Tryin’ 2B Funny: An Occasional Bit of Humor

Every now then, I get the urge to try my hand at humor. I’m not saying it works. But I try. It usually comes to me in odd moments, like when I am walking the dog, or playing my saxophone, or reading the newspaper in the mornings. Most of the time, I let those odd thoughts go. I wouldn’t want too many folks to think I am that odd. Other times, I think: I should write that down. Then I forget what I was thinking. When I do remember, and I do write them down, they are never as funny as when I first thought up the idea. Why is that? Anyway, this week, I am going to try to share some humor writing here. So, consider yourself warned.
Tryin 2B Funny intro comic
Here are some past posts on the humor theme.

Peace (and thank for reading),

Fake book/Fake review

Inspired by something that was shared on Twitter recently, I created this cover to a fake book, and then began soliciting fake book reviews from friends at various sites. It’s a quirky, fun activity, and if you want in, just add your own fake review as a comment to this post. (I created the cover following the steps at this blog site, but it was relatively simple.)

Tread Lightly follows in the vein of recent literary nonsense that, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, has no right occupying the shelves of even dying or near-dying bookstores (I’m talking to you, Borders). That said, the premise of the book is startlingly simple: a tire mark in the dark night leads the protagonist on a frantic search for his dog. The problem is, he never finds the dog nor do we ever learn more about the tire track. And where the elephant comes from is anyone’s guess. It may be that the most interesting element of this tome is the cover. – Kevin


Tread Lightly is a brooding examination of the impact of tire treads on dust, mud, and the human heart. Millertime chronicles a near-fatal obsession with tire treads, taking the reader on a journey of the senses. He reveals the sensuality of the smell of rubber, both burning and otherwise, and the despair at finding dog poo inhabiting that sacred space. A must-read in this reviewer’s humble opinion. – Andrea (via Google Plus)


Autumn has ended… The winter holds a mystery that challenges sleuth Bud B. Light.  Only the spring thaw will allow the clues to surface in a small pool hall pub, yet Light must tread lightly as they lead to small town power. Will Light tread light enough, or will he become the next mystery? — Jennifer C. (via the iAnthology Network)


Tread Lightly is an interesting and fascinating murder-mystery book.  There’s a serial killer on the loose in the rural areas of Virginia and it’s Doc Robinson’s job to put all of the murders together and create a profile of the killer and find him (or her) as soon as possible, before Virginia loses more of it’s hayseed beauties responsible for the cow milking and chicken feeding.  Will he do it?  How many more cows and chickens will be affected by this dangerous debauchery?  We’ll tread lightly to find an answer. — Jennifer S. (via the iAnthology Network)


This fascinating series of vignettes linked only by the common thread of tire tracks deserves a place on every library’s shelves. Who knew that lives could be linked by tire treads? Despite the somewhat lengthy and sometimes tedious descriptions of the tire tracks, this novel ends with a twist that puts all seven characters in the same place at the same time. — Martha (via the iAnthology Network)


Anything but… Parents can not Tread Lightly when they constantly bash the basketball coach due to the fact they don’t like him, his coaching style, or the relationship he builds with the athletes. This modern tale revolves around a basketball coach that built a program to become competitive only to be dismissed from the school he was working for due to parent pressure. Jack D. Aniels is a young coach who believes in his philosophy and somehow gets his athletes to buy into it. However, the parents don’t take too kind to Mr. Aniels and want him fired. What happens with Mr. Aniels after being dismissed sends shock waves through the community and sends the local school district reeling for answers as too what to do next. To any sports nuts out there, this is a must read. It is Miller-time! — Jeremy (via Google Plus)

Peace (in the snarky reviews),


Book Review: Sergio Aragones’ Mad View of the World

Image of MAD's Greatest Artists: Sergio Aragones: Five Decades of His Finest Works

Anybody who says Mad Magazine was for just kids didn’t ever read it.  Or didn’t read it carefully. I was reminded of this recently when I bought a book that featured five decades of the drawings and cartoon work of Sergio Aragones, who is the master of creating biting, funny critiques of all sorts of topics with pictures but very few words. (The book is MAD’s Greatest Artists: Sergio Aragones: Five Decades of His Finest Work). In fact, you have to read his work on a whole other level than you might expect, interpreting every nuance of every space of his comics.

