Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.



I'm tired and I was about to go to bed... without posting. Here we are at day 30 of NoBlowMe and I almost screwed up. That would have been a kick in the head. Being that I'm too tired to come up with a decent post, here's a funny video. If you've seen Mallrats and/or you're a Kevin Smith fan, you'll enjoy it. Otherwise... well, it's all I got.





We have name plates on our offices at work. They are actually CD cases... the idea being that instead of just having boring wall-mounted name tags, everyone in the agency could design their own album cover. Here's the new one I put together yesterday:

Sadly, to date, no-one has.





So, remember how I said that I have written short stories? Well, I've written a few poems, too. Since I'm up against the wall and need to post, I'll share one now. It's meant to be fun... I certainly don't consider myself a serious poet.


O! Envy the smokers!
Proud clan of tobacco and fire
Bold in their disregard of modern thought
And the warnings of surgeons or generals.

Huddled together in designated areas
Segregated, disdained, and shunned
Raspy voices discuss future plans
Shrouded in nicotine’s blue haze

Bound by a single cause
A three minute shared experience
Non-smokers give them wide berth
Frightened by their hacking cant

Ivory prison currency
Passed between yellow-tinged fingertips
Cowboy pride fortifying them
When life becomes a drag

A dying breed
They are loyal to the pack
Fighting with flint and steel
Against those who would snuff them out.


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#233 In which our hero reveals a secret about himself.

I’m a copywriter. Often, when people I’ve just met ask me what I do, I tell them I’m an “advertising writer,” because I’ve discovered that most people don’t know what a copywriter is. Many assume it has something to do with legal copyrights, like I’m a paralegal or something. Couple of times I’ve slipped and just said, “I’m a writer.” This gets people all excited as they assume I mean I’m a novelist. When I say no, no, I don’t write fiction, I write advertising stuff. This also tends to be a little exciting to people, and they ask if I’ve written any TV commercials they’ve seen. And then when I say no, no, I mostly write print stuff. Point of sale banners, coupons, brochures, stuff like that… at this point they’re completely bored.

But I do write other things, obviously. Like this blog. It’s not fiction per se, but it’s not advertising copy, either. Couple of times I’ve written something in this blog that’s resonated with people, and they leave nice comments. Once I had a friend tell me, “You’re a great writer. You should write a book!” To which I smiled and said thank you… but I didn’t tell her the truth.

Which is that I already have.

I never talk about it, because… well, because I’m a little shy about my book, I guess. See, people think it’s terribly difficult to write a novel. I know that’s not true. It’s actually really simple to write a novel, you just need to sit down and start typing.

Now, to write a good novel… that’s something completely different. And to write a good novel that someone actually wants to publish; well, that’s something altogether different again.

Many people assume that copywriters secretly yearn to write the great American novel. It’s actually a bit of a cliché in my industry, the tortured artist who wants to make ART, not ads. And maybe that’s why I don’t talk about my book, because I don’t want to fall into this stereotype.

Or, maybe I’m just afraid my novel sucks.

But, honestly, I don’t think it does. And after spending so much damn time with it, I hope I would at least have a clue.

Let me back up a bit.

Long as I can remember, I’ve been expressing myself through writing; but I wouldn’t say I was a writer. I dabbled with comic book writing, and role playing and, of course, copywriting… but I was never the guy who sat in his room and pounded out short story after short story, just waiting for his talent to catch up to his determination. Writing was just a hobby, and I have a lot of hobbies.

But, several years ago, a story popped into my head, and I wrote it down. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the story, if anything, but it felt like something I should capture on paper. So I did.

It is called “Peter’s Book,” and I think it turned out pretty well.

It was just a short story, probably no more than 1,500 words. Which is pretty short, as far as short stories go. Bolstered by the success of this story, I went out on a limb and took a writing class at the local continuing education program. It was only $30, and I figured what the heck.

Writing class was bit of a misnomer; it was a writing workshop. In which everyone would bring something that they had written, and others in the class would critique it. The “instructor” was an unpublished writer, but she had more writing experience that I did, so I thought her opinion might be worthwhile.

The class turned out to be mostly late in life woman trying to write poetry or inspirational stories; some fairly decent, some gut-churningly bad. Everyone was really nice, though. In truth, too nice. Never did any of my writing (even the stuff that was bad) generate much in the way of negative comments. I think people were afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. And since the class was more inspiration to keep writing than tough love to improve your writing, I guess it served it’s purpose. I felt vaguely unfulfilled, though.

However, it did keep me writing. Since people in the class would often show up with nothing to share, I was motivated to write something to fill up the two hours. Because if I didn’t, the class quickly turned into a coffee klatch discussing daughters, granddaughters, flower arrangements (no joke) and similar topics of conversation. Not what I paid 30 bucks for.

I wrote several short stories during this time. Mostly horror, since I enjoy reading that genre. The old ladies in my group were game to read my stuff, I must say, even though I’m sure most would never pick up a horror novel by their own accord.

I found myself writing in the 2-3,000 word range pretty often. I found I could tell my entire story in that amount of words. Actually, I couldn’t imagine writing more than that… extending the narrative for any longer than that seemed insurmountable.

But then, I started writing my book.

I had written a story of about 6,000 words, and I was amazed at the length. I actually put a lot of importance on word count at this time… it seemed like a tangiable measure of success. If I could keep the story going for that long, and keep it interesting (to me, at least) it must mean that my fiction writing was improving. My writing workshop loved everything, of course, but they were all so nice that I never though that they comments were a good reflection of the truth.

From the beginning I thought my book would be longer than anything I had written up to that point. A novella, maybe.

And as much as I bash my writing group for being too nicey-nicey, they did set a firm deadline that I strove to meet every week. The class was on Thursdays, so if I hadn’t written a new chapter by Tuesday, I got down to work and banged it out.

So I’d bring in a chapter (or two on big weeks) and read it aloud to the class. They'd scribble comments on their copies and I’d take everything home and digest it. Some of the comments were really good; there was one woman in particular who wrote romance novels, and was really good. I learned quite a bit from her, especially when it came to cliffhanger chapter endings. For two years I worked on this book with that class. Here’s the results:

That’s 16 ¼ pounds of manuscript you see there. I kept every chapter I brought into the class, and the revised chapters. It wasn’t until I cleaned out my filing cabinet that I realized just how much paper I had accumulated.

I started the book in 2003, and wrote the last chapter sometime in 2005, I think (I don’t have anything in front of me because I’m blogging from work, of course). The final count was just more than 77,000 words. Which is still a little short for your typical paperback. And after all the comments, criticisms, revisions and rewrites, what did I do with my manuscript?


For two years. I don’t have a good reason why; I just let it sit and didn’t come back to it. I don’t have to do anything with it, of course… but I kept it in the back of my head that I’d like to see it published. Of course. I mean, what writer wouldn’t want to be published?

Recently, I pulled it back out and re-read it. And I think it was a good thing to let it sit, because I see some serious flaws with it now. The most damning is that the first chapter is boring. I fell into the not uncommon trap of downloading a bunch of exposition right at the beginning with little action. I don’t like to read books that start that way… why would I write one? Inexperience, I suppose.

