Category Archives: Humor

Steve vs the Ice Dam by Steve Hagood

cabin_-_winter_11

January in Michigan. It’s that special time of year when we get Alberta Clippers, Polar Vortexes and snow and ice piled higher than a hippie at the hash bash. It’s the time of year that makes me wonder why my ancestors ever chose to settle in this God forsaken land.

Something else we get in Michigan in winter is ice dams. Ice dams come from the melting and refreezing of snow on the roof. A buildup of ice forms on the outer edge of the roof not allowing the water from melted snow to run off. The water that puddles behind the dam backs up under the shingles causing all sorts of problems with the roof, ceiling, and life of the homeowner.

Many years ago my young family was experiencing our first winter in our first house. I noticed that my gutters were filled with ice. I was young and dumb, and didn’t have Google to tell me that frozen gutters don’t lead to ice dams, so naturally I was terrified. I needed to clear my gutters!

The only problem, I didn’t have any idea how one goes about clearing ones gutters of ice. Remember, this was PI (pre-Internet). I could not go to You Tube University to learn how to do this the correct way. I had to figure this out on my own, like my ancestors who had decided to live in this damn place to begin with.

So, how do you break up ice? With an ice pick. But I didn’t have an ice pick. It was PI, but it wasn’t the stone ages, we had ice makers. We didn’t hack the ice for our drinks off of a block like cavemen. The closest thing I could come up with was a screw driver.

So, I climbed up my ladder with screw driver in hand to save my house, and by extension my family, from the dreaded ice dam. I started to chip away at the ice. And chip. And chip. And chip. I was getting nowhere. I needed to speed the process up. It was Saturday, and I had some serious TV watching to do. I thought I could sprinkle road salt on the gutters and melt the ice, but that would take longer than chipping with a screw driver. How else could I melt the ice? Hot water!

So, I climbed down from the ladder and went in search of a bucket. I filled a mop bucket with steaming hot water, returned to the front of the house and mounted the ladder. Ever so carefully I poured the water onto the ice-filled gutter and waited for the result. Not much happened. But…maybe…it was hard to tell. I climbed back down the ladder and headed off for more water.

The second bucket definitely made some head way with the ice buildup in the gutter. It would only take about another hundred and thirty seven buckets and I’d be back in front of the TV.

I mounted the ladder with the third bucket. I reached the top of the ladder and proceeded to swing the bucket from thigh level, where it hung at the end of my arm, up to pouring height, and lost my balance. The bucket flew from my hand and I flew off the ladder. The bucket went one direction and I went the other, landing flat on my back in the snow at the base of the ladder.

The air was driven from my lungs and I lay there like a fish out of water gasping for breath, and wondering if I had broken my back and if I’d ever walk again.

My eight-year-old son Ryan called over from where he had watched the whole scene unfold. “Hey, Dad?”

“What?” I managed between gasps.

“Did you get any of that hot water on you?”

Gasp. “No.” Gasp.

“That’s good,” Ryan said. “That would have hurt if you’d have gotten any of that hot water on you.”

Yeah. Lucky me.

Twenty minutes later I determined that I was going to live. I got up out of the snow and found my bucket. I then put it and the ladder back in the garage and went inside to watch TV.

Ironically, no ice dam ever formed. Google would have told me that iced over gutters don’t lead to ice dams and I could have avoided the whole disastrous event. Maybe if my ancestors had had Google they would have avoided moving to Michigan in the first place.

I’m now old and dumb, and I still live in Michigan. But, I live in a condo where someone else worries about ice dams. So maybe I’m not so dumb after all.

 

Steve Hagood is the author of Chasing the Woodstock Baby from Indigo Sea Press. Learn more at http://www.stevehagood.com

 

http://www.indigoseapress.com/Stiletto-Books–Crime-and-Mystery-Authors-A-H.php#Steve

 

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A Day at the Beach by Steve Hagood

excited-23789_640

My wife’s family decided they wanted to take a trip together a few summers ago. After much discussion, and making and changing of plans multiple times, they decided they’d like to spend a day at the beach. The beach they picked was on Lake Michigan. As we live on the other side of the state, it would be almost a three hour drive to get there. As fun as it sounds to travel across the state to spend a day with your in-laws, I really didn’t want to go.

