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Showing posts from July, 2008

Old Jokes Never Die, They Just Grow Whiskers

Old Jokes Never Die, They Just Grow Whiskers
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

I was sitting with a new friend, Lalita Amos, having coffee, and she told me about a group of bloggers she meets with on a regular basis.

“We write about local news, current events, national and international politics.”

“I feel silly now,” I said.

“Why?”

“Because last week, all I wrote about was animal farts.”

After our conversation, I wondered if I’ve been wasting my time all these years as a humor columnist. Other journalists and writers take their work so seriously, writing about presidential politics, the ramifications of the Iraq war, and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s recent arrest. I, on the other hand, write at length about the TV show Project Runway on the Bravo channel, Polish men who find their wives working as prostitutes, and the methane expulsion of cows.

Real journalists, the kind who write for newspapers and TV news, look down their noses at the humor writers of the w…

New Zealand Solving Animal Methane Problem

New Zealand Solving Animal Methane Problem
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

The headline cheered women around the world, and chilled men to their very bones: "Scientists isolate animal fart gene."

According to a June story on Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand's premier news website, New Zealand officials announced they had discovered the gene that causes methane in livestock. And could stop it.

"We believe we can vaccinate against (methane)," said the Honorable Phil Goff at a conference in Paris.

According to some agricultural experts, animal methane can be much more harmful to the environment than carbon emissions. Some experts even believe it's the animal's burp, and not the fart, that produces more methane. And according to a United Nations report, animal methane – both burps and farts – is responsible for 18% of all global warming gases. So it follows that giving a methane vaccine to all livestock around the world could help reduce global warmin…

Flavor of Fishers features Fishers, Indiana restaurants

The first ever Flavor of Fishers event, presented by the Fishers Chamber of Commerce and Community Hospital North, will be held on Saturday, August 2, from noon – 10 pm at USA Parkway Circle (behind Sallie Mae).

The evening will feature samplings from 30 different Fishers restaurants; a beer and wine garden by the Old Town Ale House; live music by Zanna Doo!, Silly Safaris, Fishers & Hamilton Southeastern High School bands, and Brenda Williams and the Soul Providers; Wheels on the Parkway, a vintage car show; and the Family Fun Zone by Snapperz.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students (age 14 - $18), and kids under 14 are free. At the gate, prices are $7, $5, and still free. You can buy tickets at Marsh Supermarkets, Fishers Train Station, Fishers Farmers Market, or at several other Fishers locations.

Some of the participating restaurants include the Bamboo Café, BD’s Mongolian Barbecue, Fionn MacCool’s Irish Pub, Ram Restaurant, and Scotty’s Brewhouse. Find the entire list of par…

Indiana Fever Fever: Catch it!

(I'm late in writing this post, but my Fever fever has not died down yet.)

Thanks to Katie Vaas of the Indiana Fever, I was given two free passes to the July 5 Fever game in exchange for blogging about it. The plan was to take my oldest daughter to the game, let her see some positive female role models, watch some basketball, and knock out 500 words.

That's a no-brainer, I thought. I've always wanted to see a Fever game, but never wanted to spend the money. At least not until I told my wife, who reminded me that her folks would be in town on the 5th, and I couldn't just ditch everyone to take my oldest daughter to the game. So, I bought tickets for the rest of the family – so much for not wanting to spend money – and we went to the game on Saturday afternoon.

All I can say is this was the best $50 I ever spent. The cheapest tickets were $10, and were on the same level as the luxury suites. There literally was no bad seat in the house. The upper section was completely clos…

Campers In the Mist

Campers In the Mist
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

Several days ago, I was asked to join an expedition to southern Indiana, to observe a group of 10- and 11-year-olds through a life-changing rite of passage known as "weekend church camp." Inspired by legendary primatologist Jane Goodall, I agreed to go, especially since my oldest daughter was going. Here is a record of my observations.

Day 1, 3:30 pm – Campers have begun to arrive. Since these campers are from the same social group, the social structures have already been established. While the girls and boys have varying opinions on many different issues, both groups agree that the other group is "disgusting" and "dumb." Members of both groups go out of their way to point this out to each other.

6:30 pm – Dinner time. Battle lines have been distinctly drawn. While the occasional boy or girl will venture to the other social group, they are quickly chased off by that group's members. I …

Thirty Days before BlogIndiana blogging conference!

It’s just 30 days before the BlogIndiana blogging and social media conference. I’ll be a speaker at the event, discussing how to write for blogs, both for readership and search engine optimization. So if you want to learn some tricks about the blogging trade, be sure to sign up.

I’ll be joining other blogging giants like Chris Baggott of Compendium Blogware, Scott Abel of The Content Wrangler, and my friend Doug Karr of The Marketing Technology Blog, to name a few. Former Indy Star writer Ruth Holladay will also be speaking; as dragon slayers go, she’s my favorite.

The conference is on the IUPUI campus, and promises to have a lot of great information for new and experienced bloggers. Plus my session. It's only $49 for the whole weekend.

Best of all, as a Laughing Stalk reader, you get a 15% discount off the price of your registration. So, you pay the low, low price of $41.65.

To register, go to the conference website, enter the code BLOGDISC on the registration page, and you're al…

Improving My Writing with a BS Detector

Improving My Writing with a BS Detector
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2008

As a self-appointed fighter against corporate gobbledygook (I'm a BS Detector), I have railed against all jargon, corporate speak, and, well, BS that I hear from corporate America and the government. My usual method of BS detecting is to read something, point a finger skyward, and shout, “This is complete and utter BS!"

I take my inspiration from Ernest Hemingway, who once said, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, (crap) detector." Only he didn't say crap. But I figured if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.

And my BS detector is usually on high alert. Unfortunately, this didn’t always sit well with other people. When I was working for state health department as a writer, I edited someone else’s work for a brochure. This woman, whom I had never met, liked big words and bigger sentences. She was one of those people who was offend…

Injured on the Fourth of July

Injured on the Fourth of July
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

For a new Laughing Stalk tradition, we are reprinting Erik's "Injured on the Fourth of July" column from July 2006.

Dear Doctor Taylor:

I'm writing this letter to give you a better explanation of today's chain of events at my family's Fourth of July celebration which resulted in my appearance at your fine hospital. The anesthetic hasn't quite worn off, but the neck brace and bandages around my head are uncomfortable enough to keep me awake to write this.

When I came in, I recall you asking what happened, and that I kept mumbling "Ray, Ray." But you said that didn't explain my broken nose, possible concussion, powder burns on my butt, and certain. . . male injuries.

The day started, as you would expect, with the phrase "Hey y'all, watch this!" This was from my cousin, Ray, who had been drinking since 7:00 pm. The day before.

At Ray's shout, I turned ju…

Gas explosion in Irvington in February 2004

In February 2004, a gas explosion took out three houses in Irvington, a historic neighborhood in Indianapolis. Surprisingly, no one was killed, and the only person who was hurt was the guy in the house that blew up, and he landed in the yard of the house behind him.



(This empty space is where the exploded house once stood. The debris is for the house to the south.


In August 2007, the second of the three houses was rebuilt, and my family and I moved into it.

(The damaged house is where my house now stands. You can see my neighbors' house next door.)

Artist and fellow Irvingtonian Todd Bracik, who lives just a mile or so from the explosion took some photos of the Ritter Gas Explosion a couple days after it happened. He has some photos from the nursing home across the street, a blue house with Gambrel roof that was on the next block, with its windows blown out, neighbors two doors to the north that lost windows. It's a real mess.

To drive around the neighborhood now, you wouldn't …