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The Blog Of State Address

My fellow Commaricans,

Today is the first anniversary of the ground-bruising weblog known as The Ominous Comma.1 On this solemn occasion I stand before you humbled in tearful amazement, a fact having just as much to do with the freshly spilled coffee in my lap as with the undeniable glow of achievement which not only permeates this site but also illuminates entire neighborhoods, disturbing the circadian rhythms of countless innocent victims.

Without a doubt, this blog is really something.

Although scientists are torn as to what that something might be, they generally agree that whatever it is, it’s probably not anything worth getting torn over.

NASA Photo ~ Courtesy of Everystockphoto.com

But, putting aside all questions of composition, the Comma has existed, some would say thrived over the last twelve months.2 And having personally guided the ship of site during that period, past all danger of recession or even accuracy, I feel that it is high time to settle down to the serious business of granting myself a slew of generous, retroactive pay raises.

Although it is customary on these sort of occasions to impress the crowd with a few statistics, I will not. Allow me to assure you that I do indeed have numbers and that they are both large and numerous, featuring digits and decimals and other types of obscure mathematical notation. Numbers so fierce and intimating that I prefer to keep them stored in specially engineered Byzantium-lined PO boxes, for reasons of national security.

However, to further bolster my own claim on competence, I will slip you a few figures. To date, I have let fly 182 posts and been greeted with 3774 comments, many from people who have read what I have written, a couple having no mention of male enhancement products.

Truly, these are heady accomplishments, the kind that would inflate the ego of a lesser man. That I can stay humble is the face of such over-awing achievements is something in which I take great pride.

This brings me to an announcement of great significance and prestige. This blog, The Ominous Comma, the very same one you are currently reading has been declared the best blog in Tennessee by a distinguished panel of purple and green refrigerator stars, one of which has agreed to pose for photographs immediately below this sentence.3

best_blog_in_tennessee_button.gif

With this distinction, the Comma is ready to assume its place among the other A-list blogs of the Volunteer State such as…um…well…many fine blogs, none of which I am personally acquainted with at this time.

Clearly it is a new day in America, an event unparalleled in over twenty-three and half hours. And as such, I pledge to the people of this website to continue in the tradition of excremence and sheer speculation on which our beloved blog was founded, bringing forth upon the internet a kinder, gentler Comma, smelling faintly of lilacs…or ex-lax, whichever is more readily available.

Thank you.

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  1. I hope to one day add a research department to our fine organization and so upgrade our status to the rank of Surface-Scratching, but until that time fact checking will remain strictly one of the more enjoyable aspects of trivia hockey.
  2. Of course, these are the same people who keep trying to set you up on that blind date with the convicted Ukrainian wankel smuggler, but around here we take our endorsements where we can get them.
  3. <p>Although the inclusion of the Comma in their fine directory reveals the highest level of taste and cultural appreciation on the part of the Tennesseebloggers.com, they seem to be lacking some of the more basic mathematical skills. For example, let’s just say that there is a statistically improbably number of Best Blog in Tennessees.</p>

    There is also no category for Memphis Humor, a redundancy I’m sure they sought to avoid.

Writing Prompts for the Not-So-Prompt

There comes a time in every blogger’s life when having answered every email, researched every YouTube video, and basically exhausted every imaginable resource, he finds himself1 in the desperate position of actually having to write.

If you are a stranger to the delightful world of wordcraft, perhaps spending your time on more respectable and rewarding occupations like say, Roadside Carcass Removal, you might believe that those who call themselves writers would have long ago resigned themselves to the fact that sooner or later they would be called upon to produce verifiable written material.

You would be wrong.Bratwacker ~ photo courtesy of DangerCouch.com

You see, being a writer is a lot like being a rock star: you are allowed, and even expected to dress funny, hold bizarre and often conflicting opinions, and basically act like an adolescent.

The act of writing, however, is a lot like work.

This is why the great majority of activities undertaken by writers, bloggers, and other content providers are specifically aimed at postponing the moment of creation as long as physically possible.2

However, once all contingencies of denial are exhausted, once the sheltering tissue of fantasy is punctured by the viscously barbed shafts of plummeting deadlines, an author simply has no choice but to buck up and write something.

Even if it is a note explaining why he can’t write.

