Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Velocirapture Is Upon Us!

The world ends today. That's what people say. Yet no one's told us how it's going to end. Until now, that is.

Get indoors while you still can, and hold your loved ones close. It's the velocirapture!

But it's not the one you think. You probably assume I'm talking about ravenous dinosaurs tearing the world's population to pieces. Uhhhh, nope. There's no way that could happen in one day. Think about it: If there were enough cretaceous creatures to do that, don't you think some of them would have made the news by now?

No, the velocirapture isn't about raptors. It's about velocity.

You probably haven't noticed any difference yet, but the Earth has already started to rotate a little faster on its axis. Throughout the day, its speed will increase exponentially until life on the planet has been all but eradicated.

You'll soon notice the winds start to pick up, all from the east. Gale-strength winds, followed by hurricane-strength, and building from there. The sun will appear to slide across the sky. It'll set very early, then rise and set again in quicker and quicker succession.

And at first it'll be just that: people and things being blown around and knocked over by strong winds. The oceans will begin to flood islands and east coast towns. But eventually the centrifugal force will overcome the force of gravity, and believers and non-believers alike will be cast into the heavens. Those lucky souls who are inside will be cast into ceilings instead, but their survival will be short-lived. As the Earth's velocity increases, the buildings themselves will be ripped from the ground and hurled into the deep recesses of space. The oceans and much of the ground will soon follow. By the morning of December 22, there will be little left of Earth but a spinning molten core.

What Have I Done to Prepare for My Survival?
Nothing. I'm just as screwed as the rest of you. The only six people to survive will be the ones already in space, unless they are inadvertently hit by hurtling apocalyptic debris. And unless one of them learns to grow ovaries, we as a race are doomed.

But look at the bright side. At least it's Friday.

This post was written for the Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blogfest, hosted by Chuck at Apocalypse Now and Shannon of The Warrior Muse. Go now — and I mean now, because the world is ending, people! — and check out all the other apocalypses.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Judge, Jewry, and Answerquestioner

You've got questions, I've got answers. Of course, Hanukkah ended Sunday, so some of the answers won't do you any good till next year. But if you're ready to learn all about Jews and Judaism, just sit back and click over to Wikipedia. Or, you know, stay here, and I'll see what I can do.

Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones asks a trifecta:
I want to get an electric Menorah for our school's TV studio & school that a super cool idea or super tacky?
Oh, it's a super cool idea. I think an electric menorah is the perfect gift, and I hope your TV studio and library have a long and happy marriage.
Which Barenaked Ladies song do you like best? - Hanukkah Blessings or Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah?
My favorite BnL track is actually "When I Fall," but between those two, I'll pick the second one. I like that they thought the holiday so nice they named it twice.*

* Alright, fine. They didn't name it. But at least they spelled Hanukkah right, unlike Wikipedia.
Have you heard of or like the Maccabeats' Candlelight video? We think it's awesome!
Who is this "we" you're referring to? Is it the royal we? If so, I apologize for not bowing in reverence earlier. Or, are you actually an amalgam of four different people? Sorry, I should answer your question. Yes, Gwyneth, I have heard of the video. And Anne, I do like it. In fact, Bronwynne, I even linked to it at the end of last year's post. Why? Well, Jones, it's because I like to flip my latkes in the air sometimes, that's why.
Mina Lobo asks:
Can you really learn beatboxing at Hebrew school?
Frankly, I didn't know you could learn it outside of Hebrew school. Every week at temple, it was like, "Here's what Moses did. Here's who Abraham was. Now, everyone grab a mike and let's bust this."
Alex J. Cavanaugh asks:
Have you already planned your son's Bar Mitzvah?
Dude, I've had that planned since long before I knew I'd even have a son. You can't leave something like that to chance. The ceremony will be performed by the esteemed Rabbi Shenkel, and there will be laser tag, a piñata, hoverboards,* and an open (sundae) bar. Also, we'll have a performance by Michael Buble, an area for jousting atop angry llamas, and of course a beatbox karaoke competition.

* What? This will be in 2024, and everyone knows we'll have hoverboards by 2015. So shut your face.
Anthony Stemke asks a slew of questions (wherein "a slew" is six):
What is the proper skullcap etiquette?
It should be worn on the head.*

* Attaching a propeller is optional.
Is there a regulation length for those curled sideburns?
The Torah states that the minimum length of a payot is 1cm for each year of age. But this is only a guideline. The rules regarding the tightness of the spiral, however, are much more stringent: When pulled taut and released, payot must bounce for at least 2 seconds before springing back fully to their original curled position.
How come Einstein Bagels don't sell Bialys? How hard could it be to change the name to Einstein Bagels and Bialys?
They don't sell bialys because bialys remind people of Max Bialystock from The Producers, who raised capital by seducing old ladies. And unfortunately, making people think of lustful old ladies just doesn't sell as many bagels as you might expect.

Besides, it would be very hard to change the name. They'd have to design a new logo, then change every menu, poster, flyer, ad and signage. More than anything, it would be very expensive, and consequently, very un-Jewish.
If I leave my front door open for passover and I am robbed, who is responsible - my local synagogue or local b'nai brith?
No question — your local B'nai Brith.*

* Maybe if you weren't so tight-fisted and donated to the less fortunate once in a while, they wouldn't have to take things into their own hands. Seriously, you make your mother worry.
When Jews marry and wrap a cocktail glass in a knapkin and then crush it, do they re-cycle the knapkin?
What the khell is a knapkin? Anyway, after The Crushening,* the handkerchief (or cloth napkin) is always used by the groom until it needs to be washed. If, whilst blowing his nose, he cuts himself on the tiny shards of glass now embedded in it, it'is seen as a good omen, and represents all he will sacrifice to make the marriage work.

* It's like a christening, only more violent.
Is it illegal to not use farfel in Kasha varnishkes? I have a lot of elbow macaroni in my cupboard. My local grocer don't know from farfel, he only stocks bowties and those black ones are too formal.
You've fallen for one of the classic blunders! Farfel (a pilaf-like pasta) is banned in all varnishkes, and relegated to soups and kugels. Farfalle (a bowtie-like pasta) is the standard addition to all Kasha dishes.* Elbows are not allowed, either, but small shells look like tiny yarmulkes and are thus considered kosher.

* Bowties (a farfalle-like pasta) are also acceptable, but frowned upon. To keep them from blackening, I suggest boiling them instead of roasting them among the charcoal briquettes.
Chuck writes in:
Doesn't the Menorah just increase the fire hazard this time of year?? Just saying...
You're not just saying. You used a question mark — two, in fact — which means you're asking. And thus, I am legally required to answer you... The menorah doesn't just increase the fire hazard. It also increases the hazard of hot dripping wax, the threat of seeing spots from staring too closely at the flames, the envy of every child who only gets to celebrate one or two days of Christmas,* and the excitement of everyone during the traditional game of "spin the menorah."

