My First A to Z Challenge Reflection (#AtoZ)

Well my first A to Z challenge has come to a close and I must say I’m pretty impressed with what I managed to put together for my theme of Seriously Silly Poetry. Each post included a silly (or sometimes a bit more sweet than silly) poem with a fun illustration.


Three Most Popular Post (by views):

#1: A is for Apples Eating Zebras (56 views)

#2: B is for Butt in the Air (53 views)

#3: I is for Icky (43 views)


Most Overlooked Post (by views):

U is for Upside Down (13 views) – this is worth a look if you missed it!


New Blogs Discovered & Followed (WP)

The Sound of One Hand Typing

Outside Perception

This is Another Story

Musings of a CowCorn

Christina Dankert

This is Another Story

Enchanted Words

Hopes & Dreams


Blogs I Read A to Z:

No Love for Fatties

What Sandra Thinks

The Confusing Middle

MidLife Cat Lady

Martha Reynolds’s Writes


Proudest A to Z Achievement:

I wrote and published a book! Apples Eating Zebras and other seriously silly poetry is a compilation of my A to Z posts (with a lot of editing and some refinement). This 100-page fully illustrated book is fun and beautiful. Check it out!

Up till May 4th I’m running a launch celebration book give-a-way. Check here for a chance to “win”.


Did you enjoy this series? Let me know! I hope that you stick around as I’ve plenty of more content coming up. Best wishes to you all!

Be well,

Monty

March Hits & Misses (a recap)

Well March is in the books and it was a bit of a slump vs. previous months in terms of my blog readership. I’m not sure if January and February were unusually good, or if March was unusually poor, but for March I was down in views by more than half vs. February.

Here is a recap of the top three posts and the worst performer (based on number of views) for March.


No. 1: Monty’s Never Have I Ever (2-part series)

The Stats: 35 views for top post (70+ views for all posts in the series)

The Gist: This was my first foray into running a blog quiz and as the name says it was based on the ‘never have I ever game’. In reality it was just an excuse for me to give away one of my books (and clock in a sale), but what’s wrong with that?

The Take-away: This was fun! Some of the responses from the participating players really made me laugh. AND you got to learn a whole lot more about the weird things I’ve done in my life all for a dollar. If you missed it, it’s worth a read.


No. 2: The Silver Lining (2-part series)

The Stats: 19 views for top post (28 views for all posts in the series)

The Gist: I introduced a new poem format and invited others to give it a try (and tried myself).

The Take-away: I really like the idea behind this forum. It was a bit disappointing to not have any takers to join in, but the silver lining poem I wrote was really powerful to me and I’m going to keep this form in my repertoire moving forward.


No. 3: #AtoZ Challenge Theme Reveal

The Stats: 21 views

The Gist: This post introduced the theme for April’s #AtoZChallenge which is “Seriously Silly Poetry”.

The Take-Away: This is my first year taking part of this challenge and I’m really excited by the theme. I’m hoping that the challenge aspect may bring in some new readers (and introduce me to some new cool blogs). The first post is now up here!


The Flop: The Long March Ends

The Stats: 5 views (and I think one of them might have been mine)

The Gist: A brilliant title (apparently wasted).

The Take-away: Ouch. I really thought this title had a hook. Oh well.