My plan was to start a fight with my wife the night before the trip, and she wouldn’t WANT me to go. Fortunately, I’m an expert at picking fights, and I pulled it off just as I had planned.

So, bright and early the next morning I was in the car headed to the beach. Obviously, I had lost the fight.

I drove the car that included my wife, Jenni, who had recently had hip surgery and was still in pain, my daughter, Aley, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and my stepdaughter, Chelsea, who was fourteen-years-old. This was going to be a fun drive.

It actually wasn’t bad the first couple hours. It was straight west on I-94. As we were closing in on the state line I said, “Do we know where we’re going? What exit we’re taking?”

Jenni said, “No.”

That probably would have been good information to have before we left. You wouldn’t think that a lake that covers more than 22,000 square miles would have be hard to find. And you’d be wrong.

Jenni received a text message from her sister, who was ahead of us, and learned that we needed to take exit 33. I was in the middle lane of a three lane highway with exit 33 fast approaching. I also happened to be talking to Aley and I tend to… lose focus on my driving when I’m talking. Sure enough, before I knew it exit 33 went by in a blur.

All three of the women in my car felt the need to tell me I had missed the exit. Like I didn’t know.

“No problem,” I said. “I’ll just go to the next exit, turn around, and we’ll be back on track.”

It’s important NOT to show fear in this situation. They can sense fear.

The next exit was another four miles down the highway. Four miles is a long way when your driving is being critiqued by three women.

I made it to the exit, got off and back on headed east. I soon found, to my distress, that there is not an exit 33 headed east on I-94. How can there NOT be an exit 33 headed east, I wondered.

“Ok, no problem,” I said. “I’ll go to the next exit and get turned around again.”

As we approached the off ramp Aley said, “I don’t think you can loop around like you did last time, Dad. I think this is another highway.”

“We’re good,” I assured her.

I took the exit and off we went, headed north on Highway 31. My passengers pointed out that we wouldn’t have been driving in circles if I hadn’t missed the exit to begin with.  “Thanks for the tip,” I said, giving serious consideration to opening the door and jumping out of the moving car.

It’s funny how perspective can change one’s outlook. Just twenty-four hours prior I had not wanted to go to the beach. At that point I’d have sold my soul to be there.

Mercifully, an exit appeared and I was able to get turned around again. We merged back onto I-94, drove a mile, and there it was… exit 33. I took the exit, thus ending the debacle. Or so I thought.

Jenni was getting directions in real time via text message from her sister. She told me to go straight all the way.

“Straight until we hit the lake?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“All right,” I said, “I can handle that.” And then the road dead-ended, with no lake in sight.

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” So I did.

The peanut gallery started up with, “Are you sure this is the right way?”

I had no clue if it was the right way, but I didn’t let on. Remember, you can’t show fear. Fortunately, God cut me a break. The road we were on wound around to the right and back to the left and there before us was Lake Michigan.

I parked the car and we found the in-laws. I then hauled about 100 pounds of crap, like a pack mule, across the sand to the spot that they had picked.

There were three boys in our group, ranging in age from 7 to 11. They were excited to be at the beach. They ran down to the shore, into the water and right back out. The water was frigid. And that was the extent of the swimming for the day.

My brother-in-law said, “How about we go get lunch?”

Go get lunch? I just drove two and a half hours and hauled a hundred pounds of crap across the beach, and he wanted to go get lunch?

He volunteered to go get pizza. When he returned, we found a nearby picnic table and ate. Then the gang decided to go shopping. It had taken longer to get to the beach than they had spent on it. Now they were going shopping.

Aley and I demurred and headed back to our stuff.

I sat back and started to read. Aley dug a hole and lay down with her swollen belly sunk in the sand.

Everybody at the beach sits facing the water. It is a beautiful site, but all the interesting stuff happens on the beach. So I did read, but hiding behind sunglasses I was able to people watch as well.