Anyway, I’ve been going back through it, chapter by chapter, and revising it. I’m not even halfway done yet, but I can already see it becoming a tighter, more interesting read. I’m a little excited by it.

And that’s why I’m telling you about it. Because if I put it out there, let people know about it… well, there’s no turning back. I can’t stick it back into a drawer and let it gather dust for another two years.

I wrote a novel.

But, like I indicated above, that’s not the hard part. Now I’m going to polish it until it’s a good novel. Then, I’m going to try to get it published.

That will be the hard part.





Good Lord, what date is it? The 26th? Thanks to Jesus because I am serious running out of motivation to update every day. Pfft. Note to self: bank a bunch of entries before November of next year. I had hoped to sprint to the finish line, but rather, I'm at a pathetic crawl. Even The Scientist (the non-writer in the household) has whipped out the beginnings of what is sure to be an interesting multi-part saga.

I actually have a couple of topics in mind; but it's the drive to write that's lacking, not the ideas. Like I wrote before... turn something into a must-do from a can-do and suddenly it's a chore to me.

I'm this close to filling up my blog with those dumb "what Star Wars character are you?" quizzes.

All right... that's enough garbage for tonight. To make up for it, I promise an interesting post tomorrow. I'm totally cereal.


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Three things I learned from my children over Thanksgiving:


Nana and Pop-pop's house isn't exactly childproof. Exposed electrical outlets, an unshielded wood-burning stove and lots and lots of breakable things within reach. Lily managed to break two of the collectible ducks of her grandmother (Nana assures us they they aren't worth anything, which I hope is true, and not just her being a nice grandma) and Macey found a pen somewhere and scribbled all over the keys of the piano. This was particularly horrifying. Thankfully it all came off with some window cleaner and elbow grease.


We went to a local park with one of these crazy wood crawl-all-over-it things. Five minutes after getting there, Lily announced that she had to go potty (even though she went 15 minutes before we left). The bathrooms at the park were locked, so I loaded her up and headed out to search for a public bathroom. I took a chance at the church across the street... but it was locked up tight. But, due to good luck or providence, the cleaning lady was there and she was nice enough to let us in. Lily sat on the potty and did nothing. We stayed in the bathroom for 10 minutes, just to make sure. Nothing.


The day after the park the entire family went out to dinner. As we were about to pull out, Lily again announces that she has to go potty. Being that the restaurant is only 15 minutes away, we tell her that she's going to have to hold it. "Can you hold it that long, honey?" The Scientist asks. "No, no I can't!" Lily answers. We'll, you're going to have to! I tell her. We start to move and Lily makes a horrible face. "Lily!" The Scientist shouts. "What are you doing?!" But it's too late. "I went." Lily tells us in a dejected voice. I stop and it's as bad as it could be: code brown, extra runny. "Well, honey," I say. "You tried to tell us. But we didn't believe you. Sorry about that."

Lily's diarrhea continued throughout the meal, and into the next day. We put her in a pull-up just to be safe for the ride home, but she didn't have any accidents. Her poop today is still on the soft side, but it's not uncontrollable, thank God.

These are the kinds of conversations you have when you have kids.

But, all in all, a very successful trip. We got to see the family, there were no big blow-ups (none that involved me or mine, at least) and I stuffed myself silly with good food.

And best of all, that is it for our holiday traveling this year. Anyone who wants to see us can come to Cleveland.




Dressage Mom has tagged me for one of those bullshit meme things. I usually think they are pretty stupid and ignore them, but this is my wife and I do need to post something pronto before I go to bed so...


  1. When I order take-out Chinese, and the rice come separately from the meat/veggies, I always eat a couple bites of plain white rice first.

  2. I have a geographic tongue. When a dentist first told me of this, he called it a "psycho-reactive tongue," which is way cooler than geographic tongue. I never noticed it before it was pointed out to me.

  3. I have gout. Which is ridiculous, because in my mind gout is a disease only to be had by fat cats in three-piece suits and bowler hats. Or fat kings. Neither of which I am.

  4. I suffer from ocular hypertension.

  5. I'm rather terrified of sharks (bit of cheat on this one, since it was a NoBlowMe topic last year)

  6. While I'm a writer by profession, I'm a terrible speller.

  7. I secretly developed a fetish for the 1893 World's Columbia Exhibition (aka, the Chicago's World Fair) after reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
There, done. Now to bed. Final updates to the Maryland trip tomorrow.


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Today's post is brought to you by the letter "D" as in "Diarrhea." Specificially, diarrhea from my oldest. I thought maybe it was just because she ate a bunch of junk this weekend, but now I think it's more of a stomach thing. Hopefully, something that will pass quickly (no pun intended).

Because if it doesn't... well, it's going to be a long eight hours tomorrow.


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Eight hours later, we arrived in Maryland without incident. I have to say that the girls, once again, were fantastic. Strapped into car seats for seven hours, only getting out twice (once for dinner and once for a quick potty/gas stop) isn't the most fun for anyone, let alone a four- and two-year-old. Yet, they watched movies (thank you portable DVD player; if you were a living thing I'd offer you sexual favors for how much better you make my life on these trips) and slept. They conked out for good around 10pm, and we were able to get here, unload the car and transport them into the house without waking them up. Which is, of course, awesome.

And better yet, when Lily got up at 6:30am, I immedately sent her into her grandfather's room. She tried the door, but couldn't get it open. She then came back over to my side of the bed, and in a loud whisper said, "Daddy! Pop-pop's door is locked. I can't get in!" To which I answered, "Did you try knocking?"

So then I heard Lily knocking on their bedroom door for a good eight minutes before he finally got up and let Lily in. Macey woke up soon thereafter and followed her sister.

And The Scientist and I rolled over and went back to sleep.

For this, if nothing else, I am truly thankful.


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#232 In which our hero discusses his initial relationship with his children or, rather, the lack thereof.

This will come as no great epiphany to anyone (anyone who’s had kids, at least) but when your wife is pregnant you don’t really know what to expect. In my case, I am the youngest in my family, and my older sisters all live a considerable distance away; so I’ve never really been around babies that much.

Naturally, I expected to love my offspring… this expectation came not from any sort of experience but, that’s just what you’re supposed to do, right? So when the big day came everything went according to plan (well, if you call a pants-shittingly tense emergency C-section a plan) and we ended up with a baby in the end.

The Scientist immediately bonded with Lily, again, according to plan. It was pretty amazing to watch this tiny little creature respond to my wife, and intuitively understand what she was supposed to do--which, granted, wasn’t anything more than eat and sleep. I stood in the recovery room and watched this wonderful mother-daughter moment full of tenderness, wonder and love.

But while it was cool to watch, I didn’t feel it.

I mean, I expected to have this overwhelming tide of emotion sweep over me, and I’d know that this was my child, and I’d be protective of her and want to scoop her up in my arms and cover her with kisses… but I didn’t feel that way.

Actually, holding my baby felt like holding any other baby I’ve ever held. Of course, with any other baby I would hand her back to her real parents in short order; but I was the real parent this time.

I expected to feel… something more.

And being that I didn’t, it really worried me. I mean, I felt like such an asshole--what, you aren’t overcome with emotion about the birth of your first child? What kind of heartless robot are you?! But there was no denying that while cognitively I loved and accepted my daughter, there wasn’t the emotional attachment right away… certainly not what I was witnessing from my wife.

