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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: funny, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 494
1. Mr. and Mrs. Everybody search for the perfect parking space

SCENES FROM LIFE: A SHORT PLAYETTE.   AT THE MALL

 
SCENE: PARKING LOT OF A LARGE, BUSY MALL. BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

AT RISE: MR. AND MRS. EVERYBODY SEARCH FOR A PARKING PLACE

 

MRS. EVERYBODY

Told you we should have left earlier. Now there’s wall-to-wall cars. We’re never going to find a spot

 
MR. EVERYBODY

Excuse me? Were you or were you not talking on the phone to Chloe for a good 45 minutes?

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

First of all – it wasn’t 45 minutes and second of all, we had important things to discuss

 
MR. EVERYBODY

Like what? Which stores have the best prices?

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

So? Those are important things. Don’t you want me to save you money? Don’t you just love all the Christmas decorations?

 
MR. EVERYBODY

Come again? How do you figure that buying stuff saves me money?

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

Well, take today for example.  Everything in the mall, the entire mall mind you, is twenty-five percent off! This is a bigggg saving. If I hadn’t spoken to Chloe, I would never have know that. Listen – they’re playing Silver Bells over outdoor speakers. Don’cha  just love that song? Puts you in a Christmas mood

 
MR. EVERYBODY

Would I be going round and round if I did? We’ve been going in circles for so long, I’m getting dizzy. You mean the “spend-spend-spend” songs

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

Try and get close to an entrance. You’re so cynical

 
MR. EVERYBODY

You’re fussy where you want to park? Beggars can’t be choosers

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

Let me put it another way. Try not to park fifty feet away in no-mans-land. It’s cold out

 
MR. EVERYBODY

And let me make this perfectly clear. This car will turn in to wherever there’s an empty space

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

You could at make an effort to look

 
MR. EVERYBODY

And what am I doing now? As far as I can see, there are no empty parking spaces near a mall entrance, or anywhere else for that matter. Maybe we should just go home and forget about it…

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

Not! And miss the sale of the year? Okay. How about this. One more time around and then you can go park in Siberia like always

 
MR. EVERYBODY

One more time …here we go again…

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

Stop! There’s a car pulling out. Quick – get over there or that guy is gonna grab it before us

 
MR. EVERYBODY

It’s in the next line over. I’ll have to drive around. I’ll never make it

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

Just put your foot on the gas and cut the car off!

 
MR. EVERYBODY

This is not the wild west and I have no intention of being part of a showdown. If we don’t get it – we don’t get it

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

Mr. Philosophical has spoken. Just…hurry! You’re not going fast enough! The other car is closing in from the other direction…

 
MR. EVERYBODY

You are obsessed and possessed – you do realize that, right?

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

We’re talking about a primo parking spot right near the front, no less! This is indeed our lucky day! You gotta be aggressive if you wanna grab a good place. Trust me. I know about these things.

 
MR. EVERYBODY

You and your knowledge of parking spaces wouldn’t happen to know anything about the nice scratch in the front right fender by any chance, would you?

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

I’m getting so forgetful these days. Y’see…last week, me and Chloe were here for the Fashion Flare Shop Going-Going-Gone Out of Business sale and there was a parking space and I was sure this car could fit but unfortunately, I misjudged the size of the spot against the size of the fender and like…the fender somehow ended up sliding against a cement pillar that was in my way. Why they put pillars in the middle of parking lots is a mystery, anyway. Hurry – that other car is getting ready to turn in!

 
MR. EVERYBODY

Perhaps it’s a plot by the mall to get drivers like you to scratch your fenders against them. They’re light standards, FYI. Oh well - guess it matches the scratch on the left fender… Uh-oh both our cars are there at the same time. I’ll let the other car park. Doesn’t mean that much to me

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

You’re just giving in? Hold your ground for a few minutes. Show the other car we mean business!

 
MR. EVERYBODY

We’ll go to the back of the parking lot. Plenty of space there

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

But…I’ll have to walk!

 
MR. EVERYBODY

What’s this world coming to? You’ll have to walk a few extra feet. I mean, really…

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

Open the window and let me speak to the driver and explain the situation. I’m sure he’ll understand and let us park

 
MR. EVERYBODY

You’re not serious

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

I’m very convincing.

 
(MRS. EVERYBODY opens the door and talks to the driver of the other car)

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

‘Hello – it looks like we both want the same parking spot. Could I, as a fellow citizen of this planet, prevail upon you to allow us to have this precious parking spot? As you probably know, there is a twenty-five-percent off sale and I have been waiting to buy these divine shoes that have finally been reduced and gone on sale… What? Of course ... I see… Have a good day.’

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

(Cont’d.) Just drive. When something seems too good to be true, it usually is

 
MR. EVERYBODY

What happened to your convincing sales personality?

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

The woman sitting next to him has crutches. Broke her leg and ankle skiing so I couldn’t very well justify taking the spot given all the snow on the ground

 
MR. EVERYBODY

You're all heart. You do know what that means -

 
MRS. EVERYBODY

Siberia here we come… Know what? I got a great idea. Why don’t you leave me off in front of an entrance – any entrance - and park? Or better still, drive around for an hour or so and when I’m finished, I’ll call you on my cell phone and you can pick me up? Isn’t that a good idea? It’s a win-win for both of us. Right here will do…see you later…

 
(MRS. EVERYBODY gets out of the car and heads for the mall entrance)

 
MR. EVERYBODY

(calling out of the car window)

Wait a minute! Hello? You have my cell! You forgot yours at home!

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2. The Front of the Parade

I dislike parades. Not a little, a lot!

I don’t care about the pageantry or the spectacle. I just get bored. A.D.D.? Maybe. Every time I’m stuck watching them, I can’t find an ounce of enjoyment – I just think about two dozen other things I could be doing. This couldn’t be truer than when I’m at Disneyworld.

My kids, on the other hand, love parades. So when people start lining the streets, they want to stop riding roller coasters and wait. UGH…

Wait for what? Floats. No thank you! If a float doesn’t contain root beer and ice cream, I don’t want it.

I figure with half of the eligible riders standing along the parade route, the lines to the cool things are shorter. Not my family. We wait – and not for the good stuff.