A handwritten excuse for why the writer can't write

One time-honored tactic used to leverage reluctant writers into literary productivity is the writing prompt, a suggestion or hint used to startle the subconscious into an accidental discharge of useful ideas.

And, due to the kindness and generosity bestowed upon me as licensed internet resource, not to mention the fact that I can’t think of anything else to write, I have decided to share with you three of my most punctual prompts.

Start at the End

Determining how your tale will conclude can provide you, the author, with many useful clues on how to construct your story, such as who’s in it, if they’re me, and if we all end up in Acapulco.

An example of an excellent end-starting is this:

Slowly the blogger rose to the dais, glanced at his notes and began, “ I accept this lifetime blog achievement award, with generous cash prize, in the field of humorous quasi-fiction in name of all part-time writers, frustrated comics, and overlooked luminaries everywhere.”

The crowd combusted in an endless thunderclap of applause. As he returned to his seat he grinned a thoughtful little grin, Now I can afford that species change operation.

Start in the Middle

Just because many good stories begin in the middle doesn’t mean that yours can’t start there too. Jump right into the action. Boring chores like introduction and conclusion can be handled with flashbacks and time travel.

A modestly awesome example of this technique is:

So there I was surrounded by a ring of angry Pomeranians, their harsh growls rumbling like a thousand tiny leaf-blowers. Slowly they inched their way forward, constricting the circle around me step by step. Desperately, I searched my pockets for any shred of hope.
Coming up with lint, a gum wrapper and– A rush of excitement coursed through my limbic system– the enchanted chew toy!

Start at the Beginning

Starting at the beginning, while endorsed by many grammar schools and other educational afflictions, is in fact the surest sign of a true amateur. However, if you are feeling nostalgic for the heady days of young writing-love and its baseless optimism, feel free to revisit this technique. You will of course require a strong opening line, something that firmly grasps the reader‘s attention if not his entire nervous system.

Something like:

Of all the flatulence that has escaped all the colons in all the world, why did this one have to come from mine?

That’s It

explodetypewriter.gif courtesy of graph.slndesignstudio.comThere’s no time like the present to write, unless of course there is new material up at homestarunner.com. Or fresh road kill on the turnpike.

Keep those keys clicking and remember: when you fail to write, you only write to fail…to write…or something.

For more practical writing advice, see the fine folks at humorblogging.com

  1. I will be sticking with the masculine pronoun for the duration of this piece, not from any chauvinism or disrespect for female writers, but because in this case “the writer” is a thinly veiled reference to myself, a man of unquestionable maleness.
  2. The true reason that most writers have migrated from typewriters to computers is not because of the fancy formatting options and spell checkers available with modern software, but mainly due to the fact that typewriters had crummy games.

Six Ways to Fight Terrorism Using Only A Necktie

In today’s uncertain political climate, with the threat of terrorism coming in a wide spectrum of designer colors, it is more important than ever to be prepared for any eventuality. That’s why top experts like myself recommend never leaving your home without the safety and security of a properly worn necktie.1

A painfully tacky necktie that would send any terrorist into a quivering panic

Threat Level: Tacky

Although not widely known outside anti-terrorism-expert circles, the basic department store necktie is one of the best methods for combating terror and keeping the homeland in a most tranquil state of security.

My research, based on a careful and exhaustive review of action movies I’ve seen over the last ten years, shows that with courage, determination, and a convenient backstory of elite military training, even the most mundane looking individual can single-handedly save the world from the clutches of villainy.

So as yet another service of this surprisingly responsible publication, here is a list of ways that you can use your very own necktie to thwart the minions of terror:

As a Headband
Transitioning your neck-tie to headband position is the first step in any terror-stopping plan of action. It is the time-honored and chivalrous way to inform terrorists in the area that you don’t intend to calmly sit back and be savaged by their insidious box knives and nail clippers, but are quite willing to destroy half a city in order to ensure their destruction.

As a Sling
Since ancient times, the sling has been the preferred weapon for bringing down overpowering insurgent foes. To activate the latent tactical properties of your tie, follow the following instructions:

  • Find a stone or other small, dense object and place it in the center of your tie while holding both ends with the other hand.
  • Whip your stone/tie combination in circles above your head.
  • Once you are dizzy and out of breath, release one end of the tie and watch your flying stone incapacitate the enemies of freedom, or possibly the windows of freedom, depending upon you level of hand-eye-wrist-elbow coordination.

