The Big DumpTruck

Throwing Little Thought Pebbles at Your Windshield Since 1996

Category: writing

So You Want To Be a Superhero

Welcome to lesson one of the self-paced training session “So You Want To Be a Superhero”. This course consists of 25 lessons, which should be completed in numbered order. You should never attempt to jump to Lesson 15, Stopping a Moving Vehicle with Your Feet” until after you complete Lesson 5, “Verifying Your Personal Strength Limits” and Lesson 9, “Are You Invincible?”


Also, lesson-skippers will be blacklisted at the Justice League of America and superhero employment opportunities will simply not be available to you.

Lesson 1: Introduction to Superheroing

Many people who sign up for this class are under the mistaken impression that just about anyone can be a superhero. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not everyone can be a superhero. Some people can’t even be heroes without proper adult supervision.

Here are some questions we would like you to consider before you continue on with your lessons:

Am I Likable?
While not a requirement, it really does help you run your superhero empire if people naturally like you. If you are hateable, people will question your motives, and are likely to try to sue you for the damage you’ll do in the line of duty. Put a whole in a building to stop bank robbers and a likable hero will get a medal. An unlikable one will get a bill for repairs.

 What is My Motivation?
Did bad guys do you wrong? Are you trying to avenge something? Or are you taking this class because you hate math and thought it would be a good way to get on television? Being a superhero is not easy. You’re never fully off duty. You want to go on vacation to the Grand Canyon? You’ll probably spend your time there preventing some villain from trying to fill it with quick-drying cement.

How will I look in Spandex?
This question should not be ignored. Superheroes are attention magnets. You will receive lots of press exposure, and looking good is part of the gig. Nobody wants to be rescued by a guy with a beer belly stretching the limits of his uniform. Are you willing to commit to do the work it takes to keep the spandex lump-free?

 Do You Overheat Easily?
How do you handle warm weather? Do you sweat a lot, get a red face and just generally feel miserable when you get warm? Go get a refund on this course right now. Almost all superheros have alter-egos to hide their true identity. Those alter-egos are nice normal people who wear nice normal clothing. You, however, will be wearing the equivalent of long underwear under your street clothes 24 hours a day. Do you know how hot that can get? Try putting on a shirt and pants over that uniform. Layers suck in the summer. You cannot get away from it, because you need to be in uniform at a moment’s notice. Sure, some superheroes decide to just forgo the alter-ego and be in uniform all the time. They don’t get a single moment’s peace. Everyone needs something every minute of the day.

Are You Prepared to Trust No One?
Nobody but nobody is trustworthy. Your girlfriend? She’s been mind-controlled by your nemesis. Your parents? They have been infected with a toxic mind mold by the League of Doom. Your “best friend”? He’s turned to the dark side and become the Green Goblin. You can never really fully trust anyone. Maybe even the people teaching this course.

Think about it.


Ellen Sojka Named “Official Poet Laureate” of the Big DumpTruck

Ellen Sojka of Littleton MA has been named the official poet laureate of the Big DumpTruck empire. Ms. Sojka, a prolific artist and writer, won the honor with her poem about a hippo. Hippos are a favorite animal here at the Big DumpTruck and we were delighted to read her poem. The title, Poet Laureate, is not bestowed lightly by the staff of The Big DumpTruck. She is an awesome human being.


November Novel Time

I won’t bore you with the details, but yes, I’ll probably start NaNoWriMo again this year. It’s an addiction. Lately I’ve been kicking the addiction after about 2-3 weeks. We’ll see if this year is better.


My Loss is Your Gain

I entered a writing contest a month or so ago, to get a regular column on a fairly popular and trendy website. I liked the idea I had for the column, but I don’t think it was edgy enough. Or the sample column good enough to be brought forth on the national stage. Plus there were 1000 other people trying for the same 4 spots, and well, I may be pretty good, but out of a thousand people I would expect there to be four if not better, equal to me.

So I’ve decided to start writing up some of them and posting them here, possibly giving them a new heading up in the menu at the top. If you’re good.


I’m Not Worthy

I mean it. I’m being serious. It has been determined that I am not worthy. I was hoping I would be worthy, but there were other, worthier people. So I, and 995 others, will not be giving recurring columns on a popular humorous website. What that leaves me with is the sample column I submitted to the contest, along with the list of potential future topics. I am now free to publish them here, or elsewhere.

I actually recently registered another domain name because I thought it was very clever but right this second, I can’t even remember what it was. So maybe not all the clever. I also found another one that I didn’t register because I was a teensy bit low on cash (what with not winning any contests lately). But I may also register that one (I am not going to mention it here until I procure it, silly!)

What happens then is I have to make a decision – do I want to include those pieces here under the Big DumpTruck to try to drive up traffic from the 20 or so hits a day I get on my archives, or start off on the new domain and become rich and famous over “there.”  I’ve had this domain for 14 years. It’s not like I’m going to just drop it.

Does the photography belong elsewhere? I let my photography domain go because I wasn’t really using it and didn’t want to pay the full renewal price. (Lord, am I cheap or what?!)

Okay, enough naval-gazing. I have some superheroing to do.


