green hair, a mohawk, and piercings)
8. Get rip roaring drunk and throw up on your neighbors lawn
9. Sniff glue
10. Worship Satan

(blogged, trashed, revised, reblogged, thank you)

You Named Your Baby What Now?

Baby names are getting weirder and weirder. Taking a guilty pleasure in the many articles written in the past couple of weeks like, “Weirdest Baby Names of 2013” or “Top Baby Names of the Millennium”, I can personally tell you that baby names have taken a turn for the, well, let’s just say unusual. As each celebrity and yuppie tries to top each other with a more unusual name for their child, it is shocking how many babies bear the name Blue or how many babies are named for suburbs in New York, as the Jennifers, Saras and Michaels are replaced by McKenzies and Jaydens.

All this has got me thinking that perhaps the names I gave my children are just too hohum. It is so often when I hear a random word and think, “Wow, that’s what I should have named Anjelica!” So to prevent expecting parents from making the same mistake I have, I would like to share some ideas I had so that we can all make 2014 the weirdest year for baby names yet.

Raid your Medicine Cabinet: That’s right. It’s right in your home, easily accessible, and it offers a wealth of baby names. You can go the safe, herbal route and name your child something like Valerian, Chamomile, Schizandra or Acai, but imagine sending your little stinker off to school with a name like Iodine, Benzoyl or even Viagra.

Think Cars: Sure we’ve all heard our share of Royces and even a couple of Fords. But if you really want your child’s name to speak luxury, try Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Lexus or Jaguar. Love the environment? Maybe Prius would be a more suitable name for your child?

Music: It’s not too unusual to name a child for a musician or musical group. I’m sure a lot of Elvises are well into their 40s by now. And while your neighbors have all probably given birth to a couple of Madonnas and Beyonces already, not to mention that woman at school who has one in the oven she is thinking of naming Lorde, let’s think a little outside of the box, shall we? I know there are some Axls running around, and I’ve even heard a few Lemmys (even on a girl no less), but has anyone ever thought of Metallica, Nirvana, Ramone or even Mumford?

Movies: Another source of inspiration in baby names is the cinema. While I’m sure there are a million Star Wars inspired Lukes and Leias out there, I am thinking that Anakins, Darths and Bobas are pretty low on the population list. In fact, the sci-fi genre is just full of ingenuity when it comes to baby names. Think Gandalf, Aragorn and Neo. More of a comedy lover? Why not Napolean or Burgundy. But I think I have come up with the single most clever, most unusual baby name of all time. I would bet on the fact that it is unused and I, in fact, dare anyone to name their child after this definitive movie character of the century. That’s right…it’s McLovin.
P.S. You know how the link suggestions are supposed to show up when you are editing your posts? Mine are not doing that. Also not suggesting tags. Anyone else? Thanks.