I fretted that I was a bad dad, that I’d be distant and uncaring from my children. This is far from the model set by my father, so I wasn’t sure where I went wrong. I didn’t talk to anyone about this at the time (The Scientist was far too busy feeding a baby and recovering from the surgery) so I just worried in silence.

But, slowly but surely, I began to become emotionally attached to my daughter. When she smiled at me, I definitely felt something. By the time she was recognizing my face, I was tightly wrapped around her little finger. In fact, she quickly became a daddy’s girl, and would cry out to me first, instead of her mother.

Looking back, this detachment I initially felt probably didn’t last more than several months; and it was certainly the minority emotion come her first birthday. But man, during that time I felt like a real heel.

Then, her sister came along.

You’d think I would have remembered these emotions, but giving how strongly I felt toward Lily, I expected that I’d feel that way toward Macey, too; and right away. But I didn’t. I was again kinda distant. Worse yet, since I felt a strong emotional attachment to #1, but not #2, I worried that I would love one of my children more than the other--and how shitty is that?

I dated a girl in high school who’s sister was clearly the family favorite. It was a bad scene to see the younger daughter (in this case) get all the attention lavished on her, while my girlfriend was starved for a little recognition. I didn’t want to be that kind of father, but I feared I was.

However, just like with Lily, my emotional attachment to Macey grew by leaps and bounds. In fact, just in the last several months I’ve felt closer to Macey than ever before.

But, I’m happy to report, no closer to her than I feel for her older sister.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way, but any time I’ve ever said something like, “Yeah, I was kinda indifferent about my kid when she was first born” I get horrified looks. I have to quickly add, “But we’re close now! Couldn’t be closer! Yep, real daddy-daughter love going on there!”

And it’s a good thing I love my daughters as much as I do. It might be the only thing keeping everyone alive while we drive eight hours to Maryland for Thanksgiving.





Boy, kids are useful for all sorts of things. Like, um, filling up a post half an hour before the deadline!

Come home yesterday to discover that my youngest daughter was a princess:

Well, yes, obviously a heart on my cheek makes me a princess. Jeez, daddy, you can be so dumb!

And my oldest was a pirate!

Thumbs up for pirates!

Apparently there was a birthday party at school, complete with clown. But not the same clown as was at the last party, Lily explained to me, because this was a lady clown. And she made balloon animals, but not very many. And she didn't do any magic, but she did dance.

My oldest could have had anything painted on her face, and she went with PIRATE. Awesome. Man, I love my kids.

Which gives me the topic for tomorrow's post. Thank God, because I'm running on fumes here.

Right back 'atcha, daddio!


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Oh boy. NoBloPoMo day#19, and I’m tapped. Only 12 more days, but I think I’ve run out of crap to write about. Or maybe the spirit to keep going. Worse yet, we leave for Maryland to visit the in-laws in two days. I had hoped to create a bank of posts in advance, but now I can hardly fill up the space day by day. Not good. How am I going to be creative during the hustle and bustle of the holiday?

At least I should return to Ohio with a bunch of stuff to write about. Holiday gatherings are like that.

I’ll attempt to be less lame tomorrow. At least I'm not just posting about my shoes.


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Something is eating my pumpkins:

Squirrels, I assume. But, given my previous post, perhaps something more ominous? Regardless, this is scarier than anything I could have carved myself.


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Recent bedtime conversation with my oldest:

LILY: Daddy?
ME: Yes, honey?
LILY: I want 'too-loo.
ME: Who do you want, honey?
LILY: 'Coo-loo!
ME: Oh! You mean Cthulhu? *
LILY: Yeah! Ca-too-loo!
ME: I don't know where Cthulhu is right now, honey.
LILY: Maybe he's lost!
ME: Oh no, sweetheart. Cthulhu isn't lost... he's sleeping.

* What? You don't have a stuffed Cthulhu?


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#231 In which our hero, shockingly, sympathizes with a train wreck of a pop princess.

Sometimes there are elements of my life that dovetail in a seemingly seamless fashion. Take, for instance, my deep love of schadenfreude and my deep hatred of spoiled and idiotic pop stars.

The epitome of two things are manifest perfectly in the person of Britney Spears.

Now, given my previous rant about a certain worthless celebrity heiress, it should come as no surprise that I hate Britney Spears. Well, hate is a strong word… it’s more like I’m offended by the fact that this thing lives on the same planet as my family.

And make no mistake, Britney Spears is a thing, not a person. She stopped being just a simple girl from the country once people started referring to her by a single name only and obsessing about her every action. Every time she leaves the house it’s an event. Everything she says is a headline. She’s no longer just a musician just like Ikea is no longer just furniture. Both of them have far surpassed their original purpose.

And you could argue that none of this spectacle is Spears’ making. She clearly been carefully cultivated, groomed, styled and packaged as an American pop star to make music that tweens go crazy for with just enough T&A to attract an older audience. It’s only recently, when she’s escaped her handlers, that her career has really gone off the rails and she’s become the hideously watchable train wreak that she is now.

Personally, I never really got Britney. I mean, her music was catchy enough, but I wasn’t the target demo, so no surprises that I didn’t rush out and buy her albums. And I never found her that sexy, either. She’s a little horsy, I think (and I thought this before her well-reported weight gain).

You could say I’m just jealous… which, of course, I am. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make $700,000/month, and turn around and spend $16,000/month on clothes and nearly $5,000 just on eating at fancy restaurants? The Scientist and I maintain a weekly grocery budget of about $100, and every once in awhile treat ourselves by eating out at Red Robin.

Yet, as much as I enjoy the flood of schadenfreude I experience every time I see her latest downward progression in the entertainment section of the paper; recently I’ve been feeling something new, something different about Britney Spears.


Which is nothing short of amazing, of course. Now, don’t get me wrong, she’s clearly as dumb as a box of rocks, so I have no sympathy whatsoever when she gets busted for driving without a license, or goes to rehab or has her kids taken away from her (apparently she’s a bad mother, too… another strike). But, when I see a video of her up on The Superficial (my go-to site for celebrity gossip and boobie pictures) I can’t help but feel a little bad for her. I mean, look at this:

She is literally swarmed by paparazzi jamming their cameras in her face, blinding her with flashes. Every walk from car to store is like swimming against the current of a raging river.

Or look at this:

She can’t pull out of a parking garage without these dumbasses literally jumping in front of a moving vehicle.

It’s got to be difficult living in the public eye like that. Having 25 guys crowding you every step of the way. I know she courted public attention to a large degree… but does anyone really expect this level of abuse when they’re sitting in a recording studio making music? Or having their agent tell them how awesome they are?

I dunno. As shitty as it would be to have this tide of cameras record my daily routine, I gotta think that $700,000 a month would sooth that wound somewhat.

I for one, am willing to give it a try.





Decided that I wanted something else for lunch rather than what I had brought. I headed out to the front doors, only to find them locked. The receptionist came around the front of her desk to confront me.
ME: Why are the doors locked?
RECEPTIONIST: Oh, sorry, Craig. There’s, um, a security issue in the building, which I can’t reveal.
ME: What?
RECEPTIONIST: If you want, I can let you out, then just call when you want to come back in. Or you can use your keycard to get out the back door.
ME: Um, okay. I’ll get my card, I guess.
So suddenly I was in the position of deciding if it was worth my life to go down to the deli on the first floor for a grilled cheese sandwich. I decided it was.