Sergio has called his brand of art “pantomime humor” and in a short interview that introduces this collection, he talks about how this style came about partly because he immigrated to the United States from Mexico, and struggled with language. He decided that his art would not be fixed in an oral language tradition, but in the realm of visual literacy. His “outsider” status also allowed him to fix a critical eye on American culture, which informed much of his wacky insights.

And Mad Magazine was a true home for Sergio and his offbeat vision of the world, allowing him freedom to explore not only fun topics (video games, cell phones, mothers, etc.) but also some pretty serious social topics, too. (Later, he also created the Groo graphic novel series, which my older son just loves.) I went through and highlighted just a few topics in this hardbound collection that might surprise the casual reader:

  • Illegal Immigration
  • Racism
  • Gun Control
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Terrorism
  • Education
  • Double-speaking rhetoric
  • Airport Security
  • Summer Camps

OK, so that last one isn’t quite in the league as the others, but still, Aragones skewers everything and everyone and comes across as pretty balances in his humorous looks at our lives.

One of the things that I loved about his work with Mad Magazine, too, is that he was charged with doing all of the little cartoon drawings in the margins of the pages. These are tiny masterpieces of art, really, and often ignored. Luckily, in this collection, he has replicated dozens of these margin artworks onto a poster. You realize quickly that literacy is not just words, not just written language, but also art. One small image by Sergio Aragones packs a lot of punch.

Is this book appropriate for the classroom? Eh, no. Not at all. Too much nudity and too much content that might offend most sensibilities. But you could pick and choose from this collection, I suppose, and talk about telling a story with no words. Aragones is a master at that (did I say that already?)

Peace (in the toons),

A Writing Experiment: Connect the Dots

I am one of those readers who enjoys the biographies of writers who have contributed to a book collection. I am always curious, and when the editors (and writers) have fun with the genre of mini-bio (is it a genre?), such as with The Best American Non-Required Reading series, I get a chuckle. The other day, I was finishing up a collection called Hint Fiction (25 word stories), and the bios were pretty amusing. One even mentioned that he was writing a story of bios in the back of books.

So, that had me thinking. What would that look like?

Here’ s what I came up with. I had a good time writing it, trying to work some common threads across the piece and also explaining what it is, as part of the piece itself. I hope it amuses you, if only slightly.

Connect the Dots:A Story of Contributors
A story of parts by Kevin Hodgson

Tucker Abbott went to school in Florencedale, Arizona, but he swears he was never with a woman until his 27th birthday. He even took a lie detector test a few years ago to prove it. He denies that he was on sedatives at the time of the test. He writes short stories in his spare time, usually at night when he ends his shift with the Styrofoam Packing Plant, where his job is to sort out defective packing noodles. You can find his work at He has been known to break the tips off pencils at the bank while waiting in line. It’s a habit that he can’t explain.

Crystal Allistair was once accused of theft. She swears she didn’t do it, but the bracelet still fits like a charm, even 20 years later. When she’s not writing editorials about cruelty-to-animal issues (such as Michael Vick’s illegal dog fighting scandal) for her local newspapers, including The Tempe Tempest Online News, she stacks rocks in rivers as sculptures. Her nemesis is a kid named Ralph, who likes to knock the sculptures down as soon as she puts them up. It drives her crazy. She lives alone with her dog, Charlie, who appeared on her doorstep one day. She denies any charges of dog-snatching and Charlie the dog backs her up on it.

