Writing tools for thought (or food for your tool box?)

image A while back, 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?

For the sake of time, let’s just assume all of you remember what those tools were and, in a series of uncontrollable outbursts, begin shouting out:

TIMING!

TRUTHFULNESS!

and…

CUERVO!

No, the third tool is RELATIVITY — not Cuervo. Even though I think we can all agree Cuervo does have a way of making even the most abstract things seem relevant.

In this case, however, Relativity means ensuring the reader can relate to what we’re writing about. This is especially true when it comes to personal experience and family anecdotes. For example, that hilarious story about how Aunt Frida got mad and stomped through the garden won’t be nearly as entertaining to readers as it is to you unless, like you, they already know Aunt Frida was a mule. I realize that’s an overstatement, but unless you take time to lay the foundation of your story in a way that involves the reader, they will likely sit down and refuse to follow. Continue reading

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The elephant in the room could become your coffee barista

image I actually had an entirely different post planned for today. But when a journalist gets wind of breaking news it takes precident over everything else because no one wants to be the last one to break that wind. Given that this story also involves coffee, I naturally put everything else aside — except for my actual coffee — to pursue a story that took me all the way to the “Golden Triangle” in Asia.

On Google, anyway.

Our newsroom budget could only get me as far as a “Golden Corral” in Arcadia.

Still, what I discovered was the latest development in man’s desire to create the most expensive cup of coffee on the planet. Possibly in the solar system, depending on what aliens serve as their in-flight beverage — although I’m willing to bet it won’t be as disturbing as Black Ivory coffee. I’ll give you the full details in Monday’s upcoming post. However, I will tell you it’s only a matter of time before your local zoo begins offering coffee next to the elephant cages.

In the meantime, here’s an audio preview of this Monday’s post:

No Butts About It, Coffee Choices Are Getting Really Weird

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That time Barbara Walters couldn’t get a handle on our newsroom door

The Door, sentinel of journalistic history since the 1970s; preserver of privacy to the restroom.

The Door, sentinel of journalistic history since the 1970s; preserver of privacy to the restroom.

For the time being, it seems major news outlets like ABC, CBS, NBC and The 700 Club have backed off in their pursuit of an exclusive on The Door (of Shame Blame and Brilliance) here in our newsroom. It’s been more than a week since Barbara Walters has called and threatened to “DESTWOY your CAWEERS!” And thanks to a case of hemorrhoids, Morley Safer has stopped faxing us images of his rear, which were starting to resemble a topographical map of civil war battle sites.

We’ve also heard nothing from Anderson Cooper, who seemed to lose interest in what he called “Possibly the most important piece of journalistic history since Chris Cuomo” once he discovered the other side of The Door had a commode instead of a closet.

So let us continue on as we do each Tuesday, and highlight an example of journalistic shame, blame or brilliance from The Door, which reporters have been contributing to for nearly 40 years in an effort to preserve history and, thanks to four decades of glue and tape, keep The Door from collapsing in on itself. Continue reading

After 50 Shades of Magic Mike, men are trying to recover their manhood

image It was a tough week for the male persuasion. However, now that the 50 Shades of dust has settled, men are emerging from the proverbial rubble a bit shellshocked and checking for survivors. Not only did we go head-to-head with the release of 50 Shades, we were also flanked by Valentine’s Day AND word of a release date for “Magic Mike XXL.”

We were out manned. Out gunned. And when compared to Christian Grey, in most cases we were probably… well, out maneuvered.

In the aftermath of this three-pronged attack on our general manhood, only the strong have survived. Plus maybe that guy too busy playing Assassin’s Creed in his mother’s basement. Whatever the case, men are now regrouping for a counter offensive. Something that will “shock and awe” the women in our lives into surrendering — at least in terms of the totally unrealistic expectations that have now been set for us men.

Yes, we realize trying to live up to an unrealistic standard of beauty and sexuality is a daily occurrence for women everywhere.

Yes, we know men are largely responsible for this.

But will you please stop thinking about yourselves and your own needs for one minute? Sheesh! Besides, this is totally different because, uh… we’re men. And if that isn’t enough of an explanation, consider the fact that in most cases we haven’t had to face our blatant inability to measure up since showering in high school gym class. (More at Long Awkward Pause!)

