You can’t be too careful when it comes to packages from Canada

I was taking no chances; as far as I knew, Canada may have stopped being our ally during my walk home...

I was taking no chances; as far as I knew, Canada may have stopped being our ally during my walk home…

The afternoon started out like any other: leave the office, walk two blocks home, pass through our white picket gate toward the front steps, then holler “EVERYBODY STAY IN THE HOUSE” while dropping into an army crawl. Naturally, no one at home had any interest in coming outside until I yelled for them NOT to — at which point three of our children and both dogs attempted to squeeze through the doorway simultaneously, closely resembling a horde of diarrhea sufferers trying to de-board a subway car for the last working restroom.

“STOP!” I commanded, freezing them all — yes, even the dogs — on the porch, just inches away from a small white package with the word Liquid written in several places in black marker. The name on the return address wasn’t one I immediately recognized. The fact that it was from a foreign country (Canada) made it even more suspicious. Continue reading

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

image Do you hear that? Shhhhh! Listen again…

That’s right — NOTHING! Now that my flu is almost gone, I no longer sound like a partially submerged Ford Fiesta backfiring in a swamp! At least not when I cough.

I’d like to apologize again for last week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, which was a good example of why some people shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard while under medication. For those who missed it, I think it’s best summed up in this comment left by The Master of Horror® Stephen King:

Ned. You’re even scaring me with this sh@%. Stop it.”
— The Master of Horror® Stephen King

With that, it’s time for an influenza-free edition of my NWOW, which Editor’s Weekly recently called “…something that has become an integral part of our screening process whenever we hire a proof reader.”

High prays in deed. Continue reading

That time I was interviewed by Suz Jones while her cat ate my book

Catnip ink is cheaper, but there are drawbacks.

Catnip ink is cheaper, but there are drawbacks.

This morning I had the privilege of being interviewed by Suz Jones over at It Goes On as this week’s Fellow Blogger guest. She asked a lot of great questions and I revealed some things I normally wouldn’t, which taught me a valuable lesson about not wearing baggy shorts when being interviewed.

I also learned that my book seems to be as popular with cats as it is with dogs. Maybe it’s the section on pets (Why Is the Dog Wearing Cowboy Boots?), or maybe it’s that the quality of writing appeals to the standard reading level of most house pets. Whatever the reason, Suz’s cat really ate up my book. Starting with the corners.

I’d like to thank Suz for having me as a guest, and for going to the extra trouble of making authentic Australian “shrimp on the barbie.” I’m also glad her cat liked my book so much, which meant more shrimp for me.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s interview, along with a link to the rest at Suz’s blog… Continue reading

Like speed skating, our Olympic preview continues because we can’t stop

image Hello and welcome to another exciting installment of our exclusive 2014 Winter Olympics preview:

20 Reasons to Be a Summer Olympian

It’s a preview so exclusive even the Olympic Committee doesn’t know about it. And, quite frankly, we’d like to keep it that way. That’s because while the larger media outlets routinely get bogged down with boring interviews and analysis of things like the effect of wind trajectory on Bob Costas’ hair, we are able to avoid all that. How? By going nowhere near the actual Olympic games! This allows us to provide you with valuable information that news sources in Sochi, Russia are missing because they’re too busy trying to keep their Babushkas from freezing off. Continue reading

Evidence shows even “Grimm” actresses need humor between takes

image The elite HATSOL (Humor at the Speed of Life) Surveillance Team, utilizing a tiny camera cleverly hidden inside an inconspicuous fake poinsettia, has penetrated the high security that surrounds filming of NBC’s Grimm in Portland, Ore. After several hours and dozens of images of people pointing to the poinsettia with a quizzical expression, this photo of Grimm actress Jennifer Connor reading my book between takes was captured.

“I love your book, so I’m doing my best to get it out there in weird places. Or at least out of the bathroom,” Jennifer said to an anonymous HATSOL team member posing as a poinsettia wrangler on the set. “But really — a poinsettia?

Hey, there was a clearance after the holidays…

An observation at my fridge reveals “Gender-vision”

image Yes, this is an honest, unaltered view of the current state of our refrigerator. It’s exactly how it looked when I opened it this morning. If I were a scientist, I would call this my “control subject.” I would also probably be wearing a Haz-Mat suit complete with breathing apparatus. Not that our refrigerator itself is a bio-hazard. It’s actually pretty clean. It’s the stuff inside the small containers somewhere in the back, tucked behind the Christmas dinner leftovers (Hey, from 2013!) that pose the biggest threat should their air-locked containers be accidentally breached.