Samantha Beam was the editor of her high school newspaper in a small town in Arizona, managed her high school drama club and basketball team, received an English Degree from an online college and is now unemployed. Actually, she has never been employed. She spends her days writing flash fiction on Twitter, hoping she can get the attention of a publisher. In her spare time, which is most of the time, she sells stolen jewelry on the streets of nearby Tempe, Arizona. It’s a living.

Stewart Chase lives in California but spends part of the year in Alaska, working aboard a fish trawler. He’s one of the “hook men.” It usually takes him at least a week of scrubbing to get rid of the smell, but the money is good. Cats seem to like him. His latest play is entitled “In the Net” and it tells the story of three childhood friends who lose track of each other but then reconnect years later, only to deeply regret it. The moral is to let the past lie dormant, for god’s sake. The play is dubbed a cyberthriller-romance-downer. He is now launching a crowdsourcing venture to raise enough money to produce the play. Go to to donate via paypal, and get your name on the playbill.

Caitlin Meade grew up in a small town in Arizona, but had to leave due to an unfortunate incident that embarassed her family. She now lives in California with her mildy-gifted son, Curt, who is old enough by now to have left home but hasn’t. She is an independent filmmaker, and you can find her work at Previews of her latest film are available for download at a reasonable price. Any resemblance to actual people in her past is very intentional. If you recognize the person in the film, please call them and guilt him into child support payments. Curt needs new video games.

Paul Mutterer writes stories about his life’s adventures on Chinese Restaurant napkins, and then sells them on ebay. Surprisingly, he makes a pretty good living at it. He began this kind of writing while in juvenile jail, where had been sent as a teenager after being falsely accused of theft. He never really got back on track after that experience and still wonders how he got fingered for that crime. His parents still shake their heads and wonder about “what happened to that boy.” His parents figure prominently in his Chinese napkin stories.

Thomas Pearl has created more online spaces than you can shake a stick at. Really. It has become a sort of obsessive hobby of his. His latest venture — Six Degrees — uses a complex algorithm that invites people together as writers based on the faintest of past connections. The writers don’t even know they know each other and they only have a vague sense of the connections. Once a year, he published a book by the writers who are connected. This book is one of those. He is now working on another site called Ripples that extends a single musical note out to multiple compositions. He’s already bored with that, so, who knows what he’ll be doing next. In his spare time, he buys odd pieces of writing off ebay and then burns them in his fireplace. He has often been accused of having a bit too much money, technical expertise and free time. He doesn’t deny it.

Philbert Yoog has written five short novels about a dog that has gone missing. He really loved that dog and now suspects someone may have taken it, perhaps for those dog fighting rings he reads about in his newspaper. His replacement dog, Grendal, isn’t half the dog his old dog was. His latest story is entitled “In the Time of Charlie” and it is a bit too sad to even read. Even for him, and he wrote it. You can find it at If you want.

Chance Zilk once won first place in an ice sculpturing contest in Fairbanks, Alaska. His design of a Defective Human Genome was “delicate, intricate and oddly beautiful,” according to the judges.He enjoyed destroying it afterwards. He is sorry for also destroying the second place sculpture of Atlas holding up the World, but things got out of control, quickly. His $10,000 prize has allowed him time to pursue one of his life’s passions: acting. Now all he needs is a play or movie. He can’t wait much longer. The money is running out.

Peace (in the bio),

Music and Learning and Discovery

One of the more interesting elements of reading on the Web is the way that hyperlinks send you off on a journey, and how readers can add in as much substance as the writer. This morning, I followed a trail that began with an email newsletter from Edutopia. The headline on an article caught my eye: Using Music in the Classroom. (written by Gaetan Pappalardo).

I love Gaetan’s work around music and learning (we’ve crossed paths before with the National Writing Project) and so, of course, I wanted to read what he had to say. In the piece, he gives pointers on some simple ways to incorporate music into a lesson, including using an instrumental piece for writing.

