It' So Cold ...


            You’d think this weather would be perfect for “it’s so cold” jokes.

            You know: It’s so cold I saw a dog frozen to a hydrant.

That’s an old one – let me try to come up with something of my own:

It’s so cold hot wings are being sold on Popsicle sticks.

It’s so cold the weather made me reminisce about some of my ex-girlfriends.

It’s so cold, Miley Cyrus put her clothes on.

Or this one that I just came up with: It’s so cold politicians are starting to look warm and friendly.

Now you know why I don’t do stand-up.

They’re probably all variations on jokes someone already came up with. Besides, this being Indiana, it could be in the 50’s when you read this. But as I wrote it the temperature was minus 15, so I think I’m justified in saying it’s so cold they canceled Cleveland. The whole city. They just canceled it. And nobody else noticed.

I did some research for this column (shut up, I did), and came across such things as it’s so cold I saw a politician with his hands in his own pockets, and it’s so cold I saw a gangsta pull his pants up. But my heart really wasn’t in it, because it was so cold the truth becomes ridiculous without the need for exaggeration. For instance:

It’s so cold that boiling water thrown in the air turns instantly to snow.

Next question: What fool would go out with boiling water in that weather? I hope it was some weatherman getting paid to go out, show it’s too cold to go out, and tell people not to go out.

On a related note, it’s so cold The Weather Channel named this storm “Winter Storm &#$%*@!”

It’s so cold salt and other chemicals put on roadways to melt ice stopped melting anything. But that’s okay, because nobody could get past the snow drifts, anyway.

It’s so cold the Chicago Zoo had to keep their penguins and polar bears indoors.

Even inside, the penguins asked for extra blankets. The polar bears demanded their fish be fried.

It’s so cold officials in Minnesota closed some entertainment venues: Specifically, ski and sledding hills, and ice rinks.

That’s hard core. Or, hard ice core.

It’s so cold that it got into the single digits – in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta residents haven’t shivered so much since they heard Sherman was marching their way.

It’s so cold antifreeze could freeze.

Well, not right here, but in Minnesota it got down to minus 36. Prestone antifreeze freezes as minus 34. So far as I know, there is no antifreeze antifreeze.

However, we Hoosiers aren’t out of the frigid woods: vodka freezes at minus 16.51 degrees. It’s so cold, the cold can’t even drive you to drink.

In Canada, it’s so cold that it’s actually warmer on Mars.

But it’s okay – Canadians are used to it.

Also in Canada, the severe cold has caused some “frost quakes”. That happens when the temperature drops so much, so fast, that ice causes the earth to crack open. The same thing happened in 2011 in Ohio and Indiana. This helps me with the screenplay I’m writing for the SyFy channel, which I’ve titled: “SnowTornadoIceQuake Shark Attack”. I know what you’re thinking: Sharks? Hey, I’m out for the ratings, so I’m having some teenage snowboarders in bikinis jump the shark.

Ratings Gold.

It’s so cold that in Green Bay people are grilling beer.

Apparently this happened at a football game tailgating party, where it was so cold the beer froze and had to be set on the grill to thaw out. In related news, a nearby fan received a concussion after he asked someone to throw him a brat.

And now you know why I don’t go to football game tailgating parties.

It’s so cold that I filled my column up with twenty-three repetitions of “it’s so cold”, because my chilled mind couldn’t come up with anything else.

Okay, how about this: It’s so cold that when I came in from shoveling snow I climbed into the refrigerator to get warm.

Oh, here’s one: It’s so cold people were getting frostbite while thinking about going outside.

Well, I’m too cold to care.

Dad 1; Cancer 0

Let’s interrupt this despairing parade of horrible weather to bring some good news:

My Dad has been declared cancer free! Yay!!!!

They’re going to continue to check him every couple of months, which is normal, but for right now it’s nice to catch a break. I don’t know what the recurrence rate is for this particular cancer, and I’ve decided I don’t want to know; for now it’s great that he’s beaten it.

Speak of the Devil: From Russia With Psychotic Financiers

Speak of the Devil: From Russia With Psychotic Financiers: Before we get things started, some links to look at. Over at our joint blog, we've got another  Snippet Sunday  post set up. And since ...

Murphy Proves Winter Prediction


            Well, it didn’t work this time. My system didn’t work, and as a result, the Blizzard of ’14 was all my fault.

