Tag Archive for family

A Little Bird Valentine

Little Bird is more metal than you.

This is my daughter, the Little Bird. This photo is a few years old, but she’s still pretty bad ass.

Today she brought home the Valentine she created for me at school. Pretty standard, hand-written stuff. Heart on the front.

Then I opened it and read it.

One note before you get to feel the love:

She has a friend who has a goldfish. Little Bird came home after visiting said friend one day last week and asked if she could have one, too. Why not, right? What’s it cost, like ten bucks at Wally World to get her all set up? It’s a no-brainer for her next birthday present this Spring.

There. Now here’s the card:

Dear Dad,

You are the best dad ever. I like beating you at Candyland. It is fun beating you at every single game. It is nice of you to let me have a fish. You are the best dad ever when I beat you at games.

Love,
[Little Bird]

Translation:

You’re cool because I can beat your ass at games and you buy me stuff.

Maybe I should buy her a piranha.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Family Bike Rally

Last Sunday, we hosted the Wife’s family reunion at the local park, and most of us biked in.

The Bikes

Lenore is in the middle of the pack

I’m still waiting to hear the rumors about the biker gang that took over the park building. My bike was already there when they arrived, but it was something listening to them all come rolling through the park. I shot a video of them rolling out at the end of the day, but Instagram was happy to hose it all up for me.

This is most of the bikes in the family, a mix of Harleys and Hondas with a Kawasaki and a Star for variety. Missing from the photo are two Honda Gold Wings, a Harley Electra Glide, a Harley Street Glide, an old Suzuki Cavalcade, and at least one or two more Harley cruisers. Most of the family have been riders for a long time, some of whom are just getting back into riding and some of whom never gave up their bikes. A few more have hopped on two wheels within the last five years or so.

The family is having a short ride again this weekend, but they’re in downstate Illinois and I’ve got other commitments. One of these days I’ll get down there and run with the pack, though.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

War Rocket Rugrat

My family inadvertently reenacted the worst portions of the Soviet space program yesterday.

That’s the problem with science kits: they promise so much, but give so little. The Rugrats received a simple rocket kit for Christmas last year. Little more than a plastic soda bottle and some tchotchkes, it’s supposed to shoot “up to 100 feet” into the sky.

Here is our sad little rocket:

Launch One: FAIL

Made by Acme, apparently

Now, to be fair, we weren’t all that concerned about looks. The fins are cheap balsa wood,  and the rest is flimsy, light plastic lashed together with strips cut from a sheet of silver foil tape. The Rugrats are still too young to cut and tape straight. End result? Something that could explode and we wouldn’t be too concerned about it.

The fuel for this simple rocket is vinegar and baking soda. When the two mix you get carbon dioxide, which is supposed to punch out a stopper at the bottom and propel this thing skyward. A simple chemical reaction. So we loaded the vinegar into the body, dropped the baking soda into the engine tube, and took them out to the field across the street.

Launch One: I mix the materials and the engine immediately blows off in my hands. The rubber stopper misses my face by inches.

The Wife and Rugrats laugh and laugh.

The Wife and Little Bird run home for more fuel, we clean up the rocket and reload, and we take it back to the center of the field. I put in the stopper (engine) and tighten it up more this time. The eldest Rugrat wisely flees the launch area.

Launch Two: Mix the fuel, set the rocket down, boosh! It all explodes out of the bottom before I let go.

The Wife and Rugrats laugh and laugh.

I know the chemistry is sound because we’re getting the reaction, and the stopper does pop loose. However, the paperwork says it’s supposed to take 8-30 seconds for pressure to build up. Maybe the designers of this thing should have read up on the Nedelin catastrophe. We load up again, this time using less baking soda, and I try to get the stopper/engine on good and tight.

Launch Three: Mix the fuel and it blows up all over my shoe before I can set it down.

The Wife and Rugrats laugh and laugh.

This thing writes its own premature ejaculation jokes at this point. Maybe the kit designers are trying to build empathy for their personal problems.

Though I suppose it could have been worse. The kids want to try a Mentos and Diet Coke launch sometime.

We had enough vinegar for one last launch. I examine the stopper and make sure it tightens as it’s supposed to (it has a screw and a handle that are supposed to compress it lengthwise to make it wider). I dry the stopper and the mouth of the bottle to make sure it will get a good grip. Prep the engine, return to the launchpad. Again, my assistant Rugrat flees the scene.

Launch Four: Mix the fuel, set the rocket on the ground. It immediately falls over on one of its flimsy balsa wood fins. I reach down to pick it up . . . Boosh! The stopper pops and the rocket shoots fifteen feet or so through the grass.

