Category Archives: Word Press

Do I Hear Five?

On May 29, 2011, I was fifty-four and a half years old.  And I was seriously irritated at the GOP in Congress.  You see, they had announced that they were going to take away Medicare from those then under 55 years old.  And that meant me.  I spouted off about it to anyone who would listen.

They’re gonna take Medicare from ME!  I’m 54-1/2!  That’s where they’re gonna start!

After the first 528 times I mentioned this fact to each and every person I could corner, I still felt unsated.  I wanted to tell more people of my irritation.  Whether or not I knew them.

And so I heard a voice inside my head (something I rarely admit to):

Go forth, it said,  and start a blog.

Oh and give it a stupid name to keep yourself humble.

And so I did.  Both of those things.  FiftyFourAndAHalf was born with this post.

Blogging has been a completely different experience than I expected.

My original plan was to do a political/humor blog.  But in spite of a never-ending source of fodder, I found that I wanted to write about other things, too.  That part didn’t really surprise me.

What surprised me was that blogging, and Word Press, became a place where I met new friends, discussed topics important to me.  Where I laughed and cried along with folks I will probably never meet.

Thanks, everybody.  And while I’ve been writing less than usual and reading less than usual, I love the special place that is the ‘sphere.  So, yeah, thanks for being out there, for reading, and for giving me stuff to read too.

From Daily Kos.com

From Daily Kos.com

 

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Shades of Gray — Copycat Edition

Doobster of Mindful Digressions named me in a photography challenge.

And since I am really a rotten photographer (but I do Google Images with finesse), I figured, what the hell.

Here are the rules:

The rules are pretty simple:

  1. Post a black & white photo daily for five posts in a row.
  2. Invite someone different to participate each day.

Ummm, except for photos of my black and white dog, which I take in color but still end up being black and white due to the subject matter, I don’t really do black and white.  I don’t do much in color, either.

But here goes.

My old headder in color

My old headder in color

 

And now, if I can figure out how to do it …

Does this work?

Does this count?

 

OK.  I’ll do it right.  I think ..

I did it!  With Doobster's help.

I did it! With Doobster’s help.

 

I’m going with the color one(s), I don’t know about you!

These are pictures of the place in Maine where my family goes in the summer — and occasionally in the winter.

I’m not going to challenge anyone to do this — feel free to do it and link to Doobster.  But it is kind of neat to see my photo in black and white.

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Climate Change, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Love, Maine, Word Press

How I Became A Famous Humor Writer

You might as well start gagging now. Because as a fake humor expert, I am bound and determined to tell you how it is done.

(Oh no!  I already violated one of the principles of writing — “Show,” don’t “Tell!”  Rats!)

When I wrote my post Trifecta! the other day, many commenters were shocked to find out that I had studied humor writing.

I’m not quite sure how to take that.

I mean, can’t you tell that this has been a life-long pursuit of mine? That I have been through decades of intensive training and Dick Van Dyke show watching?  Doesn’t my brilliant technique shine through? You know, like shinola?

I will stop being an ass now. Although being an ass is fun – and funny (see Steve Martin, for example).  And it comes so easily to some of us …

On to the Public Service Announcement

 PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!

PSA2

Surprise is an excellent humor technique. Google Image, Natch.

 

When I said that I “studied humor writing” in Trifecta, I applied the first and most important rule of humor writing:

EXAGGERATION

So yeah, I “studied” humor writing. I took a course. One course. Online.

I’d been writing professionally — as a fake medical expert — for years; but it’s very dry. I am not. (Well, sometimes.)  But I wanted to have some fun, and so I started taking writing classes.

Humor Writing I was the second of three courses I took at Gotham Writers Workshop. (The first was Creative Writing 101 and the third was a Memoir course.) You can probably tell by the fact that I took THREE courses from them that I thought they were pretty good – or that I learned enough to justify the cost. Or that the courses coincided with baseball season. Or basketball season. Perhaps Lacrosse.

The first lesson of the class was the hardest, and most fundamental:   Written stories have to be structured differently than spoken ones or they are not funny.

Our first assignment was to tell a funny story you’d told a million times. This’ll be a breeze! I thought. I chose one that I’d been telling for 30 years to tears of laughter. After three days of trying, I posted a question on the online chat room:

“Has anybody else found that they are suddenly no longer funny?”

Everybody in the class felt they were no longer funny.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to write.  My hilarious — time tested — story fell flat. Writing that story up made me realize just how different humor writing is from just plain ole writing. And it made me realize that I had a lot to learn. I still do.

