Friday, December 11, 2009

Survival Guide for the Successful Use of Twitter

In the spirit of fostering goodwill, I present these helpful tips on the successful use of Twitter:

1. Choose a unique photo for your Twitter account. I cannot stress this strongly enough: your followers will come to know you by this photo, and a unique photo will make it easier for them to skim through the timeline to ignore you. Or read your tweets. Whatever.


2. Use an attractive photo. If you are unattractive (ask yourself, "do small children run, screaming, at the sight of me?") use a photo of someone who is attractive. Preferably of the same (predominate) gender as you, but this is optional. [See also, @frankhinton.]


3. Tweet. You can’t create a Twitter account then tweet once every three weeks. This isn’t using Twitter, this is having an account and being a Twitter wallflower. No one will ever notice you this way: the timeline moves fast and gets busy in a hurry.


4. Make sure your tweets don’t suck. Like #1, this is critical. For example, chances are your followers will let it slide if you post one tweet about how you can’t get your toilet unclogged. But nobody wants to read your daily struggle with an overfull potty. [Buy a plunger and use less paper, by the way.]


5. Don’t be an ass. If you are, by nature, an incorrigible ass, ask yourself, “What would a polite, or even kind, person do under these circumstances?” and then pretend that you are polite, or even kind, and tweet accordingly.


6. If someone follows you, don’t immediately freak out. Read their tweets, and if they appeal to you – or you find them merely tolerable – follow them back. This is social media, not a bulletin board. (Celebrities, I’m looking at you.)


7. Find something complimentary to say to your new Twitter friends, on a regular basis. For example, you might want to tweet, “Hey, @taylorhicklen, are those new shoes? They look nice.” He'll likely appreciate the courtesy.


8. Never tweet with your mouth full. Trust me. You’ll see what I mean.


9. Every Friday, people recommend other people for their followers to follow. If you follow 1,427 people, and every single Friday, you recommend each and every single one of them, you lose credibility. We get that you like the people you follow, we assume that is why you follow them.


10. Sometimes, if you tweet something really witty or helpful or interesting, some of your followers may “retweet” your tweet: this lets their followers see what you said, and you get credited. This is an honor not to be abused. When you retweet something, take the time to make sure it doesn’t suck.


11. When @inkyelbows retweets one of your tweets, you’ll know you’re getting the hang of it. If she promotes something you've written - on your blog, for example - then you've made the big leagues.

This list is illustrative, and not exhaustive, and I hope you find these tidbits useful. If nothing else, I hope you’ll join me in saying “tidbits” aloud – tidbits. There, don’t you feel silly?

Your humble and obed’t Serv’t,
B. Freret

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Reading of "The Hunt"




Someone was kind enough to email me this reading of my Metazen photo caption contest entry, "The Hunt."

I don't know what to say. I am honored that this is my 100th post. Thank you!

Humbled, I am
B. Freret

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Amy Winehouse and Operation


Upstairs in bed, with my ex boy,
he’s in the place, but I can't get joy,
thinking on you in the final throws,

this is when my buzzer goes


- Amy Winehouse, You Know I’m No Good


How unsettling would that be, if she actually buzzed upon fruition? Like a mechanical door buzzer from a bygone era, buzzzzzzzzzzzzing along until the fingertip, numb from pressing the black spring loaded Bakelite button, relents?


Yuck.


Nothing says sexy quite like the prospect of hopping into bed with a female variation of the Operation game patient, one that buzzes to indicate success rather than failure.


Actually, an Operation-type setup could prove useful for some, if not many, as a training tool: if a buzzer sounded when moving away from the target, she wouldn’t have to utilize the tried and true method of calling out, “You’re getting warmer! You’re getting warmer! Awww, now you’re getting colder...”


And maybe she then she wouldn't have to rely on Specialist cards, for do-overs.


Respectfully, I remain

B. Freret

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Honorable Mention for "The Hunt"

The Hunt, my Metazen photo caption contest entry, was honored with a "Notable Entry" designation!

The winning entry was penned by my new friend Finnegan Flawnt, the other entries of note by Nora Nadjarian, Ani Boghossian, Cyn Kuhn, and Matthew Hamilton: I am, at least in this regard, in good company, and I am honored.


