Month: October 2016

It’s like eBay, but it smells like old.

Today in Blogging 101*, I’ll be discussing where good ideas originate. Blogging ideas surround us but not everyone is tuned into the blogosphere like me. (I run this priceless blog, which several years ago was valued somewhere between Donald Trump’s tax payments and the cost for Donald Trump to maintain his ducktail hairstyle.–This is what we in the blogging business call building Ethos, so now that you trust me, I can move on to the important stuff.)

Like I was saying before I interrupted myself with Ethos, blogging ideas are everywhere. Today we will be looking at blog ideas from an untapped reservoir called a thrift store. There are several types of thrift stores: Upscale stores that sell items that cost more than new items (merch is what I’ll call these items from here on out, which is like an expert way of saying items or stuff), clothing stores filled with merch people wanted to toss in the trash but took a tax write-off instead, and stores filled with merch that wouldn’t sell at a garage sale on a Sunday with a “Free” sign plopped in front of it.

img_4922Here’s our first example. To an ordinary person this looks like a baby doll, but to a blogger, this $25 baby has plenty of opportunities to make humorous comments. For example, I might say, “This is what happens when you put too much sunscreen on your face.”


I turned the price tag on this velvet Pooh painting around because craftsmanship like this should not be crassly valued. I know what you’re thinking, “Is there a velvet Elvis painting nearby? Why haven’t velvet paintings caught on? Is there a museum of velvet paintings? Wouldn’t Eeyore serve as better subject matter for this medium?” See? This is a goldmine of ideas just waiting to be tapped.


Signs like this make bloggers mad. Blogging is about breaking down the barriers that society has erected. The difference between a blogger and a regular person is that a blogger looks at this sign and says to his wife, “Get a picture of me riding this thing in just a second.” If you’re lucky, your wife will be a blogger too and she’ll be onboard with another gem of an idea. If you’re unlucky your wife will say, “No.” (This could be because your wife spent her trip to Europe taking pictures of you climbing on statues and has had enough of your stupid ideas.)


Okay, I know that some people would be offended by an obviously racist symbol on a t-shirt, but not a blogger, a blogger would see this as an opportunity to make some social commentary like, “How can you spot an idiot from a distance?” Or, “Why did the South lose the Civil War? Because their iPods only played Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes so they killed themselves.” Or, “Why are the people who believe in White Supremacy always the greatest evidence that it doesn’t exist?” Or, “How many Lynyrd Skynyrd fans does it take to cut two eye holes in a white sheet? None, they get their sister-aunt-mommas to do it.”


Before you get your wallet out, think about the value this merch has for a blogger. There are lots of directions you can take this. For me, I think about how much joy this would bring to someone in 1979 if you had a time-traveling machine. Or, you could buy this for a grandparent, load it with Rage Against the Machine’s Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium, wrap it up, and your Christmas shopping is done. “Billy, I always wanted one of these. How does it work? Where do I put the earphones? Can you make the words on the screen bigger? I can’t read those little words. Oh, that’s loud. Should I take out my hearing aids?”img_4925

A used bed pan might not be something that you think you need, but you do. Toss this baby in the trunk and you’re ready for anything. Line at the portapotty? No worries. Long drive and no rest stations? You always win with this backup plan. For a traveling blogger, this merch fits in your suitcase and will probably get through security. If you take it on your next European ramble, you’ll be saving tons of money. (I’d wipe it down with antiseptic toilette before using it, unless it is dishwasher safe, then just run it through the pots and pans setting and you’ve got yourself a solution to most problems you’ll face on the road.

Building up a fan base for a blog can be difficult, but if you were known as the traveling bed pan blogger you’ll have to beat off the readers with a rusty ol’ bed pan.


Every blogger needs awards and for $29 (really?) you can have this baby to advertise how awesome your blog is. You could call the award “The straight Shooter Award” or “Terminator 2 Blogger.” Take a couple of photos of this baby, then find a few other bloggers to nominate and the next thing you know your blog will go viral, at least that’s how I think it works.

If your blog doesn’t get any attention, it isn’t the end of the world, you’ll have this trophy to put in the window of the cardboard box you’re living in.


