Travails of a Potty Humorist

My world’s have collided again. i’ve just written a newspaper column about toilet names.

There are so many great ones, but I’ll limit myself to two here. (For the whole shebang, you’ll have to read the paper.)

First the best name: Kohler Cashmere Memoirs Stately Two-Piece Round Toilet.

Secondly, the WORLD’S SECOND STRANGEST TOILET: The Mermaid Princess.

For the World’s Strangest Toilet, you’ll have to go see the Mermaid Queen.

Me and Misty in Chincoteague

I just got back from a weekend in Chincoteague.

It’s both great and disturbing to be in a place where a huge placard on the side of a gift shop advertises a kidlit book for sale. “Misty Book $2.99.”

This is the second time I’ve visited a place that was thoroughly saturated with a kid’s book. The other was Prince Edward Island, home of Green Gables which is surrounded by a golf course which in turn is surrounded by every bit of seaside junk you can imagine.

Chincoteague is not quite like that, but ponies and Misty in particular are omnipresent/worshipped/on sale at bargain prices.

I have a feeling that Chincoteague would still be pony obsessed without Misty, but the book captured a certain tradition and its trappings so it has created a guidebook for following those traditions and trappings.

As you may know, part of the whole pony deal is that firemen/cowboys herd the ponies across a body of water on  certain day of the year. Yet, while we were there we saw ponies being hauled around in a trailer. Why the trailer can’t be used on the special day is a question the ponies must ask as they are herded across the aforementioned body of water.

Meanwhile, I saw an ad for ponies which are Misty descendants, now there’s something that Green Gables couldn’t offer.

According to Roadside America, Misty is on display — stuffed. Luckily I missed that and you should, too, by not following this link.

Dolly Parton’s Big Week

What a week for Dolly!

First she SHINES like a fairy Godmother on American Idol.

Then comes the news that she’s scored a Broadway version of “9 to 5.”

And now comes the announcement that there have now been over 250 hits on “Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Blues,” the first in a thrilling tween romance series featuring teens, romance, horses and Dolly herself.



That’s right 250 in just six months! Why that’s almost as much as any worthless post with the words “REAL GH*ST PICTURES” could get in a single day!

Folks, there’s never been a better time to take another look at this heart-touching, star-spangled hefty portion of Southern teen romance. And get a sneak peek at the sequel, too! Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Blues.” 

By the way, you can watch Videos of the Dixie Stampede Dinner Spectacle at

Poetry Friday – Librarians Get NASTY

Cece and I just had a great joint presentation at a VEMA conference, which is the Virginia Educational Media Association, which I think  was a convention of librarians.
From somewhere came the title “Making Books Fun” or something like that. So Cece and I showed the librarians what we do when we visit schools.
Cece had those librarians wearing animal ears and acting out “Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood.” The key is casting Sock Monkey well, she always says, and she got a wild one this time!
As for me, I gave the librarians the same challenge I give kids. Can you do what the kids do in my book, The Qwikpick Adventure Society and write poems that create not a word picture, but a word smell? And can you make it even stinkier?
Yes, they could… and some of the could even get the haiku syllables right in just 2 or 3 minutes of writing time. This one came close:
thrown up stinky
chunky bits of Cheerios
mixed with applesauce
And they could be funny:
Candles burning bright
Caught my hair on fire tonight
Crackling hair, stinking so
But one librarian wrote a simply incredible poem. Oddly it was the first I read and was a total surprise. It did not win the popular vote, which went to a poem which was (I think) an inside VEMA joke, but this poem is among the very best ever written for Qwikpick Instant Poetry Contests…
Unpacking winter box
Afghan reveals bones, tissue
Heart races, smell explodes
-Deborah Wood

“These are fake ghost pictures….” began my Halloween post that has a couple of Photoshopped ghost pictures.
“THATS SO FAKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” was one recent comment.
The pics have gotten nearly 6,000 hits, but I’ve taken them down because I find the comments too irritating. I had edited to try to make it clearer that I knew the pictures were fake and yet… “THATS SO FAKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
For awhile I hoped the hits might help me sell a few books. Drawing traffic to the site, etc….
But if folks can’t read the first sentence of the post, they probably aren’t going to read my whole book anyway.
Judging by the popularity of the site, I recommend that YA authors put the words “real ghost pictures” in the title of their books. It’s obviously something that today’s youth’s are desperate to see.
Thus I’m pleased to announce my upcoming book:
Dolly Parton Presents… Pigeon Forge Days, Dollywood Nights, Book 1: Real Ghost Pictures
Jodie and Sonia both got jobs in Dollywood’s Haunted House, but just when Jodie gets up the courage to ask Sonia to go steady … she’s distracted by a new guy. Jermaine is hot, cool and has the best ghost costume in the whole haunted house, but Jodie’s starting to wonder if it’s not a costume!

World’s most jacked-up kids book?