This technique is an invaluable way to subdue any forces of terror you may encounter at rock gardens, driving ranges, or any other location graced with ready supply of projectiles.

As a Firebomb Fuse
Although primarily known as an insurgent’s weapon, the Molotov Cocktail can prove useful for patriots as well. When fighting homeland-security threats in bars and liquor stores, insert your tie into a full bottle of high-proof alcohol, light your improvised fuse, and throw.

For best results, remove tie before activation.

As a Teardrop Absorber
In the course of your anti-terror heroics, you are bound to meet an overwhelmed and attractive member of the opposite sex, tearfully awaiting rescue by a intrepid insurgent-stopper like yourself. Use your tie to wipe away their tears and win their heart forever. With any luck, the two of you will hit it off and produce the next generation of freedom fighters.

As an Improvised Towel Fight Implement
The nightmare scenario of every counter-terror specialist is to be caught unarmed in a locker room by evil, towel-wielding insurgents. If you find yourself trapped in such a towel-fight of terror, simply remove your tie and snap away at any and all threats to the homeland.

Wetting the business end of your tie with saliva, or even the tears of your new soul-mate, will give best results and allow you to raise some serious Freedom Welts on the insurgently unwashed hides of your adversaries.

As a Hot Pad
As a good patriot, there is no telling when you may be called upon to remove Freedom Baked Potatoes from a hot oven for some important ceremonial function. Don’t let our enemies get the upper hand simply because you lack hot pads for this important task; use your neck-tie to safely transfer the golden tubers of liberty to the plates of waiting dignitaries and ensure freedom for one more day.

potatowithflag.gif

As we’ve seen, nothing stands between the threat of imminent terror and our beloved homeland except you and your wardrobe.2

So be alert, avoid suspicious establishments like Terror R US, and whatever you do, dress defensively.

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This post is doing due diligence at humor-blogs.com

  1. Ladies, don’t think this fine, military-grade advice applies only to men. This is the 21st century and there is nothing stopping you from acquiring and attiring your very own freedom tie. The author has gone to great pronounal difficulty to render this article both gender and pH neutral, in order to ensure that each and every patriot clearly understands his/her/hiser/heris responsibility for homeland protection.
  2. “Wardrobe,” in this instance refers to the American usage of the word, meaning, “entire collection of clothing,” not the British usage meaning, “large wooden locker-thing we have to use because we forgot to build closets.”

    The only practical defense application for wardrobes of the second sort is to shove them in front of the door, or travel through them to a safer dimension populated by lions, minotaurs, and seriously agitated, PMS-ing magic-chicks.

Author Wrings Advantage From The Dried Husk Of Adversity

As I come to the end of a decently long stretch of unemployment, I have had time to reflect on the many lessons this experience has taught me. Deep, reverberating life-lessons such as:

You can only enjoy so many long walks.
You can only digest so much chocolate
You can only watch so much Oprah1

In fact, the most surprising part of doing basically nothing, is how very boring it all is.

So although I am now returning to the glamorous world of coffee breaks and regular pay, I don’t want to move on without leaving something behind for those less fortunate than myself. Something to encourage, something to inspire, but most of all, something to separate the downtrodden masses from their freshly issued unemployment checks.

That is why I am introducing my latest entrepreneurial enterprise:

Employment Quest – Jobless Fun Center.

Picture Courtesy of www.maproom.org

Unlike most entertainment complexes that are designed for children and their gainfully employed paternal money dispensers, Employment Quest will feature attractions geared more towards the career-deprived individual. Exciting diversions such as:

  • Bumper Cards – In this attraction, a crowd of job-seekers is staged at one side of the room; at the other end is a wealthy business tycoon, offering a single dream job. Between them is an array of obstacles and impediments such as nets, cannons, and steroid-crazed professional wrestlers. The first one to reach the businessman is rewarded with employment and a waiting team of emergency medical technicians.
  • Resume Range – Potential employees line up along a low counter and hurl their resumes toward a collection of various sized funnels on the far wall. The smaller funnels deliver resumes to attractive and generous corporate recruiters looking for the next Vice President of Champaign and Bubble-Bath Evaluation. Larger funnels lead to less desirable jobs such as Pepper Spray Test Subject and Elephant Proctologic Technician.
  • Guess Your Wait – Veteran carnival workers visually size up employment-hunters and estimates how long each individual has been unemployed. Evaluations are based on subjective measurements of each player’s self-respect, desperation, and ramen noodle intake. No prizes are awarded, but those receiving an inaccurate guess, off by more than two days, are allowed to pummel the carnie with a rabid porcupine2
  • Sweating Zoo – Job-seekers enter a small, humid, dimly lit room where corporate wolves, sharks, and other alpha types hit them with their most intimidating interview questions and an occasional frozen ham. Success is determined on the basis of overall perspiration levels and blood stains. Winner receives the satisfaction of survival, losers are relocated to a third world country, given jobs in fast food, and taught just enough of the local language to say, “Would you like locusts with that?”

