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Make Money Writing Kids' Books!

First, if you're here about Gyros, click here. It's not what you're looking for, but you might laugh.

I've decided that the crowded kids-book market isn't that hard to crack, after all.
You just need a great idea, right?
All those out-of-work writers just aren't creative enough.
Because every kids' book I look at in the store is a revelation, rarely a recycling-of-tired-themes in the bunch.


Not only do I have a great idea for a kids' book.
I have TWO great ideas.
And I'm sharing them with you.
For free.
You're welcome.

Kids' Book Idea That'll Make Me Rich #1
Characters That Grow Old

I know. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? But it rarely happens. Yes, Harry Potter's aging, but I'm talking kids' books, here. Like Clifford. Not only is he no older than he was 40 (280) years ago, he's getting younger. Will Arthur ever make it to fourth grade? No. He won't.
Ostensibly, this is because we want Arthur et al to appeal to the next generation of third-graders. They become timeless.
I submit, though, that there is a market out there for characters we can grow up with. If Arthur's Glasses can help assuage fears of kids getting new specs, couldn't Arthur Finds Hair In Strange Places help them deal with those gawky tween years?
Answer: Yes, it could.
Now, I just have to come up with my own character. I'm thinking of starting out with a board book series featuring an anthropomorphized Howler Monkey named Charlie Howler. Some titles:

Howler's Friends
Howler at the Zoo
Howler Goes Zoom

In a few years, I release

Howler Rides a Bike
Howler and the Dentist
Howler and the Emergency Appendectomy

Titles to look for down the road include

Charlie Howler's SAT Study Guide
Charlie Howler at Sweet Valley University (see crossovers)
Mr. Howler and the Audit
Turkish Prison Blues (an Inspector Howler Mystery)
How Charlie Got His Groove Back
Howler's Colonoscopy
The Five People Charlie Meets In Heaven

Kids' Book Idea That'll Make Me Rich #2


Coming soon.


Nu Mu Words (and Nu Mu Promises)

First, if you're here about Gyros, click here. It's not what you're looking for, but you might laugh.

The day after my post about NuUnion's goofy name, a friend asked me if I'd caught a new Washington Mutual television ad. I'd never heard of them, but they have a few banks around the state, probably the result of a merger or acquisition.
They refer to themselves as "WaMu." Pronounced, Wah-Moo. Their tagline: "The WaMu Way."
It's kind of fun, and interesting that a bank would take on such a moniker. They're trying for the hipper, younger, fun-loving-er customer, I'd say.
They have an education rewards credit card called "WaMoolah."
Now, they just need to merge with NuUnion and become:


or, NuWaMu?


Nu (No, it's Ni! Ni!)

There's a new bank in town.
You ready for its name?


OK, so it's a "Nu" Credit "Union". I get it.
But why "Nu"? Hipness? Probably, yes. Why else?
But is it a good idea to grab onto what I can only assume will be a short-lived trend?
Doesn't this strike anyone as, in five years, being so 2005?

They're not the only nu's out there. You've got:

Nu-Global (technology)
Nu Metro (South African theatre chain)
Nu Urban Music (urban music)

and more, I'm sure. But, a bank? Come on.

Granted, as a Greek letter, Nu's been around for awhile. And perhaps their nu moniker will attract some students from the local university. Whether they'll be opening an account or attempting to pledge Nu is yet to be seen.

Describing the move, their press release explains:

When the organization adopted the State Employees Credit Union name 53 years ago, it accurately described its membership. But today, less than 20% of its members are state employees. The organization chose the name NuUnion Credit Union to reflect the new kind of credit union its [sic] building for its membership -- one that combines more products and services families need with a long tradition of commitment to members, community, and service. The organization hasn't been bought, acquired in a merger, or lost its independence in any way.

