Welcome to whatever is on my mind!

Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mr Hankey Christmas Cookies (How to Make)

My kids are teenagers who love Southpark, so I started making these Christmas cookies last year and they’ve been a big hit with my kids as well as with a large number of my adult friends. They’re not difficult tot make, but they do take a little time, so here’s my little tutorial on how to make them. I’m posting written instructions and I also filmed some video so that you can see how I did it.

Step 1:
Bake brownies in a 13x9 pan. I recommend using a pre-packaged mix instead of baking these from scratch because you’ll spend enough time decorating the cookies and the mix speeds up this first step. Make sure that the box is “family sized” or large enough to accommodate a 13x9 pan. If the mix is for an 8x8 pan, then use two boxes.

Step 2:
Remove the edges from the brownies. This part is a little crusty and doesn’t mold as well as the interior. Mr. Hankey’s body forms better if you don’t use this. My kids love eating the scraps.

Step 3:
Cut the brownies into 12 equal parts. Each part will make one Mr. Hankey cookie, so you’ll wind up with a dozen cookies from one batch. I usually bake 2 13x9 pans and make 24 cookies at once. They get eaten pretty quickly.

Step 4:
Shape Mr Hankey. Make sure your hands are clean and then use them to mold his body into an irregular tube shape. I also slightly pinch a little area around where his neck should be to help him take shape.

Step 5:
Make his hat. This time I used pre-rolled sheets of red fondant icing. You can find this anywhere they sell cake decorating supplies (such as Michaels or Walmart). I’ve also either used cherry fruit roll-ups or painted his hat on with red icing. The red icing tastes the best.

Step 6:
Use pretzels and white chocolate to make his arms. Lay down some wax paper and then place drops of melted white chocolate down on the sheet. Place the end of  a pretzel stick on then seal the top of his “mitten” with another drop of white chocolate.

Step 7:
Use melted white chocolate to make two white ovals close together for his eyes.

Step 8:
Glue his hat on using either melted white chocolate or white icing. Once the hat is glued on you can decorate the “fur” parts using more melted whit chocolate or white icing.

Step 9:
Add a drop of dark chocolate to each of his eyes for the pupils, and also use the dark chocolate to make his mouth.

Step 10:
Gently insert his arms into the sides of his body. I usually break off one-third to one-half of the pretzel stick to shorten it and make it look proportional to his body.

Take a picture because these cookies won’t last long. Everyone loves the novelty and these disappear in less than 48 hours.

Watch the video also, - seeing how it’s done is often helpful to understanding it better. Besides, it took me hours to edit it and I’d like my efforts to feel validated.  ;)


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook: What to Do The Day After Tragedy

We’re all devastated by what happened yesterday at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. There’s so much sadness in the loss of a child and we, as a nation, lost 20 of them all at once. When someone kills the innocent we all feel the sense of injustice. Many of us with children are mourning along with the parents who suffered loss as we realize how easily we could have been in their shoes. The 6 adults who died had dedicated their lives to teaching others. Yesterday they literally gave their lives. These teachers are heroes.

The loss is horrific. But what can we do? I have no long term answers, but I have a few suggestions on what to do right now, the day after. 


1. Mourn for those who died, even if you didn’t know them. We all lost something yesterday.

2. Pray for the families and community. The holidays will never be the same for them. Also, remember to pray for them during the next year when other holidays come around and these families have to deal with remembering their losses.

3. Remember that life is fragile. There is no guarantee that we or our loved ones will be here tomorrow.

4. Stop focusing on getting ahead in your life or career and put more time into simply spending time with the people who are most important to you. Remember that people and relationships are the most important things in this world.

5. Refrain from immediately using this incident as an opportunity to promote your political views either for or against gun control. The day after the event is a time to mourn, not a time to show which position is right or wrong. Your opinions won’t change what happened yesterday and there will be plenty of time for you to express them later.

6. Help someone else. Find a way to make the world a better place by giving your time or making a donation to a cause - or both. There are so many needs in the world and while you can’t restore these children to their parents, you can make a difference in the world that eases someone else’s pain or brings them joy. It's never a bad time to help a good cause.

7. Never stop being empathetic and don’t be afraid to cry. It’s what makes us human.


Note: If you have children who are having trouble dealing with this incident and need assistance in figuring out how to help them, try reading though these tips from the American Psychological Association.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cooking with Dexter


I loved the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter and the TV show based on the book is one of my favorites to watch. So I thought I would start a series of posts on what it would be like if Dexter were a chef. This way I can also share some of my favorite recipes.

Today we’re making a roasted chicken. You will need to purchase a whole “roasting” chicken. These look like little turkeys. Most grocery stores sell them, but if you don’t see any in the meat department you may need to check with the butcher.

Once you have your chicken we’re ready to get started.

Step One:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step Two:
Cover the kitchen counter with sheets of plastic.

Step Three:
Strap a whole roasting chicken down using duct tape. Place a nice sized piece over the hole in the neck to symbolize sealing the bird’s mouth to stifle screams.

Step Four:
Select and sharpen an extremely large carving knife and cleaver. Set the cleaver aside.

Step Five:
Using both hands, face the chicken and raise the carving knife above your head.

Step Six:
Recite a list of all the wrongs the chicken has committed. Look the chicken in the eyes.

Step Seven:
Swiftly drive the knife into the left breast of the chicken where the heart should be.

Step Eight:
Using the cleaver, cut the chicken into pieces, slicing through bones, as needed. If you happen to have a bone saw on hand, use that instead of the cleaver.

Step Nine:
Place the segments of chicken into little trash bags and seal them with twist ties. Make sure that the body is evenly dispersed between all the trash bags and squeeze out any excess air so that the bags don’t float.

Step Ten:
Haul the bags out to sea in your boat and drop them into the ocean.

Step Eleven:
Turn the oven off and go out for dinner.


I feel a sense of release after cooking like this. Now I can go out and buy donuts for everyone, smile and act normal until I feel the urge to cook again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Darrell A. Harris on Skinny Dipping

About a month ago I reviewed the book Skinny Dipping in Daylight by Cory Basil. I then passed the book along to my friend Darrell A. Harris, who I thought would really enjoy it. He did. Darrell wrote such a wonderful review that I thought I would share it with you here.  If you're not familiar with Darrell and his work, please read his short biography at the end of the review. He's no stranger to the arts and maybe that's one of the reasons we get along so well.



