Friday, September 30, 2005

Eric Slick and the Shannon Penn Band invade the Dewey Beach Music Conference (and yeah, I obviously lived through my surgery)

Eric Slick on drums with Eddie Vedder on vocals

My son, Eric, and his band, Shannon Penn, will be performing tonight as part of the Dewey Beach Music Conference. This is an awesome opportunity and as I said before, I am 100% positive (and we know I have those magical powers) that this band is going to go very, very far and Shannon Penn (and Eric Slick) are going to be household names sooner rather than later.

My mysterious reference to a website updating was in regard to the said Shannon Penn Band, who are in the process of adding Eric to their site but haven't done so yet. It's going to be way cool, though, because they asked Eric to give them a list of everyone in the music world with whom he's played drums. Right off the top of my head, that would be:

(1) Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam);
(2) Jon Anderson (YES);
(3) Ann Wilson (Heart);
(4) Napoleon Murphy Brock (Frank Zappa band);
(5) Ike Willis (Frank Zappa band);
(6) Carlos Alomar (David Bowie);
(7) Chris Opperman (Steve Vai).

In addition, he's appeared on CD playing drums with the following:

(1) Billy Idol;
(2) Gregg Rollie (Santana)

I'm so bummed I can't go. Eric is leaving shortly to spend the whole day at the conference, and Dewey Beach is so fucking beautiful....and look at this, we have the most gorgeous fall day ever today. But I'm in agonizing pain from yesterday's slice and dice event.

So yeah, as you may have noticed, I survived my surgery and let me give you this advice: Never tell a doctor you have a high pain threshhold unless it's true. Do not be afraid to ask for pain killers afterwards. Do not say you want a "local" instead of being put under unless you don't mind two doctors and a nurse in the room saying things like "She's bleeding" or "Looks like she needs about 15 sutures" or "Robin, if you feel us cutting, please say something!" (D'oh! Ya think?). Do not get in a horrible position on the "table", i.e., do not stretch out on your stomach when they ask if you would rather be on your stomach or side, and more importantly, do not fold your arms under your head to use like a pillow because you will have to remain in that position for twenty minutes without moving and I would say I had no feeling in my fingers within a matter of minutes, got a tickle in my throat and needed to cough desperately, and well...since I hate gory stuff myself, I will spare you the rest of the details. Just know that a local involved horrific numbing needles in my back first. "This will pinch a bit," they said. "A bit?!" I screeched, as I felt the first couple of stabs. "Okay, a lot," admitted the doctor. "You okay?". "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," I lied. Anyway, I managed to get through that without fainting though there is just one other disturbing thing but naturally because I was so freaked I didn't ask questions. After (the charming and Harvard Medical School educated) Dr. Chang did the surgery, he asked me if I wanted to "see it". See what? I thought whatever I had was removed in the dermatologist's office two months ago. Why the fuck didn't I ask? Does this mean there was more? You know what? The dermatologist also asked me if I wanted to "see it" after he removed the initial mole. What, are some patients deranged? Who the hell wants to see bloody stuff in a test tube? If I had a thirst for that kind of thing, I'd have entered the medical profession in the first place. Anyway, they said they'll call me with the results of the biopsy in ten days. So now I wait.

As it turns out, just sitting here at the computer is fucking killing me so I'm going to end this post now and go back to bed. If I get any more news and feel better, I will be back later because it seems to me there is more stuff going on today and I just can't think of it right now. So let me go swallow seventeen Advil, throw a shot of brandy into my tea, and slink off and maybe I'll remember when I wake up.

Peace and love.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Neil Gaiman is Jewish, my age, and wears all black! I knew we were soulmates!

Oh man. Obviously a younger Neil, but still...

Well, anyway, what I say in the title of this post is true. I was stressed yesterday (you will find out why below after reading the Gaiman speech) so I decided to read up on Neil Gaiman a little more to escape my depression and writer's block...okay, I admit it, what I really did is look at his picture some more, but I learned that yeah, yeah, just like me: A babyboomer, Jewish, and dresses all in black. But as I stalked his website, I also found a very inspirational speech he gave, and I'll publish an excerpt, because I know most of my readers here are either musicians or writers, so this applies to YOU! So without further ado, here it is:

I've learned over the years that everything is more or less the same amount of work, so you may as well set your sights high and try and do something really cool.

There are other people around who can do the mediocre, meat-and-potatoes work that anybody can do. So let them do that. You make the art that only you can make. You tell the stories only you can tell.

As a solution to various problems you may encounter upon the way, let me suggest this:

Make Good Art.

It's very simple. But it seems to work. Life fallen apart? Make good art. True love ran off with the milkman? Make good art. Bank foreclosing? Make good art.

Keep moving, learn new skills. Enjoy yourself.

Most of the work I've done that's been highly regarded has happened in places where, when I was working on it I tended to suspect that it would go one of two ways – either I was doing something cool that, if I was lucky, people would talk about for some time, or I was doing something that people would have a particularly good laugh about, in the places where they gather to discuss the embarrassing mistakes of those who went before them.

Be proud of your mistakes. Well, proud may not be exactly the right word, but respect them, treasure them, be kind to them, learn from them.

And, more than that, and more important than that, make them.

