Sharing my secrets to incredible, two-word acting

image Some of you may have noticed I’ve been a little remiss on my blog this week. And while not having our three teens at home during spring break is partially responsible (do I really need to explain?), it’s also because I’ve been preparing for my role in our local production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, “Our Town,” in which I play the coveted role of the complex character known as “Angry Farmer.”

As my friend, blogger and internationally-acclaimed thespian (he lives in Canada) Ross Murray can tell you, emersing yourself in such a pivotal, two-word performance is emotionally exhausting. However, it was all worth it when I overheard our director describe my portrayal of “Angry Farmer” to the rest of the cast as “Ned’s role of a lifetime. I promise. Even if we all have to change our phone numbers.”

Given that kind of endoursement for my natural acting ability, I felt obligated to share some of my secrets with other thespians with this short how-to video: Ned’s Secrets to Incredible Acting

As I mentioned in the video, the final shows are this weekend. So if you happen to be on the central Oregon coast, I hope you’ll stop in to see my portrayal of “Angry Farmer.” One of our directors, Jennifer Connor, told me my performance is “unforgivable.”

I’m sure she meant “unforgettable,” but I know she’s been under a lot of stress…

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Science links obesity to fat, lazy microbes

(Today, I’m posting from the Long Awkward Pause science desk, which I believe gets its name from the fact that it’s also our lunch table — where there are globs of unidentified organisms…)

image Scientists at Cornell University have created a device capable of measuring the weight of a single cell. This is big news because it moves us beyond the limits of sub-gram measurements “nano,” “pico” and “femto,” and into an exciting new realm of measurements known as “zeppo,” “harpo” and “groucho.” This could eventually lead to the smallest and least-known unit of measure, “chico.”

Many of you are probably wondering how useful this information really is when it seems most things — cars, houses, Americans in general — are actually getting bigger. Personally, I see no benefit in being able to describe my weight as “a little over 70 trillion harpo-grams.”

Nor do I want to be around when my wife discovers, after eating that extra helping of potato salad this July Fourth, that she not only gained back the 17 trillion zeppo-grams she’d lost, but also put on an extra two billion grouchos. It doesn’t matter that all of this adds up to less than a single uncooked lima bean. What matters is that I make the potato salad, and will therefore be held responsible. (More at LAP)

Keith Morrison, Barbara Walters and others continue to seek… The Door

The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance) is both sentinel of sacred journalistic history, and protector of commode users.

The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance) is both sentinel of sacred journalistic history, and protector of commode users.

Since last week’s posting of The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance), I have received hundreds of emails from concerned readers asking if we followed up on the tip about a potential murderer staying at a local hotel, which was brought in by a woman who said she heard “murdering noises” from the room above her — and as our office girl Misty noted: “I think she was hearing them again while standing in our office lobby.”

As it turns out, all 358 emails were from NBC Dateline’s Keith Morrison who, like countless other television correspondents, is seeking an exclusive to The Door in our newsroom. It was actually Misty who made the realization that Morrison was behind all the emails when, while checking our general voicemail box, she heard the message: Just checking to see if you got all the eeeemails I sent. This is an anonymous call by the wayyyyy.

“Hey,” said Misty, “isn’t that the creepy guy from Dateline Mysteries?”

So as it stands, The Door remains safe from Morrison, as well as Barbara Walters, Geraldo Rivera, Morley Safer and Anderson Cooper, each of whom has taken a crack at getting the exclusive to what Diane Sawyer described as “An awe-inspiring body of journalism… which reminds me, where’s Chris Cuomo?” Continue reading

Five days without cranky teenagers at home (Can I get a Halleluja?)

image They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. With that in mind, the thought of our three teenagers being gone for most of spring break makes us love them beyond words. In fact, the only way we could love them more is if they each found jobs and an apartment while they were gone.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t enjoy spending time with our kids. Of COURSE we do! What kind of parents would we be if we didn’t enjoy the lighthearted banter we share each day, such as when I say:

“You need to wash your plate.”

And without skipping a beat, they reply:

“You’re ruining my entire LIFE!”

Ha! Ha! That’s why they are called “kids!” Not because they are like stubborn baby goats who, given the chance, will run horns-first into your knee caps. No! It’s because they’re kidders! So who are we, as parents, to selfishly deny them from spreading that kind of joy to others for five whole days during spring break? Continue reading

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of our teenagers not being at home

Within the next 24 hours, my wife and I will suddenly be without our three teenagers at home for five whole days. Possibly longer, depending on traffic, wind resistance and any other delays that could hamper an expedient pick-up next weekend. Not having them at home will obviously take some getting used to. Such as getting used to not having less than 90 seconds of hot water for a shower, or being accused of smothering them when we ask if they made their bed.

To celebrate help us deal with the emptiness we feel, here’s an audio clip of this Monday’s upcoming post, “5 Days Without Cranky Teenagers at Home (Can I Get a Hallelujah?)”