The Employment Quest concept is definitely a winner3 and I am currently lining up investors to back this new venture with funding, advertising, and lots of executive brownies. So if you are a multinational corporate conglomerate and you have a few billion dollars set aside for unknown market domination, then this is the opportunity for you. Contact me at my new marketing organization, Ominous Business Tactics, and soon we could be reaping the rewards of widespread unemployment together.

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  1. The legal limit for Brain Oprah Content is .067 minutes per day, anything above that is considered to be intellectually impaired.
  2. The positive therapeutic effects of this attraction on unemployment stress levels are the subject of an article in this month’s edition of Psychological Trauma Today.
    Note: We have immediate openings for three full-time wait guessers. See the OC HR department for further details.
  3. The true, unbeatable beauty of this concept is that although unemployment levels rise and fall like any other market, a few “insider layoffs” by investor companies is all it would take to put Employment Quest back on the road to profitability in the case of any unfortunate surges of employment.

Traumatic Trivia From the Daunting Doctor Toboggans

Doctor Toboggans has been mercifully absent the last couple of weeks, having received a complementary trip to Australia from one of his clients in order to swim with the legendary great white sharks along the Barrier Reef. Unfortunately for us, it seems that the sharks were on a low arrogance diet and so our fine physician has returned to Comma headquarters in one piece, refreshed and ready to inflict more insight upon a unsuspecting world.

Doctor Toboggans ~ the Ominous Comma

He has been aided in this endeavor by Mr. Brad Shorr, a man I thought would know better, who ignoring all the warnings of nature and every ounce of common sense, has challenged Dr. Toboggans to reveal eight previously and mercifully unknown facts about himself.

If there is one thing Dr. T. likes to talk about more than the pathetic nature of his clients and society as a whole, it is his own superiority. This is exactly why I didn’t trust him to respond to this challenge unsupervised, so I questioned him in the safety and isolation of the Ominous Comma interview booth.

It was a good thing that I did. It appears that moderation falls right behind modesty in the long list of virtues lacking in the doctor.1 Halfway through Fascinating Personal Revelation Number 275, I shot him repeatedly with a tranquilizer gun and trimmed the bloated opus of egotistical ramblings down to the more manageable list that follows.

You may want to jot some of these down just in case there is a quiz later.

  • He was born in Western Siberia, to a family of poor yak farmers. It is believed that the peaceful routine of his formative years, planting, watering, and harvesting yaks, strongly contributed to his present condition.
  • He attended the Fallingrad School for Peasants where he specialized in fast food and dermabrasion. Reports have surfaced that he was expelled for “Interdisciplinary Convergence” after being caught sterilizing his instruments in deep-fry grease.
  • His favorite color is medium-light turquoise.
  • He took a lengthy sabbatical among the used sheep dealers of the Alps, after which he published a fascinating study on the finer points of livestock warranty manipulation.
  • He took a position as superintendent at the Crimegeezia School for Geriatric Delinquents. This experience became the basis for his first book, The Advantages of Senility in Criminal Reform and Rehabilitation.
  • His favorite gemstone is medium-light turquoise.
  • He spent two years living among a pack of feral anthropologists where he first formulated his revelationary theories of personal development.
  • His favorite flavor of ice-cream is medium-light turquoise.
  • Of all his numerous awards, his favorite is the Prince Smarmy Prize for Excellence in Obscure and Impractical Research which he won for his paper, The Aeronautical Properties of Brown Nylon Shoe-Laces in Fairly Humid Weather, Volume 5. The only remaining copy of this work is currently located at the Library of Congress, where it serves as a legislative secret weapon, read only in filibusters, controversial votes, or other situations requiring sudden and strategic unconsciousness of a large group of individuals.

