Tag 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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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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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

A Fun Hangout – Gibber’s!

These days, I don’t have much time to just hang out with friends and crack jokes.  One liners.  Try to be funnier than they are, only to realize that it’s a draw.  It’s always a draw, because when you hang with friends and laugh, well, everybody has a good time.

What can be better than that?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t get nearly enough opportunities to do that.  I mean there is work, Duncan* duties (and cleaning up the doo-doo), and the fact that all my friends are spread out around the area, around the country and around the world.

And when I top one of John’s line with the funniest thing ever said by person-kind, he just looks at me, straight-faced, and tries not to laugh.

My need to one-up and be one-up’d has led me to a really fun new blog.  OK, it isn’t really that new.  OK, I’m a rotten person because I should have done this post a while ago.  It’s Gibber Jabberin!

Blatently stolen from http://gibberjabberin.wordpress.com/ . Sue me.

Blatantly stolen from http://www.Gibber Jabberin.wordpress.com.
Sue me.

Now, we regulars over there give Gibber a hard time.  Well, we give each other a hard time, too, but I’m talking about the hard time we give to Gibber now.  (You’ll have to visit the site to see how we treat visitors/commenters.)

You see, Gibber is brilliant.  She set up a blog where everybody else does all the work!  Seriously!

Folks send her questions — predominately stupid questions.  She introduces them, and her followers read and comment.  Then we abuse each other.

It is Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

much fun

Today, one of my questions is featured!  My first musical question:

Head on over to Gibber Jabberin’ and see if you can answer the musical question.

And then see if you can answer a question for me — why didn’t I do this post sooner?

Apparently, stealing stuff from Gibber is habit forming.

Apparently, stealing stuff from Gibber is habit forming.

Zorbear told me that my links weren’t working.  In case my fixes didn’t work, here’s the site:  http://gibberjabberin.wordpress.com/ .

*     *     *

I haven’t posted any pictures of Duncan lately.  So here’s one.

Duncan in waning sunlight Photo Credit:  MEEEEEEEE

Duncan in waning sunlight
Photo Credit: MEEEEEEEE

(I do not have the Midas touch — Duncan has not turned yellow or gold.  He is still Cammo-dog, black and gray.  But I like this picture and he never ever sits still!)

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I can’t get no … revisited

It’s Open Season for choosing health care options at my company, and probably at yours.

Personally, I think that they call it something else, because I’m pretty sure that most people associate “open season” with hunting.  And people who get as frustrated as I have trying to have relatively simple questions answered should not be invited to think of firearms.

It's a simple question! ANSWER IT!!!  (Google image)

It’s a simple question! ANSWER IT!!! (Google image)

Instead of shooting anyone, or permanently damaging my own vocal chords screaming into the phone, I thought I would bring back this post nobody ever read.

*     *     *

Automated telephone answering systems are responsible for the 40% increase in psychotic events over the past 15 years.

That’s my theory, anyway. My hypothesis. I’m not sure how to prove it, but it is true. My secondary hypothesis is that all incidents of domestic terrorism are directly tied to automated telephone systems. The FBI should investigate.

Personally, I become psychotic each and every time I have to press 1 for this and 2 for that. I’ll cut them a break for language, though. I have no problem pressing 1 for English. People need to grumble in their native tongue. Spanish speakers should have that right too.

But in fact, nobody gets to bitch. We just press 1 or 2 respectively and listen to additional options, none of which are what we want. None of the prompts are even close to what really want to do. None of them says “Press 4 to scream at a human.”

I become progressively more apoplectic with each and every telephone prompt. Eventually, with perseverance, I finally get a person. And by the time I do, that person on their end of the telephone is thinking long and hard about their career choice.

It’s not their fault. I always tell them that. I know it is true. But that fact doesn’t alleviate any of my anger at the time I have spent just to get to them. And nine times out of ten, the human I have reached is the wrong human in the wrong department and usually in the wrong country. I must start again. My psychosis soars along with my blood pressure.

There is even one telephone prompt voice that makes my blood boil. I call her Sybil. Sybil is everywhere: at my cable company and my power company and a couple of the banks I briefly considered doing business with until I heard her speak. She is young, chatty. She pretends to be my friend. She is not my friend. I do not want to be friends with a telephone prompt. I do not want to talk to her. I do not want to do anything she asks of me. And I really do not want to press her buttons. She is pressing mine. Remotely.

On average, after approximately 5 different prompts I am invariably led to a dead end where I have the same four original choices, none of which remotely fulfilled my need at the start. Or, if somehow one of the choices would work, I am promptly disconnected. I must start again with Sybil.

I am pretty sure the cost savings in terms of personnel is not worth it for businesses. Often by the time I am done with a call about this or that, I am ready to destroy the building. And if all your customers feel that way—and they do–perhaps you should rethink your policy.

One minute with a person early on and my problem would have been solved, amicably, and I would be a satisfied customer. Instead, an hour later, I would give all that I own for a battalion of similarly psychotic customers who would help me storm company headquarters and pin down just one human for us to yell at in turn. But by the time my turn comes, of course, I will have forgotten why I want to yell at them. And then I’ll have to talk to Sybil again.

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