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One Good Turn

Have you ever noticed how many different variations we have  for the word “turn”? Most everything to do with turn kind of assumes that things are headed one way, but then they’re somehow redirected.

Just think of all the things you can do if you’re turning. You can turn the crank, and you can turn to the left or to the right—just don’t turn around. If I could turn back time, I think I could really turn things around. I’d like to turn the corner, but it’s not my turn. Whose turn is it, anyway? Oh, now suddenly it’s my turn. Of course, one good turn deserves another, although I’m not so sure that applies if what one happens to be turning…is tricks. A witch turned me into a newt one time. (I got better.) Technically, what actually happened was that Kendra kissed me and I turned into a prince. You might think I had to turn in my man card. Not so. (Although it did turn my life on its head.) That reminds me: Back when we were dating, Kendra and her friends were talking about me one time and she said: “He could be a powerful ally, if he could be turned.” But then the conversation turned, and, as it turns out, it was me who returned the favor. That’s not  as bad as when the milk turns. That’ll turn your stomach, and unfortunately, there’s no turning that off once it starts. Even if you try to turn a blind eye to it, it could still turn loose at any time. When that happens, what I like to turn to is two turntables and a microphone because that usually turns me on, Sonny, to something strong. Speaking of being turned on, I hope we have a good turnout. You never know, after all, how things are going to turn out.

One of my favorite lines from the wonderful film Raising Arizona is when Holly Hunter’s character tells Nicolas Cage’s character to “Turn to the right” because it has a double meaning. You see, in the literal sense she means it because she’s taking his mug shots for his incarceration, one from the front and one on the left side, so she needs him to “turn right.” (By the way, his pictures turn out okay—we get to see them at the end of this scene.) But she also means that in order to deserve her love, she needs him to turn his life around (turn to the right). Clever, right? And of course decides to turn over a new leaf for her because she’s turned his head. (By the way, after that whole exchange, she takes his fingerprints and turns in his paperwork.) Their story gets better for a while, but then it takes a turn for the worse.

I’m going to turn the page to a different topic now: Why do we still say “turn down the TV” or “turn down the radio”? I mean, in the old days, it was because those things had knobs (remember those?), which you literally had to turn. But we haven’t had knobs like that since, oh, I dunno, the turn of the century (back when “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was still on the radio). So why are we still turning those things? (Also unrelated, my dad still says “turn the channel.” Pretty much everybody else I know says to “change” it.) While I hate turnips, I’d like to end on a positive note, so I’ll leave you with thoughts of apple turnovers instead.

I think I sprained something with all that. I could probably use a tourniquet. (Okay, maybe that one was a stretch.)

Come on, Turn. Seriously. We have other words. Why do you feel like you have to mean everything?

I’m sure I missed at least a couple. Fortunately, my lovely readers enjoy pointing out my mistakes for the world to see. Which “turns” am I missing? What was your favorite music video from the 80’s? Or the 70’s, I guess, for that matter. Why do you think peanuts (and tree nuts) seem hell-bent on killing kids these days?

Changing Up

To my faithful readers (all five of you):

I’m planning some upcoming changes to soon—well, soon for me…as soon as I can get around to them, anyway. I just wanted to let you know in advance because things are probably going to break and look ugly/ier for a little bit until I can get it all sorted out. Here’s why:

I’ve been using the tagline, “I write…so you don’t have to,” for about four and a half years now. My original premise when I first purchased the domain was to “pimp my wares,” which is a nice way of saying, “letting people know what services I may equitably provide them.” No, wait…switch those around. People often refer to starting their website as “hanging out a shingle,” but I don’t think that means the same thing now that it did in, you know, medieval times. Now it has a different connotation (to me, at least.) And nobody wants to see that hanging out on the web.

Anyways, several months ago, back when we were visiting Greece (the country, not the musical), I decided that I wanted to start blogging in a manner that entertained me. And if anybody else enjoyed it as well, that would just be gravy. (And who among us doesn’t like gravy? Am I right or am I right?) It’s like that old saying, “Misery loves company,” so I figured at least a handful of people would tag along. (Turns out I was aiming too high.)

I’m a huge fan of the genius of @badbanana, he of the Twitter fame (407,232 followers?!? Seriously?!?). He once tweeted, “Misery loves company picnics.” So true.

