Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fair Weather

Yesterday my family took a trip to the Lake County Fair. Here are the three things that stuck with me: 1) A teenage band played "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to a crowd of oldies, probably mostly made up of their relatives. The lead singer threw himself on the ground in the most non-aggressive way I've ever seen. Romy clapped along. 2) The County Fair is where I shall teach Romy about eating animals. So disgustingly sad to walk by a bunch of pigs while there is a chart nearby showing you which parts of them are used for which cuts of meat. I always think back to this interesting article from Horn Book by Jennifer Armstrong about how we teach children at a young age about all sorts of animals, and we teach them about love, yet we let them eat all these animals we just taught them to love. I think that's what the article was about. It's been a while since I read it. 3) Not all ferris wheels are created equal. Romy and I have already ridden (is that a word? That looks wrong) a ferris wheel together and thoroughly enjoyed it. Matt is not such a fan of heights, so he stayed off that one. This time we all rode together. For NINE DOLLARS. Can you believe that? And then it went really fast. Like, stomach churning roller coaster fast. Every time we neared the top, Romy began shaking. It was so sad and cute at the same time. She is such a tough cookie. She just said she didn't like it but totally made it through like a trooper. I hope it didn't deter her from riding another one someday. Next time I'll have to bring one of those speed guns cops use to pull people over in order to determine if the wheel is at a comfortable clip.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Two (or more) questions:

1. Was no one interested in my post about the Chicago Comic Con yesterday? Because no one commented. Should I stop talking about going to comic book conventions?

2. How do you RT someone on twitter AND include a comment?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Wiz

I just completely scared myself with the title of this post. That movie is terrifying! When those things in the subway chase Michael Jackson and Diana Ross? Nightmare material. Nipsey Russell as the tinman isn't without his scare factor either. Anywho, this post has nothing to do with The Wiz (although now I'm thinking I could write an entire post about that movie). It is all about Wizard World, the comic book convention that comes to Chicago (burbs) every year. By no means is it San Diego Comic-Con in size, number of vendors, variety of panels, or quality of stars, but it is still a totally fun event. For me at least. Last year Matt and I went after not having been for quite a few years (San Diego Comic-Con can make you jaded), and Matt thought the whole thing was depressing.  What could possibly be depressing about this:

Yes, I will be milking that photo until I die. This year proves to be just as fun, if not outstanding, due to the nature of the guest list. It was just announced yesterday that Aaron Goodwin of Ghost Adventures will be there! You know how crazy I am about that show (or you should if you read my blog or any of my desperate attempts at a reply on Twitter)!  That should be a grand meeting, and I plan on wearing my Big Steppin shirt for the occasion.  Felicia Day, of Buffy and The Guild fame, will be there, and I am dying to meet her. The only poop I have about that one is that I sent her a copy of Into the Wild Nerd Yonder because I thought she'd really like it, being a gamer and all, and of course I never heard anything from her. Should I have? Is it asking too much?  But the dork de resistance comes when I finally get to meet - 25 years in the making!- Noah Hathaway. Atreyu from the Neverending Story!!! I have a whole hilarious plan that involves him saying something to me on camera, but I don't know if we'll even get that far. Several years ago he was supposed to be at Wizard World, and he canceled. It was tragic. He better not disappoint me this year. At least I have some backup excitement. But, still, I think that could be the highlight of the show. And you will be hearing more about this, since it's over two weeks ago. Two glorious weeks of sleepless nights as I fantasize about my glory moments with the stars.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hey Hey!

Last weekend I saw The Monkees in concert. It was not my first time seeing them in one form or another. My first concert was The Monkees' 20th Anniversary tour. This was their 45th Anniversary Tour! If I feel old, they must feel older. It was a great show, albeit hardly packed. Matt and I bought the tickets on Groupon, as did the others in our section, and there were so many empty seats that we moved back a couple rows so we could have freedom to move. I wondered what it was like to tour and look out at a bunch of empty seats. Did it bother the three of them (Mike, alas, wasn't there, as usual, and his voice was greatly missed when Peter took over on his songs)? Does it affect their performance when they aren't playing to a full house? I think it would bother me as a performer, just as lack of commenters on my blog or a week of sparse emails bothers me.  Whatever was going on in their Monkee brains, it was a great show. Lots of obscure songs, excellent Davy dancing (one of my favorite parts of the show was when Davy talked about watching MTV, and he said, "Justin Bieber stole my hairdo! Axl Rose stole my dance moves!"), and much singing along from me. They did not play two of my favorite songs-- "Let's Dance On" and my all time favorite song "The Door Into Summer"-- and they didn't have t-shirts for sale, which was a mega bummer. I'm thinking of picking one up online, which is still acceptable, I think, since I did actually see the concert. I can't decide if I want the shirt, though, because it only has the three of them pictured. Weird not to have Mike. A delightful evening, for sure. Can't wait to see them on their 50th anniversary tour!