Humbly, I remain,
B. Freret

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Guest Post: Thomas Riley & The Steampunk Twist

I am honored to present a guest post from my friend Nick. -BF

First off, a huge thank you to B for letting me come here and guest blog today. It’s been an amazing blog tour and I owe it all to wonderful people such as Boudreau. My name is Nick Valentino, and I’m currently on a blog tour in support of my first steampunk novel called Thomas Riley.

Some of you are probably thinking, “What the heck is steampunk?” Don’t worry you’re not alone. Steampunk is a relatively new genre that deals in alternative history. Oh! Hold on, keep reading. I know that seems a bit dry but here’s the twist. Steampunk is usually set in Victorian times but the world is very different. Huge leaps in technology have sparked a new scientific boom centered around, you guessed it, steam. Everything is powered by steam, science, alchemy and black powder. Forget the normal fossil fuels and electricity we’re used to, just about everything is steam. So in turn, there are massive dirigibles flying through the sky. Everyone wants to be a scientist, inventor or airship crewmember. But beware; where you have heavy air traffic you also have sky pirates, greedy privateers and a host of surly yet innovative Victorian characters. Here’s how I like to think of it, Chill 1 part Jules Verne, mix with two parts Indiana Jones, add a mixer of H.G. Wells and for flavor, add a twist of Frankenstein.

Thomas Riley is a steampunk adventure filled with airships, clockwork inventions and swashbuckling action a plenty. Here’s the back cover blurb.

For more than twenty years West Canvia and Lemuria have been at war. From the safety of his laboratory, weapons designer Thomas Riley has cleverly and proudly empowered the West Canvian forces. But when a risky alchemy experiment goes horribly wrong, Thomas and his wily assistant Cynthia Bassett are thrust onto the front lines of battle and forced into shaky alliances with murderous sky pirates in a deadly race to kidnap the only man who can undo the damage: the mad genius behind Lemuria's cunning armaments.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Find out more at:

http://www.sirthomasriley.com/

You can purchase signed copies at:

http://thomasriley.bigcartel.com/

or

http://www.echelonpress.com

and Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Riley-Nick-Valentino/dp/1590807006/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257259385&sr=1-1

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Like a Boy

Entry for a contest at Metazen – Image to Text Conversion Experiment.
Picture by Metazen – an online metafiction journal edited by Frank Hinton.


Like a Boy
For as long as she could remember, her father had tried to conceal his disappointment that she was a daughter and not a son. She knew that he had loved her as best he could, but just like his effort to hide his disappointment, he did not convince. So, dressed like a boy, she relieved herself upright like a boy, then stepped away from his grave and turned her back on him for good.

The Hunt

Entry for a contest at Metazen – Image to Text Conversion Experiment.
Picture by Metazen – an online metafiction journal edited by Frank Hinton.


The Hunt
I lost the scent in last night's snowfall, but I still hear him out there, so I know which direction to head when this wretched excuse for a planet is once again (mercifully, I say) hidden in darkness. I am no longer nervous, uncertain, and I am not afraid: I feel calm, almost at peace, if I feel anything at all. If not tonight, then tomorrow night, if not tomorrow night, then the next, it does not matter, the outcome is inevitable: I will find the Wampa, I will kill him, and I will avenge my father's death.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why I Will Never Submit to Cracked.com


I have a holiday piece that is Cracked-esque, but ran across this gem in their "Submission Agreement":


3. You hereby agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless CRACKED, and its subsidiaries, affiliates, successors and assigns, from and against any and all claims, demands, expenses, losses or liabilities including but not limited to reasonable attorney's fees and punitive damages that may be asserted against or incurred by CRACKED at any time in connection with the Submission, or any use thereof, including, without limitation, those arising from any breach, or alleged breach, of the warranties, representations and promises provided by you to CRACKED.

Uhhhh.... no.

Not that they would have accepted my piece for use, but my point is this: I'll never submit to them, simply because I'm not a big fan of indemnification agreements.

Your humble and obed’t Serv’t,
B. Freret

Friday, October 23, 2009

Admonitions I've Unsuccessfully Tried to Shout Out the Car Window, Part I


"While I appreciate that you’ve stopped in the middle of the street to encourage that truck waiting at the intersection to turn out in front of you by waiving frantically at the driver, as the car immediately behind you, I couldn’t help but notice that our light is green (so, presumably, his red light will eventually turn green as well, eliminating the need for such a selfless gesture of kindness on your part) and while I cannot speak for any driver other than myself, I personally believe that your obligations with respect to the right of way are greater to the fifteen cars behind you who are presently avoiding rear ending one another because you’ve stopped for no reason at a green light."


