The Ironic Demise Of The Fortune Cookie

It seems to me that starting this discussion by establishing my credentials is important.

I eat a lot of Chinese food. I eat less of it than I would if I worked in a Chinese restaurant, but probably eat more of it than you  do. I consume enough of it that I consider Chinese food part of my personal food pyramid and have declared myself my parents’ only Asian son. Once, a friend and I were discussing where to go for lunch. I suggested Chinese. The response was “nah, I had some the other day”. “The other day?”, I responded, “if you were Chinese you’d eat it every day”. That person is no longer in my life. I don’t need that kind of negativity.

And as a fan of what passes for Chinese food here in the US, it pains me to inform you that the fortune cookie is done. It has jumped the shark.

Perfection. Yeah.

When I was a kid, I looked forward to my fortune cookie after my sweet and sour pork. I’d crack it open to learn a little of what was to come for me. And the cookie would clue me in. It was never very specific, but reading something vaguely positive like “your hard work is paying off” gave me a little extra hope that my fortune and future were looking good.

It doesn’t seem likely. (image by the author)

Two years ago, my fortune read “You shall soon achieve perfection”. And after two years, I can assure you that fortune cookies do not have a grasp on what “soon” means. I thought that perfection was a little ambitious, but it was still one cookie’s vision of my future. That cookie was still in the business of dealing with my fortunes.

But it seems that recently, fortune cookies are not about proclaiming my future. I now tend to get “fortunes” that are more like discussions of the sort of person that I am. Read the rest of this entry »

Everyone Fits Somewhere. We All Fit At The Deli.

It was a busy day. I spent the morning running writing and running errands. Hitting everything on my to do list felt great. I’d finished the list, except for the thing on it that I’d been looking forward to – lunch.

As I drove, I considered my options. Pizza was a possibility. Some really spicy Thai food would’ve hit the spot. I hadn’t had Chinese food for days. There was a great burger joint close by. And then I decided to try something completely different.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

To be fair, the food was good, but maybe not this good. (image public domain)

Not far from our house, there is a little local deli that I’ve never been in. The place is in an older, interesting looking building that I’ve wanted to get a look at. It always looks busy at lunch. I took that as a good sign and gave the joint a shot. Read the rest of this entry »

Good Stories Don’t Start With Someone Having A Salad

Every fall, I catch up with a group of my closest friends. We travel to Florida together to stimulate that state’s economy by hanging around in bars and filling up bartender’s tip jars. No, Florida, you don’t have to thank us. We do it because it is the right thing to do.

Well, we do it for a lot of other reasons too, but that’s what I’m hanging my hat on for now.

Like Many Stories, This One Doesn’t Start With Me Having A Salad

A little over four months ago, we were at it again. It was late in our week away from home, we were enjoying a band and having a good time. One of our group tossed out the question “why do we keep coming to this warm place, listening to this music and drinking beer?”. The question brought a flurry of sarcastic answers like “I don’t know, I think I’m going to fly out early” and “I’m not coming next year”.

Delicious, but not an inspiration, yet.(image by jeffreyw CCbySA 2.0

And then came the answer that stuck to me like honey mustard dressing does to the front of my shirt – “Because good stories don’t start with someone having a salad”.

I will admit that most of the stories involving this group of friends begin with us going out for drinks and end with someone doing something like wandering the halls of a hotel clad in a leopard print robe*. But I was certain that somewhere, maybe in another group of friends, there had to be a story that began with someone enjoying salad. Read the rest of this entry »

Writing Because I Can’t Work At A Chinese Restaurant

At the start of my retirement, I have the chance to chase my dream of writing a book. I’m fortunate to have this sort of adventure and blessed with the support I’ll need to make it happen.

Support doesn’t equate with words on the page. Those have to come from me. Some days the words don’t come. By “some days”, what I mean is “a lot of them until recently”. Fortunately, what I mean by “until recently” is that I’m finally getting some chapters drafted that make sense.

But this isn’t about me writing a book. This is about when I wasn’t writing a book and how I regained my focus.

When the book wasn’t rolling at all, I thought about dropping the idea. More than once I voiced those thoughts; I always got a smile and a gentle “not yet” that sent me back to the keyboard. Still, the words didn’t flow. Frustration did. I spent some of my writing time looking at want ads. I was so discouraged that I started making notes to help assemble a résumé.

Kung-Fu Movie Night

“Hmm. your form is good” ” Yes, but I must kill you to avenge my master” (image via

And then came Kung-Fu movie night.

One of the things most of you don’t know about me is that I love old Kung-Fu movies. I know that they’re awful. That’s part of their appeal. They’re not for everyone, so some evenings when I’m alone I order Chinese take out and stream a movie with Shaolin in the title.

On a recent Kung-Fu movie night, I stopped by a Chinese restaurant to pick up dinner. There was a help wanted sign on the door.

Have you ever seen a help wanted sign at a Chinese restaurant? Me neither. But there it was. And as I sat there, waiting for my dinner to come out, I thought about the help wanted sign. I wondered what it would be like for me to interview for a job waiting tables in this place.

I Was Looking For A Job When I Found This One

Restaurant owner: You really want to work, here?

Me: Yes.

Owner: Well, this is unprecedented.

Me: Really? No one has ever applied for a job here?

