Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Skoal Turds

This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book: GIGGING FOR ROADKILL, scheduled for release in 2012:

... Growing up in rural America, there are certain things a part of everyday life that you just don't find in suburbia. For example, suburbanites can walk through a grassy field, (what they were taught to term a "meadow"), without ever looking down. This is fine, when that field ... er, "meadow", is located within a suburban, (read as: livestock-free), setting. Out here in BFE, however, we know that you never, ever traverse a FIELD without keeping your eyes to the ground. Those who walk forward, enjoying the scenery or with their head tilted toward the clouds looking for rainbows, will find themselves furiously wiping their shoes in the grass very soon.

But alas, there are other turds that are common in rural life, yet never found within the confines of societal dwellings. Yes, I'm talking about Skoal Turds. Skoal Turds are the tapered-ended, cylindrical-shaped little balls of spent chewing tobacco ejected from the lip of the user. The moistness of the user's spit holds the finely shredded tobacco together in its shape, leaving a little scat-like dropping upon the ground where it lands. Often times, if undisturbed by human hand or the elements, this little turd can ultimately turn as hard as a rock - its odd shape fitting nicely into the catch of a slingshot band and capable of leaving a huge welt on the back of the head of an unsuspecting victim. This means that Skoal Turds have a purpose other than just their initial life of providing a nicotine delivery system to the original user. They can be recycled as a great weapon against those who are annoying on the school bus ... at least, that's what we found out as kids.

Of course, Skoal Turds can be elusive. To find a really great one, you have to search long and hard and, more importantly, you have to know where to look. You're not likely to find a perfectly-hardened ST lying around on the floor of the woods, ("forest," for you suburbanites). In fact, the likelihood of finding a preserved Skoal Turd out in the elements is very slim, indeed. Chances are it would have been stepped on long ago, or washed away by a good rain. No, perfect Skoal Turds can only be found in a protective environment such as gym floors, or under the seat of a school bus, which is, of course, why we first learned of their value as slingshot fodder.

Of course, things are different these days. Finding a spent Skoal Turd on a school bus floor - even one with a rural route, I'd suspect - is probably impossible. And, even if you found a perfectly-preserved Skoal Turd somewhere, my guess is that having a slingshot of any sort is probably considered a terrorist act - even by a ten-year-old.

However, Skoal Turds can still be fun in this day and age, when you observe an unsuspecting Suburbanite encountering one for the very first time. Point in case: I was with a friend not long ago, whom I'd invited to my farm. This friend was a lifelong Suburbanite with literally no outdoor experience, though he fancied himself a well-read expert on wildlife and the art of tracking animals in the forest (woods). As we stood outside my newly-constructed "MAN CAVE," listening to me give detailed descriptions of the construction process, my friend bent down and began poking at the ground with a stick.

Watching, (somewhat in hilarity, somewhat in horror), I barely contained myself as he broke apart a hardened Skoal Turd on the ground and sifted through the flaky contents. Growing up rural, I'd certainly never witnessed this behavior before and it really quite intrigued me.

"Hey," he said in a high-pitched, surprised voice. "I've seen this on the web! You've got a Star-nosed Mole here!"

"A what?" I asked, more interested now in hearing his thoughts than in telling him the truth.

"A Star-nosed mole!" he exclaimed. "It's usually just indigenous to the Southern swamp and marshlands. You've probably seen pictures of them ... they have 22 protuberances - finger-like things - coming out of their nose. They look like they'refrom outer space!"

I just looked at my poor, confused friend as though his eyebrows had just caught fire.

"Anyway, they're totally cool! They're the only semi-aquatic mole on the planet and use a higher brain function than any other of their species. They actually feel around with their snout to find food, even sensing slight disturbances in water. I had no idea that they could be up this far North!"

"Well, if that's what's been tearing up my yard, I need to put out some mole killer. They are a huge problem here. But, what makes you think it's the Star-nosed mole?" I asked, now wondering if this actually had anything to do with the Skoal Turd he'd just picked apart, or if he was just thinking deeply while he played with the spent chaw?

"This scat I just found! These moles are known for defecating on top of the ground rather than in tunnels. You see, this contains only finely-chewed leafy material - roughages, basically. The Star-nosed mole is known to occasionally digest only roughages to cleanse it's system, purging it of any undigested remnants of the things it normally eats. Usually grubs in this area, I would guess. If you want to get rid of them, kill off the grubs - don't kill off the moles! These guys are one-of-a-kind, things of beauty! They should be protected! In fact, you should get the Conservation Department out here to do a study! This might be a huge scientific find!"