Our final piece of merch is this photo. Any blogger worth his or her salt and pepper can take this simple picture and spin it into an entire series of blogs. Let’s start with an easy one: a comparison of The Mona Lisa and this photo. Mysterious smile: check, Unknown Subject: check, Typical Pyramidal Structure: check. The next blogging idea could be a comparison of resale values of The Mona Lisa and this photo. $47.50 is an odd sum to decide upon unless I’m missing something this photo should be valued at $5. The Mona Lisa will probably increase in value over the next few years. I’m not so sure about an old photo that’s sitting on the floor of a junk shop in Port Angeles, Washington.

I do wonder if the lady in the photo would be happy to know her portrait is plopped sideways on the floor. She looks like somebody who wouldn’t like that much. I believe a talented blogger could run with this idea. A novel? Maybe. A short story? certainly. A blog about photos found in thrift shops? Pure gold.

So, that’s it for Blogging 101 today. If you need a transcript send a check for $47.50 and a self-addressed envelope to my blog: South of the Strait, The Internet, c/o Jon Eekhoff. I’ll send the transcript with 3 credits from Trump University so you can complete your degree in a timely fashion.

*Disclaimer: Blogging 101, is an unaccredited subsidiary of the defunct Trump University. The information given here is not affiliated with Mr. Trump or Trump Steaks but if you place a print out of this in a crock pot  for three hours, with a yellow curry sauce, it will taste better than anything Mr. Trump sells. 

Ummm…Do you still have a blog?

I have a blog, in fact, if you are reading these words you have uncovered it. How you got here is your own problem, maybe your search history and cache made Google think that my blog would help you find out if Vienna’s drinking water is clean (one of my most popular blog pieces over the years for some unknown reason), or you searched “Can I take my 10-year-old to a rap concert” and suddenly found yourself confronted with a half-constructed blog with some not really good advice.

My regular readers (also known as the Magnificent 5) know that my blog is like a mistreated horse that I take out for a ride when the weather permits. I hear this type of blogattitude makes it difficult for blog success, but I’m not here for the success, I’m here to keep the old keyboard warm. When I’m not blogging I’m writing.

Today, I thought I’d just check in and give you a brief view behind the green curtain so you don’t think I’ve been kidnapped by Gypsies. So here’s an interview I did with myself as I thought of questions this morning:

So, you still have a blog?

Yes, I usually take a blogging break during the year.

Is that what you’re calling it? 


Okay, whatever. What are you doing when you’re not blogging?

I’m in a couple writing groups, one that meets on Monday nights and is focused on short stories, and one that meets bi-weekly on Tuesdays that is focused on novels. I’m also a regular at the Fourth Friday Readings which is usually pretty fun if you are a total word nerd. It’s an open mic deal where you have five minutes to read something. I usually read a short story that takes about four months to finish.

So you’re telling the truth when you say you’re writing? 


What is something you’re working on right now?

Well, I just finished a short story about a guy who wants his roommate’s record collection so much that he is willing to do just about anything. I’m also working on a number of short stories about the California Missions…kind of…the stories are connected to the missions but aren’t really about the missions, the stories are about broken, odd people. On the novel front, I just finished editing my baseball novel about the writers and artists in 1920s Paris for the 10,000 time. I made some major changes this time around.

So you’ll have more time to blog now?

Maybe, I’ve been thinking that I should blog on the weekends and do my other writing on the weekdays, but that’s like me thinking about working out. It sounds like something I should do, but chances are I’ll just sit on the couch and watch other people work out.

What’s something you like about blogging?

When I started blogging I thought it would be a good way to get an online presence (whatever that is), but what I really like about blogging is the community I am a part of. I don’t follow many blogs and don’t go for the whole blog “I’ll follow you if you follow me” blackmail deal but the blogs I do follow are all run (is run the right word?) by people who I genuinely like. They are spread out across the globe: Denmark, South Africa, Eastern Canada, somewhere in the US where hockey is watched and being a Steelers fan isn’t weird, the upper East Coast, and then there are a few folks near home in the mighty Pacific Northwest. It is odd to belong to a community of words, but it’s better than being part of a community of cute cat pictures, or Trump supporters.

Tell us your deepest, darkest secrets?

Okay…oh, it’s time to shower and get the day started.



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