Pack your luggage; it’s time to get the dog neutered

Because it’s Easter, I chose a special selection for this week’s Flashback Sunday, which is a post that has never appeared on this blog. I chose it because 1) it fits the “flashback” criteria of a writing from my past, 2) many of you have asked about the connection between getting my dog neutered and my own vasectomy mentioned in a recent post, and 3) Easter is about rebirth in many cultures, so this subject seemed somewhat fitting…

Time to get the dog neutered It was a foregone conclusion that we would have our dog Stanley neutered once he was old enough. Just like it was a foregone conclusion that, when it came time to deliver him into the hands of the vet, I would be playing the role of Judas. I thought about disguising myself and borrowing someone else’s car so that Stanley would not associate me with his loss of malehood. My ex-wife told me I was being silly.

He’s a dog, she reminded me, and capable of recognizing my scent no matter how I was dressed.

It didn’t help the situation that my four-year-old son, after overhearing our conversation, had reached the conclusion that something serious was happening, and that it involved — but wasn’t limited to — Stanley turning into a girl and biting daddy. Continue reading

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Learn to distill story ideas like a moonshiner

Moonshine books copy Ok, so let’s suppose you’ve read everything I’ve posted here or at Gliterary Girl on on the subject of writing. (And let’s also suppose you aren’t my mother.) That means you understand the importance of developing a voice, know the tools you need to establish that voice, are prepared to send your work to potential publishers, have established a writing routine, and are now sitting at the keyboard ready to write!

YEAH!

…um, but about what?

As a writer, recognizing and developing story ideas is your bread and butter. Or biscuits and gravy, depending on your proximity to the Mason-Dixon line. The point is, whether you are a romance novelist, sci-fi short story writer or weekly columnist, generating ideas — and recognizing the difference between good ones and not-so-good ones (There are no bad ideas in my opinion, and I’ll explain that in a bit) — is the most important skill you must develop. Continue reading

Often, the Easter Bunny wears boxer shorts

Easter dad in boxers Soon, in the wee hours of the morning, something magical will happen in backyards all across America as, one by one, each of them is visited by …

You guessed it! A half-naked father hiding Easter eggs.

That’s right, the same fathers who were stomping on the roof with sleigh bells Christmas Eve will be out in the yard in their boxer shorts with an arm load of colorful eggs not long after sunrise.

Their mission?

Keep this tradition alive while trying not to step in anything that could elicit a response deemed inappropriate for Easter morning. Continue reading

The latest from The Door…

Welcome to another installment of The Door of Shame, Blame and Brilliance, a weekly feature highlighting some of the most memorable newspaper moments clipped and taped to our newsroom door by journalists since as far back as 1970.

The Door’s objective is to be a beacon, guiding us into the jagged rocks of journalism.

baseball-colon1 Today’s entry was posted two years ago, by yours truly, after spotting it in the Los Angeles Times. The headline illustrates why — on many levels — I prefer to watch sports on television…

Save water: Fix that leaky light switch

I fixed the light switch (Note: Welcome to Flashback Sunday! A weekly post of past columns from my early days on WordPress, before I realized that “Freshly Pressed” wasn’t a dry-cleaning blog.)

The great thing about shows like Extreme Home Makeover is that they inspire ideas on how to improve your home. The bad news is that people like me then try to implement these ideas without the benefit of a trained professional. The result is our bathroom, which currently has a commode with hot running water and a wall heater that can only be turned on by unscrewing the third bulb in our vanity mirror.

I’d like to point out it wasn’t my idea to take what had been a simple plan to increase the space in our bathroom and turn it into a major remodel. However, after one teeny mistake, my family insisted on a total makeover — which brings us to our first home improvement tip: The Importance of Bearing Walls. Continue reading

Forget about Bruce Jenner and start writing

write write write copy (Note: this is part of a weekly series of columns from Gliterary Girl, where I’m a contributor on the subject of writing. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. But possibly more insightful…)

Last week, I ended my column with the title for this week’s topic:

Step one to being a writer: Write!

That advice seems pretty straight forward. The kind of obvious straight forwardness that carries you with complete confidence toe-first into a brick. Like most advice we’re given, the wisdom behind it is simple; the problem comes in the execution.

