Category Archives: Humor

I’m Spoiled

This morning, as I was about to spring out of bed in order to start yet another very long day of writing, and writerly tasks, I turned to look at the clock.  And the clock blacked out.  I thought it was me, at first.  Sleep has been elusive of late, and I’ve resorted to sleepy pills (shhh, don’t talk too loud around the rest of them–you’ll wake them up!)  And of course, this means a groggy, slow to speed kind of morning.  So, maybe the clock didn’t go out.  Maybe we all just blinked at the same time.

Ah, but no.  In fact not only had the bedroom clock gone out, but every clock in the house except for the one powered by batteries hanging on the kitchen wall.  And I couldn’t see that one, because it was dark. 

Yeah, power outage.  One of the first things that occurs to me if I can’t get to my computer, and get some work done is this: Well, since I can’t write anyway, how about if I pop some corn and watch a movie.  (Yeah, I even think that way that early in the morning.).  Of course then my mean-kid-from-down-the-block-voice says nyah, nyah, can’t pop corn!  Can’t watch TV.  No POWER, idiot!

I’m spoiled.  I no longer have a typewriter.  Since I type more than I write, my handwriting is so bad I was actually—this is true!—asked if I was a doctor by a nurse when I had to sign for a prescription one day.  There’s no way I can write longhand and expect to make out more than a few words a day or so later.

I’m spoiled.  I need light to work.  I need my computer, and my connection to the Internet to get the job done.  One big EMP explosion and I’m killed, cooked and served.

To quote Edward G. Robinson from the rather scary movie, Soylent Green, “How did we come to this?”

Food in the freezer would start to go bad.  If you had a gas stove and had matches you might be able to cook some of the perishable things, but then what?  Feast time?

I’m spoiled.  If it weren’t for the battery-powered radio I keep in the bathroom so I can listen to the news when I shower, I wouldn’t have been able to check to see how wide the outage was.

If I’d remembered to charge up my cell phone, I could have called the power company to see what to expect.  But of course since it was my whole neighborhood that went dark—I went outside and checked—and who knows how great an idea was afflicted, the wait on the phone would have probably eaten the remaining charge.  My phone charge doesn’t last as long as an old-style one-function cell-phone.  See, I have one of those new phones that does 127 things besides being a phone, including downloading TV shows.  It doesn’t make popcorn, though.

I’m spoiled.   I want all of my services—services?  No, my divine right to power, heat, cold to store food, electrons to inform and educate me, and my Internet connection so I can tell you how spoiled I am.  Oh, by the way, I got a new cable modem installed yesterday.  It has a battery, so, while I couldn’t get this computer going, I still had Internet connection.  I just couldn’t SEE it.

Gahhh!  It did it again.  Another power outage.  Dark screen!  Dark screen!  I hate it.

I have no idea how much of this post I lost.  Ever notice, though, how the writing you lose, the ideas you forget, are somehow so much better than the ones you don’t lose?

Well enough of this.  This is only a little about writing.  Mostly it’s about being annoyed, frustrated, and impotent in the face of a power failure.

I guess it’s true.  I’m spoiled.

Solipsism: Word of the Day

Solipsism, n.

Extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.

Some would say that “writing for oneself” is a form of solipsism.  Others would say that saying the that (above) was asking for trouble.

How will you use solipsism in a sentence today?

(This is a joke, folks.)

How to Name Your Characters and Avoid Readers

Have you ever gotten stuck when it came time to name a character?

I have.  I’ve resulted to thumbing through the phone book, looking through newspapers, watching TV and just wool-gathering.  Sometimes that works.

I have to admit I’ve been taken to task for some of my character’s names.  Sometimes I’ve backed down and changed them, sometimes a name seemed just too good to pass up.  The main character from my novel FIVE, Ray Kurtz, for example, took some heat from “Heart of Darkness” fans, but I stand by it anyway. 

Are there rules for names in novels?  Well, yes, but nothing really hard and fast.  For example, having the names of all of your characters start with “J” is not a great idea.  Why?  Despite the time, effort and love we pour into our work, not all of our readers will have the patience to figure out that Jamie, Jan, Joe, Jon,  and John are different characters.  They’ll get lost.

You can make up names for your characters, but consider this, how many friends to you have with truly unique names?  …and, how often do they all get together in the same room for tea and scones?

Cute names can be a problem, too.  Robert “Rob” Banks, for instance.  Or one of my old favorite, Helen Fire…  clever yes, good for a serious character?  Not on your tintype.

And this, of course, brings us to SPACE ALIENS.   OK, I got it.  Aliens from another planet are not likely to have names like “John Jones” (with apologies to DCs Martian Manhunter).  But come on, names like K’Lktz’P’B’Frum-mptlla cannot be pronounced by your readers—unless they too are space aliens, and perhaps related to K’Lktz’P’B’Frum-mptlla. 

Image: forums.superherohype.com

But wait, Doctor Scott, you say, if I can’t use cute and clever names like those, and I can’t use all names starting with the same letter, and I can’t be truly alien, what’s a writer to do?

One thing you could do is to use any of the following excellent name generators:

These are just four of the many sites that offer this help.  I like the first one, The Seventh Sanctum best, because it is massive and massively useful.

