Ta Daa! The Winning Doodle!

Last week, the lovely and talented Sarah Wesson (whose blog is awesome, by the way) won the Third Semiannual Heylookawriterfellow Win A Doodle Contest!

I am an accident prone idiot, so Sarah’s prize is a Custom Made Mike Allegra Overcoming Injury Doodle! It is the first of what I fear will be many such doodles in my future.

Sarah could get a drawing of anything she wanted. She wanted a Caffeine Gnome. I had never seen a Caffeine Gnome before, so I winged it.

Hope you like it, my friend!

Jittery

 

And The Winner Is…

The Penguin Ice Bucket was filled with more than 100 ballots!

The Penguin Ice Bucket was filled with more than 100 ballots!

Holy cannoli, those Win A Doodle contest ballots came pouring in!

And along with the ballots came a wide and wild assortment of possibly perfect fictional pets. Some choices were inspired (Brain from Inspector Gadget) others were suicidal (Smaug from The Hobbit), and, in one case, bewildering (Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights).

Unfortunately, none of you selected the correct pet:

It's this guy.

It’s this guy.

The perfect fictional pet is Gromit from Wallace & Gromit. The pooch is cute, quiet, brilliant, self-motivated, a cracking electrician, a fine housekeeper and a superb knitter. He also doesn’t shed, is not slobbery, and can take himself out for walks with or without Techno-trousers. He is also loyal enough to accompany his human to the moon and back.

As I said, perfect.

By the way, if you haven’t seen a Wallace & Gromit movie, please get on that won’t you?

***

Before I get on with announcing the contest winner, I’m afraid I have some news:

Remember a few weeks back when I mentioned that I’m a little accident prone? Well, I have sustained my second bed-making accident. My pathological quest for hospital corners has resulted in a ripped tendon in my ring finger.

Yep, I'm a moron.

Yep, I’m a moron.

This is my doodling hand, I’m afraid. Fortunately I have figured out ways to compensate for the splint, so I don’t think my injury will inhibit my doodling.

In other words, the winner of this contest will now be the recipient of a Custom Made Mike Allegra Overcoming Injury Doodle! This type of doodle very rare! It’s also inspiring and heartwarming! It’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, really.

***

OK, enough nonsense. Let’s get down to business. All of the ballots were dumped into the Penguin Ice Bucket of Mystery.

The happy judge took his position…

happy judge

He shook well.

bucket shaking 1

He continued to shake well.

bucket shaking 2

And he shook well a little more.

bucket shaking 3

He really should stop shaking now.

bucket shaking 4

 Oh, for God’s sakes, kid, knock it off!

And the winner is…

Happy selection

 

Happy winner

Sarah Wesson!

Congratulations, Sarah! You get a Custom Made Mike Allegra Overcoming Injury Doodle! (Suitable for framing.)

All you have to do is go up to the “Hire Me!” menu and send me an email.

Thanks to everyone who entered! See you next week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Win A Doodle! Woo!

for YOU

When I posted my first “Win a Doodle!” contest last year, my motives were simple: I didn’t have a post but I still wanted to post something. I figured that maybe a dozen blog followers would enter. Instead, the comments section went nutty. I was bewildered.

So I did the doodle contest thing a few months later – and that turnout was even nuttier.

It’s been a quite a while since my last doodle contest — and a few of you rabble rousers won’t let me forget it. I have been harassed! Harangued! Badgered! Bullied!

And, like France on the eve of a major war, I have capitulated.

Here’s another chance to win your very own doodle!

IF YOU WIN, I WILL DRAW WHATEVER YOU WANT!

Yep. It’s true. Need proof? Fine.

Jenion, the winner of the first doodle contest, is an avid cyclist. She asked me to doodle a cyclist. So I did.

Ta daa!

Ta daa! (Click to see larger.)

Kid Lit Reviews, the winner of the second contest, is a devoted animal rights advocate. She asked me to draw a picture of a Great Dane protecting a few smaller dogs. So I did.

Aw! Look at the puppehs!

