I know the Olympics are over, but here’s one last horrible writing analogy

image Though the Olympic flame as been extinguished and the final portable commode pumped dry, I’m still thinking of polymer-wrapped ski jumpers leaning forward and flying silently through the air toward a graceful — seemingly magical — touchdown near the Subway Sandwich banner. There are several reasons this image has stuck with me, including the many stark contrasts between these jumpers and when I attempted something similar, using a pair of roller skates and my children’s backyard slide. I’m not going to get into the details here because 1) this is supposed to be a post about writing, and 2) I can’t risk putting my kids back into therapy.

All I will tell you is that there was a fair amount of screaming (from me, not the kids), not much “hang time” and a nearly fatal touch-down, which was technically more of an Olympic-sized face-plant. And we’ll just leave it at that. But for anyone who saw my “pole dancing” video knows I’m not exaggerating.

Believe it or not, there’s actually a reason I brought up ski jumping in regard to this week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing. I realize this isn’t always the case. However, as I watched the Olympics I couldn’t help but think of how, from start to finish, the act of ski jumping is an analogy for what a writer goes through, from manuscript to publication. Except without the risk of landing in a tree (depending on your publisher’s marketing plan.) Continue reading I know the Olympics are over, but here’s one last horrible writing analogy

Some Oscars have already been awarded — not that anyone cares

(As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was recently convicted of asked to be an accessory to a staff contributor at Long Awkward Pause. Here’s this week’s incriminating evidence post…)

image HOLLYWOOD (sort of) — As excitement over the much-anticipated glitz and glamour of this Sunday’s Academy Awards builds throughout Hollywood, Oscar winners for Technical Achievement were the first to bask in the spotlight during an equally prestigious awards ceremony held last night at a lavishly decorated Blockbuster Video warehouse in Culver City. The evening began with nominees arriving in style aboard rented school bus shuttles adorned with banners reading “On To State The Oscars!” Like a major Hollywood premier, beams of light criss-crossed the night sky as unemployed SAG members waved flashlights to keep shuttles out of the KFC parking lot across the street.

“These members of the Academy deserve to be recognized for their achievements,” Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said during a phone interview. “And just because we don’t know what they do exactly, or who they are, doesn’t mean their night should be any less special. Or held during the actual Oscars ceremony.”

Upon arrival, nominees stepped from their shuttles and onto the red carpet, where camera flashes erupted amid a frenzy of selfies. One overzealous autograph seeker had to be led away as he frantically waved a piece of paper, screaming, “Whose paying for these busses!” (Continue Reading…)

Aggressive NBA fan behavior diffused by sock puppets

image Like many of you, I’ve watched in utter disbelief as NBA fans have begun attacking players more frequently, often by throwing beverages. Whenever I see this, I can’t help but ask:

How can any self-respecting sports fan allow himself to be seen on national television, in front of millions of viewers, wasting a seven-dollar beer?

Somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten that sporting events are supposed to inspire the best in us — an ideal that professional athletes remind us can only be achieved through hard work, sacrifice and the purchase of sneakers so expensive they require short-term financing. It’s hard to know exactly why angry sports fans have gotten out of control, but in the words of Italian soccer star Fabio Perfecto, “I hope it never happens in my country.” Continue reading Aggressive NBA fan behavior diffused by sock puppets

I admit it: I’m not sure why I dressed up for a radio interview

image As I mentioned last Friday, I spent most of the morning preparing for a radio interview with NPR (National Public Radio) affiliate KLCC 89.7 FM. Because this was my first radio interview that didn’t include screaming with thousands of other people in a basketball stadium, I wanted it to go well. And because of my inexperience, I spent too much of that time deciding what to wear. Fortunately for me, Music, Arts and Culture host Eric Alan realized this and, as only a true professional can do, calmed my nerves by telling me I wasn’t Suzy Bogguss.

Or more specifically, that he had just finished interviewing the famed country/blue grass singer, and she was already sounding a lot funnier than me.

Okay fine, he didn’t say that exactly, but he did interview Suzy Bogguss, who he described as “delightful,” “engaging” and “unwilling to give me her phone number.” Continue reading I admit it: I’m not sure why I dressed up for a radio interview

Coordination is key when batting with a cucumber

(Sooner or later we all start having flashbacks. Mine just so happen to occur Sunday mornings. That’s because Flashback Sundays is when I reach back — way, way, waaayyy back — and pull something from the distant past which, hopefully, isn’t a muscle…)

Ned Hickson photo/Siuslaw News
Ned Hickson photo/Siuslaw News
Walking through my town’s small baseball park the other morning, I was struck by a bit of nostalgia. This was unexpected, considering what I’m usually struck by when the Cedar Company bird squadron begins its morning maneuvers. With spring approaching, first-year tee-ballers were scattered around the field with their fathers, who were imparting basic hitting and fielding fundamentals, baserunning technique, and clarifying that running home didn’t mean crossing the highway alone.

