Monday, March 29, 2010

The 2010 Blog Census

Sit Down And Be Counted!

I was just filling out our census form here (I see that they have once again neglected to include "hillbilly" as an option among the race choices, dagnabbit), and I realized it was about time someone did some high-powered ciphering here in the blogosphere, too, if only to make sure we don't run out of French onion dip at BlogHer this summer. (Seriously, not a risk any of us should be willing to take.)

And so, for the good of the blogosphere, the Internet and salted-snack enthusiasts everywhere, please take a moment to share your answers to the questions below. Please note that your responses will be held in the strictest confidence, provided we don't tweet and/or Facebook them.

All righty, then! Here we go...

The 2010 Blog Census

1. How many blogs do you have?

a. None
b. 1
c. 2
d. 17

2. How many readers does your blog have?

a. 0-1
b. 1-2
c. 2-3
d. 10,000+

3. How would you describe your blog? Check all categories that apply:

It's a mom blog.

O It is NOT a mom blog!

O I review books.

O I review other people's reviews of books.

O I take eye-popping photos of food that is so beautiful, it could not have been prepared without divine intervention.

O It's a crafts blog.

O It's a forum for lively political debate.

O It's my pulpit.

O All Twilight, all the time.

O It's where I indulge my passion for ___________ (insert hobby).

O It's a humor blog.

O It's not a humor blog, but for some reason, people keep laughing at it.

O It's a place where I can tell stories.

O It's a place where I can tell stories about my in-laws.

O It's not really a "blog," you know? I mean, I'm not one of those blogger people, but it's a little place where I can post photos of my kids for the grandparents to see, plus share a couple of recipes. Oh, and when I see a movie I really like, I talk about it. I also vent about the freaks at my job sometimes, but I don't use my real name on there so that's all right. I also paint. Watercolor. Sometimes I share one of my paintings, but then I almost always take it down right away because I'm shy. I got a really nice comment once, though, about one of my paintings. It made my day. I printed it out and put it on my fridge and sometimes when I think about quitting, I see that comment and I think maybe I'll make another painting. It's not a real blog, though. It's just a place I made where I have my stuff.

O All of the above.

O Other.

4. How often do people ask you what this "blog" thing is that you're doing OR ask you when you're going to "post a new blog on your website?"

a. 3-4 times per month
b. 5-7 timers per week
c. 8-10 times per day
d. hourly

5. What is your ultimate goal with respect to blogging?

a. To bring back culottes.

b. To recruit followers to my army of cape-wearing perfume spritzers.
c. To vent enough steam that I can resist shooting up my local post office.
d. World domination.

Thank you for taking the time to answer this short questionnaire.

You will be contacted by my cousin Bud an official census representative to schedule the final portion of the process: the in-home interview. For optimum results, please secure your dog(s), drop one of those blue-water tablets in your guest potty and place bowls of Funyuns in strategic locations throughout your home.

And Now...The News

Bitchin' Book Alert

Beth Kephart's anticipated young-adult novel, THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE (named to the coveted Indiebound list for Spring 2010), will be released March 30, and is now available for order. From the jacket flap:

Georgia knows what it means to keep secrets. She knows how to ignore things. She knows that some things are better left unsaid. . . . Or are they?

When Georgia and her best friend, Riley, travel along with nine other suburban Pennsylvania kids to Anapra, a squatters' village in the heat-flattened border city of Juarez, Mexico, secrets seem to percolate and threaten both a friendship and a life. Certainties unravel. Reality changes. And Georgia is left to figure out who she is outside the world she's always known.

Beth Kephart paints a world filled with emotion, longing, and the hot Mexican sun.

Sounds amazing, doesn't it? Beth's writing is evocative and soulful and no matter whether you qualify as a "young" adult or not, I'm confident you will love her work.

And don't forget to visit Beth's blog, one of the most thoughtful, illuminating destinations on the Web.

Incoming Contest!

Don't you just love a contest? I don't, but whatever. Anyway, I'll be holding a big ol' contest here very soon and I have a feeling it'll be a real barn-burner, so heads up!