There are many interesting sights on the beach that day. Like the guy in the Speedo or the pregnant lady in the bikini – unfortunately that one was with me. An old guy slept nearby with his mouth open and his upper dentures resting precariously on his bottom lip.  A little boy cried bloody murder because he had sand in his suit, and was desperately trying to take it off while his dad yelled at him to not too. In his defense, if I had had sand in my suit I would have been crying too.

After everything that had happened, I did end up spending a fun and relaxing day at the beach with my daughter. When it was time to go, I hauled the 100 pounds of crap back up to the car, loaded it in the trunk and started for home.

We had been on the road less than five minutes when Aley said, “This doesn’t look right. I think we’re going the wrong way.”

 

Steve Hagood is the author of Chasing the Woodstock Baby from Indigo Sea Press. To learn more about Steve visit his website http://www.stevehagood.com

 

 

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Unique Grammar Lessons

I seem to have unusual ways of doing things or unusual things happen to me. You, dear reader, can decide if this is an example.

Years ago, when I was preparing to move into my college dorm, my mother helped me pack clothes and the two of us tried to imagine all the other things I’d need to start my very first semester.

Mom was used to having me close where she would be available to help with homework or guidance for different circumstances, and I’m sure, since I was an only child, she was prematurely suffering from “Empty Nest” syndrome. I, on the other hand, was looking forward to making new friends and having a bit more freedom than I’d previously had.

Once there, the transition went smoothly and I got settled in nicely. Everyone with whom I came in contact was friendly and helpful. My roommate and I hit it off right away. It was a whole new world and I couldn’t wait to experience it.

I got the feeling as I finished unpacking that my mother was worried I’d forget about her, because I soon discovered she’d packed a tablet of stationary along with an equal amount of stamped envelopes addressed to her, so it wouldn’t be inconvenient for me to write letters home. She even wrote the salutation, “Dear Mom” at the top of each sheet of stationery and valediction and my name at the bottom. FYI that was before cell phones and e-mail, i.e. people used to write letters back then.

Anyway, I tried to be a good dutiful daughter and wrote every week telling my mom about all my classes and activities, the people I’d met and how lovely the campus was. I even justified why I needed money occasionally. Sound familiar?

The surprise came when my mom wrote back to me. I guess I need to explain that my mother was a former college professor and very picky about grammar, so when I opened her very thick letters, I realized my previous letter was enclosed. I couldn’t imagine why she had returned my letter until I unfolded the paper and looked at it. She had gone over it and corrected all my grammar and spelling errors and marked them in red pencil!

Some college kids might have been aggravated by that. Not me. Once I realized what she did, I thought it was so funny it made me laugh out loud. That was my mom, all right. Bless her heart; she was a teacher through and through. Even from a thousand miles away, she was trying to help me.

As I look back on that time in my life, I am so grateful she took the time and effort to go that extra step, odd and insignificant as it seemed at the time. It really made me conscious of grammar and spelling and has made me aware to this day, many, many years hence. In fact, I think I have “become my mother” in that regard. I’m a real stickler, but that trait has helped me since I decided I wanted to be a writer. I still make mistakes, but I try to look things up if I’m not sure about them.

What influenced you to learn correct grammar? Was it memorable? Lasting, like mine?

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.  Join here here each 11th of the month.

 

 

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The Grim Reaper in the Queen City by Steve Hagood

September. It’s that special time when the temperatures cool off, the kids go back to school, and football season starts. It’s my favorite time of year.

Last September, my wife, Jenni, and I traveled to Charlotte, NC to watch the Detroit Lions play against the Carolina Panthers. As it turns out, September is not fall in Charlotte, North Carolina where the average September temperature is 81 degrees with 73% humidity. I was born and raised in Michigan. I am a northern boy with thick skin and thick blood. 81 degrees with 73% humidity might as well be hell.

On the Saturday before the game, we went out to explore the city. This being fall (I thought), I was wearing blue jeans. I was also wearing a black Detroit Lions tee shirt and baseball cap. This would turn out to be a bad move. Walking around Charlotte, sweat streamed off of my head, down my back and into places better left unsaid. I don’t remember Andy Griffith or Aunt Bea sweating the way I sweated on that day.