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Inventing a Twitter Hashtag: Awesome Things for Sociopaths


I follow Kurt's 1000 Awesome Things on Twitter, for good reason: they often make me smile. Warm fuzzies ensue.

But it dawned on me that the awesome things are all biased toward feel-good items that make reasonably normal people smile.

So what if you're an ass?

Would, say, Niccolo Machiavelli think the same things are awesome that you or I or 1000 Awesome Things would?

I don't think so.

So I created my own hashtag: #MachiavellianAwesome. Some highlights include:

  1. Being armed before all else.
  2. Conferring benefits gradually, so they will taste better.
  3. Doing injury to a man so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.
  4. Deceiving the deceiver.
  5. Being feared rather than being loved.
  6. Having legitimate reasons to break ones promise.
Don't sociopaths need a reason to smile, too?

Respectfully, I remain,
Boudreau Freret



Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama Receives Awards While America Slept


President Barack Obama made history early Friday, winning several awards while most Americans were still asleep, including the Nobel Prize for Peace.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized Obama's work to address a number of issues considered significant to the world, including working toward the eradication of nuclear weapons.

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the Committee said. The announcement Friday from Oslo, Norway, came as a surprise - Obama had not previously been mentioned as being considered for the honor.

"His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population," the Committee said.

An Obama administration official said when the president was told he had won, the President said he was humbled to be chosen.

The announcement was not met with universal praise.

De facto Republican National Committee Chair Rush Reed issued a statement just after the Committee's announcement which read, in part, "[T]his is exactly what we've been saying all along - Obama is not one of us, he is more interested in bowing down to 'international interests' and 'matters of global significance, to the whole of humanity' than he is in serving Americans and Traditional American Values(TM).... [W]e fully expect impeachment proceedings to commence in the House early next week."

In addition to the Nobel Prize for Peace, Obama received several other unexpected accolades late Thursday night and early Friday, including:

  1. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Obama would receive an Oscar for Best Male Performance in a Leading Role.
  2. Good Housekeeping Research Institute issued a statement that Obama had been awarded their coveted Seal of Approval.
  3. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety held a press conference to disclose that Obama received the highest crashworthiness rating, Five Stars, in every category tested.
  4. The Heisman Trust announced Obama the winner of a special Heisman Memorial Trophy.

Finally, an overwhelmed Obama is reported to have awarded himself the Presidential Medal of Freedom during breakfast.




Humbly, I remain,
Boudreau Freret

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Boski


I remember all my life
Raining down as cold as ice
A shadow of a man
A face through a window
Crying in the night
The night goes into

Morning, just another day
Happy people pass my way
Looking in their eyes
I see a memory
I never realized
you made me so happy, oh Boski

Well you came and you gave without taking
but then you went away, oh Boski
well you called me a genius and stopped me from shaking
I need you today, oh Boski

I'm standing on the edge of time
I walked away when genius was mine
Caught up in a world of uphill climbing
The tears are in my mind
And nothing is rhyming, oh Boski

Well you came and you gave without taking
but then you went away, oh Boski
well you called me a genius and stopped me from shaking
And I need you today, oh Boski

Yesterday's a dream I face the morning
Crying on the breeze
the pain is calling, oh Boski

Well you came and you gave without taking
but then you went away, oh Boski
well you called me a genius and stopped me from shaking
And I need you today, oh Boski



(Apologies to B. Manilow)


Writing Prompt Wednesday 5



Today's Writing Prompt Wednesday submission came to me by way of happy accident: I found this scrawled on a napkin while clearing a table for lunch. I think it Williams-esque, and am thrilled to be able to share my find!

***

"He's doin what!?" she shrieked as she opened the door enough to yell out back.

"Damn you, Earl, we're in town now," she scolded. "And indoor plumbing means you don’t have to leave the house to relieve yourself."

"Yeah. I know that," he hollered without interrupting the task at hand.

"Don't have to," he grumbled. "Do it 'cause I wont to, thas all."

***

Humbly, I am
Boudreau Freret

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writing Prompt Wednesday IV: A New Hope



Today's Writing Prompt Wednesday entry, my fourth, violates the letter and spirit of the rules.* Just so you know.

I present the following first-draft excerpt from a work in-progress:

***

Alteram was back onboard, sitting at the technical console, the round high table that wouldn't catch a second glance if relocated to an Earth coffeehouse. It looked like something out of an Ikea catalog. The same console that he had worked at all night during the trip home.

