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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.

—–

  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.

—–

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.

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.

Hormone Poisoning

One of the unanticipated side effect of creating this forum of intelligent discussion that we call the Comma, is the continuing demand for insight and explanation into the foggy realms of male behavior. I have never asked to be spokesmen for the gender and I’m not really sure how it even came about. But as the well known saying goes: “With great power come the ability to approve your own pay raises,” and with the exception of the power and the pay part, that is exactly what is happening here.

One of the most frequent questions I get about the complex inner working of the human male is: Why are men so stupid?

One theory, usually proposed by women, is that the male brain is basically mock-up, or a prop that serves no actual function except to provide mass to the head and help maintain proper center of gravity for the rest of the body. These same individuals maintain that the male nervous system is basically a straight wire between stimulus and response. They suggest that the thought patterns of a male human proceed as follows: Feel hungry: get Cheetos, Feel itchy: scratch in public, See woman: harass.

This theory is clearly inaccurate, as it makes no explanation for the male ability to calculate the impressive sports statistics and national defense budgets that make us so proud. The truth is that the male brain does function , but only occasionally. The real problem in this area, as in so many others, is women.

Allow me to explain.

One of the most baffling engineering quirks of the male brain is its tendency to suspend all rational thought upon the introduction of certain key hormones. Scientist have named these mind-altering chemical messengers: stupigen, spazigen, and preposterone.

These hormones, especially in in younger males, are released in response to various forms of stimuli, such as the sight, sound, smell, touch, or general proximity of a breathing female.

The results are immediate. At the first hint of hormone infusion all logical mental processes cease. As the brain reaches hormone inundation, the normally dormant stupiditocortex is activated, releasing random and often destructive thought-impulses into the brain. Finally, upon hormone saturation, the male brain begins to shrink until it reaches critical lack-of-mass, at which point there is an unopposed flow of foolishness throughout the entire nervous system.

This phenomena is best described by the famous mid-eighties philosophers, Whitesnake, in their groundbreaking treatise, Give Me All Your Love Tonight.

I don’t even know your name
I can’t leave you alone
I’m running round in circles
Like a dog without a bone
I know the game your playing
But baby I just can’t say no.

To the casual observer, it might seem that such a generally mindless condition would be embarrassing for the affected male, but one of the most insidious effects of hormone poisoning is the almost completely blindness of the victim to his own stupidity. Only once hormone flow has receded and normal mental function been restored, does the realization of his recent foolishness begin. In the aftermath of a hormonal incident, a man is left with only painful memories and the certainty of future relapse.

And perhaps a tattoo.

For example, one young man of my acquaintance, an otherwise rational and authorly individual, once leapt off a very tall pier into the Pacific Ocean, fully clothed, in a gallant yet totally-immersing attempt to gain the attention of a young woman. This move came as a complete surprise to the man, as well as the woman, and several unfortunate starfish who sadly succumbed to Falling IQ Syndrome. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that this young man had already obtained the attention of the woman in question, as evidenced by their pre-jump conversation, as well as their recent marriage.

When asked what he was thinking during the debilitating spell of machismo, his only response was, “that the water was a little deeper than that.”1

This type of irrational behavior can be expected whenever a man is subjected to hormone saturation by the careless presence of a woman. Unfortunately, after the initial onset of hormone poisoning, men find themselves compelled to seek out the presence of women in order to reenact this cycle of stupidity.

Is there any cure? Once in 1964 a team of researchers where on the verge of eradicating the scourge of hormone poisoning until the addition of an attractive female scientist to the team sent them all into a headlong plunge of hormone-induced stupidity. The resulting explosion shattered windows and de-feathered poultry over a twelve mile radius. All notes and research material were destroyed by the blast and the researchers themselves had to be institutionalized for the own good. They are currently under the care of Dr. Harold Toboggans, at the Institute for the Hormonally Confused who has had made significant progress with several pop musicians and the 1985 Russian Women’s Olympic shot-put team.