I have to take a moment to tell you about Jenni. She is a wonderful person. A devout Catholic who teaches catechism two nights a week and aspires to be a nun after I’m dead. Ninety-nine percent of the time Jenni wears shirts that have a religious saying on them, or are from the Vacation Bible School she runs every summer. However, on this particular Saturday, she wore a concert shirt from the band Styx that happened to feature a picture of the Grim Reaper, rowing a boat across the river Styx.

As we explored the city, and sweated profusely, Jenni wanted to check out churches. There are over 300 churches in Charlotte and every one of them was locked, except for one. It just happened to be a beautiful, old, Catholic Church. The door opened to Jenni’s pull, and music emanated from inside.

“We shouldn’t go in there,” I said.

“They’re having mass,” Jenni said. “We should go in.” There has never been a mass she didn’t want to attend.

“GO IN?” I thought. We were not dressed for mass. I was sweating through my shirt and she was wearing a picture of the grim reaper!

But, before I could get the words out, Jenni was in the church and an usher was leading her to a pew about three-quarters of the way back in what I now saw was a very full church.

What could I do? I took off my hat, slicked down my sweat drenched hair, and followed.

We got to our pew just as the congregation was kneeling for the first time in preparation of communion. I obediently knelt next to the future nun.

Angry eyes descended on us from every angle. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, fearing I’d be turned to stone. Jenni was oblivious. She was in her element.

I noticed that these were some very nicely dressed people. There were coats and ties and dresses everywhere I looked. And then there was us.

I whispered, “We need to get out of here!”

Jenni responded, “No. It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine,” I said. “You’re wearing the grim reaper!”

“I’ll cover it up when we go up to communion.”

I sighed and relinquished myself to my fate.

As I knelt there, I realized it was just about noon, on Saturday. That seemed like an odd time for mass. I grew up in the Catholic Church and didn’t remember ever hearing of a Saturday at noon mass. And, as I said, these people were very well dressed. They took their church serious down here.

The time finally came to go up to communion. I stood in line, head down intent on not making eye contact with anyone, while Sister Jenni hid the grim reaper between her boobs.

Somehow, we managed to get through the communion line without incident. When we got back to our pew and knelt Jenni whispered, “This is not good.”

“Ya think?” I said.

She picked up the flyer that she had received when we entered and pointed at the front cover. It said, “Funeral Mass for Charles Turner.”

I sighed. We had crashed a funeral. And one of us was wearing the GRIM REAPER on her chest!

“Let’s go,” I said.

“Wouldn’t it be rude to get up and leave?”

Before I could answer an old lady stopped at our pew. “Uh oh, here we go,” I thought. And then the old lady, probably Charles Turner’s widow, stuck out her hand to shake ours and thank us for coming.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Charles Turner while he was alive, but I swear, I’ll never forget him.

***

Steve Hagood is the author of Chasing the Woodstock Baby

follow Steve on Twitter @authorhagood

http://www.indigoseapress.com/Stiletto-Books–Crime-and-Mystery-Authors-A-H.php#Steve

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Getting older? Here’s an App. By Mickey Hoffman

These days I feel like my body has become a foreign entity which does whatever it wants. I’ve almost given up trying to keep control. Bits and pieces, parts and systems go awry without advance notice and seemingly without cause. So I have decided to relinquish my futile attempts at managing these processes. But if I’m no longer going to pretend to be in charge, something has to take over. Hence, the new app. This app is called, “Today’s Body Part.”

After download and installation on your mobile device, the app will run itself beautifully.  Each morning a cheerful message will appear on screen to inform you which of your body parts or systems is going to go wrong.

For example, “Good Morning. This is your lumbar spine and I’m excited to tell you I’m going to be your Body Part of the Day! For more details just watch your finger press the icon and read on. (Since you have allowed us our autonomy there’s no need for you to lift a finger, as the saying goes, hah hah.) Thanks for checking in, see ya Soon.” For extra fun, download the Deluxe app which will allow you to view the message through your cellphone camera as an animated cartoon superimposed on your current location.

Today’s Body Part app will alleviate all the anxiety that comes from trying to keep the aging process at bay.  Download Today!

