Tag Archives: humor

If It Was a Snake…

In what has been described as a bizarre twist of fate, local hospitals have reported hundreds of incidents of snake bite victims in the past twenty-four hours.

“It started just after midnight,” said Dr. Malcolm Howell, the attending physician at Sacred Heart Hospital’s emergency room. “We thought the first couple of bites were just some strange fluke, but by the time morning came we understood that there was something much bigger going on.”

According to Howell as well as other authorities familiar with the cases, all of the incidents occurred  at local retail centers, though the link between these stores and the snakes is as yet unknown.

Deputy Howard Pickett with the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s office said, “We got them coming from Wal-Mart, Target, Dollar General, you name it. There just don’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.”

Management at all of the affected stores refused to comment, but one employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity, offered a firsthand account describing the bitings.

“This lady was looking for air conditioner filters. She came up and asked me where they were, and I pointed because they were literally right behind her, you know? And then she laughed and said…well she said ‘If it was a snake-‘ And then she was on the floor screaming and this strange looking silver snake was latched onto her arm.”

According to doctors the description of the snakes has been uniformly similar with most witnesses describing a silvery, almost metallic sheen over the snakes scales. So far experts have had no luck in determining the exact species of snake involved in the bitings.

“It’s as if they vanish into thin air,” Dr. Howell told us. “We don’t know what they are or what anti-venom to use. Luckily the bites don’t seem to be fatal but still…” He paused as one patient screamed in the background.

The earliest victims seem to finally be recovering from their wounds, and the rumor that the snakes have some sort of supernatural origin seems to be taking hold in their minds.

“People have been saying it for years,” said Penelope Angela one of the early victims of the strange snake bites. “They find something they’ve been looking for right under their nose, and they say…you know, they say ‘If it was a snake…’ I know it sounds silly, but now maybe it really is.”

Another story employee also speaking on the condition of anonymity commented on the rumor saying, “People have been saying that same stupid thing to me for years, and each one of them thinks they’re the funniest man alive when they say it. If I had a dime for every one of them I’d be rich. But this is almost as good.”

Doctors dismiss the strange explanation as nothing more than superstition, but they have no immediate explanation to counter it.

“Superstition or not,” Penelope Angela said, “From now on I’m gonna make sure I’m not right on top what I’m looking for before I ask for help. Until you’ve been bitten yourself you don’t know. It’s not worth the risk.”

The Value of Value

You know what word I hate?


I mean I know I’m not supposed to despise words for what they are, but…really? Could it BE any more vague. I mean I’m walking in the store, and my wife pulls a can of chili off the shelf and says, “These are a great value.”

And I say, “Well then maybe we should get the other ones.” And when she asks me what I’m talking about I say, “Well maybe they’re a lower value. We don’t want to have to pay a greater value than we have to.” And then she hits me up side of the head with her purse because she’s sick of being shoehorned into my jokes with clunky unrealistic dialog just so I can make a point.

But seriously, it’s everywhere. You’ll be in the store and you’ll see a sign that says “Books at a Value.” And if you’re me you think, “OF COURSE THEY’RE AT A VALUE! EVERYTHING IN THE STORE IS AT A VALUE. IF IT WASN’T AT A VALUE HOW WOULD PEOPLE KNOW HOW MUCH TO PAY?”

I am perfectly aware, that what they really mean is, “These Books are on Sale,” but I’m going to go on being annoyed by it. I know it’s inconsistent. I know I’ve sung the praises of the drescriptivist linguistic school on more than one occasion, and I know that I should be willing to accept a word for how it’s used, and not how I think it should be used. I know all that. But it STILL bugs me.

And don’t even get me started on people who have values.


Okay really, I was hoping you’d get me started. “Don’t even get me started” that’s just a figure of speech. It doesn’t have to mean…

Oh, yes I see your point. In fact I think the hypocrite alert is going off down the hall. Better go turn that off.


By the by, yesterday I sat down and chatted with Evelyn Lafont about writing and self-publishing my book A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw. If that sounds like maybe the kind of thing you would like to read, you should totally check it out.

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Zombiefied NPR

Those of you who have read my book, A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw may have noticed something strange about the title. You may have noticed that the book itself does not take place on an actual prairie. This is not a mistake. The first part of the title is actually an offhanded allusion to the NPR radio show, A Prairie Home Companion.

But after I was done writing the book, I thought about it for a while, and I wondered if there might be other NPR radio shows whose names might be zombiefied as well. The following short list is what I came up with:

1. Zombie Talk

2. Wait, Wait, Don’t Eat Me!

3. This American Death

4. Mourning Edition

5. Selected Shots

6. Dead-things Considered

7. The Diane Rehm Show (rimshot! [semi-obscure NPR joke that maybe no one but me will get but I’m still not explaining it])

That’s all I can think of. If you’ve got more leave them in the comments. I’m off into the navy blue and khaki yonder super early today, so I could use a little chuckle. If you cannot think of any jokes then you could always buy my book. That would make me happy too.

