Finding your funny bone

How’s this for a terrific “welcome home” from my three weeks of prowling around Portugal—a note from the Mark Twain House and Museum people about their inaugural Royal Nonesuch Humor Contest! No, it didn’t say I won (darn), but it said I made the top 20. That sure tickled my funny bone!

The note said (in part):  Mark Twain would have been thrilled with the quality and quantity of our results–we received nearly 400 hilarious submissions. […] Choosing the finalists and winners was an agonizing process and […] so competitive that the judges requested we include the entire top 20 in our recognition
…  Dusty Zima, Judy Millar, Nikki Stern, Kara Dawn Goodwin, Wayne Johnson, Jon Ziegler, Alison McGaughey, Leah Prinzivalli, John Kachuba, David Finkle, Katherine Varga, Melanie Vare, Patrice Fitzgerald, and Dinty Moore.

I’m thrilled to be listed with others who’ve found their funny bone and who exercise it regularly (did you notice the name “Dinty Moore” above? If I’m not mistaken, he’s the editor of Brevity magazine and he’s written numerous well-respected books on writing.). My congratulations to the winners (Yaron Kaver, Melissa Fay Greene, Briana Haynie), honorable mentions (Allison Williams, Josh Dobbin, and Alice Nguyen) and finalists. You’re all on my list of humorous writers to search out and read.

The story that earned me my finalist spot is “Ink in a Blink”—an as-yet-unpublished story that’s long been earmarked for inclusion in the sequel to my book Beaver Bluff: The Librarian Stories. That sequel project was relegated to the back burner as I got busier with live storytelling and speaking opportunities—maybe it’s time to get back at it. Speaking of speaking— this coming Saturday (October 25, 2014), I’ll be presenting “Finding your Funny Bone” at Vancouver Island Regional Library. If you’ll be in the Nanaimo vicinity and you want to find out how to add more zest to the stories you write or tell, you can register by calling 250-933-BOOK, ext. 109. Maybe your story will win next year’s Royal Nonesuch Humor Contest!

~ Judy

George Clooney street cornerP.S. As far as my last blog post about my George Clooney crush is concerned–yes, I am “crushed” to learn that he did indeed get hitched in Italy in September. But we managed a brief rendez-vous on a street corner in Lisbon a week later. Don’t tell Amal. 🙂

George Clooney Crush

It’s been a tough year for women like me—women with a George Clooney crush. As long as the “silver fox” was out there being his commitment-phobic, bachelor/playboy self, each of us could nurse our secret fantasy. We just knew that someday, perhaps in an airport concourse or a busy Starbucks, we’d look up and spot THE CLEFT in that unmistakable chin. There he’d be, in all his hunkyness—smiling, and saying . . . well, never mind what he’d be saying. That’s my fantasy. But all us “Clooneyites” were crushed to learn that British human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin was engaged to our guy.

I took the news harder than most. My George Clooney crush had blossomed into a “love poem.” I’d uploaded a “selfie” video recording of me reciting that poem to YouTube. Then I’d been waiting by the phone. Okay, maybe I’m kidding about that part—but I had been having lots of fun sharing my poem with audiences like this one.

To keep the fun going, I plan to share other video samples of my storytelling here in the weeks and months ahead—some are comical personal stories, others are “persona” pieces. If you want to be sure to catch them, click the “subscribe” button to be notified of new posts.

In the meantime, I’m sending my best wishes to George and Amal, as I’m told they’re getting married any day now. I can’t hold getting married against George since technically I am married to Kayak Guy. (Well, not just technically—actually.) But I’m leaving my selfie Ode to George Clooney’s cleft, and this George Clooney Crush video, up on YouTube. Maybe if we all hurry and share the link, it might somehow find its way to him before he takes the plunge? Then there’s no telling what could happen. One day I might just glance up—into the cleft in that very chin. 🙂

Storytelling

Here we are, well into the lusty month of May, and I haven’t had anything to say for months. Not here, anyway. A rep of the company that hosts my website actually phoned the other day to remind me that web crawlers won’t find my blog unless I post new content. Hmm. That makes it seem like I’ve been goofing off. Actually I’ve been out and about— storytelling.