I poked my head out of the door and looked around. Coast seemed to be clear. Then I looked over the railing of the atrium, and it appeared to be business as usual. People where getting food from the deli, eating in the little food court area, wandering in and out of offices.

It soon became clear that whatever was happening, it was just in our agency. And, as I write this, it still is. No-one knows what’s going on. HR isn’t talking. We’re in lock-down, and no-one will say why.

Very odd.

If I had to guess, I’d say it was a threat against a specific employee. Maybe an angry boyfriend situation? At least, I hope that’s what it is. Because if someone called the president and said they were going to blow up the agency, well… I think I’d go home. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m not willing to risk my life for any of the clients I work with.

That’s all I know about the situation at this time. I’ll update later, if I survive.

EDIT: As of 1:45pm the front doors are now open. I happened to run into the relentlessly chipper HR Director in the hall and had this conversation:

ME: Hey, I don't suppose you could tell me why we were on lockdown?
HR: We had some security issues to deal with. And now they've been dealt with!
ME: Un-huh. In other words, no, you can't tell me.
HR: But I did! The issues have been resolved! We're all secure again! Doesn’t that answer your question?
ME: It would if I had asked you to tell me in the vaguest and most obscure way possible.
HR: Ha-ha!

So, apparently my life is no longer in danger. I hope.


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#230 In which our hero does his part to save the planet, which avoiding any actual work on his part.

I don’t remember if I’ve written about this before, but I’m the recycling guy at my work. I never intended to become the recycling guy, but become him I did. It went down like this.

Couple of weeks after I started here, I noticed that the agency doesn’t recycle. I’d see aluminum cans in the trash, and it bugged me. Now, I’m not the super-dedicated save the earth type, but we recycle at home. Generally speaking, it’s not that hard to do, and it’s a good thing for the earth. Mother Earth, good karma, all that crap.

At work we have a suggestion box. You can drop in anonymous suggestions, or put your name to them. I bypassed that entire system and went right to the General Manager. Hey, I said. Noticed that we don’t recycle cans. We really should.

In my naivety, I assumed that this was a simple fix, and that no-one had thought of it before. I thought we could get in some recycle cans, and that would be the end of it.

Foolish me.

As it turns out, we didn’t recycle cans at the agency because the building doesn’t recycle aluminum. They do recycle white paper and cardboard, which is dutifully hauled out by the cleaning staff every night. But there was no provision for aluminum. Which struck me as silly, but there you go.

The GM’s suggestion was that I gather a group of like-minded people with curb-side recycling at home, and we all take turns taking the cans home at night. Which seemed rather unworkable, to me. I mean, I didn’t want to take a leaky bag full of soda cans home in the trunk of my car, and I suspected that neither would anyone else. So I told the GM I’d think about it, and get back to her.

First thing I did was call the city. They confirmed that even though Akron has curb-side pick-up, they wouldn’t pick up from commercial buildings. Then I called a couple recycling places; they wouldn’t pick up unless it was a large amount of aluminum, as in a ton or more. So that was out.

Finally I asked around if anyone in the agency was involved with scouting. This is where I hit the jackpot. The husband of one of our production people was the fundraising chair for their kid’s troop.

I made him a deal: have the scouts come pick up our cans every week or so, take them to a metals recycling place (one of which is conveniently located three miles away from the office) and they could keep all the money. Perfect.

Management was very supportive of recycling; they ordered special recycling cans to put in the kitchens, created space in the warehouse to store them, and allowed me to work with a designer to create some signs and flyers, etc. At which point I thought my work was done. It bugged me to see aluminum cans in the trash, and now people had somewhere else to put them. Mission accomplished!

Then, it was decided that we should recycle other things, too. We contracted with a waste hauling company to pick up our used magazines (you wouldn’t believe the sheer amount of magazines a typical ad agency goes through). And this same company would pick up newsprint and plastic, too (but not aluminum).

So then we had to order more recycling cans, and the cans turned into recycling stations and suddenly it takes me the better part of an hour to collect all the crap from three separate stations and co-ordinate with the waste company to schedule pick-ups. And it was decided that I needed a committee to deal with recycling; so now I chair a committee of 12 people (only about five of which ever do anything). But still, everything was working very smoothly.

Until two weeks ago.

That’s when the scouting fundraising chair guy came to me and said that since his kids had dropped out of scouts a year ago, and he was becoming too busy at work, he wasn’t going to be able to pick up the cans any longer. And, he continued, no-one else in the troop was willing to pick up the slack.

So now there are 20 bags of cans in the back, and I don’t know what to do with them. Well, that’s a lie, of course… a couple of the guys on the committee have pick-ups, so we’ll have to load up the cans and drive them over to the recycling place ourselves. Which defeats the entire purpose of getting an organization like the scouts involved: I didn’t want to actually do any of the work.

I have people on the committee looking into other solutions… but it’s starting to look like it’s going to be a pain in MY ass, and not someone else’s.

All this because I bugged me that people put cans in the trash.


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#229 In which our hero considers his choice of footwear and what affect it may have upon his career, part II.

Couple of agencies ago, my Creative Director was a real jackass. To be fair, he was a good Art Director, but a suck-ass CD. Just a terrible manager. When I first spoke with him, he told that he hadn’t yet fired the guy I would be replacing. He wanted to make sure he had a new writer lined up (me) before he let the guy go. Which seemed a little underhanded to me, but it’s the way of the world, I guess. We met at a coffee shop for our first interview. Later, he brought me into the agency after hours, when everyone else was gone. He made me an offer, I accepted. Since I had been unemployed in advertising for more than a year, I was anxious for my first day to come.

Now, since I never saw anyone else at the agency, nor did my new boss mention anything about a dress code, I assumed I could wear my usual attire: jeans, t-shirt and sneakers. But when I arrived for my first day, he nearly crapped his pants when he saw me. “I’d hate for you to make a bad impression on your first day,” he explained. “Could you maybe go home and wear something more business casual?” Being my first day, what am I going to say?

So I go home and change. Which is completely ridiculous, of course. This guy should have grown some balls and just said, oops, my bad. I should have told you about the dress code. Well, you’ll know what to wear tomorrow, huh? Instead I’m gone for an hour and a half, since this place wasn’t exactly close to my house.

Here’s the point to this story: when I got back, he pulled me aside and said this: “I’ll give you some advice. If you want to go anywhere in this agency, you should try to dress more like an account executive, and less like a creative.”

Again, being my first day, I nodded along. But inside I was thinking this: fuck THAT.

Now, I know I’m spoiled in this regard, but I’ve been lucky enough to work in an industry full of misfits and eccentrics. Generally speaking, no-one would bat an eye if you were to wear shorts and flip-flops year-round. Most agencies put a premium on creativity, and embrace the concept that you need to feel comfortable to be at your best, creatively speaking. Dress codes are generally only enforced when you’re meeting a client (and even then I tend to wear jeans, albeit nice jeans).

