Vengeance will by mine, Mr. Hairy Spider…

image For the last two nights, my youngest daughter has come running down the stairs about 10 minutes after going to bed. The reason? A big, hairy black spider she said is roughly the size of a Chihuahua. Being a dutiful father, I immediately rushed upstairs the first night and, to my utter horror, walked in to discover…

Absolutely nothing.

“It was on the ceiling just looking at me,” swore my daughter.

The next night, she called from upstairs so she could keep an eye on it. As I came to the door, the spider apparently dropped down the wall and behind her dresser. With my daughter standing behind me, I yanked the dresser away from the wall and shrieked in terror when, AT LAST, I laid my eyes upon…

Absolutely nothing.

Again. Continue reading

The reason our newspaper won’t let me do its radio ads ever again

image It was a little before 8 a.m. when I got a text from my editor, telling me she forgot to let me know I was supposed to do a radio spot for the newspaper. Our annual Rhododendron Festival is coming up this weekend (Yes, you’re all invited!) and our newspaper is a premier sponsor of the festival.

Me: [What time?]
Editor: [Be at radio station in 15 minutes]

The last time the newspaper asked me to do a radio spot was about five years ago. That’s when I introduced the slogan:

Siuslaw News: Your Source for Local News. Twice Weekly. Unless We Lose Count…

They haven’t let me near a mic since then. Continue reading

Some people should have to earn the right to use fire

image (When you consider that we once carried embers around in hollowed out animal skulls for fear of losing the potential to make fire, it seems we’ve come a long way as a species. Then, again, I’ve seen chimps driving motorcycles — it doesn’t mean they’re in line at the DMV.

Case in point: Some of you know, in addition to being a columnist, I’m also a volunteer firefighter. I generally try to keep those parts of my life separate because, more often than not, the experiences in my firefighting life have no place on a humor blog.

However, there are exceptions.

What follows is a re-enactment of sorts, pieced together from personal observations and details noted during an incident at a local campground this past Mother’s Day weekend…)

“You kids stay away from the grill! It’s gonna get very hot!” Mr. Kingsford said, ripping open a bag of briquettes labeled “easy starting.” Over his Bermuda shorts and a 49ers T-shirt, he wore a red and white striped apron with the words “It Ain’t Ready Yet” emblazoned on the front.

A prophecy, really.

After stacking the charcoal into a pyramid, he grabbed a quart of lighter fluid and proceeded to empty half of it over the briquettes, one hand patting his pockets. “I need matches!” he hollered, then pinched the cigarette from his lips. “No I don’t — never mind!” Continue reading

One of the most important skills for a writer? Survival skills

image Over the years, my wife has gotten used to my (admittedly bad) habit of leaning over and whispering “expendable character” whenever I see someone who I know is going to die. I should clarify I only make these predictions while watching movies, and not, as a general rule, at the grocery store, in hospital waiting rooms or at family reunions. That’s because in movies, these types of characters are easy to spot.

For example, the soldier who pulls out a photo of his “girl back home” while talking with his buddy on patrol — Spoiler Alert: He’s not making it through the next scene alive. And if he mentions he’s proposing to “his girl” after getting discharged tomorrow, chances are he won’t even finish his dinner rations before keeling over from sniper fire or eating expired creamed corn. The same goes for anyone who mentions having a “bad ticker” or who has a nagging cough; anyone who says they’ve stopped wearing a bullet-proof vest or life jacket because “you can’t cheat fate”; and definitely any character who keeps a mouse or baby bird in his shirt pocket. Continue reading

Part 2: Interview with self-proclaimed best-selling author Ima Knowitall

With my advanced copy of "50 Shades of Time-Traveling Vampire Love"

With my advanced copy of “50 Shades of Time-Traveling Vampire Love”

As I mentioned in Part I of my Long Awkward Pause interview wth Ima Knowitall, she is the author of more than 40 online novels this past year, and was recently honored by the Society of Illiterate Columnists (SIC) for her contributions to “…the advancement of people who write without the shackles of proper grammar.” So landing an interview with an author of this caliber on the eve of her latest release was — as Ima described something she found in her taco — a total surprise.

For those of you who might’ve missed the first part of my interview with Ima because, for example, you just recently gave up life as a Quaker, I should explain that our breakfast interview had been interrupted by the untimely arrival of the health department while waiting for a taco omelette at Sam N’ Ella’s restaurant. Since there was no time to get anything to-go because Sam and Ella had already left through the back window, we had decided to take our interview somewhere else. (More at Long Awkward Pause…)

Today, I’m getting personal with The Sisterwives

image Many of you are probably familiar with the logo to my right.

