Category Archives: Humor

Beagles are Evil

Tyrion LeChien, Beagle

Many people do not know this. Beagle lovers, never to be trusted on that basis alone, will argue the point. But, Beagles are evil. If you just stepped in a fresh pile of dog poop in your own hallway, you probably keep a Beagle. If no surface in your home is a safe place to cool a pie, you probably own a Beagle. Even a bit of Beagle background can corrupt even the normally fine and well-behaved Basset Hound. I know this from experience. Sure, Buffy the Basset Hound was evil, because she was also part Beagle. No pure Basset would ever be so disdainful of house rules and the masters’ wishes as dear old Buffy. Stubborn doesn’t cover it, either. We tried an invisible fence with a shock collar. She quivered, she peed, and she kept pushing until she was free of the evil fence. On the outside of it. That was the Beagle in her.

Tyrion LeChien, sure, he seems innocent enough. He loves his walks. So much so that he’ll slip out of his  harness to keep walking if his owner, or even the other dog sharing the leash, hesitates too long. He slips his leash using evil magic; there is no other explanation. And he is always cute and loveable and innocent, even when he is leaving a puddle of pee the size of lake Mead on the floor, with a big old steamin’ hunk of souvenier from yesterday’s lunch in the middle of it. Evil. No other word for it.

And that’s Beagles. You gotta love ’em, because otherwise the SPCA would have you hanging by your pathetic thumbs. Because they’re evil. Look in the dictionary if you don’t believe me. Beagle=evil=Beagle. See? I would never lie to you!

 

BIG REVISION AHEAD

Need to see more of this cow? She's outside a restaurant not far from Washington, PA.
Need to see more of this cow? She’s outside a restaurant not far from Washington, PA.

This week’s title shouts, and for a reason. When I say revision, I mean revision, dammit! I’ve mentioned before that I have been working on a thriller, starring a young FBI agent, her even younger partner, and a President who does something that, even given the current political climate, is still probably unthinkable. No spoilers here, except that of course my protagonists prevail, justice is served, and a grateful world makes the agent dictator for life! I made that last part up, but ain’t it swell?

Anyway, it’s almost drafted. My first drafts, though, are sort of incredibly filled-out plot outlines, filled with telling, notes, blind alleys, references to scenes I haven’t written yet, you know how that goes, I’m sure. I’ve been concentrating on writing stand-up for the past couple of weeks. If you’ve never tried it, I can tell you that it has a lot in common with poetry. It takes a lot of work to get it right. But, also, I’ve sort of fallen out of love with that thriller. Until this morning.

I was driving North on Decatur Avenue when the thought hit me: Why not make the protagonists young teenagers, and recast the whole thing as a middle-grader? With humor? Why not indeed? Hell, L’Engle got away with using that “dark and stormy night” line, didn’t she? Why not have the Scooby gang, or the Goonies, or those kids from Stranger Things, have the honors? That’s where I am, now. I’ve already retitled my working draft into something I think is terribly clever, created a new file, and made a note on my official “first notes” document.

Which is why the title is shouting. And my message for the week is, never be afraid to turn your whole project upside-down and rewrite it more or less from scratch!

Later, Gang!

S.

Our Holiday Letter

Chappy Chanukka?
Chappy Chanukka?

Hello from our family! We certainly hope that this past year has been a good one for you and yours, and that the upcoming year will fill you with blessings, and improved streaming from your chosen ISP!

We are feeling a bit conflicted this holiday season. That’s because not a one of us has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. You know how we like to think of ourselves as on the cutting edge of family life. Grandma gave us all Cabbage Patch Dolls before they got so expensive, and we still have a garden made of Pet Rocks! But, in this, we are sadly behind the times. Although Pa did once tell cousin Lucille an off-color joke. It didn’t rise to an offense, though, because Lucille told him one in return that caused the rest of us to put our hands over the little ones’ ears and blush for shame. The language! Anyway, outside of that bit of embarrassment, which I am frankly glad to have confessed, life has been good to us this year.

Pa, Junior (isn’t that the cleverest name, though?) was cleared to return to playing football after the swelling in his brain went down, and he’s gone on to be the star of the team during his Senior year. He’s so excited about the game that he sort of shivers from time to time, and who can blame him? That City Championship Trophy will look pretty darned good up on the mantle, that’s for sure! 