A funny thing happened on our trip last week. We were headed to a ride at the back of the park while people were lining up for the parade. No one with me suggested we stop to watch (miracle), so I powered into the street. We must have been the last ones let out before they closed the rope because we found ourselves about 20 paces in front of the parade with all of its flags and music.

Maybe it was the fact that I was pushing my daughter’s wheelchair, or possibly because I looked so stately and official, but it became apparent that the spectators thought we were supposed to be the ones leading the parade. We all realized it at the same time as they clapped and waved at us.

My kids became confused.

They grouped together.

“Should we pull off and get out of the way?” they wondered.

The oldest asked, “What do we do?”

Of course they looked to me, the leader, the head honcho, the alpha male for direction and what did they find me doing?

Waving

With a dopey grin on my face, I waved back at all of my adoring fans.

When life puts you at the front of the parade, smile and wave!

parade

The kids laughed at me, but it caught on. All of us began waving to the crowd.

You know what? Everyone waved back. The people didn’t think we looked out of place – they just waved at us. I wonder what they thought when the real parade came and they realized we didn’t belong. Oh well, we were gone by then. We walked over half of the parade route unencumbered by the bustling crowd until we got near the ride we wanted. Then we simply ducked into the masses and became one of them – anonymous once more.

I still hate parades… But for a moment, I was the grand marshal.


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

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3. Space Case - an audiobook review

Below is my review of the audiobook Space Case by Stuart Gibbs, read by Gibson Frazier, as it appeared in the December 2014, issue of School Library Journal.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

GIBBS, Stuart. Space Case. 6 CDs. 6:28 hrs. S. & S. Audio.
2014. $29.99. ISBN 9781442376397. digital download.

Gr 3–7— The year is 2040. Dash, his sister, and their scientist parents are inaugural inhabitants of Moon Base Alpha (MBA), Earth's extraterrestrial colony. Housing only a few dozen people and governed by a strict commander, MBA is not exactly a barrel of laughs for a 12-year-old boy. However, when one of MBA's scientists dies suspiciously and a supply ship brings new residents (including a girl his age), life in space becomes much more intriguing. Though the story has many humorous moments—especially involving the insufferable wealthy space tourists—it also has some plausible science. Each chapter is preceded by a reading from "The Official Residents' Guide to Moon Base Alpha," NASA's part propaganda/part instruction manual, containing such riveting topics as "Exercise" and "Food." Narrator Gibson Frazier keeps the story moving at a good pace, conveying suspense without melodrama. Rather than create pitched character voices, he relies on intonation to differentiate among the large cast. His own voice is deep and clear but boyish enough to suit Dash. The narration flows smoothly, broken only by the humorously intended commercial quality of the "Official Resident's Guide." Space Case should appeal to a broad range of listeners but especially space enthusiasts.

Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
Reprinted with permission.

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4. The Terrible Two - a review

Barnett, Mac and Jory John. 2014. The Terrible Two. New York: Amulet.



Miles is moving away from his beloved home at the beach to Yawnee Valley, where the slogan is "Come Look at our Cows."  Miles Murphy, the best-known prankster at his old school, will be attending the Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy,

     Miles awoke with a sense of dread.  He opened his eyes and stared at his blank ceiling.  Last night he'd dreamed it had all been a dream, and now he wished he were still dreaming.
     Miles shut his eyes tight.  He tried to fall back asleep, but downstairs he could hear his mother shuffling around the kitchen, preparing breakfast.  Breakfast smelled like eggs. And cows. Although that might have just been the cows.
     Miles ate his eggs.  They tasted like dread, although that might've just been the dread.

When he's paired up with the insufferable school helper, Niles Sparks, Miles thinks things can't get worse, but they do. Someone else in school is a prankster, and whoever it is, he's outpranking Miles.

What's the best part about pulling a great prank?  Getting away with it, or getting credit for it?  Miles is about to find out!

This illustrated novel is the first in a series that's sure to appeal to middle-grade jokers and pranksters.  The writing style is conversationally funny with great black-and-white illustrations that add to the humor, A goofy, cud-chewing cow with a bell stands in a pasture adorning half of page one, which reads,

Welcome to Yawnee Valley, an idyllic place with rolling green hills that slope down to creeks, and cows as far as the eye can see. There's one now.
The Terrible Two has more than just humor. There are some intricate pranks woven into the plot, and there are well-developed characters in Miles, Niles, and Principal Barkin - all of whom are sure to reappear in future installments. It's got more text and fewer illustrations, but this series should be popular with Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans.


Note:
I have to add that this book had the best Advance Reader Copy promotion ever!  I was totally pranked!  I received a large box in the mail marked "Perishable."  Inside was the big milk carton, and inside the milk carton was my copy of The Terrible Two, a coffee cup featuring cartoon images of the authors, and a signed certificate from The International Order of Disorder proclaiming the holder to be "a distinguished member of the International Order of Disorder."  I will raffle this off to the members of my book club.  Someone is going to be as happy as a cow in a cornfield!

Advance Reader Copy supplied (with coffee cup and milk carton) by the publisher.

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5. ZOO DIARY: Entertaining the visitors


 ZOO DIARY

                                                                     
SCENE: CITY ZOO.  DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT

Some of the zoo denizens are gathering together in preparation for the daily opening of the zoo. A whistle breaks the morning silence. The whistle is repeated again and again. A boa constrictor (MR. SQUEEZE) slither's out from the shadows.

MR. SQUEEZE

Hello? Anyone?

 RAT

Oh fer… That wasn`t the signal! It was supposed to be a bird call

MR. SQUEEZE

I think not! As I recall during the last meeting, we took a vote and decided on a whistle.

RAT

You left before the meeting ended. Remember?

MR. SQUEEZE

Perhaps…my memory isn’t what it used to be. Um…Ratty dear – you do have a lovely body…so smooth….so tempting…not a blemish anywhere…  I mean, you keep yourself in such good shape. Your tail is especially attractive as a nice, little snack…  I mean to say, located right there on your back

RAT

(running his hands up and down his tail)

You think so? I have been told that by many… Why are you staring at me like that?