***

Mickey Hoffman is the author of mystery novels School of Lies and Deadly Traffic. Visit www.mickeyhoffman.com for details.

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Living In The Moment

It wasn’t long after school was back in session that I began to notice a shade of orange everywhere I went. Pumpkin spice everything seemed to have taken over.

 
It was odd, I thought, that I was still wearing flip-flops and shorts yet there were signs of fall every time I went into a store. Then the spooky things began to appear, which told me that Halloween was just around the corner.

 
It was barely Labor day.

 
Before I could get costumes and candy for the kids, I began to see displays of Christmas items. There were lights strung up, Christmas-y wrapping paper began to appear in the center of aisles, and Santas of all sizes were suddenly in my line of vision. Even the grocery stores began to display all the food items that we normally associate with Christmas. There were tins of cookies, candy canes, and fruitcakes every time I turned around!

 
Like everyone else, I shopped nearly every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, trying to make sure my children had everything they “needed” for Christmas morning. (Yes, I meant to put the quotes around the word ‘need.’ I mean, who needs a second pair of Uggs?)

 
I wrapped each night after they went to sleep, planned my Christmas dinner, and tried to think of new places to hide the presents I’d purchased but hadn’t managed to wrap yet.

 
Then it was all over.

 
But before the last present was unwrapped, I noticed that all the stores I shop at suddenly had a lot of red and pink in them.

 
Could it be?….

 
But of course. We are already preparing for the next holiday! We are doing this with such speed that we aren’t even able to enjoy the holiday we are currently celebrating!

 
Honestly, I find it a bit frustrating. It seems that we are now becoming a society with a huge case of ADHD. We can no longer sit and relax or have even just one day where we have nothing to do, no plans, no place to go. And if we are one of the lucky ones who find ourselves with such a day, we tend to feel guilty and a bit out of sorts because there is that nagging feeling that “surely, I should be doing SOMETHING.”

 
This concept of enjoying the moment seems to be a lost art. I see this same trend with my kids and their friends. They are so engrossed in taking a selfie that they forget to enjoy the event they are actually supposed to be attending! Instead of simply enjoying a delicious Starbuck’s Frappuccino or delectable coffee drink, we snap a picture of it so we can post it to Instagram for our friends to see. Honestly, every time I see a picture of someone’s dinner plate, I want to reach through the phone and choke them. Does anyone really care what you had for dinner?

 

Just eat it, for God’s sake!

 
We’ve lost the ability to simply enjoy the moment we find ourselves in and instead focus on ensuring others know what we are doing, eating, drinking and who we are with at every moment of our lives.

 
So for this new year, I vow to be in the moment. I vow to enjoy what is right in front of me instead of taking a picture of it and then tracking the number of “likes” I get. Because all that really matters is that I like what I’m doing at the moment and that I’m enjoying it with people I care about.

 

I mean, do you really care that I just had a granola bar?

 

 

Donna Small is the author of women’s fiction novels.  Her latest book “Through Rose Colored Glasses,” will be released shortly from Indigo Sea Press.  When not writing, she can be found at her home preparing for the Zombie apocalypse with her two daughters and her dogs, Charlie and Finley.  She is currently at work on her next novel.  

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Should Never

By Jay DuretWoolly Mammoth copy

“A new research report suggests that scientists may be able to recreate an extinct woolly mammoth from its long-frozen DNA.” – New York Times

 

I.

Should never
I see that now.
Twisted by logic
Played by logicians, swept
By the force of cunning argument.
Should never.

Debate will do that.
The river of words
Slow, languorous even, at the edges
Where you first step in.
Gently seductive, gently urging,
Gently gently gently down the stream.
But further, towards the sluicing middle, the current
Irresistible. The logic, the argument, the hard claw of debate.
Irresistible.
I was carried down the stream.
I am sorry.
Should never.

I blame Google.
It is one thing, after all, to search for words.
We do that.
We are human; we have no choice.
But pictures? Images?
This should be taboo.

