“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

Happy Birthday to ...
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Doctor: Okay, Mr. Hudler, now I need you to push hard. Now's the time to PUSH, you hear me??!? Okay now ... PUSH!!!!


Doc: Just one more time now! PUSSSSSHHHHHHH!

Ad: I hate you! I hate you! I haaaaate youuuuuuuu!

Doc: Almost over now, I promise ... one more push!


Doc: Yes! ... Nice job! ... almost finished ... perfect ... and look what we have here, Mr. Hudler, a ...

...healthy, wonderful BOOK!

Ad here: Yep, folks, today's the day: the launch of the North American edition of MAN OF THE HOUSE, my sequel to HOUSEHUSBAND. Now I switch from writer mode to author mode. The main difference: Writer mode is the lonely, creative part where I sit by myself for days, months at a time and do the actual writing. Author mode is when it's time to sell, and I hit the road and do the chicken-dinner circuit. Honestly, I love author mode ... love getting out there and meeting my readers and the wonderful booksellers that peddle Ad Hudler to the literate masses.

I'm going to try to blog daily from the road while on tour this next month ... and most of the blogging will be about the tour: the people I meet, the things I see ... the gin I drink.

Oscar Madison or Felix Unger?
Monday, September 29, 2008

Come with me, back to first grade in Burlington Elementary School, to Hazel Fromong's class.

There, in the front row, sits Ad Hudler, his back straight, his hands folded in his lap as he awaits instruction for the day. His hair is parted perfectly down the left side, all of it pasted into place with Ogilvie hair gel that dries like Dippity Doo, leaving his hair stiff and bouncy to the touch. His top button, as always, is buttoned up tight.

At some point in the day he will excuse himself to go the bathroom where he will wipe off with wet paper towels any chalk dust or pencil smudges that might have sullied his appearance. Indeed, his mother once told him, "You are the only child in the world who comes home from school looking better than when he left that morning."

Later, in the afternoon, Ad will finish his homework earlier than his peers (except Scott Winfrey, who would end up getting an appointment to the Naval Academy), and he will walk up to his teacher's desk and say, "Mrs. Fromong, as you can see I am all finished with my homework. Now, let me help you clean up this messy desk of yours."

Next: Fast-forward ten years to Abel Hall, room 814, at the University of Nebraska. The floor of Ad's small domicile is entirely hidden by pizza crusts and empty soda cans, newspapers and magazines, dirty underwear and socks and shirts, and half-eaten, once-frozen-but-now-fossilized burritos. And the R.A. has had to bring in an exterminator to set traps because Ad has created a Ritz-Carlton for rodents.

Next: Fast-forward to age 36. Ad's wife, Carol, is getting home from work, late, close to 9 o'clock. He has already served dinner, frozen the leftovers, and cleaned the kitchen. He wants to say this: "The kitchen is closed!" But he bites his tongue and watches as Carol scavenges through the refrigerator, deciding on a quesadilla and some grapes, and Ad is hoping (praying, actually) that she uses a much-cleaner knife than a messy grater to cut the cheese.

"Is there something wrong?" she asks him.

"No. Why."

"You're following me around with a rag and Windex bottle."

"Well, I've just cleaned this kitchen, and I hate waking up to a kitchen that's not really clean."

So you see: I am schizophrenic in the neat-freak department. I keep my bedroom picked up, but I don't make the bed. My kitchen is tidy, but my truck is messy, and I wash it once a year whether it needs it or not.

I own a t-shirt that says "Does Anal-retentive have a hyphen?" But it is sullied with permanent grease and paint stains.

Neat freak? Control freak?

You tell me.


BOOK TOUR NEWS: Nice mention of "Man of the House" in yesterday's Required Reading column of The New York Post. Today, I go on the morning show of WINK-TV in Fort Myers. And on Wednesday, I take off for Jacksonville, FL and Georgia. By the end of today, you'll be able to see my tour schedule (I only included events open to the public) on my "speaking engagement" page at AdHudler.com

But what would your English teacher say?
Saturday, September 27, 2008

I have noted a punctuation trend in email correspondence: The use of the "~"

It's up there, on the upper left-hand corner of your keyboard. It's being used most often at the close of a correspondence:


~All best,

~Bye for now.

And it's almost always used by women over the age of 40.


Is it the equivalent of a little kiss on the cheek or a fluttering of the fingers, saying goodbye?

Was it discovered by accident? A Freudian slip? After all, it IS on a key close to the "escape" button. And what busy mom doesn't want to escape at times?

What's up with the squiggly line, girls?


Wanted: One distressed tool belt
Friday, September 26, 2008

I start touring with my new book, MAN OF THE HOUSE, next Wednesday, with a trip up through Jacksonville, and on into Macon, Georgia. I'm taking my toolbelt and truck as props for my talks.

Problem, though: The toolbelt in my photo was a borrowed one. And, knowing I would need a belt during all six weeks of touring, I went out and bought a similar leather one at Home Depot.

New problem: It looks too new. And the THE MAN OF THE HOUSE certainly must have a toolbelt that is broken in ... one that looks like it's actually been used.

I rubbed it across the cement to scratch it up a bit. I'm thinking of dripping some paint and oil on it.

I need some ideas here. How does one put six years on a tool belt in one week's time?

Meet "Da"
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Years ago -- correction: decades -- I was having a bad day, and apparently I was in a very bad mood because my girlfriend, Lisa, said: "Is this Ad talking, or Da? Because I don't think Ad would say such horrible things."