The Wife and two Rugrats laugh and laugh.

The Squirt hangs his head with a sad pout because the rocket “sucks” and we’re out of fuel, so he didn’t get to see it fly up into the air. Thanks, Science! You like making little kids cry?

Man. Science is a jerk sometimes.

And that’s why I didn’t get any real writing work done yesterday.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday on Tuesday: Catching Up

I shot the photos for the last two weeks of Photo Friday entries, but unfortunately it took a while to find the time to sit down and go through them and edit them, and then I had no time to sit down and punch up the blog entry.

The first photo was shot from the front row behind home plate at Wrigley Field. A friend’s wife won tickets in an auction, and when she and one of his daughters couldn’t go, he invited the Squirt and I to tag along. The Cubs hosted the Cincinnati Reds that day.

Incoming

Heads up!

We had a great time. I shot with my 55-250mm all day, with the ISO locked in at 100 because it was bright and sunny. I had to drop it a couple of times when clouds cast a shadow, but otherwise it was a set it and forget it kind of day. I got a few good ones in the full set.

Bonus paparazzo shot:

Let's Do Some Good

Don't worry, prohibition is still over.

Kevin Costner sat opposite us in a box just past the netting. I saw a lot of cameras pointed his way when he stood up to order a beer. In fact, there’s one in the background.

For the second Photo Friday entry, I snapped a few photos of the kids before walking them to school on the first day, which also happened to be the first day of Kindergarten for the Little Bird.

Back to School

Summer's officially over, kids!

I had to move them around a bit to get the harsh morning sunlight out their eyes. Squinty pics are no fun. I would have liked to have a diffuser panel off to the side for this one, too, but the Wife and the rest of the family were thrilled with this pic, so I’m happy, too. 18-55mm kit lens, nothing fancy.

This coming Friday: either portrait work from a herf with my super-distant cousin by marriage Mark tomorrow night, or more karate pics. Probably the herf.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

It’s not an Oliveri project…

…unless people are dying.

Witness my son’s diorama of the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María for his 1st grade class:

Abandon Ship!

Jumped overboard... or thrown?

Yeah, parent-teacher conferences should be interesting this year.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

This Weekend, I Cease to Exist

For all practical purposes, anyway.

The Wife will be taking the rugrats out of town, leaving me with an empty house. I’ve got a poker game Friday night, karate Saturday morning, and then I write. If I get bothered at home, I will pack up the laptop, jump on the bike, and ride out to somewhere quiet. If my phone keeps ringing, I’ll simply “forget” it somewhere.

Because I really, really need to get some writing work done this weekend.

I received a flurry of emails last week from a publisher I’m working with, and things are moving along. It’s nothing I can announce yet, but I can tell you that if things pan out, both my comic and my prose fans will be pleased. I’ve only today caught up with all of that email, and I’m on to artist searches.

(That said, if you’re a sequential artist or know one, feel free to point me to a gallery.)

It’s going to take some hustle. Again, nothing solid yet, but I can tell you I have no intention of wandering Wizard World Chicago aimlessly next year. I want to be planted behind a table or booth and shoving product into folks’ hands. There’s a good chance that will happen.

Assuming I can cease to exist long enough to make it happen.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Perils of Fatherhood

The Wife handed me a nice, big chunk of my ass again today.

Yes, again. I have a bad habit of forgetting what the rugrats should and shouldn’t be watching, and I have yet to live down a two-week streak of nightmares the Midget had when he was two. Nightmares caused by a viewing of the climax of Aliens. My thinking at the time was something like “It’s edited for TV, how bad can it be?” My defense was “But he said he wasn’t scared! He wanted to watch it!”

My first lesson in Fatherhood. Well, among the first.

See, the Wife and I had two very different upbringings. I was a kid when John Carpenter’s The Thing hit an old cable network called ONTV, and my old man recorded it. By the time I was a teenager, we had literally worn that tape out, as well as another with recordings of First Blood and Robocop. Conan the Barbarian? No problem. Aliens? I could quote it on command. By the time Predator came out, we just had to see it in the theater.

The Wife’s family, meanwhile, stuck to Disney flicks. The Wife was weaned on a steady diet of musicals, Shirley Temple, and The Wizard of Oz. The closest she came to any kind of violence was Doctor Who (when it still ran on PBS Channel 11 out of Chicago) and James Bond flicks. James Bond is nothing to sneeze at, but he doesn’t hold a candle to An American Werewolf in London.

As such we’re operating on two different gages of appropriateness. Hers is set to Metric, mine Imperial. Hers is well maintained, always oiled, and calibrated regularly. Mine’s rusting, jams, and has a tolerance of a yard, give or take a cubit.