Once I saw you I could not straighten my thinking.
I knew the arguments, heard the debates,
I have a mind that can hold opposing ideas in balance.
In equipoise.
But the swoop of your ivory. Its magnificent curl.
The rich dignity of your coverings.
As a people, we dream of a coat like your colossal swinging fur coat.
We hear in dreams the deep poundings of your stride
Turning tundra to grassland, step by booming step.

To see your image was to fail you.
Should never.
Should never have brought you,
Woolly Mammoth, Woolly Mammoth,
I should never have brought you back.

II.

I was born in a glass tube in a clinic in LA
Cloned from a morsel of DNA, that DNA exhumed
From a nugget of amber,
Or a bubbling tar pit, or a fossil in the Dakotas.
My papa, not mammoth, not woolly,
A balding man in a white lab coat
With bad breath, like he stunk inside,
Like all humans.
Stunk inside.

I won’t speak human.
Human sounds won’t pass my mouth.
We took a vow, my brothers and sisters,
Even as we dwindled,
Even as the light that burned within us
Flickered
We would never utter words that had been spoken
By humans or their kind.
Poisoned meat. Poisoned grasses.
The rapaciousness of hunters.
The voraciousness of human hunger.
You hunted us down. You ate us up.
All of us.
Extinction.

I know why it is you brought me back.
I know what it is you want.
The debate, the logic, the business with Google; all lies
I know why you brought me back:
You want me to balm you with forgiveness.
You want the gift of words.
But I won’t speak them.

To be extinct is to be beyond words.
Beyond any words, beyond all words,
Human words, mammoth words, it doesn’t matter.
I am beyond words.
I am dead to words.
I won’t speak human.
I took a vow.

 

Should Never originally appeared in the New Verse News

*          *          *

Jay Duret is a San Francisco based writer and illustrator who blogs at www.jayduret.com. His first novel, Nine Digits, was published by Indigo Sea Press.  Jay welcomes feedback at jayduret@yahoo.com. 

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What’s In a Word 2 – by Paul J. Stam

More madness with the English language

Foreign Legion soldier at Keelung, January 1885

A bass drum

So there I was with all this Polish furniture to polish. I didn’t know how I would get it all done so I got a soldier to desert his dessert in the desert to help me. After all his help I felt there was no time like the present to present him with the present I had for him. He did not object to the object I gave him, which was a bass drum with a bass painted on it.

English: Short leg cast

Later I went to visit an invalid friend with invalid insurance. He had a leg injury. When I go there his room was so full I was too close to the door to close it. Before I got there the doctors had to subject the subject to a series of tests. He was in great pain but after a number of injections the leg was number. They didn’t think they could save the leg, but how could I intimate this to my intimate friend?

Now unless you are bilingual, multilingual or super lingual, you’re kind of like me in that the English language is what we have to work with. I do the best I can, and I don’t know about you, but I have never been able to find an egg in an eggplant or an apple nor a pine in a pineapple. And why is it sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet at all, are meat? Why is it boxing rings are square and why is it quicksand sucks you down slowly?

And so I leave you with this, not every word is what it seems to be, or is necessarily so, which brings me to my autobiography which I am writing entitled, “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” and which will probably never be published, but at the beginning of it I give the reader fair warning with this.

An Introduction
To Be Read

It has been said that, “History is written by the winners.” Hell, I said that in one of my books soon to be released by Second Wind Publishing, so it had to have been said before me. I am one such winner in that I have outlived any who might be able to refute the things I say in my autobiography.

However, I will, to the best of my ability, be honest except when it suits me to be otherwise. After all, I am a storyteller, and the important thing to a storyteller is to keep the reader interested, not be honest.

I will also warn you that the things I tell you about me, my family, my life, my loves, my hates, my accomplishments (there’s very damned few accomplishments so I’ll have to make some up) and my failures (do you really think I would tell you about those) are things that interest me, or at last did at the time.

Now, having been warned, let us begin. Please feel free to make suggestions. They will be welcomed and ignored, as is the case with any suggestions from close friends.

There, you’ve been warned, exactly what you have been warned about I’m not sure.

Thank you, and May Only Good Come Your Way.