MR. SQUEEZE

How about a nice hug, from one friend-to-another?

RAT

You have had supper, right?

MR. SQUEEZE

If you can call cat food supper. The financial cutbacks here at the zoo leave me hungry and wanting more

RAT

(backing up)

Where is everyone, anyway?

MR. SQUEEZE

Is there any more news about the zoo being on the verge of bankruptcy? What will happen to us? It’s getting to the point that everyone is looking very – um – appealing – in the looks sense of course

RAT

There’s no limit to what  changes they’ll make to save a buck. We’re at the top of the list for sure.

 (A shadow emerges into the zoo light)

(cont'd.)  RAT  

Well it’s about time!

ZEBRA

I was memorizing my lines my dear man. We must emote. We must open our mouths to properly enunciate the words like this: “loooo-loooo-loooo…la-la-la-la…Me-me-me…” That’s the secret in being an adept thespian, like me. I’ll be doing a solo in the show tonight so I have to be ready

RAT

You haven’t heard? The show is cancelled

ZEBRA

Say what?

MR. SQUEEZE

Um…zebra - has anybody told you that you have a striking body structure? Do you mind if I lick you a bit? I mean, to say of course, what makes you tick as an actor?

ZEBRA

Why thank you! Appearance if very important for an actor, y’know! Body appeal and all…audiences expect it, unlike other animals who shall remain unmentioned

RAT

Let's practice in case they want us to perform for the paying customers. Who has the script, anyway?

MR. SQUEEZE

The cheetah was supposed to make copies for everyone

CHEETAH

(bouncing out from behind a tree)

Somebody talking about me? Cheetah’s my name and running is my game

ZEBRA

Where are the scripts or did you use them to line your den, again?

CHEETAH

A cheetah needs to make renovations now and then! You are looking particularly delicious tonight, zebra baby…that is to say, very fat and luscious… Of course I mean to say, so masterful in a leadership kind of way

ZEBRA

You forgot to take your appetite depressants again, didn’t you? Ohmygawd! Run and hide!

CHEETAH

He’s at it again, accusing me that I’m off my meds! Anybody tell you you’re very appealing – in an intellectual sort of way, zebra? Why don’t we go back to my den and discuss it? I’d like to show you my etchings…

ZEBRA

Oh you’d like that, wouldn’t you? Just like the last actor you invited up. All we found of him was a paper fragment with the word HELP! You disgusting beast!

RAT

Enough! Everyone – back to your cages. It’s almost dawn and the visitors will soon be arriving. Does everyone know their parts?

MR. SQUEEZE

I lay around and look hungry. No problem there.

ZEBRA

I’m supposed to run back and forth and chew what is left of the one pathetic patch of grass. The ground is almost bare and my bones are beginning to stick out

CHEETAH

I like to suck bones… I mean, that is so sad!

RAT

And we rats will be…rats. A few fights - a few deaths… Okay – places everyone. The zoo is opening

CHEETAH

Mmmmmmm – that young visitor looks quite delicious…of course I’m referring to that cotton candy he’s eating

RAT

Now Cheetah, let’s not have a repeat of last week’s incident. Okay everyone – look cute! The paying customers are here! Places everyone! The show must go on!

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6. ZOO DIARY: THANKSGIVING TURKEY's DILEMMA


ZOO DIARY –THANKSGIVING – TURKEY’s DILEMMA

 
SCENE: CITY ZOO

Thanksgiving eve. The zoo denizens are upset with the zoo directorate having not been included in the Thanksgiving celebrations

RAT

Once again, we’re not included in Thanksgiving festivities

ZEBRA

Did you really expect to? I mean, why should they? Who are we? Merely the tools in which they make money. That’s all - and how do they thank us? Closing the zoo for the day so we can’t even expect extra treats from visitors. This is so typically…human
 
SOUND: GOBBLE-GOBBLE… GOBBLE-GOBBLE….

RAT

What’s that noise?

ZEBRA

Noise? What noise? Are my stripes straight?

RAT

You don’t hear that?

ZEBRA

‘You are magnificent… Those teeth…those sparkling eyes…’

RAT

Maybe if you’d get your face away from that mirror and stop admiring yourself…

ZEBRA

A person has to make sure that he looks good from every angle. Being the sole representative of the zebra specie in this zoo comes with a responsibility. A daily body examination is necessary to ensure that all my black stripes are evenly spaced on my perfectly white skin. ‘Yesssss! Perfection personified!’

RAT

Far be it to burst your bubble, Zeeb…

ZEBRA

…I am not zeeb - or zebby - or zeeby-baby. I’m a zebra. Z-E-B-R-A!

RAT

Gotcha Zebby-boy – like I was sayin’ – the way that I see it, the stripe on your upper right leg doesn’t well…match the left

 ZEBRA

What?! You must be mistaken. It’s not possible… How could this be? I just checked it not two minutes ago and it was perfectly aligned

(MANNY, the boa constrictor slithers in)

Hey – how ‘ya doin’?

RAT

Manny – you’re out. Free. Did you eat lunch, yet?

ZEBRA

Yes Manny – I do hope they’ve fed you some nourishment. I mean, it’s important to keep up your strength. We don’t want you slithering around hungry looking for anybody, heh-heh…

RAT

That’s the last thing we want…being that we’re your friends and all…that is to say, we don’t want you to experience hunger pangs…

MANNY

As I remember, I had a nibble a month ago. Sure is quiet around here. No humans to knock on the glass of my enclosure

NOISE: GOBBLE-GOBBLE  GOBBLE-GOBBLE…

RAT

There it is again. Sounds familiar-like…

(a turkey suddenly drops down from a tree)

TURKEY

Save me!

ZEBRA

A tree chicken. Never knew chickens live in trees.

TURKEY

I am a turkey who requires sanctuary

RAT

Listen chicken…

TURKEY

…turkey…I am – um – an endangered specie. Yes – that’s it and am declaring myself on the extinct list thus requiring sanctuary

ZEBRA

You must be someone important judging by your extensive vocabulary. All cultured and important species have an extensive vocabulary – and a beautiful body, of course

 TURKEY

I am. In fact, I can state with absolute knowledge that I am number one on everyone’s hit list, today

MANNY
(slithering closer)

Well I for one, believe you. You do look very appealing – in an endangered species way of course

RAT

Wish we could help, turkey, but we live out in the open

ZEBRA

I could send a protest letter to the Zoos of America if that could assist you in any way

TURKEY

I am doomed!