* Even though there are twelve in the song.
Laura Hughes asks:
I'm not Christian, but I have a Christmas tree in my living room. I'm not Jewish either, but I feel in the sense of fairness I should have something to celebrate Hanukkah, as well. What would you recommend?
A life-size replica of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. One with a motion sensor, so every time the cat walks by, he bursts to life and sings out, "TRADITION!" Or, if the replicas are out of stock in your neighborhood, just top off your tree with a nice yarmulke.*

* The yarmulke should have a Star of David on it. After all, it's not a true Christmas tree without a star. (Some may use angel tree-toppers, but we all know that's just a cry for help.)
Hart Johnson asks:
Why are Jewish words so hard to spell?
They're in Hebrew.*

.tfel ot thgir daer er'yeht esuaceb oslA *
My sister Naomi asks:
The most popular Jewish holiday is all about lighting fires. Are all Jews pyromaniacs? Are all pyromaniacs Jews?
No, of course not all Jews are pyromaniacs. What a silly question. Correlation does not imply causation. Jacob Schnitzelstein of Bethesda, MD burnt his hand on a flaming latke as a young lad and is deathly afraid of fire.*

And not all pyros are Jews, not technically. Though they are all Jews at heart. They, too, are misunderstood by much of the world, and when in the darkest situations they cling to a flicker of hope.

* He has his wife burn things for him.

And that'll do it for this session of Jew & A. Until next time, keep flipping those latkes, spinning that gefilte fish, and jousting atop llamas.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Judaism's Deepest Secrets Revealed!

Note: All I reveal with this post are the questions. The secrets are revealed here.

Since September, the vast majority of my time has been taken up by work, my young son, and the general vagaries of Life.1 Consequently, I have skipped most of my annual (or annual-ish) blog posts. I won't list them all here,2 but I wanted to apologize for making your last few months that much less interesting by not rambling incoherently on the internet.

I couldn't allow this post to slip by as well, however. Because, you see, this is a service only I can provide. Goys and girls, it's time for my third annual Jew & A. That's right, once again...

I will answer any question you have about Judaism.

First came Uncle Nate's Wholly Unsubstantiated Hanukkah Primer. Then one crazy guy explained eight crazy nights. And last year, I answered your chosen questions about the Chosen People.

So, go ahead. Ask me any question concerning Jews or Judaism — any question at all — and I will answer it with all the truth and sincerity you've come to expect from this blog. Don't worry if someone has asked the same question before; just like the dates of Jewish holidays, my answers are never the same twice.

Have you ever wondered why we Jews are so good with money, but so bad at sports? Why the practices of Orthodox Jews seem so unorthodox? Why we repeatedly insist you have a nagila? Just ask.

You have until the end of Hanukkah (next Sunday, 12/16) to post your question(s) in the comments section below. After that, you'll have to wait until next Hanukkah, which, frankly, could be any day now.

1 The cereal, not the board game.
2 I'll do it here instead: my wedding anniversary, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, 10 Top 10s for 10/10, Guy Fawkes Day, Thanksgiving, and NaNoRhyMo (National Novel Rhyming Month). Yep, six of 'em. When I don't do something, I don't do it 100%.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Under Cover of Invisibility

I'm still working toward completion of the first draft of my novel. In the meantime, however, I have finished the first draft of the cover of my novel. I hope this will help motivate me to write faster, either since more of you will start badgering me to do so, or because I won't want to wait any longer to have a copy of this in my hand:

I like to think it captures my novel's marriage of action, drama, and humor quite well... perhaps better than the novel itself. Of course, I like to think a lot of things. Over-thinking is one reason I've changed the working title more than a half-dozen times so far.1

More importantly, what do you think?

1 Yes, inquiring readers, the story still contains unseen simians, despite the fact I've strayed from the original title of And Then Came the Invisible Monkeys. At least, for now...

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, That's Not Entirely Accurate

There are a handful of improv groups in central CT. Last week, I auditioned with one for which I felt I might be a good fit. After a couple minor hiccups early on, I thought I did quite well, certainly well enough to guarantee a callback.

I was wrong.

This is becoming somewhat of a theme for me. Apparently, I came across as nervous, undecided, and occasionally frustrated, although I was none of these things.1 Clearly, there's some disconnect between what I think I'm doing and what I'm actually doing.

I was under the impression I'd gotten pretty good at improv — at least on par with my fellow improvisers who keep getting snatched up for spots in established groups — but if I've learned anything over the past few months, it's this:

I'm not good at improv.

That's not to say I'm bad at it. I've been in some great scenes, and gotten plenty of laughs. But whereas a few days ago I'd have said I was pretty good, this latest setback (in a series of many) has finally made the truth sink in: I'm mediocre at best. It's become abundantly clear I'm not fit for any improv troupe.2

It's okay, though; I've already come to terms with this. In fact, I think it might be for the best. In their rejection, the group said I showed potential and should keep at it. And I will, since I enjoy it. But this rejection may be just the impetus I need to shift most of my focus back to something I know I'm good at: writing.

Then again, if I was so far off regarding my improv abilities, I might be deluding myself about my writing, too. After all, I've really only shared my fiction with friends and family, and it's not like they're going to say it sucks.3 The novel I'm writing might be utter tripe. I have no idea.

And that got me thinking. I soon realized I'm probably not as good as I think I am at a slew of things. In fact, I've put together a list:
  • Improv
  • Novel-writing
  • Web design (yep — my day job)
  • Volleyball
  • Imitating accents, eh?
  • Hostage negotiation
  • Self doubt
  • Making lists
Luckily, there are still a few things at which I'm exactly as good as I think I am:
  • Being a dad
  • Husbandry Being a husband
  • Scrabble
  • Photoshoppery
  • Juggling knives
  • Humorous footnotes4
Of course, I won't know if I'm actually bad at novel-writing until people read my novel. And I won't actually let people read my novel until I've finished the thing. So, I'd better stop lolly-gagging around here and get back to the word mines.5

Wish me luck!

1 Except for one brief bout of indecision during the first warm-up exercise, when my brain wasn't yet firing on all cylinders. (Actually, my brain never fires on all cylinders; I always leave one cylinder alive to spread the word of Nate, the Geometrical Killer.)
2 Well, unless they're Damn Fools.
3 Sure, a few in the local writing group gave negative feedback, but I'd already learned not to trust their opinions.
4 As opposed to humerus footnotes, which I'm no longer allowed to do, ever since they discovered my medical credentials were courtesy of Milton Bradley.
5 Stepping on one of these causes a literal explosion.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Pleas of the Costumeless

When kids come to my door on Halloween, their eyes wide and hands shaking in search of their next sugar fix, I require only two things:
  1. They must say "Trick or treat!" 1
  2. If they're not wearing a costume, they must tell me what they're supposed to be.
After all, being lazy is one thing. But lazy and uncreative I can't abide. And I'm strict when it comes to giving out the goods;2 no sweets in the bag until both conditions are met.

With 130+ trick-or-treaters, we saw our share of the unadorned among the shambling hordes. Of course, some of these were also lazy in their creativity. They claimed to be:
  • an athlete
  • a basketball player
  • a hobo
  • a rapper
  • I don't know
Others, however, managed to make me chuckle:
  • a flyboy (complete with an appropriate flyboy pose)
  • a citizen
  • a realistic person who goes to school3
  • just a kid looking for candy
Next year, I think I might institute a tiered system for my candy dispersal. Costumed children will get the best (or the most) candy. Uncostumed but inventive kids receive the lesser brands (or amounts). Those lazy in both action and mind get the stale leftovers from this year.

Alright, kids, you've got a year to come up with your stories. Wow me. Otherwise, you're stuck with year-old Bazooka Joe.

1 I'll waive this rule if they open with a more amusing alternative. For instance, the girl who groaned "BRAAAAAAINS!" and the group singing adapted Christmas carols ("Good tidings we bring, for sugary things...") got a pass. And some oh so delicious candy.
2 And the plentys.
3 This was the same kid who first said "I don't know." He then took ten seconds to come up with his answer. I restrained myself from humming the Jeopardy theme.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I'm a Damn Fool

I haven't blogged in a while. You may think it's because I've been lazy, but actually, I've just been severely overworked biding my time.