Make mistakes. Make great mistakes, make wonderful mistakes, make glorious mistakes. Better to make a hundred mistakes than to stare at a blank piece of paper too scared to do anything wrong, too scared to do anything.

Critics will grumble. Of course they will. That's one of the functions of critics. As an artist it's your job to give them ulcers, and perhaps even something to get apoplectic about.

Most of the things I've got right over the years, I got right because I'd got them wrong first. It's how we make art.

So. Is that cool or what? Am I right about Gaiman being great or not? Yes, yes, I am the last person on Earth to discover this, I know, but in case you have been living under the rock with me....

Wait. This just in and this I can't believe altogether. His short story book to which I refer, Smoke and Mirrors, was on my bookshelf for almost two years. As I was leaving for vacation a couple of weeks ago, I started foraging through my stack of unread books and found it. "Hmmm...I don't remember buying this," I thought. "But it looks great -- maybe someone gave it to me?" I had no idea. Anyway, when my son came down to the beach for the day, he saw me reading the book and he said "Oh my god, where did you get that? That's my ex-girlfriend's book! She loaned it to me two years ago and I never read it and when we broke up, she called me like every day asking for it back and I couldn't find it anywhere!" (Um, Eric, it was right in our book cases...where else would a book be?). recap. I never hear of this guy, read his book out of nowhere...and look what Gaiman just posts in his journal:

"I do not normally drink champagne with my publisher while sitting on a step in the sun in a busy square in the middle of San Francisco, with me and my publisher alternately not saying anything and then babbling and then not saying anything again. Still, it's not every day that you get told that a book you wrote has just gone on to next week's NYT Bestseller list at Number One. And it seemed a very appropriate sort of a thing to do."

In other words, I read his book, focus on him like a maniac for a week, and now out of nowhere this author has a number one book on the New York Times best seller list?

Coincidence? I think not! I have powers, baby.

(and if you believe that...but still, I dunno, I find the whole thing kind, very...weird)

In other writing news, I want to congratulate a couple of pals. Two of my close writer workshop friends, Myfanwy Collins and Kathy Fish (who is too humble to have a website but trust me, has been published everywhere and is one of the most talented flash fiction writers EVER. Google her and read her stuff!) are finalists in the Night Train Literary Magazine Firebox Fiction Competition. That's just incredible news and I'm thrilled for them. Also, my pal Pia Z. Ehrhardt won first prize in Narrative Magazine's emerging fiction writer contest. Pia is amazing. Go. Read her story. And finally, drink some champagne for Ellen Meister, who has just sold her second book, The Smart Ones, based on six chapters and a synopsis! How fucking cool is that!

Anyway, now for some rotten news. I was hesitant about posting this, but my kids know, and it makes for a good story, so what the hell. Besides, after this post, depending on how things go, I may be off line a few days, so I figure I'll leave you with at least something to somewhat laugh over.

Remember a few months ago, just as I was about to leave my job, my doctor told me I'd better get that weird mole on my back checked? And I actually joked about it? To make a long story short, it took almost two months to get an appointment with the top dermatologist in Philly (I don't mess around), and he removed it in his office, and told me he was sending it for a biopsy and I'd have the answer in a few weeks. This was on July 28, one day before I left my nine to five job for good. I felt it was ominous having that appointment then, right as I was about to start a new life as Robin Slick, full time writer, but that appointment was too hard to get and I knew it was dangerous to cancel. Besides, I'm much too superstitious for that. So I was screwed either way. And then, when the doctor examined me, my neurotic Jewish radar was working full force - I knew this was not just a beauty mark we were dealing with.

Uneven color, size, shape -- he said the words and then handed me the world's scariest pamphlet on melanoma. And he didn't look me in the eye.

I weakly attempted pressing him for more information, but all he would say is: We won't know until we get the results of the biopsy. If we got it all here in the office and in time, it's 100% curable. If the pamphlet.

Oh, I read the fucking pamphlet alright.

Good news. If he didn't "get it all", I'd be dead in a year.

Anyway...two weeks later the phone call comes and I answer it and I hear the word "cancer" and then nothing but buzzing in my ears. No, seriously, here's what he said. It is melanoma, but he said "he got it all" which means it's Stage II; it didn't spread. However, as a precautionary measure in these cases, because it is melanoma, standard practice is to have healthy tissue removed all around the site of the mole, which requires a visit to the hospital and surgery featuring a skin graft, lots of sutures, and a second biopsy, just to be on the safe side. The doctor told me he would make all the arrangements for me and that his nurse would call me with the date of the surgery and where to go. She called back an hour or so later (after I told the doctor my vacation dates...he didn't seem concerned that it would delay the surgery so I figured I was cool and I had nothing to worry about at all), gave me the date of September 29 (arghhhh...yeah, in like a few hours), told me no Advil two weeks before the surgery (a major crisis...I eat that stuff like candy), and that it would take place at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.

I go on vacation and try to put the whole thing out of my head but of course you know that's impossible which is why I immersed myself in reading and fantasizing about Neil Gaiman (har har). So I'm now back in Philadelphia, and yesterday, the University of Pennsylvania Hospital called with an automated message, reminding me of my surgery and giving me specifics on where to go and the name of the surgeon. (Believe it or not, I never had this info. My dermatologist, as I said, is the one who made all of the arrangements). Anyway, in the message yesterday, it said "Dr. Chang is your surgeon."

