In the event of a Sharknado, find the nearest catfish noodler

(This morning I’m over at Long Awkward Pause, where my assignment was to offer an informative piece on Sharknado survival. It’s a Public Service Announcement of sorts, minus the “service” part…)

Yes, Minnesota, even you have reason to fear a Sharknado.

Yes, Minnesota, even you have reason to fear a Sharknado.

We all know it’s only a matter of time before “The Big One” hits the West Coast, probably somewhere in California first because, let’s face it, they get everything first. The aftershocks will then spread north along Oregon’s coastline, which is exactly where I happen to live. I’ve prepared myself for The Big One as best I can but the truth is: How much can you really prepare for a Sharknado?

Earthquake.
Tsunami.
Volcano.

No problemo.

But you’re going to need more than a survival kit of granola bars and toilet paper when faced with a giant tornado full of hungry Great White sharks. Although the toilet paper will probably come in handy. (Read more at LAP!)

My tips for Tim McGraw on how not to excite women

This is just like most of my public appearances, except without the women. Or security. Or anything, really...

This is just like most of my public appearances, except without the women. Or security. Or anything, really…

As I watched the recent footage of a female fan clawing at Tim McGraw’s pant leg, causing him to shove her hand away in an attempt to avoid being dragged into a sea of crazed women, I silently nodded my head in understanding.

Being that my job has kept me in the public eye for more than a decade, I have some advice for the country superstar when it comes to avoiding overzealous women trying to get their hands on you:

Become a humor columnist.

In the last 15 years, the closest I’ve come to having a strange woman grab at me was during a fundraiser dinner, when part of my pulled-pork sandwich went down the wrong way and a nurse in the audience gave me the Heimlich Maneuver. Continue reading

Six headlines worth a Long Awkward Pause

As some of you know, I spend Saturday mornings chiming in on the Saturday Six with the rest of the staff at Long Awkward Pause. You can think of it as Hollywood Squares, except with everyone crammed into the middle square. And speaking of awkward, I’m getting a little uncomfortable with where Adam and Chris’s hands keep ending up. Anyway, the subject of this week’s Saturday Six is “WTF Headlines”, which is something I’m familiar with as a newspaper journalist. For example:

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Calahan – She then donated the reward money she received for finding herself to someone chosen randomly out of the phonebook. That was her, too!

Chris - Woman 1: Who are we looking for? Woman 2: You. Woman 1: Oh, have you tried my cell phone? Woman 2: Yes, it says your lost. Woman 1: That’s weird, I don’t feel lost.

Katie - Crashing your own search party? Even I have better manners than that.

Ned: One month later, she is abducted by a serial killer but is able to sneak a call to the police from the back of his windowless van. “Officer O’Reilly speaking. Who is this? Oh, JENNIFER WELLS! What is it THIS time? Psychopath got you tied up in his van?” *makes jerking off motion* “Oh sure, Jen. We’ll get right on that!” — click…

Omawarisan – Everyone loves a good party.

BREAKING NEWS! Join me and the rest of the LAP staff for five more WTF Headlines here

If you’re a writer without a rejection letter, you’re doing something wrong

Let’s face it: It’s hard to forget Jack Nicholson when he’s coming at you with an axe. Or even a pick-up line, right ladies? So I won’t pretend that this week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing isn’t a repeat from a while back. But I did bring a note from my fire captain, which reads:

Please excuse Ned from this week’s NWOW. He was up most of the night fighting a house fire. He looks like hell and smells like smoke. Usually he just looks like hell.
— Capt. Warren.

That said, my apologies for the repeat. However, I chose this piece because, as often as a writer (and even Jack Nicholson) deals with rejection, I think the message bears repeating. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled NWOW next week, during which I’ll apologize again — but not because it’s a repeat…

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It’s time for this week’s edition of my Nickel’s Worth on Writing, which Editor’s Weakly recently called “…something that has become an integral part of our screening process whenever we hire a proof reader.”

High prays in deed.

But enough accolades!

Let’s get to this week’s NWOW, which I’d like to open by sharing a few passages from the many rejection letters I’ve received over the years:

“You are a gifted wordsmith. Try somewhere else.”
(Were they saying I was overqualified?)

“We don’t publish new authors.”
(If all publishing houses felt that way, there wouldn’t be any new material since The Book of Genesis) Continue reading

My firefighter fitness test shows I’m getting older and faster… say WHAT?

I shaved HOW many minutes off my time?

I shaved HOW many minutes off my time?

As a volunteer with our local fire department, I am required to take an annual physical agility test to prove I can, among other things, walk a balance beam and drag 100 pounds of concrete mix — things we often do as construction workers firefighters. The test includes seven stations that need to be completed during a running clock within 15 minutes or less. And there’s no station called “refreshment swig” or “brownie lift.”

I asked.

The seven stations of the test are:
1) Crawl and Lift: Cross the fire station bay on your hands and knees three times, stopping to lift a 20-pound roll of fire hose over your head each time. Think of it as shopping on Black Friday.