Anyway, if you click on the link above, you will get the synopsis of the course. It mentions a few principles of humor writing – ones that I really do use a lot. And the course led me to start this blog – (because what the hell else would I do with the stuff I wrote there?).  I am not sure it would be appropriate to sue Gotham for that, though.

There are lots of techniques and skills that I learned. The ones I use most often are:

The Rule of Three. Things are inherently funnier in threes. The Three Stooges (who I don’t think are at all funny); the Three Little Pigs; the Three Musketeers. The course taught me to look for threes whenever I was trying to be funny. It is something I do consciously now. Because for some reason it really does work. Even when I don’t use threes, I find that looking for them focuses my thinking on the two or four or however many end up in my story.

Snowballing is another good technique. That one I’m pretty sure you can figure out for yourself. Especially after this winter.

It enabled me to find my “voice.” Showed me ways to look at stupid people and present them at their, ummm, most realistic. Dialog. Comparisons to normal life. 

Two of my early blog posts were assignments in the class. They are still some of my best.

Downsizing

Manitoba Bound

I am not promoting or being paid (alas) by Gotham. But I promised to write about my humor writing studies.  The teachers taught me a lot, but much depends on the level of participation in the class.  It was great in the first two, sadly lacking in the Memoir course.

I don’t have any pretenses to being the next Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry.  But if you want to start paying me the big bucks in exchange for some snark, feel free to contact me!

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Filed under Bat-shit crazy, Bloggin' Buddies, Criminal Activity, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts, Word Press, Writing

Four Thousand Crazy People?

Today I reached a milestone that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

The day didn’t start out quite so warm.  In fact, just the opposite:

My picture.  Taken with MY iPhone.  Take THAT Google images!

My picture. Taken with MY iPhone. Take THAT Google images! The Potomac River, expressing my feeling that with the GOP in charge of both houses, Hell IS Freezing Over.

 

But now I have a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.  Coffee and oatmeal helped, but really it was the number that did it.

“I have 3,999 blog followers!” I told John last night, excitedly.

As in all things blog-related, he just looked back at me and politely held back the “so what” he was thinking.  (Can I see a show of hands of folks whose significant other has zero, zip, nada interest in all the wonders of blogging?)

For a non-stats watcher, well, I was watching this one.  It was kind of like New Year’s Eve, when I just have to watch the countdown.  And I have to do it aloud.

So this morning, while I was reading blogs I got my 4,000th follower!

PROOF!

PROOF!

There I was, commenting on Felix the Cat and I saw the orange star light up!  And heeeeeerrrrreeee he is — my 4,00th follower:

Snakes in the Grass

A Blog of Retirement and Related Thoughts

Stolen directly from his blog.  Yes, I am that kind of woman.

Stolen directly from his blog. Yes, I am that kind of woman.

He blogs about retirement, technology and his new life in Florida.  He’s a new blogger — I am his 33rd follower!  And that’s a nice number, too.  Go check him out.

Thank you all for reading my stupidly named blog, for commenting, for “liking” and even for arguing.  Thank you for writing the crazy, varied, dramatic, thoughtful, sarcastic, mind-blowing pieces you guys post.  Blogging is a blast, and I really treasure the very real relationships we have developed here in the tubes.

Do I hear 5,000?

 

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Family, Humor, Word Press, Writing

Now They’ve Gone Too Far

Lately, I’m afraid that we’ve become a society of apologists.  Have you noticed?  Everybody is apologizing all the time.  And not one of them means it.  Rarely does anybody take responsibility for their beliefs, which are often exactly what was exposed — their racism, mysogony, whatever.

Even more rare are these apologies as entertaining as the one that happened this past week, when the Governor of Delaware accidentally Tweeted a photo of a woman wearing bondage paraphernalia.  More of those would make the world at least a funnier place.

It’s not just that I’m error prone that makes me wary.  Anybody who knows me knows that I’m not big on social media.  Nope, not at all.  And it’s not only because I can’t be bothered to figure out how to use it.  I have a Facebook account that I started so that I could vote for Speaker7 for some contest she was in.  Naturally, I couldn’t vote anyway for some reason.  I have one “friend” on Facebook.

When I first started my blog, I joined LinkedIn, thinking I could promote my blog.  But then I had to enter real live info about myself like my name.  Since it is being used as a professional networking society, the dangers of using LinkedIn to promote my blog became clear.  Including a link to my blog would possibly attract a lot of people who would read my blog, but they would all be clients.  Clients reading that I am a “fake” medical professional.  And then, naturally, I would need to use LinkedIn to find a new job.

