I am bad at first impressions.

Rogers-Will-LOCYou never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

— Will Rogers,
American cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, social commentator and motion picture actor.

While this may well be true, I find myself unable to make a good first impression. Possibly, this has always been the case. But surely since I met my wife.

In fact, I don’t even remember the first time I met her, possibly this was for the best, as it allowed me to feel like I got that elusive second chance at a first impression. But more on that in another post.

Today, I want to share about the first time I met my wife’s cousin, Allison.

DeAnne and I were still dating, and I was invited to her extended family get-together over the 4th of July. It was a good time with lots of food and I got to learn a bit more about the family that I was hoping to be part of someday. On the way down, DeAnne was telling me about some of the family members that we would meet, but I think she talked most about her cousin Allison.

Allison, or Ali, had grown up near my wife’s family when they were both young. Being the cousin nearest in age, they were good friends, but sometime in there, Ali and her family moved to North Carolina. They stayed close though, seeing each other at family gatherings like the one to which we were headed.

I don’t remember if we were instantly beset by the excited shrieks of long overdue, cousinly hellos, or if that came later, but I remember the introductory conversation that I had with Allison.

“It’s so good to meet you,” said Ali. “DeAnne says that you are a really good boyfriend.”

“I try,” I said. “She has a lot of nice things to say about you too.”

“Of course,” said Ali, “if you want to be with my cousin, you’ll have to get my approval first. What do you do?”

“I work at a bookstore, running the music department,” I said. “It’s a good job and I like the people that I work with. How about you? What do you do?”

“I’m thinking about going into Nucular Medicine,” she said.

“Oh, do you mean Nu-cle-ar Medicine? I’ve never head of that, but I’m pretty sure that it is pronounced Nu-cle-ar, not Nuke-U-Ler. Maybe if you can’t pronounce it, you should look at a different field of study.”

“Wow, ouch,” she said. “Well, it was nice to finally meet you.”

“Likewise,” I said, and went off to make a bad impression on someone else.

Just recently, Ali told me that my comments that day struck home, and she stopped pursuing a career in Nuclear Medicine. She now works at a Dentist’s office and I’m pretty sure that she is happy with what she does. All the same, I feel a bit horrible for being so offensive to someone who my wife values so much, especially since I was horrible enough to change the trajectory of her life’s work.

468px-Gypsy_WomanA while back I mentioned that I keep a book where I write down ideas for characters. I realized this past week that one of those character ideas was much more autobiographical than I thought when I wrote it down. The character was a guy who was cursed by a gypsy to only make really bad first impressions. The gypsy saw herself as doing the guy a favor, because anyone who could be friends with him after such a bad first impression was likely to be a true friend. Anyway, I just realized that I was writing about myself. Unfortunately, I also appear to be the gypsy.

Anyway, sorry Ali. And thank you to all of my true friends who are able to look past the horrible first impression that I made.


After Christmas Giveaway – Shel Silverstein, Rick Riordan, T. S. Eliot, John Stephens, Erin Hunter, and Kristin Cashore

Christmas has come and gone. New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner.

Have you resolved to read more books? Good choice. Reading is a lot easier to stick with than exercise.

In order to help you in your upcoming resolution, I’ve decided to hold a book giveaway.

Simply leave a comment with your order of preference for the books that you want. I’ll pull one winner at a time and give that winner their first choice as long as it is available. If their first choice has already been given away, I’ll move on to their second choice and so on. This way, the most people get the books that they want most (or hopefully, not least).

These are the books:

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Last night, while I lay thinking here, Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear And pranced and partied all night long And sang their same old Whatif song: Whatif I flunk that test? Whatif green hair grows on my chest? Whatif nobody likes me? Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me? . . .

Here in the attic of Shel Silverstein you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo With an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with the Broiled Face, and find out what happens when someone steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a mountain snores, and they’ve put a brassiere on the camel.

With 12 never-before-published poems, here is a special edition of this beloved poetry collection, from the creator of Where the Sidewalk ends and Falling Up.

The Serpent’s Shadow (The Kane Chronicles) by Rick Riordan

He’s b-a-a-ack! Despite their best efforts, Carter and Sadie Kane can’t seem to keep Apophis, the chaos snake, down. Now Apophis is threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness, and the Kanes are faced with the impossible task of having to destroy him once and for all. Unfortunately, the magicians of the House of Life are on the brink of civil war, the gods are divided, and the young initiates of Brooklyn House stand almost alone against the forces of chaos. The Kanes’ only hope is an ancient spell that might turn the serpent’s own shadow into a weapon, but the magic has been lost for a millennia. To find the answer they need, the Kanes must rely on the murderous ghost of a powerful magician who might be able to lead them to the serpent’s shadow . . . or might lead them to their deaths in the depths of the underworld. Nothing less than the mortal world is at stake when the Kane family fulfills its destiny in this thrilling conclusion to the Kane Chronicles.