You’d think brother Josh would be jealous, but not a bit of it! He’s working really hard down at the Stash N Save, bagging folks’ stuff for them. Sometimes he carries the stuff out to their car for ’em, and once in a while, he even gets a tip! He’s learned a lot about how a successful business works, as when his boss pointed out that, as a tipped employee, he got less pay per hour than if he were, for instance, a janitor who never got tips. We’re sure he’ll put this knowledge to good use throughout his life!

Josh and Sissy's creation.
Josh and Sissy’s creation.

Sissy is not to be undone by her big brothers. Besides designing the snow creature shown in the picture, she has been learning the best way to apply mascara, so when she gets to high school she won’t look as ridiculous as most of the girls on dance nights. We’re having a little trouble convincing her to drop her interest in electronics and physics and concentrate on more practical concerns, but after all, she’s just thirteen. She has several years yet to figure out how the world really works! 

Pa may not be a sexual predator, but he’s one heck of a tinkerer. Last June he bought a 1969 Oldsmobile 442 off of our neighbor over on Claremont Avenue, and he figures that by this next June he’ll be able to use it to drive to Pa, Junior’s graduation! Maybe even let Pa, Junior use it when he takes his girlfriend out to celebrate their new adulthood! Pa says that the car just has a few “bent valves,” whatever that means, and it won’t be any trouble at all for him to fix up good as new! It actually does run right now, but the cloud of smoke it makes gets so thick that he can’t see where he’s going when he tries to drive it. I can’t wait for when we can drive it up and down Main Street, just like Grandpa and Grandma used to do back in those days.

And of course, I’ve been busy lately what with making Thanksgiving dinner for us and all of our cousins (it’s so nice to see the house full to bursting with hungry kinfolk!) And now I’m starting in on the Christmas cookies, bake-ahead pies, gingerbread for the gingerbread houses (Rex the Lab ate them all last year, so I’m putting them on top of the china cabinet this time,) and of course shopping for presents for everybody. I’m having a blast, as you can imagine, and I hope you, too, are enjoying your Holiday Season!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, Good Kwanzaa, Happy New Year!

Until next year,

Regards, Myrtle

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Steven M Fey, including the photographs, also by Steven M Fey

 

 

 

Comedy To(morrow)night

I’m going to host a stand-up comedy open mic show tomorrow night at Legends Sports Bar, 5866 Boulder Hwy. If you want to perform, sign-ups start at 6:30. If you want to watch and listen, the show starts at 7:30.

Regular readers (both of you) will know that I started down a path by taking a class in stand-up comedy last winter. Well, now I’m in deeper. (You can see me perform by clicking here.) If you watch that video, please let me know what you think. I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

But, to get back to my topic, I’m hoping that this becomes a regular weekly event, and that a whole lot of comics come out to perform. If you’re a big name comic (there are a few in town) feel free to try out some new stuff at my place!

 

Immigrants

As background, I’d like to point out that my family first arrived in this country at Jamestown, well before the pilgrims landed. Yes, they were idiots, looking for gold in the Dismal Swamp. But they were amongst the first European invaders. They were cousins, but a direct ancestor of mine fought in the Revolutionary war, with Connecticut. Funny, that, because he was from Philadelphia. Too many blue bloods in Philly for his taste? Oh, wait, he was a blue blood.

My mom even looked down on my dad’s family because, among other reasons, the first of them didn’t arrive until the 1840s. Laggards!

So we’ve been here 408 years now, and I think that qualifies me to talk about immigrants.

Trump? What’s with that guy? Nobody on earth works harder than a Mexican! Who’s going to build that wall for him? Wasps like me? Good luck with that, Don.

408 years. We were here first, dammit! And I’m okay with immigrants. Those of you who think immigrants are ruining the country? Feel free to go back where you came from at any time of your choosing!

Writing Funny

A Fey Cow

Besides using a cartoon drawing of a goofy cow, writing funny presents a unique set of challenges. I like to write, you know that, but it turns out I also like to get up in front of people and tell jokes. You may know that too, but I discovered it only recently. But there is something you may never have considered about being a comic. That is, a comic is also a writer. You have to write all the time. Right now, I’m working on a YA romance, a chapter book involving some fourth-grade detectives (not that they’re low grade, they’re in the fourth grade,) and an endless series of jokes to be invented, refined, and worked into a routine that will, I hope, make an audience pee their collective pants. Or, at least get me hired at some corporate events. (My HBO special will be next year, of course.)