Monday, July 25, 2011

At the Movies

This weekend Matt and I took Romy to her first movie, Winnie the Pooh. We thought it would be a good one, since I am not ready to have her sit around watching movies that contain anything remotely negative (I hate how G-rated movies throw around the word "stupid." Oh, the irony, since Romy has now said- twice- "mother fucker" in the car. I'm thinking she got that one from me. Oy). I thought it was a mostly successful outing, since she didn't talk or switch seats through the entire movie (only most of it). It ended on a sour note, though, when Romy decided she needed a ridiculous Captain America plush doll in the claw machine in the lobby. We played it once, lost, of course, and then the tantrum began. Sad, since it's been a couple weeks since we've had a tantrum. Ah, well, at least she got into the movie for free! How distracting was Zooey Deschanel's singing? Hipster Pooh is something no one needs.

In other news, I have become increasingly obsessed with having one of the Ghost Adventures guys RT my comments on Twitter. It's SO LAME. How am I such a douchey toolbag? Really, this must stop. And it will when one of them RTs. Ha! Do you think less of me because of this? I kind of do. Damn you, Twitter, and your faux accessibility!

Speaking of Twitter, you should all check out my pictures of Comic-Cons past. Because I posted them. I think I need to get out more.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Comic-Con Cont.

Still plugging away, posting pictures from Comic-Cons past on Twitter! #comicconspast That's what I'm calling it. Stop by @julie_halpern and say hello!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Big L

So, I blogged yesterday saying you can follow me on Twitter and see my pictures of Comic-Cons past.  Not a SINGLE NEW FOLLOWER, people. Can you see the giant "L" sprouting from my forehead?

I finally saw Harry Potter 7.2 this morning. Really great.  I got something out of it that I hadn't recognized throughout the books or films before. Jo Rowling really believes in a mother's love. As a mother, and a relatively new one, hence not recognizing it earlier, I now get it. And, damn, if it didn't make me cry a whole bunch. I thought mothers and words really got their due in the movie. I loved the part with Dumbledore at the train station. I loved the dragon at Gringott's. I thought Hermione and Ron were cute, although their kiss was so far away I don't know why they made such a big deal about filming it. And what was that lame kiss between Harry and Ginny? Ginny's mom hair in the end was hilarious. Neville didn't quite sell the toughness for me. None of these things mattered, and I really loved the film. I thought Malfoy was great. The scenes between him and Harry really worked. Bravo! I'm blabbering. I bought Sno-Caps and Dots and didn't eat many of them at the theater. Then I came home and ate all of them.

Seriously- no new followers? Should I bother?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Comic-Con Regrets

I don't remember feeling this bad last year when I wasn't at Comic-Con. Maybe I wasn't in as much of a general funk as I am now, but I just can't stop thinking about how I wish I was at Comic-Con. A bunch of my faves and recent obsessions are there (why, Ghost Adventures guys, why?), and I'm feeling stupid for not buying tickets when they went on sale just in case. Then Matt, Romy and I could have popped off to San Diego on a whim. Right now (as I write this) we'd be dreaming about packing our lunch from Ralph's and sitting on the convention hall floor, just watching the weirdos go by.  Sigh.

In honor of my depression, I am going to be tweeting pictures all Comic-Con weekend from the three times I did go to the Con. Please follow me @julie_halpern so you can revisit the good times with me. Please?
Here's a taste. Do you know who that guy is with his arm around me?