I am not tagging any more bloggers with this meme due to the unfairness of having to follow someone as fascinating yet thoroughly repulsive as Doctor Toboggans. Anything short of a Jerry Springer Redneck Proctology Special would have no chance at competing with the strangely addictive revulsion emitted by our own dear Doctor T.

I think I hear him coming in the door, so everyone go about your business as if nothing has happened. If you own any yaks, you should also consider storing them out of sight.

What are you waiting for, go home before he tries to cure you.

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If for some twisted reason you may wish to learn more about the eminently irritating Dr. Toboggans click here. We’ll pretend not watch.

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Like a lugie on a hot windshield, this post is slowly drifting down the feed at humor-blogs.com

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I really like those dashy things, don’t you?

  1. The doctor’s list is clearly not alphabetical, but is instead loosely grouped around major character flaws. It is also quite long.

Interview with the Author

Final exams are over and I have successfully passed my classes. (Yeaaa!) I am trying to get back into the swing of professional humor production, so be looking for a good article on Monday.

In the meantime, I have set up a little question and answer session with my tired and somewhat surly self to discuss this whole period of agony I have just completed. If that seems a little schizophrenic to you, then you are clearly not acquainted with the usual proceedings of this site.

The Interview:

Fictional Interviewer: For the sake of any readers just tuning in, I am talking with Brent Diggs, the author of this blog. Mr. Diggs, do you mind if I ask you a few questions.

ME: Go right ahead.

FI: First of all, you are in college.

ME: Is that a question or a statement?

FI: A question.

ME: I mean, if you want to tell the story for me, that’s fine. I’ll just be over here taking a little nap.

FI: No, it’s definitely a question. One for you to answer.

ME: So should I answer it?

FI: Please!

ME: Yes, I am in college.

FI: And your wife is also in college?

ME: Yes again.

FI: So you’re both in college?

ME: Your firm grasp of the obvious is spellbinding.

FI: And you both work full time?

ME: That‘s correct.

FI: And the two of you are raising three kids?

ME: Is this what investigative reporting looks like? I thought it would be taller.

FI: Answer the question, please.

ME: Yes, three kids I have. (Extra points for using Yoda-speak.)

FI: And you publish two different blogs?

ME: Yes.

FI: Why?

ME: What?

FI: Why would you do that to yourself? Work. School. Writing. Are you masochistic or just plain stupid?

ME: Have you ever been shot during an interview? Because if this is an example of your finest work, you might consider wearing Kevlar underwear.

FI: I wouldn’t have to ask all these questions if you would tell us more about your life and family in your blogs.

ME: I just never set out to write a “blog,” I really just wanted a place to publish my stories and articles and give me a reason to write more of them. I figure the whole Write About my Daily Life thing is pretty much covered.

FI: But you have no problem talking about your life to an imaginary character?

ME: You would do well to keep in mind that imaginary characters can come to very unpleasant, imaginary ends. It happens all the time. Just read Stephen King.

FI: Right! So, what did you miss most during this “season of fire” that you just emerged from?

ME: My wife.

FI: What did you miss second most?

ME: Sleep.

FI: Do you have any plans, now that you are out of class?

ME: I thought I would sleep with my wife. I seem to recall that I enjoyed that.

FI: So is there anything else we should know about? Any other creative projects that you’ve been working on? Anything involving tic-tac poisoning perhaps?

ME: Yes, we are finishing up the Danger Couch DVD, and yes, during some last minute filming over the weekend, I did ingest enough tic-tacs to freshen the breaths of an entire garlic-chugging football team for the next 3 years, along with their cheerleaders, mascot and the complete coaching staff.

FI: And how did that make you feel?

ME: Nauseous.

FI: Anything else we should know?

ME: The DVD is almost done. It is tantalizingly close. It has taken much longer than expected, but it will also be much better than expected. Children will laugh, romantics will cry and the jaded will giggle. It just might bring about world peace.

FI: Do you really think a DVD could usher in world peace?

ME: Not really, but if it does we will definitely charge more for it.

FI: Thank you for the interview, Brent. For the Imaginary News Network this is…Hey, you never gave me a name.

ME: I know. Good-bye.

Have a great weekend everyone. See you Monday.