Again, up until yesterday when I got that phone call, I didn't even know the surgeon's name. It's like I did a total block on this and didn't ask one question. After hearing the dermatologist tell me I had melanoma, I just kind of heard white noise but he did keep saying he got it all in his office and the cure rate was 100% and this was just precautionary surgery which would require a lot of stitches and another biopsy which is why it was being done in the hospital. At least that's what I thought he said.

But, me being me, now that I have the doctor's name, figured I'd google him.

I find the link easily, click, and start reading. I almost poop myself. It said that I was going to one of the top cancer centers in the country. Dr. Chang is tops in his field in deadly melanoma. I sat back and almost had a heart attack. Cancer center? When my mother was dying of a brain tumor, I went with her to the cancer center...all the bald heads from chemo, all of these sickly people in the waiting room....oh my fucking god. DEADLY MELANOMA? Why was I being sent to this guy? I read on. I learn the surgery could take anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours to overnight, depending on whether Dr. Chang has to remove a lymph node because the cancer spread. It said he does the biopsy and gets the results during surgery which is when and why he'd remove the node(s). If he removes a lymph node, patient should be prepared to spend the night at the hospital and he suggests you bring a packed overnight bag.

Oh my god, no one ever told me about a packed overnight bag - they just said no Advil.

So now I'm not only shaking, I'm crying.

Then I read some more.

What to do if it has spread to your lymph nodes? It goes on to list all of the various chemotherapies available and their side effects. I tried to stop reading, but I couldn't. I got hysterical. I kept thinking: What did I miss when my doctor called me? Didn't he say he got it all? Didn't he say this was just precautionary and not to worry? Or did he say "I 'think' I got it all?"

It gets worse. They show pics of various deadly melanomas and where they are usually found and for the first time, I saw a mole exactly like mine in what they said is the prime spot - mid back. In the pamphlet the doctor had given me, they had all of these oozing monstrosities so I really did feel pretty confident I didn't have anything serious.

So now I'm completely beside myself. And if things aren't bad enough, I see at the bottom of the website it says "amenities". I click on it, thinking they offer coffee and donuts to family members waiting while the patient is in surgery. I should be so lucky. No, what they list under "amenities" is a grief counselor and a chapel.

I start getting chest pains. I was home alone...I didn't know what the fuck to do. So I decide I'm going to take advantage of one of the website's features: Call our caring counselors/nurses with any questions or concerns.

I force myself to stop sobbing and pick up the phone. I have no idea what I was even going to ask them. Probably "Just what should I pack in my overnight bag and does it involve my Last Will and Testament?"

And then something weird happens. It's not an 800 number, it's got a totally different area code -- one that is definitely not Philadelphia. I look up at the web address I'm on.


Apparently, the Dr. Chang I googled was a resident at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in the 1980s which is why his name came up. I forget exactly how I googled it, because I didn't have his first name, I didn't use quotes - just googled Dr. Chang University of PA Hospital or something on that order.

I literally went limp with relief.

Unbelievably enough, though, because now I'm completely traumatized, I google again. You would have fucking thought I'd have learned my lesson. But this time I google the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. I go to their list of physicians.

My doctor? Benjamin Chang, M.D. A plastic surgeon. He does breast reconstructions and face lifts for Christ sake, though it does also say mole removal on his website.

I wanted to laugh out loud but I was so freaked out I cried another hour and still managed to work myself into a total tizzy about my impending second biopsy and fear that it's invaded my lymph nodes, which I know is not likely but still, not entirely impossible so I'll be holding my breath.

Like that story? Is that typical me or what?
So depending on how much pain I'm in (i.e., how much Percodan they give me), whether or not I will be on line in the immediate future is unclear. Hopefully I won't miss a day and I'll be back with a great tale of how I peed myself in the operating room, but who knows.

Now you know my whole sad story. Let me leave you for now with a funny joke at least. And please, we all know I'm a heathen who hates religion and doesn't believe in praying, but um...light a candle for me or something, okay? Let this just be mere plastic surgery today. Right. That's the end of that. Now go ahead and laugh:

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the President his daily briefing. He concludes by saying:

"Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."

"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands.

Finally, the President looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How I Spent My Vacation...or...I fell in love with Neil Gaiman

My dog, Monty, enjoying some time at the beach

Sooo...I wish I could say it's great to be back but it's not. I mean, come on. I had two weeks of magnificent weather, an empty, tourist free beach, and I'm still in shock over this one -- no desire at all to seek out the internet, even though there was in fact a computer lab at a library two miles away. I didn't even read a newspaper.

What I did read, however, was a short story collection, Smoke and Mirrors, by Neil Gaiman, and I fell head over heels in love with this man. No, no, it's not because he looks like this:

(though of course that doesn't hurt things. Holy cow, even I didn't know he was that hot -- I just discovered this photo by going to Google images. Okay, now I'm really smitten. Note to self: Do not send him a fan letter which will have him worry you are a deranged stalker)

All kidding aside, this was one of the most brilliant collections I've ever read. There is so much intelligence in his work and he's such a mesmerizing story teller that at one point I felt like fuck it, I'm never writing again. Why bother. Then I realized the stupidity of that thought because Gaiman's stuff is to be savored and studied. One story I simply have to post in December is his 102 word flash Christmas piece which he actually sent out as a greeting card and which echoed my anti-commercial holiday sentiments and made me laugh out loud.