More BlogHer Sessions Announced

BlogHer just announced more sessions on the BlogHer '10 conference agenda, including another round of Room of Your Own sessions. You can read all about them here.

Special congratulations to my friend Florinda of 3Rs Blog, who will be making her BlogHer speaking debut in a session entitled "The Evolving Publishing Ecosystem." (Florinda, if you get hungry during the session, I'll be in the front row with beef jerky. Just give me the high-sign and I'll whip you a piece.)

And Thank You...
Dusty Earth Mother for giving me the Beautiful Blogger Award (as opposed to the Haggard Blogger Award, which would be more accurate).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Little Entries That Couldn't

I Prefer The Term "Winning-Adjacent"

Every couple of years, the public library in Centerville, Ohio hosts the Erma Bombeck Writing Contest and blahblahblah I didn't win. And neither did some of my very funny and talented blog buds.

But. That. Is. Oh. KAY. [cleansing breath!]

Now, what to do with our contest entries? It seems wrong to let them languish in their high-security, climate-controlled storage facility at undisclosed coordinates beneath the Rocky Mountains. Nay, nay! The essays must be free to roam the countryside, assailing passersby at will with their good natured, domestic humor.

And so it was that, as we bitched moaned commiserated over a few rounds of apple-boilermaker-tinis, the Leftovers Tour was born:

4 women.

4 blog

4 victory-challenged Erma Bombeck essays.

Joins us on this teeny-tiny tour as we each post our essays and share our individual interpretations of Erma Bombeck's legendary style, wit and warmth.

I've been an Erma Bombeck fan since I was 12 years old. Th
is essay is my homage to the great lady who, as far as I'm concerned, started it all.


Uptight, Outta Sight
by Anna Lefler

When my purse spilled in the grocery store yesterday, I could tell by the looks on the other shoppers' faces that not everyone carries around a snakebite kit, road flares and freeze-dried astronaut food.

"I like to be prepared," I explained as I crouched to gather my belongings. "Now, who wants to help me fold my emergency hypothermia blanket?"

I am not a spontaneous person. I need to know what's coming—kind of like NORAD in mom jeans.

While other mothers seem to roll with ease through a day of instant playdates, pop-in neighbors and the last-minute duty of sewing a dozen liederhosen for third-grade Oktoberfest, my default response to a sleepover request from one of my children is, "What, this month? We're not ready!"

Grown-up events are no different.

"We should have a dinner party," I said to my husband last week.

"Oh, no you don't," he replied, his eyelid fluttering like Scarlet O'Hara's hankie. "I'm not falling for that again."

"Are you still grumpy because I asked for a little help last time?"

"The way I remember it, I was bludgeoned into painting the kitchen, sodding the front lawn and replumbing the powder room. And for what? The pleasure of listening to three couples brag about their children's standardized test scores while implying that our kids would be lucky to find work in a Bolivian mining operation."

It's true that I tend to overdo the preparations. It's compensation for the fact that I am not a natural hostess—one of those women who emerged from the womb clutching a pitcher of perfect martinis in one hand and a three-bean salad in the other. As someone better suited to throwing together a load of laundry than an impromptu supper with friends, I am in awe of some women's uncanny knack for effortless entertaining.

There is nothing effortless about my entertaining. My uncanny knack is selecting a recipe that seems manageable at first, then turns on me like a rabid dog two hours before my guests are due. Nothing saps my hostess mojo like the chilling realization at recipe step number nineteen that not only do I not know what a "rouelle" is, I also have no idea how to "flonday" it.

I suppose I should just accept that I'm not a spontaneous, easygoing person who thrives in the social flow, but rather an uptight person whose idea of "me" time is smearing my chin with hair-removal cream then vacuuming the coffee table.

Don't get me wrong—you're welcome to come over, but could you call first? I'd like to polish the houseplants before you get here.


The Leftovers Tour:
Because Failure Is Its Own Success

Click on the links below to read entries
from these very funny ladies:

** Erma fans will also want to read the lovely tribute post written by Jennifer Sutton at These Are Days.

[This post brought to you by the colors avocado and harvest gold.]

