Larry Kahaner

How Putting the Spur in My Uppercase G’s Brought me Fame and Fortune

Now it’s Just a Typographical Memory

By Larry Kahaner

“Howdy, pard!”

How does a guy from Brooklyn become a rootin, tootin’ cowpoke who says things like ‘Howdy, pard’? It all began when I put a spur in my upper case “G.”

Yessiree, Bob. I didn’t know that’s what they called that little critter ’til I…Dagnab it. Imma gettin’ ahead of myself.

I was presenting my PhD thesis on Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote them there Canterbury Tales. That’s some crazy-ass stories, I tell you what.

Anyhoo, I fancied-up the G in ‘Geoffrey’ on my first Powerpoint slide, when a voice from the back of the room screamed: “Look, there’s a spur in the G.” I had no idea what in tarnation they were hollerin’ about. Another person yelled: “He must be a cowboy!” you know, because of the spur like what’s on a boot and everything.

I knew they were right, so I packed my bags and headed West on the next stagecoach, which wasn’t easy to find.

I drifted around a bit, with nobody really noticing my fancy-like G’s until I got a job at an Arizona dude ranch rustlin’ up grub for tourists. By and by, people came from all part just to see me write Gazpacho, Garden peas and Gherkins on the menu chalkboard.

One of the guests put me on this tiky-toky show and before you could say ‘git along little doggie,’ I was famous.

One day the big boss says “Forget menu boards. Go to California where they got billboards as big as the sky.”

So I did.

Pretty soon, I was the darling of Hollywood. My spurred G’s were on billboards, movie marquees and even film and TV credit scrolls. Celebrities like Gilbert Gottfried and Gina Gershon asked me to write their names. Before you knew it, I was writing hundreds of G’s and raking in the moolah. Others tried to out-G me but they fell one-by-one to the ‘G-slinger’ as TMZ dubbed me.

The mayor of Hollywood announced a name change to Gollywood, so I could add my special G to the sign when a young feller in the audience bellowed: “I hear tell that you think your upper case G’s are really something, don’t ya cowboy?”

Them young-uns is the worst. They think they’re faster on the drawing, but they always end up with cramped fingers, spasms or worse: carpal tunnel syndrome.

I tried to laugh it off, but he kept a-comin,’ calling me yellow-handed and such. The crowd egged him on, and there was nothing I could do but accept his challenge for the top G-spot.

“Tomorrow,” I said. “High noon on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”

The next day, I spray painted the most exquisite upper case G ever seen on a sidewalk or graffitied wall. It covered almost a full block and the spur was like it had been formed by an angel.

The crowd cheered as I triumphantly tossed my empty can in the air.

My adversary stepped forward, double-flipped his spray can from his holster but instead of forming an upper case G he went lower case — a bold and risky gambit that nobody expected.

The ear had nary a kink as it thrust into the air beckoning the eye to follow. Instead of the usual fish hook tail, he produced a loop so cleverly done with thin and thick sections in just the right areas that it brought me to tears. And never in all my born days have I seen a link that so confidently joined top to bottom, a thread of Helvetica gossamer if there ever was one.

I knew I was bested and so did the onlookers who carried him on their shoulders to his pickup truck. Someone even validated his parking.

Everyone has their 15 minutes of fame and I had mine. I still sign autographs when someone on the street recognizes me, but truth be told I’m glad to be out of that racket.

In my quiet moments, I fiddle around with various serif designs, but I don’t show them to anyone.

FAQs from a Whack-a-Mole Mole

I am a Whack-a-Mole variety of mole, and I’m tired of being whacked. I am also tired of  answering all your questions so I wrote these FAQs.

Q – You say you’re tired of being whacked but ‘whack’ is in your name. What did you expect was going to happen?

A – Let me ask all you Karen’s out there. Do you like being defined by your name? I didn’t think so.

Q – If you don’t want to be whacked, why stick your head out of the holes?”