And while there are countless books out there offering tips on everything from how to get inspired and avoid writer’s block to the kinds of foods that promote creative thinking (which, judging from what I read, you will be doing mostly while on the commode), all of those books essentially come down to one universal truth:

Nothing promotes and stimulates writing better than…

You guessed it:

Excessive drinking.

But let’s suppose you don’t want to become an alcoholic? Does that mean you’re not truly committed to being a writer? Could it jeopardize your dream of becoming a novelist, columnist, short story writer or inner city tagger? Continue reading

Trying to decide on a vasectomy? Don’t ask a man

Hammer and eggs There’s a scene in the movie “Jaws” where the Mayor of Amity Island explains how yelling the word “BARRACUDA” won’t get much reaction on a crowded beach. “But if you yell ‘SHARK’ you’ll have a panic on your hands…”

Keeping that in mind, you’ll have some idea of the reaction you get from most men if you change “shark” to “vasectomy.” This was the first word out of my radio this morning. And yes, it caught my attention. Apparently, March is the busiest month for vasectomies — and tomorrow is the busiest day of the year for this procedure.

Maybe it’s a result of March Madness compromises reached between husbands and wives, or a subconscious tribute to the start of baseball season. Whatever the reason, when I had mine 10 years ago, it was also in March. The decision had nothing to do with basketball or baseball, and everything to do with weeks of campaigning from my ex-wife.

Because she had a degree in social work, my ex-wife was trained on how to approach sensitive subject matter. That’s why I was allowed to discover, with no pressure from her whatsoever, that my new place mat at the dinner table was actually a medical brochure titled:

So, You Want To Have a Vasectomy?

True, we had talked about this subject before. Continue reading

On our newsroom door…

Our actual door Our newsroom has a door. But that’s not the point of this post. Over the years, this door has become more than just a way in or out, or something that occasionally gets “stuck” with our editor on the other side. It has also become a Mecca of sorts. A place where journalists since the 1970s have taped, glued and pasted headlines that are either badly written, clever or misspelled.

It is a beacon, really, harkening us into the jagged rocks.

Since I can’t afford to fly all of you here to see it, and because there are still many of you who did not receive the Mexican mocha I sent after my 100th post, I have nixed the idea of detaching the door and sending it to each of you to see for yourselves. Therefore, starting today, I’ll be coming to your homes or places of employment to show you my Door of Shame, Blame and Brilliance favorites. It will be just like having me standing there with my door. Except, you know — I’ll be doing it from here. Continue reading

My review of a book that doesn’t actually exist

Eclipsed Sunset cover So let’s say you’re a HUGE Twilight fan. And let’s say you’re looking through the literary website Gliterary Girl in search of the latest book reviews in order to find a good book for spring break…. When suddenly, and without warning, you stumble across a review about the new Twilight book YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WAS BEING RELEASED?!? How could this HAPPEN?!? Who is RESPONSIBLE?! Why was there nothing in my Twilight Fan Club email?!

That was the catalyst for my review of Eclipsed Sunset, the latest book in the Twilight series which, as it so happens, doesn’t actually exist. My friend Sara, who is the editor and a contributor at Gliterary Girl, posted it this morning at 8 a.m. London time.

Didn’t you hear the screaming?

Unlike this post, there was no such introduction.

This could be fun… Continue reading

Don’t worry: tougher tax laws will still let you depreciate your ostrich

IRS and ostrich It used to be that when the IRS discovered you’ve been claiming a child who is actually a 50-pound Labrador retriever named “Billy,” everyone would have a good laugh. Not any more. The Treasury Department says it will be cracking down on “aggressive tax deductions” filed by U.S. taxpayers in order to keep the federal government from being bilked out of hundreds of millions of dollars — money that could otherwise be spent on important federal programs, such as the Government Shutdown Caribbean Getaway Fund.

As a service to our readers, several of whom are actual U.S. taxpayers, we thought we’d contact some of the brightest minds in tax law in order to clarify what we can still get away with. Unfortunately, everyone was too busy working on the Osbourne family’s latest tax returns to help us so, as responsible members of the news media, we were left with only one option:

Forget taxes and talk about The Bachelor!

Just kidding. We rolled up our sleeves. Got on the Internet. Made phone calls. And eventually came up with some real-life tax claims you should NOT make unless you want to end up in jail, or worse, on the computer screen of a humor columnist trying to meet a deadline. Continue reading