So here’s what I’m gonna do (or, as Kanye might say it, “Hee’s what I’ma do”):

I’m going to simplify somewhat. My plan is to move to only words, since that’s what my mom says I’m best at. (And she’s my mom, so why would she lie to me…right?) The home page at will have two halves, something like “Serious” and “Less So,” or perhaps “Business” and “Fun.” The “Less So” (which on my site now I refer to as “Sillier Things” in the menu options above) will lead you here, to my dumb blog. The other half will be building out what’s now “Serious Work.”

While I had hoped to spend more time entertaining people and giving them the opportunity to laugh (hopefully sometimes even out loud), and just have kind of a respite from all of the seriousness of our lives, I also have to kind of be a grown-up (or something) and be more serious about the writing I do for a living. I much prefer being a doofus online, but of course that’s not paying any of my bills. (Despite my incessant begging, you guys have just been no help in that department.)

At some point, I’ll also be changing over my Facebook structure. My plan is to create two new pages. One will be the same obnoxious smarmy feed you’ve come to expect from me there, and the other will be a “serious” one about the kinds of business services I can offer (like exorcisms and exotic dancing at bachelor parties, bat mitzvahs and kids’ birthdays). The downside to that is that, if you’re my Friend on Facebook, and you want to keep seeing the “fun” stuff, you’ll have to “Like” the page I set up for that. I’ll then reserve my “normal” Facebook profile for family and personal things that actually are related to my friends, and not just me, and not just me embarrassingly screaming for attention. (I haven’t decided yet how I’ll accomplish the same thing on Twitter.)

So, any questions? Certainly I welcome your feedback. (Not that I’ll actually take any of it into consideration, of course—but I prefer to leave you with at least the impression that you are valued in our relationship). Does anybody really even care? Do you think Sarah Palin seriously has a shot at the White House at some point in the future? (Whether yes or no, please defend your position.)

My Day Off

I’d like to apologize today to anyone who has expressed that you look forward to reading my blog. I can’t write for you today. If you try to write anything regularly—and you have a life—then you know that sometimes it can feel like a grind.

You see, often when it’s time to sit down to write something creative, my well is dry, and I struggle to think of stories or ideas or concepts that I’d like to share with you. Sometimes I have plenty of ideas, but none of them are bloggable. Maybe they’re too disgusting, talking about things like garbage disposals in toilets. Or one story might inappropriately embarrass one of the characters featured, like say, if it’s about a 12-year-old boy dressing in drag to be funny for his brother-in-law, but making his mom angry in the process. Often, my ideas are simply just too naughty, and I’m not willing to go there (even if it’s truly funny). I like to keep within the PG range, although sometimes (I know) I teeter dangerously close to PG-13.

Since I’ve been writing for a living for going on twenty years now, of course I know a lot of handy tricks that can help me get unstuck. Other days, they don’t seem to work—even for me. :( I’m convinced that the human mind only has so much capacity for processing, based on a whole lot of factors: memories (of course), nutrition, opportunity for reflection, proper rest and sleep, bandwidth from dumping existing ideas, three tiny gnomes that I keep locked in a Darth Vader action figure case, consulting with the neighbor’s cat, and other things too numerous to mention.

One thing I do sometimes is mash up two disparate things. When my dear friend Natalie was stuck with nothing to write, I suggested what I thought was a simple solution, and it seemed to work for her. Sometimes I turn to my artist-friend’s blog and steal ideas or inspiration from her. Most of the time I just surf the Internet. Of course the Happy Friday Dance party is always nearby. (Blaine Hogan has several variations on this theme, so it’s hard to pick a favorite.) Also I run. If I have the time and happen to be in a slow season with work, I might take a nap. Or make a sandwich. And then another. And then another. Code Red loves me no matter what, and it never judges me. Sometimes it actually helps.

But what’s happened in the last couple of weeks is that I’ve just become overwhelmed. My sales cycle for the projects and freelance writing work I do is a long one. (TWSS) Usually I’ll meet with a client, we’ll go over everything, and then a month or two later they’ll get back to me with actual work. Two weeks ago, I had three meetings like that—which all resulted in immediate work, way more than I could do or keep up with. So for this season, I’m going to have to stay focused on that.

And that’s why I couldn’t entertain you today. Thank you for your understanding.

What do you do to get back in your groove? What keeps you from doing the things you know you should? What are some stories you know that I know, that you’d like to hear (read?) me tell? (Anything’s fair game, including embarrassing high school kind of stuff.)