"Da?" I asked

"Ad spelled backwards," she explained. "Your evil twin: Da."

We all have evil twins, and, according to Lisa, their names are the mirror image of your first-name. Carol would be Lorac. Mike would be Ekim. And so on.

Of course, the key to maintaining a civilized society is to make sure we all are able to suppress those evil twins day to day, to shackle them and tape shut their mouths.

Yet when we are tired ... or anxious ... or stressed out ... those evil twins flare up like oxygenated fire and do and say things that are ... well, not so nice. A handy hint on how to keep this from happening is to talk with your evil twin, out loud:

"Now, Da, I know you want to tell that woman her perfume smells like ass, and that you find it as offensive as cigarette smoke ... but, now, we REALLY shouldn't say that, should we?"

"No, Da! NO! Do NOT kick that dog."

"No, Da, a Catholic funeral is NOT the time to yell out, "What is this obsession with the Virgin Mary all about?!?!?!"

Gin makes Da stronger. So does a lack of sleep.

Tropical Diary: Entry #881
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

As I've said in a recent entry, life on Coconut Drive can be quite hazardous. When those things come falling down they can fracture a windshield or skull.

I have a newer coconut palm planted on my patio. This is the first year it has produced any fruit, and because it's not too tall yet you can get a good look at the baby coconuts:

Geez, I've got fat hands. Must be the camera angle....right? I said, 'RIGHT?!?!?!?!'

I want a bidet.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A secret about my wife and me: We both hate to shower. I'm guessing it comes from both of us being raised in dryer Western states where you are taught at a very early age to respect water as if it is liquid gold or ... in today's terms: gasoline! That means we never really learned the habit of luxuriating in a hot shower.

We both shower FAST! Under 60 seconds. Even Carol ... okay, except when she has to wash her really-thick hair, and she doesn't even do that very often ... probably because I yell at her so often about clogging up the drain. Seriously, we're talking about a problem that requires battery acid and blow torch to correct.

So ... one day I had a great idea: "Hey," I said, "let's get a bidet." I mean, it makes sense. Most of the smelly parts on a body are DOWN THERE. And if you can keep those clean then you most likely won't stink to others, right?

For those who need an introduction a bidet is a toilet-like contraption you find predominantly in European bathrooms. You sit on it, and a jet of water shoots upward, into the ... well, into THOSE parts. For the life of me, I can't figure out why they're not more common, considering the fact that women are in charge of making most household purchases. (Jet of water shooting up into the private parts?) Wikipedia also says this: " ... Bidets are primarily used to wash and clean the genitalia, inner buttocks, and anus. (Ad: Eeewwww...thanks, guys) ... They may also be used to clean any other part of the body; they are very convenient for cleaning the feet, for example. Despite appearing similar to a toilet, it would be more accurate to compare it to the washbasin or bathtub. In fact, the bidet is used by some for a baby bath. ..."

(All I can say is I certainly hope those things are easy to clean in between users. Sure would hate to have that case of athlete's foot become an even more uncomfortable case of athlete's a___.)

Anyway, it won't be happening in our house anytime soon. When I told my wife my idea, she said, "Ad, if we get one of those we'll NEVER shower."


Why I take a gun with me on book tours
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Getting ready to go on tour with MAN OF THE HOUSE. Touring can be brutal. Some things that have happened to me:

1. Lost and looking at a map while driving, I once rear-ended a woman in a scary section of Miami. She bolted out of the car, yelling in Spanglish and flailing her hands as if she were conducting the last movement of some bombastic Beethoven piece. "You crazy, you crazy! I call mi hermano and he take care of you!" Luckily, VERY LARGE Miguel was nicer than his sister. The wreck ended up costing me about $2,000.

2. One time at a signing a woman leaned into me as if to whisper a secret, and she LICKED MY FACE! ... the length of my entire cheek.

3. One time I arrived at a bookstore a few hours early ... and I filled the time by browsing the shelves and sipping wine. A LITTLE TOO MUCH WINE, EVIDENTLY. When I was speaking I leaned too far into the podium, and it fell forward and crashed to the ground, with me riding it all the way down. I missed hitting a woman in a wheelchair by just a few inches.

It helps to be a humor writer; easier to get away with these things.

Hey, pretty lady, can you make me an omelette?
Saturday, September 20, 2008

The answer would be "no" because Carol, my lovely wife, does not cook. (And for the life of me, I can't remember what she was pretending to cook here. Hmmmm) I have seen her make toast before. Oh, and coffee. She's also very good at shredding a supermarket-cooked rotisserie chicken over packaged green salad.

Here's a little-known fact about my wife: She only marries men who can cook. I'm husband No. 2. Husband no. 1 was an even better cook, I hear. This incredible woman so badly wanted to avoid the kitchen that when it was time for her to take the mandatory-for-girls home-economics class in Onaga Junior High School she petitioned the school board to get the sexist requirement removed. Yep, Carol was the first woman in Onaga, Kansas, who did not have to learn how to sew on a button or dress a turkey. Doesn't surprise me at all that she's the successful media-company executive that she is.

Dressing a turkey: What a weird use of the word 'dress.' Strange images come to mind, don't they? Little booties, a hat ... maybe underwear. I tried to google an image of a turkey in cute little clothes by typing in "cartoon turkey in clothes." This is what I found in the results:

Yeah, I think Google needs to tinker a little bit more with their key words and cataloging.