Copyright © 2015 by Paul J. Stam
All rights reserved

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Final MSS Cover frontMurder Sets Sail is available from Second Wind Publishing and on Amazon. Kindle editions is only $4.99.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]Another of Paul’s books, The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99.

To watch The Telephone Killer video click here.

The Telephone Killer is now also available as an audiobook.

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Since everything is copyrighted please feel free to re blog any of my posts but please repost in its entirety and giving appropriate credit.

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Do You Mondegreen? by Velya Jancz-Urban

mondegreen

Flashback to 1972: I was fourteen-years old and my brother was twelve. Our mother was wandering around the house belting out the lyrics to a very popular song, America’s “Horse with No Name.” My brother and I really weren’t paying too much attention because she was always singing something, thinking she was pretty groovy. When “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” came out, she thought she was incredibly cool as she sang about “the baddest man in the whole damn town.” But back to “Horse with No Name.” For some reason, we actually started listening to her and as she wrapped up the chorus my brother and I looked at each other and exploded with laughter. Instead of singing, “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,” she crooned, “I went through the desert with Horace No-Name.” We laughed like hyenas with hiccups gasping for air!  The kind of laughing that leaves you feeling satisfied and happy, but with sore stomach muscles the next morning.

Horse With No Name

Do You Mondegreen?
…yup, we all do!
A mondegreen is the mishearing or misrepresentation of a phrase, usually from a song or poem.

The Disney movie Pocahontas came out when our daughter was about three years old, and it seemed the soundtrack was always playing in the car. One of the songs was called “Savages” and the English settlers boomed out the highly inflammatory lyrics, “They’re savages! Savages! Dirty red skin devils!” But, from her car seat, sweet Ehris always growled:

“They’re sandwiches, sandwiches, dirty red skin devils!”
They’re savages, savages, dirty red skin devils! – “Savages” from Pocahontas

Pocahontas

In 2005, Gwen Stafani’s “Hollaback Girl” became the first digital download to sell one million copies. My husband, snapping his fingers to the thumping tune sang:

“Few times I’ve been around that track
So it’s not just gonna happen like that

Cause I ain’t no Harlem black girl!

I ain’t no Harlem black girl!”
(‘Cause I ain’t no hollaback girl, I ain’t no hollaback girl)

Harlem Black Girl

George M. Cohan may have written the song in 1906, but when my brother was little he patriotically marched around the house with his own tribute to the American flag:

“You’re a Grand Old Flag you’re a high flying flag and forever in peace may you wave,
You’re the emblem of, the land I love,
The homer, the femur, the rave. (The home of the free and the brave.)

Ev’ry heart beats true under red light, and blue”  (Ev’ry heart beats true ‘neath the Red, White and Blue)

You're A Grand Old Flag

My brother also insisted that the “ABC Song” went like this: “A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,11,P”

The Alphabet Song

And finally, our son Mic had his own version of Donna Summer’s 1979 hit, “Hot Stuff.”  Unlike her Platinum version, his did not hit the Hot Disco Singles list:

“I want some pasta baby this evening! Gotta have some pasta baby tonight!”
“I want some hot stuff, baby this evenin’, Gotta have some hot stuff, Gotta have some love tonight!”

Hot Stuff

How about you? Do you have any funny mondegreens? Kids are particularly good at mishearing lyrics and repeating them with confidence! Share yours in the comments below.

Velya Jancz-Urban is a teacher, author, former Brazilian dairy farm owner, expert on New England’s colonial women, inhabitant of a 1770 haunted home, and a Chica Peep. She has a newly-released novel, Acquiescence, and her first book in a children’s hands-on science series is slated to hit the market by end of summer 2015. When she’s not touring with her highly-entertaining and informative presentation The Not-So-Good Life of the Colonial Goodwife or on the road speaking about her new book Acquiescence, she’s traveling from school-to-school teaching her award-winning How Cool is That? (Hands-On Science) programs.

www.acquiescencethebook.com

Amazon link for Acquiescence: http://www.amazon.com/Acquiescence-Velya-Jancz-Urban/dp/1630661023/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426867032&sr=8-1&keywords=acquiescence+velya+jancz-urban

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How I Survived “__?__NADO”

by Coco Ihle

“What IS that?” I said out loud, as a flicker of movement outside my office window caught my eye. Something was moving in the middle of my backyard. The grass hadn’t been mowed for almost a week and it had grown a lot since torrential rains had been pummeling the neighborhood for most of that time.