However, I have worked in agencies (two of them, to be exact) that have a dress code. Other than the above-mentioned business casual, I worked at an in-house shop where I had to wear a tie every day. That sucked.

I don’t know if being allowed to wear jeans and sneakers really makes me more creative, but I certainly resent it when told I can’t. I’ve been fiercely anti-dress code all my life. In fact, when I first moved up here to work at a (dress code-free) agency, I put all my ties in a box labeled “NEVER TO BE WORN AGAIN.” Which proved not to be true, but anyway.

So, maybe you can understand why I feel like a sell-out being that I haven’t worn my sneakers to work in a week.

Like I wrote yesterday, I’ve been giving my career a hard think. I’d like to stay at this agency (and make more money), progress my career (and make more money) and maybe even create a little job security for myself (and make more money). And while opportunities may be few and far in-between, they still exist. So when management is talking in their star chamber about how they want to create a new position in the creative department, I want my name to be the first that comes to mind.

So, I’ve been trying to act the part. I mean, this is part of my job, and it comes naturally to me to be vocal in brainstorm meeting, and present to the client well and to write good copy (the part that doesn’t necessarily come naturally is to be patient and kind with dull-witted account executives. But I’ve been working on that. Honestly, the AEs from my first agency up here wouldn’t know me now).

That said, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to try to look the part, too.

Not that I’m going to stop wearing jeans. I’m comfortable in jeans, so I don’t see them going away anytime soon. But I have been wearing dress shoes. But, “dress shoes” is maybe not the right term… these are Doc Martens, so they’re still cool. Right? I’m cool, right?

Yeah? No? Hello?

Anyway, what all this boils down to is that I’m trying to be more professional in all aspects of my job.


In the not-so-far past, I might have equated being “professional” with being a jackass. Mostly because the word “professional” is often used by non-creatives as a codeword for wearing a tie, not rocking the boat and kissing the client’s ass. All of which I’ve done before, and will certainly do again--but I don’t make a habit out of it.

But I’ve started to become more thoughtful about my job… and, I dunno, maybe I’m not selling out as much as facing reality. Advertising is all about appearances, and the people who work in the field certainly aren’t exempt from that. Not only that, but dressing more professionally (ugh, I hate even typing that) puts my head in a different place. I’m not just going to an office and screwing around for eight hours, I’m working on my career. And if I do that every day, every month, every year, someone is bound to notice. And that, one hopes, will pay off in the end.

Because when management starts casting around for the next manager or whatever, I don’t want there to be any discussion about how I don’t fit the part, or how they’re unsure if I could successfully tackle a new role; I want them to say, “Craig’s the perfect candidate for this position. Hell, he’s already doing it in everything but title.”

And then they back up the dumptruck full of cash.


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#228 In which our hero considers his choice of footwear and what affect it may have upon his career, part I.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my career lately. And my shoes. In truth, I’ve probably spent more time thinking about shoes than work, but that is still career-related. Maybe. Or maybe not.

Let me back up.

For several years now I’ve been telling people that I have “nearly 10 years experience” as a copywriter. This is, for the most part, a big fat lie. Once I hit the five year mark, give or take, I felt like I could make the 10-year claim. This is stretching the truth to nearly breaking, but if you consider the time I spent thinking about advertising in school, and my feeble attempts to free-lance early on and, um, watching TV commercials during the Super Bowl, it was close. Well, it wasn’t really, but no-one ever called me on it, and besides, this is advertising we’re talking about. Whenever someone starts asking if an ad is “true” or “factual,” my response is that I'm a marketer, not a journalist. Meaning that my requirement to hew strictly to the truth is someone more… relaxed… than in other communication fields.

But I can honestly make the 10-year claim now. More to the point, I can say that I’ve been a copywriting at honest-to-God advertising agencies for eight years (or, “nearly 10!”). This is an important distinction in my industry. Agency writers are generally legit, at least compared to freelancers or people running their own “agency” out of their bedroom who maybe aren’t really writing every day for a variety of clients, like I am.

And I’m currently at an agency that I really like, and I really feel like I fit in. I could see a future here (now that I’ve written that down, I’m sure I’ll be fired tomorrow). But what kind of future? Career progression at an advertising agency isn’t always cut and dry. I’m a Senior Copywriter, which has everything to do with my past experience, and nothing to do with my time at my current agency. The next step up the ladder is “Associate Creative Director,” of which we have two, currently. This title falls somewhere between copywriter/art director (which are parity positions, except that one writes and the other designs--don’t be confused by the “director” in there) and Creative Director, who’s top of the heap in creative. Usually. We have two creative directors, both of whom have been here forever. If one of them where to suddenly quit, they’d be replaced by one of the many people here with more experience at the agency than me, if the agency didn’t bring in someone entirely new from outside the agency. So my chances of ever seeing Creative Director at this agency are pretty slim.

But Associate Creative Director? Maybe. It seems like this title is given to people who are the lead writing/art person on one of the big accounts and/or someone who’s been here a long, long time. I don’t know if that would ever happen to me, either. At the very least, it would be politically unwise, since there are lots of people with years and years more experience at this agency than myself.

Sometimes it feels like I don’t have much in the way of upward mobility. Except, maybe I do. Every now and again the agency just invents a new position. With the last major restructuring of the creative department the title of “Concept Development Director” was unveiled. This is a wholly new title, and one I’ve never seen at any other place I’ve worked at. So, if the agency really wanted to do something for me, they could create a new position. For me. But they probably won’t.

Of course, this is all really about money.

The one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t get big bumps in pay by staying in the same position. You have to jump to a new position or, much more commonly, jump to a new agency. That’s really the only way to command a BIG pay increase.

And this is what has prompted my recent introspection. I like working here--a lot, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that--but the only practical way to start making more money is to leave.

But what’s this have to do with shoes? More than you might think. More tomorrow.


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Just finished watching The Next Iron Chef and I'm stupidly excited that the guy from Cleveland won. I'm not sure why... I'm not a Cleveland represent! sort of person; I mean, I moved up here because the woman I wanted to marry lived here... that's it. I'm not passionate about Cleveland.
But it does get old when people use Cleveland as an easy punchline. But while I know plenty of people who are all how dare you! when someone maligns the city, I don't really care. I mean, yeah, Cleveland does suck sometimes, I agree. In fact, stick around for about a week and you'll see for yourself when it starts dumping snow.

But, I do live here, and I'm raising my family here, so it's nice when Cleveland gets a break. So hey, Michael Symon, good on you for winning the big prize! The local paper has been abuzz lately about how Symon's performance is putting Cleveland on the map, culinarily speaking. I don't know about that, but Symon seems like a really nice guy, and I'm glad he won. I don't think his losing would have put the city into a funk (like a certain professional baseball team) but it's nice not to come in second again.

So, thanks for putting it all out there, Mike. Maybe The Scientist and I will make an effort to eat at one of your restaurants now.


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Posting on the weekends? Killing me.

Just about anything I do (even things I really enjoy, such as writing) take on the feeling of a chore when you tell me I have to do them every day. That's part of the reason that it's 10:30pm and I just realized "Oh shit, I need to post something. But I don't have any motivation."

