The Write Stuff

I'm in a seemingly endless cycle trying to complete the book, so I've had some time to think about writing.

In case it helps anyone, here is my basic algorithm for publishing a book:
    10 write
20 edit
30 goto 20
40 publish
And here are some definitions of publishing terms that I have learned in the business so far:

Writers Block: The neighborhood that the author lives in, so filled with loud children that no writing is possible.

Draft: A beer. After several drafts, the author declares the book done.

Editing: Revising until there is no clause for concern.

Review: Similar to "ream you," but more painful.

Publishing: Something that is bound to happen.

Binding: A contract that guarantees tiny royalties.

Shelf Life: How long a book livesh.


When I am King: A Clip-On Life

When I am King...

I love flip-on sunglasses. They're saying “Hey, I'm here when they need me! And I don't care how they look!”

The moment the Sun threatens to shine, BAM!, down come the shades, faster than you can say "Don't those things make your glasses top-heavy?"

They're so convenient, in fact, that I would like to extend the idea to other facets of life. Why limit this handiness at the cost of attractiveness to our sight? Why let only the eyes have it?

Here are some thoughts on other items to consider:

  • pants: How many times have you been out at lunch and spilled your drink, or your meal, or radioactive waste on your pants? You excuse yourself to the bathroom and try to wash it off, but it never works; you're just left with a large wet spot that makes people think you made yourself wet in the bathroom instead, which is worse.
    What about a pair of clip-on pants, attached at the side of your current pants? One minute later, and you emerge from the bathroom a clean, dry guy.
  • shoes: Life is so varied and unpredictable, yet we only get one split-second in the morning to decide which single pair of shoes we're going to need for the whole day. We put on our dress shoes, only to find ourselves running in a marathon at lunch, or wishing for flipflops at the beach. Or we put on our sneakers, and that afternoon the CEO wanders into our office.
    Clip-on shoes will solve this problem, by allowing us to have an alternate pair with us at all times. As our marketing folks say, "Two left feet never felt so right."
  • hat: Most days, you probably don't wear a hat. But then you're walking around on a hot afternoon, and wish you'd worn a cap. Or getting drenched in the rain and wishing you'd brought something to keep your hair dry. Or traveling in Texas and wishing you could wear a cowboy hat bigger than your car.
    Clip-on hats are just the thing; they hang by your hair and can be snapped into place on a moment's notice.
  • umbrella: These things are so horribly inconvenient that I never bring one anywhere, which means I generally get soaked on rainy days. Alternatively, if I did bring one on suspect days, I'm sure I would just lose it somewhere.
    Clip-on umbrellas hang conveniently down your back, just like the long swords of yore, ready at all times to provide you with critical rain protection.
  • toilet: You never know when you're going to need to use the toilet, nor what shape the throne will be in when you get there. What about a clip-on toilet seat attached to your pants that you could put in place at a moment's notice?
    Options will include an entire clip-on toilet, for those occasions when you need the extra convenience. Current marketing campaigns include catchy slogans like, “Perfectly Portable Potty: For wherever you go.”

There are many other fantastic clip-on devices that our scientists are working on, but these should give you a small taste for how darned convenient our lives will become.


When I am King: Bewilderness

When I am King...

Camping trips shall be confined to the back yard.

I went camping with the Cub Scouts last weekend.
It was in tents.

To bead, or not to bead?

Many of the activities during the weekend resulted in each kid getting a stamp and a bead.
It's still not clear to me why rewards were necessary. Perhaps it was to take the place of rewards on the frontier, where an activity might result in something as exciting as a bear that needed skinning, or an arrow handily nestled in your foot. At least the beads and stamps were more compact and less messy, if a tad less exciting.

I'm still marveling at the brown bead and the stamp of the outhouse for that activity.

But frankly, I found the mandatory beading of kids a bit harsh.