ETA: After going to Neil Gaiman's website and snooping around a bit, I now feel like a complete idiot. What, am I the only person in the world who has never read his books prior to now? My god, he gets lines of people snaked around full city blocks when he does signings. He gets something like 100,000 hits a day on his blog. Jesus. I am really pathetic and out of it these days...this is proof. Crap.

I also read Look at Me, by Jennifer Egan. This was another book that had me throwing my virtual pen in the air; it was that good. I had sort of a pleasant problem with Look at Me, however. It's a very subtle satire which I absolutely adore and is torture to pull off without being heavy handed, but what happened here is that the author made me care so much about the damn characters that I wanted more at the end and I almost wished the book didn't take that cynical though humorous twist 3/4 of the way through. But it was so highly original, so well written it made me weep, and I definitely want to check out more of Ms. Egan's work and really, really recommend that book as well.

Oh Christ, now I'm a book critic. But I am sad to say that this vacation was the first time in at least a year I've read two books in two weeks. Between my ex-job, family stuff, and writing, reading has taken a back seat and I realize this can never happen again. It's akin to a musician never listening to CDs for fuck's sake. So next up on my list will be the new Neil Gaiman book of course...only now I see it's a sequel so oh wow, lucky me, I get two treats instead of one because I'll buy them both. Like this afternoon.

Oh, I also read the first Opium print short story collection cover to cover. What fantastic tales! Ones that really stood out for me were My New Jersey Boyhood by Will Layman, I Gave An Apple to My Teacher by Susan Henderson, Arson by Claudia Smith, Cinema by Joseph Young, and Three Stories About Deborah by Rose Gowan. Actually, every single story in the collection is fantastic so please order it and support the indie lit scene. Especially Opium, because it's New York City based and well, they published me and a lot of my friends.

One final writing note: I was recently contacted by Dee Rimbaud of AA Independent Press, and I've also linked her in the column on the right. This is a free, online writers resource which gives detailed listings of over 2,000 literary and genre magazines and publishers. You will also find many useful pages of links such as nearly 800 internet zines. There’s also a page of links to other Writers’ Resources websites. And a page of links to other Writers’ websites (over 100 links so far and growing).

So what else. Oh yeah, back to vacation. It was weird rattling around the place without Julie and Eric and all of their friends crashing which I why I have a huge house in the first place but at least Julie and her boyfriend Matt managed to come down for about 4-5 days and Eric and girlfriend Carolyn visited on a Sunday when Matt and Julie were still there and we all went to Wildwood, which is about a half hour away. Wildwood is one of those places that are great to visit for three, four hours but after that, you want to get the hell out FAST. It's a...errr...sort of blue collar family beach resort right out of the fifties with a boardwalk which not only boasts 3 huge amusement piers but tons of carnival games where you can win a cheesy stuffed animal if you're interested in blowing $50.00 or so throwing darts at balloons only half full of air. But it's total food heaven, which is why I go anywhere, and I feasted on hand cut french fries and real pizza. By the way, what the fuck is happening with pizza? It's either yuppied up with prunes and goat cheese or it's that horrible cardboard crusted Greek stuff. Why is boardwalk pizza so impossible to find anywhere but the boardwalk?

Anyway, I watched with my heart in my mouth as all of the people I love most in the world rode these treacherous looking instruments of death -- I guess they're roller coasters but I dunno, they seemed a lot worse than that. I saw my family turned upside down, their necks snapped back and forth, and then go through it all over again backwards going at like 250 mph. And they actually got off afterwards smiling! I was terrified (and nauseous) just watching them. What makes people like that shit? If I wanted that feeling, I'd rather just drop a tab of acid.

Kidding, kidding.

So yeah, I felt like this matriarch, walking the boards with my almost adult kids and their significant others. It's weird, man. I still feel 19, and I wanna know who this neurotic, overprotective stranger is. Oh wait, I was neurotic at 19, too. Don't listen to me, I'm still high from all the donuts I ate on said vacation. Yeah, that was my other downfall. Ocean City boasts Brown's Diner, who makes quite possibly the very best cinnamon sugar donut in the entire universe. They have this machine which turns them out right before your eyes, and when you get them, they are hot and crispy on the outside and like butter on the inside.

Serious dieting needed here now, though, which I am proud to say I did yesterday. The trick is to also do it today, but I was dumb enough to bring home all this candy...

Getting back to the matriarch thing, like I wasn't feeling old and decrepit enough, I did the typical old lady thing -- I fell. On my last day in Ocean City. I couldn't fucking believe it. Three days later and I'm still sore as hell. But it wasn't entirely my fault. I was upset about two things: One, that it was in fact the last day of my vacation, and second, I was steamed about a remark some dumb woman made. Here's what happened. I went for a final walk on the beach with the dog and really ran him and played catch for about an hour. So by the time we left, he was panting and had sand all over his face. As we're exiting the beach, this stupid broad says to me "Awww....look at the old fellow. What an old doggie..."

