Rants and Riffs: Installment #7–Bobbleheads, dandelions, and…and…attention span

Bobble head doll of Charles Darwin
Not sure what his lifetime batting average was…

Bobblehead dolls…please. 40,000 of them on a given night at a major league ballpark.

And often to commemorate a player of marginal ability. [Not daring to use names here.]

If those petroleum-based cluttermeisters even make it home, they’re headed straight to the closet and/or the landfill.

Question 1: What is the half-life of a bobblehead doll of a shortstop who batted .234 lifetime?  450-800 years

Question 2: What does the guy’s batting average have to do with degradation of plastic?

Answer: Nothing. Nothing at all.


girl in field of dandelions
Worn down by the taunts and jeers

Topic: Dandelions. Fellow gardeners…or at least, those of us doing mindless grunt work with hoe and shovel…don’t you think dandelions simply mock us?

The big ones—”Neaner, neaner, neeeeaner! You’re oblivious and I’m huuuuge!”

The small ones—”We’re baaaaack!”


lawn mowing strategy

Topic: Clear sign of a vanishing attention span—my lawn mowing has regressed to ‘forward-and-back-in-one-5′ x 5′ square at a time’. Anything beyond that, all bets are off.


Hey, we’re all in this together [whatever ‘this’ is]. Any frustrations niggling at you? Share them below.

Rants and Riffs: Installment #6

weed whacker

First of all, doubt your dominance over nature? Git yerself a weedwhacker.


lady blowing her nose

2. Allergy season. Anyone suffer so much that the only practical way to deal with the messy symptoms is to hook a roll of paper towels to your belt?
Still on hay fever…nose-blowin’ guys with the cool 5 o’clock stubble: the inevitable remaining tissue-flivvle…not a good look.


fuel meter
3. Car rental agencies…love to give you a car with a partially-filled tank. They know darn well you’re:

  • too busy [or not math-fluent enough] to estimate how much is needed to return that midsize at the required level.

  • going to forget you started with a partial tank

  • therefore going to fill well beyond the required level.

Cha-Ching!


Hey, we’re all in this together [whatever ‘this’ is]. Any frustrations niggling at you? Share them below.

Rants and Riffs: Installment #5

dog chewing on toy
Pretty sure he didn’t order this ‘toy’ online.

–If you want to crank out a substandard product and still make a little cash, look to the world of pet products. After all, how can you guarantee the entertainment value of a dog toy? And so, it’s a wide open marketplace. “Barkley couldn’t live without his Squiggly Squirrel” goes the testimonial. What we’re not told is Barkley would equally relish an empty milk container.


Nike cloth bag
Shouldn’t I be collecting a little cash for this convenient product placement?

–Nike, Under Armour, Adidas… Shouldn’t you be paying us to advertise your products as we wear them?


man with long hair and beard
I want this guy’s shampoo.

–I am still waiting for that blasted ‘volumizing’ shampoo to kick in after years of use. My forehead continues its relentless advance.

Rants and Riffs: Installment #4–Tips for failure

So, here I am and I am clearly in need of a new look for drafts in MacJournal…

There—that’s better. Charter Roman…I like it.

Giving in to meaningless font-focused distractions prompts me to share a few more tips on how to fail at this writing thing.

1. Have a dog. For a less-fettered path to failure, get one with a clear opinion of his superiority over any digital device.

dog with chin resting on iPad mini

2. Live in a locale with great weather. That sun just pulls me away, with each wavelength of radiant flux** reminding me that: A. I need vitamin D B. camping out in front of a screen is a waste of valuable daylight.

3. Own a DVR. But if you ARE going to sit in front of a screen and waste valuable daylight, you might as well be catching up on [insert favorite cable series here].

4. Keep your most valuable insights and creations on a plethora of notebooks scattered throughout the universe.

These aren't strewn throughout the house, but you get the idea.
piles of notebooks

5. Nurture a lifelong interest in sports. [Diabolical ESPN.com opens on its own, I swear.] Checking for croquet updates is thus inevitable, followed by an all-too-convenient point-and-click side trip to your favorite croqueter’s profile.

**Another tip for failure: Find it imperative to research how sunlight is measure.

Writing prompt: “it was…weird.”

'it was...weird' silkscreen on shirt
When he walked into the room, his shirt was pure black. When he walked out 30 seconds later…

Write 100 words [or more] on what you the observer viewed as the person exited the building and any hints as to what went on inside the mysterious room.

Have fun with it.

  • Did it happen in the White House? A doctor’s office? A room at the IRS?

  • Who are ‘you’? Who is the ‘he’?

Rants and Riffs: Installment #3

cinnamon roll
This one stands on its own, but a thick layer of vanilla/cream cheese frosting wouldn’t hurt.

Today’s topic: Cinnamon rolls.

Come on folks, if there isn’t a roiling ooze of brown sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon the second the knife presses into the roll, it ain’t a cinnamon roll.

Want one with frosting? How about powdered sugar/cream cheese mortar? Something that requires the slathering skills of a professional mason. And yes, paying the guy’s union rate is worth it.

My cardiologist awaits…

Rants and Riffs: Installment #2

I want to live in a world where employees get paternity/maternity leave for when a new dog or cat joins the family. It makes perfect sense!

“Snuffles, this is where you will sleep.” *

“Jujubee, this is when I will feed you.” **

“Angel Face, that’s what the backyard is for.”  ***

“Forsythia, we’re going to have to change your name.”   ****

“Maxwell, I’m going to have to discipline you.” *****


* “Yes, this is my chest.”