Aw! Look at the puppehs! (Click to see larger.)

On another occasion, Jilanne Hoffman’s punk kid, ignoring the fact that I do not like cats, asked me to draw a picture of a cat.

Celebrate Cats!

Then that punk kid asked me to draw a kitten.

Innocent Kitten

Oh, whatta punk that kid is!

So yes. I will draw whatever you want.

Well, there is one exception. I won’t draw what you want if what you want is pervy. I am a children’s book author, bucko, so take your dirty business somewhere else!

There is one other point to consider. I am not a portrait artist, so if you ask me to draw a picture of you, I will cheat. My friend and fellow blogger, Vanessa Chapman, learned this the hard way.

A perfect likeness!

A perfect likeness!

HOW TO WIN

The winning name will be drawn at random. The draw-er is this guy.

boy with beard

He’s nutty, but his integrity is unimpeachable.

HOW TO ENTER

To get your name in the drawing all you need to do is leave a comment that answers the following question:

If you could have any fictional character as a pet, which character would you choose and why?

The “why” is key. If you just yell something like “SCOOBY DOO!” your name will not be included in the drawing. You need to explain your choice.

Got it?

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING

Want me to stuff the ballot box in your favor? Fine. I’ll add two more ballots if you announce this contest on your blog and link back to this page. That’s three chances to win!

Don’t have a blog? OK, then you can get one extra ballot if you announce this contest on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

DEADLINES, ETC.

Your entry is due on or before Monday, March 16. The winner of the drawing will be announced on Tuesday, March 17.

The completed doodle will be posted on this blog. The original drawing (suitable for framing!) will be mailed to the winner.

That’s it! Answer the question and get going!

GOOD LUCK!


The House Husband 10 Commandments

I’ve been doing the House Husband thing for a month now. As long as I ignore the bloodletting, all is going quite well! 

To make sure things stay that way, I have composed a list of self-imposed Cardinal rules.

***

  1. Thou shalt not leave the house – not even for an itty-bitty-not-even-getting-out-of-the-car moment – looking like a hobo. (On a related note, sweatpants are not pants. They are pajamas with a better PR campaign. Act accordingly.)
  1. Thou shalt not be afraid of the toilet brush; he is your staunch ally. Fight well, brothers.
  1. Thou shalt not grumble when The Wife leaves her stuff scattered around the house as if she had to suddenly flee from the police. She supports you now. Pick up her things and be nice about it.
  1. Thou shalt not forget that The Boy is a boy, and boys like to scatter things around the house. That said, The Boy does not support you like The Wife does, so The Boy must pick up his own crap.
  1. Thou shalt not fart about on the internet, except for the purpose of finding work or maintaining a blog. For only these are honorable online pursuits.
  1. Thou shalt not use housework and organization as an excuse to avoid writing.
  1. Thou shalt not use writing as an excuse to avoid housework and organization.
  1. Thou shalt not be complacent in thy new career. Stay hungry.
  1. Thou shalt not eat unhealthy lunches. Hot Pockets are not healthy. Brussels sprouts are too healthy. Find a middle ground. (Said Middle Ground may be a few steps closer to Hot Pockets.)
  1. Thou shalt not ever forget that this new chapter in your life is a dream come true – and that your family helped to make it true. Never forget. Never. Ever.

 

My Best Boss

The quality of one’s job is directly dependent upon the quality of one’s boss. I know this is true; there is no other way to explain how the teenaged me managed to spend an entire summer slaving over a Burger King broiler without killing myself.

The Burger King manager, Annie, was kind and understanding. She knew the job was terrible. She knew I had grease burns running up and down my forearms. She knew I went home every afternoon smelling like a rancid French fry. And, most importantly, she had no desire to make my life any worse. She smiled, gave me praise, and tossed me free chicken tenders the way one might feed a trained seal. She made an intolerable job sort of tolerable and I was grateful.

My boss theory goes the other way, too. Shortly after graduating college, I worked as an assistant art director for a magazine that profiled bed and breakfasts. Even though it was a design job – and I never really cottoned to a career in design – I did like the work. I even found opportunities to strengthen my journalism chops, interviewing innkeepers and writing articles.