Holy shit! [watching the news]The US Air Guitar Championship is in Chicago this year? And I'm going to miss it because I'm going to see The Monkees in Milwaukee that night? How unfair is that? The heavens are just not aligning for me. Missing Comic-Con. Missing air guitar. What else am I missing? Really, don't tell me. I don't think my fragile brain could handle it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whining about Nerd Stuff

I know all of you have already seen the final Harry Potter movie.  My plan was to see it on opening day, get it over with.  I was, of course, very excited to see it, but there was also quite a bit of trepidation there.  I don't always enjoy a good cry.  I don't enjoy the anticipation of sadness, as some people do.  And I don't want to feel like crap when the movie's over.  Well, all of my babysitters were out of town when the movie premiered.  Now that they're back, I still haven't seen the movie.  I am even more hesitant than before.  Will all of the people in the theater already have seen it, so they are going to talk the entire time and text, which is SO DISTRACTING?  Will I feel like crap after it's over?  Or will I feel relief?  Is there any joy there?  Ironically, the final book came out two years ago while I was with my family at the San Diego Comic-Con, which opens again tonight in, duh, San Diego.  I have a fond memory of waiting to see George Romero interviewed by Max Brooks while I listened to HP7 on audiobook, and zombies dragged themselves past me.  Sigh.  More sadness.  I so wish I was at Comic-Con right now.  So many people I love are there, and, really, I'm a little down in my everyday life at the moment.  I could use an escape.  And some capes.  My new plan is to buy tickets to Comic-Con every year when they go on sale, just in case we decide we are going the following summer.  We could totally be there right now: seeing Buffy, meeting the Ghost Adventures guys (!!!), and buying a bunch of crap we absolutely need, like a limited edition My Little Pony.  I must think of something to combat this feeling of loss.  I'm guessing seeing HP7:2 might not help the matter.  What say you, folks who have already seen it?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bret Michaels was There

Last night my partner in mystery, Katie, and I went to our second professional murder mystery party (you may recall our first one).  This one differed from the first one, in that it had a wedding theme and only about ten people of a whopping 200-ish were assigned characters.  Katie let it be known to the (weird) powers that be that we wanted to partake in the characters.  They gave me the role of "cat lady," the aunt of the groom.  Katie did not get assigned a character, but I made her my honorary cat.  (The plots of these things are rather convoluted).

The event was held at a Serbian/American Hall (already hilarious, right?).  We met these two yokels, actors with the show, and one of them escorted us to our table.  You see they spared no expense with the costumes:

Also note the paintings of the presidents on the walls:
I have a habit of posing like the picture/sculpture/whatever behind me, and never fail to incorrectly replicate what they are doing.

As we walked to our table, I noticed this guy:

What was Bret Michaels doing at our murder mystery?

Throughout the evening, those of us with characters were called to the stage.  Note how in character my face is:

 That's me at the table, explaining some things to my table mates.

There's Bret Michaels again.

Somewhere in the plot, I got to turn Katie into my pet cat.  And here she is!

 Not a bad look for me:

I had the brilliant idea to bring a gift for the bride and groom.  I didn't think they'd actually open it.  It was a AAA guide for Illinois/Indiana/Ohio from 2009.

In the end, I was neither the murderer nor voted best actress (I was SO ROBBED!), but Katie and I did score this picture with the fake Bret Michaels, complete with really blue contact lenses.  He was excited that we were posing in front of Ronald Reagan.

I am already researching where our next murder will take place!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Princess Dreams

I had the weirdest dream last night.  For some reason I was reliving the wedding of Kate and Wills, meaning I was actually getting married in the same manner they were.  I don't know if it was a contest I won, and they were both there, but the big piece of it was that I was wearing Kate's dress.  I recall thinking, my god, I must be so skinny if I can fit into this dress!  After the wedding (which was to my actual husband), there was a party.  I wanted Pippa to help me put on my makeup because in the dream she had really dramatic, colorful eye makeup, not just that awful black eyeliner she wears in real life.  And I couldn't find anything to wear except a hideous green v-neck sweater.

The dream was more interesting when I was in it.

I think the dream stemmed from this article about Kate's weight loss.  In it, there is a semi-funny piece about how she makes Nicole Kidman look heavy.  Lord.  I guess that's funny because I'm sick of being a normal person who has felt fat for looking normal next to the twigs of Hollywood, and here is a princess who makes the Hollywood skinnies look lumpy.  Maybe none of it is funny.  I would like it more if Kate were huge and everyone still wanted to be her.  Wouldn't that be refreshing?

What am I talking about?  I don't think I slept enough last night.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Sorry for the absence.  Due to a crazy storm that raged through Northern Illinois on Monday morning (that had me running to wake up my husband and daughter, yelling, "We need to get in the basement!"), I was out of power for a couple days.  The family stayed with my mom (Thanks, Ma!), which was nice but rough.  There's no place like home.  Especially when you're sharing a bed with a two and a half year old.