What should be clear to everyone by now is that the true cause of occasional male irrationality is of course, women. As maintained by the chauvinists of old, men would be much wiser without female interference. They would also be much lonelier, much hairier, and much more likely to drive themselves completely out of gas before ever asking for directions. Which only proves the wisdom of old saying, “Women, you can’t live with them and they just won’t stay in the convent.”

—–

  1. Any resemblance between the author and this unfortunate individual is purely coincidental and will never be discussed again.

Building My Career With A Book Signing Tour

I have decided that if I am to advance to the next level in my authorly career, I am simply going to have to launch a book signing tour.

According to my research on the subject, the key requirements for such a literary event are a book, an author, and a writing utensil. I am told that a Sharpie-brand1 permanent marker works well for most autographing needs, but in a pinch you can make do with a charcoal briquette or even an unfolded paperclip dipped in your own blood, which is especially appropriate if you are promoting a horror novel or a grade-school teaching memoir.

After a careful inventory of my dwelling, my clothing, and a couple of people who happened to walk by, I discovered that I did not, in fact, have a book to sign. So I called my publishers to lodge a complaint. Once they had searched their records, they informed me that the breakdown in the publishing process had occurred somewhere around the point where I failed to submit a book for publication.

As an American I am not used to tolerating this level of incompetence, so I fired my publishing company and immediately initiated a class action suit on behalf of all the would-be authors in the country that may also have been discriminated against in such a egregious fashion.

My more financially savvy friends have advised me to invest any settlement I receive in commodities that I support and believe in. When pressed,2 my lawyers revealed that my share of the upcoming settlement should be just sizeable enough to invest in a good cup of coffee.

Undaunted by this minor setback, I decided that I owed it to the American people to carry on with my tour, in the hope that my perseverance against overwhelming odds might inspire people, and get me a spot on Oprah3 to promote my absent book. As a contingency, I decided that should any fans insist that I actually sign a book on my book signing tour, I would simply autograph something from Dave Barry’s large catalog of publications. As long as I stay out of Florida, I’m sure he’ll never notice.

I thought that I would start my literary pilgrimage in small, local bookstores and then switch over to Barnes and Noble locations to take advantage of those nice Starbuck’s kiosks they have in their stores. As any touring author can tell you, book signing is far too strenuous to attempt without a ready supply of Cinnamon Dolce Lattés.4

From there, I will travel to other cities. After all, what is the point of being an author if you are surrounded by people that already know you, and therefore fail to properly appreciate your literary brilliance, celebrity status, and may even expect you to pay for your own meals.

At each stop I will be enjoying the deluxe accommodations of my tour sponsor, the Honda Civic Inn, who’s single occupancy executive suite is far more luxurious that the meager lodgings that I am accustomed to on the driver’s side.

Yes, it is shaping up to be a glorious tour, filled with joy, excitement, and of course, me. Which is as much as you could realistically ask for in an event of this literary magnitude.5

—–

Soon, I will finalize the list of cities to be graced with a visit, chosen on the basis of their reputation for author appreciation and the enforcement stringency of their local vagrancy laws. Be sure to subscribe to this site to receive up-to-the-second information on this ground breaking literary event as it unfolds.

Save

  1. Unpaid product promotion. To submit your product for promotion, please send me a working sample of your product and a briefcase full of small unmarked bills. If you could organize them by date due and amount owed, that would really help.
  2. Lawyers must always be pressed if you wish to extract truth from them. I recommend an industrial steam press like the ones used by laundries and dry cleaners. It allows you to get to the truth quickly, while leaving your lawyer’s suit fresh-looking and wrinkle-free.
  3. I refuse to comment on Oprah on the grounds that the Organization of Surprisingly Unpleasant Talk Show Personalities might again send their minions to address my “uncooperative attitude” with large blunt objects.
  4. Dear Mr. Starbuck, please extend the limited, winter-only availability of your Cinnamon Dolce drinks. Don’t cut me off like this. My literary career, and the subsequent happiness of millions of people, depend on this life-giving product. Please consider the welfare of the nation as you make this decision.
  5. I really don’t have anything to say here, I just hate having an even number of footnotes. Odd numbers somehow look much more professional.