Seven seconds in a writer’s life

As you might expect, being a writer is a life of excitement. How much excitement? Not to brag, but I think this seven-second video will give you some indication of the kind of pandemonium that breaks out when I arrive for a book signing. This was the scene yesterday as I entered Cottage Grove, Ore.

Indeed, this is when you know you have finally arrived as a writer.

Who cares if no one else knows? I mean besides the crickets and the guy I asked for directions…

When it comes to 50 Shades of Magic Mike, let me be the voice of reason

image Ask just about any man, and he’ll tell you this past week has been a tough one thanks to the triple-threat of Valentine’s Day, the release of 50 Shades of Grey AND (What’s my safe word!) confirmation of Magic Mike XXL — which I assume means the other 29 sequels to Magic Mike must’ve gone straight to DVD?

Whatever the case, producers say Magic Mike’s plan for a major release everywhere in July is firm, and any talk of an earlier release would be premature — and only through a soft opening.

My point is, all this talk has many men a bit shellshocked from trying to measure up to the unrealistic standards set by Christian Grey and Magic Mike. Especially while trying to compete with the experience of IMAX 3D and THX Surround Sound. Sadly, this has prompted some men to try duplicating the movie experience by using a Mr. Microphone and providing their lovers with a magnifying glass. Continue reading

Three more examples of why our newsroom has a Door

image Don’t bother giving your coffee an extra stir, or rubbing your eyes in disbelief, because you read it right! This week’s retrospective of The Door is offering THREE … Three…three (that’s an echo) examples of journalistic Shame, Blame and Brilliance!

For those of you knocking on The Door for the first time…

Go Away!

Haha! Just kidding! The more the merrier! In fact, “the more the merrier” is what the fire marshal has deemed to be the maximum occupancy level in our newsroom, depending on whether anyone in the group has eaten lunch at the Enfermo Taco.

Before we begin, as always, we must join hands and repeat the following mantra in a slow, monotoned voice similar to any character played by Kristen Stewart:

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

OK, come with me now as we go back in time through The Door, where journalists here at Siuslaw News have been taping and gluing their favorite newspaper faux pas since the 1970s. Continue reading

Cats may have their own wine but Bowser can crack open a brewsky

image As you might expect, since writing about Japan’s new line of wines made specifically for cats a couple of weeks ago, I have received dozens of emails from unhappy readers denouncing what they believe is blatant discrimination against members of the canine population. All of them feel wine for cats is a really bad idea that will only increase the air of superiority cats already have. Coincidentally, most of these emails arrived through my “Fetch” account.

Here are just a few examples:

If I hear Mittens talk about the ‘rich bouquet’ of her stupid wine one more time, I’m leaving something with rich bouquet in her cat dish.”
— Buford

My sense of smell is 100 times greater than my owner’s. She doesn’t have to smell Mr. Whiskers’ horrible wine breath. Well, I DO! Then she gets MAD when I barf on the carpet.” — Fifi

Cats are dumb.” — Butch

They say for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, meaning that for every cat sipping a glass of wine there is a dog lapping up a special libation. And not just from the toilet. As it turns out, dogs have had Bowser Beer available to them since 2012, long before “Mr. Frisky” ever thought of getting stemware, comparing tannins or going out and spraying the town. In the same way cat wine is made specifically for a cat’s discriminating taste, the makers of Bowser Beer have created a flavor profile that compliments a dog’s natural pallet — meaning the only thing that isn’t in the brew is an actual shipping pallet. Continue reading

Men: If you forgot Valentine’s Day it’s not too late if you know a good plumber

image I know this is a little after the fact, but given that Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year, I’m guessing that a lot of men are just beginning to realize they’re in serious trouble after coming home last night with nothing but a six-pac and an NBA game schedule. If you are one of these men, then there’s a good chance you are getting into Valentines’ Day mode right…

about…

NOW.

(Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for any injuries, heart ailments or claims of memory loss occurring as a result of this information.)

Do not panic! As men, we will stick together and, through the power of the Internet, call upon the romantic wisdom of men from throughout the world and, hopefully, come up with at least ONE good idea. Continue reading

A saucy Valentine exchange with my wife

Admittedly, stopping in for some Cinnabon Delights at a Taco Bell on Valentine’s Day doesn’t sound particularly romantic. One might even see it as a precurser to the end of a relationship. But when I am with my wife, a romantic moment can happen anytime, anywhere.

Love has a way of doing that. Even in a random handful of hot sauce packets…

image

Happy Valentine’s Day from us to you