Forty days have passed since my last post. It's like I gave up blogging for Lent, except it being the wrong time of year, and the fact that I'm a lousy, stinkin' Jew.1

So, what have I been doing all this time? I'm glad I asked.

As previously mentioned, I've spent plenty of time working biding. And of course, now that The Professor is walking (and dancing (and toddle-running (and attempting to leap off of furniture))),2 it's difficult to pull myself away. But when I have gotten away, what I've been doing is improv.

I've taken a couple of classes so far, and after the last one, a few of us decided to meet up weekly to keep at it. Although I have my blog and novel, I love having this creative outlet where I get to work with others. I always leave our improv sessions energized. Anyway, two weeks ago, we settled on a name for our fledgling group: The Damn Fools.

Sure, a couple days later two of our four members officially joined an established improv troupe as well. They hope to stick with both groups, though some might say they're damn fools for trying.

But hey, that's who we are. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

1 I am a lousy Jew: I eat pork, don't believe in God, get the holidays confused, and — unless you count bar mitzvahs — haven't been inside a synagogue since I was 8. (Whereas, I stink because I haven't showered in two days.)
2 I'll write a Professor-centric post once I get the chance to comb through the most recent pictures. (Not literally; there won't be a comb. I'll sift through them instead. (Not literally; there won't be a sieve. I'll scour through them. (Not literally.)))

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Inciting Incident

Three years and seven days ago, I brought forth in this content a new notion, conceived liberally, and dedicated to the proposition that, ah, man! I get a sequel!

For you see, on August 20, 2009, I slipped off a mossy precipice and hurtled nearly 30 ft into a narrow chasm as images of my death flashed before me. And then I wet myself.

Although I had yet to finish my novel (a familiar story),1 I finally had a tale to tell. And I needed a place to tell it. Thus, one week later (three years ago today) I started this blog.

And the rest, as they say,2 is history.3

I know I've been slacking in my bloggerly duties these past couple months, but as summer wanes and cool autumn breezes carry inspiration my way, I can promise you that's not going to change one bit. My son's just too dang cute.4 Plus, if I don't finish my novel sometime soon, I suspect Joseph Selby may shift from positive motivation to all-out threats.

Okay, fine, I'll try to slack less. After all, I love to entertain.5

But three years. Wow. Time sure flies when you're doing a bunch of stuff.

1 Not familiar: the novel, with its assassination plot involving invisible monkeys. (Unless that's a thing. If that's a thing, let me know post haste.) Familiar: to this day, the book remains unfinished. I'm nothing if not consistent.
2 Who is they and why are they always saying such things? You'd think by now they'd have learned to listen once in a while so they didn't repeat themselves so damn often.
3 Then again, everything that's ever happened in all of creation is history, technically speaking, so that phrase is as worthless as this simile.
4 He learned to walk this past Tuesday, and he does this adorable thing where he slips into the other room without the noticeable pit-pat-pit-pat he had when he crawled, and goes straight for the cat food.
5 The only chance I've had to entertain over the past few weeks was that time I was up on stage and valiantly saved that poor bat from the malevolent horde of shrieking 6-year-old girls. True story.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Will the Real Dada Please Stand Up?

For the past couple months, I've been telling people my son has mastered three words/phrases: "mama," "dada," and "uh oh". Only recently did I learn that when he says "dada" he's not referring to me.

I'll pause a moment and let you ponder the repercussions of that statement.

And then I'll ruin it by saying you're not pondering what I'm pondering.

Unless you were thinking his "dada" is a book.

That's right. A book. You see, when The Professor was born, we signed up to get a book each month from a Jewish organization called The PJ Library, because I thought my son should know more about our heritage than I do hey, free books!

The one we received before Passover this year was Dayenu, basically an illustrated (and Anglicized) version of the traditional Passover song of the same name. Of course, being such a devout Jew, I didn't remember hearing of it before. My mom, however, sang it to him when she babysat. And my son loooves music, so Denise and I learned the tune (via the Tube of You) and followed suit.

So, how does this book supplant me as "dada"? You might have already figured it out, but just in case, here's the chorus, which is repeated eight times throughout the book:
Dayenu, dayenu!
It quickly became one of his favorites (only equaled by pop-up books), and was often the first one he pulled out of his box o' books to hand to us.

Yet I was slow (and/or willfully deluding myself); I didn't catch on for a while. Two weeks ago is when it clicked for me. I now realize when he's crawling toward me in the living room, smiling, reaching out to me and saying "dada," he's not calling for me.

He's calling for me... to sing.1

1 In a related story, The Professor also started saying "nana" this past week. He's not looking for his grandmother, though. He's looking for his grandmother to bring him a delicious yellow fruit.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Quotes That Never Were

I've messed with the English language many times before on this blog. Well, today I'm messing with it in the form of famous movie quotes. Why, you ask? Why do I do anything I do? (That's not a rhetorical question; I really want to know.)

I suspect others have come up with similar variations on some of the following, but as they say: Imitation is the sincerest form of laziness.
  • "What we have here is a failure to—What I'm trying to say is we're having trouble—Are you even listening to me?"
  • "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates: pretty sweet, although nutty at times, and if you don't keep trying new things, it gets stale."
  • "With great power comes ginormous electric bills."
  • "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world its card was the eight of clubs."
  • "All work and no play make Jack repeat himself."
  • "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. In the afternoon, I prefer a really strong vinegar. At night, a burning sulfur is simply divine."
  • "The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. I'm already breaking that rule. I am Jack's raging hypocrisy."
  • "You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow. But not all the way together, and you also have to do this thing with your tongue."
I hope you found these funny. But funny how, I mean funny like a clown? I make you laugh, I'm here to amuse you?

Yes. Yes I am.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Penny For Your Thoughts

When our cat Calypso died in March, it left a kitty-shaped void in our home. We waited the requisite three months (as stipulated by our vet, to ensure the virus had left Schrödinger's system). Then, last month, we filled that void. You know, with a cat. Specifically, this one:

Her name was DarkWing. Which is a pretty stupid thing to call anything other than a duck, so we promptly changed it. And thus, she became Unnamed Kitty. (Just for a couple days. Now she goes by Penny.)

She's Penny because of Sheldon on Big Bang Theory. You see, when The Professor was even littler than he is now, the lullaby we sang to lull baby to sleep was "Soft Kitty," albeit with one slight adjustment:
Soft kitty, warm kitty,
Little ball of fur.
Happy kitty, sleepy kitty,
Therefore, it only made sense for our new cat also to have a connection with Sheldon. And what better way than to call to her with a simple <knock knock knock> "Penny"?

She was fantastic with our son from the get-go, and she and our dog Sonya peacefully coexist (with the peace occasionally broken by a bark). She and Schrödinger, however, are like two peas in a pod—very spastic peas who wrestle and play in water and chase each other all over the pod that is our house. He shreds cardboard; she gnaws on actual boards. And wicker. (And plastic.)

Penny may not be the lap cat her predecessor was, but she's a perfect fit for us.

Family complete.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Professor Cupcakeface

The last two weeks, you may have noticed I've been ignoring my blog sweating profusely busy living. The highlight of the past fortnight: My son turned one.