The Waste Land and Other Poems by T. S. Eliot

This volume includes the title poem as well as “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” “Gerontion,” “Ash Wednesday,” “Sweeney Among the Nightingales,” and other poems from Eliot’s early and middle work. “Eliot has left upon English poetry a mark more unmistakable than that of any other poet writing in English” (Edmund Wilson).

The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning) by John Stephens

Called “A new Narnia for the tween set” by the New York Times and perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials series, The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma’s extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.

These three siblings have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.

Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.

Until now.

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey through time to dangerous and secret corners of the world…a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem.  And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

The Forgotten Warrior (Warriors: Omen of the Stars) by Erin Hunter

The end of the stars draws near. Three must become four to battle the darkness that lasts forever. . . .

With a divided StarClan driving a treacherous rift between the four warrior Clans, the spirits of the Dark Forest are gaining strength. Ivypool’s role as a spy is becoming more dangerous with each passing day. Dovewing is haunted by nightmares about the mountains and finds herself paralyzed by fear of what lies ahead.

Then an outsider appears in ThunderClan’s midst, spreading discord and pushing the Clans further apart. As tensions mount and Clanmates turn against one another, the warrior cats will be forced to choose whose word they can trust—before it’s too late.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

The long-awaited companion to New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle–disguised and alone–to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Winners will be notified on January 4, 2013, so put in your choices in the comments before then.

Innermost Secrets 33 – 37

DSC00863This is the edge of the map. Further are warnings that say, “Here Be Dragons.” This is the next installment of my innermost secrets. If you wish to be further horrified by my past, start at the beginning (Innermost Secrets 1-8, 9-15, 16-21, 22, 23-27 & 28-32).

33rd Innermost Secret:

  • I didn’t know what the word “perorate” meant until yesterday.

I’m not going to lie to you, I had to look this word up again. I probably haven’t used it since I wrote it down in my secret journal. In fact, my spellcheck doesn’t even recognize it as a word. Then again it doesn’t like the word “spellcheck” either. Anyway, according to tfd.com, perorate means:

per·o·rate  (pr-rt)

intr.v. per·o·rat·ed, per·o·rat·ing, per·o·rates

1. To conclude a speech with a formal recapitulation.
2. To speak at great length, often in a grandiloquent manner; declaim.

34th Innermost Secret:

  • I dodged the draft, or maybe I just quit ROTC.

When deciding on where to spend my collegiate years, money played a big factor. I had earned a few scholarships from high school, but no more than I would have needed to cover my books and maybe tuition for one or two classes. What I needed was a way to have my entire college career paid for… and I found it.

Western Michigan University is one of many schools with a solid Army ROTC program. If you are unfamiliar with ROTC, it stands for “Reserve Officers Training Corps” and is a program for training commissioned officers in the armed services. Members of the ROTC can compete for scholarships. I competed and I won a four-year scholarship, complete with stipend for living expenses. It was a sweet deal. And the real beauty was that I didn’t need to actually enlist in the military until after my freshman year and before my sophomore year.This was a really good thing, because about midway through my freshman year, I realized that I didn’t really want to be in the military.

Now, this was just before the 9/11 attacks and the ensuing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and so on. That happened the year after I quit, so I really feel like a dodged a bullet (or many of them). At the end of my first semester, I went to the top brass, turned in my uniform and told them that I was returning my scholarship. I was not enlisted yet, so there were no military or legal repercussions to quitting. When they asked why I was giving up I pointed to one of the poster that hung nearby. It said, “The Army isn’t for everyone. That’s the point.”

35th Innermost Secret:

  • I’ve never bathed.

Just kidding. I did once. NEVER AGAIN.

36th Innermost Secret:

  • Even when people tell me I smell bad, I know they’re just kidding.

People are such kidders.

37th Innermost Secret:

  • Were it not for the way they looked, I would have a mullet.

And it would look like this:

An Open Letter to Our Northern Allies


On this Boxing Day, my thoughts turn to Canada. And with those thoughts come other thoughts, like:

What is with the Maple Leaf?

Seriously, does it need to be on everything?

I was sitting in Tim Horton’s recently (A.K.A. Canadian soil) and I noticed that the ads for my Grooveshark page sported the ol’ Maple Leaf. Now, I’ve noticed in the past that when I connect to the internet at Tim Horton’s, all the sites I visit have a specifically Canadian flare to them, and that is fine. Tim Horton’s can get internet from whoever they want to. It’s free to me, so I could care less, but I’ve drifted.