Watching this, I was reminded of working with my oldest daughter in preparation for her first season of tee-ball five eight ten not long ago. As you’d expect, we bought a mitt, ball, practice tee and all the equipment necessary to get started on the basics. For obvious reasons, I saw no need to purchase an athletic cup — until I decided to advise her about batting stance, at which point it became obvious that I should have.

At least for myself. Continue reading Coordination is key when batting with a cucumber

Sorry everyone, I owe you all a Nickel’s Worth

image Much like the “perfect storm” that led to my pole-dancing fail earlier this week, I’m about to perform another face-plant — in literary terms at least (which is kind of good because, to be honest, I don’t think my nose could take another actual face-plant.) The good news is that an NPR affiliate in Eugene, Ore., radio station KLCC, wants to interview me about the book. A radio spot is a perfect venue for me because, well… C’mon, you’ve seen what I look like! This means doing some preparation before Monday morning.

And by “preparation,” I mean for the interview. Not my face; that would take more than a weekend. Continue reading Sorry everyone, I owe you all a Nickel’s Worth

… This Just In …



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

While reporters are the heart of a newspaper, press releases are its lifeblood. Especially at community newspapers where, more often than not, the editorial “staff” consists of two or three people, depending on whose turn it is to scrub the commodes. Without press releases sent in from members of the community, there’s a good possibility our sources wouldn’t have alerted us that the Grange’s monthly Spaghetti Night had been changed to Fish Sticks Night, because Bob accidentally bought five gallons of ketchup instead of marinara. Continue reading … This Just In …

Photo suggests existence of car-stealing Leprechaun

"Skippy" the rabid, blindfolded squirrel.
“Skippy” the rabid, blindfolded squirrel.
There are a handful of battle cries that have become so deeply woven into the fabric of our culture that they are iconic and timeless:


Okay, so that last one may only be iconic on this blog. Nonetheless, it’s a battle cry that goes out every Tuesday, moments before I let “Skippy” the rabid, blindfolded squirrel loose in our newsroom. At first glance, this doesn’t seem to make any sense. But, just like one of those 3D paintings, keep looking at it and things become clear. If you continue staring, though, there’s a good chance Skippy will bite you. So to save time — and possibly a series of rabies vaccine injections — I’ll take a moment to explain what’s going on here.

Each Tuesday, I utilize my investigative journalism skills to determine the circumstances within a photo selected from The Box: a collection of unidentified photos that have remained unclaimed in our newsroom since the 1980s. Think of it as an early form of Snap-Chat, except without all the nude selfies. Continue reading Photo suggests existence of car-stealing Leprechaun

Caught on video: Proof of why I’ll never be a pole dancer

image The three elements of a “Perfect Storm” came together here on the Oregon coast today:

Extremely strong winds
Heavy rain
My weak acrobatic skills.

This is always a dangerous combination. Especially when my family suggests I do something funny, like pretend the wind is lifting me off the ground. Under normal circumstance — such as sitting on the couch, completely dry and nowhere near a pole — this would not have been a problem. But as we made our way through the school parking lot fighting the wind and rain, the third element of this Perfect Storm scenario developed.

“Honey, you should do that pole thing where you lift your legs up like it’s windy,” my wife suggested. “I’ll get a picture!”
“But it really IS windy,” I replied.”
“Exactly! It’ll look even funnier!”
Naturally, my response was what you’d expect from a 47-year-old man with limited health coverage.


After taking the above photo, we all had a good laugh. Then my loving wife suggested we take it up a notch. “Hey, let’s do a video of it!” Continue reading Caught on video: Proof of why I’ll never be a pole dancer

Rising injury rate causes Olympic Committee to question Met-Life sponsorship

(For those who are wondering how this post could qualify as a Flashback Sunday when, in fact, the Sochi Olympics are still going on, I say to you: Job well done. As I would expect from a reader of this blog, nothing gets past you. For those of you who aren’t even aware of the Olympics, I say to you: It’s time to put down your pirated copy of Flappy Birds and join the rest of us. Either way, today’s post is still a flashback of sorts, to earlier this morning, when I filed this Olympic report at Long Awkward Pause…)

image SOCHI, RUSSIA — Already being referred to as the “Ow-lympics” by many athletes, the Sochi games officially became the most injury-ridden winter Olympics ever when, late last night, Ukranian hockey player Watta Jerkoph broke his ankle. According to reports, the incident occurred when Bob Costas was returning to his room with a bucket of ice.

“From what we’ve been able to piece together, Mr. Costas, who was supposed to be confined to his room with an eye infection, accidentally spilled some cubes in the hallway,” said an investigator. “Several of the cubes landed near the room of Russian figure skater Ineeda Cleavitch, who Jerkoph had been visiting to discuss his slap shot. When the athlete was returning to his room, he encountered the melting ice and slipped.”

While the injury wasn’t immediately life threatening, one Olympic physician expressed the need for caution. “You never know how these injuries will go. Especially once his wife finds out.” (Read more here…)