Meat mania!

I belong to a community-based website that allows folks in my part of town to post notices – lost dogs, community council meetings, crime reports, etc. This was posted on the site a couple of days ago:

338 o meat


Several thoughts came to mind:

  1. Looks like someone just locked up “Salesperson of the Month” for January.
  2. Seems like the grandson has a bone to pick with the seller. A T-Bone!
  3. The seller was just knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Call him Sir Loin.
  4. Grandma actually only needed $10 worth of meat, but since she didn’t have Amazon Prime Rib she needed to buy $335 worth to get free shipping.
  5. If you want the best quality meat, you have to buy it out of the trunk of someone’s car.
  6. There’s a special place in hell reserved for folks who prey on housebound grandmothers. And they’re probably enjoying plenty of juicy flame-broiled steaks.
  7. “Meat peddlers” would be a great name for a punk rock band.
  8. Alert the authorities:


All dolled up

Apparently there’s a new Chucky movie coming out this year. I find it tough to get really scared by a child’s doll… unless it’s the doll that my older brother and I stole from our kid sister when she was five. We cut off all of the doll’s hair (what older brother hasn’t done that?). But we didn’t stop there. We painted her eyes with glow-in-the-dark paint. Now that was super-freaky, and not in a Rick James way.

But how can something induce spine-chilling fear when it doesn’t even have a spine? I know kids who can break toys in their sleep, just by rolling over onto them.

I’ll admit there’s something creepy about Chucky’s eyes. But if he can get his own seven-film franchise, then here are some other movie pitches:


First she’ll talk your ear off… and she won’t rest until you DIE of boredom. 



betsy wetsy

She’ll make YOU pee your pants with fright. 


baby sees all

She knows what you did last summer. 


Why limit it to dolls, though? How about other classic kiddie toys?


The next thing he’ll be digging… IS YOUR GRAVE! 


Penny for your thoughts

Is a company really showing ads that reinforce offensive, racially-demeaning stereotypes? In 2015?

Apparently so. Guess we haven’t come that far since Mickey Rooney’s role in 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Shameful.


Fly like a… piggy

This week I signed up to run the Flying Pig Marathon‘s half-marathon. A year ago, 13.1 miles was about 13 miles more than I could probably run. But after dropping more than 25 pounds, my old-man, arthritic knees don’t sound like Rice Krispies (“snap, crackle, pop!”) as much as they used to. I’ll never be mistaken for The Flash, but I should be able to handle a half-marathon at my glacial pace.

African Giant Tortoise (Testudo sulcata)

The marketer in me wishes there were another, better name for a half-marathon. Having the word “half” in it diminishes the significance of the event. It makes it seem half-hearted, or half-assed. Some folks say “second place is just another name for first loser.” To them, having a “13.1” sticker on your car is like saying “I quit halfway through!” or “When the going got tough, I hopped on the shuttle bus!”

13-1 equals quitter

Now I understand that Pheidippides didn’t run halfway from the Battle of Marathon to Athens and then say “I’ll just stop here, I’m starting to get some blisters on my feet. Everyone can read about the big victory in tomorrow’s papyrus.” But still, 13.1 miles is a looong way to run for mere mortals. From here on out, all half-marathons should be renamed as 21K races. Or better yet, a 23,056-yard dash.

Recipe for Success – the 7th and Final Day of the Your Turn Challenge

God may have rested on the 7th day…


…but those of us taking the Your Turn Challenge don’t have that luxury.

Today’s thought-starter is: What are you taking with you from this Challenge?

Well, for starters there’s my very special award:

participant large

I also got a year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni and a copy of the Your Turn Challenge home game!

Rice-A-Roni   blog in a box

But the main things I’ll be taking from the Your Turn Challenge are:

  • a soupçon of satisfaction for completing a challenge that scratched my creative itch and stretched my writing muscles.
  • a dollop of confidence that I can – and will – ship more often.
  • a pinch of smugness from using the word “soupçon” in this post and for learning how to insert the special character (ç what I did there?)
  • a heaping helping of gratitude for Winnie, whose hard work, encouragement – and initial failure – made this whole thing possible.

Surprise, surprise, surprise… Day 6 of the Your Turn Challenge

The Your Turn Challenge days keep slipping, slipping, slipping… and I keep shipping, shipping, shipping!

We’re up to Day 6, and today’s writing prompt is: Tell us about a time when you surprised yourself.

shock and awe


Yes, that’s exactly how it felt!

