My commencement address (assuming I ever give one)

imageTo the Class of 2016, faculty members, parents, dignitaries, mis-informed wedding crashers, and Visa/MasterCard representatives who have gathered here today:

I am honored to have the opportunity to address this group of graduating seniors and impart the wisdom I have gained since my own graduation from high school nearly 150 years ago.

Standing before you today, I see the anticipation on your faces as each of you comes to realize what sharing my wisdom with you means: Possibly the shortest commencement speech in school history.

Before long, you will step forward and receive the culmination of 12 — possibly 14 — years of education. You will shake hands with some of those who have helped guide you to this milestone. And unless your last name begins with a “Z,” you will return to your seat as the rest your classmates step forward to receive their diplomas. That’s when you will silently think to yourself, “I really shouldn’t have had that second bottle of Mountain Dew.”  Continue reading

Finding the meaning in little flags

(Though we live in a time where the lines that divide us seem more clearly drawn than ever, for today I hope we can unite in solemn appreciation for the men and women throughout our nation’s history who sacrificed themselves so that we can live — and even disagree — as Americans. As adults, we tend to complicate things and ideals. It’s days like today that I am reminded that a child’s pure, unbiased perspective is sometimes our best source of wisdom…)

image It’s been 15 years since I introduced my oldest daughter to the meaning of Memorial Day. She was seven then, but I still remember the short gusts of warm wind on my neck, the earthy smell of the fresh-cut grass, and the hushed snap of small American flags standing like sentries next to dozens of tombstones along the hillside.

“How come some of them have little flags, and some don’t?” my daughter asked.

It was near sunset as we strolled through our local cemetery. Though we didn’t have any family members buried there, I thought it would be a good opportunity to explain the meaning of Memorial Day to her.

“Do you know what war is?” I asked.

“When people fight,” she answered, then clarified herself; “A whole bunch of
people.”

“That’s right, but do you know why they fight?”

She thought a moment, then shook her head. Continue reading

A quick update on my sexiness

 

SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Thinking Ned is sexy may be bad for your health.

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Thinking Ned is sexy may be bad for your health.

This status update on my sexiness will be quick because, let’s be honest, it’s me we’re talking about. Those of you who have been following my inclusion in the “Who is the Sexiest Number” competition at The Public Blogger will be happy to know I’ve made the final three.

Ok, maybe “shocked” is a better word.

Either way, as we head into next week’s final round (June 5 & 6), it’s down to Thomas Lemke of Oklahoma, Keyur Panchal of India, and me: a slightly older humorist (give or take 20 years). I’m currently ranked No. 1, mostly due to my seductive bacon poetry, which was dripping with… uh… sexiness?

For the final round, we are required to make a short video explaining what quality we’d like others to perceive as “sexy” about us.

So as you can see, I have my work cut out for me.  Continue reading

I promise this is the last time I’m going to be ‘sexy’

 

image

Being chosen among 100 men to participate in The Public Blogger’s “Who Is the Sexiest Number” competition was hard enough for me to understand. The fact that it has come down to Thomas Lemke and myself during tonight’s finals round is even harder to fathom.

Not the Thomas part.

He’s definitely sexy.

In fact, if I wasn’t a ridiculously happily married heterosexual, I’d be all over that guy.

But me? A humorist nearing 50 who has already traumatized most of his readership after wearing a red thong? Then again, considering what is happening with this year’s presidential elections, it just goes to show anything can happen.  Continue reading

Writing is like weightlifting: If you’re not careful, you’ll pull something

imageIt struck me this morning at the gym while diligently pumping iron from a seated position at the smoothie bar. There are a number of similarities between reaching your fitness goals and writing goals. In both cases, you will likely fail if you attempt too much too fast. Especially if you’re trying to show off and accidentally flatulate while attempting a power lift.

OK, now that the obligations required by my Gas-X sponsorship have been met, we can move on to how the same principles that make up a good fitness regimen can be applied to achieving your writing goals.

(Make sure to stop in next week, when Trojan will sponsor tips on expanding your readership.)

Just like many people who enter the gym for the first time and see the dozens of different torture devices designed to make you look weak and destroy your self esteem fitness apparatus that can sculpt your body into lean muscle capable of opening even the most stubborn mayonnaise jar, those entering the world of writing often find themselves being crushed under the weight of their own lofty goals by not building up literary muscle first. And by this I don’t mean technique, style or developing your writing voice. I’m talking specifically about easing into writing project(s) and commitment(s) in a way that strengthens your writing endurance so you can avoid “injuring” yourself creatively.

This isn’t to be confused with creatively injuring yourself, which I also know about. But that’s a totally different, embarrassing post.  Continue reading

Latest trend in grad gifts has parents going for bust

image After reading about how the parents of LuLu Diaz gave their daughter $6,000 breast implants for her high school graduation gift, I couldn’t help but be shocked by the idea of a father agreeing to anything that would make his teenaged daughter more enticing to teenaged boys.

