I Couldn’t Write Because I Was Writing

Well, after 2+ weeks of not blogging, at least I can report I’m not dead. Not that you care. Not one of you came to my fake funeral service that I staged to see if anyone would come. Of course, it would have helped if I had notified you that I had died and there was a funeral service for me. But that would have been impossible with me being dead. I may have been fake dead, but I demanded authenticity. It turns out nobody at all came to my fake funeral. My wife blabbed to family and friends that I was faking my death. It was just a closed coffin, the funeral director, and me in a fake beard.

Yeah, George Clooney. I wish. So does my wife!

Anyway, after winning second in a short story contest, I got my head out a little bit too far over my skis. I decided to enter a favorite short story of mine in one of the Reedsy Blog weekly contests. However, it exceeded the 3000 word limit, so I did some abridging. I wonder if the story lost something in the process. Perhaps I abridged too far. Get it?

You can read my truncated story here. I wasn’t expecting to win, but I thought I had a chance at an Honorable Mention. Nope. Best I got was one favorable comment that made some sense. But did that stop me and bring me back down to earth? Nah! I decided to write and submit to this horror anthology.

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A Winning & Losing Short Story

I find I do some of my best writing to visual prompts. An author friend sent me info on a contest writing to this painting.

Anyone who knows my writing might assume I would pen one of my typical chucklefest stories, chock full of juvenile humor in an effort to elicit guffaws and chortles. But not this time. I wrote a rather lengthy (for me) story I call “Small Town America,” and it is a straight crime story. Upon writing and submitting my first crime story ever, the biggest surprise was this …

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Exercise Pro Tip #1

I exercise daily, so people are always asking me questions like, “If you exercise so much, why are you still overweight?” Once we have a meal together, they understand. But they also ask me other questions like, “How can I increase my exercise time?” That seems pretty simple to me. Just walk/run/bike/swim farther. But then come the complaints about how their bunions hurt too much if they go too far. Or, that their pustules start oozing if they increase distance. Well, I am ready to offer them and all readers my …

Exercise Pro Tip #1 – Reduce your speed by half, and you will double your exercise time without increasing distance.

That should be intuitively obvious even to the most casual observer. Look for more Exercise Pro Tips to come. You’re welcome!

Obstacles to Exercise

For me, there are many including laziness, family commitments, sloth, work commitments, indolence, soreness, lethargy, an inability/disinterest in finding my shoes, languor, my toenails requiring a clipping, a proclivity toward inactivity, and laziness. Yes, I did use a thesaurus for that sentence. But I ran into a couple new obstacles recently.

I have enjoyed starting my day by walking in a fen on my way home from dropping my daughter at school. The fen has a long boardwalk over its general marshiness (I think I served under him in Iraq) that makes for a fentastic walk to usher in a new day. However, blocking the path on one walk was this.

I’m told that is a sandhill crane which can grow to just under 4 foot tall and has a big pecker. I mean its beak. And it had friends.

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I Missed May the 4th Day

You know, Stars Wars Day. May the 4th be with you. I got busy with my new job while trying to tie up some loose ends with my own business that I’m winding down. I hope it was a good day of fun for you as it was for these stars back in the 70s.

Now that’s entertainment. Even today, Star Wars can still entertain. This stormtrooper made me laugh despite absolutely destroying this onlooker.

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My Case for Eating Garbage

I have a history of eating garbage, and I have blogged about it several times from years ago to just recently. Well, it happened again today, and I’m ready to state my case in favor of eating trash.

This morning, I caught my wife throwing away our daughter’s 2-day old sandwich … or trying to. I rescued it much to her initial dismay that quickly faded into benign acceptance that she married an idiot.

But look at it. It looks pristine. It was in a bag, probably hermetically sealed. And I had a plan. I knew in our refrigerator was other old food/future garbage my family would not eat that would make a great topping for the sandwich. It didn’t take much looking to find this …

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That’s a Short One

A year ago, I blogged about a micro-fiction short story contest that I was entering, and I even shared with you the story I wrote and rejected. I reread it and kind of like my story “Sk8tr Boy.” I wish I had submitted that one rather than the story I settled on using that didn’t get me past the first round of judging, which is my goal for this year. I just hoped I would not get a prompt to write a story in the horror genre again this year. It’s not a comfortable writing zone for me. So, this year, I received these prompts.