It chose the name NuUnion to reflect their new kind of credit union. What, the pay-some-22-year-old-consultant-a-few-grand-to-come-back-with-"nu"-
as-a-makeover-concept? I see the pitch meeting just like all the meetings in Fox's The Loop, where the kid gets drunk the night before and comes up with his Grand Idea the second before it comes out of his mouth:

President [on speakerphone with ad agency]: OK, kid, whatcha got?
Joey [who has spent the first part of the meeting eating Bunny Basket Eggs, and has to respond with his mouth full]: Nuu?
President: New? Are you kidding me? How much're we paying this guy? My four-year-old could write this crap! Come on!
Joey [scrambling]: Uh, no. Sir! It's, uh, Nu! N-U. Like the Greek letter! As in, history! And Nu is very now, as well. Everybody's doing it. Nu this, nu that... it's fresh, trust me! So it's old... and new! Just like your bank!
President [after dramatic pause]: Crap, kid, you've done it! NU! Of course! It's brilliant!

A thought: NuUnion's website should use the NU domain. I checked: nuunion.nu is still available.


Year? Oh...

My hits have nearly doubled in the last two days.
Word must be out! SPASTIC is the place for quality word-nerd action!


They're clicking on me because I'm the #2 hit in Google when you search "Arby's Gyro". Search "arby's gyro sandwich" (as some do) and I'm #1.

Since the Arby's site has no info at all on their new offering (probably a Michigan test market thing), my post on their effing signage gets top billing. Maybe someone searching for gyro info will stick around and read my March Is Reading Month post, of which I was quite proud.

Or not.


Bunny Basket Egg Cinquain

Just polished off a bag of 1/2-off Easter candy.
The final piece was my favorite flavor.
Karmic bliss, spurring me on to a quick poem.

Pure, Refined
Bite, Revel, Adore
Last one; it's white


Putting the FU in SNAFU

arbysnew copy

My problems decrypting* abbreviations have been documented. But here's one I found to be a stumper. My wife and I pulled into Arby's yesterday to see this on the marquee:


Says I: "What do you think the MF stands for?"

While the obvious, yet slightly inappropriate, answer to the question loomed in our minds, we scoured the building for clues. A full-color banner proclaimed "New Roast Beef Gyro!" No, that would be an "RB GYRO".
We tried talking it out:

Most Fabulous?
Magically, um, Flavored?
(trying to sneak up on it) Mmm...marble...uh...fff... uh, fff.. forget it. It makes no sense.

I decided that MF(in') Gyro! was actually not a bad name for a sandwich.

Today, I googled "MF Gyro" and got diddly. The Arby's site doesn't mention it. But, I think I figured it out. They've got a line of sandwiches called "Market Fresh". That must be it.

Note to Arby's: Your Market Fresh line isn't well-known enough to initialize. And if it ever does become well-known, I don't know if "MF Sandwiches" has the ring you're looking for.

If Arbys' corporate is reading this, you should call the Arby's in Coopersville and ask them to change their MF sign.

*de·crypt tr.v. de·crypt·ed, de·crypt·ing, de·crypts
1. To decipher.
2. To dig up (see mummy,).


The First 100 Pages Book Review

I don't get much chance to read. I grab paragraphs while shaving and brushing my teeth, while completing a download. When I'm reading a book I enjoy, I think about the review I might write when I finish. But I often don't finish. When I do, I've forgotten why I really liked it as I was reading it.

So, I'm reading a book and I want to tell you about it. It may have a crappy ending, I don't know. But I'm 100 pages in, and it's swell.

It's called The Big Over Easy, and I think it was pretty much written for me. One of those books I think I'd write if I and my family were willing to give up the public-school-teacher-lifestyle to which we've become accustomed while I quit my job and sit alone with my laptop waiting for inspiration and movie deals to descend.

This book is dang clever. The premise: Detective Investigator Jack Spratt works for the Nursery Crimes Division of the police force. If a crime is committed involving characters from Mother Goose, fables or myth (characters with real lives outside of their stories), he's the guy you call.

It's what I used to call a "potboiler", which I thought was synonymous with "gritty, pulpy" until I found out that potboiler referred to a book an author cranks out to keep the franchise rolling (pot boiling). So it's not a potboiler. It's Hammett-esque.

