Don’t forget the cat when taking down your Christmas tree

imageFor our family, packing up the Christmas decorations is never easy. Not only because it means the official end of the holiday season, but also because it means it’s time to pry the cat out of the Christmas tree.

What makes this process especially difficult is sap. You see, it’s not until after spending the better part of December attached to the mid-section of our tree that our cat realizes she can no longer retract her claws.

A few years ago, this actually resulted in a front page story in the National Inquirer under the headline:

Holiday Tree sprouts CAT TUMOR!

It’s not like we haven’t tried to keep this tragedy from happening. In fact, we’ve even taken our cat to a pet psychologist, thinking that maybe she suffers from a traumatic experience that is somehow triggered by the site of Christmas trees — such as an unresolved conflict with a strand of tinsel.  Continue reading

A Christmas cautionary tale

What follows is a Christmas tale based on a true-life experience that I tell each year on Christmas Eve. Before I share it, I always ask myself, “Is this still relevant?” And with each passing year it seems to become even more so. The story is a mixture of fact, whimsy, hope and my utter belief that a heartfelt wish is the cornerstone of life’s most important magical moments. That said, my sincere thanks and appreciation to all of you for sharing some magical moments with me every day…

Merry Christmas!

— Ned

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He looked very out of place sitting alone in the flight terminal, his arms folded over a Superman backpack, and large brown eyes peering out from beneath his baseball cap. A few seats away, a keyboard recital was being performed by a businessman wearing Bluetooth headphones and chastising someone at “headquarters” about overspending.

“I said gifts for the immediate staff only. That means Carl, Jody, Jessica and whats-her-name — the gal we hired last month,” he instructed, keyboard clattering continuously. “Yeah, her — Loni. But that’s it. I never said anything about the sales department. What? Of course you’re included with the immediate staff. Get yourself something.”

The boy shifted, causing his plastic chair to squeak a bit as he leaned toward the businessman. “Hey, Dad…”

For the first time, the man’s fingers left the keyboard, just long enough to wave his son to silence.

The boy obeyed, and hugged his backpack a little closer to his chest.  Continue reading

Be aware of the dangers of having Canadian friends

imageI have several good blogger friends who are Canadians. I realize that many of you are now slowly shaking your head with that “I told you so” expression.

But I really try not to judge people or their cultures, no matter how strange or foreign they seem to me.

For the record, I have friends from southern California, too.

But let’s get back to Canada, where my friend and humour (see how I spelled that?) blogger Randall Willis resides. In Toronto, Ontario actually. I’d give you his exact address but it resembles the coordinates for a Space Shuttle landing. I’m not sure why Canadians use all those numbers and letters, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the metric system. All I know is it would take me longer to put the address into my car’s GPS system than it would to drive aimlessly until I found him by accident.  Continue reading

Sometimes, just running the race is what matters most

image Well folks, after eight weeks of asking you to vote for me, and in some cases threatening dance on your front lawn in my red thong if you didn’t (You know who you are), my pursuit of “Performer of the Year” at The Public Blogger came to end yesterday after placing third in the latest round.

While I was disappointed at first for not reaching the finals, it quickly dissipated as I thought about what these past two months have meant to me in terms of how incredibly fortunate I am in my life to have so much support in what I do. From my family and friends, my home town to all of you in the blogosphere, each week I received so much incredible support and encouragament in this endeavor which, truth be told, was exhausting. There were a few times I questioned whether I had gotten myself into something beyond my scope. Being the only humor columnist in a group of poets, photographers and recording artists was a bit like being the only lamb at a coyote picnic; you can’t help but wonder if you’ve gotten the wrong invitation.  Continue reading

Teaming up with my wife today (just like at night) has its perks

image As I mentioned in this morning’s post, for those of you following my pursuit of “Performer of the Year” in the the A Star is Born competition at The Public Blogger, this week’s round is a doubleheader in which I had the privilege of teaming up with my lovely wife.

For me, nothing as as good as when I can share it with her. Things are always better that way. And I’ll just leave it at that.