“Hey, what’s in this Tupperwa… [Pffffffft!] Oh GOD, what have I DONE!”

However, the potential threat my refrigerator poses to anyone within a three-mile radius is not the point of this post. It’s actually to provide official documentation a phenomenon I am calling Gender-vision®, which is: The viewing of the same image by two individuals, but with different points of interest depending on their gender. Continue reading

At a newspaper, every roll is crucial

(Welcome to Flashback Sunday, when we travel back in time to spotlight a post from the distant past while being extremely careful, of course, not to disturb anything that could change the natural course of history. Not that we’d know either way. Admittedly, the inexplicable success of Justin Bieber could be evidence we’ve failed at least once…)

Behind every great news story is a paper trail.

Behind every great news story is a paper trail.

There are few things that can bring a newspaper to a halt when it is facing a deadline. In fact, aside from a natural catastrophe or a critically important breaking news story (Example: Anything related to Dancing with the Stars), nothing stands in the way of our commitment, as journalists, to ensure that the power of the press continues — unless, of course, the unthinkable happens, and we run out of toilet paper in both employee restrooms.

As professionals, this is a scenario we train for. We know how to recognize a potential “situation” that could leave us vulnerable and without back-up. Yet, as we learned today, all it takes is a momentary lapse in resoluteness for things to escalate into a full-blown crisis.

“Has anyone seen Bill?” (Note: The names in this dramatic re-enactment have been changed to protect the innocent, such as myself, from being physically assaulted by “Bill.”) Continue reading

This week’s writing tip likely contains Influenza blowback

image Welcome to this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s on Writing, which is coming to you live from my bed. Wait, it gets sexier. The reason I am writing from bed is because I am a snotty, achey and feverish mess. This is probably why I have received no accolades from Publisher’s Weekly or Writer’s Digest this week, or even from The Master of Horror® Stephen King — which is surprising considering this terrifying subject matter.

Which isn’t to say this week’s NWOW has gone completely unnoticed. The CDC in Atlanta has issued a warning to all readers of this blog to “immediately slather yourselves and this monitor with sanitizer before continuing.” And by “before continuing,” I’m assuming they mean with what you’re reading.

If you’re continuing with anything other than that, I really don’t want to know. Continue reading

This review explains why my book is a must-have for any bathroom

image It’s the kind of review every writer dreams of. Especially after a late-night binge of questionable Chinese leftovers you found at the back of the fridge, behind what might have been stuffing from Thanksgiving. I say this because only then could you dream of a review as creative as this one by writer, blogger and awesomeness crusader Tom Nardone, who posted his review of Humor at the Speed of Life yesterday. While I can’t say Tom is the first person to tell me my book has made their bathroom time more productive, his review is certainly the most in-depth analysis as to why…

I am Tom Nardone and I just spent a week with Ned Hickson. I don’t know what you did last week, but it was not as much fun as the time Ned and I had. Let me tell you what a great host he was.

Ned figuratively took me to places, and showed me things I never knew existed. He took me from the scene of the removal of a giant, dead, beached whale, to the set of a country music video. He took me to the United States Olympic Winter Games in Utah. He managed to cover this with me in detail. The amazing part of this is he was never there himself. I still can’t figure out how he did this. (Read the rest of the review here)

Reasons even a straight man can benefit from watching The Bachelor

image (I had the laps in judgement distinct privilege of being a guest contributor over at Long Awkward Pause today. Here’s an excerpt, along with a link at the bottom. Sorry it’s not the sausage kind…)

Hi.

My name is Ned and I watch The Bachelor.

I’ve been a heterosexual for 17,155 days and counting.

I can see the looks of confusion but that’s okay; I’ve gotten used to it. In fact, I used to hide my Bachelor/Bachelorette watching…

“Hey Ned, how about that Trailblazers game last night?!?”
“Yeah, man! They really dominated the paint!”
“What are you talking about? They LOST!”
“Oh, right. Uh, I got tapped out for a house fire and missed the second half.”
“Was everyone ok?”
“Yeah, but the girls who didn’t get a rose were pretty upset.”
“Wait… what?”

(Read the rest at Long Awkward Pause…)