Be well,

Monty


  • Under the Earth’s Shadow
    I lay awake under the earth’s shadowGentle breathing curled at my feetA companion in this darknessHolding guard against The cold reality and coming lightFor I’mContinue reading “Under the Earth’s Shadow”
  • Blue Heron
    Be well, Monty
  • Endure Me
    Endure meEndure my cold feet under the sheetsEndure my rough breaths sawing through the night’s airMy tossing and turningMy hogging all the blanketsMy nightmare kicksMyContinue reading “Endure Me”
  • Departing
    Be well, Monty
  • Scenes from Today
    These are untouched photographs from today’s walk on Bainbridge Island, Washington (just applied a simple frame). Be well, Monty
  • Perched in the Moonlight
    Be well, Monty
  • Playing with Time
    Be well, Monty
  • How Did I Get to This Beautiful Place?
    Be well, Monty
  • Birds in Flight
    Be well, Monty
  • Rising Sun
    Be well, Monty
  • Forest Moon
    Be well, Monty
  • Blessed
    Be well, Monty
  • Snowy Scene
    Happy snow day! Be well, Monty
  • Peek-a-Boo
    Poking my head up after a spontaneous hiatus. I hope you are all well – happy and healthy. I’m on holiday visiting my mom inContinue reading “Peek-a-Boo”
  • A Return to Patterns
    Be well, Monty
  • Quiet
    He’s been quiet lately. The voice in my head. The voice that is, quite frankly, a bit nuts. Often compelling me toward darkness. Vacillating betweenContinue reading “Quiet”
  • Today
    Today’s a gorgeous weather day. Cool with a light breeze. Bright and sunny aside from my spot in the shade of the tree above me.Continue reading “Today”
  • Shine On
    Shine on, shine on, shine on meShine your light on meLight me up, cast away my doubtsLift me out of these shadowsI’m ready, I’m ready,Continue reading “Shine On”
  • Here I Go Again
    Here I go again. Interrupting this negative space with some generic typeface. No particular intentions. Just wanna release built-up tensions. It’s coming out in dripsContinue reading “Here I Go Again”
  • A Test of the Heart
    I’m wearing a Holter heart monitor today and I can’t help but wonder if it can see past the irregular beats and witness how whollyContinue reading “A Test of the Heart”
  • An Observation and a Query
    A fly walks by. S t r e t c h i n g Its legs, I guess? Be well, Monty
  • A Gentle Drizzle Sets the Scene
    A gentle drizzle sets the scene;The last of the season’s persimmons hang-on,Half-concealed behind leaves shimmering underA quiet concert of pitter-patter percussion. In quick succession aContinue reading “A Gentle Drizzle Sets the Scene”
  • The Birds
    The birds are watching me from the wire above. What are they thinking? Do they see my sadness?Or are they too busy balancing in theContinue reading “The Birds”
  • Mired in Mud
    Mired in mud.I don’t like this feeling, but I appreciate the alliteration. Mired in mud, mud, mud.Stuck in repetition. Mired,So tired — In mudOf sinsContinue reading “Mired in Mud”
  • Let Me Be (Note to Self)
    Let me be angry. Without good reason.Let me be lonelyEven if not alone.Let me be sadJust because I am.Please, Let me be. Be well, Monty
  • Morning Cocktail
    Morning Cocktail 3 parts Zoloft 1 part AbilifyMix meditatively and pray for help with my unbeliefDilute to taste and swallow (along with my pride)Assume PeacefulContinue reading “Morning Cocktail”
  • Rhyming Inventories
    A Rhyming Inventory of Things I’ve Not Been Doing Because They Would Make Me Feel Better (and I Don’t Deserve To)1. Prayer or meditation2. TakeContinue reading “Rhyming Inventories”
  • Poetic License
    I applied for my poetic license today;It was rejected due to a grammatical error.Oh, The irony. Be well, Monty
  • REDACTED
    ⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️ Be well, Monty
  • This Morning’s Song
    Coffee. Bold. Fragrantly steaming — the weather’s turned cold. Expresso doubled again and again.I opened my day’s calendar — it appears never ending. Patience isContinue reading “This Morning’s Song”
  • Unashamed
    Naked. Clothed only by my sins. Jealousy wrapped around my neck. Sloth draped over my shoulders. Lust sagging around my ankles. Here I am. SeeContinue reading “Unashamed”

The Blogger Games II – Week 4

Paul, over at the Captain’s Speech hosted the first ever blogger games last year during the Summer Olympics. It was a fun time. The competition was fierce and although I made the podium once during the five week games, I didn’t place in the end. Well, the time is nigh for that to change. Peckapalooza from The Confusing Middle, one of my fellow contestants in the first games, has negotiated organizing rights with Paul and is hosting The Blogger Games II just in time to coincide with the winter games.