Storytelling sounds like “business as usual” for a writer/performer like me. It’s anything but. In recent months I’ve been persuaded to set aside the piece of paper, and just TELL the story. That’s right—no safety net. When it comes to connecting with an audience, telling tales trumps reading them. But embracing “off the cuff” storytelling was traumatic for someone settled in her ways. It’s been scary trying to persuade my protesting brain that I won’t “blank” in front of a crowd—or, if I do, it won’t be the end of the world. (And I have. And it wasn’t. Thank goodness. I’d hate to have the end of the world on my conscience.)

I’ve told true stories about being a mother-of-the-bride with a black eye. And about my days working as a chicken plucker, a travel trailer electrician, and even a brothel owner (okay, an inadvertent brothel owner—the building I bought came with a few surprises). Audiences laughed so I hard I got brave enough to do some storytelling about my colonoscopy cruise. Tomorrow (as befits the lusty month of May) I’m going to tell an audience about my crush on George Clooney. And how crushed I am to hear he’s planning to tie the knot. If you can’t be at Around Town Tellers, here’s a little sample:

Storytelling has been a stretch from writing funny fiction and reading it aloud to audiences. It’s a new kind of fun. WordChickz_with logo_Greg's 2013I’ve been “telling” around the Island, and even in Vancouver—solo, and with my WordChickz performing partner, Cindy Shantz. If those web crawlers think I’ve been slacking off, they’re not crawling the right corners!

Spring is sprung, and all the world is new. I dare YOU to try something new too. What life story have you got to tell?

Bad Poetry – Good Cause

I’ve been bad. I’ve been goofing off having fun in Santa Fe instead of writing new stories or even writing this blog. The only thing I have been writing has also been BAD—bad poetry, that is. Writing deliberately bad poetry is just SO MUCH FUN.

I’ve already shared some of my intentionally bad poetry in my video rendition of “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” But General Store Publishing House got me hooked on writing more with its Spring Bad Poetry contest. Then literary agent Chip MacGregor ran his annual bad poetry contest and I couldn’t stop myself from writing this (sadly unrequited) love poem to George Clooney (more specifically, to the cleft in George Clooney’s chin).

In case you think writing bad poetry is too low-brow, note that even Columbia University’s Philolexian Society has been sponsoring a bad poetry contest since 1986.

Then it hit me: Why should these other websites be having all the fun hosting bad poetry? My readers can write stuff that’s bad too—maybe even “badder”! So the challenge is on.

Can you write some squirmingly sentimental, over-the-top awful, bad poetry? The worst of the worst you send (which of course means the poem that best tickles the funny bones of our three renowned judges—all of whom insist on remaining anonymous) will win a copy of Beaver Bluff: The Librarian Stories to keep the laughs going.

Entry fee is FREE–with a wee request in support of a good cause. I recently learned that Canadian humorist Gordon Kirkland is dying for lack of a liver transplant suited to his rare blood type. I don’t know Gordon Kirkland personally, but I’ve enjoyed his work. As a humorist myself, I know what it takes to make others laugh so I know Gordon has worked hard to brighten our days. If you can find it in your heart or your wallet to support the fundraiser for Gordon, here’s how. If you can’t contribute, maybe you could share that link with someone who can. At minimum, perhaps our bad poetry will make Gordon smile. Laughter is good medicine—even for those waiting on a miracle.

If you need to prime your poetry-writing pump by reading some bad poetry, check out some of the hilarious submissions on Chip MacGregor’s blog. Then give it your best—I mean worst—shot. You can paste your bad poetry into the Comments section below (inappropriate material will be deleted). If you prefer that your effort not be posted unless it wins or you want to submit a video entry, send it along by email.

You have the rest of May to submit your bad poetry. If you’re inspired, send several submissions. I’ll announce a winner June 1st. Have fun! (And if you happen to know George Clooney’s email address, please send him a link to my unrequited love poem. Maybe he’ll be smitten–and REQUITE. 🙂 )