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In this week’s issue . . .

Heavy topics
• Top ten secrets for squeezing good out of bad
• Dark knight at Academy Awards
• You may be clinically depressed if . . .
• Top ten pages at jameswatkins.com
• The weight adventure: week 4

Light touch
• My favorite Super Bowl commercials
• Alien lizards secretly rule world
• God tells man in pickup truck to “punish” sedan driver for “not driving like Christian”
• “Writing with Humor” at Taylor University
• Best late-night lines of the week
• Thought for the week

Top ten secrets for squeezing good out of bad

I’m doing my dance of joy! (And, yes, the curtains are closed.) Squeezing Good Out of Bad is finally in print. I originally started work on it nine years ago, but since then I’ve added all kinds of new lemon-fresh anecdotes including cancer. So it’s a much more personal book in 2009 than in 2000. (If it were any more personal, I’d have to take my clothes off—and nobody wants to see that!)

Squeezing Good Out of Bad provides ten practical strategies for dealing with the lemons of life:

10. Don’t confuse them with hand grenades (Identify the problem)
9. Check the delivery slip (Determine if it’s your problem)
8. Sell ’em on eBay (Profit from the problem)
7. Paint smiley faces on them (Laugh at the problem)
6. Join a citrus support group (Share your problem)
5. Use as an all-natural, organic astringent (Grow from the problem)
4. Don’t shoot the delivery driver (Forgive the problem-maker)
3. Graft to a lime tree for a refreshing, low-calorie soft drink (Take the problem to a higher level)
2. Grow your own orchard (Live a fruitful life despite—or because of—the problem)
1. Give off a refreshing fragrance (Live a lemon-fresh life)

So . . .
Read an excerpt
Read endorsements
Buy a copy Paperback $12.99; download $5
• If you’re currently unemployed, request a free electronic copy by

• Share your story at the official Squeezing Good Out of Bad yahoo group

Dark knight at Academy Awards

I’m also just a bit depressed. The Indianapolis Colts weren’t in the Super Bowl last night and the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight, won’t be up for a “best picture” Oscar later this month. And it’s all my fault! Teams, TV shows, and movies I enjoy, never win awards. (I haven’t seen one of the “Best Picture” nominees!) I thought Heath Ledger was absolutely brilliant as “The Joker,” so that will probably eliminate him from the “Best Supporting Actor” category. Sigh. Anyway . . .
My review of The Dark Knight


You may be clinically depressed if . . .

And, speaking of depression, while at a writer’s conference, five or six us started talking about the dark mood of writers. We went around the table. “I’m on Wellbutrin.” “I’m on Prozac.” “I’m on Zoloft.” “I’m on. . . .” Every single one of us was on antidepressants! One was on an anti-psychotic (obviously a fiction writer).

Depression is not simply a malady of writers and poets. It’s the most diagnosed mental illness in America, and at the same time, one of the least admitted to. After all people who are depressed sit in the dark all day eating their body weight in chocolate and writing really bad poetry. Right? Wrong! Check out a brand new artilce:
Symptoms and solutions for depression
Popular antidepressants: how they stack up [ABC News]

Top ten pages at jameswatkins.com

On a related note, articles on suicide and death have been top pages at jameswatkisn.com since 2007. So, I have in my right hand, direct from my home office, January’s top ten most popular pages [December’s ranking]:

1. Blog [6]
2. “I just want to die” [3]
3. Women in ministry resources [8]
4. “One nation under generic supreme being” ; [4]
5. Top ten reasons I’m not divorcing my wife [5]
6. 2008 year in review [—]
7. The hidden habit: masturbation [7]
8. Dealing with death and grief [9]
9. Top 25 Christian Web sites [—]
10. Quips and quotations of encouragment [—]

The weight adventure

Inspired by The Biggest Loser, my daughter and I are competing with a group of Facebook friends to shed some weight, so to be accountable, I’ll be posting my percentages each week. This week—sound of scale beeping, dramatic pause—I lost 1 percent.

My favorite Super Bowl commercials

For once, the game was more exciting than most of the commercials. (Loved the 100-yard return!) But here are three of my favorites:
Coke Zero’s Mean Troy
Pedigree Crazy Pets
Hulu: an Evil Plot to Destroy the World

And on the subject of evil plots to destroy the world . . .

Alien lizards secretly rule world

Queen Elizabeth and former president George Bush are actually shape-shifting alien reptiles who rule the world. Parts of the world not ruled by reptile aliens are run by a secret organization known as—please pick one—the Illuminati, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, the Trilateral Commission, the New World Order or Yale’s Skull and Bones society. Conspiracy theorists also argue that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were orchestrated by the United States government, the Apollo 11 moon landing was actually filmed in a sound stage on earth, and even more aliens creatures are alive and well in Roswell. And the list goes on . . .

“Conspiracy theories” have been around for most of history: the idea that some group is engaging in secret activities—usually world domination—that the rest of the world knows nothing about. Except, of course, a small group of people who know the truth but are viewed as delusional.

Here’s the prophet Isaiah’s take conspiracy theories. (Yep, the Bible actually addresses this issue!)

God tells man in pickup truck to “punish”
sedan driver for “not driving like Christian”

Michael E. Schwab of San Antonio, Texas, claims God told him that a woman driving a sedan “needed to be taken off the road.”

According to MySanAntonio.com, Schwab told first responders at the scene that “the other vehicle was not driving like a Christian and it was Jesus’ will for [me] to punish the car.” So, he rammed his speeding pickup truck into the sedan.

Fortunately, no one was injured and, apparently, God told police to arrest the man for endangering lives and blaming Him for the accident.

Here’s a better way to hear from God:
God’s will is not lost—for those trying to find it

Writing with Humor at Taylor University

I’ll be teaching a course on “Writing with Humor” at Taylor University Fort Wayne Saturdays February 14, March 14, April 18 and May 9. Click for syllabus; call 800.233.3922 for details and registration.

Best late-night lines of the week

Craig Ferguson
• Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said today he was considering Oprah Winfrey for the Senate. That’s ridiculous—Oprah’s way too powerful to waste her time in the Senate. Although, she’s got enough money to buy it from that guy.

Jay Leno
• President Obama has signed an executive order closing Guantanamo Bay. The big problem is, How do you get all of these inmates back to their home countries? They’re all on the “Do Not Fly” list.
• Freezing weather this week. The roads were so icy, Al Gore almost didn’t make it to his global warming speech.

David Letterman
• In “Top ten ways Rod Blagojevich can improve his image,” 7. Offer a senate seat with no money down, zero percent interest

Conan O’Brien
• Blagojevich is being criticized because he recently compared his experience to that of Nelson Mandela. Which may be a stretch—but at least he got the prison part right.
• Earlier today, the world’s top economic advisors gathered at a luxury ski resort in Switzerland to find a solution to the global financial crisis. So far the best idea is to stop traveling to luxury ski resorts in Switzerland.

Final touches

Thought for the week
Failure is the foundation of truth. It teaches us what isn’t true, and that is a great beginning. To fear failure is to fear the possibility of truth. Joan Chittister
• Click for more encouraging quips and quotes.

More light touches
Church humor from Rev.
The Dredge Report (Humor page)
Top ten lists

Thanks for stopping by! And please leave a comment below.

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