So, as much fun as it has been participating in this competition, having the chance to share the experience with her this week has been the best so far. The challenge for this round, which will determine the Final Two as we head into the last round next week, is called “Imitation of Life.” The objective being to demonstrate through words and a video, whether your art is an imitation of your life or a representation of it. For the first part of today’s challenge, my wife’s task was to offer an inside look to reveal “the truth” about who I am.

And without using any of that footage of me in a red thong.  Continue reading

Today, I’m at my wife’s mercy… and that’s OK with me

image As many of you know, I’ve spent the last seven weeks competing for “Perfomer of the year” at The Public Blogger.

As many of you also know, I’m crazy in love with my wife.

Today, the two come together.

That’s because my wife, along with family members of fellow nominees Rebecca Lemke and Oscar Alejandro Plascencia, were asked to submit their own video presentations as part of Round VIII: Imitation of Life.

I have no idea what my wife will be submitting on my behalf. All I know is that she does NOT have access to any of my red thong footage. I also know that I love and trust her implicitly. And that, as far as I can remember, she’s not mad at me about anything. Continue reading

How to prepare yourself to see ‘The Force Awakens’

(I’m over at Long Awkward Pause today, still giddy with a Star Wars hangover…)

image Last night I was among those relative few who, either through luck or Jedi mind trick, got to see the premier of what is arguably the biggest release in movie history. And by “arguably” I mean we could argue about it, but you would be wrong. Should you continue to argue, I will have a Wookie pull your arms out of their sockets.

While I’m not going to give away any surprises (Chewbacca sees an electrologist on Tatooine!), let me put your fears to rest that J.J. Abrams has created a perfect blend of nostalgia and new adventure, tied together with engaging characters who, unlike the last trilogy, don’t appear to be rehearsing for an episode of “The Young and the Restless.”

In short: I will be seeing this movie again.

Soon.

Likely several times. Or at least until someone notices I’ve been in the same theater for four straight days. Probably because of the smell. (More at Long Awkward Pause…)

Sorry, but ‘The Force’ will be with me sooner than you

imageBy this time tomorrow, one of the staff members over at Long Awkward Pause will be cooler than the rest.

Except for Brainrants.

No one is cooler than ‘Rants. Mostly because you can leave off half his name and it still sounds cool. Try that with any other writers there and the result sounds like someone grunting in the bathroom stall next to you:

“Awari!”

“Geish!”

“Ogdram!”

“Ned!”

However, I don’t care. Why? Because tonight, while everyone else is lying awake wondering if Luke Skywalker is actually the new villian with the candelabra-style lightsaber in the Star Wars trailers, and if so does that mean Jewish people have more midiclorians than the rest of us, I will have the answer to that burning question and more.  Continue reading

Revealing myself… WAIT, it’s not what you think!

Yes, that really is me (on the left)

Yes, that really is me (on the left)

When other people talk about me, it’s usually behind my back. Not that I’m paranoid.

I just… know it.

So naturally, our next challenge in the “Performer of the Year” competition at The Public Blogger is to put together a special two-part presentation revealing who we are through the eyes of others. As you might expect, this meant soliciting people to talk about me in front of my back — the objective being to offer a revealing look into whether we are an imitation or representation of our art.

I don’t know what all that means, but I’m repeating it here in hope of sounding highly sophisticated and artistic.

Now before I show you the clips below, I promise you that “revealing” who I am does not involve any undergarments. This time.  Continue reading

My intuition tells me our family will be drowning in tuition

imageAs parents, my wife and I have been very honest with our three teenagers about the level of financial support they can expect from us for college. To do this, I used my annual donation to our local public broadcasting station as an example.

“You know how they have different levels of supporters? And how the more money you contribute, the nicer the gift they send you as a show of their appreciation for your support — like a T-shirt or really nice backpack, or if you’re a gold-level member an entire season of your favorite PBS show in a special limited edition boxed set on Blu-Ray?”

Our kids nodded.

“As a gift, we received a refrigerator magnet for a show that was canceled three years ago.”

Blank stares from our kids.

“So yeah, the only free-ride scholarship you’re going to get from us will have already been spent on food and your unlimited texting and data plans.”  Continue reading