Owner: It’s just that you’re not…well, perhaps it’s better that I say it’s just that we’re all…it’s just, you’re not what we’re looking for.

Me: But you really haven’t asked me any interview questions.

Owner: Fine. Tell me about your work experience.

Me: Well, I was a police officer for twenty-eight years and I specialized in hostage negotiation for twenty-two. I also…

Owner: Did you ever negotiate in Mandarin?

Me: Mandarin, like those little canned orange slices?

Why are mandarin oranges the only canned citrus fruit? (image public domain – wikimedia)

Owner: Yeah, Sparky, like the orange slices. Your food is ready. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Of course, if you want more food, you should call us.

Write, Or Get A Job Peeling Tiny Oranges

As it turns out, my food was ready at about the same time my imaginary job interview ended.

While I drove home, I thought about the interview. If I couldn’t get through an imaginary job interview with a Chinese restaurant manager whose conversational style was oddly similar to my own, my prospects out in the world were not very good. The book, if I could get it out of my head, would be very good.

And so I started working on the book again the next morning. The dry spell ended. I’m going to give myself a fair shot to make this book thing work. It can’t be harder than learning Mandarin, can it?

The dream lives.

So does my smile.

In The Shadow Of Writer’s Block, Creativity Lives

If I were writing more often, I wouldn’t have to dust as much. (public domain image – wikimedia)

I’ve written this blog for almost five years. My ability to express myself has grown over those five years. My writing delivers my message more powerfully than it did at the beginning. I read my initial drafts and they make me smile. Being creative is cool.

Of course, my regular readers might have noticed that my creativity has not flowed in quite the same way recently. When I have an idea, the words to express it just don’t come. The ideas aren’t coming either. I suppose the nice thing about the lack of ideas is that I don’t have to struggle to express myself if I’ve no point to make.

I’ve had short periods of struggle before. Those periods make me certain that I’ll pull through this somewhat longer phase. My writing will flow again.

And yet, in the midst of this Sahara-like dry spell of mine, I run across occasional oases of creativity. Read the rest of this entry »

A Writer’s Dirty Underwear Is Neither Dirty Nor Underwear


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m back from vacation. Hope you’re all still here.

I had a great time seeing almost all the people who are on my kidney list. I saw and did so much, including having a few adventures I’ve dreamed of for a long time.

I’m back and I’m happily tired. So I’m slowly restarting the writing machine with a rambling discussion of an incomplete thought.

There was a good bit of driving and time alone on my trip. Alone time in the car provided me with a chance to sing and not have anyone ask me things like “do you know more than one note?”*

I took time between songs to solve the world’s problems and think about writing. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Spammer

A lot of bright people read Blurt. It appears that you’re part of that bright group, because here you are again. I hope that you know that I appreciate your return and your supportive comments. Because of that, I can’t say that I will be devoting an entire post to any of your comments.

However, a spammer just left a comment on a piece I wrote about candy corn back in 2010. That comment I will do a post on.

English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...

What’s it all about? (Photo credit: Wikipedia, public domain)

I believe in handling unpleasantness privately, praising publicly and communicating in a format where all parties are comfortable. Since this spam was intended for publication on my blog, I’m comfortable with responding here, in public.

The Spam

Here is the spam note from someone named Maik:

What i do not realize is in reality how you are now not actually a lot more
neatly-appreciated than you may be now. You are so intelligent.
You recognize therefore considerably in terms of this subject,
produced me in my opinion consider it from a lot
of numerous angles. Its like men and women are not involved unless it is something to do with Girl gaga!

Your individual stuffs outstanding. Always take care of it up!

The Response

Dear Maik,

Thanks for recognizing that I’m under appreciated. I too, have a hard time realizing that I’m not actually as appreciated in reality as I am in my fantasy life. In that fantasy life, women swoon and men seek me out as a role model, a buddy and a mentor.

Transferring that to reality, where it belongs, doesn’t work. Because I struggle with understanding that I am not actually as appreciated as I could be, I make the mistake of shunning potential golf buddies because, hey, swooning women. Sadly, it seems that not being highly appreciated leads to minimal swooning.

If you put the fantasy versus reality thing aside, I’m intelligent. You are intelligent for recognizing that. Your intelligence eclipses the fact that you call yourself Maik when everyone else spells your name M-i-k-e. You could be better than using some pretentious misspelling of your name to garner attention. You could be, you’re just not.

Mike, a writer’s task is to move people to consider and imagine his vision. I’m thrilled to hear that you are going to consider candy corn from different angles because of what I had to say. Hearing that from your ilk makes me want to say that my work here is done. It isn’t. I’ve got more opinions, Mike. I won’t rest until you’ve read them all.

Spam, served with corn kernels

Spam, served with corn kernels (Photo credit: Wikipedia, public domain)

No, I’m not nearly finished with you, Mike. I’m not finished because despite all the effort I put into my candy corn essay, you missed the point. How dare you come here and try to compete with the wisdom of the vast Blurt readership by saying “its like men and women are not involved unless it is something to do with Girl gaga”.

It is nothing like that. You’re the only one who says it is.

It’s just candy corn. Until you understand that, you’ll stay in my spam folder, where you belong…with your friends who want to sell me designer handbags, optimize my blog for search engines or optimize me for better girl gaga.

Good day, sir.


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