Coming out to the ones you love about your alternative (writing) lifestyle

image (Today at Siuslaw News, we are short-staffed and on early deadlines, with many of us suffering the lingering effects of tryptophan and alcohol. The result is an extremely small staff of tired, hungover reporters trying to put out today’s edition. Being that I am the tallest and least hungover, I am suddenly an integral part of assuring today’s success — which is a stark contrast to the role I normally play in the newsroom. What does this all mean? For those who recognized the title of this week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, you already know it’s a repeat from a year ago regarding what it means to be a writer. For those who never read this post or, for reasons of their own, blocked the experience from their minds, this will be new to you. In either case, whether reading this for the first time, a second time or angrily throwing your coffee at the monitor and sending me the bill, always be proud to be a writer…) Continue reading

Accompaniments for deep-fried turkey should include a fire extinguisher

Deep frying a turkey. Watching football. Both are great, but not together.

(Welcome to Flashback… Thursday? Sorry, I know this is a feature reserved for Sundays, but it must be the tripptof tryptoagh triptoe sleepy stuff in my turkey talking. Either way, just think of it as a special holiday post no one really asked for… And a chance for me to say: Thank You to each of you for all the laughs we share each week…)

The human brain.

Most of us have one.

For those who don’t, there are warning labels.

Unfortunately, these warnings don’t appear on actual humans. Instead, they are issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has the monumental task of thinking up ways stupid people might injure themselves using standard household items.

While the commission generally stays ahead of the curve with the help of researchers, lab studies, and a select group of retired circus chimps, from time to time a hot new product is embraced so quickly by the general public that there’s simply no time to warn them that actually embracing it could result in serious injury. This past holiday season, according to the safety commission, reports of house fires involving large men submerging whole turkeys into deep fryers has risen dramatically. This prompted the commission to issue a special, multi-paged consumer alert called:

Fryer, Fryer Pants on Fire. Continue reading

It’s time to separate Thanksgiving fact from fiction with the help of Mr. Knowitall

image It’s been 389 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

The Walking Dead may trip over this week’s edition of The Box

image Welcome to The Box, an exciting Tuesday feature that combines the drama of investigative journalism with the thrill of a wild, blindfolded squirrel. Think of it as “BJ and the Bear,” but with the potential of “Bear” biting “BJ” and giving him rabies.

Each week, I put my 15 years of journalistic experience to the test by identifying a randomly chosen photograph that has remained unclaimed in our newsroom since as far back as the 1980s. What makes this feature especially riveting, aside from its well-timed use of exclamation points! (see?!), is the selection process, which involves:

1) Me dumping The Box of photos directly onto the floor, and
2) Yelling “RELEASE THE SQUIRREL!” before turning “Skippy” loose in the newsroom.

The photo nearest the first person who screams is selected!

Make sense? Of course not! But that’s just the rabies talking. Continue reading

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

(With retailers now moving traditional day-after-Thanksgiving “Black Friday” shopping to a week ago last Wednesday, thereby breaking the holiday space-time continuum, this week’s edition of Flashback Sunday is desperate attempt by me to counteract that breach by offering a post from a time when even Bigfoot knew when he could find the best sale on an Epilady…)

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

Want to keep your writing fresh? Start with regular flossing

image I’d like to thank the American Dental Association for sponsoring this week’s writing tip, which brings me to a startling statistic: 4-out-of-5 dentists have never recommended or even heard of this blog. The fifth dentist only heard about it when, moments after my lips went numb, I was trying to say “Ben Roethlisberger’s lob” and he thought I said “Ned’s worthless blog.” Regardless, there are many similarities between keeping a fresh feeling to your writing and avoiding gingivitis. So think of me as your “literary orthodontist” as I take you through a quick writer’s check-up. Please remember I don’t have a saliva vacuum…

A good dentist will tell you it’s important to floss between meals, and will demonstrate its importance by flossing for you during your visit. That’s unless he also happens to be your proctologist, in which case I’d like to welcome you to the new National Health Care Plan. Continue reading

Dirty diaper football: another good reason to use disposables

image Though I’m a parent who is many years beyond his children’s diaper phase (Ya Baby! WOOO-HOOO, You Know it! YOWZA!)


Anyway, I have several friends who are now embarking on this journey and who have asked my advice regarding the choice between cloth or disposable diapers. I told them, without hesitation, that I was somewhat offended by their insinuation, and that unless it was All-You-Can-Eat-Frijole-Night at the Enfermo Taco, I was still quite in control of my bodily functions, thank you very much.

Moments later, upon returning from the restroom, it hit me: I really needed to go back. It was during this second run — or really more of a quick step — I realized they had been referring to diapers for their own children. Continue reading

The Box offers more proof the elderly can’t be trusted

Each week, "Skippy" helps us select a photo from The Box. At least, as long as we have health coverage.

Each week, “Skippy” helps us select a photo from The Box. At least, as long as we have health coverage.

It’s Tuesday! That means I have dumped the contents of The Box onto the floor of our newsroom and, in a few moments, I will RELEASE THE SQUIRREL!

However, as I mentioned last week, I have begun to lose the element of surprise now that my fellow reporters are familiar with this weekly ritual. So, to switch things up, I am going to cut the lights seconds before announcing the release of “Skippy,” our wild, blindfolded and slightly rabid squirrel.

Given that our newsroom has no windows, it will be pitch black once I flip the switch.

Here it goes…. Continue reading

Coming soon to a group meeting near you: My shameless self promotional tour

As you can see, I'm positioning myself for potential sponsorship from Swanson's.

As you can see, I’m positioning myself for potential sponsorship from Swanson’s.

This morning officially kicked off my book promotion junket — or in my case, dinghy — by speaking at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

My topic?

Biblical Prophecy and Its Warnings About Miley Cyrus.

At least, that was going to be my topic. But following the advice of my publisher, Ellen, I made a last-minute topic change:

Life Without Humor is No Laughing Matter (Get it?) Continue reading

So you’re cooking your first Thanksgiving turkey! Don’t lose your giblets

(If you’re reading this and still haven’t begun defrosting your Thanksgiving turkey, stop RIGHT NOW and place your bird in the shower, where it can be defrosted and monitored properly, as well as cleansed regularly, between now and Nov. 28. This is just one exciting example of the kind of tips you can expect from this week’s edition of Flashback Sunday! Now, please wash your hands…)

Don’t let your first Thanksgiving turkey become memorable for the wrong reasons.

The countdown has begun. Soon, thousands of newlyweds will be in the kitchen preparing their very first Thanksgiving turkey. As a service to readers, I felt a responsibility to help educate people about foodborne illness by offering a special holiday feature that I’d like to call:

Don’t lose your giblets this Thanksgiving.

Being a writer, I’ve naturally spent a good portion of my career working in the food service industry. And like most writers, it was there that I was able practice my craft and eventually acquire something that ALL good writers must have: A Food Handler’s Card.

Because of this, I can stand before you as someone highly qualified to talk turkey.

So let us begin. Continue reading