A Review of Skinny Dipping in Daylight
by
Darrell A. Harris


Poet Cory Basil tells us in his introduction to his fine volume Skinny Dipping in Daylight “the seasons of the soul and spirit do not follow those of the solstice and equinox.” How fortunate I am to have read this vulnerable and elegant work by one who minded and kept the seasons of the soul and spirit. 



He observes late in the book “Poetry does not pay. But I need it and so do you.” Brother Basil is spot-on about the second two observations. And while I understand what he’s saying in the first, I would definitely take issue with him on it. His poetry has already yielded him the soul equilibrium that eludes so many. Rare coinage indeed. And now his willingness to share it with others allows us to be enriched by it too.

This racehorse of a poet comes out of the chute full throttle. The poem Blue Manifesto sets the tone of the journey with world-weary yet whimsical wisdom: “I know what I need needs me not, I know what I want wants me not.” And shortly thereafter in Abandoned Drifter he boldly petitions: “Spit me out of the whale. Part me a Red Sea then show me dry land.” 



And with the mention of a whale, I should interrupt myself right here and say this volume is a whale of a bargain. I’m used to paying a small fortune for slim volumes of poetry I care about. These poems make me care deeply. And there are nearly 500 pages of deep and moving reflection. (I probably should quickly add I am not being paid to tell you that, lest you think I am wrongly motivated.) O.K. Back to business.



In the poem These Strange Days Mr. Basil chronicles the hollowness in the aftermath of the holocaust of personal loss. Then Hiding the Hyde confides the stewing bewilderment of the perplexed Jekyll in everyman. With Scrapbook and Tape reveals reverie about “how one’s deadly imagination fills the blanks between the frames.” We are so dishonest with ourselves. And so irresolute. In Jet Black Hair our confessor writes: You held tightly, and I let go far too soon.” These ruminations on the how and the why of lost love bring illumination rather than despair, peace rather than angst.



The soundtrack of young love (all loves have a soundtrack) is contemplated in The Year Oasis Owned my Discman. Already Stranger lets us observe the poet’s euphoria of new love, followed by the pointless pain of ensuing freefall ala Gotye’s Someone That I Used to Know.



We also get perceptive insight into the therapeutic nature of writing. Brenda Euland says in her 1930s classic If You Want to Write that everyone can and should write. In Basil's book he says, “I can always go back to my writing; it never rejects – It looks at me fearfully and wonders if I will abandon it. But I won’t – It’s too easy. It’s cheating the noise, a free pass to sanity, an excuse to live.”

This world would be a kinder, gentler place if we all took the time and effort to process our loves and losses, vitriol and victories on the page before moving on to the next thing. That’s what is so engaging and even hopeful about Mr. Basil’s generous contribution of Skinny Dipping in Daylight.



I should also add that I just gotta love a poet who listens to Vanessa Paradis and reads Thomas Merton. His thoughtfully chosen influences doubtless spur him on to the elegance of this work . . . Neruda fueling his “lust for love” and Bukowski helping him “keep it honest, simple and straight.” Would to God that more of our contemporary artists had such refined, eclectic and exceptional taste.



In the latter part of Skinny Dipping in Daylight we are treated to a number of journal entries. These are like coveted bonus tracks on a deluxe collector’s edition CD box. They help us put these slices of the poet’s soul in the context of life as we all live it. And he says so sweetly: “Somewhere in my soul I pray it” (his writing) “touches another – I find the loneliness of poetry to be a comfort.” And comforting as well as illuminating, it truly is. 



May I also add that Cory Basil’s provocative title does not portend an ill- advised burst of emotional and psychological exhibitionism? Rather, this book is a confident and trusting confession after much pain and loss. He probably has earned the right to rant. But he limits himself to only a couple brief flashes. They seem well deserved. And they end up seeming like essential peppery seasonings in a deliciously savory and nutritious dish.




About Darrell
Dr. Darrell A. Harris co-founded Star Song Records in 1976. He was its President for twenty years, serving as Executive Producer for multiple recordings by Newsboys, Twila Paris, Gaithers, Petra and many others.

In the early ‘90s Dr. Harris was Executive Editor of The Complete Library of Christian Worship (Robert E. Webber, ed.) He now serves as Dean of the Chapel to the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies, and as a Trustee of the Gospel Music Trust Fund.

Harris resides with Janet, his wife of forty-three years in Franklin, Tennessee. They have two daughters and six grandchildren.

Additional note: Skinny Dipping in Daylight releases today. You can order autographed copies through Cory's website at hereliescorybasil.com

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pick Up Lines That Aren’t

Have you ever been in that situation where a stranger walks up to you and makes a statement that sounds odd, but then you assess the context and realize that the person meant something completely different and more conventional? This seems to happen to me a lot.

In any event, all of the statements below are things that people have actually said to me. Each of these expressions could be considered as a pick-up line and, in some cases, I thought it was until I learned the full context of the comment.

1. “Excuse me, but didn’t I marry you?”
These were the first words a stranger said to me at a party. When he approached me this way, I first thought he was a lunatic. Turns out the guy was a judge and he thought I had been the bride at a ceremony he performed.

2. “I checked you out at the library.”
He was referring to one of the books I’ve written. He had never seen me in person before.

3. “You look hot.”
I have very sensitive fair skin and get flushed easily when I drink things like wine or coffee or just breathe air. However, no matter who says this to me I still take it as a compliment every time and graciously thank the person. Usually at that point, the person becomes embarrassed and tries to avoid me. At my age I don’t really care what they meant. I only care what I heard.

4. “Will you please do me?”
When my husband said this to me I got very excited and screamed “#$%@ YES!” right in front of the kids.  Turns out he only wanted me to put sunscreen on his back.

It’s been said that timing is everything, but context is pretty important, too. Well, it’s only important if your goal is to be understood.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Season of Thankfulness

A lot of people are doing “30 Days of Thankfulness” and listing one thing for which they’re thankful each day during the month of November. While some people find this boring, I think it’s a great exercise in remembering how we have so much to be thankful for.

However, instead of listing 30 individual items or specific people, I thought I’d list the top 5 things for which I’m thankful right now.

1. The little things. Because so often little things turn out to be really big things. Like the smile from a stranger when you’re having the worst day of your life.

2. People who take the time to help other people even when they don’t really have the time to do so. The truth is that we’re all busy, but some people stop their hectic schedules long enough to put other people first. I’m thankful for these people.

3. That the past is gone. I’ve learned a few things and had some fun, but I don’t ever want to live in my past. I believe it’s almost always the quickest road to death.