He had not doubted that his theory was sound, but he was thrilled to have been able to implement the changes, however minor compared to the overall task, on the fly. (The pun, mercifully, was lost on him.) The fact that those initial tweaks were already tested and proven to work only helped him push forward now.

He needed the boost. This second phase was not going as well as the first. It wasn't going well at all.

Above the surface of the console/table and immediately to Alteram's left, a holographic schematic was suspended in the air, this time motionless, with line after line after line of words hovering to the rear, blurry. To his right, also floating above the surface of the console/table, two inch tall red numbers flashed on and off.

00:00. Off. 00:00. Off.

Behind the numbers, a marble-sized Earth image hung in a three dimensional grid of lines no wider than human hairs, and rotated slowly, but faster than real time.

00:00. Off. 00:00. Off. As they flashed, he thought he could hear them taunt him.

Failure. Off. Failure. Off.

Alteram sighed, his shoulders slumped.

At last he turned his head slightly toward the schematic, and as he did the blurry words moved through space from behind the diagram to the forefront, and sharpened until legible.

The lines of text scrolled down a little, seemingly on their own, then paused before scrolling up, several “pages” back, faster and faster, as if a virtual roll of microfilm was turning somewhere, and only the data displayed.

When he found the section he wanted, Alteram began to read. Again. He could have written it all himself at this point, word for word, from memory. His own memory, even.

He came to a line that, this time, made him sit a little straighter, if not exactly up. Not quickly, he didn't cry out his species' version of “Eureka!” and no lightbulb appeared above his head, but he needed to find something – would have settled for anything – to help him break through the wall he'd been banging his head into the past few hours. He'd looked at it all so many times, that all the likely, logical solutions had been considered and were used up, and he was now considering the unlikely and the illogical possibilities. Maybe this one was it. Or would, he hoped, at least move him forward.

The schematic moved to the front again and took focus, then zoomed in to one section. Alteram watched circuits move, flip, invert, then reconnect, as he willed this visualization of the ship's gravity manipulation system to reconfigure itself. Satisfied with the modifications, he turned his attention to the Earth and grid to his right. The numbers turned green and now read 01:00, then moved to the background, making way for the Earth-grid to come forward and take center stage.

Alteram crossed two fingers

what was that about?

then began the simulation.

The numbers started to count down as one intersection of grid lines – the intersection furthest away from the Earth in the hologram – began to bend, to point and push toward the earth. The lines came together, focused into a sharp point, stretched by an unseen force – like a sharpened pencil pressed to fabric, as if to pierce it – gathering other grid lines along the way, as the point stretched closer, closer, closer to the planet, until it was just about to touch the surface

00:00. Off. 00:00. Off.

The numbers, again red, took their place, front and center. The pointed lines had not reached the Earth before the timer reached zero.

Again.

Alteram grunted. And slumped.

Again.

Failure. Off. Failure. Off.

It was possible, he knew it. He could – would – find a way to make it happen. Ethan had agreed to leave the Earth on the condition that Alteram could bend time, that Alteram could have him home almost the instant after they'd left. Alteram promised that he could, and he was going to keep his promise. He knew it could be done, he was just overlooking something, missing something. He had to figure out what it was. Quickly.

He turned back to the diagram and text, and started over.

***

Humbled, I am
Boudreau Freret


* The WPW rules say, in part:

1. Find something... online... that's been published in the past week or so, and pick a quote from it.
2. Use the quote as a prompt and write something...


I wrote something, then found something online, not published in the past week or so, and fit what I found into what I'd already written. So while I may be a fraud, it cannot be said that I am a dishonest one.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writing Prompt Wednesday, III


With continued apologies to the originator of Writing Prompt Wednesday, I offer this as my third entry.

I recall reading part of an interview with Jack White years ago where he discussed his relationship with his plastic-ish, piece of crap, Montgomery-Ward Airline guitar.

Regardless of what words were actually on the page, the way I remember it, Jack explained that one reason he loved that particular guitar so much was because it was crap, and so he had to wrest every note from it by force.

"I figure I ought to have to work hard at it," he said. "I have to earn whatever comes out, and if I earn it, I own it."

I don't know if such an article exists, or if he ever said anything like what I remember. The more I think about it, I'm pretty sure I made most of this up.

