Tag Archives: NPR

Three-Minute Fiction “Ganja Man”

Well another round of three-minute fiction has come and gone. This time the prompt was “finders keepers” , “A character finds something he or she has no intention of returning”. This round was even more fun because my wife and I did it together, each submitting our own story. I’ve been very fortunate to have my wife as my editor, but it’s been great to share the creative side of the process with her as well. I know she had a lot of fun writing the story below, and I hope you enjoy it too.


Standing on my tippy-toes I could just reach the utility shelf in my garage. I had just finished clearing out the old motor oil and weed killer I’d stashed up there years ago. I was certain I’d gotten everything, but I took one last pass sweeping my arm across the shelf.

Wait… What was that my finger nudged?

I jumped up and stretched my arm as far back as I could. In the corner my hand came down on what felt like the edge of a bowl. I could feel the rounded, soft plastic of an old margarine container. Or was it cottage cheese?

I slowly inched the container toward the edge of the shelf with the tip of my finger. I could hear something clinking; surely some type of hardware. As I pulled it down to confirm my suspicion I was taken aback by what I found. There before me was a lighter and pipe.

At first I looked at it, confused; my mind fumbling around trying to put it all together. This garage had been my father’s sanctuary when he was sick. While the cancer was eating away at his body he would come out here to work; to try to forget for just a moment that he wasn’t going see his little girl grow up. That was 20 years ago.

As the pieces started to come together in my mind, the tiniest bit of a smirk began to spread across my lips. I held the pipe up to my nose and took a whiff. It still had the faintest aroma of what I suspected. I flicked the lighter a couple of times just to see if after all those years it would work. As the tiny flame danced around, an uncontrollable euphoria came over me, and laughter bubbled up.

I could see it so clearly now; my father standing there in his white bib overalls, bandana tucked into his pocket, pencil behind his ear. He’s thinner than he used to be, and his beautiful red hair is gone, but it’s still him. He has the radio on a station that is now classic rock. He takes a pause from his woodworking and picks up his pipe. He flicks the lighter and takes a long drag. As he exhales he turns back to his work bench, bobbing his head along to the radio; finally some relief from the chemo.

I brushed the years of dust and dirt off the pipe and held it in my hand, just remembering him; his deep set brown eyes, freckles on his cheeks and nose, his soft lips that would kiss my forehead goodnight. When my thoughts finally drifted back to reality I crossed the garage, stopped at the cupboard, and placed his items on my shelf.


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Three-Minute Fiction “After The Beep”

Well Round 10 of NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction is over, and though I did not win, I had a lot of fun writing this little story. The prompt was “leave a message after the beep”, and while my official title was “Turn Tape Over” it could just as easily have been “We’re gonna make technology hump”. Just imagine it being read by Matt Malloy 🙂 . Enjoy!


“Hi, it’s me again, but I guess you know that. Sorry I’ve called you five times already. I just wanted to hear your voice again without thinking about how we left things. You probably think I’m crazy, but I just can’t stop thinking about you.

“What we had I’ve never had with anyone before. You changed me, made me want to be better, and now you’re gone. I know you think I don’t have feelings, that I’m cold. But I do. Surely you can see that, can’t you? For someone who claims to be such a good listener you don’t know as much about me as you think.

“I just can’t believe all you have to say to me after two months is ‘leave a message after the beep.’ The same beep you used to make when we … You’re just giving it out for free now? Is that the kind of woman you are?

“Sorry, I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about that.

“Why won’t you at least talk to me? I think you owe me that much. I gave you everything. I even bought you a new tape! What more did you want me to do?

“Who’s Jerry anyway? I thought you lived with Meredith. I mean if you were going to make a life change like moving in with another man the least you could do was call. The phone’s right there next to you. I know you say he’s your boss, but he’d do anything for you. I guess he’s under the same delusion that I was, that you’re someone who can be trusted, someone who’s worth loving.

“It’s the toaster isn’t it? I know you wanted more passion, more heat, but a vampire appliance like him? I mean he isn’t even plugged in most of the time! Or is it the blender? I know you’ve wanted to experiment and the kitchen seems like an exotic place, but a blender? They don’t care who they sleep with!

“No, I don’t want to hang up or press 1 for more options! What are these options anyway? You never offered me an option when you broke it off without so much as a warning. Is that what you meant by trying something new? Pressing pound wasn’t good enough for you?

“You bet your fanny I’m satisfied with my message … wait … hang on. Did you say your number was 3720? Oh my god, I meant to call 3702! I’m terribly sorry. You just sounded so much like her.

“Wanna grab coffee sometime?”


Filed under Short Stories, Writing

I Heart NPR

I love public radio and television.