Why must products that are not specifically Canadian have a maple leaf stuck on?

I first noticed this when traveling through Canada on my way to upstate New York. I think it was the McDonald’s that used the maple leaf in place of the apostrophe. And then I started seeing it everywhere.

My theory at the time was that the Canadian identity was so weak that they needed to be constantly reminded that they were Canadians. Why was their national identity weak? I postulated that since the Canadians bought their freedom from Great Britain, while Americans fought for our independence, they never formed a strong internal pride in their country, so they needed external reminders to supplement.

I hadn’t thought about this for a long time. But just recently while listening to some music on Grooveshark, I saw an ad for Netflix. It was just like every other Netflix ad that I have ever seen, except it had a maple leaf. Why?


Does the Canadian Netflix only have Canadian movies? I mean, I like Strange Brew as much as the next guy, but there’s a whole world of movies out there!

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Canada. Some of my best friends are Canadian. I don’t mind that they drink milk out of bags. And I think Hockey is pretty cool. But this maple leaf thing is beyond me.

Your Neighbor to the South,
Josh Mosey

P.S. Please don’t be offended, not that you could be, being Canadian and all.

I am Working on Christmas Eve – or – How Men Shop

It is Christmas Eve and I work retail.

I’ve worked retail for a while now. Currently, I work at a bookstore (which is like working in Heaven to a book lover) and it is a good time. But before the bookstore, I worked in the mall.

Working in the mall on Christmas eve is funny. It is funny because the demographic of shoppers changes dramatically from every other shopping day of the year. This is the day that men venture into the mall without a female chaperone. They come in like they just stumbled out of the mountains.

trophyhusbandThere are two types of guy shoppers on this day: desperate and determined.

The desperate shoppers are blank slates. They come in with maybe a vague idea of what their gift recipients might want. These customers are fun for retail workers because they can be convinced to buy just about anything. They make the retailer’s job easy.

The determined shopper is a dedicated man with a list in hand. He knows exactly what he wants, most likely because he was given explicit instructions on what he should (and should not) buy. These customers are fun because they take almost no time to help. They also make the retailer’s job easy.

What does this say about how retailers like men as shoppers vs. how they like women as shoppers? It doesn’t really say anything, because retailers love the lady shoppers as well, since for the rest of the year, most of their shoppers are female.

Is this a sexist assessment? Not from what I’ve observed from my days in the mall.

Anyway, if you are out shopping today, good luck. I hope you find the help you need and that no one takes advantage of you for putting gift buying off until the last minute. Merry Christmas!

Innermost Secrets 28 – 32

DSC00863Let us step into the time machine of our imaginations and travel back a decade. Look! It’s me! What am I saying? What was I thinking?

If you are just joining us, you may want to start at the beginning (Innermost Secrets 1-8, 9-15, 16-21, 22, & 23-27).

28th Innermost Secret:

  • At night, I turn into, okay, I don’t turn into anything at night, but it would be cool if I did.

I wrote this well in advance of there-entry of vampires and werewolves into pop culture. It’s like I had a crystal ball, right? No. I just like the idea of turning into something else at night, like a sleeping person or something.

29th Innermost Secret:

  • I hold the title of “Viceroy of Badgers” in Norway.

I don’t know if this is a real title, but if it is, I would like to figure out how to get it. Any of my Norwegian readers care to chime in here?

30th Innermost Secret:

  • The only holiday that I recognize is Australia Day.

Once in high school, I talked one of my female friends into seeing a movie with me on Australia Day. I think I tried to sell her on the idea of seeing a movie with me by calling it the “Australia Day Film Festival” even though it was only one movie and there was nothing particularly Australian about it. Also, I had no idea what Australia Day commemorated. In fact, I still have no idea what Australia Day commemorates. Other friends were going to come along, but they all bailed at the last moment, making it just the two of us. After the movie, she turns to me and says, “This wasn’t a date, was it?” The only proper answer to that question is “No. Of course not.” I don’t miss the emotional highs and lows of adolescence, and I love being married to my wonderful wife who has never asked me that question.

31st Innermost Secret:

  • The 9 in my name is silent.

Also invisible.

32nd Innermost Secret:

  • I am deathly afraid of fish (but not sharks).

I actually wrote about this once. That makes it true, right? Because we aren’t allowed to lie on the internet. Right? Right?!