For more of this chapter, as well as the other great tales from growing up rural, look for my new book "GIGGING FOR ROADKILL," due out in-stores in 2012! Also, check out my column in the (now FREE!) Sullivan Journal Tabloid, on newsstands every two weeks!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LOL ... WTF?

Texting acronyms ... little shortcuts that are supposed to be understood by all and make sending messages easier for everyone. Hmmph. The problem is, this lazy form of communication born of non-QWERTY keyboard usage has now infiltrated the rest of society and become commonplace in other forms of communication, such as e-mails and, (believe it or not), formal letters and job resumes. The "Headline Generation" seems to be getting more and more mindless and yet, nobody seems to mind!

Okay, maybe it's the writer in me that finds this offensive, I really don't know. Maybe the fact that I view the written word as a sacred form of communication and preservation is blinding me to the fact that many people just don't care that much about it? But seriously, if I receive a resume from a prospective employee that uses phrasing such as, "Looking 2 advance my career w/ a growing co and help u to build a strong futr," I'm putting it at the very bottom of the wastebasket! (And yes, that is a verbatim line from a recent resume.)

Granted, I'd much rather see someone write WTF than actually spell out the words. Sure, it means the same thing, but for some reason, acronyms are more widely accepted and easier on the eyes than their four-letter counterparts. I'm sure all of the MILFs out there know what I mean.

XMas is another that has always bothered me. No, I'm not a religious nut - I've actually gone from a C&E, (Christmas & Easter), to now just a "kids have a program, so I'll go and watch" attendee. Right. I'm sure that's probably frowned upon by many, but the fact is, I have my own relationship with God and it seems to work for both of us. Neither has to put in much time or effort to my saving and I, in turn, agree to be a good boy and help others when I can. Whatever. In any event, I remember learning in Sunday School, (I was probably 10 at the time), that "by writing XMas, you are effectively Xing Christ's name out of the holiday." That stuck with me. To this day I get angry when I see that abbreviation and if someone in my employ uses it, I come down on them like a fallen tree.

Sure, many will say that this is an empty argument - that we have much bigger things to worry about than the laziness of American writing habits. Hmm. Yes, but this speaks to the bigger picture, doesn't it? Look at all of the people who voted for Obama in the last election, who are now horrified by the mistake. (Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of them who now line the grounds of every Tea Party protest.) These people were part of the "Headline Society," as I call it. Those who listen to a 10-second sound bite or read the caption under a picture and figure they know it all. They listened to the message of "Change this, change that," and figured it sounded pretty good. What they didn't do was investigate Obammy's voting record, nor look into those whom he associated. Had they done that, they may not have been so quick to elect this guy.

I know, saying that extending our vocabulary to include real words rather than acronyms will solve all of our problems is ridiculous, but it's a start. If people start to re-evaluate the importance of communication and understand that doing a job right is as important as doing it at all, maybe we'll have a better chance of succeeding without dependence on a huge government? Maybe we'll get into the habit of actually working to achieve things rather than simply putting in the minimum amount of effort to achieve a specific goal. Or maybe, we'll just take longer to type stuff. Who knows? But hey, it never hurts to try!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

News Channel 5 Interview

Video from Channel 5 Interview last Sunday morning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Finally, I'm Back

After several long months of long hours, captaining the three ships that are my companies through very economically troubled waters, I'm glad to say that I'm back here, posting something to the blog. Granted, this particular post isn't that interesting - merely a "Welcome Back" to myself, of sorts, but the truth is that it's representative of so much more ... it means that I'm back into the groove of writing, which is where my heart truly lies.

You see, it's very hard to do what you truly love for a living. We all know this and very few of us are lucky enough to ever reach the point that our first love is our only profession. Personally, I've never reached that point ... not yet, at least. Granted, I don't have it bad. I own a motorcycle dealership and, since I love riding, one might consider that "doing what I love." You'd be partially right. There's a lot more to running a dealership than riding, however. A ton more, in fact, and most of that is like ... well, work. Secondly, I'm president of a large direct mail and direct marketing company. That's a cool job in that there are a lot of great people there and a lot of great clients that are truly fun to be around. However, when times are tough for everyone - like now - that too is a real job and not so much a labor of love. My other company, (the one that handles my newspaper and magazine columns and my book promotions), is also fun, in that I get to write for a living, create occasional ad layouts, do voice overs for cartoons and commercials ... all sorts of fun and interesting things. However, I've been so swamped with other things these past few months that I've been scrambling to get the columns out by deadline and while they've been good, it's not been "fun."