The Top Secret Guide to Storytelling

Once upon a time I used to have way more free time. Back before I grew up, got a job, and got into this writing thing, I had to look around and try to find things to keep me occupied.

I’m kinda hating the former me, just thinking about it.

Anyway, one of the things I used to do to flush my valuable time down the toilet was to watch the directors commentaries on DVDs. I don’t know what it was that compelled me to do this. On the whole listening to directors commentaries is about as interesting as watching paint dry. But one of them taught me something that has stuck with me to this very day.

It was the commentary for Top Secret that unveiled this incredible revelation. If you’ve never heard of Top Secret it’s a comedy made by the same guy who made Airplane If you’ve never heard of Airplane then you’re dead to me.

The guys on the commentary were talking about what made Airplaine such a success and what it was about Top Secret that had resulted in its relative failure. Now keep in mind that Airplane and Top Secret are both off-the-wall joke-a-minute comedies. Their worlds are completely nonsensical constructs that allow for the most bizzare situations imaginable to pass unremarked upon by the rest of the characters in the world.

So what was the difference between Airplane and Top Secret? Where the jokes funnier in Airplane? Did it have a better production value?

According to the directors it was none of these things. The thing that made Airplane a better film than Top Secret was story.

“Story?” you ask. “That’s the crucial element? In an unbelievably off the wall movie like Airplane? Surely you’re joking!”

I’m not joking. And don’t call me Shirley.

See, Top Secret had some semblance of setting and there were tons of jokes, but there was nothing memorable about the characters, and no real sense of what they were trying to accomplish.

Conversely in Airplane, we know exactly who the characters are and what they’re trying to accomplish. The former pilot with a fear a flying has to fly a plane with hundreds of sick passengers and his stewardess ex-girlfriend on board and land it safely.

It’s not an original story by any means. In fact it was based scene for scene off of another movie, and even stole some of its dialogue. It doesn’t even come close to taking the story seriously. But the story is there.

And even back then, when being a writer was the farthest thing from my mind, I latched on to that concept.

Story matters.

Special effects, fancy writing style, bizzare characters, none of those things come close to being as important as story. It doesn’t even have to be an original story. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you’re never going to write a completely original story.

Characters are not stories. Worlds are not stories. Concepts are not stories.

Nothing wrong with those things, but they can’t be central in your mind. Got a great idea for a surreal world, filled with fantastic creatures, where logic works differently, and everyone eats cupcakes? Good. Now push all that to the back of your mind, and figure out the story.

In the end, it’s the only thing that matters.


I realize I’ve been somewhat vague about this idea of the “story.” If you’re interested in specifics I recommend you check out Kristen Lamb’s Blog. When she isn’t preaching the gospel of social media she has great posts detailing how to craft a story that works.

Retail Rant #2: Stupid Answers To Stupid Questions

Once upon a time I heard someone say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.”

To that person I say, “You have clearly never worked in retail. Because we get them all the time.”

The following list of questions are questions I have had to answer multiple times a day every working day for the past six years.

1. Do you work here?

No. I do not work here. I wear this navy blue shirt and these khaki pants to signify my solidarity with the mantis men of Sigma 7 and their struggle against the oppressive Clown Monster regime.

The name badge with my name on it and the word “Walmart” printed across the top is a fake that I ordered off of eBay. I’ve been walking around this department for eight hours a day five days a week straightening things and putting up freight over the course of the last six years just hoping I could fool someone into thinking I work here. Finally my patience has paid off! Muahahaha!

2. Do you have this item in the back?

Yes, as a matter of fact we do. See, somewhere around the mid-nineties Walmart decided that instead “selling things” and “making a profit” were for chumps and it would be much more interesting to hold items in the back of the store and not sell them to customers. Really we’ve never been out of an item in the history of the store. We just enjoy watching you be frustrated. Because that’s good business.

3. Can you hold this item for me?

Sure! Because the theoretical money you say you will pay me in the future is so much more valuable than the actual money the guy standing right in front of me wants to pay for it. It’s because of economics and stuff.

4. Will this item be going on sale?

Why yes it will. The home office will decide to mark it down by seventeen and a half percent on a week from Thursday. Also the stock market is going to crash again in June, and a guy named Vinny “Champ” Edwards is going to discover the secret to cold fusion and make the world into a wonderful utopia. Unfortunately, you won’t get to see it because you’re going to get hit by a bus two days before your thirty-eighth birthday. Bummer. But at least my psychic prediction will allow you to prepare for it.

5. When do you get trucks in?

On the third day after the blood moon four thousand eighteen wheelers will descend upon the store like a swarm of locusts. We ship in thousands of hobos from all over the country to help unload those trucks and when they are done we quietly slit their throats and feed their blood to the demon-god that lives in the drainage pound out back. We keep our enormous stockpile of merchandise in the back room until the next shipment comes in and then if we’re feeling generous we might let you buy some of it.