2) Hose drag: Pretty much what it sounds like. Drag 100 feet of hose for 50 feet in one direction, then the other. Kind of like taking your kids to the grocery store.

3) Lift and Carry: A dummy weighing 100 pounds is lifted and carried 30 feet in one direction, then carried back. I’ve seen this happen in bars at closing time.

4) Ladder Carry: Demonstrate the proper lifting technique and carry the ladder 50 yards in one direction, set it down, pick it up and carry it back. This is similar to helping your wife move furniture. Continue reading

Don’t mess with The Master when it comes to fake poo

It takes an artist to bring this rubber poo to life. Or maybe just somebody weird.

It takes an artist to bring this rubber poo to life. Or maybe just somebody weird.

Around noon today, I will effectively be putting the “finishing move” on my son regarding an ongoing practical-joke battle involving fake dog poo. Though I will be working on deadline here at the newspaper several blocks from home, I will know exactly when my triumphant moment occurs. That’s because I will hear his anguished holler as he drops to his knees, fists raised, and cries out “DANGGGG YOUUUUU!”

Or something to that effect.

I know this may come as a surprise to many of you, but yes: I own a piece of fake dog poo. I’ve had it for years and pride myself on executing it masterfully in terms of timing, placement and appearance. Just putting it on the floor is for amateurs. A true maestro of poo knows that turning it from a single note to a symphony requires, well… a movement. There needs to be a set-up, i.e., a reason for the poo to be there. For example, last year someone in the sales department brought their dog to work because their home was being fumigated. The dog, a nervous sheltie, routinely got out of the sales room and roamed through the office. Continue reading

Being on a roll is good, unless you’re skating downhill

image It’s been more than 250 years since John Joseph Merlin invented the roller skate. Considering that there were no cement sidewalks, asphalt streets or concrete half-pipes in 1760, then one can only assume Mr. Merlin’s intention was to commit suicide.

Hmmm, running myself into a wall at full speed probably won’t do the me in. But maybe if I was rolling down a hill..?!?

I thought about this during a recent trip to Eugene, which is the closest big city to us and home to many University of Oregon students who roller skate through downtown. They do this as a way to leave a smaller carbon footprint, which is ironic considering I go through twice as much carbon in my brake pads by trying to avoid hitting them in traffic. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a roller-skate prude shaking his fist at a generation of whippersnappers with their fancy moves and ibuprofen-free flexibility. In fact, it wasn’t long ago (Okay, 10 years *cough cough*) I was lacing up my own skates in a show of dexterity rivaling any speed-skating Olympian suffering a leg cramp at 40 mph. Continue reading

Six state laws that will give you a Long Awkward Pause

It’s Saturday! That means I’m with the rest of the staff at Long Awkward Pause for the Saturday Six, which is a collection of strangeness made even more strange by our comments. Think of it as a six-pack of Yoo-Hoo with several Red Bull chasers. This week’s topic? Bizarre state laws that make you wonder if any of us are really safe from our local congressmen — even if you aren’t an intern. Our first weird state law comes from New Jersey, where apparently it is a misdemeanor to: Frown at a police officer…

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Omawarisan: …or the governor.

Chris: Or the couch you will be sleeping on after frowning at your wife for getting a speeding ticket.

Ned: Please send bail money, Chris and Adam. I should’ve read this before I left for Hoboken.

(Want to know which state lets you shoot whales, but only from your car? [Hint: It's not Kansas]. Then follow me over to LAP!…)

Convince readers to take a leap of faith, instead of a flying leap

image Welcome to Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I share writing wisdom gained through 15 years as a newspaper columnist — or as my editor calls it, “Reasons I have a cardiologist.”

But enough accolades!

As I’m sure all of you remember, the last NWOW was about the importance of honesty in all genres of writing…

Fine, no one remembers.

At least you’re honest.

In that post, I talked about how writing must ring true with readers for them to become emotionally invested. This is particularly important when it comes to fiction, where you are often asking readers to suspend their disbelief and buy into something — such as an eccentric character, over-the-top situation or random reference to the new iPad6® in hopes of getting a free one — that requires a leap of faith. I this case, your reader is making a “leap” over reality because they have faith that you, the writer, will keep them safely suspended until they land safely on the last page. Assuming, of course, your book doesn’t end with, “…Then there was a massive explosion and everybody died, including the basket of puppies.” Continue reading

… This Just In …

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…TAT-tat-tat-TAT-TAT-tat-tat-TAT…

[Breaking News: from another strangely irrelevant moment in our newsroom...]

Even though we’re a small community newspaper, we are located at the intersection of two major state highway arteries connecting the valley to the central Oregon coast. In fact, instead of our current newspaper slogan…

Siuslaw News — Your source for local news. Twice weekly. Unless we lose count

… there was serious talk about:

Siuslaw News — The heartbeat of local news and events. From the coast’s main artery. All in one stroke. Continue reading