Here are my answers to the most common questions concerning The Professor:
  • No, he's not walking on his own yet. He is, however, an Olympic speed-crawler, a master xylophonist, an expert stair-climber, and the world's foremost daddy-climber. He also currently holds the record for fastest floor-to-mouth time, public toy division.
  • Two and a half teeth.
  • He is eating us out of house and home, and then house again for good measure. He eats anything and everything we give him, sometimes in greater quantities than us.
  • Favorite food: Cherries. He'll eat them until he's purple in the face. And the hands. And the hair. And the ears. And the...
  • Favorite phrase: "Uh oh."
  • Favorite game: Going pell-mell for the dog bowls and trying to flip one over before we reach him.
  • Favorite birthday gift: The card with the vibrating baby in it.*

* It's not a live baby. It's a picture of a baby holding maracas, shaking "what his mama gave him." I'm not sure if that's any less disturbing.

What's that? You're tired of reading my drivel and want to see the pictures? Well, here you go, you ingrate:


He started off slow, taking one delicate pinch of frosting at a time...

...and then someone gave him a fork.

An aerial view of the carnage.

Fully sated, he cast the half-eaten cupcake carcass to the floor.

But then... remorse. Not over the devastation he had wrought on the unsuspecting cupcake,
but because the rest of it was whisked away before the dog could share in his fun.

My son: The life of the party.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Last One In Is A Rotten Egg

Well, we've reached the end of the series. Today's suggestion comes courtesy of Kate:
Nate Wilson walks into a bar. The bartender knocks him down with a pun pan, then the manager kneels a pun upon him, punning pinning him to the ground.

"What the hell, Dorothy? This is how you treat the guy who sent you so much business the past few weeks?"

"None of 'em paid."

"None of them? Really? Wow. Sure, I suppose that makes sense for the needle, sea-monkey, bowl of Rice Krispies, Jabba the Hutt, tuberculosis, penguin, Shakespeare, old shoe salesman, barista, barrister, barbarian, and goat, but I figured the priest and rabbi would've paid for the hooker."

"Nope. And now it's time for payback." She removes Nate's shoe and looks to the manager. "Give me your pun pen."

"Someone already numbered his foot," notes the manager.1

"What?! Who did this to you?!" asks the bartender.

"I can show you. Got any copies of today's New York Times?"

"Yeah, we've got some Times; the Willison Fire Company gives us their spare."2

The bartender grabs a newspaper from behind the bar. Nate directs her to an opinion column.

"The other Nate? That yahoo!"

"Dot, calm down," says the manager.

"Stealing my revenge... I'll kill him!"

"Tell you what, I'll take the photo, shop it around and see if anyone's seen him lately. You can stay here and work on his other foot. Here, use this marker."

"Blargh. I would have preferred a pen pun."

And that will do it for my 10-part series of things walking into bars. Or, counting the two initial posts that led to it, perhaps this was a 12-step program. Either way, it's over. It's been both challenging and fun, but now that I've gotten all those puns out of my system, I can get back to my novel and not worry about any errant puns derailing my train of thought.


1 Ooh, not only is this a reference to numbered footnotes (which, as you know, are not at all prevalent on this blog), but close friends may also remember my (as-of-yet-unwritten) novel in which the numbers on a newborn's foot determines how he lives his life.
2 I tried to do better than this. I really did. I just didn't try that hard.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Kid in the Bar

I started things off with a needle pulling thread. Here's what's filed into the bar since: a sea-monkey, a priest, rabbi, and hooker, a bowl of Rice Krispies, Jabba the Hutt, tuberculosis, a penguin with William Shakespeare, an old shoe salesman, and a barista, barrister, and barbarian.

Today's suggestion comes courtesy of Beverly Diehl:
A goat walks into a bar. The bartender steps outside and calls, "Hello? Anybody out here? We've got your goat."

"Very funny, kid."

"Whatever, you old goat. Now what do you want? And be quick about it. You shouldn't be in here."

"I want two things. First, a can of Coke, hold the Coke."

"You gonna eat the can? What a pig."

"A pig, me? Please. Second, I'm collecting donations for the Cub Scouts—"

"Curse the Cubs!"

The manager steps up behind the bartender and smacks him with a pan. "Billy! Don't be so gruff with the customers."


"Now get back behind the bar. And don't just stand there. Look alive, stock the shelves or something." He turns back to the goat as Billy heads to the bar. "Sorry about that. That kid's on rocky ground; complaints against him are mountin'."

"Maybe I should go."

"Nonsense, come to the kitchen with—"

"Yes, you should go!" yells Billy.

"Stay out of this! Again, I'm sorry. He's always trying to horn in on my private conversations. But, if you'll join me in the kitchen, we can talk about a donation."

"That's very kind."

They start walking toward the back. "So, Goat, heard of mutton curry? I'm just about to start a batch." The manager licks his lips.

Billy reaches out from behind the bar and grabs the goat as they pass. He whispers intensely, "Escape, Goat, while you still can. I tried to drive you off, but—"

There is a loud clang, and the bartender slumps to the floor. The manager places the pan on the counter, and puts his hand on the goat's shoulders, shepherding it into the kitchen.

"You know, if you don't mind staying a little while... I'd love to have you for dinner."

And then there was one. Only one more thing will be entering the bar.

And it's me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Sidebar at the Coffee Bar

It all began with a needle pulling thread. Since then, these have pushed their way through the door: a sea-monkey, a priest, rabbi, and hooker, a bowl of Rice Krispies, Jabba the Hutt, tuberculosis, a penguin with William Shakespeare, and an old shoe salesman.

Today's alliterative trio comes courtesy of El Julio:
A barista, a barrister, and a barbarian walk into a bar. Barrett, the barrel-chested barbarian (he lifts barbells daily, barring conflict), barks a barrage of orders at the barkeep for mugs of barley and hops.

Barbara, the barista with the barbed wire tattoo and barrettes, barters with him to go half & half on some barbecue wings.

"Where's the baritone?" asks Barrett. "Without Barney, our barbershop quartet won't be complete for the bash at the club. They may cut our act. Though I suppose we could replace him with a bassoon."1

"You know," says Barbara, "someday I'd like to take a barge to the Great Barrier Reef, perhaps stopping at Barcelona and the Barbary Coast. Just imagine! There could be barracuda and barnacles and Barbarossa and—"

"What does that have to do with anything? Besides, you were raised in a barn. A trip like that might turn out to be more than you bargained for."

"You're always putting up barricades and barriers to my happiness."

"Am not. Say, Bartleby..." Barrett turns to the barrister. "You've been awfully quiet today, but you're always a good barometer for these sorts of arguments. What do you think?"

"I'm not Bartleby." The barrister removes his moustache. "Bartleby is dead."

"The Baron!!"

"Guilty as charged. You should have figured it out when I came in here, though. A barrister is basically a British lawyer, and a lawyer would have passed the bar. Or, whatever its English equivalent is."

"I think it's called a pub."

Two more to go. Next up's a goat.

1 There you go, Lisa. I have no idea why you wanted a bassoon in there, but it's in there.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bar Gain Shoes

First into the bar was a needle pulling thread. Then came a sea-monkey, a priest, rabbi, and hooker, a bowl of Rice Krispies, Jabba the Hutt, tuberculosis, and a penguin accompanied by William Shakespeare.

Since my last post was this past Wednesday, perhaps you're wondering why it took so long for this next guy to find his way into the bar. Well, he's old. (Or maybe he just sells old shoes. I didn't ask.)

Anyway, today's suggestion comes courtesy of Lynn Proctor:
An old shoe salesman walks into a bar. As he takes a seat, the bartender says, "Jeez, you stink."

The old man sizes him up. "I advise you to bite your tongue, sir."