Euphemissed Opportunity

There were many euphemisms at work over the weekend. For example:

  • "Cracker Barrel" means "Dessert". I have no idea what one has to do with the other, but cake, ice cream, cookies, and cocoa are pretty clearly "dessert" in my dictionary. Perhaps the name comes from feeding so much sugar to 6 year olds right before, which is certainly "crackers."
  • "Fishing" means "Standing on the shore watching fish sneer at your bait, with hands that smell like worm guts." This activity didn't really hook me. Or the fish.
  • "Platform Tent" means "Canvas on poles draped on rotting slats of wood". The only way I could get to sleep was to pretend that I hadn't seen the spiders, mosquitos, earwigs, and red ants crawling all over the floor and walls next to my face right before the flashlight went out.

Roughing It

The most difficult and terrifying thing about the weekend, though, was undoubtedly the primitive landscape in which we found ourselves. I came to discover that the word "nature" means "place with no café."

It's a mystery to me how our ancestors survived, much less did anything productive like settle the West or invent the Rodeo Clown profession when there were no strong caffeine-drink purveyors around. It's beyond me how the West was borne.

I picture an entire half-continent of cowboys, slumped listlessly in their saddles until the first Coffee Shoppe & Gen'ral Store was finally opened in Sacramento. Of course, the place was promptly shut down the following day after a pack of wild cowboys, looped on triple espressos, shot the place up like Cub Scouts with BB guns. But it was a start.

The Second Amendment: The Right to Arm Bears

The sight of a dozen 6 year olds arming themselves with BB guns and then bows and arrows still makes me quiver. Maybe our generals should consider sending in such contingents into warzones. The level of death-tinged chaos would make even the hardest of enemies quake with fear. Or laughter.

Of couse, securing the battlefield after it was won would be the hardest part. Announcing that there was a Cracker Barrel back at the base might help.


All in all, I feel that camping is entirely too unnatural. Camping weekends in my kingdom will be confined to pitching tents in the back yard, where they can easily be seen from vantage points inside the house. Meanwhile, I will be pitching my tent in the garbage can.


Happy Thoughts: May 18, 2007

The word “Team” has no “I” in it.
But it does have the letters for “me.”

Determination is the key to success. But where is the door?

Remember: For every door that closes, another one opens.
But it's on the other side of the one that just shut, and now you can't get to it.

The saying “Dog is Man's best friend” was made up by Woman. She was pretty ticked at the time because Man had been out late again the night before.



I don't make it a habit to give relationship advice. I'm happy to leave that sort of drivel in the more than capable hands of the less than readable pop magazines. But yesterday I had some thoughts on gauging the quality of your love life that I thought I would share with you. Relationship problems can be subtle, so I hope these tips will help.

Reasons to suspect that your relationship is in trouble:

11) After years of complete disinterest, your partner is learning how to cook.

10) When you get home from work, you find that your bed is nicely made up for you. On the couch.

9) Your children have been sent to their grandparents' house, along with all of their clothes, furniture, and pets.

8) Friends tell you that letters sent to you at your house have been returned to them, "no such person at this address."

7) The family pictures in the house have all been altered. There is now just an empty white space where you used to be, with the word "Satan" written there.

6) Notes to you in the bathroom mirror that she wrote in lipstick are actually written in blood.

5) All of your worldly possessions are waiting for you when you get home from work, in a pile on the sidewalk. On fire.

4) There's a note from your partner taped to where the fridge used to be, next to where there used to be an oven, in what used to be the kitchen, in a house that used to have stuff in it.

3) Your partner brings home an exorcist, who throws holy water on you and starts chanting.

2) You find a box of rat poison between the chili powder and the oregano in the spice cupboard.

1) There's a fresh 6 foot deep hole in your back yard exactly your size.


When I am King: Family Jewels

When I am King...

Jewelery chain owners will be forced to hire actors to hock their rocks.

It's that time of year again: Mothers Day is closing in on us like we're covered in blood and swimming in a shark pool. Television, radio, and the Web are full of ads that make us feel terribly guilty and then offer an easy out: Go Out right Now And Buy Stuff For Her. Whoever she is.

Of course, Mothers Day is just a thin excuse for the commercialism. The same dynamic exists throughout the year for other reasons: Christmas, Valentines Day, birthdays, Flag Day, and so on.

But of all of the terrible ads we suffer, by far the worst offender is anything from the diamond guy.