** “With intermittent snack times pending your approval.”

*** “Or at least not the living room.”

**** “No animal deserves that name.”

***** “I’ll be shortening our snuggle time by ten seconds.”

The journey to a 50,000 word novel…

starts with one word…

graffitti journey to 50000 words

Because I have 50,000 other things I should be working on…

I’m going to do NANOWRIMO this year and, like 2006, 2008, and 2010, I’ll finish.

I promise! [That’s me talking to me. I’m pretty sure you folks won’t lose sleep over it.]

–I’ll take my own prewriting course over the next few days prior to Nov. 1. Just to see if I know even a nano-iota of what I’m talking about [i.e. stealing from smarter, more experienced writers].

–Plus, a little inner dialogue as I venture ahead…

Critical Me: So, why are you even doing this?

NANO-Me: I need a deadline. I want to do push ahead on a new project. I want an excuse to not look at the clutter in my garage. I have to prove that I can still crank out words, since I promised my wife that a dog would actually make me more productive. [Of course, I wasn’t serious, but it was well worth the good laugh.]

Critical Me: Do you want this to be, eventually, a marketable product?

NANO-Me: Since I’m not great a Round Two Writing, that’s not even on my radar.

Critical Me: Do you have a plan for your story?

NANO-Me: Why yes I do, smarty-pants. In fact, I have a chronology all set up in my mind, a sequence of 180 mini-chapters, if you must know.

Critical Me: And you really think you’ll finish all 180 mini-chapters?

NANO-Me: I mainly want to finish my 50000 words and see which comes first.

Critical Me: What do you like about NANOWRIMO?

NANO-Me: I like the freedom to inject all sorts of detours into a story depending on your mood on a given day. And I like Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem book.

Critical Me: What’s so special about that book?

NANO-Me: Well, it’s like this. He’s the guy who started it. And his fly-by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants suggestions are worth the read. And it is just that devil-may-care [am I using too many hyphenated expressions?] approach that inspires me to spend my words like a drunken, well, not Hemingway, because he didn’t waste words…spend my words like a drunken Tolstoy, how’s that?

Critical Me: First of all, yes, you are sucking the well of hyphens dry. Thanks for noticing. Care to share any gems from Baty’s book?

NANO-Me: Sure. I’ll put them at the end of this. I wouldn’t want them drowning in this sea of blather. Time for a break, right?

Critical Me: What for?

NANO-Me: For lunch, that’s what for.

Gem #1 from No Plot? No Problem

“Having an end-date for your quest through the noveling unknown is like bringing along a team of jetpack-wearing, entrepreneurial sherpas. These energetic guides not only make passage easier through the myriad formidable obstacles, but they’ll fly ahead and open coffeeshops and convenience stores along the route.”

Food Crisis in Room 13

One of the challenges issued to us this month was to assume a different writing voice.
And to not bother with editing. Oy.

Here is my attempt.

***

lunchbox-xed out

It was another day in Room 13.

13—not my favorite number, but that’s how this school year rolled.

Unlucky from the get-go, as my dad often says.

But he’s usually talking about some football game he’s watching.

For me, it was unlucky in a lot of ways.

We had Mr. Jackson as our teacher.

He believed in writing.

A lot of writing.

He believed that if we sneezed, we should write about it.

And posters all over the room reminded us of how important it was to write.

There is no wrong way to start. Just grab a pen.

I am a writer.

Good writers practice.

It never ended with this guy.

The rest of us just didn’t want our hands to fall off.

And if you mentioned the computers in the lab for writing, he would shake his head and make some weird sound.

It sounded like, “Piffle”.

Anyway, today was unlucky in another way.

Our lunches were missing.

The whole barrel full of them. Gone.

And I was hungry.

The other kids were probably hungry too.

But, really, it was me I was worried about.

When it comes to food, that’s how it goes.

And I had missed my mid-morning snack.

Not a scheduled mid-morning snack like a lot of classrooms have.

Mr. Jackson didn’t believe in those.

So, on the way in from recess, I would snag my own snack.

A quick visit by my lunch bag, and—boom—granola bar in hand.

I’d crunch it up a little on the way to my desk and tear at the top.

And like clockwork, Mr. Jackson would start read aloud.

He’d be so wrapped up in James and the Giant Peach or any one of the Harry Potter books that it was clear sailing for me and my granola bar.

But, as I said, today was different.

Not a lunch bag in sight.

This was one of the few days when I wished I had a cafeteria account.

Something needed to be done.

“So, Mr. Jackson,” I said, “What are you going to do about our missing food?”

“Simple,” he said.”We’re going to write about it.”

Oh great. As if words will magically make my peanut-butter-and-apple-on-wheat to appear. And my bag of Doritos.

I’d take those Doritos over a steak any day.

Well, maybe not a steak, but you get the picture.

And in she walked. Emily Michaels. A sight for sore— and hungry—eyes.

She carried herself in just the right way.

A careful march toward Mr. Jackson’s desk.

Perfect balance.

Arms in exact position…

To carry six flat steaming boxes.

I knew those boxes. And I knew that smell.

Pizza from Gianni’s.

For all we cared, the missing lunches could be floating toward China.

“Happy birthday to me-e-e-ee!” said Emily, dropping the boxes, one arm at a time onto our teacher’s desk.

“But wait!” said Mr. Jackson. “We should write about this!”

Not a chance, Jackson. Not a chance.

We needed both hands for something more important.


More from the January Challenge