The Blogger Games II – Week 4 (The Confusing Middle)

Well. Well. Well. I came into a lil’ touch of gold last week. It certainly felt nice. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I’ve got no idea on how to tackle this week’s games. I’ve been trying different strategies and I got one that worked last week…but there is no way to apply it to this week. Ah well, perhaps my strategy this week will just be “dumb luck”. Let’s get to it and see how this works out.

THE 10 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

1. What score did Peckapalooza want to play trumpet for in 7th grade band? A) Superman: The Movie B) Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves C) Back to the Future

Answer: B) Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I don’t know any of these scores off the top of my head, but in my imagination Robin Hood would have some good trumpeteering.

2. Peckapalooza’s all-time favorite book? A) The Stand by Stephen King B) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz C) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Answer: C) A Wrinkle in Time. Because in my humble opinion it’s the superior option.

3. Peckapalooza’s fav vampire slayer? A) Kristy Swanson as Buffy Summers B) Sarah Michelle Geller as Buffy Summers C) Eliza Dushku as Faith Lebanese

Answer: C) Eliza Dushku . I’ve no idea. I did a quick google search with the plan on picking the most attractive (I know it’s shallow but without watching the show, what criteria should I use). Anyway, none of them seemed particularly attractive to me…although if they are kicking-ass in the show that can add a significant degree of sexiness so it’s very possible that their headshots didn’t do them justice. Pure guess.

4. Peckapalooza’s fav Hitchcock flick? A) Rear Window B) Psycho C) Vertigo

Answer: A) Rear Window. Gosh, entertainment isn’t my category. I’ve, maybe scene snippets of these movies but never watched any of them fully through. Another call for pure luck.

5. Peckapalooza’s fav mainline Final Fantasy ? A) IV B) VII C) XII

Answer: A) IV. Never played Final Fantasy so…

6. Which of these films outperformed their respective books according to Peckapalooza? A) The Shining B) A Walk to Remember C) The Hunger Games

Answer: A) The Shining. I’m only confident that its not The Hunger Games. 50/50 shot in the dark.

7. Which film’s actress has a Twitter crush on Peckapalooza? A) Blades of Glory B) Step Brothers C) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

Answer: B) Step Brothers. This would take a LOT of research to figure out. Research I’m NOT going to do.

8: Which love birds are most believable to Peckapalooza? A) Rocky and Adrian B) Han and Leia C? Neo and Trinity

Answer: A) Rocky and Adrian. I’m thinking their gritty love story is the right one.

9. Which concert did Peckapalooza snub? A) Black-Eyed Peas B) Tim McGraw C) Miranda Lambert

Answer: B) Tim McGraw. I’m projecting on which one I would have snubbed, but it’s still a 50/50 shot. I’d likely only have seen the Black-Eyed Peas.

10) Who did Peckapalooza and his college friend make fun of? A) Steve Urkel B) Samual “Screech” Powers C) Angus MacGyver

Answer: B) Samual “Screech” Powers. Nobody makes fun of MacGyver…but, his name was Angus?…seriously?!


After this quiz I feel like I must have tuned out of the entertainment industry. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a rural area that had virtually no TV reception and even radio was severely limited? I’ve got nothin’.


Be well,

Monty

The Blogger Games II – Week 3

Paul, over at the Captain’s Speech hosted the first ever blogger games last year during the Summer Olympics. It was a fun time. The competition was fierce and although I made the podium once during the five week games, I didn’t place in the end. Well, the time is nigh for that to change. Peckapalooza from The Confusing Middle, one of my fellow contestants in the first games, has negotiated organizing rights with Paul and is hosting The Blogger Games II just in time to coincide with the winter games.

The Blogger Games II – Week 3 (The Confusing Middle)

So last week I took a bold turn on my strategy by guessing against my intuition on every question. How did this work out? Not so well. I got only 4/10 correct, just slightly ahead of random chance and slightly worse relative to the first week. My KPI for the strategy was minimum 6 correct answers. So back to the strategic drawing board.