Doesn't matter. I thought about what Jack White (may have) said today as I passed the 8,000 word mark in the Word Count Challenge.

You see, my writing laptop is old. Really old. And slow. It has a painfully small screen and keyboard, and not all of the keys work, particularly the "k". For some reason (likely related to self-loathing), I run Linux on my writing laptop, so I'm writing in OpenOffice, which I otherwise don't use everyday. In fact, I don't use it very much at all. So naturally I think it sucks.

Whatever the redeeming qualities of Linux and OpenOffice, this is not a task for mere mortals. Nay, not even a task for those slightly leaning towards immortal.

This is a task for someone unwell.

Yet someone who, when done, will have earned every word, and will own them.

Respectfully, I am
Boudreau Freret

Monday, September 14, 2009

Word Count Contest

There are many valid reasons why one should not drink and surf the interwebs. This is one good example.

I might have entered myself in a contest among real writers to see who can generate the highest word count over a two week period. Contest details, as well as pre-contest psychological warfare, can be found here.

The other contestants are not only real writers, they are educated, and appear to be dear friends.

I might be hosed.

Fortunately, I'll hold off the grovelling and begging for mercy a little while: I pride myself on being quite the cunning linguist, and can safely say that even at this early hour, I have this contest in the bag.

Midnight came hours earlier here than where the other contestants reside, and as of this morning, thanks to my friends copy and paste, I already have in excess of 17,280 words. (Of which ten are unique!)

So, I humbly and respectfully offer the following good-natured encouragement to the other, smartypants, contestants: neener neener neener!




Your humble and obed’t Serv’t,
B. Freret

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why You've Been Unfriended



I know that not everyone shares the same religious or political views. In fact, as difficult as this can be sometimes, I celebrate our differences, and I strive to respect views that are not my own.

I will not, however, celebrate with you what appears to be an unwillingness (or inability) to appreciate that unilateral political evangelizing is not discourse and is not dialog.

The initial (yet critical) distinctions between us, therefore, appear to be:

1. I respect that your views are your views, even if you do not respect mine.
2. I will listen (quietly, since that is what “listen” means) to your views, even if you will not listen to mine.

Therefore, once I’ve listened long enough that you seem to be repeating yourself (yet show no indicia of wrapping up, or of readying to pass the podium in order to hear my views), and have intermittently paused only long enough to inquire as to whether I now see things as you do, before lapsing back into the same angry diatribe, please hear at least this:

While I celebrate our differences, and strive to respect your views, I am unwilling to be your captive audience in perpetuity. That is what I mean when I say that I will not celebrate your evangelizing with you.

If, at some point in the future, you, too, grow weary of your soliloquy and would consider listening for a few precious moments, so that we might begin reasonable discourse, please let me know.

Respectfully, I am
Boudreau Freret


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

More Writing Prompt Wednesday


This is my second offering to the Writing Prompt Wednesday Goddess. If you're a real person and continue reading, I apologize, and hope you seek professional assistance.

***

The meds were working. I hadn’t had an episode in over six months.

Weeks ago, I emerged from my self-imposed exile and began to take long walks in the city, wallowing in the cacophony of sound and smell, without so much as a hint that I was going to transform.

I knew that I was not free of Hulk, but for the first time, I began to believe that he – that I – might be under control.

I desperately wanted Samantha to understand that I wasn’t the same creature who’d gone to prison. So much so that I brought her to see Dora "Live" at Radio City--which is to throw oneself into a Skittle scented mosh pit filled with thousands and thousands of screaming kids and their mothers.

Sam was reluctant, not just because neither of us had kids (and I had to agree with her that it was unusual for us - a couple of 28 year olds - to attend without a child), but because the potential for disaster was so great.

What if...?

But it went well. Not the show – the show was horrid – but I did not transform.

Sam now believes, as I do, that I am under control. We’re going shopping together this Friday – “Black Friday.” If I successfully make it to lunch, I’m going to give her the ring.

***

Humbled, I am
Boudreau Freret


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Per fantastic blog Dancing With the Dwende, I submit the following:

***

“Get the fuck outta here!”

“Dude, I’m totally serious, here – look,” Jeff said, handing over the cover letter.

Thomas, still doubting, took it and began to read out loud.