NaNoWriMo 2009

7000 words in, I finally have a plot. Or at least a purpose. And characters. The full plot will probably not reveal itself until the end of the month, meaning I’ll have a lot more work to do to get it into a finished state. Which, based on history, I will never do. I’m writing about my kid, his friend, and his cousins. It is fiction, I swear. My niece does not own a store that only sells cups and saucers. She’s 9 – owning a store like that is years in her future.

I don’t know why I keep doing NaNoWriMo, but I’m at the point where I almost have to do it, or I’ll feel bad about it. So I give up a few hours of my November, no big deal, right?

So while I’m working on this, please send snacks.


Today’s Book Titles

Here is today’s list. You can’t have the first one, that one is mine.

The Adventures of Keychain and Neil
40 Ways to Prepare Cold Cereal
The Rat in the Hat
Helmet Hair: Spending Too Much Time Playing Halo
Even More Ways to Prepare Cold Cereal

p.s. I think I successfully removed the snippet of code that was automatically adding links to key words in the blog to Amazon products. Some of the links were too odd. So from now on, if there’s a link to an Amazon Product in an entry, I added it there myself.


What’s that Smell?

I am odd. Or maybe not. Or maybe I’m odd for reasons entirely unrelated to what I am writing about today. I’ll leave that discussion for others to have.

As you all know, I’m a writer. I write. I don’t claim to be a Writer (capital W) like some heavily paid novelist. But from age 24 to about age 41, I was a professional technical writer. Got paid to show up every day and put words into a computer. People all over the world read those words – some of them, to not be hurt or killed on the job. Others, to figure out how to get started with their new laptop computers. It’s not glamorous work, but it pays well.

I’ve also written freelance stuff for a newspaper that no longer exists, and I consider myself some kind of humorist, at least at times, with this 11+ year old website. It isn’t a paying gig, but I like it. (Don’t you think I’d be writing more often if it were paying? I do.)

So with that background in mind, I can tell you that over the years, I have purchased probably every kind of notebook ever made. I’m kind of an addict. And the ones I like the best are the ones with thin-ish paper that makes a rustling kind of noise after you’ve written on it. Not exactly like the old air mail paper (does anyone but me remember that? It was super-thin so that it wouldn’t weigh down the envelope and cost more to mail) but not far off. I like thin paper.

So I got a new notebook out of the supply closet at work when I started a new project (because the notebook I’d bought at Staples was really nice, except for the thick paper). I love it. Perfect paper thickness. The ink from my fountain pen doesn’t bleed all over the place.

It smells like it came from my grandmother’s barn. (She didn’t own the barn, she rented an apartment in a multi-family house that happened to have a big (HUGE) barn behind it.) The house no longer exists as it did when she lived there, and the barn is long gone. But when I was about 10 I went in there with older boy cousins I had never met before (because they lived in Mississippi and had come up for my grandfather’s funeral) because you cannot keep a teenage boy out of a giant old mysterious barn. We found some glorious old stuff – in one workroom the calendar on the wall was literally from the 1950s. It was as if the owner had turned off the lights one night and had just never gone back in. To be honest, I’m surprised none of us fell through a floor or needed a tetanus shot after that experience. Knowing me, I probably spent the entire time saying “We shouldn’t be in here! This is dangerous!” whether it was or not.

Anyway, the one thing I still remember from that day (other than the funeral) was the smell. An old abandoned barn can really get quite a stink up. God knows anyone with a dust, mold or mildew allergy would have had to be hospitalized.

My new notebook with the perfect paper smells like it was stored in that barn. I’m so incredibly torn – I want to keep using it, but it stinks! I guess I’ll just keep using it until I can’t stand it any more. Or until I notice people wrinkling their noses when I walk into a meeting. Darn you, notebook supply company! Why did you do this to me?


Stop Putting Songs in My Head!

Email friends of mine have successfully put the song “Brand New Key” into my head. It’s been there for two days. Stop it! Stop it!

I came up with a book title yesterday. I don’t have a book to go with it, but I’m giving the book title away for free. If you use it, be sure to at least send me a free copy of the book. And then I’ll pull a Wright on you and go on some anti-American rant and people will stand on your front lawn and yell things about you because you took my suggestion for the name of your book. HA! I will PWN you!

Here is the title:

English as a 10th Language

Okay, so go get writing. I’ll be sitting here thinking up titles. I’m working on one right now, the draft version is “English as an 11th Language.” Too clichéd?


49,999 to Go

It’s that time of year again! NaNoWriMo 2007 is upon us, and if you haven’t signed up yet, go sign up and then join us on the Nano blog I’m setting up for more detailed posting and sharing. Last year 5 of us contributed to that blog, and we were all happy and sad to see December arrive. (You don’t have to sign up to just read, but if you want to contribute, sign up and then let me know to “upgrade” you.)

So I woke up this morning, declared the word “The” to be the first word of my novel and dozed off for another 10 minutes. Writing is hard work. Since then I have decided that “The” is probably not going to be the first word, but no editing allowed when you’re trying to write 50,000 words in a month, so I’ll just write around the “the” and use it later.

For those waiting for Disney pictures, I have to work my way through about 5 gig worth of them. For those of you not waiting for Disney pictures, be happy, I haven’t gone through them all yet.