4. The love of a good dog. While I love people, no one else thinks I’m wonderful after a two hour workout. My dog thinks I’m awesome no matter how much I stink and she’s not afraid to cuddle up with me. I think we humans could learn a lot about love from dogs.

5. Art in all forms. Nothing is more powerful or more beautiful than art done well. It has the potential to change the world or one person’s world forever. Literature, paintings, sculpture, photographs, dance, music, etc. The forms of art are as limitless as the potential because art can speak intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Art may be the one universal language because of this.

This is my list. Yours may be different and that’s okay. But I think that if we could all experience a little of each of these things every day I think we’d see the beauty in life and remember to be thankful more often.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Skinny Dipping In Daylight - Book Review

 People who know me well know that words are my drug of choice. I have other addictions, such as good coffee, red wine and visually stunning movies, but I could walk away from any of these, with the exception of well-placed words. I have deep appreciation for well crafted ideas, especially when these ideas are expressed verbally. Skinny Dipping in Daylight by Cory Basil is a beautifully crafted work that will appeal to readers like me.

The title reflects the raw honesty of the book’s content. The pieces are thoughtful and accurately reflect the different facets of human experience: Love, humor, pain, struggle, falling and getting back up again. Poetry has rhythm and good poetry reflects the rhythm of life, like Skinny Dipping in Daylight.

Even in the prose sections Cory has a very lyrical style of writing, and yet it often contains pithy aspects or whimsical elements that keep me engaged. The words he chooses eloquently support his message without clouding it or overtaking it and that’s what makes his writing so appealing.

I could write paragraphs about the book to describe the writing and illustrations, but I think your time would be better spent reading it for yourself. Check out Cory’s description in the video trailer and then go buy a copy. Better yet, read it with friends or a reading group so you can talk about it with someone else. The discussion time will be well-spent.

Lastly, for those of you unfamiliar with Cory’s artwork, please take the time to check out the links below. He is as imaginative as he is articulate. In fact, I was so impressed with his work that I own several of his prints and also hired him to do the cover for my next book.

Related Links:

Cory’s Website

Cory's Artwork on Etsy

Facebook

Twitter

If you live in Nashville, please visit The Frothy Monkey coffeehouse on 12th Ave. and check out Cory’s original art work which will be there on display from December 1 through January 31, 2013. But get there before everything’s purchased and there’s nothing left to see.




Note: My review was based on a free, advanced-review copy of the book.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I’m Not Prejudiced. I Just Don’t Like Commas.


I recently received a draft of one of my manuscripts back from my editor. While he hasn't gotten on my case for using the word "that" too frequently, I did notice that most of the edits were to insert commas where I had left them out.

So in my defense, I’d like to clarify something:
I’m not prejudiced against commas. But I do have certain beliefs.

For example, I don’t believe that commas and other punctuation should mix in the same sentence. Commas should be allowed to exist in separate but equal sentences but other punctuation should not be forced to mix with them.

Furthermore, when commas and periods get together, the period should always be on top. This is what God intended and this union is referred to as a “semicolon.” Notice that a full colon, the stronger form of punctuation, is two periods. I don’t know what God was thinking there, but I’m sure He had a good reason for it, as commas were completely left out of the mark. Besides, Vonnegut hated semicolons, also.

I’ve also noticed that commas occasionally think too much of themselves. They get lofty ideas and turn into apostrophes. Even worse, sometimes these self-important bits of punctuation join together into pairs and become quotation marks. This is not natural. They are rising above their place in life and should be stopped.

I don’t hate commas. In fact, they're sometimes necessary. But they invade paragraphs, even when they’re unwanted. Just look at this blog post. They’re everywhere.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Truth About Tattoos

 I recently read a book by Terry Pratchett called “Nation” in which an older man initially doesn’t trust a young boy because the boy doesn’t have enough tattoos. In that culture, tattoos mark significant life events and growth experiences, so a person’s wisdom can be easily gauged by the amount of ink on the person’s body.

So this got me thinking ... Why do some people have a prejudice against individuals with tattoos and view them as shifty or unreliable? I don’t think the view is accurate, so I’d like to set forth a few arguments against this perspective as food for thought.

First of all, I’d like to point out that the average tattoo lasts longer than the average marriage. This is a key point because it demonstrates that people with tattoos know how to make a commitment. Are you looking for a partner for the long haul? An employee who isn’t going to quit easily? Look for someone with a tattoo.

Secondly, getting a tattoo can be extremely painful. This tells me that these people can tolerate uncomfortable situations and will stick it out when others might quit. They can endure under pressure and keep their eye on the goal.

In addition, when people tell me that individuals with tattoos are unreliable, I simply laugh. Reliable is a synonym for consistent. Who would you rather trust: someone who wears the same image day after day on their skin (i.e., is consistent) or someone who changes their clothes, makeup and jewelry to appear different all the time (i.e., projects an inconsistent look)? No contest.

Finally, I’m willing to bet that very few of our politicians have tattoos and I don’t think any of us believe that they’re doing a great job. Perhaps if we elected more individuals with tattoos our country would be in better shape. At least we could learn who we were really voting for because most people with tattoos make sure that the images they permanently mark on their bodies reflect what they believe in.

Based on my conclusions, I think that people with tattoos make better employees, spouses, citizens, and (probably) elected officials.

Maybe some people without tattoos feel threatened by those who have them because people with tattoos are just better people. By the way, I don’t have any tattoos, so you may not want to trust me on this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

THATman

I was talking with another writer about editors and he said that his editor is always striking the word “that” from his drafts. So I’ve come up with the perfect solution:

Write a graphic novel about a super hero named THATman!

Who is THATman?
THAT hero THAT is like THAT other hero THAT rhymes with THATman THAT also wears a cape and THAT fights THAT other kind of evil whereas THATman fights THAT oppression THAT evil editors inflict and THAT uses the word THAT as much as THAT can be done in a book about THAT subject.

Subtitled:
"How to passive aggressively get even with your editor through character definition."

The goal is obviously to cram as many “thats” on a page as possible because of the way THATman speaks and operates. But the editor can’t take them out because it’s part of who the character is. Brilliant!

THATman will also need a side kick called THATguy. He sticks out wherever he goes because he’s always saying the wrong things at the wrong time and embarrassing himself and his friends. He works as a decoy for THATman by distracting nearby people through his dumbassery (real word, FYI, since I spoke it into existence here). At parties and other events people look at THATguy's foolishness and say, “I wouldn’t want to be THAT guy). Meanwhile, no one sees THATman triumphantly place another THAT somewhere on a manuscript...

I’m seeing this as a series.
Episode One: THATman Begins
Episode Two: THAT Dark Knight
Episode Three: THAT Dark Knight Rises to Superscript
Episode Four: Comma Abuse is Morally Justified (even when the text isn’t).
Episode Five: Participles Dangling Over the Edge of Infinitives

I’m sure there’s more. But I just love THAT idea.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The View From The Tangent

Telling me not to go off on tangents is like telling me that I can’t go home. Because I live on the tangents. That’s where all the interesting things are because they haven’t been trampled underfoot by all the people on the road of common thoughts.

I realize that there’s a place for the conventional. It serves a purpose. But not everyone needs to be there. People like me make life more interesting.

For Example, your meetings may be more productive, but my meetings are more entertaining. People actually like coming to my meetings and things still get done. However, these things are not always done in the way that you’re used to seeing them done.

Furthermore, the tangent is where all the good ideas exist. People like me are brave enough to walk out there and harvest these ideas and we don’t mind doing the work because we were made for it. Don’t forbid people who are comfortable out on the edge the ability to go there. If Thomas Edison hadn’t gone there you’d still be reading by candlelight.

New ideas can change the world. They can make us laugh. Don’t be afraid of creativity. People like me are only dangerous when you restrain us. So let us wander out to the edges of thought. It frees up space in the main thought pool for the rest of you swimming there.

Finally, some people have told me that because I think differently and enjoy life that I don’t take it seriously enough. To those individuals I have only one final thing to say:

Dance to the music while you still can, people.
Because some of you are choosing to make yourselves deaf.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Life Lessons From The Drum Show


 This past weekend I attended the Nashville Drum Show. If I had to describe this event in one word, it would be LOUD. Imagine a room with a cement floor, cinder block walls, tin roof, and hundreds of drums and drummers. Even the sales reps were wearing earplugs.

It was difficult to talk during the show, but I did see some very nice things. Check out the beautiful work on the drums in the photos in this post.

However, no matter how beautiful the drum is, what matters most is the sound and it was difficult to hear anything clearly amid all the noise.  It’s like trying to hear a conversation when there are a few hundred people shouting around you.

My husband and I talked when we left the show. He’s worked with a lot of drummers and he said that he’s found that some of them just hit as hard as they can and let the producer set the levels in the recordings (or sound guy in a live situation). Other drummers play according to the situation and adjust their volume to the size of the room, type of event, genre of music, and the people they’re playing with. In other words, some drummers pretty much do one thing: they’re very solid, lay down the beat, and let someone else make it fit. Other drummers are more collaborative in their approach and see making music as a team effort.

I think I’ve come across people who approach life from each of these perspectives, also. The ones who hit hard and let others sort it out have the ability to drive the song, but they also tend to leave a lot of broken pieces behind. The ones who adapt to the situation and adjust their playing accordingly have more friends. I don’t know if one approach is more valuable than the other, although I know which one I prefer. I know that sometimes what we need is a strong beat to help us keep going, but most of the time what we need are people who can work with us as collaborators. Those are the situations where life is most beautiful.




Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to Get The Attention of Your Teenager

I hear a lot of parents complaining that they can’t get their teenager’s attention.  It’s really a simple task. However, like anything with kids, you need to approach it in the correct manner.  I’m going to give you a few tips and you can use as many or as few as you like.

Tip One
Pick up a book you’ve been dying to read and look interested in it.  It seems obvious because it is - nothing draws your kids faster than the appearance that you may actually be enjoying yourself. Of course, this technique has resulted in some injuries as kids have resorted to attacking one another in order to punish you for taking time for yourself. They know that nothing gets your attention faster than their fights. Thus, this technique is occasionally too effective.

 Tip Two
Wear something completely age inappropriate and revealing.  Short shorts, a halter top, and high heels are particularly effective in getting your kids to pay attention to you. It works even better if you’re a man.  Do this in public and talk loudly with a bad accent that shifts from one ethnicity to another. Bonus points if you do this in front of people they know.


Tip Three
Bake something.  It’s the smell that draws them, so you might want to simply purchase a scented candle that smells like freshly baked cookies and then just sit back and wait in the kitchen until the kids show up.  Note that this will draw them, but when the food proves to be bogus, they’ll try to run away.  If the food does exist, they’ll attempt to take the food and then run away with it. Thus, you may want to have a restraining device handy for when they arrive on the scene.


Tip Four
If you're out in public, randomly choose strangers to point at and loudly say, "Isn't that the boy (or girl) you like?" This will usually cause the child to become withdrawn and quiet. Then you can finally read that book you were trying to read in Tip One.

Feel free to embellish these to “make them your own.” And, of course, please post pictures and/or video online for the rest of us to enjoy. Happy parenting!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An Excerpt From My Conversation with John



Last week I met John Ford Coley at a party and really enjoyed talking with him. John is an interesting guy who told me that he gives two pieces of advice to musicians who are new to Nashville. The things he said could be beneficial to a person in just about any industry, so I thought I would share them here.

He said that there are basically two rules that you need to follow. My apologies to John for not remembering his exact wording, but here’s the general sense of what he said to me:

1. Don’t say anything negative about anyone else.
You might think that you’re “safe” talking about someone behind their back, but these things have a way of coming back on you. The person you’re talking with might even agree with you or might not have contact with the person you’re talking about, but it’s very likely that the person you talked to will talk to someone else. Nashville really is a small town and word gets around. Even if you work in a larger city, most professions have small communities and if you badmouth one of the members of that community it’s likely to get back to the person or to someone who knows the person. If you talk negatively about other people you may be burning bridges you didn’t know existed because eventually no one wants to talk with you.

2. Don’t get upset if someone less qualified or less talented gets a job that you thought you deserved.
This is a difficult one because in just about any profession you’ll see hacks making a lot of money doing poor quality work while more talented individuals get ignored. However, griping doesn’t change the situation and only makes you look bad. You may not like the work that someone else is doing, but calling attention to that person’s deficits will only make you bitter and appear less attractive to work with. Let it go and realize that your time will come. We can’t all be successful at the same time or in the same way, so be glad for someone else when their star shines. Eventually it will be your turn and hopefully others will be just as gracious with you.

John has a lot of maturity and wisdom. He knows that it takes more than talent to make it in any industry - it also takes being the sort of person that other people want to be around. Take the time to develop your skills, but also develop your character because even the best qualified people can't be successful alone.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: On Writing



Sound Advice from a Master
Stephen King published this book in 2000 and I had never read it until someone loaned me a copy this past month. If you think you want to be a writer, then I highly recommend this book to you. It contains a lot of wisdom as well as “street smarts” about the craft. Many of the tips in this book I learned the hard way and I’ve found them to be useful. The best thing about this book is that it is practical and down to earth.

This book not only gives some of King’s history on how he became a writer, it also mentions his struggles and what he did to make things work. The bottom line, if you want to be a writer you need to be committed and take it seriously even though you may never earn enough money to support yourself from it. Not everyone who makes this commitment will make it as a writer, but you have an even lower chance of success if you don’t take it seriously.


My Review: I highly recommend this book to individuals who want to write professionally.


My Final Advice: Don’t Wait for the Mood
I write in a different genre and don’t have the same level of audience, but I have one additional tip for struggling writers that may be useful. If you have a full time job or other responsibilities (such as kids) and can only find small bits of time to write (an hour here or there), don’t use this as an excuse not to write. You should be writing every day. Even if you don’t keep everything you write. Don’t wait for the mood. Just do it.

One thing that can help to put you in the right mood or frame of mind is music. When my schedule gets crazy and I only have small bits of time, I will select an instrumental CD that reflects the mood and tone of the piece I’m writing. This drives some people insane, but I can listen to the same song over and over and not get bored. That’s because most of my attention is on my words. Every piece of music has a color and this hue gets reflected in the passages that I write. This helps to quickly focus my mind and also serves to block out ambient noise (like kids asking when dinner will be ready).

I don’t do this with all my books, but it has helped a lot in the past. Songs with words can be appropriate, but it depends upon the project. In fact, I wrote my entire Master’s thesis in about a week while listening to the soundtrack from Beauty and the Beast. “Kill the Beast” seemed an appropriate anthem for writing a 65 page research paper that was the monster keeping me from graduation. It obviously worked, because it was later published in an APA Journal.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Daily Dave on Politics

Because today is the birthday of one of The Daily Dave's biggest fans, Dave will make one more political commentary. Enjoy.




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Daily Dave's Political Advice

It's been awhile since the Daily Dave did a guest appearance on my blog and with the election looming ever nearer, I thought that our friend Dave might have a little wisdom to share with us...






Thursday, August 23, 2012

Attention All Rogue Socks!

The laundry room in this household has instituted a zero tolerance policy on loitering.
Starting today all rogue socks will be terminated on site.

Please note that the buddy system was previously put into place in order to help socks find a suitable partner and encourage them to find a home in a respectable drawer. If you are a rogue sock and do not have a partner we suggest that you find one immediately or risk being terminated. As this household has an equal opportunity policy, sock partners may cross color and fiber boundaries. However, any unmatched socks left in the laundry room will be considered a threat to household security and terminated on site.

This is a fair warning: I am packing heat. It’s called the dryer and I’m exceptionally skilled at using it. So don’t test me. Any sock caught loitering in and around the laundry room will be terminated on site or worse - made into puppets.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,
Household Management

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Suggested Laws


It’s an election year and the debates are taking place concerning a wide range of topics. Most of us are tired of partisan issues and want to see some general improvements in government that make our general quality of life better. With this in mind, I’ve put together a few laws that I think we could all get behind.

1.) Any activity on a deck will require beer.  This extends the current law requiring beer during boring activities such as pressure washing, carpentry, staining your deck, or using power tools. The new law will also mandate beer during simple activities, such as family BBQs. (Note: we’ll attach a clause to allow wine or hard liquor as an acceptable alternative for those of us who don’t drink beer. The point is that decks were made for drinking.).

2.) People who drive slow in the left lane should be kidnapped by aliens and used for experiments. What? They already do this? Well, maybe they could be probed more slowly to get the point across that slow is not always the best way to go.

3.) Lift kits should be banned and hefty fines imposed upon those who violate this law. These are the source of many unsightly freakish accidents that can cause nightmares or require therapy. By the way, I’m not talking about the ones used on cars and trucks, I’m talking about the ones used by people with sagging skin who wind up with faces that look like an image stretched out on silly putty. Don’t hurt the ones you love by forcing them to look at your distorted collagen features.

Well, these are my initial ideas. I'm sure there are a lot more and you're welcome to share them in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Word of the Day: Dumbassery



Dumbassery   ⎪dŭm-as′-er-ē⎪
noun

1 An eclipse of stupidity that is so severe it is blinding to anyone who looks directly upon it.

2. Behavior typical of the average teenager under the influence of hormones and/or drugs.

4. Partisan politics.

3. Activities that are sensed in neither the common nor the uncommon manner and displaying an acute lack thereof.

5. Jackassery’s first cousin.  It is therefore illegal for dumassery to marry jackassery.



The corporate report reflected the cultural dumbassery of the organization.

This sort of dumbassery is typical of Congress, but unexpected in a mature two year old.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Lesson in Trees

Nirvana said that Mother Nature is a whore. They were wrong. She’s a pimp and the Bradford Pear is a whore among trees, as I have written in my previous post located here. I’ve accumulated some additional evidence from a recent storm to help illustrate my point.

This is what happens when Mother Nature the Pimp helps you spread your pollen and you don’t pay her back:




Here’s what happens when Mother Nature sends squirrels and other desperate animals your way and you don’t give her a cut of the nuts stored in your trunk:




And here’s what happens when you allow regular customers (such as birds) to dwell in your branches for free:

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Lesson:

Don’t mess with a pimp or she will mess you up.



Some people think that pine trees are whores because they’re weak trees. Not the same thing. When you plant a young pine sapling, it shoots up as fast as it can. This makes them the crack junkies of the tree world.

This is what happens when a crack junkie shoots up too quickly:



Lesson:

Pine trees are junkies and their habit of shooting up can really mess up your yard.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pizza Is The Best Medicine



Charlie Chapman (guitarist and instructor at Berklee College of Music in Boston) gave one of the most memorable guitar lessons and it wasn’t about the guitar. He said that there would be days where nothing seems to go right and you just feel like you’re running into walls no matter what you do. The solution? Pizza. And lots of it.

He advised his students that times like these call for a pizza with everything on it. Everything. Don’t worry about whether it’s what you usually like. The point is that the usual routine isn’t working, so you need a break from it. Next, you get a six pack of beer and a bad movie. Eat the whole pizza, drink the beer and watch the movie.

This has become a ritual in my household and it really works. So whenever things go so terribly wrong that it looks like some evil force has planned your day for you, it’s time for a pizza break. Don’t worry about your diet, getting behind schedule in your work, or about anything else - because pizza is the best medicine in times like these.

Sadly, Charlie passed away from cancer not too long ago. But we think about him every time we have a bad day and decide to order pizza to cure it. It works every time. Now when we think back on all those bad days, we only remember the beer, pizza, and laughing at a film so terrible that you can’t believe people put their real names in the credits. Most of the time we don’t even remember what made the day so bad in the first place.

God bless you, Charlie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I’ll have a Mar-Go-Rita


It’s been a very hot summer.  Record breaking heat. It’s time for someone to cash in on this heat wave and this is why I’ve come up with a great new business idea.

Every summer when the heat kicks up, the ice cream truck comes around and both kids and adults rush into the street to buy a refreshing treat (or, in some cases, a stale but frosty snack that has the illusion of being a treat because of the novel situation that someone drove it to your neighborhood in a musical vehicle). In any event, it’s a summer ritual for many of us.

But what do most adults really want? Booze. What if there was a truck that drove around playing polka music that sold frosty mugs of beer?  How much faster would you run out of your house to get something like that - even if you’re still in your bathrobe? Or better yet, stay in the AC and send the kids out to the curb with your ID and a twenty and tell them that there’s an extra five in it for them if they don’t spill the brew.

There could be other trucks.  My personal favorite is the Mar-Go-Rita truck that sells margaritas (either frozen or on the rocks) as well as tequila shots for people who still have to go back to work in the afternoon and need something to get them through that next meeting. If you decide to implement this idea, might I also suggest that you have a friend drive the Fajita Nacho Truck right behind you? Because I’m going to want a snack with my Mar-Go-Rita and I may not be in any condition to drive out to get one (if you’re making them correctly).

This is a potential goldmine for the right person. Not to mention that it would solve the problem of drinking and driving because we no longer have to drive to get our drinks. Our drinks would come to us.

I’ve done my job by planting the seed of the idea. Now I’m just waiting for the right entrepreneur to implement this in my neighborhood. I’ll be on the porch waiting.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day or Independence Week?


It’s Independence Day (July 4th) here in the United States. This is the holiday where we celebrate our freedom and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  But I can’t help wondering how we can really feel free when most of us will be enslaved again tomorrow morning when we go back to work.  So I’m proposing that we make this holiday a week long festival.

Here’s why:

1.) Making this the only paid holiday that lasts a full week (the first week in July) will emphasize the importance of it.  Not to mention that people feel more free when they’re not thinking about going to work the next day.

2.) It gives us more time for parades and making homemade ice cream (it takes a long time to churn ice cream. A week of paid vacation should make that more feasible).

3.) Everyone knows that you can’t blow off fireworks without getting drunk first, so making this holiday a full week gives us more time for fireworks AND more time to sober up before going back to work. It’s a win-win situation!

If the government can’t give us a week of paid vacation for this, the least they can do is change the law so that it’s legal to set off fireworks when sober. Not that we’d follow it.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"I'm Really More of an Artist"

Recently I came across a situation where a musician was hired to fill in as the worship leader for a Sunday morning service while the primary worship leader was out.  The individual was asked to put together a set of slides with the song lyrics so that the congregation could follow along as they sing. This was the response the hired individual gave to the request:

“I’m sorry, but I’m not going to do that. I’m really more of an artist.”

Now, I won’t even get into the fact that this person is being paid to be a “worship leader”  and not a performing artist. Or the fact that there are dozens of other musicians who would love a paying gig in this town.  What I immediately saw was the incredible genius in this remark.  The next time that my kids ask me to drive them to the movies, I can respond “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to do that. I’m really more of an artist.”  Or the next time the IRS asks me for documentation during an audit I can say, “I’m sorry. I’m really more of an artist. I just don’t do the whole documentation thing.”

This is such a good idea that I think we should all be “artists.” So when your boss asks you to put together the monthly sales report you can say, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to do that. I’m really more of an artist.”  Or if someone asks you to clean up your mess in the office kitchen you can say, “I’m sorry. I’m more of an artist and not really into the whole cleaning thing.”  Kids who don’t want to do their homework can always use the artist excuse, also. Because if we’re all artists and need to focus on our art instead of all the little things, then none of us ever has to do anything we don’t feel like doing.

By the way, I was informed that the individual will not be hired again to fill in for the worship leader because the person wasn’t interested in doing the work for which he was being paid. 

The truth is that real artists do whatever it takes because we know that it’s not about us: it’s about our work.  And if it takes making a few slides to help people follow along with our work, then we make the slides. Art is, after all, a form of communication. If we feel that we’re above communicating then what we’re doing may not really be art.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Word of the Day


Neftzgerian |nǝf-zgur-ē-ăn|
adjective

1 Impossibly difficult to pronounce.

2 Lacking in vowels.

3 Uncommonly sensed.  (See my previous post for more on this topic).

ORIGIN
Authors imagination. Possibly Germany, although the author is not herself of German descent. It is rumored that she purchased the name at the Dollar General Store for half price because it was missing some vowels.

PHRASES
If you’re going to choose a stage name, try looking for something a little less neftzgerian than Fryptz Trwftysevy. It will never be spelled correctly in the credits!

That movie was so neftzgerian that I thought I was watching a documentary on creative government policies.



P.S.
I know that you’re not supposed to give yourself a nickname, but there are no rules against creating new words based on your own name.  Therefore I’ve taken the liberty of defining my own name as an adjective.  I think we can all agree that my definitions are fairly obvious. So let’s all try to start working this term into our everyday conversation now, shall we?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Common Sense

It’s been said that common sense is actually not all that common.  Some people believe that everyone has common sense but that a certain segment of the population just doesn’t use it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time you know how I love nonsense, so this trait likely puts me in the group of people having uncommon sense.

As a member of this group, I’d like to help the rest of you understand why some of us appear to be lacking in common sense. Here are the top reasons why some of us don’t use common sense:

1.) We put all of our common sense in a really safe place and then forgot exactly where that was.

2.) We’ve treated it with rooting hormone, put it in a dark place, and are hoping to grow it into a sixth sense.

3.) We actually do have common sense, but we’re too modest to expose it publicly.

4.) The dog ate it.

5.) Someone else cleaned our bedrooms when we weren’t at home and the person accidentally threw out all our common sense because it looks like old pizza (which also explains why the dog would want to eat it).

6.) Common sense becomes cheap if everyone has plenty of it. Scarcity creates value.  You’re welcome.

7.) It accidentally fell in the toilet and we didn’t want to reach in and save it.  So we flushed. Wouldn’t you have done the same?

8.) It fell on the floor in a place where the three second rule does not apply.  So we left it there.

9.) It’s not in season and, therefore, would be far too cost prohibitive to import.

10.) We’re holding onto it in the hopes of driving up the market price, thereby saving our shares for an IPO so we can go public and get rich selling it.

I hope this helps creating better understanding between the common sense people and those of us who are uncommonly sensed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

School Zones: Isn’t it time we centralized them?

I’ve been looking at real estate and noticed that school zones create a host of problems, especially concerning property values. For example, the same house may be priced much higher in one school zone because the high school is deemed more desirable. 

So what’s the solution?

Completely centralizing all school zones. If we put every student in the United States into one giant high school, there is only one school zone and everyone in the United Sates is eligible for it.  There is no more class distinction. No more school rivalry. Because all high school kids in the U.S. go to the same school 

But where do we put it?
Iowa. It’s the ideal location for several reasons.

First of all, Iowa is centrally (and conveniently) located in the Midwest, thereby providing a reasonable commute for most students. Students from either coast will not need to travel the full width of the country.

Secondly, the winters are very cold. This will keep the kids indoors studying instead of playing Frisbee on the abandoned corn fields (you don’t expect the farmers to stay in Iowa once it becomes a high school instead of a state, do you?).

Finally, this will eliminate the need for curfews in the rest of the United States and save on the tax dollars currently used to enforce these curfews.

Problem solved.  Now all property values will be equal.  Except for Iowa. But we can work that out later.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Daily Dave #66

Some of you know that I used to have a mailing list called "The Daily Dave" that was very popular.  I would send out a daily email that contained a quote from Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine, usually out of context and applied to business in an irreverent manner.

The business world has a lot to learn from metal music, as I've written about in this previous post.

However, some Daily Dave posts were just for fun.  Like this one:







Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Waste Land




Normally documentaries are pretty much only useful for helping me to fall asleep.  Except documentaries about fine artists.  For some reason I love these.  I’ve been watching them while I run on the treadmill and it really makes the time go by for me.
Since Netflix can read my mind and knows what I like to watch, it recommended the documentary Waste Land.  I saw that it was about an artist (named Vik Muniz) working with some recyclers at a landfill and I didn’t expect it to be terribly good.  I assumed that the film was thinly disguised propaganda for recycling.  I was very wrong.  Yes, there is a message about recycling, but it is more about recycling human lives and giving people hope. This was one of the best films I've seen this year and it was beautiful.
I wasn't familiar with Vik’s work, but I was very impressed with what I saw.  His art holds a lot of interest in the interplay between the level of detail up close and in the idea or concept that can be seen from farther away.  The way these two aspects of his art interact and then also knowing the stories of the people who were involved in the making of this art is what captivated me.  The process was just as interesting as the finished product. 
Even if you don’t like art, there are two important messages in this film that we all need to hear at one time or another and the film is worth watching for these:
1.) No matter how bad your life seems, it can ALWAYS be recycled into something beautiful.
2.) There is always hope when one person reaches out to another. We all have that ability to create hope for others.
Go watch the film on Netflix or buy it on Amazon.  You won’t be sorry.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What Kids Really Learn at School


Today as I was driving the kids to school I discovered where they find the real gems of knowledge within their education: the janitor.
Apparently, the janitor has been espousing wisdom all year, but his latest bit of education has really impressed the kids.  He said that if you cut a shape into baloney and leave it on a car overnight, the baloney will fade the paint on the car and the image will stay there even when the rancid baloney is removed.  I went to Snopes.com and found out there there is some truth to this: any food that uses phosphoric acid as a preservative will have this effect (crafters note for success: heat will speed up the process). Do you see the potential here?  So did my kids.  Here are a few of their designs:


I don’t know about you, but if baloney rips the finish off a car, I’m not sure that I want to be eating it.  I’ll save it for an act of revenge which, like baloney, is a dish best served cold.
In any event, it just goes to show you that we can always learn something from other people, regardless of their age or station in life.  And I thought that school only existed to dull kids’ brains with things like Algebra and Trigonometry so that I can get them to eat spinach at dinner time.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!


Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number thirteen. I spelled it instead of writing the number here, just in case anyone reading this blog has this fear.
Wikipedia says that it comes from the Greek tris meaning "3", kai meaning "and", deka meaning "10" and phobia meaning "fear" or "morbid fear."  I’ve actually studied Greek, so I know that this translation is accurate (for you skeptics).
Paraskevidekatriaphobia is fear of Friday the thirteenth.  That’s today.
Triscuit-a-phobia is fear of Triscuits. It stems from the belief that excess fiber takes out your intelligence as it cleanses your colon. Or it could be related to the fear that crunchy food snacks may take over the world.
If you have Triskaidekaphobia and Triscuit-a-phobia don’t look at the photo below.  It could make you panic. If you also have Paraskevidekatriaphobia, then definitely don’t look at it today.
As for me, I’m off to buy my lottery ticket.  If everyone else is having bad luck today, then there must be a ton of good luck out there searching for someone who is fearless.

P.S. Thanks to my friend Craig Sullivan for giving me the idea for this post.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!