I daresay that few of us have ever had an idea this far out. And if we have, we’ve quickly abandoned it.
But not Emma Stirling, she just lets it roll…
This 1868 book that is actually narrated by a pin – and a chatty little pin it is, too. Here are some excerpts from the Google Books version:
After being fully grown and well
polished, I was sent out to seek my fortune
in the world; for which purpose I was put
into a most uncomfortable little box, with
about two hundred others—at least as nearly
as we could calculate, for we were so shamefully
squeezed, that, lay our heads together as
we might, we could not collect our few ideas.
 I have heard it said, on good authority,  that I must have lived for ages,  deep down in the bowels of the earth, long before any of the present company  knew the value of myself and family. Also, that after being brought from the mine at  great expense and trouble, I underwent a variety of horrible processes, of burning, cutting, &c.; though of these, as I said before, I have fortunately no recollection. My tortures, however, must have been excruciating, and this part of my history is too painful to be dwelt upon.
I regret to report that the pin may well be, as my mother might have said, a pill. She is certianly as annoying as any pin I’ve ever known and at one point lashes out at the reader:
Now, young ladies, don’t smile and look
wise, for if you have only just discovered who
Lady Dripley was, and what parts the present
company performed in the drama of my life,
all I can say is, your perceptions are not of
the most acute ;—in plain language, you are
very stupid!
I’ll admit I have not read the whole thing, because, frankly, I do not wish to. It appears to be some sort of moral lesson about a girl named Bat. Surely, we would all have been better of if the girl had been allowed to narrate the story and this annoying pin had kept silent, as God intended.
The authoress herself, however, is even chattier than the pin. Here’s something from the afterward:
And I can assure you, that although it is
certainly not a common occurrence for the pin
family to be so communicative as the member
of it whose history is now ended, still, what
induced me to make her history public, was
the knowledge that all the scenes through
which she passed, and the persons with whose
daily life she was familiar, are not fanciful
*By the way this is not the same Emma Stirling who wrote “The Cockeshell Girl” and other recent titles. At least I don’t think so…

Skunk with Mustard: The Movie: The Game – Free Flash Game

Just follow this link to play the game right away:
You may need to click on the game with your mouse to start playing. After that it’s all spacebar.
Here’s the backstory:
You know Madge over at the Poop Deck right? She’s a kidlit author, too, and used to work with me at the newspaper. (Where she rocked.)
Anyway, her son Graham has this concept called “Skunk with Mustard” which was turned into a backyard movie recently.
The upshot is that the Skunk sells hot dogs and if you want mustard he applies it — in a skunk-like fashion.
Great movie and a great concept for a video game! So I took Graham’s drawing and gutted out the QWIKPICK Poop Game and made SKUNK WITH MUSTARD: THE MOVIE: THE GAME!

Golden Compass Polar Bear Action Figures engage in thoughtful discussion

Hey, instead of fighting, lets have a discussion, which may contain spoilers.
Okay, but then we have to fight some more.
Grrr, these books are about killing God!
No, they’re just about defeating a meaningless Authority, grr, thus liberating the human soul!
Says you! I call it deicide and, although I’m not much of a church-goer, I find it troubling that these books and movie are being marketed to kids.
Who says they’re marketed to kids?
Uh, duh, you’re a toy from the movie.
Oh yeah, but so what? Shouldn’t kids be introduced to more than one point of view?
I mean, what’s the difference between this book and John Lennon’s “Imagine?” They’re just asking you to “imagine” a world without a religius-based authority.
Maybe, but “Imagine” is a positive song with an uplifting message about the potential of the human condition. “Dark Materials” is purely negative, suggesting that the we’re all pawns in a nihilistic game with bad guys controlling both sides. Plus, it’s a major league downer.
Yeah, I cried when Lyra and Will couldn’t be together anymore.
Me, too.
sniff sniff
Hey, did you ever figure out that bit about the trepanning?
Me, neither.
But we rock!
Oh yeah, we are totally awesome! I mean we’re polar bears with armor who fight! Awesome!


Me and Philip Pullman hanging at Barnes & Noble

I spent a lot of time with Phil today. Not with the man himself, of course, but with his Barnes and Noble kiosk.

I rather wish he’d been there, because I’d have liked to ask him, “Dude, is this totally jacked up or what? I mean, seriously, I know you’re making a bundle off of this, but c’mon.”
See, the kiosk — which was slathered with Golden Compass books, toys, doodads, Uno sets* and cuddly-wuddly stuffed polar bear — was topped with a charming snowy silent night scene complete with Christmas tree made of books. “Golden Compass” or some such was printed in big white letters on the sign. (May camera batteries had died, cursethe luck.)

Gift Card Image - Style: Booktree (It looked kind of like this gift card.)

 Once again proving that the American Commercialization Machine can sell ANYTHING at Christmas, including atheism. Kids’ brains must really swim when they sit through a church service about the birth of God, sneaking peeks at their new books about the death of God. (You guys read your gift books in Church didn’t you? I clearly remember reading Ziggy at a Christmas Eve service.)

The lesson we should learn from all this, of course, is …. Pullman’s Church isn’t half as scary as Mammon. (Is that how you spell mammon? It’s not exactly and everyday word around the Riddleburger house.)

Cover Image

*By the way, though I didn’t like His Dark Materials, I do think Pullman is a good writer. But he’s not half the writer as whoever wrote the copy for the back of the Golden Compass Uno Set. Check it out sometime. Here’s a sample:

Also comes with the exclusive “Alethiometer” card, which will help you discover the truth that lies within your opponent’s hand and arrive at your ultimate destiny before anyone else!

The truth that lies within your opponents hand?????? Could it be three greens and a Draw 4????? Now I finally understand the trepining!!!!!

It sounds like the greatest game in the universe, like some sort of role-playing spectacular “full of excitement, adventure and challenges.” (No mention of atheism. They must have forgotten.)

And whatever happens “don’t forget to yell ‘UNO!’ before you reach the North Pole and discover a brand new parallel universe.”

A parallel universe? As Charlton Heston might say, “My God, we’re in a world where Crazy Eights descended from Uno!”

Robinson Crusoe takes another hit…

I am so glad that Gail Gauthier told us about the great Roald Dahl feud of 1972-73 in which a really annoying woman railed against Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in The Horn Book. (And I’m glad that the Horn Book has the whole ordeal on its Website. At the link above.)

Roald Dahl replied and here’s an excerpt that pleased me:

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