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Flack Attack

Fear Not. I'm a PR Professional.

Back in my public relations days of yore, when I was first learning nifty phrases like "Be proactive!" and "Sell the sizzle, not the steak!" --

[Whoa - flashback! I just had the overwhelming urge to make fifteen rush copies of something, tidy up the break room and hang up on a toner salesman. Whew! Old habits die hard, don't they?]

Anyway...when I was a wee lass starting out in the PR business, one of my tasks was to call publications and request their editorial calendars. At first I didn't know what an editorial calendar was, but luckily I had the kind of trollish, back-stabbing supportive, mentoring supervisor that made learning the ropes a pleasure. *hork*

Editorial Calendar - A publication's schedule of topics to be covered in upcoming issues.

I got to thinking about this the other day and I asked myself, "Self," I exclaimed burst chided murmured hissed said, "why don't we have an editorial calendar for LJKGW?" At which point Self made some rather outrageous personal accusations and called me a rude name. Things deteriorated pretty quickly after that.

Refusing to be bullied, I was determined to bring up the topic at the next LJKGW staff meeting. However, just as I finished leading the pledge of allegiance, my staff scampered off to make fifteen rush copies of things, tidy up the break room and hang up on toner salesmen.

So. It appears it's up to me to present to you:

The Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder
Editorial Calendar for What's Left of 2010*

  • When Baby Chicks Attack
  • Carpentry Corner: Build Your Own Stroller from Scrap Lumber
  • What Your Leprechaun Wishes He Could Tell You
  • LJKGW Investigates: Things That May Or May Not Be True, Depending on Whom You Ask

  • What's Up With Ducks?
  • "You're Not the Boss of Me!" (Special Administrative Professionals Day Issue)
  • Seriously, What Is This Thing on My Foot?
  • Macarena vs. Lambada: It's ON.

  • Rubik's Cube is Stupid Because I Say So
  • Maybe I Don't Want to Go to the Gym Today
  • Your Magnificent Spleen
  • My Recurring Harlem Globetrotters/Morgan Fairchild Dream

  • "Denim Leggings Ruined My Marriage" - One Woman's Story
  • Apparently, Cats Don't Like Taking Baths
  • Camping: Why?
  • Things I Would Do at the Mall If I Could Levitate (and Read Minds)

  • At last! A Three-Piece Bathing Suit!
  • We Want the Funk. (Hunh!) Give Up the Funk. (Awww!)
  • My Dad Could SO Beat Up Your Dad
  • Sticky Notes You Wish You'd Written

  • Dating: If It Doesn't Hurt, You're Not Doing It Right
  • Celebrity Crochet - Make Angelina Jolie's Tissue Box Cover!
  • Wii Roller Derby: The Time Has Come
  • I Like a York Peppermint Patty Now and Again

  • Letter From the Editor: "Everyone's Against Me"
  • Product Review - The Glock Craftinator 9000 Semi-Automatic Hot Glue Gun
  • Let's Have a Home-Perm Party!
  • Sports That Should Be Combined to Make Them More Dangerous

  • I'm Happy. I Know It. I Don't Have to Clap My Hands if I Don't Want To.
  • Halloween Costumes That Will Keep Your Children Awake for 5 Days Straight
  • 4,972 Signs He's Not Into You
  • Ways to Trick Your Toddler Into Cleaning Your House

  • Bacon Crafts You Can Wear Then Eat
  • Bacon's Role in Shaping Our Nation's History
  • A Bacon-Themed Thanksgiving? Why the Heck Not?
  • Bacon: The Other Striped Meat

  • Who Is This "No. 9" and Why Did He/She Inspect My Parka?
  • Pie
  • Web Performance Anxiety - Are You Interesting Enough to Be On the Internet?
  • Persuasive Essay: Boudoir Photography Is an Acceptable Office Secret Santa Gift
* (content subject to change without notice, some restrictions apply, coupons not accepted for this promotion, absolutely no refunds - store credit only, turn inside out before laundering)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Ragin' Cajun

Because I'm Pretty Sure "Flajun'" Is Made-Up

I've always said it takes a big man to sport a name that has as many vowels as it does consonants. The other thing I've always said is that it takes a big man to sport the nickname "Booger."