My desk is against the window and I stood leaning over toward the glass, to get a closer look. I could see something black, but the grass was too high to make out what it was. Since I live in a nature preserve, I’ve learned to expect all sorts of wildlife during the years I’ve lived in this area of Florida, but this was a real puzzle. It wasn’t big enough or the right color to be an armadillo or possum or any of the larger animals I’ve seen. It moved again. Maybe it was an injured bird.

My vantage point was too low and the bottom half of the window was screened, which made visibility difficult, so I decided my step ladder might help. I set it up alongside my desk, got up on the third step with one foot, straddled the desk and placed my other foot over on the window sill so I could look down on whatever it was. I still couldn’t see well enough. I got down, went into my living room and grabbed my opera glasses, went back to my office and back up the ladder.

While I was trying to focus the binoculars, the phone rang. I glanced over my desk and my caller ID said it was my son, Rob. I climbed down and answered. Before he could say anything, I started telling him what I was doing, and he started chuckling. He said he was picturing me straddled over my desk looking out the window and it was just too funny. I was glad he couldn’t see a video of me then.

Anyway, I asked him what I should do. He suggested I go out and look. Duh. But, I didn’t know what it was! Maybe it was a snake or something equally creepy. I climbed back up the ladder to look some more, all the while answering Rob’s questions. “How big is it? What does it look like? Is it still moving?” I didn’t know. By the time I got my opera glasses focused again, whatever it was, wasn’t where it had been. Eeeek!

I finally spotted it closer to the house. What the heck was it? It was slithering through the grass. My heart was really pumping at this point. My son suggested I get a large container and capture it. Easy for him to say! He lives forty minutes from me and he was safe and sound in his house. But he had planted the seed. I had to find out. I told him I’d call him back.

Gathering my courage, I went into the kitchen, found a large plastic mixing bowl with a snap-on lid and went out the patio door, all the while telling myself I could do this. I tried to get a grip on my pounding heart and heavy breathing. I certainly didn’t want to pass out now and have that thing, whatever it was, crawl on me! Cautiously, I crept along, searching, and finally spotted it around the side of the house, deep in the wet grass. It still wasn’t recognizable. By this time, my imagination had me one hair short of terrified, but despite that, I crept closer.

When I got about a yard away, I leaned forward as far as I dared, without losing my balance, and teetered above it on one foot. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a catfish! A catfish in my yard? Seriously?! It was about a foot long. I could see its whiskers. I’m not a fisherperson, so I didn’t know if they bite or have poisonous barbs or something, so I decided to try scooping it up into the bowl and taking it to the pond at the end of the street, two houses away.

I’m glad there wasn’t any video of this endeavor, either! You see, I have this problem. All my life I’ve never been able to scream. When something scares me and I open my mouth, a weird guttural sound comes out. It’s nothing like a scream. It’s a low pitched, breathy “Auuuuunnh!” After a couple of those sounds sort of slipped out during a lot of writhing and slithering, I finally was able to get him in the bowl and snap on the lid. Shouting, “Eeeeuuuuww!” all the way, I ran down the street to the pond, tore open the lid and threw my arms in that direction. He flew up in the air, arced downward and splashed into the water. Then off he went, swimming as fast as he could.

Exhausted, I called Rob back and described my ordeal, which sent him into gales of laughter. He kept saying, “Stop, stop!” I could picture him grasping his side in laughter-pain. When he finally calmed down, he said he could just see me “screaming” and dancing around with arms flailing, trying to get the catfish into the bowl and then running like a maniac to get to the pond to release it.

By this time, my heartbeat was getting close to the normal range and I could almost breathe without panting. Through his chuckles, Rob said, “Just think, Mom, you saved a fish’s life! What an original fish story.”

With a weak smile, I answered in my defense, “Well, at least my story is true.”

***

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric, traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.
Join her here each 11th of the month.

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