As luck would have it, I actually spent several years in my teens. Because of this I can tell you there are many teenaged boys who still haven’t made it past the “breast” portion of this column. Sadly, some may never finish reading it because, in order to break them out of their current hypnotic spell, it will become necessary for a close friend or family member to light them on fire.

Let’s face it: This is the nature of most men until the aging process inspires a level of physical maturity that dethrones sex as the main motivator. While there is no set timeline for this transformation, most experts agree it begins anywhere between six and eight months after death.

Until then, at least from a father’s perspective, men can’t be trusted.

Continue reading

This time, it’s going to take more than bacon for me to be sexy

image

As I mentioned last week, due to what I’m assuming was either an egregious counting error or possibly something alcohol related, I somehow ended up in the final six “Sexiest Men” in the Public Blogger’s online Neighborhood. In the last round, we were required to write a piece of sexy poetry, which I did by drawing from my deep passion and desire for soft, glistening curves of my mistress…

Bacon.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who feels this way because I’m coming into this round in first place.

After tonight, only four of us will remain when voting ends tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. PST  (and by that, I don’t necessarily mean I’ll be eliminated by a heart attack.) This round’s theme is “Smile,” with each of us submitting something — art, photography, music or humor *cough cough* — to vote on as each of us tries in our own way to “bring sexy back.” As you can imagine, I’m already behind because I actually have to FIND my sexy first. In the meantime, if you’d like to cast a vote — for me or any of these terrific men — you can follow the link, which I have cleverly labeled as “Vote Here.”

No matter who you vote for, or whether you vote at all, I already feel like a winner just knowing that I have bacon at home.

 

Sometimes being an astute observer has its drawbacks

imageAs I’ve mentioned, during our town’s annual spring festival, the carnival sets up across the street from our home.

Literally.

If it were any closer, I could high-five everyone on the tilt-a-whirl without leaving the couch. So each night after work, I walk two blocks home and pass through the carnival, enjoying the fact that the sound of screaming teenagers — for once — isn’t coming from any of mine. I take time to watch the interactions of people, the motion of the rides, the flashing lights, and take in the carnival-specific aroma of frying corn dogs and sweet cotton candy mixed with freshly spewed vomit from the squirrel cages.

Being a writer, this is a target-rich environment of atmosphere, character and dialogue that I store in my memory to either draw from later or, as in the case of what I’m about to share with you, eventually discuss with my psychiatrist or lawyer.

For example…  Continue reading

Someone wickedly wonderful this way came — and left much too soon

(Each May, as I welcome the special piece of Americana that is our town’s annual Rhododendron Festival, it also reminds me of saying goodbye to a best friend. As a tribute to him and the impact our friendship had — and continues to have — on my life, I post this every year when I see the first pieces of the Ferris wheel come together…)

This view from our office's back door for five days each year is always bittersweet.

This view from our office’s back door for five days each year is always bittersweet.

As I walked to work this morning, the sun was still resting below distant Badger Mountain. The streets were quiet and the air was still as I made my way along the sidewalk, past the carnival that claims the visitors parking lot across from our home each year. Last night it was alive with the sounds of oiled metal grinding behind colorful facades — rocket ships, dragons and race cars — as carnival-goers screamed and laughed in rhythmic cycles throughout the evening.

But this morning, the neon lights are out. The colorful merry-go-round is draped in blue tarps. There are no screams or laughter. Only the occasional murmur of snoring from inside the narrow carnie sleeping quarters stacked side by side on tractor trailer beds. I cut through the carnival, stepping over a braid of thick electrical cables that eventually spread like veins through the park, bringing life to thrill rides, snack shacks and carnival barker microphones.

Each year, I make this walk to work through the Davis Carnival.

And each year, I think of my friend — and the memory of a warm, terrible spring evening that occurred this same night more than a decade ago… Continue reading

Apparently, I’m not the only one who finds bacon sexy

image As I mentioned last Sunday, I have somehow ended up among a group of men ranked as “The Sexiest” on The Public Blogger’s international stage of artists known and The Neighborhood.

I know what you’re thinking: There goes The Neighborhood.

But the fact that I’ve reached the top six out of 100 men just goes to show that Trump’s campaign may not be the strangest thing we’ve seen this year. For example, with two rounds remaining, I am somehow ranked 1st after Sunday’s round of competition: “Sexy Poetry.” I’d like to say it’s because of my command of love language and ability to create sexually charged imagery that makes the heart beat faster; I’d like to say it’s because my machismo transcends the written word and internal passion that each of us carries, just waiting to be ignited; I’d like to say something really sexy right now but as you can see it’s not working.  Continue reading