A – Fair question. But let me turn that around. Why tell your roommate to smell the two-week old milk in the fridge even though you know they will make a face and then hate you? I just can’t help it.

Q – Why do people pummel you with that comically large mallet?

A – I was wondering that myself. It can’t be that I’m ruining their lawn. I live in a wooden box and not your precious suburban sod (which, by the way, you’re overwatering according to my friends who actually do live in your lawn.) You should also check for voles who are one letter off, but we often get blamed for their misbehavior.

Q – Do you have memories of being whacked as a child?

Speaking of memories, I had the craziest dream last night. I was in a super bright, noisy room with bells and buzzers. People were laughing, and walking around with stuffed animals. In the dream, I had a bad feeling, you know, like something out of the blue was going to hit me on the noggin. That’s nuts, right?

Q – What are your life goals?

All I want to do is give a quick look around everyone once in a while, see what’s out there above the holes and not get whacked. Yeah, like, how would you like getting whacked 22 times in one minute, but kudos to you, ‘Brian W.’ Great score!

Q – How did you become a Whack-a-Mole Mole?’

My dad had a whack job as did his father before him. I had planned to break the cycle, attend university and study civil engineering. I got a full ride, but my dad couldn’t take the whacks any more, and I had to support the family. I have one brother who thinks he’s an artist but hasn’t sold any of his stupid abstract paintings and I promised my parents before they died that I would take care of him and… well that’s not my real problem.

Q – And what is that problem?

My doc says I have a problem thinking because I’ve been whacked so many times. Then he said I had malaria. No, wait. I think he said Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy which sounds similar but is different and brought on my continual whacking which is not the issue in my instance. Why would you think that?

Q – How are things lately?

Last night, a little kid’s father put a token in the machine and told him to whack me as hard as he could. Check your hate, dad. Anyway, the kid was slow so I had plenty of time to look around between pop-downs. I saw a football game on the TV. Can you help get me in touch with those players? I know the best doctor to treat their malaria.

Learn the 3 Parts of the 3-Part Story Structure for Writing Non-Fiction in 3 Easy Steps

It’s as Easy as 1,2,3

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

This story first appeared in The Haven

Hey, writer-person. Wanna be successful at writing non-fiction articles? Ask any pro and they will tell you about the always-works way to write non-fiction stories especially those “how to write” screeds that other writers can’t seem to get enough of. You’ve seen this rubric before, no doubt, so let’s get started!

1 — Tell people what you are going to tell them.

2 — Tell them.

3 — Tell them what you told them.

For example, in writing this instructive piece I am starting out explaining how I will tell you how to structure a non-fiction article. For purposes of this article, I am currently explaining what I will tell you. What is it that I’m trying to convey here? It’s about how to write a non-fiction article, of course.

Okay, let that sink in until you fully understand it. Now, let’s move on to the second section.

I am telling you what I said I would tell you. Please note carefully how I am going about this part of the 3-part structure. I am explaining what you are telling the reader about what you’re telling them. Straightforward? You bet, but just a minute. Did you really tell the reader what you were going to tell them or did you go off on a tangent? Remember, it’s all about fulfilling your promise.

Last, I am telling you what I just told you about writing a non-fiction article. I am re-explaining the 3-part structure so that it re-enforces your understanding of how to do this. This is the most important part: telling people what you told them so it sticks in their mind. In this case, I am telling you to repeat what you told them. It’s what readers want and expect from a professional writer who abides by the 3-part structure.

What about the traditional 5-part structure for fiction? Good question. It’s different.

Good luck, not that you’ll need it.

How Ikigai Helped Me Become my Best Grave Robber Self

By Larry Kahaner

(This story first appeared in The Haven)

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Finally, I have reached my true calling. I am the world’s most accomplished (and best loved) grave robber. I owe it all to the Japanese concept known as Ikigai.

As many of you know, Ikigai is a way to learn what you should be doing with your life. Let me show you how the four principles have helped to shape my blessed and awesome lifestyle of excavating those from the hereafter.