“'Words cannot express my gratitude for your assistance in reuniting me with this automobile. But the reward can. Therefore, enclosed please find check #6278 made payable to you in the amount of TWO HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND and NO/100 DOLLARS ($250,000.00)…'”

Tom’s eyes opened wider and wider as he read faster and faster, the pitch of his voice ascending, until he sounded like one of the Chipmunks, “'… the car will be displayed at the company headquarters in Louisville, replacing a replica I commissioned while I searched'… DUDE, NO FUCKING WAY!” He briefly moved as if to hug Jeff, thought better of it, and hit him in the shoulder instead. Hard.

“Yeah, crazy, isn’t it? I deposited the check this morning. I still can’t believe it, either.”

“Man, that is AWESOME! What are you going to buy first?”

“Well,” Jeff paused, his face turning serious. Tom could tell something he’d regret was about to happen.

“I was thinking,” Jeff went on, “that you might be interested in five grand.”

“For doing what?” Tom quietly asked, all traces of excitement now gone from his face.

“For stealing the car, so we can help the sonofabitch recover it, and collect the reward.”

***

Respectfully, I remain,
B. Freret


Monday, August 10, 2009

A STURDY Chair?


Men's Health has provided a helpful list of "41 Ways to Make a Woman Swoon."

Assuming they mean ways for me to make my woman swoon, I am pissed.

Take a second, P.R., please, to read (at least) the first dozen, then come back.

"A sturdy chair"? Really, Men's Health, a sturdy chair? Overlooking that #12 doesn't really describe a "romantic gesture" but rather simply a sex act*, are you sure about the STURDY chair part?

Did you think that though, first?

Man, Men's Health, you better hope I don't run into you at a party or anything, because I might just have to kick your ass.

Sincerely, I am
B. Freret

* Though not particularly prudish, I must ask, how helpful is it to your target audience to list sex acts among "ways to make her swoon"? Why not, then, simply have a list of two items:

1. Do it.
2. Be Brad Pitt, whilst doing it.

Not very helpful, is it, unless Brad actually reads Men's Health? (And even then, I'm pretty sure that he KNOWS to do it without your damn list.)

Regardless, in a collection of "romantic gestures" ostensibly designed to "make her swoon," is it really helpful to recommend cunnilingus? Gee, you think?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stock Photos Gone Wild


"Dear Art Department,

The latest revision looks great - the elements are well balanced and we love the way it flows - but we think using this stock photo of the girls isn't the best idea.

Didn't we agree at the last meeting to stop using the Fellatio Library? Remember, the client notes specify North American distribution only, not European. You did a great job of placing the image of the microphone and stand, there aren't any visible remnants of the, uh, fellatee (unlike the Kraft Mac & Cheese ad that unfortunately wound up in January's Better Homes and Gardens), but still, either find a shot of women actually singing, or (as a last resort) have Dave shoot what we need.

Thanks!"



Click it. It gets bigger.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Strangest Fortune Cookie Ever






Good advice, though.


Respectfully, I remain
B. Freret

Friday, June 05, 2009

Blissful Realizations


How vividly do you remember what it felt like to wake up, just a little, very early in the morning, before the alarm, only to realize that it was Saturday?

With that realization you understood that the alarm was not set. It would not disturb you. There was no school. You didn’t have to be anywhere. You didn’t even have to get up at all if you didn’t want to.

The world was your oyster.

And with a peaceful grin on your face or in your heart (or both), you slipped back into carefree dreamland, the absolute sleep of innocents. (Or innocence, if that makes you feel better, though it is not what I intended. I’ll accommodate.)

Maybe you don’t have to remember what those Saturday mornings were like because you still experience them, with work, or school again, or whatever it is that you do that gives you relief when you realize you don’t have to do it on your day off.

I don’t think I’ve had one of those mornings in years, though, and while I recall this childhood experience vividly and fondly, I cannot say that I miss it any more than I could honestly say that I miss anything about my childhood.

It was, at times wonderful and others not so much, and now this is.

If there is an adult equivalent of that simple blissful realization for me, surely it must be what I experienced just a few minutes ago. A little set up is necessary to make the connection.

When awake, I tend to exist in one of two repeating physiological cycles: I am either thinking about eating, or I am eating. Sometimes, I confess, these two states overlap. I have been known to plot (and discuss, at length) my next meal while I’m not technically, in a literal sense, finished consuming my current meal.

(It is not lost on me that this trait occurs elsewhere in nature, and even in other mammals, though usually small, furry, excitable ones. Squirrels and chipmunks and the like. Honestly, so long as my metabolism to size ratio was comparable to my rodent counterparts, I did not mind the analogy, much, though it concerns me more now that my metabolism has slowed but my feeding cycle has not. But I’m off topic, and for that I apologize.)