Ugh, horror again. And a slang word – lite. I immediately reached into my humor bag o’ tricks to see what I could make work. Here are a couple ideas I contemplated.

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A Football Edition of … Am I a Bad Guy?

Yesterday was a big day. That’s right, it was the first round of the NFL draft. I was eager to see who our local Chicago Bears would draft. But it was also my wife’s birthday. I felt sort of bad for her having to share her birthday with the NFL draft. But I did add birthday greetings to the Bears draft cake.

Am I a bad guy?

The Green Season

I thought I was done dodging political fundraising requests for a while. We just finished up local elections this month, and I did financially support local candidates. Just to clarify, by financially supporting candidates, I mean I went to their fundraising events and did not eat or drink an inordinate amount of the free refreshments provided.

But President Uncle Joe announced his bid for a second term yesterday, and look what he texted to my phone shortly after.

Now that’s awfully nice of him to personally text me, but shouldn’t he be focused on more important issues than texting me like Ukraine, high gas prices, inflation, climate change, and if I listen to Tucker Carlson (RIP), his son Hunter’s laptop that is likely full of Hillary’s missing emails? President Uncle Joe went on in his text to ask for money, which I thought was rude. It’s kind of like asking for a gold watch before you start a job. No, wait, it’s nothing like that. I guess anytime anyone asks me for money I think it’s rude. But I did decide to donate these items to the three announced Democrat candidates for president:

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And Now The Bad News …

Yesterday, I shared with you some positive (I hope) changes going on with my family. But today, sadly, there is bad news. First, I didn’t get the movie role of a distant father who can’t connect with his daughter. Offering me that part would be typecasting. So, why didn’t they choose me for the part? Probably my utter lack of acting ability, but I won’t discount my demand for a bowl of only blue M&Ms on the set at all times, even when I’m not present. It’s probably for the best as I am spread thinner than my hairline these days.

And I didn’t have to go far this morning for more bad news. All I had to do was look out the window to see this …

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In the Flanigan house, we are going through a lot of ch-ch-ch-changes as David Bowie once sang. He went on to sing-splain, “Changes are taking the pace I’m going through.” Hmm, let’s scratch that Bowie tune. Upon further review, I don’t have a clue as to what he’s talking about.

Sorry, Dave.

I seem to recall Buddy Miles singing about “Them Changes.” He came close to describing what’s going on when he sang, “Well my mind is goin’ through them changes.” Although it’s funky, it’s not a perfect fit. First, I’ve already lost my mind. Second, it’s my whole family going through changes.

I had to dig deep in the musical dustbin to find an original member of The Animals from the 1960s who sang a solo number called “Changes” on the 1973 soundtrack , album to the UK film O Lucky Man! There, ex-Animal Alan Price sang “Everyone is going through changes” to the tune of a church hymn. Whew! That was a roundabout way to explain that there is a lot of change going on in my house these days.

So, what are the ch-ch-ch-changes that I’m writing about?

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A Double Dose Edition of … Am I a Bad Guy?

Yesterday, I did another product consulting job. This time it was about product packaging for an at-home sexually transmitted infection (STI, formerly called STD) detection kit. I knew going in that I would be asked to open the kit as people would normally receive it and follow the instructions inside. I just assumed I would need to have a sexually transmitted infection to do a proper evaluation of the kit, so, well, you know …

Anyway, I kind of wish I had read the fine print first. Am I a bad guy?

After they told me that I did not need to have a sexually transmitted infection, they also told me that I did not have to follow the instructions about peeing into a cup. Instead, they gave me a cup of “colored water” that looked suspiciously like urine. Why not color it blue, red, or green rather than yellow? I thought that maybe it was urine from the study moderator, Scott. I really didn’t want to handle Scott’s urine, so I insisted he take a sip of the alleged colored water to prove it wasn’t his pee-pee before I continued. Am I a bad guy?

Betting on a Longshot

Well, I didn’t win the weekly Reedsy short story contest I entered with my story titled “Uncle Ed’s Toupee.” I didn’t even make the shortlist of finalists. That’s okay as I didn’t expect to win. I did it for the experience of writing to a prompt with a one week deadline.

Editor’s Note: Sounds like loser talk to me.

Here’s a link to the winning story. I feel compelled to say that I’m not impressed. Sure, it’s written in a highfalutin style with a lot of cool imagery. But the bottom line is that it’s a story of a mother complaining about her 3 kids who won’t sleep through the night with a husband who can sleep through an earthquake in a house with a faulty air conditioner. Big deal! I’ve raised/am still raising 5 kids, and you don’t hear me bitching about it in my writings. Of course, I was the husband sleeping through the earthquakes/kids crying.

In all seriousness, congrats to the winner and the finalists. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write like that. I also don’t want to write like that. I want to write stories that make me think “That’s funny” or “That’s entertaining.”

Editor’s Note: Talk about a low bar. He thinks that when looking into his cereal bowl.

I guess my point is that writers should write what’s inside themselves for themselves. I did so with “Uncle Ed’s Toupee.” It was inspired by my Uncle Ed’s toupee, my deceased brother-in-law, and various other personal influences. It felt good writing it, and I am pleased when I read it. That’s how I want my writing to feel, and I wish the same satisfaction for you when you write.

The odds were 1 in 258 against me winning that short story contest, so I was quite the longshot. Better odds faced me yesterday when I read for the lead in a short film.

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I May Have Eaten Garbage … Again

I know I have a history of purposely eating garbage. But recently, it’s been more nuanced with me saying that expiration dates on food mean nothing while the rest of humanity uses good judgement. But this time, eating garbage was an accident. Well, it was an accident the first time, but I meant to do it the second time.

It was Easter Sunday and we were hosting 25 at our house. There was a lot of hustle and bustle as people arrived bringing food and drinks. I noticed a sealed bag of 4 sausages on the counter. I wasn’t grilling that day, so I thought it odd, but I shoved them into the refrigerator.

This past week, I thought I’d cook up a couple for lunch.

They were delicious. I normally don’t eat meat, but I make exceptions so as not to waste food. However, when I told my wife, she advised me that they came into our house with what can only be described as car garbage.

For example, how about enjoying these with your sausage?

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Uncle Ed’s Toupee

I blogged about writing a short story titled “Uncle Ed’s Toupee” for a contest, but I wasn’t sure I would get it done in time. However, the contest limited the submissions to 3000 words, so I thought short and came up with a nice, neat 1700 word story. As a bonus, the story will fit nicely in my collection of short stories about friendship that I hope to publish next year.

I uploaded it for the contest and was a bit surprised when I received a link to the story published online. I wasn’t expecting that because, as usual, I didn’t read the fine print. And then someone (I’m not sure who they are) reviewed it. And then some other people (I have no idea who) liked it. So, I may as well share it with you since I have anonymous strangers reading it. Maybe you can like it or review it. I have no idea if that’s possible. Anyway, here’s the link to “Uncle Ed’s Toupee.” I hope you enjoy it.

I see some changes I will make when I include it in my short story collection. I don’t expect to win anything in the contest, but it was a good experience writing to a deadline. Here’s a link to a website with a bunch of writing contests. Write on.

Forgotten One-Hit Wonders – Raspberry Edition

I must admit that my guilty pleasure this TV season is American Idol. The talent is amazing as have been some of the song choices. Last night, I got to hear a unique version of “Chasing Pavements,” my favorite Adele song. But boy, did they offend me and probably a former Raspberry on Monday night’s show with another song.

When the contestants start performing a song, the title and artist who wrote the song or made it famous comes on the screen as a caption. I was shocked to see this come on the screen.

Can you see the problem that got me so angry that I turned red as a raspberry? I pleaded my case to my wife who humored me, primarily so she could get back to watching the show and ignoring me.

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