What can you do with all those literary leftovers?

image Welcome to a special post-Thanksgiving edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing! What makes this week’s NWOW special? It’s the only day of the year I can refer to my writing tips as “giblets of wisdom” without sounding really weird. The same goes for other Thanksgiving-themed writing idioms, such as “stuffing the bird,” “mixing my gravy” and “rinsing the gizzard.”

Ok, you’re right. Those last three still sound weird.

For those of you who may be visiting for the first time (assuming you’re still reading), my weekly NWOW is when I gather the insights gained from 16 years as a newspaper columnist and offer them like the neatly-wrapped innards of a holiday turkey; obviously important enough to include but something no one really wants to think about. Continue reading

When planning your ‘Black Friday’ shopping, don’t forget Bigfoot

There are many advantages to shopping with Bigfoot. Keeping a low profile is not one of them.

There are times when, as a columnist, I am faced with the difficult decision of choosing between two equally important topics in order to meet my deadline.

Then there are times like this when, thanks to years of experience and accidentally consuming a quadruple espresso meant for the person next to me at Starbuck’s, I realize both topics can be combined into a single, well-structured piece of journalism.

Which is why, today, we will be talking about how to prepare for holiday shopping with the help of Bigfoot.

As some of you may have heard, a hiker in Utah posted video of what appeared to be Bigfoot rummaging through the brush.

In addition, some of you may have heard about Thanksgiving.

I don’t believe this is a coincidence. Continue reading

Separating Thanksgiving fact from fiction with the help of Mr. Knowitall

image It’s been more than 300 years since that first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians sat down together in celebration and, much like the Americans of today, made a solemn vow not to eat more than your standard bull elk.

We know this because of a passage recently discovered in the diary of Pilgrim Edward Winslow, who described the first Thanksgiving like this:

Our harvest be large so that we might rejoice! Our plates and bellies be full to swelling! We have feasted on meats and gathered crops, and pies of sweet fruit!
Aye, I say! I think it be time to vomit!

— Edward Winslow, Dec. 13, 1621

In spite of this kind of irrefutable historic documentation, many myths still exist about one of our most celebrated holidays. For example: Did anyone actually eat the Indian corn, or was it just used as a decoration? Continue reading

Always call for back-up when talking turkey

image Over the weekend, I was the victim of an unprovoked and extremely frightening turkey attack. In my defense, there were five of them (technically known as a “gang” of turkeys) involved in the assault, which started because of my proximity to a preening female turkey, which had apparently snubbed her suitors in favor of me.

Possibly because she was confused by my chicken legs.

Whatever the reason, the male turkeys didn’t take well to this and decided the best way to handle the situation was to join forces and, one by one, take turns flapping their giant wings at my [censored]. Before I knew it, I was being circled by an agitated turkey gang and wishing my editor had assigned me to something less dangerous, like covering a Blind Axe Throwers convention. Continue reading

Male aversion to holiday shopping linked to survival instinct

(Today, I’m at bat over at Long Awkward Pause! Mostly because Chris really hates it when we play baseball in the office…)

Most men won't admit to being afraid of female holiday shoppers

Many men won’t admit to being afraid of female holiday shoppers. The others are still alive.

It’s an American tradition: Kicking off the holiday shopping season by spending the morning after Thanksgiving standing in line at your favorite department store, shivering in the pre-dawn hours, determined to be among the first to get through the doors before your holiday dinner bowel movement hits. It’s a calculated risk, but one we are willing to take in order to make our loved ones’ holiday dreams come true, even if it means wearing Depends Undergarments and knocking fellow shoppers unconscious with a Spongebob Squarepants beach chair.

Admittedly, the last time I participated in the madness of holiday shopping was several years ago as an observer, which is a little like trying to be an “observer” while standing in a mosh pit. One minute I was leaning on a rack of scarves; the next minute I was being used as a battering ram by two large women trying to knock over an electric cart that was blocking the video game aisle.

The women’s names were “Marge” and “Judy.” I know this because, each time before swinging me head first, I would hear the following exchange:

“Ready, Marge!”
“You bet your sweet ASS, Judy!”

After three tries the cart was cleared and I was tossed — discarded, really — onto a table of wool sweaters, where I remained in a fetal position until the three-hour sale ended… (Read more at LAP!)

Don’t let Tofurky ruin your NaNoWriMo

image Welcome to a special “post-surgery” edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I take the cumulative knowledge gathered from 16 years as a columnist and, much like my male nurse Vern, shave an unfettered path to nuggets of wisdom. It’s a weekly feature the Journal Medicine has heralded as “…writing tips proven to be an effective form of anesthesia…” and what Dr. Oz has endorsed as “…a natural cure for constipated writers. Or writer’s block. Or whatever…”

But enough accolades!