So, to that end: 5 REASONS to keep posting every day:

$100 Amazon gift certificate
Professionally designed blog header
$25 iTunes gift certificate
Weird homemade plushes
$100 of Burt's Bees merch

These are, coincidentally, some of the dozens of available prizes for those who manage to post every day during NaBloPoMo. I would love to have any of the above (honestly, I'd love to have nearly anything on the list; it's a wonderful collection of the overtly valuable and the oddly adorable) and unless I keep posting, I'll be out of the running.

And so, I am done for the day.


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#227 In which our hero is all out of sorts.

I'm feeling terribly ill at ease today; nothing specific, just out of sorts.

Quick background: the guy who sits next to me has a girlfriend who’s mother is sick. She (the mother) had a pain in her side, and when she went to the doctor she was told she had a cracked rib. Then, upon further testing, it come out that Hey! Y’know what? That’s not a cracked rib at all. It’s lung cancer. She was told that it was isolated to one lung. Not good, but treatable. But then, Hey! Y’know what? It’s not really isolated at all… it’s all through your body! And your brain!

Final diagnoses: she has maybe a year to live.

This only tangentially affects me, of course. I don’t know this woman, but I do know my neighbor’s girlfriend (she worked here briefly). I feel really bad for her, naturally. But I suspect that the out-of-sortsness I’ve been experiencing today is memories of what I went through when my own father was dying of cancer.

But, to make this situation all the more convoluted, I think contributing factors also include my mother and my wife’s horse.

My mother.

First, she’s doing fine. She seems to have recovered well from her last bout with pneumonia, and is back to her old self. But mom is 75, and even though she doesn’t want to slow down, her body is sending off clear signs that she must.

But most of all, what has me down is that my sister is riding my ass to contact mom’s doctors and ask a bunch of questions. She thinks we should be much more proactive about mom’s care. Which I agree with, in principal, but I hate having to go around mom’s back and speak to her doctors, just to make sure the rosy story mom is telling us isn’t utter bullshit. Which is could be, because mom doesn’t want to worry us.

And since I’m the one with medical power of attorney, they won’t talk to anyone else. Honestly, I’m not even sure they’ll talk to me. I have emergency medical power of attorney, so I can make decisions about mom’s care if she’s incapacitated… I don’t know if that extends to just talking to the doctor when mom’s fine.

But, like a good son and brother, I called the doctor. On Monday. Left a message. Never heard back. Called again on Wednesday. Never heard back. Now I’m just pissed. I’m forced to do something I don’t even want to deal with, and this jackass won’t even return my calls? I called again this morning, and the nurse assured me that she had pulled mom’s file and left it with the doctor, and she actually thought he had returned my call already, blah, blah, blah. Y’know, I only want 15 minutes of his time on the phone. You wouldn’t think that would be so hard to accommodate.

My wife’s horse.

Is lame again. Or something. Read all about it over at her site.

While I know that riding gives The Scientist a great amount of pleasure, frankly all I register is the pain. The pain of dealing with his injuries. The pain of her getting all excited about how well his training is going, just to have him crush those hopes and go lame again. The pain of having to AGAIN go through the tears and turmoil of the possibility that he may never show again. And, of course, the financial pain of stupidly high vet bills.

None of this is aided by what I learned last night: instead of being $100 in the hole every month, starting later this month we’ll be $200 in the hole every month.

So I’m feeling a little stress lately. And it’s about to start snowing. And we’re going to have to start shopping for Christmas. And as the weather turns really shitty, I’m worrying about mom getting sick again. And my fucking head is cold all the time.

I guess I just need to keep everything in perspective: no-one is sick right now, no-one is in the hospital. The girls are great, and a constant source of amusement. I love my wife.

And no-one has been given just a year to live.


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Never before have people been so interested in my hair. First everyone was amazed that I actually shaved my head; now everyone is interested in my plans for the future: Are you going to grow it back? Will you keep it shaved? How long are you going to let it get? Are you growing back the goatee?

And, I’ve also found that not only are people interested in my melon, they are influenced by it, too. In a good way. Allow me to illustrate.

Couple of days ago I ran into Dillard’s to pick up a new pair of shoelaces for my Docs. The shoe department guy (a rather tired looking man in an ill-fitting suit) said that the style of shoe I had wasn’t available in the states any more, and they didn’t have shoelaces that would fit it. One’s made by Doc Martens, at least. So I asked if he had any that would fit, I didn’t really care if they were the signature yellow laces that I already had (and had to knot where they broke). He came out with some fancy-pants Italian brand that was brown. They fit nicely. “What’s this going to cost me?” I asked.

Nothing, he said. You can just have them.

Then, yesterday, I went to the Chinese restaurant near our house to pick up dinner. I ordered and paid, and as I was waiting, the nice lady behind the counter handed me a can of Coke. “Here,” she said. “For while you wait.” She must have read the confused look on my face, because she said, “Oh, do you want a different one?” I told her that the Coke would be fine.

So, yeah, free stuff.

Coincidence, you say? Well, people didn’t start giving me free stuff until after I shaved my head. I see direct cause and effect.

For years I kept this money-maker under wraps. Now that it is revealed to the world, there may be no limit to its power!


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For Halloween, The Scientist walked the girls around our cul-de-sac, then I took over the took them down the block. I ended up taking them about four or five houses too far before turning around, because near the end they were more interested in sitting down and examining their loot then collecting more. And I had to carry both of them for the last three houses. Note to self: next year bring wagon.

While I was waiting for my turn to walk with the girls, I sat outside and handed out the candy. And while I was doing that, I could only wonder when, exactly, Halloween became less about playing dress-up and more about grubbing all the free candy you could?

I know I’m not alone in this because I’ve read several blogs from people who have had the same experience: kid comes to the door with no attempt at a costume whatsoever. Just a big sack in hand demanding candy. And, sometimes, his/her parent is right there too.

Now, a lot has been said about the underlying theme of racism in this line of thinking. And the people who are saying, “Well, these kids from other neighborhoods are being driven over here by their parents!” should probably re-evaluate what they’re really objecting to. Me personally, I don’t give a crap if these kids are black or white, or if they're from my neighborhood or not, I’m just pissed that they aren’t wearing costumes.

And don’t get me wrong, I know that not every family has the money to go out and get a nice store-bought costume. But come on… I don’t believe for a moment that you can’t cobble together something, anything, that would pass as a costume. I mean, throw on a Steelers’ jersey and say, “I’m a Steelers’ fan!” That’s good enough. Put on a red t-shirt and say “I’m the color red!” I’m good with that. But when I ask “what are you supposed to be?” you should be able to give me a reply. I got a lot of “I don’t know” or just silence when I asked that this year.

And that sucks.

There’s an unspoken contract at Halloween: you dress up and knock on my door; I give you candy. I put some effort into my part of the contract (albeit not much, but I do drive to the store, pay for it, and stand by waiting to dish it out) so you should put some effort into your part, too.

It’s come to this: next year, I’m going to buy the smallest, nastiest candy I can find. And when you come knocking in your jeans and t-shirt, and you can’t answer my question of “what are you supposed to be?” you're getting the nasty stuff.

Happy Halloween.


