Some Oscars have already been handed out — Not that anyone cares

imageHOLLYWOOD (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 abandoned 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 any major Hollywood premier, beams of light criss-crossed the night sky as unemployed SAG members waved flashlights to keep shuttles out of the McDonald’s 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.”  Continue reading Some Oscars have already been handed out — Not that anyone cares

Don’t worry, ball yankers are just a part of bowling

imageAfter seven years weeks of attending our oldest son’s high school bowling tournaments, I’m passing along a few tips to parents who may find themselves in a similar situation. And by ‘”situation” I mean contemplating suffocating themselves with an empty bowling bag after listening to 24 lanes of crashing pins for five hours. Especially if, for personal reasons, you aren’t comfortable spending those hours drinking in front your child’s high school teammates.

First, invest in a tall folding chair. The taller the better. In fact, consider purchasing a portable lifeguard stand if possible. That’s because getting a prime seat to watch your child bowl depends on how willing you are to take the life of a complete stranger. Getting a good location is similar to the Oklahoma Land Rush. Once the doors open, parents stampede (some on actual horseback) to the most valuable territory: the mid-point between 1) the center of the bowling lanes, 2) the bar and 3) the restrooms.

Parents then frantically stake their claim by jamming giant folding chairs together until the result is something similar to how homes are wedged together in poor sections of Hong Kong. Should something unexpected cause a panic, such as an earthquake or 300-game, it’s doubtful anyone will survive a catastrophic folding-chair collapse. For this reason, I suggest avoiding the mayhem by investing in that portable lifeguard stand. Sure, it may draw some stares and grumbling. Especially as you arrive moments before the tournament and climb to your seat well above those who clamored for prime territory when the doors opened at 6:30 a.m. There may even be a few threats about speaking to the management. But as they’ll discover, the only rule about spectator chairs is that they be moveable.

So as they say in bowling: They can go wax their balls.  Continue reading Don’t worry, ball yankers are just a part of bowling

I think I’ve been watching too many prison shows

Lately, my wife and I have been binge-watching several TV series at once on Netflix.

Sons of Anarchy.

Breaking Bad.


As much as I’d like to think the result has led me to a higher plane of moral existance through the peripheral experience of others who have made mistakes and fallen into a life of crime, murder and mayhem, it seems that I’ve only taken away one lasting life lesson…



It may be time to start watching more Disney movies…

There’s no upside to performing a diaper change in roller skates

imageIt’s been more than 250 years since John Joseph Merlin invented the roller skate. Considering that there were no cement sidewalks, asphalt streets or concrete half-pipes in 1760, then one can only assume Mr. Merlin’s intention was to commit suicide.

Hmmm, running myself into a wall at full speed probably won’t do the me in. But maybe if I was rolling down a hill..?!?

I thought about this during a recent trip to Eugene, which is the closest big city to us and home to many University of Oregon students who roller skate through downtown. They do this as a way to leave a smaller carbon footprint, which is ironic considering I go through twice as much carbon in my brake pads by trying to avoid hitting them in traffic. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a roller-skate prude shaking his fist at a generation of whippersnappers with their fancy moves and ibuprofen-free flexibility. In fact, it wasn’t long ago (Okay, 10 years *cough cough*) I was lacing up my own skates in a show of dexterity rivaling any speed-skating Olympian suffering a leg cramp at 40 mph.  Continue reading There’s no upside to performing a diaper change in roller skates

Because sometimes being goofy is worth a second look

image The three elements of a “Perfect Storm” came together here on the Oregon coast two years ago today. And no, I’m not talking about Bigfoot, Geraldo Rivera and Fox News. I’m talking about a combination of natural elements that led to one of my favorite moments here on this blog:

Extremely strong winds
Heavy rain
My weak acrobatic skills.

Granted, 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 then 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 Because sometimes being goofy is worth a second look

Men: The key to romance? Don’t be afraid to look foolish

(A year ago today, the lovely and talented Sisterwives invited me to offer a man’s perspective on Valentine’s Day. I saw it as my opportunity to open the lines of love-communication between the sexes. As the Day of Love approaches, here’s hoping men and women get something other than a busy signal…)

imageSince the dawn of time, man has feared Valentine’s Day. I’m a journalist, so you can trust my facts on this. And because I’m a man, you can also trust me when I tell you our fear isn’t because we don’t want to express feelings of love and romance; it’s because we are afraid of looking stupid while doing so.

This fear has been documented as far back as prehistoric times, in a pair of cave drawings paleontologists say depicts a caveman named “Glork” trying to court a cavewoman.