What you are good at. How could I not be good at something that I feel passionate about i.e., freeing a dead body from its earthly prison, giving it new life in a medical school, a necrophiliac’s basement or placed in someone’s bed to persuade them to do the ‘right thing.’ We all want to help others live in God’s light, don’t we? If I can be part of that then I’m totally on board.

I am so proficient at grave robbing that I even invented a special device to help expedite the process. I fastened a flashlight to my hat so both hands are free. Yes, I know that miners have been doing this for years, but I’m doing it overground.

What you love. I admit it. I’m a cadaver whore. The exhilaration of anticipating how far a corpse has rotted, watching the joyous maggots living their own peak lives (insects benefit from Ikigai, too) and the ghastly stench that propels me into cosmic consciousness are special gifts. It’s like Christmas morning in the dead of night whenever I’m lifting carcasses. When I thrust the spade into soft earth it’s like, dare I say it… sex. And when I feel that first shovel-tap on the casket…

What the world needs. Grave robbing has a long and cherished tradition in art and literature. (Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein, yo.) Sadly, it’s become a lost practice. I don’t know what’s with young people these days that they don’t want to do this kind of work. They think it’s beneath them or something to wear a top hat and torn slicker while skulking through graveyards. There’s a growing movement to bring back artisan handicrafts like pickling, knitting, or making clothes from hemp. In a world full of digital this and virtual that, I am doing my part to promote old world, shovel-in-hand skills. You’re welcome.

What you can get paid for. Are you kidding me? Do you know what a corpse goes for these days? A pretty penny, I tell you. I’ve got orders backed into next year. It’s supply and demand, baby. With so many people wanting dead bodies and few of us offering this service, I have job security like you wouldn’t believe.

You know how your parents were always telling you to have something to fall back on if your writing career didn’t pan out. Grave robbing is the key to lifelong financial security. Career tip: Find a guy who buys rings and other jewelry items without asking too many questions. You make bank both ways. That’s good biz in today’s gig economy.

In conclusion, I know that grave robbing isn’t right for everybody, but is it right for you? Keep digging (if you know what I mean) until you find your own calling through Ikigai.

Mahatma Delivers Half-Ton of Rice to ‘Dry Out’ Rioters’ Cell Phones Thrown into Potomac

By Larry Kahaner

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(Wikimedia Commons)

(This story first appeared in Extra Newsfeed.)

Mahatma, “America’s Favorite Rice,” confirmed that it has delivered 200, 5-lb. bags of Enriched Extra Long Grain White Rice to FBI headquarters in Washington, DC to be used by investigators who retrieved thousands of waterlogged cell phones tossed into the Potomac River by rioters who threw them out of bus and car windows as they departed the nation’s capital.

“They think they’re so darn smart, discarding their phones from bridges so we couldn’t trace their movements,” said FBI spokesperson Stan Dashower. “We Googled how to get data from wet cell phones and it turns out that you let them sit in rice. Did you know that? Yeah, it soaks up the water.”

The ploy was discovered when Texas-Republican Senator Ted Cruz’s yacht Donny’s Bitch ran aground under the 14th St. bridge after hitting a mountain of smartphones. Cruz would not comment, but the DC Harbor Patrol said they received a distress call at around 10 pm last night. When they arrived on scene, Cruz’s wife Heidi was throttling the boat back and forth trying to dislodge it from the phone mountain as her husband yelled at her.

“Most of the phones were on the Consumer Cellular and Straight Talk networks,” said Metro PD Captain Marcus Smolens. “We’re not sure how important that fact is right now, but we’re looking at all the evidence.” Smolens noted that the police would be checking areas under the Key and Memorial Bridges as well.

“We are proud to play a role in helping law enforcement track and identify those who have caused loss of life and property in the Capitol building,” said Mahatma’s Senior Vice President, Marketing John (Jack) MacKeen. “As we all take a moment to reflect on the challenges facing our country, we want all law-abiding Americans to know that we also offer four varieties of boil-in-bag rice, including white rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, and brown rice.”