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It’s come to this… I’m only on day six of NoBloPoMo and I’ve already dipped into the “blog fodder” document I set up a couple weeks ago. Every so often, when something interesting hit me, instead of actually posting about it at the time, I wrote it down to be used in November. Of course, what I couldn’t capture on paper was the motivation to write about it. That, sadly, is fleeting.

So, one of the things (the first thing, actually) in the blog fodder folder was this:

Work thank you card

You know what I’m talking about… those thank you cards that are pinned up to the bulletin board in the break room. They’re u
sually of the thank you for your kindness regarding the passing of my grandmother sort of things.

I don’t get ‘em.

I mean if, God forbid, you lose a loved one, and someone at work gets you flowers, shouldn’t you thank that person? In person? I guess these cards are used more if you get a card from the entire department or agency… but still. It just strikes me as odd that you’d buy a card, write out a nice thank you message in it, then anonymously pin it up on a corkboard. Seems a little impersonal for such a personal thing.

And when I read those things, I’m generally at a loss. Unless they say specifically what happened, I read them and think, “oh crap… what’s going on with Mary? Who died?” Then I’m tip-toeing around her because I don’t want to say something that would conjure up bad memories. And then I feel bad if I didn’t chip in for flowers or whatever. I mean, I don’t deserve your thanks, since I didn’t do anything to help you through the difficult passing of your gerbil or whatnot.

Maybe it’s a female thing and I don’t get it. Or maybe I’m just a prick.


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#226 In which our hero discusses a costume contest and his co-workers and the affects giant boobs have upon both.

I didn’t win.

I put some real effort into my Halloween costume, the least of which was shaving my head. I mean, that was easy. And free.

So I arrived to work that morning, and I was nervous that people won’t appreciate my costume and would just point and laugh. But, the reaction I got is pretty much what I was shooting for: unease. People looked at me askance, mostly because they didn’t know who I was. I don’t think a single person recognized me in costume, and probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t sat down in my office. One account coordinator in particular was really freaked out, and as I walked by I heard her whisper, “Who is that?” Later she told her co-workers that she thought I didn’t really worked here, and that I was a trespasser. Which amused me to no end, of course.

But once people started to figure out who I was, the were very complementary to my costuming efforts. Most comments revolved around, “Holy shit, you really shaved your head?!” People took pictures. A couple co-workers said “You’re going to win. No doubt about it.”

Now, I have some insight into costume contests. I once attended the Drexel 24-hour Sci-Fi Movie Marathon in Columbus. This was back when it actually was at the Drexel Theater, when there was still a Drexel Theater. That was actually Drexel Theater North, if memory serves. It closed down and was turned into a CVS while I was still living there. Probably the origins of my hatred of CVS. Anyway, it was just what it sounds like: 24 hours of sci-fi movies ranging from great to really, really bad. In-between the movies they ran shorts, cartoons and other odds and ends. One of the shorts they did was a 1950s-era atomic bomb readiness propaganda film (I thought it was the famous Duck and Cover, but after seeing it again, I realize it was not.) In this film there’s a portly man in the shower who either slips or is knocked down by the atomic blast. Some things, like people falling down, are always funny; so it generated a big laugh with the audience.

They also had a costume contest at the marathon. The girl I was dating at the time put a lot of time and effort into her costume, a replica of a Star Trek:TNG’s uniform (commander’s red, first season, for you hardcore geeks). She sewed it herself and bought little commander’s pips; it was a really great costume. She might even have drawn on a Bajorian nose ridge, but I don’t remember. So she went up on stage with the other hopefuls, and it was clear that her outfit was head and shoulders above anyone else in the theater. But who won the contest? A heavy-set guy who got up on stage, took off his shirt, then fell down like the guy from the atomic bomb short.

My girlfriend put in hours to sew a costume so it was perfect. A fat guy got up on a whim and fell down on stage. Who was more deserving?

So, going into the costume contest at work I knew that people are fickle, and it may not matter in the least how cool my costume was. In fact, that morning I told a group of co-workers that I would probably not win, and that it would go to some guy in a dress. Because what’s funnier than a man dressed up as a lady? Ho-ho-ho!

But, as the day wore on, I made the mistake of letting myself get excited about the contest. Everyone I talked to said they were going to vote for me. The Scientist and I could use those tickets to travel to California to visit her family or, well, we could go anywhere. We haven’t flown anywhere for a real vacation since we were married. How cool would that be?

The contest was popular vote. All the participants (and there were a lot of us, probably 20 or so) paraded in front of the assembled agency, each of whom could cast one vote. After the votes were counted, they called up the top three vote-getters. Who ended up winning? A guy in a dress, of course. In fact, it was this guy:

Much as I would like to, I can’t be pissed at the guy who won. I mean, yeah, he basically bought a costume at Wal-Mart and put on some make-up, but it was the agency at large who voted for him. I can hear it now: Tee-hee! Did you see Joe? He’s a slim fellow, but today he looks like a fat lady! With giant boobs! In a see-though dress! That is a laugh-RIOT!

So yeah, I’m bitter as hell. I won’t even try to claim that it’s not sour grapes, because it totally is. I wanted to win. I thought my costume was better--and I still do. I think the majority of my co-workers are idiots for not voting for me. As a friend of mine said after seeing the winning costume, “that’s typical, lowest common denominator crap.”

The best part? The day after the contest I had several people come up to me and said, “Wow, you really did shave your head!” Apparently a bunch of people thought it was a bald wig. Personally, I’ve never seen a bald wig that didn’t look awful, but they apparently think I am some sort of Hollywood special effects master. “I bet more people would have voted for you if they knew you really shaved your head.”

That makes me feel great.

The final tally? I lost the contest by six votes. Maybe if I would have walked around and shouted Hey! I’m really bald over here! I would have won.

Or maybe, I never had a chance against giant fake boobs.


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There's a chimney sweep in my house!

When we bought this house three years ago, we asked the owners how recently they had the fireplace flue cleaned. "It's probably due," was the answer. Since this non-answer could have meant anything from "last year" to "never," I resolved to have it cleaned, and soon.

But... as this things go, we moved in the winter, and had many fires in the fireplace, and there was never any sign of any kind of problem, so I pretty much blew it off. The following year I called a guy, but he only worked weekdays, so I blew it off again.

Well, this year I got a bug up my ass about it and decided that I wouldn't burn any wood until it was cleaned properly. I talked to a guy down the street who said he had a small fire in his flue; which turned out to be not a big deal, but I've read about chimney fires where the fire department has to destroy to chimney to put it out. That is, if the entire house doesn't burn down first. And considering all the other BS that we've gone through with this house, I wouldn't be surprised to add "devastating chimney fire" to the list.

So, that's why there's a chimney sweep in my family room right now.

I find it incredibly charming that chimney sweep still exists in our modern day world as a profession. Not that this guy showed up in a top hat and bow tie and started singing while he worked (but how much would I have loved that? I would have payed extra, even), rather, he's here with an industrial-sized shopvac and a bunch of brushes on long poles. But, in that sense, I guess he's not so different from his processors.

Then again, judging from his business card, simply being a chimney sweep doesn't pay the bills. This guy lists "Air duct cleaning & sanitizing; video chimney scan; cleaning; caps; dampers; tuck pointing; masonry" among his services. I guess you need to pay the bills year-round.

