Fandango’s Friday Flashback — August 7

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 7th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally published on August 7, 2012 on my old blog.

Nothing to Sneeze at

sneezeHave you ever sneezed after recently suffering a cracked or bruised rib? If so, you know what an astonishingly painful experience it is. If not, take it from one who has had a few such rib injuries: sneezing must be avoided at all costs.

If you feel a sneeze coming on — and the good news is that you can generally sense when a sneeze is about to rack your body — you need to do whatever you can to not sneeze. Or you will suffer intense consequences.

Sneezing is a reflex, something your body does automatically and something over which you have little to no control. Sneezes are usually triggered when the inside of your nose gets a tickle. A message is sent to the part of your brain called — and I’m not kidding — the sneeze center. This sneeze center, which scientists have yet to precisely locate, is hidden somewhere deep inside the most sadistic part of your brain.

The sneeze central then sends messages to all the muscles that have to work together to create the sneeze. These muscles include, among others, your abdominal muscles, chest muscles, and your diaphragm. And there’s the rub.

Fast and furious

Here’s a factoid I bet you didn’t know. A typical sneeze removes air from your body at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. No wonder attempting to stifle a sneeze with that kind of velocity behind it can be challenging, and possibly even dangerous. Yet that is precisely what I’ve been attempting to do for the past three weeks.

Just over three weeks ago, during what was supposed to have been a routine dog walk, I seriously bruised the ribs on my left side after falling hard onto the cement sidewalk. As noted earlier, sneezing when you have injured ribs can be agonizing. And so, since that fateful night, each time the urge to sneeze came over me, I have done everything I could to prevent the sneeze from materializing.

Why not just blow my nose when I felt the sneeze coming on? The mere act of filling my lungs with enough air to enable a productive nose-blowing would put significant pressure on my ribs as my lungs expanded, causing sufficient pain to warrant an alternative course of sneeze mitigation.

I would pinch my nose and hold my breath and pray that I could successfully stifle the sneeze and avoid the intense pain. For the most part, my sneeze prevention machinations worked. But on several unfortunate occasions, the sneeze got the better of me and I would end up with tears welling up in my eyes, writhing in agony for several minutes until the acute pain on the left side of my rib cage eventually settled into a dull ache.

This morning, just a bit more than three weeks after the rib-bruising, dog-walking episode, I once again felt the urge to sneeze coming on. But this time I bravely decided to let it go. I sneezed.

Not once.

Not twice.

But three times.

EUREKA!  While I could definitely still feel tightness on the left side of my chest with each sneeze, the feeling was more annoying than agonizing. And being able to experience a full, robust sneeze was amazingly satisfying.

I’m still taking Advil periodically, as the left side of my rib cage remains somewhat tender. But the worst is clearly over and I am thrilled that I no longer need to struggle to stifle that reflexive sneeze response.

Go screw yourself, sneeze center, wherever and whatever you are. All I have to say at this point is “Ahhhh.”

Or perhaps I should say, ahh-chooo!

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — July 31

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 31st) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally published on July 31, 2014 on my old blog.

Homemade or made from scratch?

Today’s Daily Prompt asks:

Automation has made it possible to produce so many objects — from bread to shoes — without the intervention of human hands (assuming that pressing a button doesn’t count). What things do you still prefer in their traditional, handmade version?

I know the focus of this prompt is the distinction between handmade and manufactured. But I’m going to go in a slightly different direction, which should come as no surprise to my regular readers.

I’m going to focus my post on the distinction between homemade and made from scratch. Homemade means made at home, rather than in a store or factory. Made from scratch means not using something pre-packaged.

Okay, so yeah, this applies mostly to cooking, which is something I do, to some extent, on a daily basis.

homemade pastaLast night, for example, I prepared a batch of pasta with meat sauce. Was it homemade? Yes. Was it made from scratch? No.

Made from scratch, to me, would mean making my own pasta. I did not do that. I bought a box of organic spaghetti at the grocery store.

Made from scratch, to me, would mean making my own sauce from tomatoes and vinegar and whatever else goes into making “from scratch” spaghetti sauce. I bought two jars of organic pasta sauce at the grocery store.

And at the extreme, made from scratch would mean slaughtering my own cow, chopping it up, and grinding up a hunk of meat. I bought a pound of ground beef at the grocery store.

How in the world, then, can I call my pasta meal “homemade”?not pre-packagedWell, I didn’t pick up a package of frozen spaghetti and stick it in the microwave. I didn’t buy a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti and heat it up in a pot on the stove.

I boiled the pasta in a pot of water for about 8 minutes (al dente) in one pot. I poured the jars of pasta sauce into another pot. I browned and seasoned the ground beef in a pan. When the pasta was done, I drained it in a colander and then put the pasta back into the large pot.

I took the browned, seasoned ground beef and mixed it into the heated pasta sauce in the other pot. I poured the pasta sauce with ground beef over the pasta and stirred that all up. With a pasta fork, I scooped out a serving onto a plate. I sprinkled shredded Parmesan cheese over the pasta.