A word on prep schools and MILF's
Friday, September 19, 2008

In my upcoming novel, Man of the House I have some fun with the prep-school culture, its parents and teachers. After moving from Georgia to Florida eight years ago we put our daughter in the most exclusive prep school Lee County, Florida had to offer because we didn't like the neighborhood grammar school. It was one of the toughest choices we ever made. My wife and I have always been big supporters of public schools, and in Macon our daughter attended an inner-city, nearly-all-black school with an incredible geography-history focus. (Everyone should be a minority at some time in their lives; it changes the way you see things.)

Anyway, you can imagine the shock our kid felt, going from that environment to a school where 4th-graders had their own Palm Pilots and families flew their private planes to Disneyworld for the weekend. Of course, I HAD to have some fun with these moms in my book ...

" ... I judge a book by its cover, especially when it comes to people. It comes from being a minority, shut out of the world that you rightfully live in because you are different (Read: Caregiver with penis), always on the outside, looking in, gauging peoples' reactions to you, wondering how you can get inside and how you would act once you get there. I don't care. I make the most of it. I compile Judge-a-Book-by-its-Cover lists. I'm very good at this.

Percentage of prep-school moms who assume you know who their husbands are and what company or practice they own: 92

Percentage of prep-school moms who have had needles or scalpels penetrate their skin in the past six months for reasons other than true illness: 63

Average number of meals these women cook from scratch at home each week: 1

Percentage of prep-school moms who wear cute little tennis outfits but don't actually play tennis: 28

Number of times these women's ponytails bounce in 30 seconds due to fake-exuberant head-nodding while chatting with another such woman: 8

Hey, you know what? Stereotypes exist for a reason: they're generally true. It's a critical-mass thing. Our survival instinct pushes us to fit into a group. If we didn't fit in we wouldn't be accepted by our peers, and survival would be tougher, so we unconsciously start dressing and talking and thinking alike. Before you know it, we've created a template of humanity.

Waiting in the pickup line for my daughter was definite eye-candy time. Even the high-school boys at that prep school liked to ogle the MILF's. In fact, that's where I learned the word: from my daughter's peers.

How (NOT) to Publish a Book 101
Thursday, September 18, 2008

Because I'm immersed in the release of my new novel I thought I'd share some insights over the next month on the book-publishing process AND HOW CHALLENGING IT CAN BE FOR AUTHORS. Today let's look at book covers.

Okay, my first novel, Househusband, was about a guy who decides to stay home to take care of his daughter (yeah, that's me), and he does it really well ... out-cooking, out-cleaning and out-parenting all the moms in the neighborhood. (yeah, that's me) Well, the sequel, Man of the House, is about this same guy, named Linc Menner, who after 15 years of doing the mom thing rebels in a huge way and goes on a tear to reclaim his inner male. (yeah, that's me, and yeah, it's a comedy)

So you can imagine how surprised I was when I got this for the book cover of Man of the House.

Ad to Editor: Okay, this is ALL WRONG! The book is about Linc Menner NOT doing the laundry anymore; it's about Linc Menner learning how to shoot guns and use a hammer drill. AND I SAID 'GUY', NOT 'GAY!' And what's with all the perfectly-folded pastel-colored clothes? No!!!! They should be a MESS! Didn't the editors at Big New York Publishing House even read this book!?!?!?! (Disclaimer: There has been huge turnover in publishing lately, and Man of the House has actually had four different editors...which means the editor who bought it left long ago, and the book got dumped on some other poor, overworked soul.)

So they tried it again, and came up with this:

Ad: WTF!?!?!? Linc is working construction now. This guy's hands haven't seen sunshine or dirt in their lives! And look at the typeface: It looks like it should say "Breakfast at Tiffany's," not "Man of the House."

So they tried again and came up with this:

Okay, SOME improvement here. At least this guy has hair on his legs. But where are the tools? Where are the man toys? I finally talked with a senior-level editor, who asked me what I wanted. I told her: Toolbox. Darker, bolder, boy-like colors. "Oh, hell, just photo-shop a hammer hanging over the edge of the laundry basket." And they came up with this:

But the FONT, I whined. Look at that curly font. What's that all about? Why do you insist on making this look like marketing materials for a day spa? And, finally, after several weeks of Ad Torture, the art director finally agreed to change to this:

So that's what we have, folks. Not a perfect cover by any means, and it still really doesn't portray the content of the book, but it's better than what we started with. You can tell that they also punched up the palette a bit; the colors are bolder. And, I may be mistaken here, but I think they put more hair on his legs. (Ain't digital manipulation grand?) And I have to admit that I do like the Clint Eastwood-inspired line they added in the upper left-hand corner: "Go ahead, make my bed."

Oh, and one more thing: At first they had my fun "banana photo" as the author's photo on the back cover:

And then some senior editor decided that it would SCARE WOMEN AWAY. Honestly, that's what they told me. I tried not to take it personally. I thought the photo was funny, but that wasn't their impression. (You need to know here that every single editor I've had at Big New York Publishing House (four books in all) has been a woman, and I can't help but wonder if some gender diversity might help matters)

GIN COUNT for 9-17-08: Only one 3-ounce gin-and-tonic ... and I didn't have it until 7:30!!!