Listen, bitch. My dog is only seven. He looks like a puppy. Anyway, of course I just smiled but I got irrationally angry. I love Monty like one of my kids; I don't want to think about this whole getting older stuff in the first place whether it's him or me...I just want to freeze time altogether. I like the way things are right now. My kids are grown up but still living home; I don't have to work 9-5 at the moment and am writing full time (oy...but the way money is disappearing I may be temping somewhere soon), and most importantly, some really exciting stuff is happening music wise for both Julie and Eric which I will get into probably tomorrow because I'm waiting for a certain website to update (she said mysteriously) and of course, my usual problem of needing help uploading new pics to my server that I can also post here.

Anyway, I just realized I went off track. So I'm upset by this woman telling me my dog is old, I sink into this immediate depression, and as I'm walking the dog back to my beach house I'm so aggravated and lost in thought I'm not paying attention to where I'm going and my stupid flip flop got caught on a raised cement block on the sidewalk and I went flying...and I mean flying...through the air and fell flat on my face. Wait, check that. Not flat on my face, I somehow managed to break my fall with both hands and inexplicably, my two big toes. My toes? Well, that's my only explanation for why nothing else bled except those toes, and man did they bleed. So I'm spread out there on the ground, the dog is so nuts he drops the ball from his mouth and starts kissing me everywhere, and naturally I do what old batty women who fall do -- I start crying hysterically and talking out loud to myself. I was like fucking Nancy Kerrigan. "Why me? Why me?" followed by "My toes! My toes!" Luckily there was nobody around because the island is deserted this time of the year so no one had to witness my shame. Now of course had I broken anything, this would have been a major freaking problem but once I realized I could move my legs and arms and had all my teeth, I pulled myself up, wiped my tears, gave another look around to make sure no one saw, and hobbled home on my bloody feet.

As I said, I'm still feeling the pain today but as I look at my dog, all I can say is, that woman needs glasses. Monty is a puppy.

And I really am nineteen.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Rock School DVD on Sale this Tuesday, September 13!

Okay, as I previously posted, I'm leaving today for a couple of weeks at the beach and unless I can sneak off to the internet at the library on the island, this is my last post until September 25.

So enjoy yourselves, be good, and do me one favor: BUY THE ROCK SCHOOL DVD IN A STORE NEAR YOU THIS TUESDAY!

The DVD comes loaded with extras, including:

Audio Comentary by Don Argott and Sheena Joyce, Director and Producer
Behind the Scenes "Making the Soundtrack" Featurette
Deleted Scenes
Music Video

Here's an informative link if you want to buy it on line but it will be readily available at places like Blockbuster Video, who, unbelieavably enough, had a poster up in their store. (I say that because where were the freaking posters when the movie came out in theaters? Arghhh...)

Anyway, please, please, please, buy the DVD, support Rock School, and don't forget: There's a lot of great Rock School shows - another Devo show Sunday, Rockabilly next week...go to for more info on what's happening at other branches as well.

Peace and Love,

Friday, September 09, 2005

Rock school presents Devo, some writing news, Julie Slick and Eric Slick music news, and odds and sods part 909

A photo of Julie Slick taken on stage performing at the Troc in Philadelphia

Okay, this may or may not be my last post before I leave for two glorious weeks at the beach tomorrow, where, believe it or not, I will have no internet connection unless I pedal my bike a few miles to the one library on the island (swear to God, there are no internet cafes or any other computers available anywhere, which may be a good thing for me as I intend to bring several composition books and write in longhand and will not have any distractions, i.e., no instant messaging, checking my email every two seconds, etc.). So let's dispense with the writing news first.

My book Three Days in New York City has been nominated for a Fruity Award. This award is sponsored by Erotic Romance Writers International. As it says on their website, their "aim is to honor the talented, hardworking authors who write outside the accepted guidelines of the RWA (Romance Writers Association, of which I am not a member, will never be a member, and shudder at the thought, since I DO NOT WRITE ROMANCE).

My book also received a couple of good reviews recently, one from author, poet, editor, and publisher Glenda Woodrum and another from Mrs. Giggles. You have no idea how good this review is coming from Mrs. Giggles - she tends to poke fun at everyone and usually tears authors to shreds. It sounds like she might actually like my book...begrudgingly, but still. I got a rating of 76, which, in Mrs. Giggles world, is like receiving an A plus plus.

I also recently did an interview with Romance Junkies (arghh...even though I DO NOT WRITE ROMANCE) which was a lot of fun, and I have one in the works with the above mentioned Glenda Woodrum. She asked me so many intelligent, interesting questions that I've been taking my time replying, but I hope to have the finished product to her may be posted on her site while I'm on vacation so if you love me (ha), you can check her site periodically over the next two weeks; if not, I will post a link when I return.

I also note that my book is now available at Barnes and Noble. Yay! It's also available at another cool site, Book Crossing.

In other news, my friend Dennis Mahagin, a brilliant poet/writer, has a great blog and today he interviews one of my favorite authors, Alicia Gifford, whose incredible short story "Toggling The Switch" was chosen as the best online short story of 2004 by voters in the prestigious Million Writers Award sponsored by Story South Magazine. Just follow the link right here and be sure to stay for a while and check out some of Dennis' work as well. His sure to be brilliant collection of poetry titled "Grand Mal" will be published by Suspect Thoughts Press.