So when I made the acquaintance of Mr. Boudreau "Booger" Freret in the wilds of the Internet jungle a while back, I knew I was on to, well...something.

And so, because I couldn't think of anything else to write about this week I know you'll find his particular take on "the world" as "intriguing" as I do, I've invited Boudreau here to the LJKGW megaplex in Escondido for a visit.

[Locks purse in bottom desk drawer.]

AL: So, how exactly do you pronounce your name? I'm counting out 15 syllables – is that right?

BF: Not in English, it isn't. Fifteen syllables might be right in Klingon, or maybe Elvish, but you have kids, right? So I’m guessing you’re probably not a virgin, and in that case, the chances of you speaking either Klingon or Elvish are pretty much zero. Why are you looking at me like that – hey, are you going to eat that?

AL: And that name is – what – Hawaiian?

BF: No, American. And by American I mean Acadian. You know, Cajun. The descendants of Acadian exiles, French-speaking settlers from Acadia and Nova Scotia, who live in Louisiana. (And yes, I do think “Acadian Exiles” would be a great reality show.)

AL: You have one of the most popular recipe-sharing blogs out there. To what do you attribute your success?

BF: Anna, I don’t, uh, have a recipe-sharing blog (though I am proud of a bourbon-based hollandaise I am marketing locally under the name “Boozandaise”) but I do write about my Adventures.

Because if I've learned anything on this planet*, I've learned these three things: people love reading about what I’m thinking and doing (as I wrote in my first-ever post, “... no thought or observation [is] too trivial to escape shameless public regurgitation for an audience of billions to ignore”), and English speaking Americans suck at math.

* I've been advised not to discuss (in public) any other planets I may or may not have learned anything on. Give me a call if you want to know more. Just make sure you’re wearing the hat I made you. (It isn’t just a hat. Wink wink.)

AL: Really? Huh. Then where did I get that recipe for toaster mutton truffles? Whatever. So you're what? Oh, right – a writer. How does that possibly overlap with having a blog?

Sorry, no idea about either question. But speaking of blogs, I should thank you for turning me onto your friend’s blog, Ann’s Pants – I had no idea that corduroy was back in style. Until I read it at Ann's Pants. (Thanks, Ann!) Come to think of it, I hope that article wasn't too old...

AL: So tell us about the writing you do. Or, to put it another way, can you talk a little bit about your writing?

I write in English, mainly using a computer to turn the words in my head into a format that (some) other people can read. Sometimes I don’t use a computer. Then I write the words longhand. Nothing fancy, just pen and paper. I would do the same with the voices in my head, but unfortunately I don't speak whatever language they're always jabbering away in... and, yes, I can talk about my writing. But just a little bit.

You mentioned that you will be speaking at an event in March – a conference on "Social Imagery." What's up with that? [Note: I totally know what "social imagery" means, BTW. I know the crap out of it. I just want him to say it. It's an interview technique. Duh.]

BF: Yes, this year’s Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery conference in Colorado. It is real. Google it if you don’t believe me. (Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

AL: Will there be an open mic?

I don't know, but it is difficult to imagine anything more open mic-ish than a venue that gives me an opportunity to speak. I mean, if this conference has standards, you couldn’t tell it from my participation. I'm reasonably certain that the panel following the one I’m on is composed entirely of used shoes. (And I don't mean nice shoes like Khenris, either, but icky smelly old worn out gym sneakers. Mismatched, even!) I'd bet someone else's money that since I'm being allowed to present, any bipedal hominid who asked would be allowed to speak, and even if that isn’t the case, I suppose someone who wanted to be heard could pull a Kanye to get their message across. I mean, I’ve never exactly been to a Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery conference before, but I’m pretty sure that there won’t be many people there willing (or able) stop even a halfhearted attempt to rush the stage, if you catch my drift. (Unlike the NFL conference I crashed last year, but I am SO not talking about that until after the trial. And the staples are removed.) Why do you want to know?