"But your odor will drive away my business."

"Tread lightly. Now I would like—"

"Perhaps you'd enjoy a seat on our patio? Honestly, your stench is beginning to clog my nasal passages."

"Sir, my patience with you is wearing thin. Now, I've been straight-laced my whole life, but I've been told I must try your signature drink."

The bartender arches one eyebrow. "The Steel Toad?"

"That's the one. My stepson recommends it highly. It's my sole reason for coming here."

"Stepson, huh? Wow, with your smell I'd have pegged you as a bachelor."

"Lord, you're such a heel. The converse is true. I'm married, with children."

"Let me level with you. It's an expensive drink, and not only do you stink, but you're shoddily dressed to boot. You sure you can foot the bill?"

The old man socks the bartender in the mouth and walks out.

With this subject matter, you probably expected at least one footnote, didn't you? Well, as they say, expect the unexpected.1 And come back soon; the alliterative trio of barista, barrister, and barbarian are barging in next.

1 Although, in this case, perhaps you should have unexpected the expected. Then again, I've ruined things by adding this, haven't I? Drat. That is so like me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Behind Bars at the Zoo

So, a needle pulling thread started this whole endeavor. Then a sea-monkey entered the bar, followed by a priest, rabbi, and hooker, a bowl of Rice Krispies, Jabba the Hutt, and tuberculosis.

Today's original suggestion of a penguin was supplied by Katy Manck, though my wife Denise decided to complicate matters by throwing someone else into the mix:

A penguin and William Shakespeare walk into a bar. The penguin looks to the other and says, "What have we here? A man or a fish?"

Shakespeare studies the penguin. "You don't get out much, do you?"

"Not till this March. But I'm on the run now. That's why I'm hiding out in this dive. Morgan Freeman is stalking me at every turn."

"That doesn't sound so bad... though he did attack Rome, and kill Caesar." Shakespeare scans the room. "You should be careful. Where are you headed?"

"I have family in the sewers of Gotham."

"Oh, you shan't lose your tail in Gotham. Morgan Freeman's a fox."

They call over their server, who had been waiting in the wings, and order a couple cold ones.

"You know," says Shakespeare. "We're polar opposites, you and I."

"How so?"

"You know how to play right. You keep your feet happy. Mine oft turn tragic."

"I thought you called yours meter."

"Are you trying to egg me on?"


"Okay, I'll let it slide."

"Actually, I envy your work, William. O, to be black and white and read all over."

"Just let your ideas incubate for a while, and you might soar to great heights."

"What would you know about soaring? You're just a flightless bard."

This piece may not be as pun-filled as its predecessors, but hey, you try to write groan-worthy witticisms in 95° temperatures. It's entirely possible my brain has melted. Anyway, next one into the bar is an old shoe salesman, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Bar of Antibacterial Soap

This whole thing started with a needle pulling thread. Then a sea-monkey followed it into the bar, along with a priest, rabbi, and hooker, a bowl of Rice Krispies, and Jabba the Hutt.

Of course, if I hadn't spent the last few days in a drunken, pun-filled haze, I might have realized a penguin was supposed to be the next one in. Alas, I was asleep at my post and allowed a disease to slip in first.

Today's suggestion comes courtesy of Joelle:
Tuberculosis walks into a bar... somehow.1 The bartender, who'd watched it drive up, stops it in the doorway.
"That's one sick ride you flew in on, but you're not welcome here. Leave."
"Chill, man. Such virulence. Is it the fatigues?"
"No. And as much as it pains me to turn away a customer..."
"I have an infectious personality if you get to know me. Give me a shot."
"No. Now go."
"You can't treat me like this."
"It's my bar, I can do what I want."
"Look, all I want is a drink. I'm on my way to see D.C."
"Not who. The city. Quit being so resistant."
"C'mon, you're killing me. Cough it up. What's the real reason you're so sore?"
"Get out."
"Bloody hell, I've had it with your bellyaching. A pox on thee!"
"Whatever." The bartender points to the door.
"Oh yeah, don't strain yourself or nothing." It looks back before leaving. "Sir, this decision shall plague you the rest of your days. I'll make sure of it."

Okay, now that I've gotten tuberculosis out of my system, I'll be able to tackle the penguin next. (And Shakespeare, thanks to my wife's meddling. It's a two-fer.)

1 I'm assuming prosthetics.

Monday, June 18, 2012

In a Galaxy Bar, Far Away

The bar was closed Saturday for renovations (hallway and dining room floors) and Sunday for private functions (my first Father's Day and first improv performance). But we've opened the doors once again to new customers.

It all began with a needle pulling thread. Then a sea-monkey entered the conversation, followed by a priest, a rabbi, and a hooker and a bowl of Rice Krispies.

Today's suggestion comes courtesy of Alex J. Cavanaugh:
Jabba the Hutt walks into a bar.1 The place is a pit, and the girls slaving over the tables would rather work elsewhere, perhaps in chains. But it's got cheap drinks and is the only spot from which he can see three P.O. boxes he needs to watch.2

Three of the girls are commiserating by the bar. "And Miss Fancy-Pants there in the corner booth? Says her food was chewy. You believe that princess lay a dime down right in front of me, as my tip?"

"She can't treat you that way just because her husband is a count, duke, or whatever. You need to maul her. Go all qui-gon jinn on her ass."

"It's called taekwondo, Tina. But no, I don't have the energy. I think it's this Atkins diet. After work today I'm gonna do, just in case, a carbo-night."

"Well, then do your psycho routine. Scare her into giving a larger tip."

"Yeah, Mary, you should be a psycho. Oh, be one, 'kay?"

"No, be one yourself."

The bartender tapped Mary on the shoulder. "Waiting to order Jabba is."

"Can Tina do it?"

"Too many tables already she has. For you this is."

"Fine." Mary walks over to Jabba's table. "What'll you have?"

"Bonobo hobo moba cheeso."

"Sorry, what was that?"

The Russian from the next table leans over. "He say he feel sluggish, vant pick-me-up. Like Skyy Wodka in one Solo® cup."

She returns to the bar and gives the bartender the order.

"Okay, I'll get that for him. Don't get too close when you give it to him, though; use the forceps. Oh, and before you head back over there..." He hands her a small glass. "...serve Greedo's shot first."

And if you thought today's was bad, watch out! Tomorrow's special is tuberculosis.

1 You might think he would slither, but no... ewok.
2 Technically, he could also watch from the Admiral Ack Bar next door, but he won't set foot in there again (figuratively speaking) because, as he says, "Itsa crap!"

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Rice Krispie Bar

It started with a needle pulling thread. Then a sea-monkey entered the conversation, followed by a priest, a rabbi, and a hooker.

Today's suggestion comes courtesy of Laura Hughes:

A bowl of Rice Krispies walks into a bar. She says to the bartender, "Cheerio!"

"Oh, Honey, not 'Cheerio.' You're toasted. Whenever you hit the white stuff, your bran turns to mush."

"I wish I were so lucky, Sam. Everyone knows I'm branless."

"I'm just saying you should be careful. It might feel good at first, but snap! Crack'll pop you in the head every time."

"Please, I'd never do crack."


"Now that'd be a treat. Anyway, I'll take two cans, Sam."

"Nope, no more. You have a problem."

"I'm fine, you silly rabbit. I'm only back so soon because I accidentally dropped the top to my last can. I stepped on the cap, 'n crunch!"

"No more. Here's what you should do, Honey: Comb your hair and get yourself a job."