Hey, I'm also doing some traveling. On November 19, 2005, I will be at the Pink Banana Boutique in Virginia Beach signing copies of my book with other Phaze Authors. That should be a total blast. I understand that there may be, um, male models and live demonstrations?! Oh god. Well, what can I say, I always enjoy the strange and exotic.

Okay, music news...

Eric has a very cool gig playing drums with Dr. Dark in Connecticut on October 16, 2005. More info on that later. He's also on a pretty heavy duty practice schedule with the Shannon Penn band in anticipation of future shows and a tour. Julie has upcoming gigs with Chuck Treece/McRad and if you visit that link and read all about Chuck, you'll see just how cool that is.

Tonight and Sunday at 8:00 p.m. the School of Rock presents the music of Devo at the First Unitarian Church, 21st and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA. Eric is the assistant music director of this show, and since the actual director has left the city to go on a major tour with his own band, Eric will be running both the show tonight and the Sunday show as well and from what I hear, it's fantastic. These kids were also part "Devotional", a Devo fest held in Ohio a few weeks ago and they wowed the crowd with their set. So please come out and support Eric and the Rock School team -- they've worked very hard and it should be an awesome time.

If you can't make it or are not a Devo fan, please show up at Independence Hall tonight to support Cindy Sheehan and PROTEST THAT FUCKING STUPID ASS ILLEGAL WAR IN IRAQ. BRING OUR BOYS (AND GIRLS) BACK HOME!

Also, since I won't be around to announce it next week nor will I be able to attend since I'll be on vacation, I just wanted to also let you know that Eric's dad is assistant music director of the following show which Dylan is running, and it sounds like it's going to be amazing. Here's the details:

The Grandaddies of ROCKABILLY
Indre Studios 1418 Darien
Philadelphia PA
2pm Matinee! Sat Sept 17 Sun Sept 18

Finally, while I haven't updated the news section of my website yet pending confirmation of some pretty major announcements as concerns both my writing life and my kids' musical careers, I have updated the stories page there to include links to four new pieces published this summer so I encourage you to drop by and have a read.

Okay, then. To sum it up: Devo or Peace Protest tonight; read Alicia Gifford's interview in Dennis Mahagin's blog, and if I don't get a chance to post tomorrow, see you guys back here September 25! (Unless, of course, I break down and go to the library suffering from Internet withdrawal which alas, I must admit, is entirely possible).

I leave you now with the following photos of my dog, who, as you can see, is in fact allowed on my new furniture, because, well, he's part of the family, and he's so freaking great Julie can't resist giving him a little kiss.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I know there is a DEVO Rock School show tomorrow night but CINDY SHEEHAN WILL BE IN PHILADELPHIA

On Friday evening, September 9, 2005, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., there will be a vigil at Independence Hall sponsorered by Cindy Sheehan and the organizations interested in bringing soldiers home from Iraq. This is one stop on her nationwide bus tour that will finish in D.C. The organizers believe Sheehan will speak. On Saturday they are planning a campout similar to what they did in Crawford Texas. If you'd like more details, go to their website, bringthemhomenowtour.

You should go to that site anyway, even if you can't attend tomorrow. There's a lot of very informative, hideously scary facts about our illustrious government/President...and maybe if more people become outraged, we can do something about THIS FUCKING MORON.

And they tried to impeach Clinton for a blow job...


Anyway, back to some cool Rock School and writing news tomorrow. But in the meantime, how fucking cool is that new Rock School forum! I believe we have Claude Coleman, Jr., Music Director for New York Rock School and drummer for Ween (among countless others...holy this guy, his creds are freaking amazing!) to thank for the new format, and in what I hope is a special treat, I've used that venue to upload some photos from recent Rock School events which you can get to easily from right here.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Eric Slick with Shannon Penn band 9-3-05

Photo of Eric taken by Maureen Hayes mom, Ann, in Bad Doberan, Germany, during the All-Stars participation at Zappanale 16

Wow, last night was AMAZING! Eric was in his element musically last night, playing drums in a band where the other musicians were all on his level and as Eric laughingly told me, Shannon (vocalist) and Dave Young (keyboard/guitar) both have perfect pitch "just like me".

The songs were fantastic; it was impossible to believe it was their first gig and they'd only had maybe 3-4 rehearsals together as a complete band; Shannon has just an incredible voice and stage presence and she's drop dead gorgeous...wait...let me post a pic:

They played as part of the Independent Music Festival at the River Deck on Columbus Boulevard. Julie and Matt came along, and the reason I'm using the Bad Doberan pic above instead of any I took of Eric last night is because, well, I didn't bring the camera; I didn't want to embarass Eric on his first gig with the band. But oh my god, I'm kicking myself for leaving it home.

First of all, I've never been part of any "club" scene, so the whole 2-3 mile Delaware Avenue/Columbus Boulevard strip was never part of my itinerary, ever. Not during the disco years (I wore a DISCO SUCKS t-shirt during that entire dismal period of music history), and not even when I first began hearing they'd built mini beach resorts there with volleyball (I'm sorry, I just could not get excited over a man made beach with plastic palm trees watching drunk 20 somethings pretend they were...I don't even know where...when they were really in Philadelphia on the murky polluted Delaware River with a scenic view of Camden, New Jersey). So this was my very first venture into any such place.