So, oddly it seems to me, every comic you see on television or in person is also a professional writer. In my case, I have never been able to get a serious point across unless I couch it in humor. Hell, I bet you’re bored right now, aren’t you? ‘Cause I haven’t made any jokes yet, have I? Well, be bored then. I charge for humor, after all. But my point is that every one of the comics, from Seinfeld to the guy at the club you dropped in on the other night when you were already too drunk to walk straight (we see you, you know,) writes something virtually every day. And he or she has to write something that’s funny! And that means studying what is funny. (That sentence certainly isn’t.) But, humor can be studied just like algebra, and that’s what comedians do. Can that be funnier? What’s the best punchline? How do I make it funnier? How can I add another punchline? And on and on.

I write regular stuff, so I’m hoping that by posting this about writing comedy I might help some of my fellow writers to appreciate the amount of thought and effort that goes into a comedy routine. I doubt that, just taken as a person, Lewis Black is any more angry than anyone else, but his anger schtick earned him a movie role as, well, Anger. And if you think Seinfeld is just a bunch of goofs kicking stuff around, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. Seinfeld is a bunch of professionals who polish and analyze and polish and analyze and polish some more, until it’s funny enough for prime time.

Think about that next time you see or read some funny stuff. A whole lot of serious work goes into making it that way. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Fourth of July!!!!

american flag photo: American Flag american-flag.jpgUnless you’re getting damned old like me you may not remember, but once long ago (1973 it was, to be exact) Independence Day was included in the Monday lineup of Federal Holidays. That lasted only a few years, because dammitall, we call it “4th of July!” and that’s that. But this post is actually about ageing.

On 4th of July back in my days when I lived in Bowling Green, Ohio, my friends and I had an annual tradition of taking LSD and going to the park to sit as close to the fireworks as they’d let us. I don’t know if you’ve ever done that, but, honestly, you probably ought to. It’s awesome! But I digress. My point is that, a mere fifteen years later, my tolerance for recreational drugs had deteriorated rather shockingly.

When I was about 40 years old I was at a hot springs resort in the Sangre de Christo Mountains of Southern Colorado. I hadn’t used any sort of illegal drug in, well, just about fifteen years, but in the evening, in a common room, somebody rolled a joint and passed it. Old habits kicked in and I took a hit and passed it on. Ten minutes later I actually made it to my bed before passing out. From Acid Freak to Narcoleptic in only a decade and a half. Sheesh!

I know that I’m probably better off. And, if you’re thinking of turning me in, go ahead, all of my drug use was too long ago to prosecute, and not in the jurisdiction where I live anyway. But my ageing, well, it’s progressing quite nicely, thank you.

I can’t tell you my best “getting older” stories because they’re a bit raunchy, but they illustrate just the sort of physical deterioration shown by my drug tale. But, for all of that, I would never go back! In more ways than I can count, it’s better to be old than it is to be young! Not least of which is that I truly can do whatever I want, pretty much, and nobody says anything about it.

Getting back to the title theme of this post, there was something we used to shout every year on Independence Day. Given Mr. Adams’ prescription on how to celebrate the occasion (which we follow to this day) it seems appropriate. Ready? Here it is:

4th of July!!!

4th of July!!!

4th of July!!!

Monday holiday my left foot!

Stand Up, Sit Down

Fight, fight, fight?

Okay, it’s not a fight. But doing stand-up requires writing, of course, and just like other writing, the writing requires revision. I even have a few jokes about writing. They’re not great, but I did write them myself.

You may not know this, but query is an old Sanskrit term that means, roughly, “Throw it down a deep well.”

Okay, not that funny. That’s because I used it once, in my first stand-up class, and never used it again. It’s never been revised. But anything I do on stage certainly has. For instance, here’s a revision sequence for a joke I’m probably going to include with my next performance.

1. My cousin got a ticket the other day. Used his turn signal.

Not a bad idea, but is it funny enough? Who the hell knows? But could it be funnier? Well, almost anything could.

2. Traffic in Vegas is sort of weird. My cousin got a ticket last week for not using his turn signal. He caused a six-car pile-up.

More detail, probably be funnier when delivered. Is it funny enough, though? (See above.)

3. Traffic in Vegas is so weird, a friend of mine got a ticket for not using his turn signal. They’re sending him to traffic school to learn to be an asshole like the rest of us!