Today I'm blogging about some of the stacks of things in my life right now.  The first stack is of Toby and the Snowflakes, my first published book, written by me and illustrated by my husband.  It is out of print, which we learned about a year ago.  Because of that, we were allowed to purchase some at a ridiculously low price.  So we did.  I blogged about that a long time ago.  Recently we received another letter saying that since it's out of print, we are entitled to free copies!  Lots!  This is the first batch.  I'm going to keep the stack where it is until all of the books arrive.  I'll keep you posted as it grows.

The next stack is of some of the books I have ready to read, many of them from ALA.  There are other books floating around the house, too.  The book on top, though, will be my first priority when I finish the one I'm currently reading (James Klise's Love Drugged, which is fabulous).  It's the new Louise Rennison!  The Georgia Nicholsen books are by far my favorite humor series, so I can't wait to read this one, Withering Tights (already funny!).

This stack is the scary stack.  That's my manuscript for Get Well Soon II (still without a good title).  Underneath is the notebook I use to write extra scenes or scenes that need a lot of changing.  Otherwise I write on the back of the printed pages.
Here is the view from the side.  I'm over halfway through, so I'm not nearly as daunted.  Totally doable!  Except that my editor wants me to add en entire new scene at the end.  So a lot of work just when I think I'm finished.

My last stack is of the brand new collection of greenroom notebooks I found at Target.  These are my favorite notebooks to write my novels in, and I'm thrilled they had some in stock.  These are particularly cute, so I bought two of each.  What novel will fill their innards one day?

Friday, July 08, 2011


There has been a lot of good stuff going around the web lately.  Or maybe there always is, and I am using it now to be bad when I should be good and revising my novel.  Here are some of my recent faves:

Worst analogies ever written in a high school essay - A colleague pointed this one out.  She said it was probably for an assignment of bad analogies.  I think many are rather hilarious and brilliant.  I would like to meet these kids.

Soundgarden Inadvertently Reunites at Area Cinnabon - This article from the Onion, which I thought was the funniest thing on Earth, is now not as funny that I learned they are actually reunited.  Still highly entertaining.

I spent WAY too much time watching the live footage of the Harry Potter premiere at Trafalgar Square (streaming live online).  The best parts can be seen below, where, in the first one, the producers make speeches, and, in the second, the actors and Jo make their speeches.  You are an evil piece of poo if you don't start crying when Rupert gives his speech, and not just because Ron Weasely is my sweetie.  Rupe could not be more sincere, and no matter what others may think, I adore his new wave haircut.  I don't know how I'm going to make it through (or even to) the final movie without bawling the entire time.  I'm already choked up. 

So are you crying? If not, you must be a Slytherin.

To end on a happy note (or a frightening child-raising note, depending on how you feel about this), here is a child headbanging to Pantera.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Horror

This post has no relation to other recent post (really, Julie?  And all of your posts are usually so carefully planned!), but for some reason I have been thinking about horror movies that made me cry.  I know the reason: an Entertainment Weekly review of a new book about some of the good, old horror movies of the 70s.  You may or may not know that I was a film major in college, and my favorite genre was always horror.  And gore.  Sort of different, and some movies encompass both.  But, dang, I loved that stuff.  I was quite the little award winning horror movie maker in college.  It's hard to love it now as a mom in my thirties, but I still have a soft, mushy, bloody place in my heart for the genre.

Not that it really scared me, but I don't think that was the point.  Most of the movies either made me laugh or marvel at the stupidity, both excellent reasons for watching movies.  However, here is my (very short) list of horror movies that were so scary they made me cry.  And not as a kid.  Like, within the last fifteen years.

1.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The original, duh.  The end, where the girl makes it to the truck and she's hysterical? I have the exact reaction.  Leatherface put us through so much, will we ever really escape?

2.  Poltergeist - This movie is scary as shit.  A clown doll.  Need I say more?  Because I can: freaky little girl, creaky old stumpy woman, skeletons in the swimming pool, vortexes in the bedroom walls, trees attacking kids...  And it was all so real!  Plus, all of that horrible stuff happened to the cast and crew of all of the movies and their sequels.  Not right.

