Bad Uncle Award!

The awards keep coming! Yesterday, it was the Versatile Blogger Award, and today it’s the Bad Uncle Award. The irony is that I won it by trying to be a good uncle…

With the holidays approaching, I know that my sister has her hands full with her two kids, Ernestine and Paulo,* so I figured I’d give her a hand. Ernestine, who is in the second year of her terrible twos, has been especially rambunctious since her brother Paulo was born this past summer. (Or spring. I forget the exact details.)

But the point is that Ernestine has been doing some very bad things lately, like stealing cars and tagging people’s garages with graffiti. At the same time, Ernestine still believes in Santa Claus — and she really, really wants a pony for Christmas. To get her to behave, my sister placed an Elf on the Shelf on the shelf in Ernestine’s bedroom. Taking this strategy a step further, I called my sister’s house and asked to speak to my niece.

“Why?” my sister said, as I’d never expressed an interest in speaking to Ernestine before.

“Trust me,” I said. “I’m going to pretend to be Santa Claus. It’ll be great.”

“Okay,” my sister said, barely concealing her skepticism.

“Hello?” Ernestine said when she picked up the phone.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” I said in my holliest, jolliest voice. “Is this Ernestine?”

“Yes,” Ernestine said.

“Do you know who this is?”

“Santa?” Ernestine said.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” I said. “That’s right! It’s Santa Claus! I’m just calling to say that I was going to bring you a pony this year, but your Elf on the Shelf tells me you’ve been a bad little girl, so I had to put you on the naughty list. There’s always next year, I suppose, but this year, it just isn’t happening. I’m sure you understand. Ho! Ho! Ho! Goodbye.”

I’d barely hung up the phone when my sister called back — and she was angry.

“What did you say to her?” my sister demanded.

“Nothing,” I said. “I mean, I told her I was Santa Claus.”

“I know that,” my sister shouted over Ernestine’s tears. “Why is she crying?”

“I told her she wasn’t getting a pony,” I said. “Is that wrong? Is she getting a pony? Because from what I’ve seen, she doesn’t deserve a pony.”

“No,” my sister said. “She’s not getting a pony.”

Upon hearing her mother vehemently confirm Santa’s prediction, Ernestine went into hysterics.

“So what’s the problem?” I asked.

But my sister had already hung up on me.

Which means I’ll have to come up with a really good Krampus costume to work my way back into her good graces in time for Christmas.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And to protect Ernestine.

Versatile Blogger Award!

Thanks to Tracey of Snagglewordz for sending along this versatile blogger award!

The odd coincidence in all this is that I was thinking about writing a post about a few of the blogs I follow, and the versatile blogger award gives me a chance to do that. So, in no particular order, here are some of the blogs that I’ve been enjoying lately:

  • X-Rated Don’t worry… It’s not really X-Rated! I think the title has something to do with the X chromosome, but I could be wrong about that.
  • The Eunejeune Daily Learn a new word every day! Find out whose birthday it is! And get some of this blogger’s opinions on every topic under the sun.
  • August McLaughlin’s Blog A blogger with a great sense of humor and a highly positive outlook on life. Always a pleasure to read this one!
  • The Cockeyed Pessimist Balancing out August McLaughlin’s optimism, here’s a blog by Permanent Press founder Martin Shepard on the ups and downs of life in the publishing industry.
  • Will Nixon’s Blog I love Will Nixon’s poetry collections, Love in the City of Grudges and My Mother as a Ruffed Grouse. I’m also a big fan of his blog.
  • Kourtney Heintz’s Journal Kourtney Heintz writes about everything from ingrown toenails to her life as an aspiring author — always with wit and grace!
  • Edward Hotspur Quoting from his “about” page: “Edward Hostpur is a world-famous author and witticist. The world just doesn’t know it yet.” A funny guy. And possibly an angry guy. Or at least a fairly cynical guy. There’s always something worth checking out on his blog.
  • Rant, With Occasional Music Anyone who borrows a title from Jonathan Lethem can’t be bad.
  • Kim Brittingham Kim’s memoir, Read My Hips, is a funny and poignant account of being overweight in America. Check out her blog and then buy her book!
  • Scriptor Obscura Writes Poetry and art. Who could ask for anything more?
  • D. Thomas Minton Minton is a gifted science-fiction and fantasy author. I started off reading his blog for his thoughts on writing, but soon I was swept up in the fantastic worlds he’s created. Check out his short story “Thief of Futures” for an introduction to his work!
  • Presents of Mind A great blog on reading, writing, and everything in between by a self-proclaimed “reluctant writer.”
  • The Lighter Side of the Moon “Phumor without the P” is how this blog is billed. The musings of a slightly snarky precocious high school student.
  • A Side of Writing Musings of an aspiring novelist who’s trying to fit writing (and editing!) into his busy life.
  • The Red Pen of Doom A blog designed to “cut through the nonsense and be a place for writers of all types — novelists and journalists, speechwriters and screenwriters, whoever — to strip away the window dressing and theories, to get down to the essential guts of all good writing.”

Congratulations to one and all for earning this coveted award! And apologies to anyone I left off the list.

Per the award’s dictates, here are seven random facts about myself:

  • I review books from independent presses at Small Press Reviews.
  • I’m allergic to peaches and all stone fruits.
  • Fusilli is my favorite kind of pasta.
  • I love teaching.
  • Monkeys fascinate me.
  • I’ve surprised myself by becoming an early riser.
  • I like when people read my books.

Harness The Power of Pitying the Fool to Increase Your Blog Traffic!

The funny thing I’ve learned about blogging over the past few years is that the number of hits a post receives has nothing to do with the amount of thought or effort I’ve put into it. It actually hinges on random things like making references to pop culture icons like Mr. T and Steve Urkel. And if you include photos, then so much the better. For example:

This photo is guaranteed to bring traffic to your blog.

Speaking from experience, I’ve noticed that I get somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 hits a week from people Googling Mr. T, the A-Team, and B.A. Baracus, and about 50 or 60 hits a week from people Googling Steve Urkel and/or Family Matters — all because I mentioned them in passing.

As a side note, I can only imagine how many hits this post will get for mentioning Mr. T and Steve Urkel at the same time.

And for including this clip of the commercial for Urkel-Os cereal…

…and — while we’re on the subject — this one for Mr. T cereal:

So take a cue from the Quaker Oats companyand  team up with Mr. T (or Steve Urkel) every morning to increase traffic to your blog! And for even more traffic, don’t forget to mention Pee Wee Herman.