Hold on — You’re right! It’s my left!

Uh… Right?

Anyway, in terms of being a beacon representing truth and justice, not to mention insightful writing and humor sharp enough to split an atom (I came close to splitting a Twinkie once, just saying), The Sisterwives logo is like the Bat Signal of the blog-o-sphere. Unlike Batman, however, The Sisterwives aren’t vigilantes. No. They team up and collaborate with others.

They’re also a lot more curvy than Batman. I’m also betting the nippled Batsuit has nothing on this group.

But I digress.

Today, I’m joining fellow male bloggers Art and Matticus as guests at The Sisterwives for this month’s edition of The Man(di) Cave (similar to the Bat Cave but with curtains and carpeting), when each of us answers three questions offering a male perspective on the female gender. Keep in mind that if the actual Bat Signal appears at any time, our answers were indeed incorrect.

So please join Matticus, Art and me at The Sisterwives HERE.

Because I don’t think even Batman would be willing to come save us…

My Long Awkward Pause interview with self-proclaimed best-selling author Ima Knowitall

image With the release of her highly anticipated online novel Time-Traveling Vampires of Love just a few days away, I held little hope of getting an interview with Ima Knowitall when I called her private number this morning on behalf of Long Awkward Pause. Knowitall is the author of more than 40 online novels this past year, and has received multiple awards, including the coveted Prolific Speller Award, the Hemmingway Award for “longest run-on sentence of 2012 and 2013” (same sentence) and, most recently, was honored by the Society of Illiterate Columnists (SIC) for her contributions to “…the advancement of people who write without the shackles of proper grammar.

Despite knowing I had almost no chance of landing an interview with an author of Knowitall’s caliber on the eve of her latest release, the fact that I had acquired her private number meant I had to at least try. According to my source, Knowitall’s secret phone number is part of an elaborate system of security measures created to protect her from hoards of overzealous paparazzi and fans. Nervously, I called the number and was ready when a man who identified himself as “Shizzle” answered from what sounded like the inside of a phone booth.

What’chu need?

Carefully following the security code instructions I had been given, I replied, “Looking for Ima, B**ch!” then hung up and waited five minutes before calling again.

This time, Ima answered. “Who is this?

My name is Ned. I’m with Long Awkward Pause.

Do I owe you money?” (More at Long Awkward Pause…)

Motherly skills include controlling children with a single jalapeño

image This year perhaps more than any other, my wife deserves something special for Mother’s Day. That’s because in spite of our youngest daughter’s many teenaged mood swings, my wife has somehow managed to avoid what I’m sure has been a strong (some might even say natural) urge to eat her young. This hasn’t been easy. As I mentioned, our daughter is experiencing the physical and emotional challenges that accompany adolescence. One minute she is merrily talking about her favorite kind of cheese; the next minute, she is blaming cheese for ruining her life. As a father, my instinct is to fix the problem by addressing the root of the issue by going directly to the refrigerator and throwing out everything that is — or has the potential of becoming — a cheese-like substance.

My wife, on the other hand, understands there are complex emotional issues at work, and that, in spite of my good intentions, the likelihood of me being able to resolve such issues is akin to having a bomb successfully de-activated by a goat. Thanks to her motherly intuition, my wife was able to explain to me that what our daughter says, and what she really means, are two completely different things.

As I understand it, this is the first step to becoming a woman. Continue reading

My writing wisdom featured in new documentary (Obviously it’s a short)

Alan King

Writer, blogger and filmmaker Alan W. King

Several weeks ago, blogger and filmmaker Alan W. King of Humble Bear Production contacted me about working together on a documentary featuring the writing process. After discussing the insights I’ve gained from 16 years as a humor columnist, he suggested that a “mini” documentary could probably capture all of my writing wisdom.

So over the last week, Alan has been editing my rambling answers to his questions — on everything from how I got started as a columnist, to what happens when a column doesn’t resonate with readers — into a 10-minute documentary.

To be honest, considering what he had to work with, I anticipated something which, at best, could be heralded by critics as:

“Wildly Cohesive!”
“Thoroughly Visual!”
“Masterfully hyperlinked!”

Instead, Alan has created a thoughtful and entertaining glimpse into my writing process that demonstrates how, in the hands of someone with his talent and creativity, something mediocre can be transformed into a memorable and inspiring piece. It was a true privilege being a part of this collaboration, which has left me appreciative and deeply humbled. Continue reading