An Updated List of Companies Who are Punishing Donald Trump

By Larry Kahaner

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(This story first appeared in The Haven.)

With Twitter, Facebook and Instagram silencing President Trump and Shopify taking his products off their website, other companies are piling on.

Here is an updated list:

1 — Bed, Bath & Beyond will no longer mail 20 percent-off postcards to the White House.

2 Domino’s is limiting toppings to two and it cannot include meat.

3 — Subway will no longer allow Trump to choose between chips or a cookie. Whatever they have more of is what he will get.

4 — Micro Center will take back the president’s free thumb drive coupon.

5 — Trump’s AARP card, which offers discounts for Medicare supplemental plans, has been flagged.

6 — Prime Video will only allow viewing of trailers.

7 — Flo from Progressive has personally deleted Trump from the company’s wall calendar mailing list.

8 — Trump has been banned from buying anything with bacon on it from Five Guys and Shake Shack.

9 — Poshmark will reject all clothing listings from Melania and her body double.

10 — A ‘do not deliver’ order has been instituted for J.C. Penney’s Big Sexy Hair Spray and Play Harder.

At Least I Didn’t Screw Up as Bad as Pandora

But I Still Shouldn’t Have Opened that Can of Worms

By Larry Kahaner

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Image by Richard Duijnstee from Pixabay

This story was first published in The Haven

My friend Horace, well, he’s not actually a friend, more of an acquaintance, handed me a can of worms and said not to open it.

“Why not?” I asked.

He looked at me like I had an extra head, which I often carry around to scare little kids, and said: “Because it’s a can of worms, for god’s sake. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to open it.”

Everyone but me. Apparently. But his admonition scared me enough that instead of opening the can, I set it aside and Googled: ‘What to do with a can of worms.’

The answer came back strong and clear. ‘Don’t open it.’

I was directed to several web pages, one of which relayed the story of a woman named Pandora who was given a jar by Zeus. He was a big deal, king of the Gods, and then there was something about Prometheus stealing fire, yada, yada. Anyway, he warned Pandora not to open the jar, but she did anyway and released all the evils into the world. I wouldn’t want that on my head for eternity. Not only that, but people on the web were arguing about how Pandora’s Jar became Pandora’s Box over centuries of retelling the story. It has to do with translating from Greek to English, but I became bored with the discussion and moved to the next site which offered suggestions about hitting a hornet’s nest with sticks.

‘Don’t do it,” the internet people advised once more. Again with the negativity.

To bolster their position they showed me a video of a guy with a large gut spilling out of his T-shirt holding a beer in one hand and a tree branch in the other whacking the hell out of a hornet’s nest. His friends were laughing as his head grew to twice its size and his eyes swelled shut. They laughed even harder when the medivac helicopter’s downdraft blew the beer out of his hand.

Is this what I have in store if I open my can of worms? Do worms even fly? Are there more evils to be unleashed that I don’t know about?

I stared at the can. Then I stared at the can opener. Then I noticed the pull tab. The universe was telling me to open this can.

So I did.

What was inside? Worms slithering around in dirt and moss, minding their own business except for that one worm, the largest of the lot, who squinted from the light for a few seconds, then looked me squarely in the eye and said: “Now you’re in trouble. Don’t you know that you’re not supposed to open a can of worms?”

He was right. My life is in shambles. I don’t want to talk about it. Trust me; you don’t want to know about it, either. Just know that I am rebuilding my life from scratch.

It’s a long road, but I will get there, because I’m learning from my mistake. Yesterday, I saw a sleeping dog and let him lie.

Baby steps.

Stop Anthropomorphizing Us Cuddly Critters Just So You Can Write a Poignant Story

Don’t force us to tell your kids the truth

By Larry Kahaner

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Image by Andy M. from Pixabay

(This story first appeared in Jane Austen’s Wastebasket)

I am the spokesanimal for Small Animals Against Anthropomorphizing® and we’re pissed off.