Then, again, you could just say, “What th’ heck?” and go with K’Lktz’P’B’Frum-mptlla

10 Guaranteed Ways to Alienate Your Reader

Here is a list of errors—or perpetrations, if you’d rather—guaranteed to cut away a significant portion of your reading audience.

1. Center every line in your prose story.

2. Capitalize Every Damn Word In Each Sentence.  What’s That About, Anyway? 

3. WRITE IN ALL CAPS.  PEOPLE LOVE THIS.  IT MAKES READING YOUR WORK SO MUCH EASIER!

4. B kre8ive n ur spyling.  Ppl luv ‘t wen u d0o.

5. Use, commas, whenever, you, feel, like, it.

6. Likewise; semi-colons; the bomb.

7. Punctuation is and I mean this you just see for yourself if it isnt true is for losers

8. Always put a question mark at the end of a statement?

9. Remember, there are three kinds of people in the world.  Those who can count, and those who can’t.

1 Way to Keep From Offending Your Readers

My title is a bit misleading.

It suggests that there is more than one way to keep from offending your readers.  Amazingly enough, there really is only one way to keep from offending 100% of your readers. 

Don’t write.

Yeah, sigh.  That’s the trick.

The truth is that anything you write will offend someone.  It won’t matter how good your intentions are… it won’t matter how careful you are with your craft, for one reason or another what you write is bound to offend some readers. 

On the other hand, the quickest way to be sure to offend is to use humor.  Humor is subjective, and is easily  the quickest way to alienate your audience.  But wait, you say, what about people like Dave Barry, and the late Douglas Adams?  They are funny, and they don’t offend me.   Yep.  They don’t offend you.  Trust me, reader, there are people who find their brand of humor insulting, childish, predictable and… oh, yeah.  Offensive.  This is why a “golden rule” for writers doesn’t work.  Can you imagine believing “write unto others as you would be written unto“?

Email and texting have taught us how easy it is to misunderstand the printed word.  “Smilies” were designed to take the sting out of words which were not accompanied by facial expressions or tones of voice.

It is sad.  There seems to be no real lingua franca when it comes to writing.  There is only an approximation, a “best intentions” attempt at communications.  And as we have all seen, best intentions make excellent paving blocks, but they don’t serve very well for much else.

So, what do we do?

We write on.  We do our best.  We write with the sure knowledge that a percentage of readers will get what we say, and get it without finding personal insult in it,  and we can but hope that those who are offended are never so much offended that they stop reading all together.

Chances are that this piece will offend some readers.

The Daily “Huh?” – This Isn’t Porn!

Image: Guilty as Charged

Ode to a Pornographic Poet

The Poet of Smut
must first rehearse
How many words
He can get per verse

–Richard Scott

The Daily “Huh?” – Omlette: Prince of Ihop

 

Image: Guilty as Charged

Omelette

Now I am a clone.

Whoa, what a Frog and Pheasant cook am I!
While I listen to a monster mp3 player, here,
Butt in, friction, make a cream of passion fruit
Cold fish, it’s sole, my own, I have the receipt
But in my stirring, all this, viscous pond
Beers blur the eyes, a didact without respect
His croaking voice, and his demeanor crumbling
With reference to his deceit. And all for cooking!
For Chef Goombah!
What’s Goombah to me, or me to him?
That I should sweep this place? How would he clean it
Had he a votive, and cause for precision
That I have? He would sweep it down, this cage, with fear
Sharpen his cleaver, the chef general, his words to teach
By gad! He’s guilty, but no justice, he will go free,
Confound it! He’s a fool, I am amazed he has a job
These very facilities, littered with sow ears, and I
A clever fool, with muddy boots, must peek
Like a spy with a mop, gravid with filth,
And can not retort, no, not for the sake of this place
Where this damned fool stirs his beggar’s stew
It rankles the nose, and flutters the stomach, Ace
He crammed in pig’s feet, the knave, the blowhard
He calls it bullion! He breaks my plate across!
Plucks veggies from the floor, and throw them in the pot!
Squeaks through his pig nose, his swill hurts the throat
Reach deep then, with the tongs. Why must I do this?
Gah! Grounds! His coffee is tainted, with fly and flea
He put in chicken liver, alack! And the bladder gall
To make his distressing, bitter food, and this
I should have warned them, the manager and guests
This cook’s awful! A bloody mess, this villain
He doesn’t care, the tramp, the leech, food meant for killin’
Oh, regurgitate!
Oh, wait! Am I a fool, his job I crave
That I a cook of beef and deer and wonders ne’er blurr’d
Goaded to his undoing, prompted by my greed
Must I like a helper skulk, hide my dreams with words,
And fail, cursing, like a sham?
Like a cook of horse meat? Fugeddaboutit, foe!
About the drain, I have a plan
Is it true that a bad cook eats not of his work?
Perhaps by cunning I could make him eat
And have his stomach proclaim for all to see
For bad food, though it cannot speak, can repeat
With most disgusting fountain. I will switch plates
Place food made by his own hand before him
Yet make it look like something made by a master
before this swine, I’ll observe his demeanor
I’ll be ready with a sponge, a bucket and a mop
for though his food be drivel, and sometimes drivel can look sweet
Out of his weakness and folly
A potent strike to his very gut
The meal’s the thing
Whereby I’ll rid myself of him

 With deepest and most sincere apologies to the Bard of Avon,
and to Hamlet, Act II, Scene II