Did you know the word "GIN" is in "VirGINia?"
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time to worry: The other day my best friend and neighbor called and invited me over for a cocktail. I heartily agreed. "Bring gin," he said. "I'm out."

Well, between our two houses lives a different neighbor -- we call her Gladys Kravitz, after the do-goodie, into-everyone's-business neighbor from "Bewitched" -- and to get to my friend's house I must walk past hers. More than once she has remarked when seen me carrying a bottle of gin or wine or beer.

Well, no problem. I took care of this handily:

Yes, I poured the gin in a Ziploc bag and added a small piece of carrot. And I skipped past my neighbor's house, very happy to be taking a new goldfish to my best friend as a gift!!

I know, I know ... pretty cool, huh?

Okay, so I thought I would drop the Gin Count in my daily blog, but four different readers have emailed me to ask why I've dropped it. Frankly, I thought you'd all get bored by it. I mean, why is one man's personal problem so interesting to others? I can only guess that EVERYONE has a vice or two they can't seem to control, and therefore they want to see how another wrestles with his own. And you can see by my desperation to sneak gin past my neighbor ... I do have a problem.

My mom told me the other day that she forwards my blogs to my grandma in Idaho ... all except for one small edit: "I delete the gin count," she told me. "I just think it's something she might not want to see." ... I can't help but wonder if the same is true for my parents. They, after all, know very well that we have that alcoholism gene on BOTH sides of the family. Plus, I'm a writer!!! Hello?! Writers drink a LOT! I once had the idea of writing a nonfiction book about a writer's intimate relationship with alcohol, but then I went onto Amazon and discovered, like, 73 of them!!! Apparently I am not alone. I drink partly to quell my characters' voices inside my head that are always trying to talk. Basically, gin puts them to sleep.

Okay, so my gin count these past four days has resembled the movement of a teeter-totter. Quite heavy one night, maybe three 3-ounce gin-and-tonics, and then, out of guilt, I torture myself the next night with nothing.

Honestly, I start wanting gin at around 3 p.m. That's awfully early in the day, so I'm guessing it's the taste that I want, not the sensation. It's just so refreshing, and it's so bloody hot down here in southwest Florida. Maybe if I move to North Dakota my love of gin will vaporize. I remember when I moved from Florida to New York years ago, my tastes changed with the weather. I started unconsciously switching from lighter, southern-hemisphere beers to heavier brews, from white wine to red, from grilled fish to stews.

I've also thought that maybe I could start sucking on juniper berries....just as smokers suck on those fake plastic cigarettes infused with fake-tobacco taste.

Do any of my northern friends have any juniper berries they can send me?

I left my heart in Grand Forks
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

These days, when I have the choice of boarding an airplane or having my hand shoved down a running garbage disposal, I usually choose the latter. What's there to like, after all? Lost bags? Late flights? Canceled flights? Surcharges for luggage? Surly flight attendants? (And who can blame them, really?) Control-freak TSA security people? (By the way, have you ever noticed how overweight many of those agents are? I can't help shake the feeling that the people who work for TSA are the types who sit at home in a dark living room, eating from a bag of pork rinds and shouting at the TV because they don't agree with what they're watching.)

Ah, but Grand Forks International Airport? That's another issue altogether. Let me take you now on a time-warp tour of the largest airport in my favorite rectangular state ...

This summer, after touring North Dakota, I was on the first flight out in the morning ... and I got there very early, around 5, because I was new to the airport and didn't know the layout. I mean, would I be going out of Gate Number 1? Or Gate Number 2? And how far apart were they? Would the bathroom be beyond the security checkpoint?

I was happy to find a woman working THE airport restaurant ... and even happier that coffee had been made. At checkout I noticed what I thought was a mirage: A fresh-looking fruit salad that had NOT been sitting there for sixteen days. I reached for it, expecting it to vaporize, and was surprised when I felt the cool plastic in my hand. And then I noticed the pie ... cherry pie. "Oh, what the hell," I thought, "I'm on vacation."

I slunkered off to enjoy my guilty pleasures, and I was so pleased that I felt compelled to talk to the nice young woman behind the counter.

"There was something wrong with this salad," I said.

She looked at me quizzically.

"Yeah, it was GOOD," I said. "You're not supposed to be serving good fruit salad in an airport. It's against the rules. Homeland Security has laws against these things."

She melted into a smile and said, "Oh, you sure had me worried there for a minute. I was thinking that watermelon was a day too old."

"Wait," I said. "You cut your own fruit salad? You mean it's not imported from Tulsa or someplace?"

"Oh, no. And I make all the pies, and all the muffins and cookies, too. Did you like your pie?"

My answer to her: "I'll have two of the muffins, please. And thank you so much for being here today."

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

After check-in, I had to take my bag over to the two TSA men feeding suitcases into the large x-ray machine in the middle of the concourse.

"Morning," I said.

"Morning," they replied in unison.

"You guys aren't that busy today," I said. "Mind if you run me through that thing? I haven't had an MRI for awhile."

"Oh, yeah, you betcha!" one guy said, laughing. "But it's gonna cost ya."

"I've got a quarter," I said.

"Oh, no, the price has gone up. It's 50 cents now," he said with a Santa wink.


But perhaps the best part of my visit to the Grand Forks International Airport was this:

Yep. No traffic. And for a boy who lives in congested Florida, this was the most welcome treat of all.

Riddle #2 and some shameless manipulation of the www
Monday, September 15, 2008

Here's Riddle #2 in my free-book-giveaway contest: I really don't interest Vermonters much.