“I want my students to use their mind’s eye so I reverse the roles. Instead of writing music to the story, I want my students to write a story, a thought, a scene, or a list to the music.”

So, I am reading Gaetan, and then I scroll down to the comment section and there, I find a long list of teachers who  have been adding their own ideas about music and learning, and suggesting lesson ideas.

For example, I found a link to an article about the benefits of having music playing while students are studying (Study, Stress and Music by Michael Griffin) and a series of songs that could help teach about bullying behaviors, and a link to another Edutopia piece about music and social behaviors and then I found myself off at this post called Teaching With Tunes: 21 Idea for Incorporating Music Throughout the Curriculum by Fallwell Dunbar.

And then, it was back to Gaetan’s article and off again to see Benjamin Zander TED talk about music and passion (Passion being one of Gaetan’s topics on his piece).  There, I found the video embedded up above of Bobby McFerrin and his visual demonstration on the power of the Pentatonic Scale, and music and movement.

But I noticed that the sign behind McFerrin said “Notes and Neurons,” so I had to figure out what was up with that, which led me to the World Science Festival site about music and the brain. That is a site I have to come back to one of these days, but not now.

My journey came all the way around, as I write here about what I found. I love that discovery process that began with a headline and expanded out towards a whole session of learning and music.

Peace (in the notes),

The Tech Graveyard: A very short story

tech graveyard
I was wandering down a hallway in our school that I don’t normally go through when I noticed this line of carts, with overhead projectors, and it reminded me of some sort of Tech Graveyard. Our school is moving fast into interactive whiteboards, and I guess these overheads don’t quite need a place in our classrooms like they used to.

I found them a little …. lonely here, and wonder what they talk about when no one’s around …


“What now?”

“My bulb is burned out. And some kid pulled me out of the wall wrong, so I have a bent prong. This stinks, stuck here like this in this hallway.”

“Yeah. I know what you mean. The only thing I am handy for these days is as a light for tracing. A tracer! Is that what I have come to?”

“Did you see those smarty pants? The (sneering voice) Smart Boards. They think they’re all that.”

“Yep. I’d like to pull their plug, all right.”


“See that kid? Coming down the hallway?”

“Which one? The one with the blue shirt? The one who’s skipping and humming to himself?”

“Yeah. Every day, he walks by here on the way to class, or the bathroom, or something,  and he doesn’t even look at us. It’s like we’re part of the wall. Shhh, here he comes.”

A moment passes.

“You see that? He … touched me. I saw him.”

“He ran his fingers in your dust. That’s not real touching.”

“It’s enough. He knew I was here. Hey, what’d he write on me anyway. I can’t see it.”

“Uh … let’s see … oh.”


“He wrote, ‘I Was Here’.”

Another moment passes.

“Well, it’s not much, but it’s something. I was useful.”

“Uh oh.”


“It’s that custodian guy, with his cleaner and rags.”


“Yep. He’s gonna wipe you clean.”


Well, that was amusing, for me.

Peace (in the discards),

The Great Rust-Eating Bunny Hoax

bunnies news
My classroom does not have a water fountain or a sink. It is without water. When my students ask why, I tell them the truth: my room is right at the point where an addition was put to our school many years ago and somehow, the pipes got crushed. By the time the school figured it out, it was too late and too expensive to fix (or so I am told).

This year, one class said that story was boring and couldn’t I come up with anything better. Well. That’s a challenge, right? I let a few days pass, and then yesterday, I shared out a “news clipping” I found about an invasive species in our area that eats rust and pipes. I showed them the, ahem,  newspaper article (which I created with the Fodey image generator site).

When I got the end of the article, there was some stunned silence. Rust-eating bunnies? Underground in our town? Most of them believed the article was true (it looks like an article, so it must be an article), which led to an interesting discussion about not everything you see on the Web is real.

Then, they really loved the story. And I got their attention.

Peace (in the burrowing bunnies of Crowtopia),