The Origin of Bah Humbug!

scroogebluray1It’s Christmas time, and that makes everyone happy… well, everyone except the Scrooges among us. And when one of those Scrooges says “Bah Humbug!” to you, don’t you wonder what they are really saying? Well, have no fear. We’ll dive in to this question together. (Yesterday’s usage of the phrase was in reference to the text adventure game by the name of Humbug. We’re talking about something a bit older here.)

Everyone knows the line. Ebenezer Scrooge made it famous. But “Bah Humbug!” existed before Dickens. According to the 1911 Classic Encyclopedia, based on the 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the term dates back to the mid-1700s:

According to the New English Dictionary, Ferdinando Killigrew’s The Universal Jester, which contains the word in its sub-title “a choice collection of many conceits … bonmots and humbugs,” was published in 1754, not, as is often stated, in 1735-1740. The principal passage in reference to the introduction of the word occurs in The Student, 1750-1751, ii. 41, where it is called “a word very much in vogue with the people of taste and fashion.”

But even then, the origin is unclear. It had apparently been popular already and was synonymous with a hoax or a sham. The Encyclopedia goes on to say:

The origin appears to have been unknown at that date. Skeat connects it (Etym. Diet. 1898) with “hum,” to murmur applause, hence flatter, trick, cajole, and “bug,” bogey, spectre, the word thus meaning a false alarm. Many fanciful conjectures have been made, e.g. from Irish uim-bog, soft copper, worthless as opposed to sterling money; from “Hamburg,” as the centre from which false coins came into England during the Napoleonic wars; and from the Italian uomo bugiardo, lying man.

And so there are many possibilities on where the phrase came from, but each points back to a meaning of deception. Which makes sense in the way that Scrooge used it in A Christmas Carol, as he thought that Christmas itself was a hoax or deception. In fact, this is not the only literary use of the phrase, as the venerable Wizard of Oz declares himself to be “just a humbug.”

So now you know. Though there are many possible sources for this phrase that was “very much in vogue with the people of taste and fashion”, there was only one primary meaning. And through time and many versions of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, many have forgotten that the phrase meant anything at all, simply associating it was a bad attitude about Christmas. But not you. You know the truth.

So the next time some Scrooge says “Bah Humbug!” to you, just smile and tell them that Christmas is no hoax.

100 Word Challenge | Bah Humbug!

“Sidney, what are you doing?”

“Playing Humbug. Why?”

“Bah, Humbug! What do you see in that stupid game? There aren’t even graphics!”

“It’s called a text adventure game. Some games don’t need to compensate for poor story lines with graphics. Besides, do you know the name of the main character in this game?”


“No, it’s Sidney. Sidney Widdershins.”

“You just set it to your name, big whoop.”

“No, that’s how it’s written.”

“Admittedly, they could have picked a better name.”

“Funny. I just need to figure out what it means.”

Just then, a phone rang.


“Hi. This is Graham Cluley.”


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, there really is a text adventure game called Humbug. It was created by Graham Cluley back in 1990, and it is now available in the public domain here. For some reason I have a soft spot when it comes to text adventure games, even in the age of the uncanny valley. I love that back then, games were stories to be read. Stories that required you to be one of the characters, not unlike a good book. Anyway, enjoy!

Fatherhood, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Christmas Traditions

This year, my wife and I are making a real effort to wait until Christmas Day to open our Christmas presents. This is made easier by the fact that we are not doing presents for each other this year. Really, we are just waiting to give our daughters their gifts. Not that they know this or care, being two years old and five months old.

But anyway, my wife and I have always had trouble waiting to give each other presents. On the years that we get closest to Christmas Day, it is because one (or both) of us didn’t actually finish Christmas shopping until days (or hours) before the 25th. And so when friends of ours gave us some gifts recently and told us that we could wait to open them until Christmas if we wanted to, we waited about five minutes after they left the house to start ripping off the wrapping paper. After all, it isn’t like they told us to wait, and we aren’t doing gifts for each other this year. Stop judging us.

The gifts were all wonderful, but the one that I specifically want to mention is a book that I didn’t even know existed. J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, also wrote a bunch of letters to his children purporting to be Santa Claus. The book is titled “Letters from Father Christmas” and is full of insight into a side of Tolkien that, like the book itself, I did not know existed. Every year, Tolkien would write a letter to each of his kids, accompanied by illustrations, and tell them what was happening at the North Pole. After a few years, he started bringing elves and goblins and bears into the mix as well, which is good, because it wouldn’t feel like it was from Tolkien if they weren’t there.

Anyway, it’s given me some ideas for my family Christmas traditions (better ones than not being patient for Christmas presents, anyway). And I hope it does you too. In the comments, I would love to hear about some of your Christmas traditions!