I'd spell out the plot, but I'm only 100 pages in. I do know that Humpty Dumpty's been killed. He was a womanizing drunk involved in shady financial dealings, and someone bumped him off (the wall).

Why I like this book:

pg. 58, description of how things usually go down in the NCD:
...There's usually a rule of three somewhere. Either quantitative, as in bears, billy goats, blind mice, little pigs, fiddlers, bags of wool or what-have-you, or qualitative, such as small, medium, large, stupid, stupider, stupidest. If you come across any stepmothers, they're usually evil, woodcutters always come into fame and fortune, orphans are ten a penny, and pigs, cats, bears and wolves frequently anthropomorphize.

See? Beautiful.

pg. 76, they meet constable Tibbit, a fellow raised on wordplay. (longer, but worth it)
"...Sergeant Mary Mary, pleased to meet you."
The young officer thought for a moment. "Arrange a...symmetry."
He didn't answer for a moment, then said
"Many...martyrs agree."
"Are you OK?"
"Of course! It's an anagram. The trick is to make them make sense. I could have give you 'my matey arrangers' or 'my artery managers' but they sort of sound like anagrams, don't you agree?
"Tibbit. It's a palindrome. Easy to remember."
"First name?"
"Otto. Palindrome as well. Sister's name is Hannah. Father liked word games. Fourteen times world Scrabble champion. When he died, we buried him at Queenzieburn to make use of the triple word score. He spent the better part of his life campaigning to have respelt those words that look as though they're spelt wrongly but aren't."
"Such as?"
"Oh, skiing, vacuum, freest, eczema, gnu, diarrhea, that sort of thing. He also thought that 'abbreviation' was too long for its meaning, that 'monosyllabic' should have one syllable, 'dyslexia' should be renamed 'O' and 'unspeakable' should be respelt 'unsfzpxkable.'

Since I started writing this a week ago, I've gotten 50 more pages, so I've added
pg. 148, where our heroes meet suspect Lord Spongg.
"Thank you for seeing us, Lord Spongg-" began Mary, but Spongg interuppted her.
"Just 'Spongg' will do, Sergeant. I don't use my title much, but the first 'g' is short and the second 'g' long. Let it roll around for a bit before you let it go."
"Close enough. Just put the brakes on a little earlier and you'll be fine."

That's all I got. A post of almost-all-copied text, very little insight or critique. It feels cheap, but there it is.
This is the first book in author Jasper Fforde's new series. Before this, he wrote a mystery series called Thursday Next, which I plan to check out.

cc: New York Times Book Review


Emoticon Typo Commits
Area Woman To Second Date

I've spoken before on my disdain for emoticons. Here is a wonderful meditation on these nuisances.


Wordplay on Uranus

Why is it Uranus never ceases to amuse?
(I mean it. This is still funny to me.)


Say Anything...

A local one-stop supermarket offers a photo lab, barber shop, tailor, and CPAs in addition to its groceries, TVs, clownfish and Lion Bars.
Walking in today, I noticed a banner for the tailor:


I inquired within.

Anything? Truly?

Sure, yes. You bring it in.

Like, how about time and space?


Or, what about endings? Because I just saw The Final Cut with Robin Williams and I really liked it, but the end came and I was like huh? I may have been dozing a bit, but it seemed really abrupt, and even though my wife explained what she thought happened, I still was like I don't know, if that's what they wanted me to get out of it, I don't think they set it up well enough, 'cause I missed it. So, can you alter that?


OK, how about altars? I don't know if altars ever need altering, but I just thought that would be funny.


[walks to back of store. does not return.]

OK, then. Uh, thanks. I'll just, uh, head out to the rest of the store and get my sashimi.

My encounter left me with more questions than answers. Did the employee not speak English? What happened in the back room that she didn't return? Is she OK? Should I have checked on her, or alerted a manager? And I'm still unclear on what exactly they alter.

Hm. Tomorrow, I'm headed over to the car dealer. Apparently, if I can push, pull or drag anything to him, he's going to give me $2,000. I'm assuming day-old sashimi will qualify.