But my boss, the magazine’s publisher, let’s call her Mrs. Wilkes, was a horrible person. She fancied herself an expert in all things. One of her hobbies was to shoo me out of my desk chair and rearrange my layout. She made a big show of this, for she wanted the entire office to know what an idiot I was. Aside from the public embarrassment, what I found particularly irksome about her behavior was that when she was finally done futzing around with my work, the layout was exactly the way I had it before.

“See that?” Wilkes barked, playing to the cheap seats. “That’s the way to do it.”

Wilkes had a loose screw. She rooted through my desk at night. She threw very public tantrums. And, perhaps worst of all, she went everywhere with an ancient, toothless, hairless Chihuahua that would bite my shoes and pee under my desk.

I liked the work, but that boss broke my spirit.

Once in a while, however, you get a lightning in a bottle: In the late 1990s I found a perfect job with a perfect boss.

Jack Carle was the editor of Suburban Trends, the newspaper I used to write for. The best word to describe him would be “grizzled.” The guy looked a like 19th century gold prospector. He sported a thick shock of brown hair with a ragged beard to match. His rumpled wardrobe favored plaid flannel shirts and work jeans. His weathered face suggested that he had seen things that no mortal man should ever see – or ever hope to forget.

I had never gone through Jack’s desk drawers – I wouldn’t have dared – but if I had, I would’ve been disappointed if I hadn’t found a bottle of whiskey in there. He was that kind of guy. A Bottle Of Whiskey In A Desk Kind Of Guy.

Jack was large, much taller than I was – at least I think he was. He certainly carried himself as if he was large. He was also a man of few words. When he did speak, you listened carefully. He wouldn’t be talking if it wasn’t important.

Jack didn’t yell. Never. But if he was mad, you could feel his rage radiate off of him and be frightened by it – even if that rage wasn’t directed at you.

For the record, his rage was never directed at me. Jack and I understood each other. He wanted dynamic, snappy copy. I wanted to write it. He saw that I could write it, so he left me to my own devices – which was also what I wanted. I respected his authority and he respected my need for independence.

But the big reason why I would’ve followed Jack Carle seven-eighths of the way to hell and back was because he defended his staff. If Jack trusted you, he’d go to the mat for you — and have fun doing it.

I covered several suburban towns for the Trends. In one of those towns there was a councilman who was a bit of a pill. For the sake of this post, I’ll call him Dave Murphy. As a journalist, it is my job to be impartial — so I will tell you in the most impartial way that Murphy was a moron. He was a showoff who loved it when the public access cameras recorded council meetings. When they did, he would yell and carry on at length, ignoring the eye rolls and impatient sighs from the rest of the council.

Those stupid cameras turned simple council matters into big kerfuffles. When the council held an up or down vote to renew a bid for a sanitation contract, Murphy used the occasion to practice his oration. “I do not think I can vote to approve this!” he bellowed. “The other morning I woke up at 5 a.m. to chat with my garbage men. I was troubled to discover that none of them spoke English!”

Murphy’s comment filled my mind with questions:

“Why would anyone get up at the crack of dawn to chat with garbage men?”

“How does mastering English improve one’s ability to pick up garbage?”

And the most important one: “Why is this man’s xenophobia wasting my time?”

Murphy’s grandstanding often turned what should’ve been a 40-minute council meeting into a two-hour one. I didn’t get paid enough for this nonsense.

So, in my journalistic way, I made a decision. I would poke the bear. I would treat all of Murphy’s rants as if they were news. If Murphy wanted to talk about his garbage men’s fluency, fine. I’d write a story about it. If he wanted to say that another councilman who used to sell rotary dial telephones out of his garage in the 1970s shouldn’t vote on a cell tower contract because it’s a “conflict of interest,” fine. I’d write a story about it.

I made sure that every one of Murphy’s rants and conspiracy theories got ink.