            I know what you’re thinking: “Mark, can you be so egotistical as to brag that you affected the weather?”

            People, it’s not bragging when it’s a bad thing. It would be like somebody bragging that they take drugs and commit crimes. Maybe that was a bad example, considering it’s not unheard of for people in Hollywood to commit Charlie Sheenisms.

            If I claim to have brought on spring singlehandedly with my mind, then you can stage an intervention. Meanwhile, the fact remains that the Blizzard of ’14 was directly caused by Hunter’s Law of Inverse Lousy Predictions Squared.

            As far as I know it wasn’t technically a blizzard where I live, by the way, although it was declared that one county to the west. “Blizzard” just sounds cooler than “snowstorm”, in the same way “tornado” sounds cooler than “straight line winds”. There’s something oddly human about insisting you have the worst weather, which I guess is kind of bragging about bad things.

            “You may have a few drifts, but our blizzard buried semis! By the way, my gallstone was way bigger than your gallstone and my boss is way meaner than yours. And our snow is colder.”

            Anyway, for the last ten years or so I’ve been predicting a bad winter. Not for this year – for all those years, every year. “It’s gonna be a bad one this year,” I’d say. “I feel it in my gut.”

            And every year, that feeling in my gut turned out to be from gorging myself every December on Lions Club citrus.

            We kept having mild winters, instead. (“Mild” sometimes meant ice instead of snow. It’s all relative.) This is because of Hunter’s Law of Predictions, which states, “Mark Hunter isn’t very good at making predictions.” It’s a simple rule.

            And I was happy with that, because, as all 14 of my regular readers know, I hate winter. I hate winter so much that I’m only going to live around here in the summertime after I’m rich, which should happen any second now. So every year I said “This is the year they’re going to name “The Godzilla of Winters”, and every year I was wrong. (The Godzilla of Winters breathes sub-zero snow, instead of fire. Also, he slides over Tokyo with giant ice skates.)

            But I forgot the flipside, Hunter’s Law of Inverse Lousy Predictions, which reads:

            “Whenever Mark Hunter is right about a prediction, it’s something bad.”

For instance, I correctly predicted the most recent economic recession. I correctly predicted that China was going to start flexing its military muscles and mess with its neighbors. I correctly predicted that my lawnmower would either not start in the spring or break in early summer … every year since 1988.

To make matters worse, there’s also Hunter’s Law of Inverse Lousy Predictions Squared. HLILPS, which is pronounced “Hlilips”, clearly states: “If Mark Hunter makes a prediction because he wants to be wrong, sooner or later he will be right”.

It gets complicated. The weather example is that I predict weather from the tenth level of Hell (which is where they keep the deep freezes, ice cream supplies, and politicians with frozen hearts). The original law – Lousy Predictions – kicks in, and so we have (relatively) nice weather.
But then, sooner or later, someone or something figures out I’m messing with them. Karma, Murphy, Mother Nature, Al Gore, whatever. Then the Law’s inversely square part kicks in, and I’m left holding the bag. By which I mean, I’m left holding the snow shovel.

It’s  a given, at that point, that I’ll be suffering from my chronic back pain, sinus infection, and tendonitis just when the driveway is yelling “shovel me!” I’ll remember that my boots aren’t insulated, my gloves are too thin, and that even at 5 degrees I can sweat under my long underwear, a situation that ironically can lead to hypothermia.

I’ll also be reminded that there are a lot of great people out there, personified by whoever used a snow blower on my sidewalk after our first storm, and whoever else has been running a snow plow through my driveway after every snowfall so far this season.

Much as I still hate winter, that kind of thing makes me feel a lot better.

And who could have predicted that?

Release date set for The Notorious Ian Grant

            Whiskey Creek Press has set the release of The Notorious Ian Grant for October, 2014. Holy cow, that’s just nine months! I finished filling out the Title Information Form and Art Information Form yesterday, so the next step is well underway.

            I'm writing some short stories in the lead-up to the book’s release, showing how the title character came to the odd position he’s in at the opening of the story. Those will be posted for free, and I’m toying with the idea of having Ian encounter some characters from TV shows along the way—a shout-out to my past as a fanfiction writer. Hopefully they’ll be as fun as the book itself.

Slip Slidin' Away

We were given a huge chest freezer yesterday (Thank you Charis and Vince for helping us move it!) Fearing someone might slip on the ice while we were moving it inside, I shoveled and scraped and cleaned the sidewalk and driveway pad until there wasn't a speck of ice or now left.

Now it's snowing. I can't help feeling responsible, somehow.

Well, between the shoveling and freezer hauling I hurt my back, to the new snow can just stay there and get comfortable.

A Night At The Opera House


            Years ago I shopped at a place called Excel Home Furnishings on the north  side of the Noble County Courthouse square. I liked wandering around the second floor, because they’d installed enclosed bridges that allowed the furniture to be displayed not only in the original building, but in two other neighboring ones.

            (I have no explanation for why I love exploring sprawling areas like that. It’s why I keep getting lost at the State Park … and the mall.)

            In one of those buildings most of the upstairs was open, and there was a big raised area, like a stage. For someone who lived in a utility apartment at the time, I thought it was really cool.

            It turned out to be even more cool when one of the employees showed me a normally closed off area, where we could see the outer walls and roof. There they were, plain as day: Charred wood and smoke stains. At one time in the distant past, he explained, the building had burned.

            That was my introduction to the Albion Opera House.

            Now the building is for sale, and there’s a push on to save it. Save it from what, you say? Well, my first guess would be parking lots. There’s not enough parking in downtown Albion, but if all the old brick buildings were knocked down and turned into pavement, there wouldn’t be much reason to park there anyway.

            I think it should be saved, so my rich readers should contact Phyllis Herendeen at the Unique Boutique in Albion, or by e-mail at

            What do you mean, I don’t have any rich readers?

            I know what you’re thinking: “But Mark, you hate opera.”

            True. But I like orchestras, which performed there, and I love movies, which were screened there. Other people like sports: Basketball games were once played in the Opera House. Suppers, musicals, dances … it was an armory during World War 2, and for a short time in the 1880’s it housed the Noble County Government. Maybe they even had operas there. Just ask Linda Shultz, who wrote a book about Albion’s history long before I did. (What, you thought I was original?)

            But the reason I want to see the building saved dates not back to its construction before the 1880’s, but for something that happened to it in 1931 – something that should have ensured its destruction.

            Considering the story I started with, I suppose no one is in suspense.

            Consider not only the fire, but the times: It was January 16, 1931, when someone noticed the flames at about 11 p.m.

            Only a year earlier the Albion Fire Department got their first motorized fire truck, a 1929 engine. When fire broke out in the large two story brick Opera House, and threatened to spread to other nearby structures, that was the first apparatus out of the firehouse two blocks away.

            Second came a Ford pickup truck, on which had been mounted the chemical engine that was originally horse-drawn. The Ford also towed a 1910 era two wheeled cart, which had mounted on it 350 feet of hose. A second, rarely used reserve hose cart held 200 feet of hose, and was probably hauled to the scene by hand at this moment of crisis.

            That was it.

            Soon the chemical engine ran out of chemicals to pressurize water. Chief John F. Gatwood, his two Assistant Chiefs and eighteen volunteers were left with one fire engine, which could in a best case scenario supply two fire hoses. Did they call for help from other towns? Sure. But how long did it take other volunteers to go ten or more miles on 1931 roads, at nighttime in the middle of January?

            In case you haven’t read Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, I’m not going to spoil you on whether they managed to save the Albion Opera House. But I do think that the building is worth saving today.

            Well, shoot.

Okay, forget the spoiler thing. The Noble County Democrat newspaper office on the first floor was saved, and by the first week of February contractors named Moore and Thomas started work on remodeling. Twenty-seven local businessmen each donated $100 to rebuild the second floor, putting in a brand new arched roof and a bigger stage. The place was open for business in two months.
So yeah, I think it’s worth saving: not only for the historical aspect, but because we already saved the thing once, doggone it. And while it’s going to take more than a hundred bucks apiece, I can’t help thinking an effort by local citizens to restore the place would be worth it.

            Personally, I’d like to own the building myself. It would be cool to have a big open air apartment upstairs and maybe downstairs a little museum in front and my writing office in back. But I also think it would be cool to keep the bills I already have paid, so we’ll have to go to Plan B.

            Does anyone have a Plan B?