MANNY
(slithering almost directly in front of TURKEY)

Well turkey – really feel for you, in the true sense of the word. I just happen to live inside in a huge glass enclosure that has lots of hiding places.  Why don’t you come back to my pit and check things out? I live alone and there’s nobody to bother or see us

TURKEY
That’s a very generous offer on your part –

MANNY

-          Manny –

TURKEY

Manny

MANNY

Anything for a friend in need.

(the two start to make their way to MANNY’s place)

(cont’d.) Did anyone ever tell you that you have a beautiful, full body. I bet under all those feathers, you have nice firm flesh

TURKEY

The farmer takes good care of me. You can see for yourself when we get back to your pit.

 MANNY

Oh I intend to

TURKEY

Can I give you a hug?

MANNY

Later…when we’re alone…they’ll be plenty of hugging to go around…

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7. Scenes from Life: a Short Playette. Mr. and Mrs. Everybody At Home

THE MYSTERY OF THE SOCKS


SCENE: THE KITCEN OF MR. AND MRS. EVERYBODY. MRS. EVERYBODY IS LOADING THE DISHWASHER

AT RISE: MR. EVERYBODY ENTERS THE KITCHEN CARRYING HIS SOCKS


MR. EVERYBODY
What's wrong with these socks?

MRS. EVERYBODY
Just a sec - I'm loading the dishwasher...this new dish set we bought is too large. Takes up too much space...

MR. EVERYBODY
You had to have them, remember?

MRS. EVERYBODY
Excuse me? May I remind you that you also were very anxious for me to get them 'cause they were on sale. Why are you holding two socks? Are you making hand puppets? 'Get...in...there...dishes...or...you're...gonna...feel...so...sorry...'

MR. EVERYBODY
Like I said before, what's wrong with these socks?

MRS. EVERYBODY
Just another sec...let me start the dishwasher. Okay. Now you have my full attention. So I see two socks...navy blue to be exact. Look to be your size. I'll go out on a limb and say that they're yours Oh look! I made a play on words. Out on a limb...sock...leg... Get it?

MR. EVERYBODY
You should get your own comedy show. Now take a good look at them. Come closer. What do you see now?

MRS. EVERYBODY
What do I get if I give you the right answer?

MR. EVERYBODY
Stop with the snarky remarks and look closely at them

MRS. EVERYBODY
Here - hand them over. Okay. Like I said before, "a" pair of socks. Should I be look for something else? Are they socks from outer space?

MR. EVERYBODY
Do you notice something...off, perhaps?

MRS. EVERYBODY
Hmmm...can't say that I do... The left one is worn out a bit at the toe?

MRS. EVERYBODY
(holding up a sock in each hand)
Now what do you see?

MRS. EVERYBODY
One sock in the left hand and another in the right. What's this big mystery?

MR. EVERYBODY
How about the size of both of them?

MRS. EVERYBODY
I dunno...you take a size 10 shoe. I'll go out on a limb here and say that those socks, those very socks are size 10. Can we stop playing quiz show and get to the heart - or toe in this case - of the sock issue?

MR. EVERYBODY
You're right that these socks are navy blue but something is off

MRS. EVERBODY
Of course! You're barefoot. Put them back on and the mystery is solved.

MR. EVERYBODY
Getting closer to the point I'm trying to make. What do you think would happen if I put them back on?

MRS. EVERYBODY
Your feet would be warm? I dunno!

MR. EVERYBODY
Here - let me show you

(MR. EVERYBODY puts socks on his feet)

(Cont'd.) Now what do you see?

MRS EVERYBODY
Uh-huh...I see now... One of your legs has shrunk. That happens in old age.

MR. EVERYBODY
Not! They do not match. Not partners. Single socks. Looking for mates. Get the picture?

MRS. EVERYBODY
Now I see what this is all about. You know - your pant legs cover up the socks. Nobody knows and I can assure you I won't tell

MR. EVERYBODY
That's not the point. Somewhere in the sock drawer...

MRS. EVERYBODY
...or sock bag. There are a lot of single socks looking for a partner...

MR. EVERYBODY
You mean, there could be a matching sock to this one? Last week I wore a black sock on the left foot and a blue one on the right

MRS. EVERYBODY
I'm sure nobody noticed. Did anyone say anything?

MR. EVERYBODY
They were probably too polite to mention anything especially since I was wearing a grey suit at the time!

MRS. EVERYBODY
These things do happen. You should check more carefully next tme

MR. EVERYBODY
"I" should check?

MRS. EVERYBODY
Uh-oh! Darn dishwasher is acting up again. Sounds like somebody is playing a set of drums. When are you gonna call a repair guy? The neighbor upstairs is gonna complain again and there she goes, right on time! 'Okay Mrs. Bud-inski! I know!' I better go upstairs and calm the poor woman down.

MR. EVERYBODY
What about the sock situation?

MRS. EVERYBODY
What about it? Why don't you go take a look in the sock bag in the cupboard and maybe you'll get lucky and find your sock's mate. Then they can live happily ever after

MR. EVERYBODY
The last time you went up to calm down Mrs. Bud-inkski, you disappeared for a couple of hours

MRS. EVERYBODY
Is it my fault she makes yummy strawberry cheese cake and buys off my silence?

NEXT TIME: AT THE MALL: THE EVERYBODYS' LOOK FOR A PARKING SPOT


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8. A taste of "A WEDDING" play - Jewish version


Just read a piece that Nia Vardalos is doing a movie sequel to "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". As much as I really enjoyed this film - I've seen it many times - my play, "A Wedding" which could be described as a Jewish equivalent, is as funny if not more. Here's a taste and scene out of the play to see what I'm talking about and see if you agree. It's part of one of my favorite scenes - but then they all are. Some of the formatting has been lost cut and pasting and transferring from Word.
 