And the moment the Midget started quoting Frylock from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, my gage got thrown out in the street. I was pretty good about referencing hers for a while, too, but somehow it made its sorry way back into the house. I felt bad and made it a sandwich rather than telling it to stay out there where it belonged. Then we shared a couple beers and reminisced about the good ol’ days.

Which leads me, at last, to the ass-whoopin’.

The Midget got on the subject of kidneys. The Wife explained their form and function, and of course the word “pee” entered the conversation.

“Some people have thorny bugs with big, sharp teeth living in their pee!” the Midget informed his mother.

Oh shit, thought I. I’m toast. Because yes, I knew exactly where this was coming from.

“Why do you say that?” the Wife asked, already shooting a glare in my direction.

“I saw it on TV! The guy was peeing in the river, and the bugs climbed up his pee and into his kidneys!”

“Yeah,” the Squirt chimed in. “And they said ‘I don’t want to see your ass!'”

Oh shit!

“And what exactly were they watching, Daddy?” She rose from the couch like the Kraken from the sea.

Metalocalypse!” the Midget supplied.

“What?” I asked, feigning innocence. “Haven’t you ever heard the stories about the parasites in the Amazon? Murderface was peeing in the river, and the parasites climbed into his kidneys! It’s a survival lesson!”

“Yeah, and he was naked!” the Midget said.

“Ix-nay on the Etalocalypse-may.” I shot a nudge into his ribs.

“And then their jaws melted off!” the Squirt added.

It was completely unrelated. See, these Amazon warriors blew some kind of hallucinogenic dust into the characters’ faces, and they started seeing some crazy-violent stuff, right? A continuation of the life lesson, to be sure. When you go into the Amazon, you best back some heat, Son! But the Wife took a step in my direction, so I bolted for the door.

Her nostrils flared. Furniture flew through the air. Fire rained down from the heavens. The children plead for her to spare Daddy’s life. But the little Roman emperor in her head said “Thumbs down, Byotch!”

Thus began the ass-handing.

Good thing they didn’t tell her about The Venture Brothers

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Done Already?

Spring Break is officially over. I work in education so I got the week off, but it went by so fast it felt like just another weekend. It was one of those weeks I was constantly on the move, out running around for one reason or another or working on things at home. Today we even did spring cleaning and rearranged the living room.

I made fitness a priority, though. I still made it to my karate classes, and if you check out the Nike+ badge on the right you’ll see I managed to keep up on the running program as well. On Monday I visited the doc for a brief check-up, and on Tuesday I got my cholesterol checked (borderline total/HDL/LDL numbers, but triglycerides were nice and low). Not too shabby.

We upgraded the family ride this week. We had a bland, boring minivan and now we have one that’s a little closer to a man’s van. No flame job or anything like that, but it’s black and it has a lot of the electronic gadgets like navigation, Sirius satellite radio, and drop-down video screens for the rugrats. It also has a bigger set of balls under the hood, so I feel a lot less like a closet soccer mom when I’m sitting behind the wheel.

As of this week, I’m jamming the Blu-ray on an upgraded theater setup. I didn’t catch Full Metal Jacket in the theaters, but watching it in 1080p high definition gave me a craving for a bucket of popcorn. The setup took a while, but it was totally worth it.

Speaking of movies, I snuck out to see Doomsday with a friend. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad it’s good. It’s best described as a cross between 28 Weeks Later, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and, of all things, Robin Hood. I wasn’t particularly taken with that third bit, but I had a blast through the rest of it and I really dug the subtle jokes. Clark, meanwhile, loved it all the way through. It was exactly what we expected and awesome in its badness. (By the way, Doomsday‘s site makes a big deal of it carrying the trailer for the new The Incredible Hulk flick. Meh. Doesn’t seem to be much better than Ang Lee’s lackluster version.)

The rest of the time I visited family, did some shopping, played the buy/pick-up/go-back-and-exchange game with Best Buy, and last night played a couple hours of Halo 3 co-op with some friends online (gotta put the new TV through its paces, don’tcha know).

Did I get any writing done? No. Did I catch up on my comics reading? No. Did I read anything besides magazines on the crapper? No. Those were also my goals for the week, but I did a piss-poor job of making them happen and I’ve been flogging myself for it. I need to finish reading The Road so I can get started on Brian’s Dark Hollow. I feel like magazines, websites, and even the odd style of The Road haven’t been providing the fuel for the writing urge that many books give, so hopefully jumping back into the horror genre with both feet will give me a much-needed jump start.

I wonder if I can get the school board to extend the Break another week…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.