Image one: To demonstrate his masculinity and win a cavewoman’s affections, Glork fights a saber-toothed lion

Image two: Glork is eaten

Millions of years later, though the risk of being eaten by a large predator is relatively low (not counting cougar attacks), men still fear that their attempt to express love could lead to a fate worse than death: EmbarrassmentContinue reading Men: The key to romance? Don’t be afraid to look foolish

My self-defense video for writers

imageAs many of you know (meaning literally dozens), after harrassing you every Friday for two years with my writing tips, I put Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing on hiatus while turning that series into a book: Pearls of Writing Wisdom From 16 Shucking Years as a Columnist.

Set for release this August (no, really), it’s a writer’s survival guide that Editor’s Weekly is already heralding as, “A handbook for writers as inspiring as a life-skills pep talk from Dr. Jack Kavorkian…”

And what Master of Horror® Stephen King has touted as “An essential part of every writer’s tool kit, unless they know a good mechanic.”

But enough accolades!

The reason I bring this up is because, yesterday, the first of 12 video vignettes from my book was released at Gliterary Girl Media and Port Hole Publications. Thanks to Hollywood director J.J. Abrams and special effects wizards from Industrial Lights and Magic, the imagery and storytelling are truly spectacular! And by that, I mean in the latest Star Wars movie. Neither J.J. Abrams or ILM had anything to do with my video.

Then again, neither does Jar-Jar Binks. So, technically speaking, our movies do have something in common when it comes to production value.  Continue reading My self-defense video for writers

See? I’m just as in the dark as everyone about Taco Bell’s new menu item

imageThere are certain perks that come with being a syndicated columnist. For example, just last month at the Oregon Plumbling Convention, I was honored with delivering the opening plunge in the Northwest Clogged Commode competition. In terms of prestige, this is like ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. At least in the competitive plumbing circuit. I have also been a guest judge at the Portland Freestyle Burping Contest and keynote speaker at the Nouns of Baskervilles writers conference. Yet in spite of my notariety, I was admittedly a little surprised when Taco Bell included me among its new “Mystery Box Menu Item” promotional ads for the Super Bowl.

If you haven’t see these commercials, sports stars like James Harden and other high-profile celebrities are given a plain green box representing Taco Bell’s new menu item, but aren’t told what the item is. That’s because thanks to marketing wizardry — and an unfortunate incident that resulted in 500,000 burned taco shells — the new item won’t be available to the general public until Feb. 8. But considering the release of the Waffle Taco last year, we can all agree anything is possible. Which could explain how I ended up with a “Mystery Box” in the first place.   Continue reading See? I’m just as in the dark as everyone about Taco Bell’s new menu item

How did I end up in a Taco Bell commercial?

imageBy now, I’m sure most of you have seen the new Taco Bell commercials promoting its new “Mystery Menu Item,” which will be reviled revealed during the Super Bowl. In these commercials, sports stars like James Harden and other celebrities are given a plain green box representing the new item, but aren’t told what the item is.

Or whether the green box is actually edible.

But if you’re a gambler by nature, you can pre-order the mystery item and get one Super Bowl Sunday, a day before it’s available to the general public on Feb. 8. Yes, that’s a full 24 hours before others in your area will get their first taste of the Meaty Cinnabon Wrap!

Or Double-Decker Mexi-Fries-a-rrito.

Or Chicken Twisty Supreme.

Continue reading How did I end up in a Taco Bell commercial?

Get a jump start on your taxes! (And depression!)

imageFor the last several years I’ve promised myself I would do my taxes early. And for the last several years I have found myself Tokyo-drifting my way to the post office at 11:59 p.m. April 14. This year, I was determined to get an early start. After clearing off the kitchen table and finding an outlet for the calculator, I sat down to do my taxes. As always, I made sure to have all the necessary documentation and forms, like W4s, tax forms, bank statements, insurance reports, tax schedules and, most importantly, a box of Kleenex.

As I sat staring at this year’s tax booklet, I noticed a special section of “Tax Terms,” which is an alphabetical listing of terms one may encounter during the tax preparation process. Each term is followed by a brief description meant to enlighten the truth-seeking taxpayer through “real-life” examples. For instance, the IRS uses “Jane” and “John” to illustrate the term “Ability to Pay.” In this scenario, Jane is filthy rich, with homes on both coasts that she visits by way of her own Lear jet.

By comparison, John earns what the IRS calls a “more modest salary,” which affords him a flashlight and a camper shell to live in.  Continue reading Get a jump start on your taxes! (And depression!)