THE SCENE: At the Greenberg house. The bride and groom's family are meeting for the first time for dinner. Lenor, mother of David, groom-to-be, is on the snobby side unlike his father Charles who is down to earth. Meanwhile, Sadie, mother of the bride, Rachel, is middle-class and in competition with Lenor while husband, Morty, is realistic and down-to-earth like Charles. Morty has done a lot more than taste the wine as his mother, Sylvia, arrives unannounced. The leg of a dining room chair is broken.
 
SADIE
 
Excuse me people…what kind of person visits at this time of night?
        
           SADIE EXITS                      

           SADIE re-enters with her mother-in-law, SYLVIA

 And here is the answer to that question

MORTY
(slurred speech)

Ma? Whad'ya doing here? I fought you were shtaying wiv Elaine until shummer

 SYLVIA

Can a mother visit her only son, without having to announce her arrival before? Maybe I should check into a hotel and come back tomorrow, since you have dinner guests. Are you drunk? My poor baby boy! See what living with you does to him, Sadie? The man has turned to liquor for escape. I warned you, Morty, what life would be like living with…her

SADIE

An excellent idea, Sylvia. Why don't you come back tomorrow…or maybe next month…next year? Never would even be better

MORTY

Don't talk shtupid! Shadie, put mom's shutecases in the rare shpoom. You've come jus' at the right time. You ate already?

SYLVIA

Your sister packed me a sandwich and fruit for the train but I finished that hours ago. Just make me some toast and a glass of tea and I'll go to my room until your company has left

MORTY

Nonshense! Rajel, go get a chair from the kitchen, for your…your… bubie. You heard our good news?

 SYLVIA

Does anybody tell me anything? Who am I anyway? Just a sick, old woman shipped from place-to-place, because nobody has room for me. Why should anyone share their news with me?

MORTY

Our Rachel here is… em-em-gaged to be marry, ma!

SYLVIA

Uh-huh… So, you couldn't have picked up the phone to tell me, Sadie? You forgot my phone number, maybe? After all,
…I'm onlythe grandmother. Why should you share a happy event with me? So, introduce me to your fiancey

RACHEL

David, this is Grammy Sylvia, my best friend in the whole world!

SADIE

And what am I? Chopped liver?

SYLVIA

Sadie dear, look at yourself as the pickled herring: always a hors d'oeuvre but never the main course. How many times have I told you that she always liked me better than you?

           SYLVIA hugs RACHEL

SADIE

Come again? Morty – you better tell her…

MORTY

Now ma, you know you shouldn't tease Sabie like that. You shtill ‘aven't tol' us why you here

SYLVIA

Your sister, Elaine, went on a cruise so I landed up here on your doorstep. That cheapskate husband of hers didn't even pay for my fare. I tell you – nobody has respect for the aged anymore. In my days…

SADIE

Will you be honoring us with your presence for a long time, she asked, afraid of the answer?

MORTY

She jus' got here f-fur crying out loud. You-you can shtay for has l-long has you wan, ma

                    
           MORTY gets up to get another drink and SYLVIA
           quickly takes his place

SADIE

Don't sit there ma!

SYLVIA

You want I should stand all night or maybe I should leave, better? I'm a weak, old woman…my legs don't hold me up any more. Oy! The pain! Starts in my big toe and travels all the way up my hip and stays there! Soon I'll need a wheelchair! Pain is my constant companion!

MORTY      

           Rushing over to pull chair away

 Trust me ma, you don't wanna shit on that

SADIE

Weak like a bull! Rachel honey, go get your grammy a chair from the kitchen. Morty sweetheart, you don't look comfortable. Wouldn't you prefer to drink…sit in your favorite armchair over there, so you can relax?

           RACHEL EXITS

MORTY

But…I wanna be able to…to…talk wid eberyone…

SADIE

I'm sure we can sacrifice your…witty observations of life, so that you can be comfortable!

           MORTY staggers to the armchair
                       
SYLVIA

The truth is you really don't want me to join your dinner party, do you. Don't worry 'bout old Sylvia. She'll watch television upstairs, all alone in her room, listening to everyone laughing and having a good time. Excuse me, people, for bothering you…it's past my bed time…just get me a glass for my teeth, Sadie, and I'll get out of your way

Starts to get up

MORTY

You know you're alwaysh welcome and you'll shtay 'ere to celbrate wid ush!

           RACHEL enters with chair; MORTY follows her

SADIE        

           Places TV tray in front of MORTY

MORTY Cont'd. Absolutely! There's nothing I love more than a visit from your mother. Almost as much as an appointment with the dentist. Set a place for your bubie, Rachel

MORTY
         
           Attempts to sit in armchair but jerks to an
           standing position, waving arms as he speaks

Shadie mape her besh dish tonight, ma. Roast ducky in orange sauce, wiv orange booze

SYLVIA

Duck? I couldn't possibly eat that! Too fat and it's bad for my cholester-ail

MORTY

Couldn't you gib her shomething else?

           MORTY teeters over to SADIE, tries to kiss
           her on the cheek but she pulls away

SADIE

Oh something springs to mind alright, but I could get arrested for homicide
RACHEL       

           Moves a chair in back of SYLVIA, who sits down

I'm sure you could find something for grammy, mom, couldn't you?

SADIE

I'll go check what I have in the fridge. How 'bout a cheese sandwich, ma?

SYLVIA

It's low fat, I hope?

           SADIE EXITS

…Where's your manners! Don't be so rude Morty and introduce me to your guests

           MORTY is drinking another glass of liquor

           at the bar

MORTY

Meet Dabid's parents, Lee-oree and Ch-Charmie Skybird

SYLVIA

So, what do you think of my granddaughter? Is she not a beauty?

LENOR

You have a lovely granddaughter, Sylvia. And what do you think of our David?

SYLVIA

Seems like a nice catch but he makes a living for my Rachel? She's used to good things!

LENOR

He's a corporate lawyer with a very good practice

SYLVIA

He's a partner in the firm, maybe?