Inevitably, late at night I find myself scrounging for something to eat. Not dinner, because I wouldn’t go without dinner to begin with, and chances are good that by eleven at night or so I’ve already had dinner. And second dinner.

So what I’m talking about is the proverbial midnight snack, and the requisite late night hunt for something to eat that is both satisfying and appropriate for consumption just before bed. (Let’s pretend, please, that there is such a thing.)

But frequently it is difficult to find something suitable. (And becoming more difficult as more people live under the same roof, and these people get taller and taller every year.)

Most of the time, it is impossible, and I end up falling back on some item that I knew we had all along, though I had hoped to find something better. Perhaps you are familiar with the ritual I follow: you know what is on hand and what is not, yet that knowledge doesn’t keep you from spending fifteen minutes scouring the backs of every cabinet, the refrigerator, the pantry, the freezer, then every cabinet again.

Always in vain.

Almost.

Because sometimes, so very rarely, you find something that you didn’t know was there.

Like I just did.

Something not just suitable for a midnight snack, not even just suitable and satisfying, but suitable and satisfying and exciting, too.

Something that makes you so happy that you involuntarily cry out in joy (if we can agree that by “you” I mean “I” or “me,” as appropriate), which then forces you to hesitate a moment – just long enough to attempt to convince your wife, who is halfway across the house and understandably alarmed by your outburst, that no, that wasn’t you who just squealed like a six year old girl – before gleefully devouring your find.

And with a peaceful grin on your face, or in your heart or stomach, or all three, you finish your prize and prepare to slip into carefree dreamland.


Your humble, obed’t, and satiated Serv’t,
B. Freret

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Haiku for Spring


This was just forwarded to me, and I am so excited by the sights and sounds and smells of spring invoked that I have to pass it on:


hateful spring goldfish
vacant stare, slack jawed, pooping -
just pinch that thing off



I am without words - breathless - at the artistry!

Respectfully I remain,
B. Freret

Friday, March 20, 2009

Notable Exceptions to C. Odbody’s Assertion “No Man is a Failure Who Has Friends.”


After a lifetime of taking Clarence Odbody’s famous inscription as true, a number of exceptions* dawned on me in the shower this morning, including:

Thomas Andrews
Adolf Hitler
Mary Mallon
Richard Nixon / George W. Bush
Jim Jones / David Koresh / Marshall Applewhite
Guglielmo and Bonanno Pisano (or Diotisalvi. Depending.)
Samuel Langley
Pope Paul V / Cardinal Bellarmine

This epiphany has forced me to reevaluate my own sense of success, and I am not pleased.

Your humble and obed’t Serv’t,
B. Freret

* This list is intended to be illustrative and not exhaustive, and assumes that Mr. Odbody intended gender neutrality.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Author's Checklist


Upon reading this, a friend was kind enough to forward me a checklist intended to assist aspiring writers. Thank you! I am reproducing it here for S.D.’s benefit:

Author’s Checklist

  1. Pens, pencils (and erasers), highlighters
  2. Paper (assorted blank pads and loose-leaf paper as well as accumulated notebooks of scribbled snippets)
  3. Computer (with word processor) and printer
  4. Reference Materials
  5. Suitable working environment
  6. Designated work time / schedule
  7. Coffee (or tea)
  8. Cat(s)
  9. Music (optional)
  10. Alcoholism / chemical dependency (active or in recovery)
  11. Neuroses (including, at the very least, narcissism and self loathing)
  12. Skittles
Again, thank you, and S.D. I hope that you find this useful!

Your humble and obed’t Serv’t,
B. Freret

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Open Letter to the Owner of the New Cadillac with a “CONSERVATIVE IN EXILE” Bumper Sticker


I couldn’t help but notice that you appear to be in your homeland.

(Perhaps you misunderstand the meaning of the word exile? Or perhaps you’re a foreign national, and simply look like a puffy old white man from Ohio?)

Regardless, drive on, sir!

Your humble and obed’t Serv’t,
B. Freret

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Random Act of Kindness


I had the pleasure of being able to do a good deed today, and I can’t keep quiet about it. I know I should, but I just have to share. Please forgive my vanity.