Jack loved these stories; they fed into the mischievous side of his personality. He also loved the fact that I was cautious in my takedowns. I never editorialized, I just quoted Murphy’s thoughts and ideas. I let Murphy hurt Murphy.

Murphy didn’t like the stories as much as Jack did. He was a moron, yes, but he understood what I was doing. As soon as a Murphy story appeared in the paper, he’d call me up and yell.

“What’s wrong?” I’d ask, using my innocent voice. “Did I misquote you?”

“No,” he’d admit.

“Did I misrepresent your point of view?”

“No!” he’d admit again. “It’s your tone!”

“But if I’m quoting you correctly and representing your positions correctly, then isn’t the story reflecting your tone?”

It was at about this point that Murphy would slam down the receiver.

It wasn’t long before Murphy figured out that yelling at me was getting him nowhere. So he wrote nasty letters to the editor.

Jack would call me to his desk. “Mind if I print this letter in the next edition?” he asked.

“Sure go ahead,” I’d reply. Then Jack and I would chuckle.

When it became clear that the letters weren’t getting me fired, Murphy decided to give Jack a call.

“I demand that you fire Mr. Allegra!” he bellowed.

“Well, that’s not going to happen,” Jack said. “Anything else?”

“Well…then I think that you and I and Mr. Allegra should sit down and discuss Mr. Allegra’s conduct!”

“That’s a good idea,” Jack mused. “But, wait, I have a better idea. Why don’t you go f*** yourself?”

I laughed so hard I think I might’ve peed a little.

That kind of leadership, my friends, inspires devotion.

Jack died a few years ago, I’m sorry to say, but he is never too far from my thoughts. Once in a while I’ll raise my Chianti glass in his memory. When I do so, I imagine Jack pulling a bottle of whiskey out of his heavenly editor’s desk and joining me. He was that kind of guy. An I’m Drinking Whiskey In Heaven And Just You Try To Stop Me Kind Of Guy.

How can you not be loyal to a boss like that?

 

There Will Be Blood! (Mine)

I need to get me a bubblewrap suit.

I need to get me a bubblewrap suit.

My new house husband role is going quite well, I’m pleased to say. I like keeping things tidy and writing more often. I also like the fact that my efforts are decreasing Ellen’s workload. No longer does she have household chores to contend with. She can enjoy her new teaching job and take comfort in knowing that things around here are just fine.

Well, except for the injuries.

I’m a wee bit accident prone. No biggie; a lot of people are. My problem is that I only hurt myself when performing mundane housekeeping tasks.

I once tore a tendon in my index finger by tucking in a bed sheet. I wore a splint for six weeks because I needed hospital corners.

I have fallen down a stair, breaking my big toe. Not stairs, mind you. Stair. Just one stair.

I have fallen up stairs, too, onto a vacuum I was carrying. In that case I was uninjured, but the vacuum wasn’t; I broke it in two and, in so doing, became a human sized dust bunny.

And I have gotten four stitches in the palm of my hand in an attempt to clean dishes.

These accidents had not gone unnoticed by my wife, but she held her tongue — until the second day of my house husbandry. On that day I sliced my finger open attempting to slice a heel of bread.

Once Ellen came home from work and caught a glimpse of my crimson-stained, gauze-wrapped finger, she sat me down for a little talk.

“When we agreed to switch roles,” she began, using her best patient teacher voice, “you dying was not part of the arrangement.”

“I know.” I replied a bit chastened. “And the worst part was I bled all over the bathroom I cleaned yesterday. I had to clean the bathroom twice.”

“Noooo,” Ellen continued, her teacher voice revealing a hint of exasperation. “The worst part is the stabbing part. That’s the worst part.”

“Well, maybe, but the bathroom looks pretty good, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” Ellen sighed. “It’s beautiful. Just pleeease be careful.”

“I will,” I promised.

And so far so good! No new injuries.

That said, upping my life insurance is probably a wise investment. I’d better talk to Ellen about this right away. Tomorrow I’m planning to mop the kitchen floor. God only knows what could happen.