LENOR

I'm sure that will happen in the future. After all – he's got all the right ingredients – a good family background…

           SADIE RE-ENTERS

SADIE

Has my mother in law been telling you all the family secrets? Here's your cheese sandwich, ma, with low-fat dressing, just like you asked. Now close your mouth…and enjoy!

SYLVIA

So where's the lettuce? Salad greens are good for my constipation

 LENOR

I'm definitely getting a migraine!

 SADIE
(bowing)

Any particular kind…iceberg,romaine…bib…? Your wish is my command your majesty…I mean, Sylvia

           SADIE EXITS

SYLVIA

Rachel sweetheart, bring me my small suitcase. I have all my medication inside

 
           SADIE RE-ENTERS

SADIE

So what pills are you taking these days or do you have one of everything?

SYLVIA

With all my conditions, they're so many. This is for my vangina and this is for…

SADIE

…thank you for sharing, but I'm sure our guests aren't interested in all your pills

SYLVIA

I'll be at the wedding as long as my vangina doesn't act up but you never know

MORTY

How c-come n-n-nobody tol' me you 'ad am…vam-gi-na? I-I'm the son!

SADIE

Do you feel up to cutting us some more duck, dear?

           MORTY stands up and teeters over to the table.
           He grabs the carving fork, thrusts it in the
           duck and hacks away

Morty…dearest, the duck is dead already! There's no reason to keep stabbing it!

           LENOR takes her napkin and wipes her dress.
           SADIE distributes plates of duck. When MORTY
           takes his portion, he lifts the plate to his
           lips and drinks; LENOR is horrified

MORTY

My Shabie makes the bes' gravy! You-you make dood guck, honey-bunny

 SYLVIA

Did I mention I mixed up my medication and ended up in the hospital emergency room? I could'a died, y’know! Rachel dear, bring me my blood pressure thing-ie like a good girl

 SADIE

No such luck - I mean, isn't it dangerous taking your own blood pressure? You could over pump and then… Why don't you let medo that for you?

 

           MORTY puts on TV and an
           ear-piercing screech comes from the TV.
           Everyone jumps in response

MORTY

Look ad dat! My faborit all-time mooooomie is playing on our big screen TV too – Night of the Living Dead. Reminds me of our supper tonight…just a joke

SADIE

Thank you for sharing, sweetheart

MORTY

Don'chu love zombies? They scare me shi-…

SADIE

- dearest, shouldn't you close the TV when we have guests?

MORTY

Why? We could all watch it togevver. Shabie – go make some popcorn for eberyone

 SYLVIA

Let him watch his movie! It bothers you? You always were a fun killer

SADIE

I think you should close the TV – NOW – and we'll discuss this later, dearest?

RACHEL

You start clearing the table, mom, and let me take care of grammy

 
           SADIE clears the table of dishes

SADIE

Morty dearest, be a darling and help me?

MORTY gets up but loses his balance and falls backward on the broken chair, which collapses under his weight

SYLVIA

You gave him that chair on purpose, didn't you Sadie? Don't think I'm not on to you trying to collect on his insurance. Your wife wants to trade you in for a new model, Morty. Better leave now while you still can!

SADIE

Oh God! She's over-medicated herself again

           SADIE EXITS

SYLVIA

You could have married Roseanne Epstein and her family would have given you the world. She was crazy for you, Morty, and I hear she's divorced from her third husband. It's never to late to find real love

RACHEL

You're such a kidder, grammy! She loves pretending to hate mom, don't you?

           SYLVIA looks away and doesn't answer
What a joker!

MORTY

(getting up from sitting on floor)

Shabie is my one and only true love! We m-may not be rich in dollars b-but my Sadie has a lot of sense. Get it? Dollars…cents…?

           SADIE re-enters holding a cake with sparklers
           on top

SADIE

Morty…sweetheart, why don't you give your mouth a rest…I mean, relax and watch your movie. You've had a long day but not half as long as this evening has been

CHARLES

Wow! That's some cake! I bet it tastes as good as it looks

MORTY

You outdone myself, my sweet bon-bon!

DAVID

You baked this for us? It must have taken you hours

SADIE

It was just a little something I whipped up

MORTY

My Shadie is good at whipping things, aren't you my little pickle?

SADIE

Who wants coffee and who wants tea?

LENOR

Nothing for me since both keep me up at night

SYLVIA

I know exactly where you're coming from Leoree. Drinking liquids before I go to bed makes me pee all night too! Sometimes I think I spend more time in the bathroom than I do in bed

LENOR

Charles dear, we really must leave now. My migraine is getting quite intense      

           LENOR stands up

Sadie, it's been wonderful meeting you and Monty…

CHARLES

We have to have a slice of this special cake Sadie made or she'll be insulted. Won't you Sadie? Just a little sliver…please?

 

           LENOR sit down again

 LENOR

Remember your cholesterol, dear…

SYLVIA

…you too? What pill are you taking for that? Wanna see all mine?

LENOR

I'll take half of the sliver you gave Charles

CHARLES

Now this is what I call a supper. Everything was perfect. Why don't share your recipes with Lenor? Anything is better than the grass we eat

LENOR

We really must leave dearest. I have a busy schedule tomorrow. Call me Sadie

MORTY

But… arem't… you… Lenor? If you…you wam me to call you Shabie, than Shabie it’ll be. I got a g-good idea! I'll call Shabie, Lemor, and Le-le-more, Shabie!

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9. Congress of Crows

JDM_G_ConOcrows11420142

 

As they come together and chatter about this and that the world watches to see if they can really fly or are just a lot of noise …


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10. Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus - good bye and thank you


Angleberger, Tom. 2014. Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus. Recorded Books.

Sometimes you get lucky. I've had the opportunity to meet Tom Angleberger several times (including a Skype visit with my book club), I've had an enthusiastic group of Origami Yoda fans that frequent my library, and most recently, I won a copy of Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus from Recorded Books (more on that in a minute).

Since the first time I read and reviewed The Strange Case of Origami in 2010, I've been a fan, and so have legions of kids.  In addition to the fact that Tom Angleberger's writing style is perceptive, relevant, and flat-out funny; he, himself, is a great part of his success.  Just check his website, or his presence on Twitter (@origamiyoda).  He is unfailingly polite, positive, and accessible.  Kids love him and he loves them right back.