Honey smacks the bar. "Quit toying with me. I said I'm fine. Now gimme some sugar. I can't bear to go on like this."

The bartender sighs. "Look, how long are we going to milk this joke? These puns are poor."

"Nonsense. They're gr-r-reat!"

Since this exercise has become a serial, more things will be slithering their way up to the bar. Next up: Jabba the Hutt. (And if you haven't done so yet, you can still make your own suggestion here.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

At the Bar Mitzvah

It began with a needle pulling thread. Yesterday, a sea-monkey entered the conversation. And if you thought those were bad, you ain't read nothing yet.

Today's suggestion comes from my friend Brian, via Facebook:

A priest, a rabbi, and a hooker walk into a bar. The priest orders a virgin Bloody Mary, then joins the others at a booth. He finds the rabbi with a Hooker to his lips; the hooker is enjoying her first He'Brew.

"I must confess," he says, "This is highly unorthodox."

"You see, Jason," says the hooker, "I have this spiritual hole I need to fill. I figured you two could guide me, you know, biblically speaking. And rather than screw around, I thought I'd have you both at once."

The priest eyed his competition. "Well, Norah, if you come with me you might end up in a missionary position."

"Jesus Christ!" says the rabbi. "Quit pimping your religion. She's just looking for spiritual guidance."

"No need to be cross. It was just a proposition."

"Don't crucify me, I'm trying to help. Now, the Torah is kept in this thing called—"

"Hell no, not another one of your ark tangents. Like you said, David, she wants spiritual guidance."

The hooker bangs on the table. "Look," she says. "Stop whining about spirits. And remember, I'm a lay person. So drop the religious jargon, Jason. Quit being so priestly."

"For the love of God!"

"Oh, calm down. I was just trying to get a rise out of you." She takes one last swallow of He'Brew. "Ugh, I feel sick. I'm gonna find a john and pray to the porcelain god."

She heads for the exit instead. The rabbi goes to her and says, "We're just men, Norah. But hey, if you want to talk later, give me a call, girl." She brushes him off and leaves to walk the streets home.

He returns to the table. The priest shakes his head and says, "You're a star, David."

Not that it matters, but every single time I tried to type rabbi it initially came out as rabbit. If I'd kept it that way, it would've been cuter, but with lots more screwing.

Anyway, our next visitor to the bar will be a bowl of Rice Krispies. (And if you haven't yet made a suggestion, I'll leave the request lines open just a little while longer...)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Now Entering Bar Harbor

When I asked for suggestions on what to bring to the bar scene, I thought you'd lob some softballs my way, items with plenty of potential for puns. Instead, you hit me with things like sea-monkeys and tuberculosis. Oh sure, I've got tons of material for those. And hey, Joelle? Tuberculosis has no physicality. How can it walk into a bar? (Eh, I'll make it work.)1

Anyway, because I'm lazy everything wouldn't enter the bar at once, I'm going to tackle these one at a time. First up: a sea-monkey, courtesy of Kellie @ Delightfully Ludicrous. Let us begin.
A sea-monkey walks into a bar...on its sea-legs, I suppose. He sits next to a capuchin, pats his stomach, and says to the bartender, "My tank's empty. Get me a water, on tap."

"Hold on, I'll be with you in an instant."

A can of Mountain Dew sits down on the other side of the sea-monkey and says, "Don't order water in a bar. It tastes like piss." It then tries to grab some pickled eggs off the bar, but they all tumble to the floor.

"Who are you to tell me what to do?" says the sea-monkey.

"My name's Brian, shrimp."

"Well, Brian, I don't like how you drop eggs, insult water."

The bartender comes back over. "Okay, what can I get ya?"

"I'll have—"

"Not you. I'll take your orders in the order you sat down: monkey, sea-monkey, Dew.

Well, that's it for day one. Next time you get a priest, a rabbi, and a hooker. (Oh, and by the way, if you haven't made a suggestion yet, the request lines are still open...)

1 For the purposes of this series, the character of Tuberculosis will be played by Tommy "Two-Toed" Tuberculosis.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Raising the Bar

In my last post, my second footnote had a needle pulling thread walk into a bar. I then proceeded to riff on needles and sewing, churning out pun after glorious pun. It may well be my best footnote to date.1

The love I got for that bit made me want to challenge myself further. And that's where you come in. What I need from each of you is something that might "walk" into a bar.

It could be another inanimate object, like the needle. Perhaps a profession or celebrity or fictional character. Maybe an animal, vegetable, or mineral. But whatever you give me, they'll soon be entering a bar. And hilarity (or at least vast amounts of punnery) will ensue.

So, what've you got for me?

1 Mostly because it knows how to sew and can mix a stellar martini. But really, I wouldn't suggest dating any of my footnotes. They don't take anything seriously, and well, I know they say size doesn't matter, but...

Monday, June 4, 2012

And Then I Made a 10-Footer

I haven't blogged much lately.1 So2 I thought,3 to4 make it up5 to you6 (or at least those of you with a footnote fetish),7 I would put together an epic post.8 Instead, I wrote this. Sorry!9 That's Life.10

1 Sure, I'm focusing more on my novel (progress is slow but steady), but I also have a nearly 11-month -old (assisted walking is fast but steady), and beneath the carpet in our dining room we discovered linoleum (removal is very slow but for the love of all that is holy, who puts linoleum on top of hardwood?!).

2 A needle pulling thread... walks into a bar. The bartender says, "You can't drag all that in here. I'm gonna have to cut you off."
"Darn it!" says the needle. "Quit hemming and hawing. Just give me a beer."
"Oh, you come bobbin in here and want me to tailor my business to your needs? Go lose yourself in a haystack."
"Mother of Pearl! Did you just...? Look me in the eye and say that again."
The bartender smiled pointedly. "Hey, no need to come unraveled."
"You think this is funny?"
"Well, you've got me in stitches."
The needle stalked out. "Cross my heart, I hope you die."

3 A dangerous proposition. The more I think, the more confused everyone else gets.

4 A dangerous preposition. I mean, it's involved in all sorts of horrifying things (e.g. death to infidels, a license to kill, From Justin to Kelly).

5 I like making things up. Stories, characters, excuses, lists of demands, tests, counters, you name it. Pretty much everything except my mind. Oh, and the bed. I don't see the point.

6 And when I say "make it up to you," of course I mean "make me feel less guilty about blogging less. What, you thought this was about you? Get over yourself. It's about me.

7 For they are the most susceptible to the advanced stages of blogoscopic footnotosis (formerly acute footnote withdrawal and wheelfiritis). Additional symptoms include stink eye, needle nose, pencil neck, cold shoulder, stiff arm, dead man's hand, wooden chest, flash back, bottom line, peg leg, and chicken foot.

8 You know, an exceptionally grandiose blog entry that will change the world. Or a 20-foot-high fence stake intricately carved to tell the entire story of the Iliad. Or an appointment as Über-Delegate to the Grand Poobah of Everything. One of those.

9 A game for 2-4 players.

10 A game for 2-6 players. In which, just like real life, you get a free car before your first job and get to drive it without a license. Of course, if you combine the game with Sorry!, you could end up back at the start, and become a polygamist working multiple jobs to make ends meet. (You might think this is a lame end to the post, but again, it's not all about you. It's about me. As long as I entertain one person, I'm happy. And Mikey, he likes it.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Professor Returns

I haven't shared much about The Professor (age: 10½ months) since the beginning of the semester, so I thought now would be the perfect time to recap the last few months. I'll do my best to be concise, though, so you can focus on more important things. Like the photos.

The Professor basically has three moods. In order of descending frequency:
  1. Happy — characterized by laughing, smiling, clapping, waving, cooing, babbling, drumming, and high-fiving1
  2. Exploratory — he takes things in visually, tactilely, and of course, orally
  3. Fussy — brought on solely by hunger, illness, or tiredness2
He seemingly has a fourth mood, wherein he appears to be over-serious. If he stays that way for any length of time, however, invariably he is sucking on a tiny pine cone.3

Although he can't walk on his own yet, he has mastered the art of the double dribble. No, not like a basketball player. Like a soccer-playing baby.4

The Professor has also been diagnosed with Schadenfreude Katzenartig, a condition so rare I had to name it myself. He's expected to overcome it eventually, but basically it means this: Although otherwise empathetic to others' misfortune, he laughs his head off when our cat Schrödinger has a hairball.

And there, once you've take a look at the full set of The Professor's pictures (with the 37 newest photos at the bottom), you'll be all ready for the final exam.

I'm kidding, of course; there's no way you'll be ready, not after missing so many classes. You're going to fail miserably. But, if you still want to give it the ol' college try, The Professor put together this study guide just for you.

1 His three favorite things, in order of descending hilarity: 1) swift shifts in vantage point (e.g. swooping, spinning, baby lifts); 2) tickle tickle tickle time!; 3) whatever the cat is doing.
2 Extremely Put Out is technically an extension of Fussy. It is caused by minor injury, extreme over-tiredness, and extreme Daddy taking too long to give him more Cheerios.
3 This has now happened twice, but two out of two is still "invariably." The dog tracks these things into the house on occasion, and the little Professor — the proud owner of two teeth, I might add — keeps at it, working it around in his mouth, hoping the thing will dissolve like everything else he eats so he can swallow it. Last week, when this first occurred, it took my wife a half hour to figure out what was "wrong."
4 No, not like a footballer who drops to the turf whining about his ankle every time someone gets within a yard of him. I'm talking about two succinct dribbles at the same time: one from his mouth, one with his feet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Robot Haiku Contest Winners

First of all, thank you to everyone who entered this year's contest! Because of you — and especially Tara and Tyrean, who also spread the word on their blogs — my job as judge was that much harder. Yet, I went into the judging like a well-oiled machine. Too well oiled, in fact. My mind kept slipping, and at the end I was drained.

Anyway, onto the awards. As usual, the mechanisms of my judging were guided by extreme prejudice and no logic whatsoever. And if you haven't already done so, make sure to read all of the entries.

Dishonorable Mention

Once again, my father (BCFN) insulted both haiku and the prize in 17 syllables. I won't be reprinting his schlock here.

Plain Old Mention

I appreciated Laurie Peel's entry: A haiku praising my haiku about how to write haiku. But it had nothing to do with robots, so she's out.

Honorababble Mentions

These two would have been in the running, if not for one pesky extra syllababble. It's too bad; I enjoyed them both. First, from Tyrean Martinson, life comes to the lifeless:
lights switch on displays
after the science fair closes
a mind awakens
And Budd harkens the dawning of a new age:
Rise my Bretheren
let us strike down our oppressors
Enter the steel age
Honorable Mentions

Thanks to Owen, we learned the fate of someone long since forgotten:
Out of a soundless
wasteland sticks the bold head of
Mister Roboto
Zongrik showed us we're not so far off from the Jetsons after all:
digital housemaid
room disinfection robot
it's the modern age
And Tara Tyler tells us what we pretty much already know:
laziness is doom
robots do all and faster
humans obsolete

First Place — Traditional

I find this category the toughest to choose every year. This one was very close, but in the end, I called in the super-secret tie-breaking judge (my wife), who coaxed me into choosing a haiku by someone I had to coax into participating. From Lynda R Young:
A rusted robot
Its mechanics whirs and purs
Needs oil and falls down
First Place — Humorous / Creative

Humor was a little harder to come by this year than in past contests — apparently ninjas and pirates are funnier subjects than robots — but it didn't stop Mooderino. He takes home the prize with this little number:
As R2D2
Exclaimed to C3PO
"Brr wee ping woo woo!"
First Place — Robopocalypse

I knew I'd be awarding a third prize, but I only decided on the category after I chose the third winner. Budd claims this one with some sage advice on how we can survive the uprising:
How can we survive?
the machines have risen up.
Divide by zero
And that'll do it. Lynda, Moody, and Budd, send me an email and let me know your gift card preference (Amazon, iTunes, etc).

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks again to everyone who entered!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A to Z: The Final Word

Before I get to the good stuff, let me tell you about the even better stuff. Today's the last day to enter my Robot Haiku Contest. Deadline's at 5pm, Eastern Time.

Letters. That was the final word of my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.1

Of course, if that was all I had for you today, this would be a short post. Yet, as many of you know, I'm no good at writing short posts.

I expected this year's A to Z to be tougher than last year's. With a 9-month-old at home and things getting mighty busy at work, I knew I'd have much less time to participate. So, I did what any sane person would do: I chose a theme that took even more time.2

And I fell behind quickly. Starting on D-Day, every single post was written the night before. And I only really had the chance to visit the bloggers who commented on my posts. Still, I got to discover some fun blogs, and loved the small cadre of loyal visitors who kept coming back to The Wheel for more.

I learned a few things during the Challenge, too:
  • Some people appreciate being introduced to new things, but in general, people much prefer commenting on things they already know.
  • I will always be a perfectionist. And a procrastinator. These things do not go well together.
  • Sleep is for the weak.3

Creatively, what I enjoyed most about this year's Challenge was creating the letter graphics from my own photos. My favorites, in no particular order, are the ones ED LUVZ. Here are the whole bunch, in case you want to see 'em all in one place:

(click to embiggen)

A close second was coming up with the title for each letter. Here's a recap of all 26, for easy access:
  1. Like the Fonz Always Said (with anagrammed hosts' names)
  2. That Buzz in Your Ear
  3. A Body Off the Coast (Seven C's Edition)
  4. The End of the World
  5. The Gad Preceder
  6. Stop With the Camera
  7. The Most Common Willikers
  8. Jesus, Initially
  9. The Window to the Soul (I Spy With My Little I Edition)
  10. A Way of Walking
  11. It's Alright, I Guess
  12. The Train in Chicago (Double Hockey Stick Edition)
  13. A Kansas Auntie (Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Edition)
  14. The Center of Attention
  15. A Surprised Utterance
  16. A Small Green Orb (P's in a Pod Edition)
  17. A British Line
  18. The Call of the Pirate
  19. The Start of Something (Super-Sized Saturday Edition)
  20. Something You Put Balls On (T for 2 Edition)
  21. A Ram's Better Half
  22. Southbound Geese
  23. The P.O.T.U.S. (#43)
  24. A Former Flame
  25. The Age-Old Question
  26. The End of All That Jazz

But the best thing to come out of this Challenge? I began writing nearly every day. And I plan to keep up the pace, too. Just not here.

After over two years' hiatus from my novel, I'm finally back at it. Five chapters to go in the first draft. 87.5% done. I'll get this thing finished yet.

Right after I read some robot haiku. (Hint hint.)

1 Unless you're of the mind that the footnotes came last, since they appear lower on the page. Then the final word was V. Which I'll pretend meant Victory.
2 I didn't realize that when I chose it, of course. I'm a master at self-delusion. You might not think I'm a master, but that's because I'm only good at deluding myself, not you.
3 I'm weak. Sleep is gooood.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Robot Haiku Contest!

*** The contest has ended. View the winning entries. ***

Announcing The Wheel’s 3rd Annual Haiku Contest!

First came ninja haiku. Then, pirates. Following those, this year there was only one logical choice: Robots.

It's not difficult:
You just write five syllables,
Then seven, then five.

And it must involve robots in some way. How you incorporate them — and which variety of robot you use — is completely up to you.

To enter, write your own robot-themed haiku in the comments section below. Three lucky winners will receive money that exists only digitally $25 gift cards.

I will be selecting the best haiku in each of two categories:
  • Humorous/Creative
  • Traditional (i.e. eloquent, evocative, etc.)
...and then I'll also reward my next favorite haiku, just because I can.

The deadline to submit a haiku is this Monday, May 7 at 5:00pm (Eastern Time).

Robot poetry.
Let's make it happen, people.
Contest begins... now.

Official Rules:
  1. To enter, post robot-themed haiku in the comment section below. Multiple submissions are allowed, but if you submit more than five (5), you will exceed your data limit and be charged for each additional entry. And by "charged," I mean pumped full of electricity.
  2. Standard haiku rules apply. To qualify, each entry must be a three-line poem, the first line containing exactly 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the third line 5 syllables. If you miscount, the system will automatically detect this and break your entry down for parts. You will not win.
  3. The contest is open until Monday, May 7, 2011 at 5:00pm, Eastern Time. If you try to sneak an entry in after the deadline, the system will automatically eradicate your last line. Your haiku will then be one line short, and will be disqualified.
  4. Entries must be in English. (i.e. Using Japanese kanji will not help you win for best traditional haiku. If I can't understand your entry, I'll assume it's encrypted code, and for the sake of national security never let it see the light of day. You will not win.)
  5. Anonymous entries will not win. If you don't tell me who you are, clearly you are a hacker trying to infiltrate my system. I will lock you out of the system, and your entry out of the contest.
  6. Prizes will be awarded in each of three categories: Humorous/Creative, Traditional, and Next Favorite.
    • Three (3) first place winners will each receive a $25 gift card from either Amazon or iTunes (their choices).
    • An indeterminate number of Honorable Mentions will receive bragging rights over everyone who doesn’t win. Also, honor (mentioned).
  7. I will act as sole judge, and select the winning haiku based on the aforementioned criteria, as well as other criteria I make up as I go along. All decisions are final, and will not be changed under any circumstances unless some robot is sent back from the future to do so.

The End of All That Jazz

During this year's Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, I'm highlighting things more people should know about. For the most part, I'll be ignoring the most popular and widely known items (and sometimes my personal favorites) in order to promote the unfamiliar and underappreciated.

Zoinks? Have we reached the end? Really? And did I really just say "zoinks"?

I've loved David Fincher's work ever since Se7en. This one brings us San Francisco in the grips of the Zodiac killer in the '60s and '70s, and follows three characters obsessed with tracking him down. Well-acted, well-written, and, well, a pleasure to watch. It doesn't try to dazzle like Fight Club, and didn't have the hype of The Social Network, but this is one exceptionally strong film.
I know nothing about this kids' show from the '70s, but my wife said it was fun. And my wife has good taste,1 so it must have been.
As delivery trucks bring you animals, try to plan out your zoo to get the most visitors. The male and female of a species can get you babies, or you can swipe an animal from a competitor. Just be careful not to overpopulate or have too wide a variety of creatures, or you'll have to stick some in your barn and that'll hurt your business. A fun family game for 2-5 players. With flamingos.
They started out as more of a hip-hop funk band, although they've since migrated to a more standard pop/punk rock sound. With dual lead-singers providing a back-and-forth singing/rapping dynamic, they've got a fun sound and great energy.
The Z Was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-Six Acts by Chris Van Allsburg
A creative way to teach your children the alphabet, from the writer-illustrator of Jumanji and The Polar Express.2 With each turn of the page, another letter undergoes an alliterative transformation... often with dire consequences. I like dire consequences.3

And now I'm zapped, too.

It's been a long, tiring run this month, but I've had a blast highlighting some of my favorite alphabetic hidden gems. I do hope you've enjoyed reading my letters.

1Especially in husbands.
2 Not to mention his other Z-book, Zathura. Oh, crap. I said "not to mention" and then I mentioned it. I'm always contradicting myself (except for when I'm not).
3 Dire Straits are pretty good, too, but they only help you learn the letters M, T, and V.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Age-Old Question

During this year's Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, I'm highlighting things more people should know about. For the most part, I'll be ignoring the most popular and widely known items (and sometimes my personal favorites) in order to promote the unfamiliar and underappreciated.

Yeesh, only two letters left. Let's make it one, shall we?

Young Frankenstein
Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced Frahnkenshteen) would rather not be associated with his mad grandfather. But he inherits the man's castle and equipment, and then stumbles upon his writings (as well as his beautiful lab assistant), and begins to change his mind... to the fury of the townspeople. With Gene Wilder, the amazing Madeleine Kahn, and Peter Boyle as The Monster, this is perhaps Mel Brooks' finest (and funniest) work.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
An epic adventure each episode with the young man (or younger boy) who would become the world's favorite whip-wielding archaeologist? Yes, please.
When you move one of your rings across the board, leave a disc of your color in its place, and flip over every disc your ring jumps. You're trying to get five of your color in a row, while blocking your opponent from doing the same. And you're trying to do this three times, but with each success you get one fewer ring to work with. A wonderful abstract strategy game for 2 players (and one of six in project GIPF).
Young M.C.
The first CD I ever bought was Young M.C's Stone Cold Rhymin'. You know, back before rap went all gangsta on us. Back when it was fun. Now, some music from the '80s hasn't aged too well — surprising, I know — but this album, at least, is just as good now as then. Perhaps better, when compared to everything that's come since. So don't just stand there; bust a move.
Yukon Ho! by Bill Watterson
Calvin & Hobbes is the best comic strip in the history of comic strips. If you didn't already know this, you need to go directly to your local bookstore or library (or friend's house) and start reading. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200,1 just go and fill your day with a precocious 6-year-old and his stuffed tiger. And if your friend asks why you're in their house, tell 'em I sent you. And that I say hi.

You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just may find, you get whatever the hell I decide to give you.

1Although, if you happen to come across $200 on the street, you might as well pick it up. (And as your new financial advisor, I get 10%.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Former Flame

During this year's Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, I'm highlighting things more people should know about. For the most part, I'll be ignoring the most popular and widely known items (and sometimes my personal favorites) in order to promote the unfamiliar and underappreciated.

Mostly In Jest Edition!

X-Men: First Class
This film, about the group's beginnings, is a rare thing: A prequel that surpasses the original — and in this case, its sequels. I can think of only one other film that does the same, and it also came out last year. (Are there others? If you can think of any, share 'em in the comments.)
X-Men: The Animated Series
According to the resident X-Men expert (i.e. my brother), this series is far superior to the movies for a couple reasons. For one, it stays more consistent with the comic book characters' stories and origins. But most importantly, because Gambit was in it. And who am I to argue with the expert?
X-Men: Alert
My brother had this game. We played it once or twice. It was okay, I guess.
X-Men: The Soundtrack
It's probably decent enough.
X-Men: The Flamethrower
The kids love this one.

Okay, fine. You want some real recommendations? XiangQi is an ancient form of Chinese chess (which I have never played), and Xavier Rudd has a great folksy, bluesy sound.

The other three options, however, I'm sticking with.