The fact is, I haven't written for pure, un-pressured "fun" in nearly half a year. However, all of that changed recently. You see, the PR Firm that handles stuff for my direct mail company did me a favor by sending out a bunch of press releases promoting the Books for Soldiers campaign with my book. That, in turn, resulted in a couple of recent interviews, (KMOX Radio with John Carney - a great guy, by the way, and KSDK Channel 5 in St. Louis on their Sunday morning edition of Show Me St. Louis). While doing these interviews, I was able to talk about the troops program and the different signings that I've done. I talked about the people that I've met along the way who really get a kick out of the tales in the book or from my various columns and how they always have a story to share, as well. And that, my friends, is why I write. It's about the stories. Sharing laughter with people is infectious, prompting them to share stories with you, but also with others around them. In the end, everyone gets a laugh and it brightens everyone's day just a little bit. The story teller feels good for having brought a smile to someone's face and the reader feels good because, not only did they get a laugh, but they've also been reminded of similar funny things that have happened to them. Over all, it reminds us all that life is filled with humor and good times - all you have to do is be in the mood to look for it.

And so, being brought back to the mindset of living for the laughs, I'm back to writing for fun. A renewed vigor and interest in not only sharing my tales, but hearing tales from others that will hopefully spawn more laughter and good mood to others along the path. Will I keep up with the blog indefinitely? I certainly hope so. Because after all, what I write here is not written for publication, profit or even publicity ... it's written for fun. And that, my friends, is what I love to do.

Until next time ...

All the best,


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just doing the job ...

   "Afternoon sir. I'm Trooper Cox with the Missouri State Highway Patrol," the motorcycle cop said as he leaned into my already opened window. I had seen both he and his partner parked on the shoulder as I came down the hill on Interstate 44. Unfortunately, the prospect of two motorcycles didn't throw any warning bells in my mind until I noticed the blue uniforms that they were both wearing. By then, the only thing I could do was merge into the center lane and feign innocence. Didn't work, obviously.
   "My partner clocked you at 75-miles per hour coming down that hill and the limit is posted at 60. Is there any reason for the large difference there?" 
   Now how in the hell do you answer that question? I stared blankly as a million responses came to my mind ... 
I didn't see you in time to slow down any further?
Because I slowed down before cresting the hill, just in case?
Uh, no sprechen ze Inglis?
   What I finally settled on, I think, was something like "Because the speed limit is posted too low?" Of course, my sense of humor seems to get lost on most members of the Police, but at least this guy was extremely nice about it. He smiled as he asked to see my ID and proof of insurance.
   "15 miles over the posted limit, I'm going to have to write you a citation for that. I know that's not what you want to hear." he said. "However, I'll be as quick as I can and get you back on your way." With that, he walked back to his motorcycle and took a clipboard from his saddlebag. I spent the next several minutes looking through my glove box, the center console, wherever I could in the car so as to look busy and not meet the knowing gazes of the cars passing me along the highway. After all, they were the very ones that I had blown past several miles before and I just knew that they were poking their passengers in the ribs and pointing, "Look, that jerk got a ticket! Ha! Good for the Policeman!" 
   When the patrolman returned with my Goldenrod copy of the certificate of driving excellence, (I've got quite a collection of these, I must admit), I thanked him for his professionalism and courtesy. I asked if he had saddlebags on that bike and, as he said yes, I handed him a copy of my book, (I had already inscribed a message to him inside the cover telling him to be safe out there). I pointed out to him that I had already been issued the ticket so it wasn't a bribe in any way, but a gift of respect for the hard work that the State Patrol does, (and a showing of no hard feelings as he was simply doing his job. I was, after all, the one breaking the law). 
   Now, in case there is some law against patrolmen accepting gifts even after issuing a ticket, I'll not say whether he accepted the book or not. It's very possible that he informed me that he could not and therefore refused. Basically, this guy was a great Trooper, kind, courteous and truly seemed to be one of the good guys. I respect that and wouldn't want to accidentally cause him any trouble while trying to praise him for his actions. My point is, that in a society where cops, military and other persons of authority are all too often disrespected by the media and the public, I think it's important to shed some light on the good ones. Of course, he could have let me off with a warning, but then I don't think I'd have written this posting.
   As for the other drivers who I'm sure were laughing at me as they passed by? I waited until I was well out of the view of the good Patrolman and made it a point to catch and pass every last one of them. I even waved at a few who looked back at me with surprise ... just to show that there were no hard feelings.