     

Back to Emperor Pickletine... so, I entered the Recorded Books contest because I hoped to win something for my book club members. With rare exception, after I've read them, I give away any book I receive gratis. Lucky me!  Not only did I receive the audio book, I received an Emperor Pickletine standee, some origami paper, and the biggest hit of all - pickle stickers - and boy, did they stink!

I was a little unsure about an audio book version of an illustrated book, however.  Would it be as good?  How can a narrator explain a comic? Will kids like it?

I discovered that, yes, it is as good.  The Origami Yoda books are written as "case files" with multiple students from  McQuarrie Middle School contributing to each file. The audio book version enhances that format because there is a cast of narrators, making it easy to differentiate between the student contributors.  

It's difficult to explain exactly how the printed illustrations from the book are narrated, because I don't have a transcript, but I can assure you that they retain their humor and flow easily into the narrative.  I was pleasantly surprised by this.

Will kids like it?  My book club meets next week, but I already have two kids who have let me know that they are already audio book fans.  I'm sure they'll like it. I did.

In the final chapter, Origami Yoda (voiced by none other than Tom Angleberger himself!) is heard to say,
"The end this is not,"  
however, this is the end of the series. And yes, you will find out if Origami Yoda is indeed real.  

A fond farewell, Origami Yoda!  You'll be sorely missed.

My reviews of other Tom Angleberger books:

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11. Halloween ’14: Haunted House

It’s been a while since I updated! Time to do so, and I’ll begin with a Halloween piece I worked on recently. The main piece and closeups are below. I can always add and tweak, but there is a time to call an illustration “Done!” Happy Halloween, everyone!

halloween-promo--t2-main3

 

 

halloween-promo-t2-takeout1halloween-promo--t2-takeout 2

halloween-promo-t2-takeout3

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12. 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

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13. My Zombie Hamster - interview and giveaway

With Halloween just around the corner, it's a good time for a zombie book - even better yet - a free zombie book for a lucky winner.  Even if you don't win the book, you can enjoy my interview with Havelock McCreely, author of  the very funny, My Zombie Hamster

Havelock McCreely was kind enough to answer three questions for me.  Here goes ...


Three questions for Havelock McCreely, author of My Zombie Hamster:

1. I’m shocked that MS Word will highlight McCreely as a misspelled word, but not Havelock. Do you need three syllables, or can you get it done in two?
HM:    The name is Irish in origin, so the correct amount of syllables for authentic pronunciation is eight. (Or nine. It depends if you have all your own teeth or not.) But for our purposes, three will suffice.
2. I can find little about you on your “official” bio, other than “Teller of Tall Tales. Adventurer. Swordsman. Discoverer of the Fountain of Youth. Author of many great works, the latest of which is My Zombie Hamster.” Did your discovery of the Fountain of Youth pique your interest in longevity, thus inspiring your interest in zombies, or did another path bring you to zombies? I’ve drunk from your Fountain of Youth, by the way.  It tastes terrible. One does wonder though, what would be the effect of the Fountain of Youth on a zombie?
HM:    Many good questions there. My discovery of the fountain of youth is a story that would put Indiana Jones to shame. And perhaps it will one day be told. Many are the times I’ve thought about writing down my own adventures in a series of easy-to-read volumes aimed at the younger audience. Thrilling is not the word. Well, it’s one word. But there are many others. Exciting. Dangerous. Death-defying. Amazing. (For instance, there’s the time I took up with the traveling circus as they crossed the planes of Africa. This is where I saved one of my young protégés from a life of mind-numbing boredom cleaning up after hippogriffs. Then there’s the time I saved an entire city from the Witch King of Mallidar. And this is where I saved my second protégé. They booth accompanied me on my many adventures and were with me when I discovered the fabled city of Shangri-La (which lead directly to my discovery of the fountain of youth.) Perhaps someday these tales will be told. 
As to the taste, yes, I agree.  Like rusted metal filtered through an old sock in which cabbage has been boiled. It’s not pleasant. 
Finally, as to my discovery of the fountain possibly inspiring my interest in zombies, yes. You are indeed correct. The fountain was guarded by a village of zombies who had all drunk from the fountain. It brought back their minds and consciousness (but did not repair their bodies.) That was where I got the idea of my little twist on zombies.
3. And of course, the most important question, what will Anti-Snuffles do next?
HM:    Never fear, he will be back. I have recently put down my fountain pen and completed the second book in the series, Attack of the Zombie Clones. It features everything from the first book, but bigger, better, and undead-er. 

Thanks for being a good sport, and best wishes to you for continued success with My Zombie Hamster.



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14. My Zombie Hamster - a review

Put some fear of the undead into your October reading!

McCreely, Havelock. 2014. My Zombie Hamster. New York: Egmont.
See below for print copy giveaway details.

Zombie Zappers and constant vigilence keep Matt and the residents of his community safe from "deadbeats" - the zombies that live outside the town's protective walls.  So on Christmas Eve, December 24,  Matt Hunter isn't thinking about zombies; he's thinking about the new video game he wants for Christmas.  His mother, however, had a more educational, more nurturing idea. On December 25,  Matt  receives Snuffles the hamster—a dumb, boring, little pet.  At least it was—until it died.

     I'll say one thing for zombie hamsters.  They don't move as slowly as their human counterparts. ...
     Snuffles had curled up and was rolling down the stairs like a bouncing ball.  I raced after him.
     He bolted along the wall.  Dad was carrying a huge pile of firewood inside so the front door was wide open. I tried to get ahead of Snuffles to slam it shut, but I tripped on one of the stupid throw rugs Mom insists on leaving everywhere and landed on my stomach.
     I pushed myself to my knees just in time to see Snuffles dart through the door and out into the front yard.
     Was it my imagination, or did I hear a little undead squeak of triumph as he did so?

In chapters titled with the days beginning on December 24,  Matt chronicles all the events until everything comes to a head at the annual town pet show on Saturday, February 4.