AL: No reason. Just curious.

BF: Really, you are? I mean, I've heard stories about southern California, but I always figured they were just stories. You think maybe it is something in the water? Were you curious before you moved there? Have you ever acted on your curiosity? My interest is strictly academic. If you have, are there pictures? Just curious.

AL: I understand you are also a musician. Can you share your thoughts on music's role in your life and how this form of self-expression dovetails with your literary pursuits? More importantly, is trashing a hotel room as fun as it sounds?

To me, music and writing are inseparably intertwined, like two different currents in the same river of life. Like inhaling and exhaling are two parts of the unified act of breathing. (Which is a bad idea, by the way. Inhaling in a river.)

And math, too. Dang, I got distracted thinking about the river, and forgot to mention math. I can't really talk about my passion for writing and music without also talking about math.

Okay then. To me, music and writing and math are all inseparably intertwined, like three different currents in the same river of life. Because music is really just an audible expression of the immutable truth provided by numbers and the mathematical principles that represent everything. An audible expression of formulas capable of speaking directly to the heart. Similarly, writing is the symbolic expression of formulas directly to the heart. Only using words to form stories that can be widely understood, without all the “X” this and “Y” that and the numbers and crap that you get with just straight up hard core math.

(Just an aside, that photo on the right is a lovely, nubile model from Des Moines wearing an actual Boudreau Freret t-shirt. Just because she wanted to.)

Anyway, so really, music, writing, and math are all like three different parts of one unified thingy with three parts. Like inhaling and exhaling and, uh, hiccups or something, if you had hiccups all the time, and the breathing in and out and hiccuping were all working together in harmony, speaking directly to the heart and sending some message beyond merely “Man, all this hiccuping is really annoying.”

And I hate to disappoint you, but the thing about trashing a hotel room is that you don’t remember trashing the hotel room. At least I never did. Sorry. I know that it never looked like fun when I finally came to, but I’m certain that it always sounded like a good idea at the time. I mean, why else would I have done it, right? Unless it was self defense.

AL: What would you do if you knew you could not fail? [Interview Tip: it's good to scatter lots of inspirational needlepoint pillows around in case you run out of questions.]

Honestly, not to be disrespectful to anybody's religion or anything, but if I could choose to do anything, knowing that I would not fail? I would totally choose to be the mortal mother of the son of God. Because, you know, in at least one of the world's religions that I can think of at the moment that involve an Earthly son of God, the Guy's mom was pretty much set for life - and then some.

Just for being the Dude's mom.

Most moms are grateful if they get a call on Mother's Day, the occasional greeting card, a school photo of the grand kids on odd numbered years. But being mortal mother of the son of God would totally rock. Just picture my Kia minivan with a yellow sign in the window: “Son of God On Board.” Suck that, smarmy iced latte sipping Volvo drivers. Or how about this for a bumper sticker: “My Kid is the Son of God.” Tell me that wouldn’t totally own all those cheesy “My Kid Didn’t Eat Paste For a Whole Week at Belcher County High School” stickers you see all the time. Losers.

So, yeah, maybe there is a selfish aspect to choosing to be the mortal mother of God’s Kid, if you want to look at it all “half-empty” like that, but you know what? If I knew that I would not fail? Then I totally couldn’t screw up the Kid by being a crummy mom! Humanity would be guaranteed that He’d turn out a-ok! So it’s got that going for it, too. Right?


Is that it? Are you done? I mean, I just want to make sure that you got what you needed. From me. Right now. Because I can totally stick with you until you finish, if you need me to. Really. Just tell me what you want me to… [zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz]

AL: [clears throat, snaps pencil in half] Well, there you have it, folks. The philosophical stylings of Mr. Boudreau Freret.

Remember, you can always email us with your thoughts and questions at the address listed above.

And, on a totally unrelated note, we're looking for several additional interns to help staff our Complaints/Refunds desk.

Thanks for stopping by and have a snappy week!