All the best,


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Drive Thru Etiquette

"Yeah, hi. Give me two Chicken McNugget Happy Meals, one with a chocolate milk and the other with a white milk, please." I hate feeding my kids deep-fried crap as much as anyone, but sometimes in this world there is no other option. I waited for what seemed forever for a response. I was beginning to think that the girl working drive thru was either hearing impaired, or her headset had shorted out. Finally, she came with a crackled answer ...

"Sir? We don't have chocolate milk."

"You're out of it?" I don't know why I asked this, other than to make her rephrase her statement. Her tone, along with the wording she chose, made it sound as though she were calling me an idiot.

"No sir. I said, we don't have chocolate milk. You know? We don't sell it." (Smart mouthed little ... well, you know).

"That's funny, you've sold chocolate milk for several decades, right up through last Thursday. Did Ronald suddenly decide that was off the menu?" (Yup. She'd pissed me off. Didn't take much after the trying day that I'd had).

"Hold on." (Forgetting to turn off her microphone) "Hey, Melinda? There's some guy out here who is trying to tell me that we sell chocolate milk. He's being an asshole about it! (pause) No we don't! (another pause) Where? I've looked all over this stupid thing. (and another) Oh. Okay." (Obviously thinking she's turning her mic back on) "---------SILENCE---------"

(At least 60-seconds go by. A car behind me gives a quick warning beep of his gay little import horn. As I sneer into the side mirror, he quickly looks away as though it wasn't him. He was the only car back there).

"Hello? Just so you know, when you called me an asshole your mic was still on, so you probably turned it off, which is why I can't hear you."
"Um ... (another pause) ... will these be for a boy or a girl?"

Having one of each, I wasn't quite sure how to answer this. Did she think that one child was going to consume two Happy Meals? Was this common? I almost didn't doubt it. And why didn't she just ask if I'd like Transformers or Princesses? Why did it have to be a boy/girl thing? As it turns out, my daughter likes to play with the boy toys, so I wanted two Transformers Happy Meals. However, by answering two "boys", I'd certainly be giving my sweet daughter a complex. (Never mind the fact that my kids weren't even in the car with me ... it had been a long day and I was out to prove a point).

"Two Transformers Meals, please."

"So, two BOYS meals?"

Alright, now I was irritated. "No. Two Transformers Happy Meals. I'm not telling you if they are for boys or for girls. That is none of your business and not for you to label. A girl can play with Transformers, right? And, since you're getting snippety with me and you already have labeled me as an asshole, I'm going to take advantage of my newfound title and provide you with a little advice. Don't judge people by what they eat or by how they react to your dumb mistakes and don't stereotype your Happy Meals by gender when it's perfectly okay for a girl to get a Transformer meal or a boy to get a Princess meal for that matter, you understand?"

"Excuse me, sir? (Different voice). My name is Melinda and I'm the crew chief. I'm sorry that we had that confusion there. Could you please pull around to the window for your total?"

"Yes, Melinda. But you should tell the new girl there that her tone was quite rude ... 

My statement was cut short by a long, high-pitched, tin-horn blare from behind me.

"HOLD ON, YOU STUPID JERK!" I yelled. My face was red and I knew that if my kids had been in the car, I would have certainly set a horrible example for them. A little sewing machine motor revved behind me and I swung my door open, bending my six-foot-seven-inch frame out to its full height. The car quickly backed up and raced for an exit.

"Sir? Are you there?" Melinda sounded concerned.

I thought about what I'd just done. To this woman, who was only privy to the audio version of the past thirty-seconds, I was pretty sure that I sounded like a raving lunatic or a very unfortunate sufferer of Terrett's Syndrome. There was absolutely no way I was going to show my face at that window. Besides, I was pretty certain that somebody would have been spitting in something by that point. 