Matt doesn't do it alone, however.  He enlists the help of his friends,
(excerpt from "Thursday, January 2")
I emailed Charlie and told her to come over.  I couldn't keep it a secret any longer.
     "So let me get this straight," she said after I'd explained it to her. "Your dad bought you a hamster from a sleazy store and now it's turned into a zombie?"
     "Yes!"
     "And it's escaped?"
     "Yes!"
     "And you called it Snuffles?" she asked, trying not to laugh.
     "I didn't call it Snuffles! The name sort of came with the hamster.  But now he's called —" I paused dramatically.— "Anti-Snuffles."
At 208 pages, this is a quick read, but despite the adorable cuteness of the cover, it's a suitable choice for older kids, too.  My Zombie Hamster should appeal to grades 3-7.  McCreely does a great job of combining the fear factor with humor.  Matt and his friends are believable middle-schoolers - a little bit snarky, funny, sure of themselves, and prone to making poor choices. This is the first in a series that should have wide appeal.

Want your own copy of My Zombie Hamster?  
Check back tomorrow for an interview with Havelock McCreely
 and a chance to win a print copy of My Zombie Hamster.



(digital review copy provided by the publisher)

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15. 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 -

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16. 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 -

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17. Yet another of life’s eternal mysteries

Huck and Rilla and I have just finished reading three chapters of The Boxcar Children—they wouldn’t let me stop—and now I give Huck a big squeeze and say, “Okay, baby, time to go play.” He’s surprised I’ve called him “baby”—I usually say “monkey” or “my love” (same difference)—and shoots a reproachful gaze my way.

“I’m not a baby.”

“I know. But you used to be, so it still pops out sometimes.”

He considers. “But I am still little.” Burrows a little closer into my side.

“Mm-hmm.” His hair has that magical small-child scent, half fruity shampoo and half little-boy-sweat.

He takes a deep breath, as if about to unburden himself of a trouble. “That’s why I’ve been wondering…”

“Yes?” The moment has become suddenly fraught; whatever is coming, it’s clearly a serious matter.

“I’ve been wondering why nobody cuts the crusts off my sandwiches.”

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18. 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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19. Upcycling

photo (39)

Contrary to appearances, we are not giving away our youngest son (and all his toys, to boot). The neighbors put out this shelving unit and we thought it might be just the thing to replace our sagging makeshift TV stand. We stand corrected. What it is JUST THE THING for is setting up a shop, of course. What were we thinking? The Legos and Wedgits are being offered in lots ranging from  “small pile” to “big pile” to “treasure.” When business is slow, you can fold yourself into your house and take a nap.

TV stand. ::snort:: What nonsense adults come up with sometimes.

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20. Sing like nothing else matters !

When you are feeling all alone, if you just sing out loud you may be surprised how many others will join in with you …JDMn6Birds62920141


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21. Honesty Has a Smell

A relaxing morning, cooler temperatures, a good run, and a mystery to be solved. That’s what greeted me on Sunday. What started off as an excellent day devolved into a conspiracy against me! The evidence piled up early until I had no other option but to come to the conclusion that I am not trusted in my home when it comes to selecting fragrances.cp

No one would tell me this shocking news, of course. I had to figure it out on my own. Since my littlest’s sickness means my wife stays with her most of the time, I must do a good portion of the shopping. I am up to the task. I have now purchased things I didn’t know we used, needed, or even existed. One of those things is fragrance products. Did you know there is a whole store that just sells that? I knew about air fresheners, baking soda, and odor-eaters, but do we really need a store.

The aforementioned little one currently loves bubble bath – which apparently, they only sell at the smell store. So I volunteered the previous day to go and get her more. When I did so, I noticed a few sneers and strange looks around the room. Never did I think they would stoop so low as to plot an underhanded way to keep me from helping. But that’s just what they did.

I believe in honesty! If someone has an issue with me, tell me. I would much rather someone tell me that my pants are too tight and my shirt too puffy than let me walk around all day looking like a foolish pirate. I guess this is a value I have been lax in instilling in my children…

On our way home from church, we passed the smell store. When I suggested to the two daughters present that we stop in, I got fumbling excuses about homework and hunger. I should have known something was amiss right then. I mean, when do they ever want to do homework?

Arriving at home, pizza appeared from nowhere along with cold Dr. Pepper. I was ushered to the TV where the Falcons game was already cued up on the DVR. Hmmmm….

Lulled into a football coma, three hours passed as my team got pushed around by their opponent. Likewise, I got manhandled by five delicate females. Angry about the game, I grabbed my keys to go – only to find that the purchases had already been made.

I was going to get something exotic, tropical… something that would have let her float away to an island retreat… Whatever scent I picked would have soothed her beyond all her troubles. It would have uplifted her mood and spirits just to reflect on its glorious scent. My choices were as endless as a box a crayons:

Warm Vanilla Sugar

Peace, Love & Daisies

Pure Paradise

Endless Weekend

 

Why wouldn’t they let me? Why?

None would make eye contact with me as I probed for an answer, leaving me:

Hurt

Disappointed

Rejected

Betrayed

 

Finally the little one said, “Dad, you like the smell of your farts.”

And there it is! Honesty! That’s all I’m asking for.                  Wait… Huh?


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22. I'm My Own Dog - I love it!

Stein, David Ezra. 2014. I'm My Own Dog. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.


I've got a few deadlines to meet so this will be short, but I couldn't let another day go by without shouting out to the virtual world, "I love this book!"

Funny, inventive, clever and touching, this book will work its way into your heart even as it has you laughing out loud.

This is no ordinary dog.  No one owns him, no sir!

Every morning when I look
in the mirror, I lick my own
face because I am so happy
to see me.
I say, "GOOD DOG.
I AM A GOOD DOG."
You'll think so, too!

Don't just take my word for it.  See more great reviews at

From the end papers,
The illustrations' line work was created using pen as well as a kids' marker hacked to dispense India Ink; it was then photocopied onto watercolor paper.  The painting was done in liquid watercolor, with a hint of crayon on the dog's muzzle.
Ingeniously childish - a perfect presentation of a delightfully independent dog with a soft spot as big as his heart.

Click here to see an inside spread from I'm My Own Dog.

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23. 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.


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24. 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


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25. 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


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