Category Archives: Humor

Schtick

Having taken over teaching two classes in the middle of the school year, I’ve been thinking a lot about schtick lately, both in writing and in teaching. What I mean by this the individuality or persona a person brings to their craft and how they practice it.  I don’t mean this in the sense of being a poseur, but it’s second nature to incorporate some aspect of our repertoire of content, body language, personality, humor, communication style, vocabulary, depth of engagement with audience, and delivery, and leave others out for any given audience,  “Schtick” may not be the exact word, but it’s in the semantic range.  I’ve known that for the classes I’ve taught this entire school year, my schtick seems to work well most of the time.   But in taking over two new classes, I m wary of assuming that past results will predict future outcomes.

My theory is the same goes for developing a writing voice.  It seems that you sort of “fake it ’till you make it.  A writer continues to expand his repertoire, hone his style, and venture out into new territory until he gets an idea of what seems to work, and then proceeds to future hone his craft.  It’s interesting that as I listen to writers speak about their craft, they don’t seem to find that their eighth or tenth book is any easier than the first book.  One still must do the research, writing, revising, and editing under a deadline, and hopefully, work to the point of diminishing returns rather than beyond it.

What thoughts do you have about “schtick”?  How have you been able to personalize your schtick to become an effective communicator?

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Ideas For Writing Myself Out Of My Own Self-Preoccupied, Solipcistic, Navel-Gazing Corner

It’s Day Nine of My 500 Word challenge by Jeff Goins at goinswriter.com.  I have written myself into a self-proccupied, solipcistic, navel-gazing corner.  Here are some of the ideas that I’ve come up with to write myself out of it.

1.  Humor.  My humor tends to work pretty well.  But humor is difficult to write unless you and your audience share the same context.  On the other hand, I spend the majority of my hours at my day job with high school students.  It would be an understatement to say that there is a fair amount of absurdity in the high school world.  So there’s certainly some material there.

2.  Self-Improvement Kick.  Every January, I do some annual planning and set some goals.  While I reached about eighty percent of my goals last year, there is a certain folly in posting your own goals for public consumption, unless you are doing it for accountability and to show that any old schmo can make an annual plan, come up with some means to fulfill the plan, and improvise some checks and balances on the way to keep on track.

3.  The Folly of the Self-Improvement Kick.  This could be fun — and funny!

4.  Book reviews.  There are innumerable sites that write book reviews.  However, none write them for my audience, nor are they a combination of my tastes, interests, and personality.

What about you?  How do you write your way out of your own self-preoccupied, solipcistic, navel-gazing corners?

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All Quiet On The Western Front

We woke up to a morning of relative quiet on the front.  The varmints are under siege.  Their days are numbered.  They will either die in our attic from poison or being caught in a trap, or they will die after breaking out.

We found out yesterday that we really dodged a bullet here.  It turns out that squirrels will try to chew through PVC water pipes in search of water, gnaw through electric wires, and chew up your insulation.  We have gotten to them before any of these things happened.  This could have been quite an ordeal, not to mention a serious financial setback.  If we manage to come out of this war relatively unscathed, we will consider ourselves greatly blessed as we consider what might have been.

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Dispatches From The Front

We have implemented a new strategy in the defense of Half Baked Manor. We called in the cavalry to kill the enemy and destroy him. Jeff from Absolute Animal Control (sounds like music to my ears!) set traps up in the attic to capture the enemy. He sighted two large squirrels — perhaps a male and a female who had moved in to start a family. So far, defense appropriations have hit the $50 mark. However, there’s more to come. We will need to seal up the eaves of our roof to secure the perimeter so we don’t have a repeat engagement. I’ll keep you posted.

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The Latest From Half Baked Manor

We had an enemy sighting yesterday.  We spotted a large squirrel foraging for food where the tortilla chips used to be in the garage.  Once sighted, he immediately scampered back up into the attic through the space that used to be covered by drywall.

Yesterday, the Missus spoke to one of our co-workers to gain intelligence on our enemy.  Our co-worker reported that she once had a similar problem and resorted to a critter getter.  At the cost of $100, she said it was “worth every penny.”

Not only does it appear that we may need to bring in the reinforcements, but we may need to do some infrastructure repairs in putting new drywall on the ceiling in our garage.  Defense appropriations will be increased at Half Baked Manor, as we must keep the manor safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic, man and beast.

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How Not To Rise Early

A couple of days ago, I posted about the “Early To Rise” Challenge.  I did not rise early today, unless you call between 7:30 and 8:00 am “rising early.”  So now, I can tell you what not to do:

1.  The night before you will attempt to rise early, sit in positions that bad for your posture so that your back is sore when you lie down to go to sleep.

2.  Stay up late.  Make sure you don’t get to bed until at least 11:30 or 12:00

3.  Waste the extra hours that you stayed up.  Go through your RSS feeds . . . slowly.  Alternate between checking Facebook, ESPN, ESPN soccernet, and EPL transfer rumors (note:  EPL transfer rumors generally have no factual basis whatsoever).  Check your Amazon seller account every five minutes for new sales.  Wash rinse, repeat for two hours.  Don’t read a book or do anything that may even be slightly construed as productive.

4.  Eat.  Ignore the fact that your body is 99 percent lard already and that today’s calorie expenditure has been roughly 50 calories more than if you had slept for the past 24 hours.  Eat lots of snacks.  You can even eat “healthy snacks”  like I did — black bean chips, peanut butter bars.  These “healthy snacks” will still give you the same caloric intake as a bag of potato chips and a couple of candy bars.  Just make sure you add another 600-800 calories to an already bloated diet.

5.  Tell yourself, “I deserve to sleep in for all of this!”

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Today’s Update From Half Baked Manor

The war against Mr. Mouse is escalating.  He has gone on another food raid.  Casualties today were two bags of tortilla chips.  So far, the tally is Mr. Mouse 3, Half Baked Manor 0.  We are in the “bend but don’t break” mode right now.  We will come out of this victorious, but right now, he has the upper hand.

We may have miscalculated the makeup of our enemy.  We are hearing sounds in the attic of being larger than mice.  It could be that we have a family of squirrels as boarders.  In this case, the mouse traps will be completely insufficient.  We will need to devise another approach.  It’s time to do some research before we given in to the temptation to  call “Critter Gitter.”  However, one way or another, we will conquer our enemy!

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News From Half Baked Manor

The war against Mr. Mouse is status quo.  It looks like we may have a protracted standoff. similar to the “phony war” following the beginning of hostilities in the First World War.  However, we’re dug in and ready to fight!  It’s also possible that our foe has relocated.  The residents of Half Baked Manor would view this as a favorable outcome, although it lacks the thrill of victory!

Today was a full day of teaching.  I went from postmodern philosophy (seniors) to America’s founding documents (juniors) to the Gettysburg Address as the classic ceremonial speech (rhetoric) to Plato’s theory of knowledge (sophomores) to fourth conjugation Latin verbs (first year Latin) to the present passive subjunctive (second year Latin).  You can say that there’s alot of variety in my teaching day!  This is pretty typical and it keeps me sharp.  This was  followed by watching the 1-1 draw of our Tottenham Hotspur vs. the Norwich City Canaries with my son. Canaries, huh?  Anyway, I gotta hand it to them.  They did play a tough game and Spurs were fortunate to earn the draw.  The goal by Gareth Bale was something to behold.  Lewis Holtby is already looking like an excellent addition.

Tonight, I’m adding books to my Amazon inventory.  Check out “Amy’s Bookshop” on Amazon if you want to browse the shelves.  It’s very difficult for me to part with books.  However, my shelf space has been greatly reduced since we moved south six years ago, I’m not getting any younger, and I’m looking to free myself from bondage to “stuff” and restart this microbusiness again.  My family and I have committed to going to Colorado this summer and I will need to raise the cash in order to continue to meet our financial goal of staying out of debt.

 

Update on Half Baked Manor

It’s been quiet here at Half Baked Manor.  There’s not much human activity here except for mine.  Mr. Mouse has not yet made his appearance.  Yesterday, we had our first casualty in this low-intensity war.  Our son stepped out into the garage and tripped one of the traps.  Our son is fine, but his pride may have taken a little hit.  So far, Mr. Mouse 1, Stuart 0.

However, we are now hearing noises up in the attic and perhaps under the eaves of our home.  I don’t know if he has migrated, or if we have some new guests.  I’ll keep you posted.

Providence In The Form Of A Mouse

I had my day all planned out today.  I got up at 5:30 like I usually do, got a good start on the morning, and it was looking good for getting all my lesson plans done for the upcoming week of classes.  Then, my wife and I discovered that we have a mouse in our garage.

This is a problem.  We have a rather modest house with very little storage space.  So, our “pantry” is out in the garage.

We have not seen the little bugger yet, but little by little, we have found evidence of his existence.  Today, however, we found irrefutable evidence of his presence.  Practically every food item that was packaged in such a way that a mice could bite through had the telltale signs of his foraging.  Beans, sugar, chocolate chips . . . and even coffee!  It appears that our little friend has acquired a taste for coffee.

So, we had to bring what was left untouched of the foodstuffs with plastic packaging inside the house and bring the canned food out into the garage.  This took quite a while, with the result that most scheduled work for the day had to be postponed.

Food with permeable packaging is removed.  Mousetraps are baited and set.  War has been declared.  I’ll keep you posted.

Let’s hope our little friend is not one of my readers!

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