3.  28 Days Later - I cry at regular intervals throughout this movie.  Nothing scares me as much as fast moving zombies.  (Let's not have the are they zombies argument right now, thank you.)  I think the stress of this movie may someday give me a heart attack.

4.  The Blair Witch Project - No matter what you think of this movie now (and, you'd better think about it), seeing it on opening night before anyone knew that it was a work of fiction was one of the scariest experience of my life.  I THREW UP in the bathroom during the film.  Okay, it turned out I had mono, but still.  And after the movie, a fight broke out in the lobby because some woman brought a little kid to the theater, and a guy was screaming at her and I think a punch was thrown.  All in all, a warped event.  But the movie itself is pure genius.  Will anyone ever look at a basement corner the same way again?  And it also reminds us all how much camping sucks.

So, what movies scare the tears out of you?

PS Did I already blog about this?  Or have I just thought about blogging about it, so it all seems familiar?  Whatevs.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Speaking of Favorites

Our house is a hole. We had two babysitters yesterday, one in the morning and my mom in the afternoon so Matt and I could go out to dinner (and play min-golf) for our anniversary.  Due to this, every single toy we own, and I think even some we don't, has now made its way onto the floor.  We'll be busting out the Barney cleanup song when she wakes up.

I had to share this page from the Macmillan fall catalog  In the back, they have pages of lists, such as award winners and holiday books, but check this one out:
You can click on it to make it larger.  It's All Time Favorites.  And my book is on there!  Next to a whole bunch of amazing books!  I have looked at this catalog page numerous times now.  I shall pull it out at those moments when I don't feel 2Legit2Quit.  Because now I'm totally legit.  Right?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Our Favorite Book from ALA

We collected many great books from ALA in New Orleans this year, some YA and some picture books, many award winners.  A lot of them were already my daughter's favorites, and the fun part came in her getting to meet authors and illustrators we had talked about for months.  However, you may be surprised to read that the favorite book, meaning the most read since we returned from New Orleans (not necessarily the best. We did amass quite a few Caldecott winners, after all), was not a book purchased at the ALA conference.  Instead, it's a little paperback Matt found at the Louisiana Children's Museum.  Behold:
Yes!  That's Mr. McFeely!
He has lots of packages to deliver.  Can you guess what they are?
Hmmmm.  And that's my cat's tail on his face.
Bye bye!  Speedy Delivery!
And I do a mean Mr. McFeely voice.  (Not that I sound like a mean Mr. McFeely, just that I do it well.  You knew what I meant.)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Surprise Fourth

Oh, what will today bring?  I slept for naught last night, thanks to a combination of homemade chocolate ice cream, my daughter running a fever right before bedtime, and some jagoff down the street lighting off REALLY LOUD fireworks at the most annoyingly sporadic intervals well into the wee hours of the morning.  I envisioned myself running outside in my pajamas and shouting, "Hey you!  Yeah, the trash who's setting off fireworks while people with kids are trying to get some sleep!  Shut your corn hole!"  And then some hillbillies in overalls with missing teeth would come out of the bushes and shoot me.  Or something like that.  Ug.  Today could be rough.  I have no idea how sick Romy is or what she has, so I have no idea what she'll be like.  We had a morning babysitter lined up so I could exercise and work on my book (not at the same time) guiltlessly, but I don't think that's going to happen.  How's that going, you ask?  Oh, you mean my revision to the Get Well Soon sequel?  Not bad.  I really have only managed to get an hour of work done on an every other day basis.  It's getting more and more complicated because I shifted a plotline to earlier in the story, so now I have to find all of the places where I dealt with that story later in the book and hope to bring them up sooner.  I think it would go much more smoothly if I worked on the book more regularly.  At the rate I'm going, I tend to forget where I've been.  I'm happy I wrote such a solid first draft (not really the first draft, but the first official one I sent to my editor) because it means that I'm not having to work nearly as hard on this revision.  If only I had the time to do it.  I'm thinking that my next book won't be as hard to write, if I can get my daughter into preschool.  At least then I'll have prescribed writing times.  But now, fitting in an hour whenever Matt is done with work or I can get my mom to come over, is stressing me out.  Enough that if that neighbor of mine starts his little random late night firework spectacular again, I may be the one outside with overalls.  Although, I don't believe in guns, so it would be me and a pirate sword.  A Styrofoam one.  Wish me luck.  Happy Fourth!