Yes, there is a moment of glory associated with being in the basket.  But is it worth the price?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Secrets to Winning the Lottery


People who know me well know that I have managed to win the lottery on several occasions.  Mind you, the most I won on any ticket was $28, but I did win more often than the stated odds.  With the Mega Millions drawing reaching half a billion, I know that a lot of other people may want to know my secrets.  So here they are:
First of all, be unemployed.  I don’t know why, but this seems to help.
Next, live in a trailer or other flimsy structure.  Luck needs to be able to seep into your home.  If you live in a fortress, luck will be unable to reach you.  I’m privileged enough to live in a house built by drunken vagrants and I’m also pretty sure that my house only passed inspection because someone was bribed.  Unfortunately, I’ve also been making repairs recently so I haven’t been as lucky.
Related to this concept, there are a number of other things that are detrimental to luck: a security system, storm doors and windows, and thick insulation.  Why? Because luck assumes that if you have all these other things that you don’t need it. Luck is emotionally needy.  Don’t judge it.  You need it, too.
Next, remember that luck congregates in dangerous neighborhoods.  Go there to buy your ticket.  But don’t use up all your luck trying to escape safely.  That could ruin your chances of winning.
I find that the lottery is like real estate and the secret to winning is location, location location.  This means that you need to find the right place to buy your ticket.  My rule of thumb is that the odds that the store is selling the winning ticket is directly proportional to the number of shotguns the owner keeps under the counter.  BTW - Any remote areas where you hear Dueling Banjos (and it's not coming from a radio) is usually a great place to buy a ticket.
Good luck. And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Innovative Coffee




I love coffee.  In fact, one of my dreams is to own my own coffee shop, complete with an occasional impromptu beatnik poetry reciting.  Along these lines, I’ve come up with a few innovative and poetic coffees to serve that will differentiate my coffee shop from the average chain store.  Here are a few of them:
French Onion Roast 
The refreshing drink that eats like a meal.  
Is it coffee?  Is it soup? You decide!
Hare of the Dog
The first coffee to cure hangovers.  Served in a furry rabbit mug.
Eye-talian Roast
High in vitamin A to improve your vision.  Also served in a pair of fine Italian loafers. You thought I was going to put actual eyeballs in this one, didn’t you?  That would be too predictable.
Creamy White Boy
A smooth roast with a delicate skin.  Served by a male albino child with a smile.
Lottery Roast
One out of every 1,275,456,942 cups will be poisoned.  Is it yours? Do you feel lucky?  Did you remember to order the Antidote Scone with that beverage?
I did say that my coffees would be innovative.

Friday, March 16, 2012

FF Blog Hop



 

Today I am participating in a blog hop to introduce myself and my readers to a few other book blogs.  For those of you who don't know what a "blog hop" is, you can think of it as a way to discover and follow other blogs that may be of interest to you.  This hop is hosted by  Parajunkee and Alison can Read.  Please browse through the list of participating blogs below to visit and/or follow as many as you'd like.  Along with the list of blogs, the hop asks participating blogs to answer the following question:



Q: What is the best book you’ve read in the last month? What is the worst book you’ve read in the last month?

Best book I have read this month: A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle.  More on this book in a future post.

Worst book: Lingua Latina.  The book has been a slow form of torture for myself and several others during the past year.  No further comments.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Art and Eternity


My band released our first video this week.  Here it is, for those of you who are interested.


At the end of the video I wanted to put the quote below, but we decided against it because we were afraid it would take away from the music.  So I thought I’d share it here where words are expected.
“The only thing that’s real...
The only thing that lasts...
Is the art.”

Does this mean that I think souls aren’t real?
No.  It means that I think that souls are works of art.  
Each of us is a work of art, not for how we look on the outside, but for who we are and how our life experiences have changed us.  Some souls are highly polished and refined with intricate details.  Some are rustic and weathered forms that are beautiful for what they are: simple and authentic.  Some of us are fragmented like a Picasso.  Others are dark and mysterious. We are all different and these differences make us beautiful.  How we respond to what life gives us has the potential to make us even more so.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to Discipline Your Children in Public





Getting my children to behave in public has always been easy.  It’s a simple strategy that’s often used in team building whenever team members start bickering: create a common enemy so that the group has to work together to defeat it.  My common enemy is public embarrassment.  In other words, when the kids become too self absorbed or competitive with one another I go into my own little world and engage in behaviors the kids find embarrassing in public.  Such as dancing to the Muzak (I studied some ballet in college).  Or singing the National Anthem off key.  Or reciting The Raven as a dramatic reading in front of a display of cantaloupe in the supermarket.
When the kids were very small they would interrupt their fighting and start screaming for me to stop whatever I was doing.  I suspect it was because they were no longer the center of attention.  “No dancing! No dancing here!” they would scream as they tried to physically restrain me.
At this point I would tell them that I had to do something to feel happy again because their fighting was making me sad.  That sort of logic works very well with kids under five.  Now that they’re older I can be more direct and tell them that arguing in public is just as embarrassing, albeit far less entertaining, than my robot dance in front of the scientific calculator display in Office Depot.  My typical response when they ask me to stop embarrassing them: “I’ll make you a deal: you learn to work out your problems without arguments and I’ll learn to control my desire to robot dance in public.”
The beauty of this technique is that it has only gotten more effective now that they’re teenagers.  I only wish I had gotten more of this on film.

Friday, February 17, 2012

How to Improve Your Obituary




Obituaries tend to be boring reads, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  For example, newspapers could at least print how the person died and maybe quote any witnesses just like they do in other news stories.  If a person died while eating, they could even post the recipe, thereby drawing readers from the Lifestyle section of the newspaper.
Given that we can’t change the Press, we can change how our deaths get reported by making them more interesting.  I, for one, plan to go out with a bang.  Special thanks to my friend Bill for helping me to plan the staging of my death scene.  While my exact plans are confidential, I can share some ideas to help others have a more interesting obituary.
Dress for the Event
We obviously don’t know the exact moment when each of us will die, but we can do some advance planning and it’s never too early for this.  For example, you could have a “death suit” hanging in your closet.  Give your loved ones explicit instructions on how to dress you before the coroner arrives.  Your death is much more likely to make the front page if you’re wearing a clown nose, a white satin disco suit with a chain mail vest, and loafers with a cryptic message written on tape and attached to the soles.  “I’m not really dead” is an example of a good cryptic message.  “Elvis is alive and murdered me” or  “I really hope I don’t die tonight and get caught dead in this outfit” are other examples.  Be creative.  You only get one chance to make a statement that will baffle the world.
Accessorize
Next, find a few good props.  Avoid anything to do with drugs or alcohol, since that’s already common enough.  You want props that make the reporters think “Who was this fascinating person?”  For example, stab a melon with a few knitting needles, write “Bucky” on it with a Sharpie, and make sure that the melon is carefully cradled in your arms like a baby (assuming you still have arms).
As you can see, planning is the key to this process.  In cases where you can’t assemble the props in advance, leave explicit instructions and diagrams.  If it’s really important to you to get everything right, then have a few dress rehearsals and give pointers to your accomplices so that everything is perfect when you pass away.  If you like to write, you might want to also leave behind some suggested headlines.
Protect The Ones You Love
Finally, make sure that your wishes are written down somewhere so that your loved ones aren’t prosecuted for tampering with your corpse.  Unless that is part of your “going out with a bang” plan.