Ha! Well, let me say that I'll be the first to admit I was wrong. View wise, it was awesome. The bridge was all lit up, we watched tour boats glide across the waters; we saw a spectacular sunset. Of course we got there at 7:30 p.m., when tourists were there, eating dinner. It was in fact made to look like a beach hut in Jamaica; there were palm trees and colored lights everywhere, the menu contained things like crab dip and ahi tuna or lobster wraps, and of course there were big colorful drinks with umbrellas (I didn't even know they still did that's so, so fifties). The restaurant was actually situated on a wooden deck over the river and the weather last night was so freaking amazing, cool breezes, low humidity...I thought wow, this isn't half bad.

Like I said, this was at 7:30 p.m. By 10:00 p.m., the first of the weird clubbers started arriving. (I say weird clubbers because even though I am so not part of that scene, even I know the real hipsters don't come out until midnight). They were, um, all for some reason very well endowed women...okay, really really big gals, all dressed in sparkly clothes.

I looked around confused.

Was this a nurse's convention?

Weight Watchers?

Where were the men?

Anyway, whoever these women were, they were having the time of their lives; you could tell they weren't from Philly - the clothes looked right off the Home Shopping Network (cocktail dresses to wear in the big city, our "cosmo line"...polyester with sequins which sadly fell off and fluttered in the wind as they danced).

Luckily for Eric, the throngs rushed the place just as his band finished playing; all of us sitting at tables were there as part of the indie music fest and it was like all of these wackos were waiting at the many thatched roof bars within the complex for the real music to end so that Wild Bill the D.J. (oh yeah, I kid you not) could take over and play I WILL (FUCKING) SURVIVE. They stormed the deck and started dancing en masse.

I was horrified. Oh why oh why did I leave my camera home?

I was also extremely worried the deck would collapse under their weight and we'd all end up in the Delaware River.

Also on the bill and performing right before the Shannon Penn band was a singer song writer from New Orleans (ack) named Ravi, who has a very interesting background, which is why I included the link to his site. He simply mentioned he lives in New Orleans but didn't ask for our prayers or do anything dramatic, but toward the end of his set, he said "I don't usually do covers, but I'm going to do one now, and I sing this song because in my opinion, it's one of the most important...I mean it IS the most important, song ever written."

I of course turned to Julie and Matt and said "Imagine" by John Lennon.

They shrugged; they didn't think I was right in a million years.

Ha! I know my music and I know people and damn if he didn't launch right into that song. And with that he became my hero. He saw my reaction and after his gig, came over to our table and said "Thank you for being here and smiling and cheering me on" because I think he felt the weird vibes in the place and really, the crowd of us facing the stage from the indie festival was pretty small in comparison to all the disco weirdos waiting at the bars for their chance to dance.

Anyway, we talked with Shannon and Dave and the rest of the band and they have huge, more shows, etc. and I really think Eric has a chance of going somewhere major with them fame and fortune wise. They are in love with him and repeated several times "I cannot believe this kid is 18. It's impossible. Where did he learn to play like that?" (Hi, Paul, Hi, Tim, HI ROCK SCHOOL!!!!) It's just so fucking cool to watch his career begin to take off like this...Shannon, Chris Opperman, I don't feel like such a bad mother for letting him defer college. This is the way it is meant to be and if I know Eric, his quest for knowledge is so great that he'll find his way back to school without any prodding from me. Of course he may be 35 by then, but hey, he'll be rich and famous enough to go to any school he wants without taking a Sallie Mae loan. Ha.

Anyway, today is crazy for me. Not to talk about my new furniture again, but it's being delivered Tuesday, which means I have a house full of my stuff to get rid of. Since a lot of it is still nice, I didn't want to trash it, so I had Eric and Julie ask all of their friends who just moved into apartments, etc. but no one needed a thing so I called Uhuru, a non profit agency which picks up your furniture for resale and puts the money to incredible use as you will see from the link. Much to my surprise, they are sending a truck to my house today, a Sunday, on Labor Day weekend! While this is very cool, it means I will have a house without furniture for two days. It dawned on me late last night that it meant eating dinner crossed legged on the floor. This would not be a problem normally but tonight and tomorrow night we're having Matt and Carolyn for dinner and we'd planned on steak and corn on the cob tonight and burgers and fries tomorrow. Okay, tomorrow will be easy but I'm wondering how we're going to swing eating steak on the floor. Anyway, I finally decided that we'll grill it as planned but then I'll cut everyone's steak into slices before serving it...oh god...I can't believe I'm boring you with this stuff. Just forget I said anything; I spent too much time typing it to erase it. Har har.

But it's going to be weird watching a truck pull up today and remove my belongings for the past several years and it's going to be ultra strange living even for two days in a house without furniture. Wait, actually, let me rephrase that. The living room will not be totally empty; there will still be a set of drums, several amps and guitars, the computer and desk, and my bookcases. I will definitely post a pic of that later today or tomorrow.
Speaking of pics, here's a few more from Ann Hayes' Germany collection:

Sara Neidorf, Larry Allen, and Kenny Luu

Andrew Haff

Friday, September 02, 2005

I-Newswire Press Release: Music Player Network Partners With Rock School!

