More tools for thought… or food for your toolbox… or something like that

(According to my blogging friend Ross Murray, who lives on the edge of a sink hole in Canada, my weekly Nickels’s Worth on Writing is actually worth 8 cents over there thanks to the exchange rate. Which sounds great at first, and potentially like a good reason to move there since I could increase the net worth of my writing by nearly 50 percent! That was until Ross explained how, because of international law and a complicated revenue formula involving the metric system, it actually meant I owe Canadians three cents every time they read my NWOW. Because I have a lot of readers in Canada, this could add up to… uh… if I understand Canadian currency correctly… about 100 centimeters every week. For this reason, my Nickel’s Worth on Writing is now called “Ned’s Duty-Free Thoughts on Writing, Eh?” in Canada. My thanks to Ross for the heads-up on this before anyone at the IRS found out…)

image In one of my first columns at Gliterary Girl, I talked about three of the most important tools a writer wields when it comes to establishing their voice. Does anyone remember what they were?

Anyone under the age of 40 who still has a fully-functional memory?

Yes! You in the back with the “Nouns of the Baskerville” T-shirt.

Um… No. I’m sorry. Cuervo was not one of them.

Anyone else?

Yes, you — the one waving your hands enthusiastically!

Sure, the restroom is down the hall to the left, next to the drinking fountain. And yes, the reason the water gurgles when someone flushes is because it’s the same water. Help yourself, but we’re not waiting for you. Continue reading More tools for thought… or food for your toolbox… or something like that

Dear graduates: Your bedroom may already be a patio

image To this year’s graduates:
As you cross the stage to receive your diploma, remember that you’re crossing a brand new threshold in your young life. That’s because, in most cases, your parents have already arranged for the contents of your room to be hauled onto the front lawn and sold, probably during the graduation ceremony itself.

Or maybe even AT the graduation ceremony itself:

“Before we call our next graduate, I’d like to turn your attention to the roller blades I’m wearing. They, along with other items belonging to Billy Schlependorf, will be available for purchase after the ceremony in the courtyard…”

That’s right. By the time you get home, you’ll be lucky if you’re room still has the same light switch. I know this may sound harsh, but it is something that parents do out of LOVE. It’s about your parents helping you make that important transition into independence, even if it means turning your bedroom into patio space between the new hot tub and gazebo. Continue reading Dear graduates: Your bedroom may already be a patio

Knock knock. Who’s there? The Door

image When opportunity comes knocking on your door, you want to answer it. However, if that knocking happens on The Door of our newsroom, it usually means the person on the other side has run out of toilet paper.

I know what you’re asking yourself:

Isn’t there another door to the newsroom?

Of course! Otherwise, we’d have to enter through the window. Which isn’t to say we haven’t left that way sometimes, especially when Misty, our front desk girl, pages the newsroom to let us know the editor is on her way with a new assignment.

But being that this is Tuesday, we all know The Door I’m talking about is the one journalists here at the Siuslaw News have been attaching the best, worst and most curious newspaper headlines, stories and submissions to since the early 1970s, back when long hair and hot typesetting wax was abundant, and so were incidents of spontaneous hair removal. Continue reading Knock knock. Who’s there? The Door

If a tent falls on a man in the forest, should he make a sound?

(Given that we are only halfway through a three-day weekend, I have no idea where you are reading this from. And depending on how well your holiday weekend is going, chances are, neither do you. And for those of you who, instead of calling a friend or family member in the U.S., have opted to use the spotty Internet service from your Tijuana jail cell to read this week’s Flashback Sunday, I appreciate your commitment. As you know, this is the day we dust off a column from my blogging past, back when I though “Freshly Pressed” was a dating website for recently divorced journalists. So sit back and relax wherever you are — lawn chair, commode, alley way, Reno honeymoon suite next to a naked person you don’t know — and take a trip with me to the past. Who knows? You might even remember how you got here…)

imageOur family loves to go camping. In fact, we make sure to get out and pitch our tent — without fail — once a year.

Traditionally, this takes place during the busy Memorial Day Weekend so that as many people as possible can witness a 46-year-old man being attacked by his own tent. In my defense, I have to say our tent is very large; especially when it is laying flat on the ground.

If I hadn’t lost the step-by-step instructions that came with it, I’m sure the assembly process would be a lot easier because, as a man, I could use them to, step-by-step, blame everything on having lousy instructions. What this means is that over the Memorial Day Weekend my handiwork will again be mistaken for a hot air balloon that has crash-landed into our family’s camp site. Continue reading If a tent falls on a man in the forest, should he make a sound?