During my lunch break, I dropped off some parcels at the Post Office and was approached by an elderly woman. Obviously in moderate distress, she held out a handwritten note, as if to give it to me.

“Excuse me,” she began, “I’m trying to find this business, and I’ve driven all over but just can’t seem to find the address.” She handed me the note.

She was much closer to her destination than she realized: the building was less than a quarter of a mile from the Post Office. I asked her to walk outside with me, so I could point out the exact building to her as I told her where to go, where to turn to enter the parking lot, etc. I thought it might be helpful to assure her that with all the new construction in the area, we all find ourselves getting a bit turned around from time to time, and frequently have to backtrack or call for further directions. This seemed to have the desired effect of calming her concerns.

I turned back to her after telling her where to go, and the look on her face immediately told me that “exit the Post Office parking lot there [pointing], turn left and proceed to that traffic light [pointing], go left again and immediately enter the parking lot on your right [pointing]” had been lost on her. She looked confused and more alarmed than before.

Unable to simplify the blatantly obvious any further than I’d already done, and having a few minutes available, I politely (and I think generously) offered to show her.

“Would you like to follow me over there in your car?”

Her face lit up, “Oh, could I? That would be so kind of you!”

I got into my car and waited for her to pull up behind me. We arrived at her destination in less time than it has taken you to read this far.

I smiled and waved to her as I began to exit the parking lot, and she walked over to shake my hand through my open passenger window.

“Thank you so much!” she said, her elation quickly turning into a frown as she looked away. “I just hope I can find my way back out of here...”

At that moment I realized what had to be done, so I called 911 and had her detained for a competency evaluation. So long as this woman was loose on the streets, driving at will, I felt she posed a danger to herself and others sufficient to justify involuntary commitment.

There it is – my good deed! One less crazy old bat behind the wheel. At least for the next 72 hours.

You’re welcome!

Your humble servant,
B. Freret

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dr. Souder’s Paper Grading Comment Bank


My oldest is in his second semester of college, and was kind enough to forward these actual comments made on English papers last semester:

“Great improvement – at times almost understandable”

“Nearly magnificent: you just need some creativity and skill”

“It is ‘Suki,’ not ‘Sucky’”

“I agree that ‘Vagina Whisperer’ would be a great sequel to ‘Vagina Monologues,’ but don’t stray from your original theme”

“Once again – it is nuclear [noo-klee-er]”

"You can't handle the truth"

“Mr. Strunk and Mr. White would be appalled”

“I believe you meant ‘pissy’ not ‘pithy,’ but I underthand the mithtake”

“Try using ‘scrotum’ in place of ‘nutsack’”

“Conceivable that this is the work of a bipedal hominid”

“Let me say this in a way that you will understand: your failing”

“I know that you are from Ohio, but have you ever considered taking an ESL course?”

“He was born in Orel, Russia, not Oral”

“For the last time, Ms. Hilton, your films are not literature”

“While the ‘DaVinci’ font may be a legitimate stylistic choice, I am unwilling to use a mirror to grade your paper”

“Better, but next time try not to be such an imbecile”

“Is this the product of small animals scampering across a computer keyboard?”

Respectfully, I remain
B. Freret

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Frank Ferri Sets Internet Writing Record



Frank Ferri, a real person, was published today not just at McSweeney's but also Yankee Pot Roast.

Both. Two different pieces. The same day.

Read. Laugh. Spew coffee out your nose, covering that new LCD monitor. Send Frank a bill for the damage.

Genius.

Your Humble and Obedient Servant,
B. Freret

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Chapters Conspicuously Absent from Les Stroud’s New Book


Chapters Conspicuously Absent from Survive! Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere - Alive by Les Stroud, Collins, 2008. (ISBN 0061373516)


1. Bad Dates

2. Jails and Prisons (Local, National, and Foreign)

3. Mother-in-Law Visits

4. Debt

5. Prolonged Military Engagement in Southeast Asia

6. Zombie and/or Robot Apocalypse

7. Dry Spells (Drought)

8. NCIC

9. Paternity and/or DNA Testing

10. Traffic Stops

11. Dry Spells (Involuntary Celibacy)

12. Weddings and Marriage

13. Employment

14. Prolonged Military Engagement in Iraq

15. Conversations About “Feelings” and “Taking this Relationship to the Next Level”

16. Trouble, Not Otherwise Specified

17. Ohio

18. Terminal Illness





Otherwise this book is a handy reference.

Humbly I remain,
B. Freret