School of Rock to host seminars, live performances, and two concerts at this fall’s ultimate consumer music summit

(I-Newswire) - SAN MATEO, CA – September, 2005 – Music Player Network, the world’s leading music instrument publishing company, is proud to announce the Paul Green’s School of Rock as one of its partners in this fall’s Music Player Live! ( MPL! ). School of Rock is the original performance-based, interactive music school, and basis of this year’s New Market Films documentary, Rock School. The School of Rock will be hosting seminars, lectures, and live performances during the three day consumer music summit at the Crowne Plaza Times Square in New York City.

“We are excited to have Paul Green's School of Rock as part of Music Player Live!,” says Valerie Pippin, MPL!’s Events Director. “The School of Rock is one of the most exciting and original concepts for getting kids involved in music. Their participation in Music Player Live! provides an excellent opportunity for kids and parents to have a wonderful music experience that will stay with them for a long time.”

The seminars at MPL! will include a discussion on gender dynamics in music education, a talk on why the School of Rock method works for young musicians, and a seminar about life on the road hosted by Ween’s drummer, Claude Coleman. MPL! attendees will also be able to enjoy two special concerts from former School of Rock members, Atlas and Flamingo.

“I am most excited about showing off the best thing about our program, which is our students,” explains Paul Green when asked about his involvement in Music Player Live!.

Since starting in 1998, Paul Green’s School of Rock has played over 350 concerts for more than 100,000 people, including high-profile shows in Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco, and the Zappanale festival in Bad Doberan, Germany,.

Music Player Live! is a thrilling, totally over-the-top extravaganza for anyone interested in making music. To ensure that all levels of interest are thoroughly covered, the event is multi-layered and multi-faceted. MPL! offers a chance to hang with stars, professional musicians, and the people who make the hardware ( guitars, basses, keyboards, drums, etc. ) and software ( recording programs, effects plug-ins, etc. ) that helps translate inspiration into music. MPL! is set to take place in New York City’s Crowne Plaza Times Square October 21-23. To register for this event and take advantage of the Early Bird Special ( applicable until September 30 ), please register at

For more information on Music Player Live! and School of Rock, please visit and

About Music Player Network
The Music Player Network is the world's leading music instrument publishing company and publisher of Guitar Player, Bass Player, Keyboard, EQ, and Backbeat books, has a circulation of 300,000 loyal readers. MPN is a division of CMP Entertainment Media, which produces magazines, books, Web sites, trade shows and events for musicians and the professional audio, video, and installation industries. For more information, please visit or

About the Paul Green School of Rock
The Paul Green School of Rock Music has been giving students “the gift of rock” since being founded in Philadelphia in 1998, has been rapidly expanding throughout the U.S. this past year. There are currently 9 branches, including New York City; San Francisco; and Salt Lake City. Another round of rollouts is planned for September 2005, and will include Austin, TX and Los Angeles. For more info on The School of Rock All-Stars, the film and soundtrack, plus the schools and their extensive programs visit


So pretty cool, huh.

Anyway, Happy Labor Day weekend. This looks to be an interesting couple of days but I'm really looking forward to Eric's shows tomorrow night and Sunday night with Shannon Penn as part of the Philadelphia Independent Music Festival. Also in Eric world, he's now going to be playing standard jazz classics at Dahlak, 4708 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA every Tuesday night at 10:00 p.m. I didn't go last week but I'm definitely making it this coming Tuesday; it sounds like it's a lot of fun.

Yesterday I went apartment hunting with Julie on, err, her boyfriend Matt's behalf (uh huh) and we found this gorgeous bilevel loft at 13th and Lombard - this place is so fucking gorgeous I want to move in there. But it's kind of pricey and probably more suited to a young professional couple - in fact, the rental agent liked us and took us on a tour, showing us the penthouse which was just rented to either Gamble or Huff after a bidding war with one of the Philadelphia Eagles. This morning, after going one final time to Drexel University's financial aid office to plead Julie's case, we're going to look at some apartments at 16th and Pine, etc. which I know are not going to be as gorgeous as the one on Lombard but, um, prolly half the price and more suited to college kids.

(However, knowing Julie because she is my daughter, she won't be forgetting Lombard Street so easily and I'm glad she's asleep right now because I know she's still considering it and I have to step in and be wise parent now even though that place is right out of Architectural Digest and of course I'd love my daughter to live in a place like that. But all in good time! I thought we were just scoping out places for Matt to live know, a place like a dorm?)

Eric is going up to his girlfriend Carolyn's house tonight and she's got a present for him that is pretty freaking incredible and we've been teasing Eric non stop but he has no idea what it is...he'd never figure it out in a million years. I just wish I could see his face when he opens it. No, no special occasion - they just really dig each other.

Julie and I were supposed to have dinner tonight at Vesuvio and celebrate First Friday down in Old City, visiting all the art galleries, etc. but Matt, who was supposed to be in Colorado for a week, decided to come home early so I guess it'll be the usual tonight - nobody home but me and a bottle of wine. Ha ha. Could be a lot worse.

God, both my kids are happy in love, Eric is playing two cool shows this weekend, and Julie all excited that Matt's back home early. Life is grand.