I’m sure I’d like Twitter — I love making short, snappy comebacks.  But a Twitter account would likewise end up with me needing to use LinkedIn to find a job because I’d never get any work done.

So I’ve been happy with face-to-face talking, emailing and texting.  And blogging of course, which is a realm all of its own.

But I just read an article that has me shaking at my keyboard.  Worried about where this will all end up.  Afraid of the future.  Because they’re going to get into my brain.  It’s just a matter of time before we can all transmit our thoughts to each other without the aid of a computer or a phone or even a mouth.

Yes, I just read Brain-to-brain verbal communication in humans achieved for the first time.

Oh joy.

It informed me that scientists have just managed to transmit thoughts from one brain to another, across the distance of 5,000 miles.  Brain to Brain.  Non-verbal, um verbal communication.

Can you imagine the future?  What politicians will say now?  The excuses they will come up with for when they express a true thought or opinion and the recipient doesn’t like it?  Oh Lord.  It won’t be pretty.

I think it’s going to be something like this:

It’s closer than you think.

 

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Gizmos, Huh?, Humor, Stupidity, Wild Beasts, Word Press

It’s a Joke, Son

My husband John makes a point of not laughing at my jokes.  He pretends that I am not the funniest person he knows — even though I often hear him repeating my zingers with a chuckle.  John has helpfully suggested that whenever I am “trying” to be funny, that I should hold up a flag to let the world know.  I counter that he is humor challenged.

As it turns out, I recently learned that there are loads of humor challenged folks.

And they read our blogs!

SHIT!

Now most of you know my good bloggin’ buddy, Peg-O-Leg.  Well, Peg was Freshly Pressed just yesterday!  It was a delayed FP’ing for a post she wrote over a month ago, entitled: Facebook Ruined My Life, Now They Must Pay.  It’s about how she wants to sue Facebook because somebody put up an embarrassing picture of her from her childhood.

It was a joke, son.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T2wYE0W1oo

But the thing is, she got comments from strangers criticizing her for suing Facebook.  I’m not joking, she got nasty comments about the lawsuit she was clearly making up for a humor blog.

Just how many humor challenged folks are there?

***

Peg’s predicament reminded me of one of my very early posts.  I couldn’t resist reposting it, because, well, it was my very first blogging experience with possibly humor challenged folks.

Manitoba Bound

It’s time to export all the stupid people in the United States to another country.  Congress will go along with it as long as we can designate “stupid people” a commodity.  A trade lawyer I consulted suggested that designating them as “spare parts” under the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement would permit widespread exportation of stupid people from all over the country.  It would also ensure that only “real” stupid people and not fake or “counterfeit” stupid people qualify.  US export numbers will skyrocket, the debt limit will take care of itself, and we won’t owe China a penny.  Or a Yuan.  The economy will be saved.  More importantly, I won’t have to deal with them any more.

I decided to send them to Canada – nobody lives there, anyway.  Manitoba, to be exact.  Why?  It’s easier to spell than “Saskatchewan.”  Manitoba is right there in the middle of the continent where the stupid people won’t be able to hurt themselves.  Like one big padded room.   They will be safe, happy, well cared for.  Cable TV.  Internet access — even broadband.  I’m not unkind, you know.  A team of teenagers will be available to help them turn on their TVs, stereos, DVD players, mobile phones.  Friends and family members can visit anytime.

There are a lot of stupid people in the US, you say, so where do we start?   We’re starting with the ones that bug me the most.  It’s only fair.  After all I am the brains here.

I deal with stupid people every day.  I work in medical products litigation.  Stupid people believe the TV lawyers’ mantra “Sue then Retire.”  Each time I walk into my office, I am smacked upside the head by the stupid actions of stupid people who sue for big bucks.  I learn way too much about them, sort of like when you interrupt your 74-year-old uncle in the shower.  You’d be happier without the image.

          I want them outta here.

 Here’s a contender:

 A woman named Mona was sick.   Mona went to her doctor and was given a 30 day prescription for the drug that would treat her.  She took it to the pharmacy where the pharmacist typed up a label and put it onto the bottle that the manufacturer dispensed the tablets in, because conveniently, those pills already came packaged in bottles of 30 pills.  Terrific!  Safe!  Foolproof!  How many times have you gotten medicine this way?  Loads of times, I wager.  Have you gotten it that way lately?  Nope.  Thank Mona.