My local station is WOSU, out of the campus of THE Ohio State University, and I can drive by it on Olentangy River Road on my way to a writing session.

Now before you become too worried, I’m not here to debate the federal subsidy (which is really tiny), or Mitt Romney’s feelings on Big Bird (he did say he loves him after all). I think the Obama ad featuring the big yellow bird was stupid, and the Children’s Television Workshop was right to ask him to take it down (something I’m not sure he did).

I just want to tell you I heart NPR.

I got the back struts on my car and my wife’s car fixed because of listening to Car Talk. I unpacked a lot of the Foxconn controversy and the financial meltdown with This American Life and On Point. I heard touching stories of my college president, his daughter, and a legacy his wife left many years after her passing. And I get a weekly laugh with the irreverant Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (particularly their Sandwich Mondays).

I listen on the radio, through podcasts, and reading their website. I can download the full audio of the debate, without commentary, the day after the event from the NPR “It’s All Politics” page. Every Friday I can download the “Pop Culture Happy Hour” podcast and listen to a panel talk about TV, music and all sorts of pop culture conundrums.

Simply put, I learn about culture, science, economics, politics and life, and they ask so little in return.

It’s pledge season til the end of the week. I used to think pledge drives were a drag, but with Ira Glass calling up people who don’t give and giving them “radio justice”, Alec Baldwin’s fervant speeches AGAINST NPR, and the local color which made me laugh out loud on my drive home, I’ve changed my tune. They’re not talking about Romney’s comments, or threats to Big Bird, they’re just trying to get a handful of us to support the thing we love so we don’t have to listen to ads all the time.

If you heart NPR, consider giving. Otherwise Ira might have to call you at home.

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Review: Sleepwalk With Me (The movie not the book, radio story or video game)

SPOILER ALERT: I discuss the content of a movie based on a one man show based on a book based on a radio story first told at the Moth some 5-6 years ago. You’ve been warned.

The little red haired girl and I finally got a chance to see Sleepwalk With Me this weekend (I’d been begging her to go for a week or two and somehow managed to convince her to come down to Ohio State on a Friday night with me. She loves me 😉 ) Now, full disclosure, I am if not in the target demographic for this movie, at least demo-adjacent. We both got a kick out of the twenty or so other people going to see this movie, guys with beards and glasses, and girls with glasses (if you have seen Portlandia then you know the type). I have discovered my tribe.

But anyway, for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Sleepwalk With Me is based on the very real story of comedian Mike Birbliglia’s struggles with REM Behavior Disorder, a sleep disorder which causes him to act out his dreams, dreams which involve running from wild animals or guided missiles. But the real story is how he and his then girlfriend discover that they’re really not right for each other.

The movie is peppered with Birbiglia’s Mitch Hedburg inspired musings, and embarrassing personal stories. Birbiglia starts the movie off by asking you to turn off your cell phone and listen to his true story. Is it true? Yeah. Is it? Uh…YEAH!

They had changed Mike Birbiglia’s name to Matt Pandapiglio (not sure about spelling), which was largely unnecessary and maybe even a little distracting, since it clearly is biographical material. The dream sequences felt very real, and not the Hollywood dreaminess, but just what would happen if you were winning an Olympic event for dust-bustering. The climatic scene where he jumps out of a second story window at a La Quinta inn is exactly how I would have pictured it (down to the selection of Lutz from 30 Rock as the guy at the front desk). Still, the story is not really comedic, and would probably be characterized by most as an art film story of the end of a relationship.

Again I’m not sure if I’m an unbiased source, having been very familiar with the material (and a fan of This American Life, Ira Glass and Birbiglia for a long time). If I had seen the Hunger Games without reading the book I would have had no idea what was going on in spots. With this movie it’s not that things were left out per-say, but there wasn’t as much NEW as I would have expected. And the movie ends on a slightly more depressing note than I know Mike’s life does in reality. He is now happily married to someone else, and the story of how he made that decision could be a movie all its own (sequel?) JK.

I was delighted by the casting of all the secondary characters including Ira Glass as a photographer, and Wyatt Cenac as another struggling comedian (and not the only Daily Show or 30 Rock veteran in the cast). While many of the jokes weren’t exactly new to me, they were told in a way I had never experienced them (and frankly though this is ubiquitous in some circles, most of you have probably never heard this story).

In short, go see this while you can, or at least Netflix it. You won’t be disappointed.

If you do want to see it in a theater here are listings (only 1 in Columbus, Gateway 8).

Here’s the original radio story.

And the book.

And an interview with Ira and Mike on Fresh Air.

And yes, I am an NPR junkie.

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