[said in nasalized tone, like an accountant with a cold, speaking through a kazoo filled with mayonnaise]
“Hi. I'm John Blane. Mothers Day is coming up, and a diamond is the perfect gift for that special woman in your life. Blah blah ... Amsterdam ... blah ... Quality ... price ... blah ... love ... blah ... mother of your children ... blah ... good husbands buy diamonds ... blah ... I'm John Blane.”

I'm talking about a specific person and company in the area where I live, but I've lived in enough other places that I am certain that a similar person exists everywhere, dealing the same awful ads like crack laced with Drano. In fact, it could actually be the same person everywhere using a pseduonym to escape prosecution.

Somehow, this guy was so successful selling expensive pebbles that he decided he would also be great at voice-overs. It's not that he makes me want to not buy diamonds from him. He makes me want to stomp on the radio until its ground into the pavement, then spray lighter fluid on it and watch it melt into the firmament. Then find him and repeat.

Jewelers simply should not be actors. They just don't have the personality for it. Actors don't either, but at least they can fake it. Jewelers may not have the personality for jewelering either, but at least if they're in a back room cutting stones I don't have to care. Do us all a favor and Get the Hell Out of Our Ears.

Meanwhile, I haven't figured out what to be guilted into buying for Mothers Day. But I wouldn't buy a diamond from this guy if my wife depended on it.


Happy Thoughts: May 4, 2007

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It's a train.

Every cloud has a silver lining. That's what makes the rain poisonous.

Good fences make good neighbors. So I installed some razor wire and gun turrets in my yard, because I want to be a really good neighbor.
Now, if I can just figure out how to stop the dogs from tripping the land mines.

Water is constantly recycled through our planet's ecosystem. So the next time you drink some water, try to imagine how many people that water has passed through before it got to your mouth. That's why I only drink beer.

I love traffic. How else would we ever get to spend any quality time in our cars that cost us so much money to drive?

When a dog licks you, do you really think he wants to taste your hand? Don't you think it's more likely that he's trying to get the taste of something awful he ate off of his tongue?


When I am King: The Home Stretch

When I am King...

Old people will be put on the rack.

There are many things wrong with the design of the human body. See, for example, my earlier treatise on Knees. One of the flaws that is becoming apparent to me lately is how the body adjusts to age.

I'm not talking about the usual aging symptoms here, like death. Instead, I'm talking about how poorly the body ages as a whole unified system. The different parts of the body age in different directions, making things worse over time than they really need to be.

Here's what I mean. At age 40, the eyes start to go. Or so I've read ... or would have read if I could have made out the words on the page. In particular, you start to have trouble seeing things up-close. So you start holding things further and further away from your face to see them more clearly. Meanwhile, as your body ages, it starts to shrink.

So here's one part of your body (your eyes) that needs things to get bigger (your arms). And here's the rest of your body that's getting smaller at the same time. What kind of coordinated system is this? Clearly, the engineers designing it only tested it for a few years before deciding it was good enough and then releasing it onto the market.

Although we are stuck with the body's design and cannot change it now, there are things that we can do to compensate for its shortcomings.

I propose that all older people be put on the rack, in order to stretch them out to a size that is more consistent with what the rest of their body needs. For example, my arms should probably be about 2” longer right now, and should probably grow another inch or two every year as I age gracefully.

This new regimen will have many advantages beyond simply compensating for failing eyesight. For example, stretching out the body will ensure less wrinkles, since the skin will have more surface area to cover. And pulling on the bones will surely create better posture (at least while the patients are on the rack).

I anticipate that things will work so well, in fact, that younger people will want to take advantage of the program. Imagine basketball players that have no need for performance-enhancing drugs because they could grow much taller naturally. Imagine kids that used to be picked last for sports teams now being sought-after because of their towering height. Imagine boys even-ing out the puberty game by being able to match heights with the girls instead of lagging behind for those awkward years. Imagine serious weight problems being addressed by simply stretching out bodies to attain correct proportions instead of having to pursue more drastic measures like exercise and sensible diets.

I have high hopes for this initiative, although there are still some things to straighten out.