Riddle #1 was: I mimic an old-time playground game. Some might call me repetitious.

On to something else: One of the fun things about having a blog is looking at all the reader data. Though I don't have access to your name and individual email address, I do know what town you're clicking in ... though not the state, so I have to guess at that. I know that for some reason I have more readers in Naples, Florida than anywhere. (Might have something to do with the correlation of household income and computer usage; Naples is the richest city in Florida, and it IS just down the highway from where I live.) There's also a faithful reader in Wall (I'm assuming South Dakota) who is quite the night owl!

The report also tells me how each reader finds AdHudler.com ... whether you came directly there or were directed by a search engine. And if someone did find me through a search, I also learn the words they typed into the search engine to find me. (No worries, however; they don't show me who conducted the search).

Anyway, I was intrigued to find out that three people last week found AdHudler.com because they had searched "Jim Cantore losing weight." Like me, they'd noticed that our favorite Weather Channel stormtracker seemed to have lost some of his mojo this past year, and they thought he looked thinner, so what did they do? Why they googled it, of course! And they were directed to my site because within the same week I not only wrote about "Jim Cantore" but also about my zeal to "lose weight." See how the search engines agglomerate and make connections even when they're not accurate or intentional? Interesting, no?

So ... it got me thinking ... I can get this to work in my favor. If I include in my blog words that represent the passions and concerns of the web-surfing public ... well, then, the Search Engine Gods will make me as popular as perezhilton.com.

So, here I go:
Paris Hilton
erectile dysfunction
how to lose belly fat
how to make your man love you
how to get her to have sex more often
hurricane preparations
High School Musical
Heath Ledger
How to win a free car
cheap gas
How to have an affair and not get caught
Divorce attorney
how to get blood stains out of clothing
how to win the lottery
How do I improve gas mileage on my Hummer?
Girls Gone Wild
Homeland Security

You know your host is a bachelor when ...
Saturday, September 13, 2008

He has this on his patio:

Larger than life-size, I kid you not. About 7 feet tall. Spotted in Naples, Florida. Shall we call her "Sex Slave Pirate Wench?"(Oh, and I need to say here that the statue is holding a tray, as if she is there to "serve" you.)

I sometimes teach a class at writers workshops called "Please, Judge the Book by its Cover." And I tell folks that although people will often lie in their spoken message, they often inadvertently, unconsciously reveal much about their character based on the details they surround themselves with. Now, you tell me ... what does this say about its owner?


Confession: There IS a full-body shot of the statue, but unfortunately I couldn't use it because it includes me and my friend, Fritz, interacting with her in a way that would be embarrassing for both you and me.

GIN COUNT: Absolutely NONE last night! Zero! And I was all alone for five hours because my wife was out of town, and my daugher was on the town. Instead, I read 80 pages of Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" ... a hilarious account of his trek on the Appalachian Trail with his fat, whiny friend.

To all you Facebook "FAN"atics ...
Friday, September 12, 2008

I've been on facebook, the social networking site, for about three months now, and I have trouble staying away from it. My favorite part of it is the status feature. Any time you log on you fill out this little form that says "Ad _________." You might put in "is trimming his toenails while watching his favorite movie." Or: "...thinks Cindy McCain dresses a lot like a suburban-Connecticut prostitute."

Then, this status is displayed for all your friends on facebook, so they all know what you're thinking ... what's important in your life on this particular day. Here are some of mine from the past day:

Ad ... is thrilled with his new pair of Red Wing boots.
Ad ... tried a burger and fries at Five Guys and wasn't that impressed.
Ad ... is mighty impressed by the rain from the outer bands of Ike.

Now, here's a facebook feature that I think is stupid. You get invites from people to join "fan pages." Come be a fan of ____________!" And then if you say yes it is proclaimed to the facebook community that you have become a fan of _____________. You can be a fan of the Guggenheim Museum, of the Wisconsin Badger football team, or the Slow Food Movement. You can be a fan of particular authors and architects and newspapers and Oprah and okra and Oklahoma ... well, the list just goes on and on, and I just think it's really pointless....except you do learn a few things about your friends based on what they choose to befan (you know, like befriend?)

Oh, what's that you say? You're NOT a fan of 19th-century freight elevators? Well, then you're NOTHING. You might as well crawl under your bed and stay there forever.

There are some groups that I would join, if such a group exists and I'm ever asked.
I would definitely be a fan of artichoke sculptures, and art created by blind cats. Also: ghosts of Victorian-era chimney sweeps and anything the color orange.

. . . . . . . .

Gin Count from last night: Nothing but bad news here, friends. I spent the evening talking and laughing with good friends, one of which loves gin as much as I do. Honestly, I lost count. One detail from the evening: I was helping one friend put white frosting on a cake, and we ended up frosting my eyebrows so I would look like:

My little nighttime secret ...
Thursday, September 11, 2008

In the past year I've heard secretaries and nurses in two different doctor's offices engage in conversations similar to this:

"I just couldn't get to sleep last night."


"I don't know. I was tired, but i just couldn't fall asleep. And I don't like to take that Tylenol P.M.; it makes me feel too groggy next day."

"Why not Benadryl?"

"For allergies?"

"No, for sleeping, honey."
. . . . . . .
Aha! So I'm not the only one who has made this fantastic discovery: that oval, bright-pink pill not only stops the sniffles but also can usher you into la-la land.

I mean, we all know that antihistamines can make you sleepy. I remember when my mom accidentally gave our 4-year-old an adult dose of Dimetap, and she slept for an entire day. ("Hello? Social Services?") But I had no idea that Benadryl had become such a mainstream sleeping aid. I've been asking several people if they know about it, and they look at me like, "Duh, Ad? Where have you been?"

I discovered its soporific effects by accident. I do have allergies, and when something in the air is causing that river of phlegm to run in the back of my throat I go to bed at night with two Benadryls, else I will choke to death.

Well, I noticed that I slept really well on those nights ... and then I started experimenting: some nights with no Benadryl, some nights with one and some with TWO! (Yeah. You guessed it. I'm now a 2-Benadryl man).

We humans are great at finding second uses for products intended for something else. I mean, we all know that Avon's Skin-So-Soft (my grandma's favorite fragrant bath oil) wards off mosquitoes. And that peanut butter gets gum out of hair and wool carpet. And that gargling with lukewarm ketchup cures a sore throat. (Just kidding; haven't tried that one. Yuck.)

My next potential discovery: My wife and I are convinced that eating raw muscadine grapes provokes horrific nightmares. I'm serious. Try this, and let me know.

GIN COUNT for Sept. 10: Nothing to brag about last night, folks. I had a gin-and-tonic with four ounces gin, followed by a 4-ounce gin-with-lemon-and-bitters. Incidentally, the latter drink is called a "pink gin," named for the color it gets from the dash of Angostura bitters. I learned of the drink through a Graham Green novel. But I will NOT be calling it a pink gin because well ... it makes me sound like a girl, now, doesn't it? ("Yes, I'll have a pink gin, please, and stop smiling like that or I'm gonna KICK YOUR ASS!")

Reader Contest: What Am I?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

To celebrate the upcoming release of my next hugely-autobiographical novel, "Man of the House," I am going to give a few riddles each week, leading readers to discover a mystery object that is within the pages of the book. Winner (and if there's more than one I will draw a name from the hat) will get five autographed copies of the book for his or her book club. Or I could inscribe personal messages in them for Christmas gifts. But you cannot use the books as fire-starter -- I really draw the line there. (I just heard on National Public Radio that it's expected to be a colder-than-normal winter for North America.)

So: Here's riddle #1: I mimic an old-time playground game. Some might call me repetitious.

And, as promised, here is last night's Gin Count: Two gins-with-lemon-and-bitters, about 8 ounces in total.
ADJUSTMENT AND RATIONALIZATION: I drank them two hours apart, so I'm not really sure if I have to count that second one because I showed such remarkable restraint ... and it shows I was drinking for the TASTE, not the buzz. Are you with me here? Also: I had no tonic or cranberry juice or any other high-calorie mixer. Also, I made a really good dinner of portugese stir-fry...kind of a curry with asparagus and chicken ... plus, I did let that lady cut in today on McGregor Boulevard during rush hour ...

So ... if I'm doing my math right ... taking all these things into consideration ... I think it is fair to compute that I had a NEGATIVE amount of gin last night.....I come up with minus-13 ounces.

Is that what you got? Am I correct?

Booze and Waistline Watch: Day One
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Okay, you voyeuristic weirdos! Usually, when it comes to reading blogs, most of you are night crawlers; most of the hits to this blog occur after 9 p.m.

BUT NOT TODAY. Oh, no! You can't wait to see how Ad did in his first night of rationing his gin content, as he promised in yesterday's blog. Let's all luxuriate in his misery and failure!

Actually, I did just great, thanks very much. I had one Tervis Tumbler (the smaller, squatty size) of gin with lemon and bitters. I'm trying to cut back on calories to melt this muffin top of mine so I didn't have Tonic. All in all I would say I had four ounces, BUT IT WAS IN ONE GLASS! And then I switched to Crystal Light. (pomegranate-cherry flavor with NATURAL flavoring ... yeah, right: natural. The reason we Boomers and Gen X'ers like Crystal Light is because it tastes like Kool-Aid ... fake-flavored sugar water ... which we drank as kids, so don't be trying to make it taste natural, please.)

TANGENT: A note on Tervis Tumblers. These are very popular in the tropics because they are insulated and therefore prolong the life of an ice cube. They also do not leave rings on the coffee table. And the best thing about them: They are guaranteed for life. If one breaks you simply take it into a Tervis Tumbler store in Florida and they let you exchange it for free. The other cool thing about them is that they all have tacky, tropical-motif appliques floating in between the two layers of plastic: hibiscus flowers, alligators, sea shells, gulls, etc. Very retro-looking and well worth the price. Any good cocktail aficionado loves them and has his favorite. Mine is the lizard tumbler. END OF COMMERCIAL. And, no, I did not get paid for this. But I should.

Yes, so I'm thinking my good behavior probably helped me lose six pounds last night. Maybe even more. At this rate I'm going to be able to melt my muffin top and finally get to wear my dream costume for Halloween:

Yep. Mr. Clean. I'm going to need to dye my eyebrows, though. Mr. Clean is very cool.

What a Waist!
Monday, September 8, 2008

Every few years I call the fine folks at Land's End catalog and say, "What was that last order I placed? You know, the one with the six pair of khaki shorts? ... Well, I want those same shorts, but in the next waist-size up."

This started two decades ago with a size 28 waist. I am now a size 36. Already I've broken my long-time law I set years ago, when I was 20-something: I said I would never let my waist size be bigger than my pant length. Ahhh, the naivete of youth!

Well, here I am at waist 36, length 34. And I gotta tell you right now: These 36's are hurtin' real bad ... I mean they're leaving an impression in my flesh that lasts for hours. My shorts are so tight that doing my Simba-roaring-on-Pride-Rock imitation in Glacier National Forest this summer caused them to split open in the crotch.

They are so tight that I have found myself running around the house in my underwear during the day ... not even aware of it until my wife so nicely pointed it out. ... Oh, I wear a shirt with them, the same one I put on that morning. I pretend to be fully dressed. I even find myself taking the trash out in my underwear and shirt ... or going out to get the mail. I've always thought that if people in underwear ACT like they're wearing regular chino shorts, then no one will even notice. Maybe I'm kidding myself. Should I ask my neighbors? Probably not.

I've tried to tell myself that a lot of this swelling waistline is new muscle from my workouts. I have gained 30-some pounds in the past two years, and most of that has indeed been muscle ... but only the truly delusional chap can flick at his stomach and watch it wiggle like Jell-O and say, "Man, I am ONE FIT DUDE!"

I will NOT call Land's End and buy those size-38 shorts. I mean it this time. Really, I do. I am not going to wear a size 38 waist. And that means I have to lose some weight. I go on book tour in three weeks, and I want to look good. But I can't look good with a muffin top (For those who don't know that phrase, a muffin top is the look you get from waistline fat spilling over too-tight pants, creating the silhouette of a muffin.)

Oh, what to change, what to change? I'm already a healthy eater. I eat at least 7 fruits and veggies a day. I rarely eat fast food. I don't drink soda pop or eat dessert or snack on candies, and that gin I drink nearly every night surely can't be the problem...

Yeah, yeah, I know....the problem is this: GIN.

I love gin. I love it with tonic. I love it with cranberry juice. I love it with a squeeze of lemon and dash of Angostura bitters. I love it plain. I love it A LOT!!!! And now that my daughter can drive herself everywhere and I am able to hang out all day long at home by myself ... well then there's no reason I can't have a cocktail at 4 o'clock, is there?

Signs of Ad in Decline: Drinking a martini on a Wednesday afternoon in his underwear ... reading The New York Times, perhaps (We don't have cable TV) ... but still, not a pretty picture.

Something's got to change.

So....I'm going to use this blog as a public arena for humilation. From this point on, I swear that I am going to divulge at the end of every single blog entry what I had to drink the day/night before.

It will amuse some of you, disgust others, and most likely frighten my wife and parents.

Last night: Two gin-and-tonics. CONFESSION: Most mixed drinks call for 2 ounces alcohol. I make mine with 4. So ... do I need to say that I drank FOUR or can I take my big-guy frame (6-2, 230 pounds) into account and say that I'm allowed larger gin amounts because I can absorb more alcohol?

What do you say, hmmm? Let's make a deal.

Wanted: One inventor to help control my road rage
Sunday, September 7, 2008

And here's what we would invent, together, and make billions: An electric sign or message board that goes on the front grill of the car, with a rolling message that would be displayed backward so the driver in front of you could read it in his rear-view mirror. ... Inside your car, on the dashboard, would be a microphone and computer with voice-recognition software, and you would speak the message you wanted to display on the message board.

Here are some things I would probably say.

1. Get OFF your phone and DRIVE!
2. Slower traffic, keep right!
3. I would stop and let you turn into traffic, but I'm not going to because YOU'RE ON THE PHONE!
4. The speed limit is 45, not 35!!
6. How important is that phone call REALLY? You're endangering everyone around you.
7. Do you think those cigarette butts just disappear?????!!!!!
8. Stop slowing down to gawk! You're impeding traffic.
9. Your rear tire is under-inflated.
10. I love your bumper sticker. Very clever.
11. I despise your bumper sticker. You are vile.
12. If you're turning USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL. Oh, I see that you can't BECAUSE YOU'RE ON THE PHONE!

It is my pet peeve, that talking-while-driving thing.
What are yours?

The Orlando Bloom-ing of The Weather Channel
Saturday, September 6, 2008

My novel that is being released later this month, "Man of the House," is set in Naples, Florida during a turbulent hurricane season. Many of we Florida authors have included the tropical storms in our most recent books. It's very easy to become infatuated with hurricanes if you live in the path of them. ... They're very similar to human characters: they have names, personalities, and they take unpredictable turns that greatly impact those around them.

My main character, Linc Menner, who is LARGELY me, loves The Weather Channel. I've been a Weather Channel junkie since college, when the forecasters had sideburns and ties as wide as coffee mugs. So I must tell you now that I don't like how my favorite channel has evolved.

I say in my book:

... "Our resident critic-at-large (Linc) has complained of The Weather Channel's evolution from the original, techy, unpolished production into something like Entertainment Tonight, with slick, packaged hour-long dramatizations like Storm Stories and surgically altered blond newscasters with names like Jennifer and Brittany. He says Weather Channel anchors shouldn't have silicone breasts or glossy lips that divert your attention from a hurricane's cone of uncertainty, and that it's hard to trust a meteorologist with a perfect dimple in his silk necktie."

Thank goodness they haven't taken away our nerdy, balding Steve Lyons. Unlike most of the others on The Weather Channel, he seems truly interested in the WEATHER and not the newest line of Hugo Boss suits ... or whatever it is those pretty boys wear.