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See you Monday! Unless I’m still in the shower…

Sometimes, your Muse needs to be romanced

image Today, we’re going to focus on tips for writing intimate love scenes. Or more specifically, how to effectively insert (see what I just did there?) descriptive phrases like:

“He grabbed her bare shoulders, caressing them with the kind of longing one reserves for freshly-baked bread …”

And

“She de-pansed him in one quick motion, opening a floodgate of memories from freshman gym class…”

As you can see, this is a genre I am intimately familiar with because, as I’ve said before, you need to write what you know. And believe me, when it comes to intimacy no one knows it better than myself. That said, as a personal favor to 50 Shades author E.L. James, I will actually NOT be offering insights regarding the the ins-and-outs (See how I did that?) of writing descriptive lovemaking scenes. The reason is because her latest book, “14 Shades of Puce” is due out later this week, and she is concerned many of you would recognize some of the techniques I would be discussing today.

In short, that “fresh bread” example wasn’t something I pulled out (are you following these?) just willy-nilly (Did I mention subtlety is important?) Continue reading

Keith Morrison latest reporter to knock on The Door of our newsroom

[Ask for it and ye shall receive! (Unless it’s a tax refund.) Our month-long-ish retrospective of The Door in our newsroom continues with a special visit from ABC News reporter/creepy guy Keith Morrison…]

The Door in our newsroom: Sentinel of journalistic history, protector of bathroom privacy.

The Door in our newsroom: Sentinel of journalistic history, protector of bathroom privacy.

It seems as though ABC reporters Barbara Walters, Morley Safer and John Quinones have finally given up on gaining an exclusive to The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance). It’s been nearly a week since Safer has faxed any threatening images of his booty, which we began handing out for a new children’s coloring contest. Interestingly, there seems to be a 50/50 split between children who believe it is the image of a dense forest surrounding an abandoned well, and those who are think it is the Death Star exploding.

In addition, Walters is no longer leaving angry messages such as “Your CAWEER is HISTOWY!” on my voice mail, and Quinones has stopped Tweeting “@Ned Hickson: What would YOU do? Give me an exclusive before you become a Dateline Mystery!

Which brings us to this week’s entry from The Door, and the latest reporter to begin hounding us for an exclusive to what Anderson Cooper has called “A journalistic milestone of unparalleled significance, not counting my decision to wear Dockers that were a size too small during broadcasts.” Continue reading

I’ll be off the grid today because of pasta

image In case you were wondering why I was mostly absent from my blog yesterday, it’s because I spent the day at the fire station preparing for our annual Siuslaw Valley Firefighter Association’s St. Paddy’s Day Spaghetti Feed. And by “preparing for it,” I don’t mean stretching out my stomach and putting on pants with an elastic waist. I was cooking off 60 pounds of pasta and dicing up 30 pounds of tomatoes while Capt. Liz Iabichello cooked off 40 pounds of meat and diced 10 pounds of onions.

Today, we’ll finish the sauce, make garlic bread and prepare the salad for tonight’s fundraiser dinner, which is from 4 to 7 p.m. If any of you happen to be on the central Oregon coast tonight, stop in! We’re expecting about 300 people but I’m sure we can find you a table.

And we promise you’ll get your food faster than you would on Hell’s Kitchen. Continue reading

Being attacked by a Komodo dragon is its own reward

I think there's a reason he's missing part of his middle finger...

Any guesses why he’s missing part of his middle finger?

Some of you may remember when San Francisco Chronicle executive editor Phil Bronstein was attacked by a 7-foot-long Komodo dragon back in 2001. Oddly enough, it wasn’t a letter to the editor gone horribly wrong, or even a marketing stunt for “Crouching Editor, Hidden Dragon” that spurred the attack. It actually happened during a special behind-the-scenes tour at the Los Angeles Zoo aimed at rewarding high-end financial contributors.

As a result, officials were forced to “re-evaluate” the special visiting privileges reserved for major donors — and without question, feeding yourself to a seven-foot lizard definitely falls into the “major donor” category.

More than a decade later, zoos are still struggling to find ways of rewarding major donors with experiences that, as one zoo official put it, “Offers a unique and exciting interaction with animals that doesn’t include offering our donors as dinner.”

The problem is, while there are certainly lots of other, safer animal exhibits that could be toured by big spenders, the danger factor — and storytelling value — drops off considerably once you leave man-eater realm. Being at a dinner party and telling how you stared down a Siberian tiger, then narrowly escaped its claws, is definitely more impressive than recalling the time you held off a hungry Toucan with nothing but a tranquilizer gun and a box of Fruit Loops. Continue reading

Please hear me out: Zoos are scary

image As you may have noticed — and by “you” I mean no one in particular or, quite possibly, no one at all — there was no sound preview on Friday for tomorrow’s post. That’s because I was so busy posting video of my high school long jump attempt on Friday that I completely forgot to record my weekly soundbite! Considering that I, a 48-year-old firefighter, essentially landed a personal best that any third grader would be proud of, I probably should’ve posted my soundbite and forgotten the long jump.

The good news is, my doctor says I should make a full recovery. And so will most of the high school students who witnessed my long jump attempt — just as soon as they complete their group therapy session. Continue reading