Big giant head


In Other News

You're familiar with Goldfish snack crackers, perhaps? You know, those little goldfish-shaped baked crackers. Well, there's a new twist on 'em.

Someone, probably a rival company, has come out with something nearly identical. They're called "Dolphins and Friends," or something equally as imaginative as "Goldfish." They look and taste just like Goldfish, only they're whale and dolphin shaped. And every time I have a few I can't help but think of a new marketing slogan for them: Tuna Safe Crackers.

Maybe they could stock them on the shelves right next to the dolphin safe tuna...


May 6, 1999
Better Than Nothing

Ah yes, the blank page. We're old friends, aren't we? I sit down, chock-a-block with ideas of what I'm going to write, and then they all wither and die as I look at you, old friend. Bastard.

That's what's known as a writing exercise, generally used to defeat writer's block. If you're blocked and can't write you write something anyway, anything, just to be writing something. If push comes to shove you write about not writing -- again, just to be writing something. The idea is that if you keep writing long enough you'll break through the block; the lizard brain will wake up and take over. Or is the lizard brain supposed to go to sleep? I dunno, I made up the lizard brain part myself. Gives it a little panache, don't you think? Makes the whole concept not quite so tweedy.

Obviously, it isn't working.

So. Let's get mundane, shall we? When you're strapped for things to talk about, what do you fall back on? The weather. Or, if you're over the age of 50, highway traffic and interstate driving directions. I'm not quite 50 yet, so I'll assay the weather.

Lovely weather we've been having, isn't it? Well, here at least. Spring has sprung and convulsed immediately into summer, which has now...summed? Whatever, it's been warm and sunny and generally beautiful around here lately. I even had to turn on the AC earlier tonight.

With this weather has come a new family tradition: The Family Walk. It's something I've wanted us to do for some time now, but Family Walks can be drippy affairs when it's raining and blowing so we hadn't gotten around to it yet. Now that we've had our 0.000002 inches of annual rainfall, we're out of excuses.

The blocks are irregularly shaped in our neighborhood and the one we walk around is shaped something like a piece of pie with our house at the tip. It's bigger than your average block, but under normal conditions it wouldn't take more than five minutes or so to circle it. That's Zoe-free conditions. With Zoe it turns into a crawl.

She has to stop to look at everything, which is, I suppose, the point of such a walk anyway. Every flower must be sniffed, commented on, and grudgingly left unpicked. She always points out the bumpy tree halfway around and reminds us that our tree doesn't have bumps. Coming around the backside there are several key bovine landmarks: one house has a cow mailbox, another has a cow carving hanging at the front door, and the best house has a huge cow cut-out improbably parked in a flowerbed.

As we approach each landmark, Zoe starts getting giggly and asks us what we're going to see next. Beth and I hazard guesses - A firetruck? A monkey? A school? - and Zoe gets very serious about how wrong we are. "No. No! No!!!" Then the cow hoves into view and she's beside herself with glee: "Look, Momma! It's a cow!!!" It's beyond cute. Fun, too.

The last fun landmark is at the house on the final turn, where there's a big scruffy Husky-ish dog behind the gate. Zoe goes up to the fence and howls and the dog howls back. After that's gone on for awhile we pull her away to continue our journey and we have a serious discussion about what kind of dog that was and what kind of dog ours are. Suki is a "Kita, Daddy!" and when she asks me what Billy is (because "Pit Bill/Pointer mix" is too much for her to really get around) I always tell her he's a Stupid Dog, which always leads into a lecture from Zoe about why I shouldn't say Bill's stupid. (But he is. Don't tell Zoe I said so.)

Coming down the homestretch Zoe starts getting tired and wants to be carried, but as our house comes into view she always says she wants to go on another Family Walk tomorrow. And so we do, and so a tradition is born.

And, hey, will you look at that? It's a full page of writing. Proof that the old "write about anything" exercise works? Eh, maybe not. Proof, perhaps, that it fills the page, so long as you're not too concerned about the quality.

But, hey, it's better than no entry at all, right?


Hello? Is this thing on?


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins