When I was a kid, I used to daydream about having a hidden passageway in my house. I'd lay crossways on my bed with a sketchbook in front of me, drawing out these detailed plans for hidden tunnels and rooms throughout whatever crappy house or apartment my mom could afford to put us in at the time (hey, when you're a kid, it doesn't matter how bad things are when you get there -- all you ever think about is how cool it COULD be).

Of course, everyone who knows me knows I'm into quirky little things like that. So, a friend of mine sent me this: http://www.hiddenpassageway.com (Thanks, PICKY VIKKI [I swear, you'd think she'd be SO GRaTeFUL for a mention in my SUPER FAMOUS AND EXTRA INTERESTING BLOGGY THING, she wouldn't care if I spelled her name correctly... Some people...]). Naturally, they assume it's something I'd be into, and I'd probably persue getting one installed for my home now.

What they DON'T know is: I already have a secret passageway in my house.

It leads from the vaccum cleaner in the closet to the rest of the house. And apparently, it's a big secret - even from me - because no one has used it in a while.


So, for those either a) not in the class or b) actively ignoring me (and you know who you are, but you don't know that I know who you are because you're not reading this. Because you're actively ignoring me. And you know who you are), there's a English 102 class at the University of Tennessee which is using my book, website and blog as course materials.

Yeah, I know... I fret for the future of our youth as well.

Anyway, one of their recent homework assignments was to write a story in "the style of Joe The Peacock". When I read this on the course syllabus, this... Feeling? Emotion? Fear? ran over me. I'm not exactly sure how to describe it right...

I think it might probably be best described as the same feeling I got right before my very first ever bungee jump. Basically, I looked down the barrel of something that could quite possibly kill, maim or scar me, and most certainly could scare me to the point of losing all bowel control. BUT IT'S FUN AT THE SAME TIME!



Then I started thinking... "Do I even have a style? And if so, what the hell is it?!?" I've been reading my own writing for, oh, going on 17 years now (I've been keeping a little journal notebooky thing since I was about 12 or so) and really, they only style I am aware of is that I write the same way I talk. So basically, it's just my voice, committed to paper (or a computer screen).

So, when I read some of the stories that the class participants made, my brain started to vibrate and my vision blurred and all I could see was blue - much like a computer being rebooted. I was like "AHHHHHHH! I DO! I DO HAVE A STYLE!" And right there, on the screen, I was reading MY voice, but it was saying words that weren't coming out of my own head! It's really, really wicked and freaky and alarming, all at once. I think I now know what it's like to hear a disembodied voice in your head.

But it was a good thing. It made me aware that there was this... I dunno. I can't call it a rut, because I don't feel stuck in it... But there's definitely an identifiable quality to the things I write. The style and manner in which I write them pretty much identify them as mine, I think. So, to challenge myself, I decided to do this latest story (the one about Hines Ward being such an amazing athlete that he turned a boring story from my past into the only story I have about football that's really worth telling) in a completely different style. I think it works... It's definitely different, but still me. I dunno.

And the journal entries and stories I read were all really quite good! I laughed (out loud, even) at some of them - and I will say that some REALLY pegged my "style" really well - which is impressive, because their stories were good IN SPITE of the fact that they're imitating a goofball.

So there's that. I don't quite know what point I'm trying to make here, if any. But that's blogging for you - sometimes (most times), you just get random stuff.


I think I'm going to start carrying a sword.

Yes... I think I have decided - I am definitely going to follow through with this plan. I'm going to carry a sword at my hip wherever I go from today forward. I think I might have to go for a bastard sword (because really, knowing me, is there any other kind that suits me better?), and I shall name it "Harold" after Harold Ramis.

And the only reason I am going to start carrying a sword is because lately, I have had SUCH a hankerin' to say to people "Have at you!" And really, you can't scream "Have at you!" at people while wielding anything other than a sword, now can you?

Try to imagine the following scenario: You are walking in the city, and someone tries to MUG! you. You manage to get the jump on your assailant, and now you are holding a revolver on this bastard (the mugger, not Harold) who has just attempted to take your wallet. Now, you have had quite enough of the attempted mugger's smart mouth, and you plan to plug him twice in the chest and once in the head (you know, just to be sure... Like in the movies). And right before you do, you scream, "HAVE AT YOU!"

You know what that attempted mugger's last thoughts are going to be? They're going to be "Uh... What the FUCK?!? Did this guy just yell 'HAVE AT YOU!' to me?!? Who the hell says stuff like that? He's holding a gun... Shouldn't he have said something like "DIE!" or "I'm going to bust caps in your person!" or something at least moderately sinister?" and then he's going to groan and bleed and die and stuff. And when he finally gets to hell and Satan reads his last thoughts so that he can set up an appropriate little personal hell for him, Satan's going to be like, "Wait - did that dude yell 'Have at you' right before he shot you with a gun?" And he's going to sigh and shake his head and say "Jesus... That's corny." And then he's going to ship the guy off to the icepicks-under-tonails-marathon room.

And that's unfortunate.

But if you were wielding a sword, it'd be an entirely different matter. I can imagine one day in traffic, someone cuts me off just to make it 10 feet further ahead in the perpetual traffic jam that also goes by the name of GA 400. I loudly yell, "This is an outrage!" and I slam the shifter into park and I leap from my vehicle. I reach back into the driver side door to fetch Harold the Bastard Sword (because wearing Harold on my hip while in the car would most certainly result in my severing a leg... Which, honestly, would probably cause less blood loss than when I shave them for cycling. I don't know how you ladies do it every few days. You have my utmost respect). I carry Harold in my right hand as I galavant up to the offending vehicle, and as I take a thrusting stance, I scream, "HAVE AT YOU!" and I plunge my Bastard sword into the driver's side door of the bad guy, impaling him through the gut and causing him to bleed to death in traffic - and for what?!? Ten extra feet advance on the highway!

And as Satan reads that bastard's mind (the driver, not Harold) to get his last thoughts, he'll smile devilishly to himself and say "Yeah... Now THAT's what I'm talkin' about!" and then he'll send him to lane-cutter-offer hell, which I like to think involves crawling across a gravel roadway which has roofing tacks mixed in with the limestone for all of eternity. Because they deserve no less.