Saturday, February 28, 2009

A tiny moment of joy

Yesterday when I was working on the novel, I realized OH MY GOSH I was having fun. Like, I couldn't wait to write the next sentence. And I thought I should make note, because mostly I whine about how hard writing is and how mostly I want to just put my head in the oven. Only my oven isn't very clean.

Shelley gave me permission to make this blog be what I want it to be, so yeah. I'm going to talk about what I eat. Yesterday I ate one of my "benchmark food" items. Explanation: I have several food things I try WHEREVER I go because Scientists of Eating like myself enjoy having a basis for comparison. My benchmark foods are these--chile rellanoes, potato salad, cole slaw, french fries, fry sauce, and key lime pie. I'm thinking about adding fish tacos.

Anyway. I had key lime pie at Rumbi's. It was pretty good. The texture was firm and smooth, which I liked. It didn't taste overly of sweetened condensed milk (which always reminds me of the first lemon pie I made in the fifth grade). But it was a tad bland and the crust (although looking great) was soggy.

I'm sure you're thrilled to know this.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

Home, of course, referring to this blog . . .

I don't know why I haven't been better about posting this month, although it did occur to me that if this were a food blog, I'd have something to say every day. In fact, I just said to my girlfriend Lisa that one day I may actually start a blog called THIS IS WHAT I ATE TODAY. No one would want to read it, of course, but I would be interested in it. Like, I could write about how two days ago I decided to eat potatoes in as many incarnations as I could think of, which meant in one twelve-hour period, I ate a baked potato, fries (Crown Burger), potato salad, and clam chowder. Dude. That's a lot of potatoes.

I'll try to be better.

P.S. I ate at Lamb's yesterday morning. I had eggs, bacon, and sourdough toast.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Had a satisfying conversation with my oldest son today. Among topics covered: the art of political cartooning, the creative process, various TV shows including LIFE ON MARS, the Drudge Report, key lime pie, the separate virtues of COSTA VIDA and CAFE RIO (a conversation started by Alec and Randi), and oh yeah. Why I hate my son's ponytail.

We also talked about the genre of fantasy. His wife loves fantasy and thinks I should try my hand at it. I told my son that I wish I COULD write fantasy. Fantasy is where it's happening in kids' books. The trend started by Harry Potter shows no signs of slowing down. Whenever I work at The King's English, I am STUNNED by how much new fantasy there is to shelf.

Still. I don't think I could write it. At least not high fantasy. I'm not sure I have the patience it probably takes to create and sustain an alternate world. Me, I like to look out my front window and write about the people I see walking down the street. At least a half dozen neighbors showed up in THE LOSER'S GUIDE.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What not to Wear

Okay, so I meant to do a little work on my novel. But instead I somehow got focused on how comfortable my stretchy pants are. And THEN I got caught up in one of my favorite paranoid fantasies, i.e. that Stacy and Clinton from WHAT NOT TO WEAR show up with friends and family to do an intervention with me.

FRIENDS: Look at her just sitting there on her bed wearing those stretchy pants, waiting for ON THE RECORD WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN to start. Which she likes. Even though Greta has a big old girl crush on Sarah Palin.

FAMILY: She wears those stretchy pants everywhere. She'd wear them to church if she thought she could get away with it. She'd also take her knitting to church if she thought she could get away with that, too.

ME: Dude. Stretchy pants are comfortable. What's wrong with being comfortable? When you're my age, you should feel free to wear stuff that feels comfortable. LIKE STRETCHY PANTS. Or stuff from Chico's.

STACY: Chico's?

CLINTON: Things are worse than we thought.

Ah . . .

You know what the best feeling in the world is? Taking off your jeans and putting on your stretchy pants. Dude! Heaven!

Why do I bring this up? Because (even though it's really late in the day) I am going to work on my novel for a bit, and it's important to be as comfortable (i.e. jean-less) as possible when you commence such a taxing undertaking.

And here's another good line from COLD COMFORT

This was is uttered by the ancient farmhand, Adam, upon hearing that one of the cows is missing a leg: "I know what goes on in the hearts of dumb beasts, wi'out spyin' round on them to see where they leaves their legs, from morn till eve."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wish I'd written it . . .

So I'm rewarding myself for finishing THE GATHERING by reading something funny--COLD COMFORT FARM by Stella Gibbons. It's a parody of melodramatic pastorals like WUTHERING HEIGHTS (even though I love WUTHERING HEIGHTS). Here we are introduced to one of the male leads--a strapping farm lad named Seth.

"A snood full of coarse porridge hung over the fire, and standing with one arm resting upon the high mantel, looking moodily down into the the heaving contents of the snood, was a tall young man whose riding-boots were splashed with mud to the thigh, and whose coarse linen shirt was open to his waist. The firelight lit up his diaphragm muscles as they heaved slowly in rough rhythm with the porridge."

Oh. I would just die happy if I ever wrote anything that terrific.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

So you want to write a column: a tip or two

When people find out I write a weekly column, they often ask where I get my ideas from. The short answer is my own experience. But what kind of personal experiences should a humor columnist write about?

I find that people want to read about those moments when I'm grappling with negative emotion--anger, pissiness, frustration, acute embarrassment. And they want to read about the incident that caused it--getting locked outside in my underwear, finding out a kid has a science project due the next day, being on the receiving end of the world's worst haircut. Why do people like to read about this stuff?

Because it's funny. Humor resides in the chasm between the way things should be and the way they really are. This explains why Christmas letters are soooo dreary. Dude! It is just no fun at all to read about kids who get scholarships and husbands who get promoted.

One more thing. Always make yourself the butt of your own jokes. People will accept what you dish out if you're your own favorite target.