Let’s be honest: No one is going to read this. (And not just because I refered to “nuggets of wisdom.”) Why? Because everyone is busy finishing their own novel this month. Who has time to read about writing tips when they have 10,000 words remaining in their 50,000-word manuscript and a 30-lb. Thanksgiving turkey thawing in the sink? Not to mention that, at this time next week, many NaNoWriMo participants will be following up their day of giving “thanks” by attacking fellow shoppers on Black Friday for the last pair of Walking Dead slippers. What if their fingers get broken during a tussle at Target? Or they get walloped at Walmart? Mauled at Macy’s? Shanked at Sears? Body slammed at Bloomingdales?

You get the idea. Continue reading

Manscaping and other things I learned from surgery

Heading to surgery with complete confidence, although my hair looks a little scared.

Heading to surgery with complete confidence (My hair looks scared, though.)

As many of you know, I had surgery last week to repair a hernia that was in close proximity to my [censored]. Being a man, I realize anything within 10 feet of that area is considered “close proximity.” But in this case, I’m not exaggerating.

About the proximity, I mean.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, then you also know there was a minor complication that required me to stay overnight for observation, which is something I’ve come to expect when getting my annual psych exam for the fire department — but not when it comes to surgery.

What most people DON’T know is that I was manscaped by a nurse named Vern.

And no, that wasn’t short for “Laverne.” Continue reading

Six examples of why Steve Buscemi isn’t a Disney princess

It’s my first post-surgery post! It’s also Saturday! That means instead of being with hospital staff I’m back with the staff at Long Awkward Pause for this week’s Saturday Six. Imagine my surprise when I showed up to find everyone wearing hospital gowns! Next, imagine how surprised Chris was when he realized his was on backwards! But hey, it’s the thought that counts — and you can count on me never thinking about what I saw ever again. Speaking of weird… this week’s subject is Steve Buscemi’s eyes, and what if they were put on Disney princesses?

For example:

1. Elsa In Fargo

image

Omawarisan: I have no idea what Frozen is about. I think you’re supposed to let something go, but that’s about it. Buscemi was great in Fargo, and then he was in the woodchipper.

BrainRants: I want to say, “For the love of god, not another ‘Frozen’ meme,” but this is an improvement.

The Hedonist:  I know your eyes are “up here” but can I just continue looking at your boobs?

Ned: I believe this is actually Elsa’s stunt double.

(What about Pocahontas? Ariel? Snow White? Yeah, it gets weirder. To see just HOW weird, join me for five more examples of Steve Buscemi eyes over at LAP by clicking HERE…)

Surgery is safer when patients come with instructions

(Depending on when you read this, I may already be passed out at the hospital. Preferably in the actual operating room itself and not in the foyer near the registration desk. Today they are repairing a hernia that has kept me away from firefighting for the last month. To celebrate, and because I will be off the grid for most of the day, it seemed like the perfect time to re-run my very first Freshly Pressed post — which, as you can tell from the title, is especially appropriate. And in case you’re wondering: I promise not to come back looking like the old Rene Zellweger…)

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image A recent study conducted by the healthcare industry shows an alarming trend in America’s operating rooms. According to the study, reports of “wrong-site surgery” are on the rise.

To clarify, “wrong-site surgery” occurs when a doctor operates on, say…

Your brain.

When he was supposed to operate on, say…

Your big toe.

Or someone else. Continue reading

Today marks 16 years as a columnist (and my editor’s drinking problem)

Looking ahead to another 16 years from the employee break area.

Looking ahead to another 16 years from the employee break area.

Today, my column has officially been around longer than some of my underwear. As I’m sure my editor would say, it’s a true testament to how a combination of hard work, dedication and “using powdered bleach instead of liquid can prolong the life of your boxers.”

I wear boxer briefs, actually. (Sometimes I don’t think she knows me at all.)

Regardless, 16 years ago my first column appeared in Siuslaw News, along with my first stories and photos as the news sports editor. I had returned to my hometown after a 16-year absence, working as a chef in Texas and Atlanta. Writing wasn’t new to me, but journalism was. I still marvel at my good fortune of being chosen over two journalism grads from the University of Oregon by then-editor Bob Serra, who saw something in my writing that spoke louder than my lack of experience or college degree. Or perhaps it spoke of a drinking problem.

Whatever the case, I still remember the mixture of excitement and terror as I opened that first issue and saw my name in print, along with this photo accompanying my first column… Continue reading