This photo shoot has left me feeling a little shellfish

imageIn my younger days, while working through kitchens in the Deep South to become a chef, I shucked a lot of oysters. Probably thousands. Honestly, it was a crazy shucking time in my life. But while I used plenty of oysters for cooking, I also flung my share onto people during fake sneezes, or while pretending to cough up something.

Often they would ask, “What are you, a shucking comedian?”

Looking back now, I guess it’s no surprise I eventually traded my chef’s knives for a humor columnist’s keyboard.

So the irony wasn’t lost on me when, nearly 20 years after becoming a columnist, I found myself standing in front of a camera posing with a freshly shucked oyster. Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that stranger things have happened to me. In this case, however, it wasn’t on a security tape or just a really bad attempt at a sexy selfie for my wife. It was for the cover of my new book coming out in September:

Pearls of Writing Wisdom: (From 16 years as a shucking columnist).

Obviously, the title demanded an oyster be on the cover. Mostly because of the Oysters Union. In fact, the only reason I’m on the cover at all is because someone had to hold the demanding little crustacean in the proper light. I had no idea the photographer, Joshua Greene, was shooting us both. In fact, the only input I had was on deciding whether to have it open or closed. After debating the merits of both, I finally just said, “shuck it” and popped it open.  Continue reading

This is what it looks like when bikers and flowers collide

image For three days each year, our little coastal town of 7,000 welcomes about 500 bikers and another 15,000 visitors to get crazy and celebrate… A flower.

A rhododendron, to be exact.

No one knows why.

But it’s been going on for 108 years and, for those three days, our town becomes an unlikely concotion of flower enthusiasts, Free Souls bikers and tourists all co-mingling over beers aand bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Think of it as “Sturgis meets Mardi Gras,” with a little Rose Festival thrown in. Personally, I think the bacon-wrapped hot dog is reason enough to celebrate, so I’m not going to suggest ending the festival anytime soon.

If you read Friday’s post, you know the festival kicks off with the arrival of the carnival — something that is always a bitter-sweet reminder of the loss of my best friend to cancer several years ago. As much as the festival reminds me of that loss, I also remember how much Jason loved this weekend each year, and some of the crazy things we did. Usually after a few beers.

Like when we dressed up as bikers and hung out with them at The Beachcomber. Continue reading

First rule of a risqué photo shoot: Avoid flashing anyone

(It’s Sunday morning, and that can only mean one thing! Or possibly two, depending on if you’re waking up next to a commode. But hey, even if you are, WELCOME TO FLASHBACK SUNDAY! Ooops, sorry — I probably shouldn’t yell. I promise to keep my excitement to a whisper. What make’s this week’s Flashback particularly exciting is that it’s sponsored by the publishers of Random Day Books, who thought their release of 50 Shades of Time-Traveling Love Vampires would be a great tie-in to Flashback Sunday! So sit back — or sit up, if you aren’t wedged too tightly between the wall and porcelain — and let’s travel back to 2001… back to a time before I even had a blog.. back to a time when, even if I’d heard of Freshly Pressed, I would’ve thought it was an annual report from the Hamburger Patty Maker’s Union…)

image This morning, as you sit drinking your morning coffee and reading the paper, I will be taking photographs of naked senior citizens. I should point out that 1) they are aware that their pictures are being taken, because 2) they asked me to do it, after 3) taking one look at me and realizing they had nothing to be embarrassed about.

The photos are for a goofy calendar that will be sold to raise funds for a community pool in Mapleton, Ore. You should also know that the photos will not actually show anything controversial because all private areas will be covered by a strategically positioned prop, such as a AARP card.

The idea came from Nancy Walker, who reads the column and, after finding out that I’m also a photographer, approached me about taking the calendar pictures. Why? Because — as Nancy put it — she and her friends feel they know me well enough through my column that being around me with little or no clothing is “no big deal.” Continue reading