In a fraction of a second my mind decided that the best way to handle this situation was to flee. Flee, I did. I jammed the gear selector into drive and peeled away from the box, bumped over the curb and headed out the exit. In my mirror I could see a gathering of faces jumbled into the drive thru window protrusion like clowns staring out of a small car. 

I raced to the next town another five minutes down the Interstate and pulled to the McDonald's drive thru order box. I was going to be late and wasting very expensive gas, but such is the price for being an asshole at the drive thru. I was truly feeling pretty bad about myself. 


"Will those be for boys or girls," the new girl asked. The ill temper from the hard day flared with a slight redness to my ears as I replied ...

"Two boys, please." There. That wasn't so bad. Just suck it up and play the game and everything will work out fine. I actually felt a little better.

"Okay, sir? Which one gets the chocolate milk ... the first one or the second one?"

I shook my head in disgust and silently pulled forward. Since the meals were identical and they hand you the drinks totally separate from the meal boxes anyway, I guessed she'd just have to sweat out that tough decision. Maybe ... just maybe, it isn't me after all.

All the best,


Monday, July 7, 2008

Careful ... You'll Go Blind Doing That

Okay, so I've been googling myself lately. No, you shouldn't think like that. I'm referring, of course, to Google - the search engine. And yes, I'm fully agreeing with those who think that googling one's self indicates all kinds of psychological problems. I don't deny it ... I just deal with it.

However, with the release of the new book I've become accustomed to googling the title, (as well as myself), to see where it's cropping up in the world of booksellers. I figure that the more places my book sells, the better chance I have of someone accidentally buying it, right? (What is this, I thought I ordered Grisham's new novel? Oh well, this one has a funny title, maybe I'll keep it).

When one googles himself, I've realized, one finds that the world is not, in fact, a small place. You go through life - each day feeling as though you are special - as though you've been put here for a specific reason and to do great things. You feel as though you are the one among billions, a true individual completely different from all others and certainly capable of great things. Then, you find that your name ... I mean "YOUR" name ... doesn't even come up on the first page of google. Sure, there are William Douglas Little's in the first spot, but you know what? Not me. There are William's (in bold), Douglas's (also in bold) and all types and sorts of references to Little (yup ... bold and independent of the first bolds). As for me? I show up on like page 1,928 ... somewhere under "... Little people find difficulty in a tall world." I don't know what that means, except obviously I don't google well ... yet!
Unlike it's author, however, my book googles well. MEXICAN BOWL FISHING finds my book, (and my site), at the very top now. Hooray for the techy guys at Merus Solutions for making that happen. Hey, we beat out Amazon, which is no easy feat!

The fun part, I've decided, is scrolling through the search results for the book, (my name results are just frustrating), and seeing where it is for sale around the world. The different sites are quite interesting and I thought, (obviously I need more hobbies), I would share some of the links with you. Why? I have no idea. I guess this blog was just getting too damned entertaining or something. Gotta bore it down a little ...
www.booktopia.com.au/mexican-bowl-fishing-and-other-tales-of-life/prod9781434382580.html finds the book in Austria ... or is .au Australia? Okay, whichever. Whup, it's in English ... must be Australia. At least they'll be able to read it there. Interesting, Australian dollars are either valued much less than the American dollar, (is that even possible?), or those poor people are going to pay through the nose for my book! (Or, more likely, they won't).
www.authorhouse.co.uk/BookStore/BookStoreSearchResults~SearchType~bis~SearchBisacCode~HUM000000-1.aspx Here's one in the UK, which isn't all that interesting. I mean, they're pretty much like us ... without the flouride.
www.libreriauniversitaria.it/books_family_relationships-FAM000-books_8.htm Is Italian. "You talkin' to me?" ... or I guess, "You talkin' di me" maybe? Well, I guess "di" is actually "by". Nevermind.
www.amazon.co.jp/Mexican-Bowl-Fishing-Other-Tales/dp/1434382583 this one cracks me up. Japan. And, I hope that it does well there. I'll never know as I can't understand the characters that they use for letters and I'm assuming I'll not be able to read the sales reports. I wonder if they'll be paying royalties in Yen? (Or is that China?)
Those are the most interesting thus far. Or, perhaps they're not that interesting at all. I suppose that's within the eye of the beholder. But then, how interesting did you expect a posting to be considering that the poster has admittedly been googling himself? Honestly.
Yahoo! is next, I suppose. (Maybe it's time I got a real life?)
All the best,