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1. Comic Fiction Competition: The Robert Reeves Prize in Comic Fiction

The Robert Reeves $1,000 Prize in Comic Fiction, judged by distinguished author and editor, Daniel Menaker

Submit your short comedic fiction (no more than 5,000 words) to The Southampton Review’s first annual Robert Reeves Comic Fiction Contest! We won’t even try to tell you what we’re looking for. The comic impulse is so widely and variously expressed in fiction that it resists definition. But if your comic muse has led you to a story that you consider a match, throw caution to the wind and send it to us.


Entry fee is $15 per submission. Winners will be notified on or before January 15, 2015, and will be honored at the Manhattan launch of TSR: The Southampton Review’s Spring 2015 issue.


Submission Period: September 1st through October 31st. Submit here.


1st Place: $1000 and publication in the Spring 2015 issue of TSR: The Southampton Review. Finalist stories will be considered for publication in TSR Online.


Notably irreverent contest judge Daniel Menaker has been the fiction editor at The New Yorker, and Executive Editor in Chief of Random House. He is the author, most recently, of the memoir My Mistake.

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2. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein | Book Review

In Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, author Chris Grabenstein cleverly captures reader’s imaginations by combining the suspense of a thrilling game with the majestic nostalgia of great libraries, librarians, books and authors of past and present.

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3. The Next Time Someone Asks For Writing Advice...

...consider sending them to Susan Juby's take on successful people. Even though she never uses the word "writer."

0 Comments on The Next Time Someone Asks For Writing Advice... as of 10/19/2014 2:48:00 PM
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4. “Illegal” movement of populations

What’s on my mind?
Indigenous peoples and their worry about being over run by other populations I guess could sum it up.
I suppose if cougars, wolves, elephants and such learned to shoot guns or band together better they would kick out the human populations who have transgressed on their land but as people go I believe we need to understand the reason for others unlawfully entering areas already overpopulated.
Overpopulation where they come from, economic despair, greed, the making of money into a God and the lust for power over others seem to be good places to start .
Seems to me that as people from a planet with finite resources we need to try to make all places a good place to live so people want to stay where they are. Make everywhere a good place to be.
Sharing with others does not have to mean give away my happiness but it could mean helping you gain yours. I hope I can do that with more than one other and if we all did it for just two other people it would cure the problem in my mind at least.
Bee6720081_copy


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5. A Look at the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award Winner and Honor Books

A Look at the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award Winner and Honor Books | Storytime Standouts

Storytime Standouts Shares Wonderful Choices for Beginning Readers












The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli 2014  Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award WinnerThe Watermelon Seed written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Picture book for beginning readers published by Disney Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group





When a charming and exuberant crocodile explains that he loves watermelon, we are utterly convinced,

Ever since I was a teeny, tiny baby cocodile, it’s been my favorite.
CHOMP! SLURP! CHOMP!

While enthusiastically devouring his favorite fruit, the crocodile accidentally ingests a seed, his imagination runs wild and he assumes a variety of terrible outcomes.

Repetitive text, limited use of long vowel words and very good supporting illustrations make this a great choice for beginning readers.

The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.com

The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.ca



Ball by Mary Sullivan a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookBall written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan
Picture book for beginning readers published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children





There is little doubt that this dog loves his small, red ball. From the moment he wakes up, he is focused on only one thing: playing with the ball. He especially loves when the ball is thrown by a young girl but when she leaves for school there is no one available to throw it.

This is a terrific picture book that relies heavily on the illustrations for the narrative. Apart from one repeated word (ball) it could be classified as a wordless picture book.

It will be thoroughly enjoyed by dog lovers and young children – especially those who are eager for an opportunity to read independently.

Ball at Amazon.com

Ball at Amazon.ca



A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookA Big Guy Took My Ball written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Series for beginning readers published by Hyperion Books for Children





This charming story will remind readers that appearances can be deceiving and perspective is everything! Gerald and Piggie’s friendship is solid and Gerald is more than willing to stand up for Piggie when her ball is taken by a big guy.

Delightful illustrations will appeal to young readers as they effectively portray a range of emotions. The text is perfect for children who are beginning to read – lots of repetition and very few long vowel words.

A Big Guy Took My Ball! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) at Amazon.com

A Big Guy Took My Ball! at Amazon.ca



Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookPenny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Generously illustrated chapter book series for beginning readers published by Greenwillow Books An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers





It truly is a treat to read such a beautifully-written chapter book for beginning readers. Kevin Henkes has created a new character: Penny. She is a young mouse with a sense of right and wrong. In this book, she is out with her sister when she “finds” a beautiful blue marble. She excitedly puts it into her pocket and later wonders if she did the right thing.

Lovely, full color illustrations and a thought-provoking dilemma make this a great choice for newly independent readers.

Penny and Her Marble at Amazon.com

Penny And Her Marble at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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6. Oh Dastardly Key Fob

Who would have thought a 5k race could nearly lead to an arrest? I guess if you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you’ve figured out I can blunder my way into anything.

So it was Sunday when I ran a 5k for a benefit. The issue was not the run, I breezed through that with a typical mediocre time. The problem was that my daughter was one of the benefactors of the event and we needed to stay a long time after. A run on humid day for one who sweats profusely can lead to smells that disgust even my dog. I needed a change of clothing before I could reenter society.

Unlike most of my life, I planned ahead and brought a few towels along with a change of clothes. The race was held in an upscale shopping center that didn’t seem to accommodate porta-potties or any other proper facilities for a sweaty runner to disrobe. I couldn’t traipse through a fine dining establishment, dripping along the way and my planning stopped just short of a reconnaissance walk to find a bathroom.