One of my most memorable “geez, how’d I do that” moments was when I staged my own personal sit-in at the shared lobby of several Cincinnati radio stations (sorry, WKRP wasn’t one of them). At the time, I was working as the afternoon DJ at 97X, a tiny but beloved and nationally-acclaimed indie/college rock/alternative radio station about 35 miles north of Cincinnati. I loved the music (still do) and loved the people I worked with (still do), but several years of below-poverty wages had taken their toll and I was hoping to move up to the “big leagues” of Cincinnati radio. Being semi-young and very naive, I had no idea how to go about getting a job at a large-market radio station. Compounding the problem was the fact that two corporate monoliths owned pretty much every station in town, so my options were limited. But I went to the lobby of one of the behemoths – the one that owned 8 stations – resume in one hand and demo tape in the other, hoping to meet with the FM rock station’s program director.  My conversation with the receptionist went something like this:

Receptionist: Can I help you?

Me: Yes, I’d like to meet with [name of rock station program director] and give him my resume and tape.

Receptionist: Do you have an appointment?

Me: No.

Receptionist: Let me see if he’s available… (calls from switchboard… whispers to person who answers… long pause)… I’m sorry, but he’s in a meeting right now. If you want to leave your resume with me, I’ll make sure he gets it.

Me: No, I’ll just wait.

Receptionist (desperately trying to get rid of me): But it could be hours before he’s available!

Me: That’s OK, I’ll just wait here.

This was completely out of character for me – normally I would’ve meekly handed over my resume and demo tape and shuffled out, head down. I don’t know what came over me. The receptionist realized I wasn’t kidding… and I wasn’t budging. The program director’s schedule magically cleared up and he came out to meet me 10 minutes later. I’m sure he had a fair amount of trepidation, worried about the stalker/psycho/wacko who refused to leave the lobby.

The “meeting” took less than a minute. I gave him my resume, tape and my well-rehearsed spiel about my radio experience and how I’d be a great addition to his station’s staff.

In an alternate universe, here’s how the story ends: “Duly impressed, the program director hired me on the spot, and we lived happily ever after.”

But in reality, he probably threw my resume and tape into the trash can on the way back to his office. However, I did get a job at those radio stations two months later… as a gofer/mail/errand boy (just what I went to college for!). Eventually I weaseled my way into being the 4th banana (a couple notches below a second banana) for a nationally-syndicated comedy radio show hosted by Gary Burbank, a National Radio Hall of Fame member. I got to write comedy sketches, do character voices and celebrity impersonations, arrange celebrity interviews, put together the weekly best-of show, occasionally fill-in as a co-host and generally have a grand old time. And I firmly believe that the same sort of courage I showed in staging my sit-in helped me be more assertive and speak up for myself, which helped me move from gofer to radio performer once I got a foot in the door.



Getting Unstuck – Day 5 of the Your Turn Challenge.

T.G.I.D.F.O.T.Y.T.C. (Thank goodness it’s Day Five of the Your Turn Challenge). Today’s writing prompt is: What advice would you give for getting unstuck?

Before I can give advice about getting unstuck, I have a question: Is it the frank or the beans?

Wait, that may not be the kind of stuck they’re talking about.

And I sure hope they’re not talking about the Aron Ralston version of being stuck.


If it’s mental hurdles/writer’s block that have you stuck, my best advice would be “take a hike!” Literally. Get off your keister, free your body from the cubicle walls or the La-Z-Boy, peel your eyes away from the screen, put your smart phone in the junk drawer, ditch the Google-friggin’-Glass and get outside. Walk around. See the world, one step at a time. By purposely disengaging from whatever has you stuck, both mentally and physically, you allow your subconscious to create new connections and form new ideas. It’s clinically-proven. So lace ’em up, quit talking about being stuck, and start walking about it. Happy hiking!


Plunging into the Your Turn Challenge – Day 4

It’s Day 4 (a.k.a. “Hump Day”) of the Your Turn Challenge. Today’s topic is:

Teach us something that you do well.

As a tree-hugging father of four, I’ve become an expert at unclogging toilets. The tree-hugging comes into play because I was an early adopter of the low-flow toilets, in a noble effort to save the Earth’s precious water resources. (This was waaaay before fracking made those efforts futile.) If you have an early edition of low-flow toilets in your abode, you know that low-flow also means low flushing power. Make that NO flushing power.

Being a father of four young kids is a factor because despite my incessant pleas, kids enjoy using half a roll of toilet paper every time they use the bathroom. It’s like they have a sponsorship contract with Charmin. Come to think of it, when they’re teenagers they’ll still waste toilet paper in the wee hours of the night by lofting it into trees at the homes of their teachers. They clearly have some sort of pact with the manufacturers of “bathroom tissue.”