Now Mona is a very precise woman.  She carefully monitors everything.  She uses a pedometer to count her steps, compares food package labels. Understands the food pyramid.  She doesn’t walk when the “Don’t Walk” sign starts blinking.  She knows the calorie, carbohydrate and vitamin content of everything she swallows. Brushes her hair precisely 100 strokes each night.  Flosses.  Therefore, she read the label that came with the pills from the drugstore, too.  She opened the sealed package, and poured out her first dose.  That’s when Mona’s ticket to Manitoba was punched.

Because when she dumped out that first pill into her hand, she also poured out a tiny crunchy plastic package about a half inch square.  It contained salicylic acid – packages like that are put into many products to help keep the contents dry and to prevent mold.  The little package in her hand said “DO NOT EAT.”  So she didn’t.  At all.  She didn’t eat for 30 days while she took her medicine.

She didn’t call her doctor and scream:

          “You never told me I couldn’t eat!” 

She did not call the pharmacist and say:

          “Can I at least have toast?  Or Jell-O?”  

And when she got very ill from (1) being stupid and (2) not eating for 30 days, did she feel embarrassed?  Did she pack for Manitoba?  No.  She sued the pharmacy and the drug manufacturer for millions of dollars for pain, suffering, and lost wages.  She won.

So Mona goes first.

And the woman who fell into the shopping mall fountain while texting and then sued the shopping mall?  You saw her.  She went onto local and national news shows to tell the story and to complain that no one helped her after she fell.  She said repeatedly that she was embarrassed that everyone she knew had seen her fall into the fountain on YouTube.  She was upset at being called “Fountain Lady.”  She appeared on television voluntarily, where they replayed the video three times for people like me who hadn’t yet enjoyed it.  She made absolutely sure that “Fountain Lady” was unmasked, because this caption appeared at the bottom left of the TV screen:

CATHY CRUZ MARRERO

“FOUNTAIN LADY” FIGHTS BACK

Her ticket is printing now.

 

 

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Diet tips, Disgustology, Health and Medicine, Huh?, Humor, Law, Mental Health, Stupidity, Word Press

Freakin’ Friday Feature! TwinDaddy Does it for Me!

Today I received possibly the best honor since I received my Oscars in 1983.  And I’m pretty sure I didn’t deserve this one, either.

Yes, today, TwinDaddy of Stuph Blog honored me by featuring me, Elyse(!) of FiftyFourAndAHalf.com on his relatively regular Friday post:  Feature Friday!

Now if you don’t know about TwinDaddy, I must tell you that he and I met over a gun control post I wrote.  He disagreed with my anti-gun stance.  Strongly.  But politely.  Respectfully.  He and I have debated this issue, along with many others on which we disagree with respect, facts and humor.  Of course, I continue to always be right, but TwinDaddy is always — and I mean always — a terrific guy whether we are agreeing or disagreeing.

But TD is more than that.  He is a sensitive, father of three incredible boys that he loves deeply and is not embarrassed to let everybody know.  He’s a fun writer of fiction and other stuph including poetry (even I don’t go there!).  He writes about feelings, deep, sometimes dark and sometimes light, feelings that really point out how alike we all are.  He writes about his struggles with depression, divorce and parenthood.

In short, he writes about life.  And his is worth sharing.

In addition “his” blog is filled with all kinds of stuph by not just TwinDaddy but also by Revis and 1Jaded1!  Three Mints in One! Each of them have their own stories to tell, and they are well worth reading.

Actually, I’m pretty sure that TwinDaddy is an anarchist — which is way far to the left of my socialist tendencies.  He is trying to destroy the world.  You see, most every week, TwinDaddy features one of his bloggin’ buddies in a post, asks them to pick some of their own special favorite posts, and asks his followers to read their stuff and THEN asks them to follow those blogs.  Basically, TwinDaddy shuts down the economy of the United States along with virtually every English-speaking country just about every Friday.

It’s been a busy day for me today, so I couldn’t give TwinDaddy the accolades he deserves until now.  So what I’ll do is carry forth the love.  To prove just what an honor being Featured on a Stuph Blog Feature Friday is, here are the other folks who have been so honored:

The Mercenary Researcher

Guapola

The Matticus Kingdom

Daises From Dust

Behind the Mask of Abuse

Rarasaur

Alice at Wonderland

Knocked Over By A Feather

33 Grams of Blog

So you can see, I’m in good company.

Thank you, TwinDaddy, for featuring me today.  But mostly, thanks for being such a good bloggin’ buddy.  YOU Seriously Rock!

Google Image

Well, I said you rock.
And you write poetry.
You wanna make something out of it?
Google Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Family, Huh?, Humor, Taking Care of Each Other, Word Press