Some time in the past year, storm tracker Stephanie Abrams got some kind of makeover. Someone in the corporate officer decided to babe her out. And I don't like it. She lost that girl-next-door persona that made her believable ... someone you'd want to go have a beer with.

Even my favorite dude of dudes, Jim Cantore, seems to have changed somewhat this year. I have always enjoyed watching the childlike excitement this tough-talking guy exudes when getting blown away on a beach at landfall ... but this year ... this year something's different with him. It's as if they told him, "Jim, you're a little too strong on camera. The female demographics don't like you acting so fierce. Try to look more like Orlando Bloom."

I'm serious: Watch how he's holding the microphone these days. In the past, he gripped it tightly as if it were a rope he dare not let go of. But now ... his fingers hold it loosely, more like a talk-show host or Wayne Newton in Vegas: "Okay, now, folks, I'm gonna sing you a song about a mighty, mighty storm named Gustav ..."

Hey, you guys up in Atlanta: Bring back the nerds! I miss 'em!

That's FUNNY, you betcha!
Friday, September 5, 2008

Now that I am an expert on our Favorite Rectangular State -- You'll remember I drove through all of ND this past July; I even spent the NIGHT there TWICE -- I thought you would enjoy this insider's look at North Dakota humor.

Overheard at the supermarket ...
Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Obama is: Mochachino
... a white-collar African-American yuppie male.

Mystery #7,556A
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Caregivers: You know how everyone in your house has a habit of shedding things that they know you will pick up: sweaters on chairs, shoes in the middle of the floor, a half-filled coffee cup on a closet shelf. ("Oh, so THAT'S where I set it! I was looking all over for that.")

Inexplicably, frequently, my wife leaves full glasses of water lying around the house ... not half-empty glasses, but FULL. Sometimes she will fill three glasses in one morning, from the time she wakes up to the time she leaves for work. One in the kitchen, sometimes two. One in her bathroom. One in the bedroom, maybe. I'm not sure why, and when I ask her she gets all testy and denial-ly about it.

Maybe she's very thirsty but easily distracted. She does have a huge job, in charge of all of Gannett's newspapers in the southeastern United States...most of them in the (ugh!) hurricane belt. I'd be distracted, too. The job is immense.

Maybe it's a past-life thing. I've always had this hunch that the fears and attractions we have in this life are created in previous lives. Maybe she died of dehydration in a desert somewhere and finds comfort in surrounding herself with FULL GLASSES OF WATER. (I've also always thought that a lot of overweight people with never-ending appetites died from starvation in a previous life. I mean, it makes sense when you realize that half the world is undernourished.)

Maybe she was a fish in a previous life and still feels out of place on terra firma. Hmmmm, she DOES like going to the beach. And she did get very upset whenever a fish died during our aquarium phase. ("You're just going to FLUSH him down the toilet?!")

Is she trying to attract fairies? You know, leave them a nice little drink of water? ("Oh, hey, come on ... be my fairy. You'll never go thirsty -- I promise!")

It's a mystery. Mystery #7,556A, to be precise.

Oh, the places you'll go! (Chainsaw love)
Monday, September 1, 2008

Now and then my friend Fritz decides to cut down trees. I'm not sure why. I think he decides to do it when he wants to get away from his wife or to avoid some less-fun job she has planned for him.

Now, don't go sicking The Lorax on my good friend; these are dead trees, mind you ... dried out and prone to fall over onto a house during a tropical storm ... Florida pines that stretch for a good 60 to 80 feet.

To carry out this huge task he has two chain saws, a wood chipper, and he rents a cherry picker from Home Depot or some place.

He called me recently and asked if I wanted to help him. Frankly, I was a little scared.

"Oh, I'll just stack wood and stuff," I said.

He looked at me funny. Finally, I admitted, "I've never run a chainsaw. They're ... they're very loud. And those chippers. Can't they take off your arm or something? ... Has that cherry picker been approved by Homeland Security?"

But he would have nothing of it. One thing I like about my friend Fritz is he shoves me out of my comfort zone.

Ten minutes later:

Look everyone, that's ME!!!!! With a real chainsaw! And it is actually RUNNING! Woo-hoooooo!

Fritz had this all figured out ahead of time: He would get to go up in the cherry picker, and then he'd chop off a big chunk of tree, and when it fell to the ground I would have to cut it into smaller pieces and stack them. Picture this: Calm Fritz up in the tree, making one cut -- Look out beloooow! -- then watching me scurry about below, cutting this, cutting that, lifting, heaving, cutting more, heaving some more, sweating my ass off.

It took me a good two hours before I realized I'd been screwed.

"Hey!" I yelled up to him in the tree. "Why do I have to be the tree bitch?" (I stole the phrase from a girlfriend years ago when she handed me a pad and paper at a friend's wedding shower and said, "Here, you're the shower bitch. ... you know, the person who has to write down all the gifts and who they're from.")

So here I was ... being someone's bitch again. Granted, a bitch with a very-cool chainsaw, but still......

I yelled again: "Let me have a turn up there!"

Happy ending:

When my wife joined us later for cocktails, I got to take her for a spin. That is me, Ad Hudler, operating a cherry picker!

**29 days until North American release of my next novel, "Man of the House." It doesn't have any scenes with cherry pickers, but there are some amusing parts with power drills and guns.