Don’t worry! I won’t be shirtless on my book cover

(It’s hard to believe 60 cents worth of writing advice has been dispensed since Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing first began appearing every Friday 12 weeks ago. One reader described the impact of NWOW on his writing this way:

“Can you break a nickel?”

And the accolades go on. Suffice it to say, with those kids of testimonials, it’s no wonder the IRS has targeted my Nickel’s Worth for a full audit…)

image We’ve all heard the adage about not judging a book by it’s cover. And while that’s a terrific sentiment when it comes to people, let’s be honest in admitting the cover of a book is the first thing we judge. There’s a reason the heroine on a romance novel looks like a hair products model and not someone from an anti-drug campaign. Taking it a step further, from a woman’s perspective, would you want to thumb through the latest issue of Playgirl if Pee Wee Herman was on the cover?

OK, fine. Two of you would. Obviously, choosing a book is the least of your problems.

However, after conducting a random poll of 10 women in our office, they unanimously agreed, given a choice, they would rather see me than Pee Wee Herman — which doesn’t really say as much about my masculinity as it does about our need for better vision coverage. Regardless, I will claim that as a victory. Continue reading Don’t worry! I won’t be shirtless on my book cover

Naked News broadcasts viewed by some as too cheeky

image (Warning: At all costs, the following information must NOT fall into the hands of Geraldo Rivera.)

According to an ad in the Toronto Star newspaper, the producers of “Naked News” are seeking anchors for their daily internet news program. For those of you who’ve never heard of this program, let me take just a moment to explain it:

They report the news, and they’re naked.

That’s pretty much it.

And for most men, that’s explanation enough, which is why the website now averages 6 million viewers per month. Continue reading Naked News broadcasts viewed by some as too cheeky

Come gather at the feet of The Door (if doors had feet)

image As we all know, a door has two sides. Every Tuesday, we explore the newsroom side of The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance) here at the Siuslaw News. Not only because the other side has a commode, but also because, on the newsroom side, journalists since the 1970s have been attaching the best and worst headlines, photos, news stories and cutlines with glue, paste, tape and, in one case, a glob of a hardened substance with a wiry hair in it.

As always, we begin our visit to The Door by repeating those very words uttered by the first person to pass beyond The Door to the other side. However, since those words were drowned out by a flushing sound, we have done our best to re-create them here. So join hands and, while speaking in a monotone voice similar to someone beginning to realize their explanation in traffic court is super lame, repeat after me:

The Door is a beacon, drawing us into the jagged rocks of journalism.

Again, no one has actually ever said those words. But as any journalist will tell you, adding quote marks changes all that.

Let us begin. Continue reading Come gather at the feet of The Door (if doors had feet)

Higher standards for being a carnie

imageWhile walking through the carnival today, I saw this “help wanted” sign posted in the elephant ear booth. The sign makes it clear that the standards for this position are high. But don’t worry. For those with a blood alcohol above .30, there’s always The Scrambler or Squirrel Cages operator position.

Apparently, G.I. Joe is no match for Barbie’s mojo

(Do you suffer from unsightly vision? Continual breathing? An itchy bladder? Reptile disfunction? You’re not alone! Join millions others who suffer these afflictions each week during Flashback Sunday, when we dig deep into the archives — back when I thought “Freshly Pressed” was a kinky website for people with a Pillsbury Dough Boy fetish. And while this week’s Flashback won’t cure any of your symptoms, it might help with regularity…)

Apparently, G.I. Joe and Steve Austin use their acute eyesight for more than just scoping out the bad guys.
The act of “playing” is a crucial part of how a child establishes self image and a basic understanding of the world. I know this because, as a progressive father of today, I have read extensively about this very topic — which is why I progressively freaked out when I found my son playing in the shower with a Barbie doll.

It wasn’t the fact that he was playing with a doll that bothered me, it was the fact that it was still completely intact — something I don’t expect from a child who routinely disassembles my office chair and a good portion of my desk in less than four minutes using nothing but a three-piece “Bob the Builder” tool kit.

I decided something needed to be done. It was time to enlist the help of an old friend; it was time for G.I. Joe to break Barbie’s mojo. Continue reading Apparently, G.I. Joe is no match for Barbie’s mojo