Here’s where things went awry – the only thing I could think of was the back seat of the mini-van. No problem, I had towels that could allow me to be properly covered the entire time. When I got in the backseat, I looked around and noted I was in full view of the patio of three crowded restaurants. Again, no problem, the windows are tinted.

My problem? The key fob. Some people butt-dial and make innocuous phone calls. Not me. No, that’s not nearly stupid enough. No, I butt-press both sliding doors to the van open while I’m well into the disrobed portion of the clothes change. Fortunately, my posterior wasn’t into multi-tasking and didn’t hit the panic button.

There I sat, wide-eyed under a towel wondering why my display coincided with the dismissal of church leaving a sea of blue-haired ladies waiting for tables at the nearby restaurants. Members of the local fire department, who were standing by in case of a race emergency, took note of me also and began speaking into their radios. The police couldn’t be far behind.image

 

I fumbled for the elusive key fob, cursed myself for laying it on the seat, and closed the doors. In a matter of seconds, I threw on my new set of clothes and wound my way through the gaggle of old women with my head held high. During the rest of the afternoon, I kept a paranoid eye out for the long arm of the law that was sure to be clamped on my shoulder at any minute. But it never came. The firemen must have been phoning friends to laugh about my situation and not alerting the police.

In today’s day and age, these things aren’t ever over. Someone could have been fast on the draw with video and my hiney might be splattered on Youtube. Until then, let me give you some advice – if you are doing something dicey in your car, know where your key fob is at all times. Those things are evil!

 

 


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

5 Comments on Oh Dastardly Key Fob, last added: 10/15/2014
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7. A Middle Grade Teacher’s To Be Read List

A Middle Grade Teacher’s To Be Read List | Storytime Standouts

A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List by a Guest Post by @1prncsIt’s been a while since I did a top ten list of….well, anything. So, here’s what is on my To be Read list this year. Mostly for school, but I love reading middle grade and young adult fiction even if it’s just for me. So here it goes:












A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List Hook's Revenge by Heidi SchulzHook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz
Middle grade fiction published by Disney-Hyperion

I’ve already started this funny tale about the Captain Hook’s thirteen year old daughter, Jocelyn. She’s sent away to boarding school by her grandfather so she can learn to be a lady. All she really wants is to be a swash-buckling, sword-wielding pirate. When she learns of her father’s death, she sets off on a quest to avenge it.

I have started this book in my classroom and I love it. The kids laugh out loud and so do I. Jocelyn is a great character, as is her ally, Roger. It’s a pleasure to read a book with a girl main character that the boys enjoy as well. It’s got great pirate speak, a longing for adventure that kids will connect with, and memorable characters.

Hook’s Revenge, Book 1 Hook’s Revenge at Amazon.com

Hook’s Revenge, Book 1 Hook’s Revenge at Amazon.ca

A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List Swindle by Gordon KormanSwindle by Gordon Korman
Middle grade fiction published by Scholastic Press

Korman is always on my recommendation list during our library visits. When my eight year old brought Swindle home, I told her that I’d like to read it with her because I know a lot of kids who enjoyed it. During a sick day last week, she found the movie on Netflix. First, I didn’t know there was a movie. Second, normally we would read the book first. But, we were feeling lazy so we decided to watch. The movie was very well done– it made my daughter laugh and it made me want to read the book even more.

When the character finds a vintage baseball card, he doesn’t know the value and gets swindled by a pawn shop owner. The quest to get his card back is entertaining and funny. This book is on my list as a possible read aloud.

Swindle at Amazon.com

Swindle at Amazon.ca

A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly HuntFish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Middle grade fiction published by Nancy Paulsen Books

There are several things that make me want to read this book. The author wrote one of my favourite books that I read last year: One for the Murphys. That alone makes me want to read more by her. When checking out the title on Goodreads, one of my favourite quotes was included in the write up: “Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Then, when I read the summary, I thought: YES. Great topic. Ally has hidden the fact that she can’t read from the people in her life and has successfully moved from one school to the next without anyone knowing. But when her newest teacher looks closer, past the trouble making side she presents, he finds her secret and helps her. We all learn in different ways and it’s essential that we have books that show kids that it is okay to be different. It’s okay to need help and not everyone learns in the same fashion. It’s up to us, as the adults in their lives, to help them find their own road to success. I can’t wait to read this one.

Fish in a Tree at Amazon.com

Fish In A Tree at Amazon.ca

A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List Smile by Raina TelgemeierSmile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Middle grade fiction published by Graphix

I can’t read every single book I see my students or daughters enjoy, though I try to read a good portion of them. I’ve seen enough students go through Smile to know that it hooks readers. When one student saw Sisters in my TBR pile, she was thrilled because she was re-reading Smile for the third time. I told her she could read Sisters and she said, “Just let me finish re-reading Smile first.” She started Sisters later that day and finished it the next. That’s enough of a recommendation for me.

Smile‘s main character (Raina) wants to fit in, like any other grade six girl. An accident that leads to fake teeth makes that harder than she thought. A variety of other game changing issues present themselves while she’s dealing with full headgear. It sounds like exactly the kind of book that pre-teens would connect with.

Sisters offers another connectable theme for kids: sibling rivalry and confrontation. Raina isn’t close to her sister Amara, even though she wanted to be, but when family strife and a new baby brother enter the picture, they have to learn how to depend on each other.

I often recommend Telgemeier to students who are unsure about what to read. She offers real issues that kids can relate to and the graphic novel aspect takes away some of the fear or uncertainty for reluctant readers. She also does the Baby Sitters Club graphics, which students love.

Smile at Amazon.com

Smile at Amazon.ca

A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List Escape from Mr. Lemoncellos's Library by Chris GrabensteinEscape from Mr. Lemoncellos’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Middle grade fiction published by Yearling

This book has been on my list for a while and I already started it twice. It’s like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Night at the Museum. The first time I started it was in class but there was a hold on the book and it didn’t seem fair to hang onto it when a kid was waiting for it (I’m exceptionally fair like that). The second time was the same thing, only at home with my own kids. I loved the beginning both times but often start too many books at once and am forced to choose. Since last year was the year of Jaron and Sage because I was addicted to the Jennifer Nielsen’s trilogy, I had to put this one aside. But it’s remained on my list because I know it is going to be fantastic.

Kyle, surprisingly, wins a chance to spend the night in a brand new library, unlike any library ever known. Mr. Lemoncello is a game maker who develops a number of twists and turns in a real life game that Kyle must find a way to escape.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library at Amazon.com

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library at Amazon.ca

A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List The Invisible Boy by Trudy LudwigThe Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Middle grade fiction published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

If Adrienne Gear recommends it, I’m likely going to read it at some point. I warn my students every year that you are never too old for picture books. They offer some of the best morals and insights we can find. Picture books also offer students a chance to really utilize the strategies we teach them such as connecting, making pictures in their head, and predicting. The fact that it is a picture book sometimes lessens the anxiety during reading lessons, allowing them to learn and connect in greater ways.

Brian is a boy that no one notices. He never gets included in games, birthday invites, or activities. When Justin comes to his school, Brian is noticed for the first time. Even if the story didn’t sound so wonderful and so connectable, the beautiful pictures would pull me in.

The Invisible Boy at Amazon.com

The Invisible Boy at Amazon.ca

A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List Grimmtastic Girls by Joan Holub and Suzanne WilliamsGrimmtastic Girls by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
Middle grade fiction published by Scholastic

Two more authors that I love (the write the Goddess Girl Series and Heroes in Training) have another series, The Grimmtastic Girls. I might be bias because my eleven year old loves these two authors so much and the Goddess Girl series is one of her (and my) absolute favourites. They have a great writing style and their characters are loveable, even when flawed. Obviously, I’m a little behind because when I saw one in Scholastic, I found out there are four so far.

Grimmtastic Girls #1: Cinderella Stays Late at Amazon.com

Grimmtastic Girls #1: Cinderella Stays Late at Amazon.ca

A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List Treasure Hunters by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Middle grade fiction published by Little, Brown and Company

A few things make me want to read this one: James Patterson. Chris Grabenstein. And my enjoyment of Hook. Patterson has several books for kids that I see being enjoyed in the classroom. His middle school series is entertaining and my recent venture into the world of swaggering pirates makes me want to take a look at this book.

Diving is part of the Kidd siblings lives. But when their parents going missing, they face the biggest treasure hunt ever: finding them.

Treasure Hunters at Amazon.com

Treasure Hunters at Amazon.ca

A Middle Grade Teacher's To Be Read List Stranded by Jeff ProbstStranded by Jeff Probst
Middle grade fiction published by Puffin

Another one that I ordered long ago, I need to finally read this one. I try to find books for the classroom that both the boys and girls will be drawn toward. I want them to see the fun in reading, to see that it just takes one book, the right book, to pull you in and make you a reader. The fact that students know who Jeff Probst is and watch Survivor, intrigues them. We need to find ways to invest them in reading and all it has to offer.

When four new siblings (blended family) get stranded on an island, they must get to know each other, and trust each other, fast. If they want to get home, they need to find a way to work together.

Stranded at Amazon.com

So there you have my TBR pile for the 2014-2015 school year. I should probably get off of the computer and get started. I’m certain I will get distracted by other books that peak my interest, but my goal is to get all of these done by June. What is on your to be read list this year?

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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8. Call for Submissions: The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review

The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review is now open for unsolicited submissions in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, book club, and our new humor column: Classifieds for Pathetic People. Also, don't forget our Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction (2015 winner Andrew McLinden) and our upcoming courses at The Eckleburg Workshops.

Submit your work to us today. We look forward to reading your words.


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9. Ask Anna

Ask Anna
Author: Dean Koontz & his dog Anna
Publisher: Center Street
Genre: Humor / Dogs
ISBN: 978-1-4555-3079-3
Pages: 96
Price: $20.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Dean Koontz was surprised to find that his dog, Anna, was giving advice to other dogs. In Ask Anna, she shares her advice with the furry and forlorn.

Trouble with the cat next door? Anna can help. Body image problem – legs too short, tongue too long? Anna knows exactly what to do about it. Behavior issue – digging, chewing, scratching? Anna has the answer.

Filled with photos of dogs along with their various questions, Ask Anna is the perfect Christmas gift for your canine companion. And if you’re curious what he’s thinking, it might be wise to get yourself a copy, too. This adorable book is perfect for anyone who loves dogs.

100% of what the author receives from the sale of Ask Anna will be donated to Canine Companions for Independence, the nonprofit organization that trains service dogs for people with disabilities.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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10. What are they Missing?

Running under a beautiful sunrise recently, I recalled a fond memory of my oldest daughter. When she was pint-sized, we figured out that she had never seen a sunrise. I know that sounds impossible, but our property lies in a valley where trees filter the sun until it is mid-morning and by then, the spectacular colors of dawn have faded away.

To remedy this, I woke her very early and the two of us went to the top of our street with lawn chairs to watch the sun peek over the horizon. It took three attempts to get a masterpiece. I remember seeing her tired, little face come alive in awe of the burst of reds and purples in the sky.

Red_sunrise

Don’t you love watching someone enjoy beauty, nature, or art for the first time?

 

This got me wondering, “What else have my kids missed?”

I know there are plenty of great movies my kids have never seen because I am not allowed to suggest films since The Great Jumanji Debacle of 2005. I built that one up to my family when they were far too young and I totally forgot some extremely spooky scenes. My third child didn’t sleep for weeks and still has nightmares about monkey boys attacking her.

Being a child of the 70’s, I have tried to share some good music with them. While I love AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen and KISS, my kids weren’t fond of ringing hell’s bells and didn’t seem to want to rock and roll all night.

There were other good things from the seventies, though? I could share something else.

Mood rings

Awkwardly short gym shorts

Rotary phones without speed dial

Disco

Hair parted in the middle with wings

Bell bottoms

Car windows with cranks

Vinyl records

Ice cream trucks

Black & White TV’s with 3 channels

 

I made a mental list of these things. Although each brings back some fond memories for me, most of them have been improved upon. My kids are experiencing better versions, which made my list no less nostalgic for me, but not full of things they are poorer for missing. Frustrated with my inability to come up with much, I settled on one thing that every child needs to experience and mine had missed – until now.

Mooning! They had never been mooned. Well, they hadn’t until I thought of it. I spent the better part of the rest of that Saturday surprising them all over the house. Full moons, partial moons, waning crescents. I got them over and over. I doubt my celestial display was as majestic as the sunrise my eldest enjoyed. They giggled at first, but soon tired of it, locked their doors, and left me alone to come up with something else to share. All I could think of was streaking, but felt like my wife would be vehemently opposed to that one.

So I think we are going to put the 70’s to rest around here and let my children’s vision recover. After all the mooning, number three is having Jumanji-like nightmares again.

 

 

Photo credit: “Red sunrise”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Filed under: Dad stuff

5 Comments on What are they Missing?, last added: 10/8/2014
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11. What are they Missing?

Running under a beautiful sunrise recently, I recalled a fond memory of my oldest daughter. When she was pint-sized, we figured out that she had never seen a sunrise. I know that sounds impossible, but our property lies in a valley where trees filter the sun until it is mid-morning and by then, the spectacular colors of dawn have faded away.

To remedy this, I woke her very early and the two of us went to the top of our street with lawn chairs to watch the sun peek over the horizon. It took three attempts to get a masterpiece. I remember seeing her tired, little face come alive in awe of the burst of reds and purples in the sky.

Red_sunrise

Don’t you love watching someone enjoy beauty, nature, or art for the first time?

 

This got me wondering, “What else have my kids missed?”

I know there are plenty of great movies my kids have never seen because I am not allowed to suggest films since The Great Jumanji Debacle of 2005. I built that one up to my family when they were far too young and I totally forgot some extremely spooky scenes. My third child didn’t sleep for weeks and still has nightmares about monkey boys attacking her.

Being a child of the 70’s, I have tried to share some good music with them. While I love AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen and KISS, my kids weren’t fond of ringing hell’s bells and didn’t seem to want to rock and roll all night.

There were other good things from the seventies, though? I could share something else.

Mood rings

Awkwardly short gym shorts

Rotary phones without speed dial

Disco

Hair parted in the middle with wings

Bell bottoms

Car windows with cranks

Vinyl records

Ice cream trucks

Black & White TV’s with 3 channels

 

I made a mental list of these things. Although each brings back some fond memories for me, most of them have been improved upon. My kids are experiencing better versions, which made my list no less nostalgic for me, but not full of things they are poorer for missing. Frustrated with my inability to come up with much, I settled on one thing that every child needs to experience and mine had missed – until now.

Mooning! They had never been mooned. Well, they hadn’t until I thought of it. I spent the better part of the rest of that Saturday surprising them all over the house. Full moons, partial moons, waning crescents. I got them over and over. I doubt my celestial display was as majestic as the sunrise my eldest enjoyed. They giggled at first, but soon tired of it, locked their doors, and left me alone to come up with something else to share. All I could think of was streaking, but felt like my wife would be vehemently opposed to that one.

So I think we are going to put the 70’s to rest around here and let my children’s vision recover. After all the mooning, number three is having Jumanji-like nightmares again.

 

 

Photo credit: “Red sunrise”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Filed under: Dad stuff

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12. ZOO DIARY 11


ZOO DIARY 11

 

SCENE: CITY ZOO. MORNING

 
The zoo opens to visitors. The animals in the zoo, which has fallen on hard times, make the usual animal sounds that visitors expect them to make

 
CHILD

Look mom – a zebra! How many stripes do you think it has?

 
MOM

Who knows. A lot for sure

 
CHILD

A trillion? Can I feed him, mom?

 
MOM

We don’t feed zoo animals, sweetie

 
CHILD

But…there’s a machine here with zebra food. All you have to do is put in some money and food falls out

 
MOM

Let’s see...five dollars to feed a zebra? Um…perhaps another time

 
CHILD

But mom – we only come here once in a while. He looks like he’s hungry. His bones are sticking out on his side

 
MOM

Five dollars is a bit too much, sweetheart. Why don’t we go see the other animals

 
ZEBRA

Um…excuse me, lady. May I interject here?

 
CHILD

Look! The zebra speaks like we do

 
MOM

Don’t be silly. Zebras don’t talk…

 
CHILD

But…I heard it with my own ears

 
MOM

There’s probably a speaker hidden somewhere in the cage. Zebras don’t talk. Let’s move along…

 
ZEBRA

They do when the situation is desperate. May I have your ear for a moment?

 
MOM

Okay. You got me. Is it on the zebra itself?

 
(she searches the cage)
 
 
 ZEBRA

Really – there are no speakers. We’ve always had this ability but kept it quiet because that’s what humans expect of zebras. However, recent circumstances call for emergency measures and this qualifies as one. Why don’t you give your son five dollars for the feeding machine?

 
MOM

I’ll bite. This is one of those TV shows where you catch people off guard, right? I’m not forking over five dollars because it’s too much money. Got that, TV people?

 
ZEBRA

See…thing is – the zoo has fallen on hard times and consequently has cut back on the amount of food it feeds us. Look at my rib cage. Mere skin and bones. I’m starving! The last time I had a meal was breakfast yesterday. Give the kid five bucks. Please! Unless you want the slow but certain demise of a zebra on your conscience

 
MOM

(laughing)

What next? When will the program be on, anyway? We might be on TV, sweetie!

 
ZEBRA

(shaking its head sadly)

Yeah – you’re right on. There’s somebody manipulating my mouth. The producer is telling me now that they need some visuals of you putting money in the machine and feeding me for the show

 
MOM

Surrrre!

 
(opens purse, takes out five dollars and enters it in the slot. She smiles broadly)

 
I’ll go along. See? Putting five dollars in the machine. Here honey – feed the zebra

 
(boy feeds food to the zebra who gobbles it up immediately)

 
What’s the name of the TV show, anyway?

 
ZEBRA

‘Desperation’ but you might find it difficult to find in your TV listings.

 
MOM

We’ll look for it. Let’s go see the cheetahs now, honey

 
(the mother and her child move along. A rat enters the zebra cage)

 
RAT

So how’d it go?

 
ZEBRA

Managed to get something to stave off my hunger pangs for a couple of hours but it was a hard sell, let me tell you!

 
RAT

Did you do your usual tap dance routine or stand there staring at them and looking pathetic?

 
ZEBRA

Neh. Told them they were part of a TV show and that the producers wanted images of them feeding me

 
RAT

You didn’t tell me we were gonna be on TV. Going to spread the word to the rest of the animals. What’s the name of the program, anyway?

 
ZEBRA

Not really…I only said that… Desperation. The name of the show is Desperation

 
RAT

Desperation?

 
ZEBRA

Indeed

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13. Debut Novelist John Kenney Wins Thurber Prize for American Humor

johnkenneyGuest post written by Kelsey Manning (@kelseyMmanning)

Before Thurber Prize winner John Kenney settled in to read a selection from his novel Truth in Advertising, he had a few words for his fellow finalist:

“Dear David Letterman, Please let me win this award. Just this one. We need the money.”

It was one of many hilarious moments during last night’s presentation of the 2013 Thurber Prize for American Humor. David Letterman attended alongside co-writer Bruce McCall on behalf of their book This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me). In the absence of third finalist Liza Donnelly (Women on Men), her husband Michael Maslin spoke about how much James Thurber means to them, especially as New Yorker cartoonists themselves. The pair’s first date was to see a James Thurber drawing at the Armory on the East Side.

In the true spirit of the night, Truth in Advertising author John Kenney joked, “My first flight wasn’t to the Thurber House or my first date, but I was conceived there.” It was easy to see why the Thurber Prize judges—Meg Wolitzer, John Searles, and Henry Alford—were so taken by the wit in Kenney’s debut. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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14. The Flirt

I remember flirting – they did it back when I was in college, I think. It’s like penmanship – I was never any good at it. I was also bad at recognizing the few times it happened to me.

Case in point, I was at a party one time and a girl confided in me that she was having trouble with her boyfriend back home. She said it would be nice if she could find someone to make him jealous and gave me a long and rather odd look. I assumed the look meant she might be gassy or something, so I offered to refill her drink and plodded away.

Upon finding my friend, JC, I told him what had just happened. He gave me an equally odd look and said, “Dude, she wanted to make him jealous with you. Are you stupid?”

I refused to answer his charge, but rushed back to the young lady in question, only to find JC glued to her hip. In fact, he must have told every eligible male in the room because there seemed to be an impenetrable force field of testosterone around her. I have no idea what her intentions were and never saw her again.

800px-Eugen_de_Blaas_The_Flirtation

Now I’m old and married. I flirt with my wife sometimes. I’m so bad at it that she mostly laughs at me when I do. I am a believer in wearing my wedding ring and I don’t frequent bars – so I don’t see much flirtation anymore. If I was bad at recognizing flirtation back in the day, I’m totally out of practice now.

Which brings me to a recent lunch where a lady half my age at a table nearby seemed to be peeking my way. It got downright embarrassing. I kept my head down – no sense leading her on with my charm and good looks (Ha!). After all, I am not available. I often wonder what a man in his 40’s would even talk about with a girl in her 20’s. Most of the time when a person that young talks to me, I feel like I’m watching Telemundo – I understand every third word and just nod a lot.

I felt the weight of this young lady’s stare all through lunch. My mind was ablaze with ways to tell my wife about it – that was going to be fun. The old man still has it! I couldn’t get in trouble for this. After all, several witnesses could testify that I didn’t initiate or encourage the situation. I was just a pawn in her game of lust.

At some point, she appeared two feet away from me. I had no desire to hurt her feelings. After I spurned her advances, I hoped she wouldn’t be crushed. Now that I saw her up close, she was a very attractive young lady who could easily find love with an available man closer to her age.

“Excuse me,” she said. “I’m sorry I was staring at you.”

“That’s okay,” I answered gently. “People say I look like Opie Taylor, so I get that a lot.”

Her look of confusion betrayed that she had no idea who that was… So young.

“No, that’s not it,” she said. “You just look familiar to me.”

The oldest pick-up line in the book. Here we go.

“I don’t think I know you,” I said.

“Oh, I know that. But you look exactly like my dad if he were bald. Do you mind if we take a selfie so I can send it to him?”

Crap…

I smiled as best I could as she took the picture with my friends laughing wildly. My boastful story to my wife died with the flash of her phone, as did a piece of my self-esteem. I really gotta stop shaving my head.

 

***

Artwork:  The Flirtation by Eugen de Blaas


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

5 Comments on The Flirt, last added: 9/30/2014
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15. The Flirt

I remember flirting – they did it back when I was in college, I think. It’s like penmanship – I was never any good at it. I was also bad at recognizing the few times it happened to me.

Case in point, I was at a party one time and a girl confided in me that she was having trouble with her boyfriend back home. She said it would be nice if she could find someone to make him jealous and gave me a long and rather odd look. I assumed the look meant she might be gassy or something, so I offered to refill her drink and plodded away.

Upon finding my friend, JC, I told him what had just happened. He gave me an equally odd look and said, “Dude, she wanted to make him jealous with you. Are you stupid?”

I refused to answer his charge, but rushed back to the young lady in question, only to find JC glued to her hip. In fact, he must have told every eligible male in the room because there seemed to be an impenetrable force field of testosterone around her. I have no idea what her intentions were and never saw her again.

800px-Eugen_de_Blaas_The_Flirtation

Now I’m old and married. I flirt with my wife sometimes. I’m so bad at it that she mostly laughs at me when I do. I am a believer in wearing my wedding ring and I don’t frequent bars – so I don’t see much flirtation anymore. If I was bad at recognizing flirtation back in the day, I’m totally out of practice now.

Which brings me to a recent lunch where a lady half my age at a table nearby seemed to be peeking my way. It got downright embarrassing. I kept my head down – no sense leading her on with my charm and good looks (Ha!). After all, I am not available. I often wonder what a man in his 40’s would even talk about with a girl in her 20’s. Most of the time when a person that young talks to me, I feel like I’m watching Telemundo – I understand every third word and just nod a lot.

I felt the weight of this young lady’s stare all through lunch. My mind was ablaze with ways to tell my wife about it – that was going to be fun. The old man still has it! I couldn’t get in trouble for this. After all, several witnesses could testify that I didn’t initiate or encourage the situation. I was just a pawn in her game of lust.

At some point, she appeared two feet away from me. I had no desire to hurt her feelings. After I spurned her advances, I hoped she wouldn’t be crushed. Now that I saw her up close, she was a very attractive young lady who could easily find love with an available man closer to her age.

“Excuse me,” she said. “I’m sorry I was staring at you.”

“That’s okay,” I answered gently. “People say I look like Opie Taylor, so I get that a lot.”

Her look of confusion betrayed that she had no idea who that was… So young.

“No, that’s not it,” she said. “You just look familiar to me.”

The oldest pick-up line in the book. Here we go.

“I don’t think I know you,” I said.

“Oh, I know that. But you look exactly like my dad if he were bald. Do you mind if we take a selfie so I can send it to him?”

Crap…

I smiled as best I could as she took the picture with my friends laughing wildly. My boastful story to my wife died with the flash of her phone, as did a piece of my self-esteem. I really gotta stop shaving my head.

 

***

Artwork:  The Flirtation by Eugen de Blaas


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

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16. Fall forward - plays take cyber trips

Perhaps it's the result of the ending of summer and the arrival of autumn, but it's play submission mode time. Somehow, the summer heat plus the sun shining down prompts the brain to enter into a state of lethargy, at least it does mine. All this is to say or write that now it's time to actively seek out homes for my literary 'babies."

Before the actual act of hitting the key that will send them off to parts unknown, they've been receiving a once-twice-and more evaluation for any necessary changes or modifications. Frequently, this assessment results in a re-examination of a/some play(s) followed by muttering of bad words, the end result of which is yet more revisions. Some of the plays have been updated to the point where it's difficult to recognize the original story line and conduct an objective assessment as to which version works best.

So where is all this sharing of inner angst and trepidation leading you may well be asking yourself. Came across a competition for a ten-minute play with the focus being "The Urban Jungle." A while back I wrote a piece entitled, "Waiting for Roach" featuring the end result of a meeting up of a young punk-mode adult male and a female senior citizen, which will work perfectly. The play-ette as I call short offerings, has never been submitted anywhere before having waited for the right occasion and right opportunity to share it with the world, or at least with the people running the competition.

In addition, I decided to share one of my favorite plays, "Neighbors" now re-named "The Shrubs" with a theatre. Upon reflection and somewhat interesting, this two-act play started out as a short 10-minute play as many of them do. After years of ignoring it for the most part, I was scanning over some of the file titles and this play jumped out at me. Somehow, in the shorter version, something seemed to be lacking and after reading it through, a story began to develop resulting in a re-working and its development into a full play. In any case, it has left home with my best wishes and hopes not to mention prayers, that others will enjoy the contents as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Meanwhile, my wedding play, "Make Me a Wedding" has also taken a few cyber trips. A comedy, this was my first endeavor in playwriting and my favorite but then I say that about all my plays. It was almost performed a while back but had to be abandoned due to a breakdown in the production. Let's just say that the undertaking was akin to "Noises Off" and leave it at that. To get back to the play, it elicits laughter every time I read it through and I do frequently. Here's hoping.

Last but certainly not least, my second-favorite play, "Gin: an Allegory for Playing the Game of Life" is still seeking new digs as they say. A comedy, the two-act play focuses on the long-time friendship of three women who discuss their lives and those of people their lives touch upon, during their weekly card game. When writing plays, I always envision the actors who would best suit the various roles and today decided that Barbra Streisand, "the" famous singer/actress would be ideal for the role of Becky. Barbra if you're reading this, the role is yours for the taking when it finds a new home.

It all starts with a dream and if you're gonna dream, you have to dream big. Barbra would understand.

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17. Not That Kind of Girl

Lena Dunham has no filter, and it's hard not to love her for it. Here we get an entire book of her charming blend of unabashed strangeness and bracing wit. Fans will find out just how much of her past work is autobiographical, and if you're not a fan, Dunham may just win you over [...]

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18. He Laughed With His Other Mouths by M.T. Anderson

He Laughed With His Other MouthsM. T. Anderson has a talent few other authors can boast: he can suck in a reader like nothing else. Hilarious YA novel about competing burger chains? Yep. Picture book biography of Handel? Check. Middle grade fantasy about (among other things) mechanical goblins? No problem. Historical fiction written in next-to-perfect 18th century diction? Of course! An increasingly long series of books written as a pastiche of historical series books, with perfect understanding of the series tropes, characters that appeal to modern readers, and extremely affecting (and hilarious) stories? Why do you even ask?

He Laughed with His Other Mouths is the latest in Anderson’s Pals in Peril series. This one focuses on my favorite of the three main characters — Jasper Dash: Boy Technonaut! In the 1930s and 40s, Jasper starred in his own series of sci-fi adventure novels (and movies, and t.v. serials and advertisements, etc), but now he lives in Pelt with his single mother (Jasper was created by a highly concentrated beam of information projected from the region of the Horsehead Nebula), and tries, with the help of his friends Lily and Katie, to fit in the modern world.

After a disastrous science fair project (it didn’t even try to take over the world! AND people laughed at him!), Jasper feels so low that he decides, over the objections of his mother, to transport himself to the Horsehead Nebula to see just who it was that originally sent that concentrated beam of information. Was it his . . . father? Or was it Something Else? This rash decision will have drastic consequences not just for Jasper, not just for his mother, Lily, and Katie, but FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD!

CAN YOU STAND to find out what Jasper discovers in the Horsehead Nebula?!
THRILL to outer-space hijinks!
SHIVER at the desperate danger!
DON’T WAIT to read this fabulous book, filled with, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear: “Even more death rays! No, really! Way, way too many death rays”!

Posted by: Sarah


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19. A Writer’s Inspiration by Subhash Kommuru, Author of Chatur

Chatur-CoverCHATUR is a hilarious and entertaining picture book written in Hindi (also with Hindi phonetics) for kids.

CHATUR is a wise laundry man. MAND is a loyal, reliable, albeit sluggish, partner in Chatur’s trade. He is a lazy donkey whose mantra is “Na Na Na hum to aaram karenge!”

Chatur’s ambition and Mand’s attitude doesn’t blend well. So Chatur comes up with a wise plan to reverse his fortune. He brings ATAL the elephant to do Mand’s job.

The plan starts out well and it did reverse his fortune substantially, but How?

Chatur(Hindi) is a comical and fun read for kids. It is sure to tickle your funny bones. Bright illustrations are sure to engage readers. Chatur has a humorous theme with a subtle message and young readers not only have a laugh, but towards the end connect with each character and sympathize with them.

The book is written in Hindi script and also in Hindi phonetics to make it easy for everyone to read.

Book Excerpt 

Hindi:

Yeh kahani hai Chatur dhobhi aur mand gadha ki. Aalsi Mand ka naara hai “NaNa hum to aaram karenge” aur Chatur ki nazar sirf taraki par hai. Jab Mand ka tevar chatur ko khatakne laga, to usne dikhai apni chaturai. Kya chatur ko apni chaturai mehnga padega?

English:

This is a story about Chatur, the Dhobhi and Mand the donkey. Chatur is smart and progressive by nature and his Lazy donkey Mand’s answer to any request was “No No No, I gotta take it easy”. Chatur realized that his success is limited by Mand’s attitude, So Chatur thought of a smart idea, will it work or will it hit him back?

A Writer’s Inspiration by Subhash Kommuru

Thank for your giving me the opportunity to share my opinion on your distinctive blog and exceptional readers and besides all the other great authors visiting here. I migrated to US from India and brought with me memories of land rich in culture and beliefs. For as long as me and wife were by ourselves we never took a moment to think about our cultural heritage and our values. But once we had Arya, our son, our perspective changed. He was growing up fast and seeing American culture all around him. That’s when we realized that there is a treasure called “India” which he is not exposed to and will never get to know unless we do something about this. Sure we can take him to local gatherings, temples, celebrate one of two festivals but that simply is not enough. Kids learn a lot from many different channels, One of those most effective channel is books. For Arya any time is story time, no matter how sad or how mad he is a book can always come to rescue.Kommurus-258x300

So that got me into making up stories and morals that we have learned as a kid and narrate those stories to him. But I had to pick up a pen when he started to demand that I tell the same stories over and over again and use same immersive words every single time. So I decided to pick up a pen and start writing something with cultural significance, something that he cannot learn anywhere else and put it on paper so every time I read it will be exactly the same.

Up until I wrote Chatur I have written quite a few stories just for Arya and all of them started to hit a tone or as one would say a style. It was working but I felt like I should challenge myself just a little bit and actually speak what comes to mind and tell stories that are light hearted and hence Chatur. I challenged myself to start to write a story without any objective and see where it takes me. I do have my boundaries clearly defined and that being that I will always write sensible story. So to address that I have to start with a theme that I want to hit and a moral that I want to drive towards but Chatur is reverse process, I started with no objective and just started to have fun page to page once story took shape, then I tightened up the characters and put them into play and made sense of it all to actually have a powerful learning at the end.

So now going forward I am no longer limiting myself, I am presenting lessons that can make a better person, be able to see good from bad, be able to see through evil and understand mechanics. Be able to differentiate right from wrong. But channel will always be an Indian theme.