#3 is the funniest of those, and the most revised. I prefer it because it flows more smoothly, it includes more people in the punchline, and it’s a lot more unexpected at the end. That’s one joke that takes maybe fifteen seconds to deliver, and you can see what a bit of revision has done for it. I did a lot of that revision aloud, and I’m not saying that it will remain as you see it here, just that it got better at each revision. And now, I come to my point about writing and revision, to wit:

When I revise out loud, I stand up. Then when I type it into my file of material, I sit down. (See how I cleverly worked in the title of this post here?) Revising out loud helps me see where things hit snags, where I can make something stronger, and which parts maybe I should just toss and forget. (What? Forgettable jokes? Say it ain’t so!) And this technique works not just for comedy, gentle readers, but for any writing.

Right now I’m metaphorically bleeding as I slowly revise a YA romance I drafted during the last Nanowrimo. The revision will take a lot longer than the first draft, I can tell you. Sometimes I find that reciting a passage aloud provides a lot of insight into what’s right and wrong about it, which makes the process a lot easier. How about that? A perfectly serious book can be helped by a technique from stand-up comedy? Who knew?

You may not know this, but “First Draft” is an old Farsi phrase meaning “Five-Hundred Hours on Facebook!”

That last one is true, of course. 😉

 

Comedy Last Nite

Okay, a little late when I got in last night, so I’m posting this morning. I was out at Haza Las Vegas, in Chinatown, trying out a new short set. Meh. But, it was a fun evening, all the same, thanks to Leo Gets and his partners. There was a $50 prize for the performer voted the best. That brought it to two singers (a couple of lovely chanteuses) and half a dozen comics. I didn’t win (I’d have been disappointed in the voting if I had) but the guy who did got my vote, so everything was fine at the end.

Haza serves Yakatori amongst other things; it’s a Japanese restaurant in Chinatown (on Jones) run by a bunch of Polacks, so you know it has to be good. There is comedy every Wednesday, usually professionals, not open mike. They serve a special comedy show drink, but I have no idea what’s in it. It costs $4.50. They have specials on Sapporo beer, too, and sake. There’s also a special comedy menu from 7PM, and the show starts at 8. Check it out!

Jokes? I Got a Million of ‘Em!

Well, not really a million, but a lot.

That is, if “a lot” means what I’m posting below.

I’m taking a class in stand-up comedy, which is more difficult than you’d imagine. As a part of that class, I have to write jokes (will wonders never cease, huh?) So, what follows is a list of the original (to me — so far as I know I made them up) jokes I’ve come up with so far. Laugh your asses off! I dare you!

 

 

I got a letter in the mail addressed to my neighbor today and stole a $100 check out of it.

He was okay with that because he said he was really enjoying my tax refund.

 

My cousin got a ticket the other day. Used his turn signal.

 

Isn’t it great to finally finish up at the DMV? After three hours stuck there you’re cleared to go out and drive ten miles per hour stuck behind a semi.

 

The way some people carry on, you’d think a cold in the head was the worst thing that could ever happen to them.

But it’s snot.

 

We keep a basset hound that’s so enthusiastic that she’ll jump right up on you. It’s bad manners, but you can’t really blame her, because her mother was a real bitch.

 

They keep changing the food pyramid, and I can never remember everything that’s in it.

Outside of grease, salt, and sugar I mean.

 

There are worse things than getting old.

Trouble is that I’m too old to remember what they are.

 

Went to Fry’s today to pick up one of those knockoff phones made in China, and discovered you can actually eat lunch there.

‘Course, I was hungry again an hour later.

 

There’s a new restaurant in town that serves food exactly like my mother used to make.

The health department is shutting them down tomorrow.

 

You know that feeling you get when all the lights turn green and you just fly across town?

Yeah, me neither.

 

And, here are the ones I wrote just today:

 

 

If comedy doesn’t work out I know I can be a photographer’s model. Everybody loved me at my session the other day.

Well, at least the photographer complimented my posing.

Okay, the guy taking the mug shots thanked me for my cooperation.

 

I like to run. I’ve completed four marathons. Last one was just yesterday morning.

Okay, it was closer to a half marathon.

Actually, it was just to the bathroom, and I barely made it.

 

Don’t you love living in Las Vegas? You get to hang out with all the stars!

Or at least you can run into them at the grocery store.

Okay, it’s easy to steal the souvenir napkins!

 

There are a lot of stories of bravery in Las Vegas. People rescuing people from burning buildings; overcoming personal tragedy; crossing Boulder Highway on foot.

 

I also write funny songs. I’ve got one about to hit the top ten.

It will as soon as I release it.

Right after I finish writing it.

 

In school I was always that kid who got As on everything.

Well, sure, I got a few lower grades.

Like when I flunked algebra, but outside of those . . .