So, when you combine low flushing power with excessive TP usage, what do you get? You get notes on your bathroom door like this one from my 7-year old:

toilet  clogged note from Andrew

What a wonderful present to get from you kids! It’s the gift that keeps on giving… here’s the proper process for unclogging a toilet.

Step 1: Get a plunger. Have one that looks like this? plunger

Great. Grasp it firmly with both hands, and fling it out the window. Seriously. Those type of plungers are worthless.

Step 2: Go to a hardware store and get a plunger with a flange, like this:


Please note that you should go to a real-life, honest-to-goodness neighborhood hardware store, not one of those hulking suburban big-box home improvement stores, unless you enjoy wandering around aimlessly for hours on end while the “customer service” clerks either ignore you or actively try to elude you.

Step 3: Insert the plunger into the toilet bowl. Wait, did you insert the handle end? OK, go get some rubber gloves, remove the plunger and insert the other end into the bowl. Try to have the plunger form a seal around the drain-pipe-hole-thingey (that’s the technical term – trust me, I’m a professional).

Step 4: Vigorously plunge the handle up and down while maintaining the seal around the hole.

Step 5: If the toilet remains clogged, mutter some expletives under your breath and take a quick break to wipe the sweat from your brow and rub some Ben-Gay on your biceps.

Step 6: Repeat the process from Step 4.

Step 7: Re-repeat the process from Step 4.

Step 8: One more time (fingers crossed)… Step 4.

Step 9: If the clog clears, congratulations! Savor the 15 minutes before one of your kids yells “Daaaaaad! Toilet’s clogged again!”

Step 10: Repeat Steps 3-9.

Keeping up with the Your Turn Challenge – Day 3

It’s Day 3 of the week-long “Your Turn Challenge.” Today’s writing prompt is:

Tell us about something that you think should be improved.

I think the United States of America needs to improve its coverage of the Kardashian family. Oh sure, we’ve had 10 seasons of a reality TV series about the glabulous* lives of Kris, Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kylie and Kendall, as well as the Killer Bs: Bruce, Brody and Brandon… oh, and the brother whose name shall not be mentioned because it doesn’t start with a K or a B (sorry Rob). And there’ve been a few spin-off shows. And countless mentions on the infotainment shows that truly know what celeb-ration** is all about. But think of how many TV channels there are in our cable universe. Plus Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, et al. Geez, if they have a channel like CSPAN that covers the boring, not-camera-friendly Congress (sorry Mitch), and a handful of ESPNs, we should have about 20 Kardashian Channels at the bare minimum (sorry Kim).

Print media (yes, it still exists) is slacking too. OK, I’ll grant you that one or more of the Kardashian Clan appears on a People or US Weekly cover about every other week. But that’s not enough! The Kardashians are America’s version of the royal family. I won’t rest until all entertainment coverage is  99 and 44/100ths Kardashian, with a sprinkling of B.C. (Bradley Cooper or Benedict Cumberbatch, whichever you prefer).

And don’t even get me started on digital media. Sure, you can’t swing a Bruce Jenner wig without hitting a story about a member or three of the Kardashians (the real First Family, IMHO). But there’s so much more territory to cover. Instagram photos of baby North aren’t enough – we demand Instagrams of the dirty diapers. And c’mon Zuckerberg, quit resting on your laurels and invent ButtBook***, a social networking site devoted exclusively to the Kardashians’ superior posteriors.


“Keeping up with the Kardashians”? Hardly. Every day we’re losing precious ground. Unless we pick up the pace of Kardashian Koverage, the rest of the world will lose respect for us.


*it’s a mashup word I created, meaning glamorous and fabulous. All rights reserved.

** another mashup word for celebrity adoration. All rights reserved. Eat your heart out, Seacrest!

*** I trademarked it but will sell to Mark Zuckerberg for the right price.

Your Turn Challenge, Day 2 – what’s important to me

It’s Day 2 of the Your Turn Challenge and I need to prove that I’m not just a one-hit wonder… or a one-whiff wonder.

Today’s prompt is “Tell us about something that’s important to you.”

The things that are most important to me are the ashtray, the paddle game and the remote control. That’s all I need…

Oh, and making people happy. That’s what makes me tick. Every day, I try to find humor in nearly every situation (funerals are notable, albeit understandable, exception). If I can make someone laugh, or just smile, that’s a successful day for me. Heck, sometimes I’ll settle for someone wincing from a bad pun.

I know life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. My mother died when I was three, and my father raised four kids all by himself. It was a struggle, and we grew up dirt-poor. I could have chosen to wallow in “why me?” self-pity for the rest of my life, but instead I made a choice to try to be optimistic, to try to be happy, and to make others happy. As my favorite author Ray Bradbury said, “Life is too serious to be taken seriously.”