You people never seem to understand that every time you give us human characteristics we suffer. Life is difficult enough being a small critter without you piling on the addition of people-type feelings and then projecting your emotional issues on us. Yeah, I’m looking at you C.S. Lewis, A.A Milne, Lewis Carroll, E.B. White and Walt Dis… I can’t even say his name. And what’s with all those letters instead of first names? Ashamed? I thought so.

We have our own problems: pesticides, traps, predators, grimy kids squeezing us to death, pulling off our little legs while dancing (RIP, uncle Benny), feeding us people food — all because people think we love them.

And where do people get the idea that we love them? From your inane, bullshit stories that makes us seem human.

Do you understand the vicious cycle of horror that you wreak upon us?

I know what you’re about to ask me. Aren’t you now exhibiting the human characteristic of anger?

While this makes me appear humanlike it’s not the same. This is bona fide animal fury and my shrink has told me to own it. That’s why our members, including me, don’t need any more emotional projection from you people. Deal with your own shit.

And another thing, when you misspell our written words or make it seem like we’ve got a human child’s fractured vocabulary that’s… that’s… UGH! It gets me so angry that I can’t even talk about it. Don’t even get me started on backwards letters.

Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about dogs and cats. They’ve long ago relinquished any rights to not feel like humans. That was their choice, and it works for them. But for the rest of us, stop making believe that we’re a font of human foibles. It’s damn depressing.

Beware. We’re growing in numbers and keeping track of your transgressions. We’ve received interest in joining our group from insects. Not to mention non-animals like plants, trees, rocks, and vegetables are getting tired of having human emotions thrust upon them just so you can tell one of your feeble tales.

I know what else you’re probably thinking. Doesn’t my plea itself reek of meta self-awareness, a human trait? Screw you. That’s none of your business.

This is your last warning. We’re mad as hell. Though definitely not in a human way! And we’re not going to take it anymore.

Watch out! You have no idea (unless you attribute it to us, you bastards) of how we will seek our revenge.

If You’re Reading This, I’m Probably Dead — Maybe Not

Hard to say for sure, because I’ve seen a top-secret report that could destroy the United States and they’re after me

By Larry Kahaner

(This first appeared in The Bigger Picture)

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(Photo by Tayeb Mezahdia from Pexels)

To whomever (not whoever… right?) finds this letter:

If you’re reading this letter it means I’m dead. Well, maybe not fully dead. Perhaps I’m just rotting in an undisclosed government location waiting to be tortured. Well, not really undisclosed. Obviously, the federal thugs who would have grabbed me out of my bed in the middle of the night know where they put me. Come to think of it, the torture part may be overstating the case, too. At least I hope so.

Anyhoo, things aren’t looking so hot for me, a crack investigative reporter, since I saw a top-secret government report that blows the lid off what Americans really believe about their country. If it’s made public, the social fabric of the United States could fray or unravel or whatever happens when a textile breaks apart.

Bottom line: The U.S. would no longer be a country. It’s unclear what it would become but definitely not a country.

While rumors of the report’s existence have been circulating for at least the past 5 years, it has been kept under wraps. Only a handful of people, like me, who have proof of its existence are, well… I already explained my situation to you.

Alright, I’ve kept you in suspense long enough, and I can see flashing lights outside my window. (Note to self: Hide this letter really, really, really good so THEY don’t find it.)

The official report, titled “The Official Report,” is the result of decades of investigation in which government officials asked Americans under the guise of doing census research whether the following statement was true or false:

We are better than that.

Just like you, I hear this catchphrase all the time. It’s usually coming from some TV talking-head politician or public figure who wants to reassure me that we have the power to correct our mistakes even though we are often called a jerk-face-of-a-country by other nations. What the hell do any of them know about the real us?