Title is available at Amazon

Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble

Watch the Book Trailer

Subhash and Sujata hail from India. They migrated to the United States along with their memories of childhood and youth. Now that they are parents, just like every immigrant they crave to introduce their child to the culture and values of their upbringing. Yet it is challenging to teach something while you are in the midst of adjusting to a different culture yourself. Subhash and Sujata both work in different disciplines and have different styles and backgrounds, but it is the upbringing of their son that brings them on the same page. That exact place where they meet is captured and reflected in their stories, where Subhash can express in words, and Sujata can illustrate them beautifully. Where he puts it in black and white, she adds color to it. You get the idea! These stories are their attempt to share a glimpse of their childhood days with their son. He is their inspiration to write short stories that have meaning to them and provide teaching in some shape or form.

Visit Kommuru Books

chatur banner


0 Comments on A Writer’s Inspiration by Subhash Kommuru, Author of Chatur as of 9/17/2014 10:38:00 AM
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20. Book Spotlight: Bone: Out of Boneville by Jeff Smith

boneAfter being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert.

One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures…

Humor, mystery, and adventure are spun together in this action-packed, side-splitting saga. Everyone who has ever left home for the first time only to find that the world outside is strange and overwhelming will love Bone.

Age Range: 11 and up
Grade Level: 6 and up
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: GRAPHIX; First Edition edition (February 1, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439706408
ISBN-13: 978-0439706407

PURCHASE HERE!


0 Comments on Book Spotlight: Bone: Out of Boneville by Jeff Smith as of 9/18/2014 3:20:00 AM
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21. Book Spotlight: Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

revenge

Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.

Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.

And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.

Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you’ve never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 8
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; First Edition edition (August 5, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599902885
ISBN-13: 978-1599902883

PURCHASE HERE!


0 Comments on Book Spotlight: Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale as of 9/19/2014 2:54:00 AM
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22. Tonight, we eat like kings!

squirrel-football-4501

Autumn! My favorite time of the year!

I’m not exactly what you would call a football fan, although I’m trying this year. And by trying I mean learning what a down is… yeah, I’m that behind.

I am, however, very excited about by the prospect of cooler temps and therefore many forays into the kitchen to attack new recipes.

Oh, and Halloween! Did I mention Halloween?


2 Comments on Tonight, we eat like kings!, last added: 9/23/2014
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23. Its Fall!


I've been tempted to do this a time or two; at a Wayne Thiebaud exhibit, with a Holbein at the Frick, some stuff at the Met. Didn't try it though.

Its FALL, finally. Now if it would just rain . . .


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24. Tonight, we eat like kings!

squirrel-football-4501

Autumn! My favorite time of the year!

I’m not exactly what you would call a football fan, although I’m trying this year. And by trying I mean learning what a down is… yeah, I’m that behind.

I am, however, very excited by the prospect of cooler temps and therefore many forays into the kitchen to attack new recipes.

Oh, and Halloween! Did I mention Halloween?


0 Comments on Tonight, we eat like kings! as of 9/23/2014 5:49:00 PM
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25. A License for Stupid

Monotony!

Boredom!

Interstate!

 

Fortunately, I don’t have to drive the interstate very often anymore. When I find myself stuck between white lines for a long drive, my mind melts into mush and I fantasize about escaping the madness in a flying car. There are two things I’ve always wanted to do while driving on the interstate. First, I’d like to drive through a rest area at full speed and just wave at all the shocked people getting out for a stretch. Second, I’d like to go through a truck weigh station.

Even a dolt like me realizes the first dream is too dangerous and I would never do it. But the second… hmmm.

I found myself so bored on a recent business trip through South Carolina truck_weigh_stationthat I thought it might be a good time to check out a weigh station. According to my calculations, I had plenty of time to get to my appointment and I always find South Carolinians to be extraordinarily kind. So when the exit sign appeared for All Trucks to be weighed, I followed a dingy yellow 18-wheeler off the road. I drive a pick-up – which is a truck, after all.

The truck behind me started honking immediately – impatient, I guess. Nearly deafened by his horn, I waited my turn in the line. They go relatively quickly and I was on the scale in no time. When I got there, an angry looking lady in brown was waiting for me.

“You shouldn’t be here,” she called angrily. “Just keep moving.”

“But it said, ‘all trucks’,” I countered with a smile, using my stupid-card, which I keep readily available in my wallet (and an extra copy in the glove box).

“It means big rigs, tractor-trailers…” she yelled in exasperation. “That’s the only thing we weigh here. Just keep moving please.”

I pushed my luck. I was here already, might as well get my money’s worth. “But I’ve been thinking I might have put on a few pounds lately – not exercising and all. Can you weigh me anyway?”

Her sense of humor as drab as her uniform, she was done with me. “Sir, I am a Highway Patrol Officer. If you don’t move along I will deal with you as such.”

“Goodbye, ma’am,” I said as I quickly obeyed.

 

And there I thought my experiment was over. I thought…

The officer must have been the forgiving type – I didn’t get pulled over for being stupid. However, the trucker behind me with the air horn took exception to my little prank. About two miles down the road, he was close enough to my truck bed to be considered cargo. I started to get nervous, but figured he wouldn’t keep at it too long if I slowed down to obey the posted fifty-five MPH speed limit. I was wrong. In fact, I think they still actually might have one of those CB networks they used in the 70’s to call a convoy.

convoy

I say that because within a mile, I looked ahead of me and another truck was going even slower than me. No worries. I started to pass only to find a blue rig to my left going the same speed as the impediment in front. Talked about hemmed in. I was stuck… and going fifty miles per hour all the way through South Carolina. My ‘plenty of time’ evaporated and I nearly missed my meeting entirely. My little prank must have broken some kind of trucker code.

Some stupid ideas should stay just that… as ideas.

The next time I get bored, I’ll stop at Cracker Barrel for a book on tape… and I won’t park anywhere near the big rigs.


Filed under: Learned Along the Way

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