It looks like he's going to do all his work from inside, and not climb out onto the roof. Which, I have to say, is a little disappointing. I mean, the #1 thing is that my chimney doesn't catch fire, but still... would a little theater be too much to ask?


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#225 In which our hero writes about a Halloween costume other than his own.

I know I promised to reveal the results of my company's Halloween costume contest today, but I think I'll wait until Monday. However, I will tell you about my children's Halloween costumes (so it's still costume-related, so that's cool, right?)

About a month before Halloween we asked Lily what she wanted to dress up as for Halloween. Her response was definate and immedaiate.

A chicken.

A chicken? Why a chicken? we asked. She didn't have an answer. We figured it was a passing fancy, and let it go. Then we asked a week later. Still, a chicken.

It soon become apparent that she had her heart set on being a chicken... so who were we to dash her avian dreams?

The Scientist and I started thinking about how we could pull this off. Not so hard, we figured... she could wear her white hoodie, we'd make some chicken feet out of foam, she could wear yellow leggins, I'd craft some sort of beak out of foam, too.

Then one Sunday, the Target insert featured kid costumes on the cover... including a chicken. Are you kidding me? I thought. Was the chicken a hot costume this year, and I totally missed it? But, since it was only something like $20, I thought that could save us a lot of time and aggravation. So my wife went off to buy one.

And they had one left in Lily's size. But just barely. We had to cram her into it a bit, but it looked great. So, if Lily was going to be a chicken, what would Macey be?

And egg, of course.

On trip to JoAnn Fabrics later, we had enough foam and fabric to fashion a pretty passable egg costume. You might not get what it was if you saw her by herself, but standing next to a chicken?

So now I can say with confidence that the chicken came first... but the egg was never more than a few steps behind.




#224 In which our hero discusses a recent Halloween costume, and his attempts to not frighten children.

Every year my agency has a Halloween party. They award great prizes for best costume. Last year, the prize was two airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States, a hotel room and $200 spending cash. This year the prize was more modest, just the airline tickets. But still, a prize worth winning.

Now, last year, they had two costume categories: most humorous, and most scary. There were probably 20 entries for the humorous category, but only four for the scary category. My costume last year wasn’t especially humorous, and it wasn’t scary at all, so I didn’t expect to win anything. And I didn’t. But it got me thinking.

If so few people try to be scary, that’s the category to enter! I could easily win free trip!

I kicked around a few different ideas, but when my wife again pestered me to shave my head, I decided to work that into the costume. So… something scary, something with a bald head… I decided on Nosferatu. Scary, creepy, bald and, most importantly, something I thought I could actually pull off.

I love playing dress-up. Now, I’m not some weird cosplay goon, but it’s a lot of fun to dress up as someone/something else for the evening. When a friend of mine announced a Steampunk-themed costume party, I immediately went to work building my own raygun. So for the Halloween party I started looking around on the Internet for ideas.

One thing I really wanted was to have red eyes. There is no shortage of websites selling “theatrical contact lenses.” Here’s one example. Scroll down to see the dozens of choices. I should mention that most real optometrist sites warn against buying colored contact lenses over the Internet. And they’re right… you don’t really know what you’re getting. I did a little research, found what appeared to be a legitimate brand name, and then hunted for a site selling that brand name for less. That’s one thing I did learn… you can get the exact same lenses for wildly different costs. I ended up with a pair for $90, which was pretty average, cost-wise. This was by far the most expensive part of my costume.

Then I went to one of those fly-by-night Halloween shops (Halloween USA, if it matters to you) to look for teeth, ears and makeup. I was really disappointed in their selection of ears… all I could find that was remotely close to what I wanted was a pair of fat rubber pointed ears. But I did find a nice pair of vampire teeth. And some black and white “cream makeup.” I opted against fake blood because… well, doesn’t every Halloween vampire have a little dribble of fake blood in its mouth? And I didn't want to be like everyone else.

Everything else for my costume I already had. I figured I'd wear my black suit pants, black dress shoes, black shirt and a black vest I bought years ago (I was big into vests for awhile). I looked up how to tie a cravat, and made one out of some scrap fabric (black, 'natch) we had in the basement. A tie tack to hold it down and I was set.

But, as the day of the party drew closer, I still wasn’t happy with the fake ears. I figured I'd just not wear them. If you do a Google Images search for Nosferatu, you’ll notice that the ears are a pretty major element of the costume. I was dissappointed, but I thought I could just be a generic vampire.

I didn’t like the teeth I got, either. They were individual fangs that attached with putty. They worked okay, but the plastic was kinda yellow, and didn’t match the color of my real teeth at all.

So, a week before Halloween I went to another Halloween USA to see what they had. And what they had was a kick-ass pair of ears that were really close to my natural skin tone. They also had a nice set of werewolf dentures, which I thought would work pretty well.

My original plan was to slather that white makeup all over my bald head; something I really wasn’t looking forward to. But, when I saw the color of the new ears, I started thinking that maybe I could still get a decent look without the makeup. After I got home and put them on, I abandoned the idea of using makeup altogether (except to darken my eyes).

I should mention that throughout the entire process I was attempting to acclimate my children to how I was going to look. I wanted to avoid them being afraid of me in my costume, because I was going to look very different. They’ve never seen me clean-shaven (hell, my wife has never seen me clean-shaven) and I’ve never shaved my head before. So, as I got each element of my costume, I showed it to my kids. When the contact lenses came, I put them in and said, “Hey! Look at daddy’s creepy eyes! What color are my eyes? Red! That’s right!” After I got the teeth I chased them around the house; “I’m going to bite you with my monster teeth!” And so on. And the day before the party, I came home and we had a big head-shaving party. “Come on! We’re going to shave daddy’s head! Won’t that be fun?”

The morning when I put it all together, the girls weren’t phased in the least. They laughed at my bald head (again) and didn’t even register the weird ears or teeth.

So, after all that fuss, was the final result worth it? I’ll let you judge.

I think it looked awesome. But scary enough to win the big prize? Find out tomorrow.





Hey! What’s new? Yeah? That’s cool.

Me? Nothing. Oh wait, there is one thing. I shaved my head.

Goodbye hair. We had a good run.

Yes, the treatments are going well, thank you.

So yeah, shaved my head. This is something that I’ve been thinking about for some time, and something that The Scientist has been urging me to do for years. This past summer I finally agreed, but told her that I’d have to wait until the Fall. Obviously, I’m a pale-skinned white boy, but I do get a little color in my face. Not only would shaving it in the summer make me look like I dipped the top of my head in white paint, I’m sure I would have burned the hell out of it in the sun.

But, waiting for Fall has allowed what meager suntan I did get to fade away, so I’m pretty uniform all over. Also, it allowed me to use it as part of a kick-ass Halloween costume; even though that meant I had to shave my goatee, too. I think I actually miss my facial hair more. Anyway, my angry rant about Halloween tomorrow.*

* Tomorrow?! You say? Since when do I post more than once a week? Well, it’s November 1, meaning that NaBloPoMo has started again! I’ll be posting (or attempting to do so) every day this month. I’ve stockpiled a few topics to help get me through, but if this NaBloPoMo is anything like last year’s, expect a few posts about what I ate for lunch or some similar boring crap.


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