And then I ate it. And it was good!

Afterwards, I put the remaining pasta with meat sauce into a Tupperware-like storage bowl and stuck it in the refrigerator. I washed and dried the two pots and the pan, along with the utensils, and put them all away.

So was my meal really homemade? Absofreakinlutely. No one can convince me that my dinner last night was not homemade. It wasn’t made from scratch, but it was most definitely prepared by my own two hands in my own home.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — July 24

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 24th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally published on July 24, 2017 on this blog.

What’s That Fragrance?

When I saw today’s one-word prompt, “Fragrance,” the first thing I thought of was that infamous scene from the movie, “Apocalypse Now,” where Robert Duvall said, “I love the fragrance of napalm in the morning.”

I thought, “Well, that was easy.” Then I Googled “fragrance of napalm” to find a video clip of that scene to put in this post. Imagine my surprise when I watched the clip and saw that Robert Duvall never actually said, “I love the fragrance of napalm in the morning.” Nope. What he did say was, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

Now all I smell is the fragrance of embarrassment. Oh well. My bad.

Okay, it’s time to rise and shine and to start up the coffee grinder/brewer. Because there’s is nothing like the fragrance of coffee in the morning. It smells like victory — for having survived yet another day.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — July 17

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 17th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally published on July 17, 2014 on my old blog.

Analogy Abuse

295AF80A-29D9-4FF1-9DF6-7CADF3680505Have you ever been drafting a post for your blog and been looking for that perfect analogy. Well, what you’re about to read just might prove helpful — in that it highlights the kinds of analogies you should avoid.

You may have seen these before, as this list has apparently been circulating the internet for a number of years. These are supposed to be real analogies allegedly taken from actual essays written by high school students and collected by their English teachers.

But I’d never seen these before and when I read them, they had me convulsing with laughter, like I had just ingested some poison and couldn’t stop the spasms in my gut. [Blogger’s note: the preceding analogy is the kind of analogy you should not use.]

Anyway, here are some of these classic bad analogies. Enjoy.

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a ThighMaster.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Her eyes were like big brown circles with big black dots in the center.

The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object.

This list of bad analogies made me laugh like someone who had read something really funny.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — July 10

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 10th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally published on July 10, 2017. It was my response to the WordPress Daily One-Word Prompt (caper).

Crappy Caper

IMG_2399Two thugs grab me off the street, pull a burlap sack over my head, and toss me into the back of a van. One of the ruffians is waiting in the driver’s seat, starts the engine, and speeds away while the two who grabbed me use ropes to secure my hands and feet in the back of the van.

I hear the driver ask his fellow kidnappers, “Where to now, guys?

The two men in the back of the van look at each other, which of course I can’t see because I have a burlap sack over my head, but which I imagine they would do when confronted with such a question.

One of them shouts to the driver, “Bruno, this whole caper was your idea. Don’t you have a plan or are you flying by the seat of your pants?”

“Dunno,” replies Bruno. “Hadn’t thought that far in advance. Ask the guy we grabbed what he thinks.”

“So, whaddya think?” one of the kidnappers in the back of the van asks me.

“Surprise me.”

“Hey Bruno, he says to surprise him.”

“No way,” Bruno calls back. “I’m going to drive around in circles until he tell us where to take him.”

“Take me home,” I yell back at the driver.

“Ha, ha, very funny,” Bruno replies. “Vinny, break one of his thumbs unless he tells you where we should take him.”

“Okay, Vinny, let’s not be hasty,” I say to whichever one of the kidnappers with me in the back of the van is Vinny. “This is an important decision. Give me a second to ponder it.”

“You got a minute to decide.”

I quickly toss around some options in my head. It can’t be in the city. They could drive the van around to the side of an abandoned building, pull me out of the van, and move me into the building without being noticed. Not a building.

Not a forest either. They could drive the van deep into the woods and no one would be around to see or hear me. So not a forest.

“Break his freakin’ thumb already,” I hear Bruno yell from the driver’s seat. “I’m using up all the gas.”

“Wait, wait!” I plead. “Give me just a few seconds more.”

An island is surrounded by water. You can’t drive a van right up to an island. They’d have to lift me out of the van and move me to a boat in order to get to the island. Surely someone would see a man with a burlap sack over his head, hands and feet bound, being carried by a couple of thugs from a van to a boat, and would call the police. Or maybe I’d be able to figure out a way to free myself and get away.

“Take me to an island,” I say.

“He says an island,” Vinny yells up to Bruno.

“What island?” Bruno yells back.

“What island?” Vinny asks me.

“Oh for crissake. What kind of incompetent, bumbling kidnappers are you three, anyway? This is your goddam crappy caper.”

“That’s right,” yelled Bruno from the front of the van, “but it’s your goddam crappy nightmare.”

My eyes flutter open and I stretch my arms out after waking up from my brief nap. “I just had the strangest dream,” I say aloud to no one in particular.