Saturday, April 4, 2015

I Remember "Danny Boy"

I remember the piano in the patients’ lounge down the hall from Dad’s room.

I remember how I was aimlessly plunking the keys when an old man came in to play.

I remember when, two months earlier, Dad told me he didn’t have much time left.

I remember how he made a point of telling me that there was one particular song he wished to be remembered by.

I remember how he referred to it as my song.

I remember the curiosity of this moment, as he had never so much as hummed a bar of my song in my presence.

I remember how non-musically inclined he was.

I remember how he hardly ever called me “Dan."

I remember how the news hollowed me with fear.

I remember the new He-Man figure Dad gave me when I was in the hospital eleven years earlier.

I remember how that piano was a cheering distraction from what was mounting down the hall.

I remember that I was just beginning to figure out how piano playing works.

I remember watching the old man start into a seasoned rendition of a song he knew from memory.

I remember leaving the room before he was done, but I don’t remember why.

I remember that twenty minutes later I was at the foot of Dad’s bed watching him give his last breath.

I remember Dad’s love of all things Irish. 

I remember the old man’s pitch-perfect intro.

I remember the uncanny moment and the familiar emerald air.

I remember the gentle cadence.

I remember wondering if the old man had any idea who that song belonged to. 

Wayne Thies, March 18, 1945 - April 4, 1995

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Little Elliot, Big New York Times Review

This Sunday, a glowing review of Little Elliot, Big City will appear in a little publication called THE NEW YORK TIMES! Here's a snippet: 
"The author-illustrator Mike Curato, making his picture book debut, beautifully renders the images in rich earth tones that are soft and smooth, calling to mind 'The Sweetest Fig,' by Chris Van Allsburg ... "  
So yeah, that was Mike being compared to one of his idols in the Sunday Times book review. You know, NBD. Read the rest here

Seriously, though, what an honor for Mike. I know I keep saying it, but I am SO DAMN PROUD of him! 
"We've all been there ... " - Times review
Update: We just found out that Little Elliot also made Amazon's list of the 20 best children's books of 2014! So much excitement here! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What "The Birdcage" Did for Me: A Short Tribute to Robin Williams

Sometime after the release of The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams, I remember my mom telling me how much she had enjoyed the film. It was a revelation that stuck with me because I was surprised to see that she, a devout, lifelong Catholic, was completely unfazed by the film's sympathetic (yet over-the-top) portrayal of Williams' characther's "non-traditional" family. The movie depicted the de facto marriage of two unabashedly flamboyant gay nightclub owners, along with their having raised a seemingly happy, healthy, well-adjusted son together. It was edgy fare for 1996 the year that DOMA became lawflying in the face of what many, perhaps most Americans still believed about queer families. But my conservative-ish mom didn't seem the least bit bothered or offended by any of it. In fact, she loved it.

It was with this specifically in mind a few years later that I finally summoned the courage to come out to my mom. And she has been nothing but awesome ever since.
Mom and me on my gay wedding day

So thank you, Robin Williams, for the many great performances you gave us, but especially, thank you for The Birdcage. 

Rest in peace. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Who Has Two Thumbs and His Own "Little Elliot" Tote Bag?

This guy.
Apparently, the Little Elliot tote bag, a promotional giveaway at this year's Book Expo America, was a huge hit. From Publishers Weekly's "ShelfTalker" blog (emphasis mine): 
"Savvy booksellers paced themselves on the number of galleys they took. Mostly there was talk about how to get a particular tote bag. I missed my chance, but for some reason many people asked me about it, as if I had a magical power to make them appear at the Macmillan booth. So cute, but alas there seemed to be a limited number that were given out Thursday and then gone. This was actually a really smart move on the publisher’s part. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted this bag. And it just gets you ready for the book, which is equally good." 
I guess being married to Mr. Little Elliot himself has its perks. 

You can read the whole BEA wrap-up here, and Mike's own take on his first BEA experience here

Monday, June 2, 2014

My New Life in Movie-Land Pt. 2

Yesterday Mike and I took advantage of the glorious sunshine and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a first for both of us: 
Enjoyin' the view (of Mike's backside)

We then followed our little cross-river excursion with a visit to an equally iconic NYC landmark: 
That's me haunting the street corner

This one was not a first for us (I stumbled across it totally by accident while exploring the city shorty after moving here), but it was the first time pictures were taken:
(Cute texting fireman not included in the tour package. I asked.)

Amazingly, there's a Ghostbusters sign hanging inside the station, and the on-duty firemen seem relatively unbothered by the occasional gawking tourist (or newbie local) wandering in to pose beneath it: 
I ain't 'fraid of no ghostly white legs
Who you gonna call?

This is my life now. 
(For further readingon the Ghostbusters firehouse, my friend Geraldine made the same pilgrimage a couple years ago, and did a great write-up on her blog. Check it out!) 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Danned for Life: Same Blog, New Name

New name, new logo
So, I changed my blog's name over the weekend. 

I know what you're all thinking. He's crazy. This is a huge gamble. Speak of the Daniel is already an established brand with dozens of followers and a proud record of hard-won critical acclaim (thanks, Mom). So why is he messing with perfection?

Be that as it may, the change was long overdue. You see, I've never been super psyched about the old name. It's clever enough, I guess. It does what a personal blog name is supposed to do, using a punny play on the blogger's name to set the tone and convey some sense of the blog's theme. But the problem is that, while it is my given Christian name, I never go by Daniel. I've always been Dan (and occasionally Danny), and so a play on the name Daniel always felt like the topical simile I was trying to end this sentence with unnatural and forced. That's really all there is to it.

I've been kickin' around the name Danned for Life for quite a while now. I was hesitant to make the change at first, fearing that it, too, would quickly lose its pleasing ring and I would soon come to regret the new name. But I've decided that it has worn well over time. It does everything the old name does, but with a more natural-sounding play on the name Dan. As my sister-in-law observed, it's "just as funny, fewer syllables, so it works." 

And so it's time, as MJ would say, to make that change. I understand if you'll need some time to adjust emotionally, and I apologize for the hassle of having to update the bookmark tabs on all of your devices ( But I promise the new name will grow on you, and you'll soon be wondering how you ever got by in this crazy blog world before you got yourself DANNED FOR LIFE.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My New Life in Movie-Land

I was walking up Broadway the other day, and I stopped to snap a quick picture to send to my bestie, Meg. She'll be visiting NYC for the first time in a few weeks, and it's been lots of fun stoking her excitement: 

"Soon, my pet."
Meg: "Gasp!" 

Me: "You know. Just another day walkin' around the city." 

Meg: "In Movie-Land!" 

This is my life now.