Here are some of the study’s responses from honest-to-goodness Americans:

– A 45-year-old mechanic in the Midwest said: “No. We may not be better than that, but we are better than those people.”

– A self-identified Libertarian college student said: “No. It’s up to each of us to decide whether or not we choose to be better than that. That’s my right. Deal with it.”

– A stay-at-home mother in Boston said: “Probably not, but who the hell are you to be asking such a question?” (There were footnotes, but I didn’t have time to read them.)

– A high-tech executive in Austin said: “Negative, bro, but the word ‘better’ is totally a relative term. I’ll loop in my algo team and get back to you.”

– A beet farmer in Louisiana said: “No, sir. That doesn’t sound right to me… who’d you say you were with again?”

With my time running out, (I was allowed eyes-only on the document for 10 minutes) I stopped reading the rest of the interviews and jumped to the findings section, which was broken out into a separate segment marked “Findings.” I quickly wrote down the last paragraphs exactly as presented.

“This non-partisan report took decades to complete and encompasses the views of millions of Americans. Under no circumstances should it be released to the public as it will cause citizens to be more bummed out than they already are. All the data show conclusively that in asking the question presented to Americans: Are we better than that? the resounding answer was ‘no.’

Our recommendation is for our public officials to keep saying, We are better than that, because what the hell else do you suggest?”

I was shaken by the last line. It is so true. What could anyone possibly suggest that might change things?

P.S. — Please send my posthumous journalism award to my sister Diane, and not to my other sister Karen. She’s always been mean to me.

Bob Marley Purposely Lied When He Sang ‘Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright,’ Investigation Reveals

By Larry Kahaner

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(Photo by Wendy Wei at Pexels)

(This article first appeared in ExtraNewsfeed)

Acting on a tip from a former member of the reggae icon’s band, music historian Alvin Papell has spent the last 12 years collecting evidence that Bob Marley was overly optimistic about the future when he sang ‘Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright.’

Now, he has proof.

“It wasn’t my goal to besmirch the Bob Marley legacy but truth is truth, especially when it comes to catchy, melodic songs, like Three Little Birds, Papell said, during an interview from his home in an undisclosed location surrounded by an electrified, ten-foot fence, topped by razor wire and mean dogs that will bite you. “It’s my job as an honest-to-god music historian to follow the evidence no matter where it leads,” he said, sitting in shadows and using a ridiculous voice-changing machine.

Papell, who gained never-before access to Marley’s private letters and leftover rolling papers with scribbled lyrics said it was clear to him that the musician was obsessively sanguine about the future. “It bordered on Pollyanish positivity,” the researcher said. He conceded that confidence in the future is something we can all use a little more of, especially these days, but that the song pushed unrealistic expectations and “presented his millions of fans worldwide with a false sense of hope and security.”

What was particularly destructive,” the music expert added, “is how many times he repeated the head-in-the-clouds phrase during each performance of the song. Smoking large amounts of ganja can make you forget what you’ve already said.”

Papell, who keeps a pistol in every cabinet and drawer for protection, said: “I cringe every time I watch videos of concerts with rabid fans singing along to these distortions of reality. Most of these young people don’t yet know that life will stomp you down to nothing as you get older especially when you receive a worthless diploma from some on-line university that just takes your money, and then your wife leaves you.”

Not everyone agrees with Papell’s appraisal of the song’s message. Ziggy Marley, son of the reggae legend, said in a prepared statement. “It’s just a song, man. Chill the fuck out.”

The music historian, who is also examining whether the Rhapsody was indeed Bohemian and if Uptown Funk really gave it to you, has also received credible information that perhaps Baby hasn’t got Back. “Again, I’m not trying to take away anyone’s good time, but we need to weed out the dangerous falsehoods and misrepresentations that have characterized the music industry for decades.”

At press time, Papell also revealed that contrary to popular belief Jimmy Buffett was not wasting away in Margaritaville. “All empirical data point to the Trop-Rock singer having only a slight beer buzz,” the heavily-armed historian said.

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