Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Skeleton Walks into a Bar

Two skeletons walk into a bar and say to the bartender: "We'll have a pitcher of beer and a mop, please!"

Me and Yorick
At least, that's one way to tell that joke.

I love that there are so many different ways to spin a joke.

Front yard joke sign for April 29, 2020

I mean, you start with a skeleton of an idea on how the word play can go, and then you flesh it out a bit, add a little muscle here, a little nuance that gets under the skin there.

The other day when Liz was online and I needed to stay off the computer, I shot a few stupid dad jokes on the skeleton theme using Barnaby Bones and Yorick. I later compiled them into a video.

See, I'm helping you exercise your eyeballs with all those eyeball rolls.

Barnaby and Yorick are jealous that at least YOU have eyes to roll.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Ministry of Silly Walks

Someone recently shared an image of a man walking silly in front of a sign that read:


There was also a bunch of smaller-print text, which I couldn't read.

But the image said it all.

Image traced back to Bored Panda Article

It is, of course, a reference to the classic Monty Python sketch about a fictitious ministry.

A still of John Cleese in that classic role

 If you haven't seen the sketch, it is embedded below.

We have regularly posted silly dad joke style puns in the front yard on a daily basis, something we started well before the global pandemic. But, ever since the self-isolation phase of this lockdown, I have made sure to update it every day.

It's great to see people pause to read it, and then either laugh, or exercise their eyes with a good solid eye roll.

So when I saw that image of the sign on Facebook, I decided to craft my own sign and post it in the front yard. I added a few silhouette images of Cleese to the sign and a bit of color, covered it in plastic to protect it from the rain, and fixed it to a board, so it would be a bit more solid.

The Silly Walks Ministry Sign in front of our house in Waterloo, ON

The sign I crafted, inspired by that first one, reads:

NOTICE: This property is an official jurisdiction of  THE MINISTRY OF SILLY WALKS. Commence silly walking immediately!

Then, in smaller text below that it reads:

No FINES for non-compliance, just potential FUN if you give it a try.

My home office is on the second floor and looks down on the front yard. From my standing desk I have a pretty good view and have delighted in seeing the smiles it brings to people's faces. And also, for those daring enough to give it a try.

I've seen countless folks give it a shot over the last week. The young, the old.

And, in the past few days, with the weather getting warmer so I can open the windows, I can now also hear the laughter.

Yeah, most of us who aren't on the front lines are pretty helpless to do anything but self-isolate and try to help with flattening the curve.

But if I can help make a few people smile and laugh, then that's not such a bad thing.

I have since read that this hilarious trend was started by a woman in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, named Liz Koto. Here is a Bored Panda article about it. So three cheers to Liz for starting this awesome movement. There's also an Instagram account showing video of people trying the walk. under the name Yorkshire Silly Walks.

If you wanted to make your own sign, I created a PDF of the one I used that you can download.

Click here to download PDF of this sign

Because, so long as Graham Chapman doesn't show up as The Colonel and tells us to stop that, lets spread some more much needed laughs and smiles.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Stuck In This House Here With You - A Parody

The other day, I posted a picture to social media of Liz doing something silly.

A friend commented that it was probably a side effect of being stuck in self-isolation with me for so long.

The song "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel came up. And the suggestion for doing a spoof version of it.

It bounced around in my head for a bit. The way things do.

Long enough for me to quickly pen some parody lyrics to that original 1972 song.

I read the lyrics to Liz. She thought they were funny.

She rolled her eyes, appropriately when the song mentions poo.

I said we should try to record a duet version of the song.

She looked at me like I had just suggested we create a video tape of an intimate moment between us and upload it to Pornhub. That's because I'm the one in our relationship who is "all out there." Humiliating myself publicly is par for the course. Liz prefers to be the creative force "behind the camera."

But less than twelve hours later, she mentioned that she had some ideas for visuals that could go with the song.

You see, for years, she has been producing these amazing videos. Mostly in relation to her work. And the majority of the time she stays out of view of the camera.

Lately, however, she has had a bit more exposure, collaborating with a co-worker on producing a "morning show" style live show as a way of doing a combination of team-building, information sharing, and humorous distraction for her staff. It's a private show, meant for this specific team. But I've watched a number of episodes and, like so many of the things Liz does, I think it's fantastic.

So we started talking about how the video might look.

After relaxing one evening after watching a few episodes of the first season of Cheers, we did a dry run-through of a revised version of the parody lyrics to a karaoke version of the song.

Then yesterday morning, we went into our studio (okay, my home office where I record my podcast and do other video/audio related things as an author and book industry guy), and we did a number of takes, collaboratively revising the lyrics, then laying down the track.

We used the Ameritz Karaoke version of the song for the background track. Then we shot the video using an iPad, which Liz edited and produced right on the iPad using iMovie. After she finished, I imported the video into Camtasia 2019 to add the titles and annotations.

I'm proud of the short, cute story this parody version tells.


It was an awesome collaborative project. Yes, it was work, but for the first time in days, neither of us was spinning and spending the whole day either working or thinking and worrying about work stuff.

And perhaps also, more importantly, for the first time in days, we finally got a song stuck in our heads that has replaced the hilarious parody created by Brock Tyler of our Prime Minister using the words "speaking moistly."  (Fun fact, BTW, the original lyrics of the song included a nod to that:)

"...and outside, the germs are crawling so moistly in the air - we say.....Please....."

It's enriching to collaborate on something creative and fun with the person you love. When you realize that there's nobody you'd rather be stuck in isolation with.

Here's hoping that the song inspires at least one much needed smile or laugh for you.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Creating Income and Connecting with Readers Using Short Fiction

On Wednesday April 22, 2020, I'll be presenting in one of Jane Friedman's online classes.

Jane is a consistently reliable authoritative source of solid information about the writing and publishing industry. Her blog and The Hotsheet are two amazing resources I regularly consume. I'm honored that I get to participate in one of her online workshops.

Creating Income & Connecting with Readers Using Short Fiction
The course is $20 USD and will be a video chat where I'll be talking through several of the examples that Matty Dalrymple and I wrote about in our February 2020 book, Taking the Short Tack.

I will share many of the examples that we write about in the book as well several other options and examples with the goal of informing and inspiring authors on how they can leverage their short fiction IP in multiple ways.