Once upon a time someone suggested that we should try a system where two or three trucks come in every night, but that person was fired for being a moron.


[To be clear, I really do believe that there is such a thing as a stupid question. This is my definition: a stupid question is one to which you could have worked out the answer for yourself with a minimal amount observation and reasoning. Some of the preceding are arguably not stupid questions by my definition. But I’m making fun of them anyway. Because I can.]

Radioactive Spaghetti Sauce and Cockroach Flavoured Noodles: The Hidden Perils of Cooking at Home

First off, see that little ‘u’ in the word flavoured? See it? Spell check says it’s not supposed to be there. But I’m keeping it anyway, because that’s how I roll. And just for good measure: harbour, labour, colour etc. Take that standardized spelling.

Okay, on with the show.

You know that moment when you overhear a Tyrannosaurus Rex discussing cooking techniques and you say to yourself, “Hey I could pull that off”? Well that’s how this story started. I was reading the delightful Dinosaur Comics by Ryan North, when I came across this page wherein T. Rex discusses the merits of making spaghetti sauce from scratch. I said to myself, “Aha, you must attempt this ‘spaghetti from scratch’ technique which this intelligent dinosaur has so eloquently espoused.”

That was the beginning of a journey. Specifically, it was the beginning of a journey to Wal-Mart, because I needed to pick up some tomatoes and olive oil. The way was fraught with peril and danger. I was forced to battle my way through driving rain and bitter cold for the better part of fifteen minutes.

I entered that swirling cauldron of humanity, otherwise known as Wal-Mart, and a few minutes later I emerged victorious with my much needed ingredients held high above my head like the spoils of battle. People kept looking at me strangely, but I paid them no mind. I knew what I was about.

I returned home and began the delicate process of dissecting the tomatoes. They were still alive when I cut them into quarters and scraped out their guts with a steak knife; I can still hear their screams.

But those screams were silenced when I put the tomatoes into the blender and turned it up to high. After a moment all that was left was a sickening pulp. I carefully pried off the top of the blender and gazed down upon my creation, but I saw to my astonishment that something had gone terribly awry. The sauce was a bright and glowing orange colour that blinded my eyes and offended my sensibilities.

Still the experiment was too far along to permit such things to stop me. I poured the pulpy orange ooze in a pot and started it simmering on the stove. Meanwhile in another pan I began to cook the meat of the rare and arcane Italian Sausage Dragon. When this had browned to perfection I placed it on the back burner and prepared for the final simple task of cooking the noodles.

Simple. I look back on my naiveté and shudder in horror. The process started well enough. I put the water on to boil and when it began to move itself aright in the pot I poured in the noodles. At first everything seemed normal. I went on checking my orange sauce for consistency and flavour, stirring occasionally. But out of the corner of my eye I kept catching a glimpse of something strange in the pot of noodles. Whenever I turned to look the thing was gone. At first I wrote it off to the fancies of my imagination, but then by chance I happened to be looking directly at the pot of noodles when the thing surfaced.

It was the body of a cockroach. I frantically grabbed for a strainer spoon, nearly knocking over the rest of the utensils of process, and began digging through the noodles trying to haul up that disgusting creature and save my dinner from ruination. Other men would have thrown out such a batch of noodles for the fear of the taint they might bear. There is a word for such men: women.

My wife looked over at my frantic flailing and asked me what was going on. I told her I was simply stirring the pot in a different manner for…better texture. She did not look convinced but she went back to her work without question.

Finally, I managed to scoop the cockroach out. I threw him into the garbage can and said a silent word of eulogy over his tiny body.

By this time the sauce had simmered down to the right texture and the noodles were perfectly done. I took them both to the table, and we began to eat.

The sauce was still coloured toxic orange but the flavour was wonderful. And the noodles tasted hardly at all of cockroach.


Addendum: my wife still doesn’t know about the cockroach. Luckily, she doesn’t read this blog, so I should be safe unless somebody rats me out.

A Legend Passes

Tragedy struck downtown yesterday when a well loved, seasonally popular figure was involved in a fatal accident. Witnesses at the scene say Frosty T. Snowman was run down by a car after he failed to heed the warning of the policeman directing traffic at the intersection of 4th and Main.

“I saw him coming and yelled for him to stop,” Travis Compton, the policeman at the scene, said, “but he only paused for a second and then ran straight out into the street. The guy in the car, well he tried to stop, but what with all the warming recently the roads were slushy, and he just couldn’t brake in time.”

Several children are now said to be in grief counseling after having witnessed the gory aftermath of the accident.

When asked about why Mr. Snowman acted so recklessly, Compton said, “Well, I can’t say for sure, you know? But I think maybe he knew he was coming to the end of his life, what with this heat wave and all, and maybe he thought he could afford to take that risk. But, you know, that’s never the answer.”