As soon as I saw this week’s questions (all about preferences) and that they were somewhat consistent with first Blogger Games hosted by Paul, which Peckapalooza also played, I knew that I needed to make a critical decision. How to best use this data? Here’s the thing, I think it’s human nature to assume that other peoples preferences are the same as ours if we like them (and different if we don’t like them). So, if Peckapalooza likes Paul, I should choose the same/similar answers that Peckapalooza chose for Paul in the original games. If he hates Paul, then I should go with the opposite answer. Make sense? Of course, Peckapalooza could be indifferent or indecisive about liking Paul, but where is the fun in thinking that?

My answer: Paul is Peckapalooza’s best (virtual) bud.

Why? Because Paul is so darn likable! Nuff’ said!

THE 10 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

1. Which way does Peckapalooza like the toilet paper roll to hang? A) Over B) Under

Answer: A) Over. Peckapalooza guessed (wrongly) that Paul prefers over, so that is what I’m going with. I got this one wrong about Paul too. This could be a tough one as some, like me, don’t really have a strong preference. I don’t care how it hangs myself as long as it’s there when I need it.

2. Sandwiches taste better when they are…? A) Not Cut B) Cut Diagonally

Answer: B) Cut Diagonally. Peckapalooza and I both guess this correctly for Paul and frankly there is no other right answer anyway.

3. When it comes to watching shows on TV, does Peckapalooza like to watch them…? A) Week to Week B) Binged All At Once

Answer: B) Binged All At Once. This question varies from the original where Peckapalooza guessed “Later (recorded)” correctly about Paul. I didn’t. I was thinking about sports and assuming Paul would want to watch them live, but I should have focused on “shows”. Anyway, I figure Binged is the closest answer here to “Later”.

4. Is Peckapalooza a…? A) Night Owl B) Morning Person

Answer: A) Night Owl. Peckapalooza got this right about Paul and I got it wrong (what does that say about whether I like Paul?! I suggest, let’s not overanalyze this strategy!). I myself like to wake up early (5am everyday). I’m a serious morning person.

5. Which fries does Peckapalooza like more? A) McDonald’s B) Burger King

Answer: A) McDonalds. Almost everyone got this wrong about Paul. Probably because Paul got this one wrong himself. Now, Peckapalooza switched out Wendy’s with Burger King on this question, which would hint at the fact that Burger King might be the correct answer, but I think it’s a red herring and I’m sticking with MickyD’s (because it’s the right answer whether it’s correct or not!).

6. Peckapalooza likes to sleep on his…? A) Side B) Back

Answer: A) Side. This question almost threw me as it wasn’t binary in the original games, but I did some extra digging and confirmed Peckapalooza guessed (wrongly) side for this one. Personally, I’m most often on my stomach (like Paul).

7. When ordering a beverage at a restaurant does Peckapalooza…? A) Use a Straw B) Drink from the Glass

Answer: B) Drink from the Glass. Peckapalooza and I both guess this wrong for Paul. Paul had framed this question around drinking from a small milk carton…Paul is still a kid at heart and we weren’t thinking straight. Who even still drinks from milk cartons after grade school? I prefer drinking from the glass to avoid the “plasticy” flavor of the straw.

8: Peckapalooza would rather be…? A) Hot B) Cold

Answer: B) Cold. Ok, so this one wasn’t on the original set of questions so I’m flying blind on this one. I’ll take my 50/50 chances. I personally prefer to be cold because there is something that I can do about it (put on more layers), but there are only so many layers that I can take off before I become an indecent exposure, so…

9. Peckapalooza would rather live…? A) On a Lake B) At the Beach

Answer: A) On a Lake. This is another new question so I’m projecting my own preference here. If there was an option to live on a rocky ocean shore I would have gone with that as I love the waves, but I’m not a fan of sand.

10) Which young adult book series does Peckapalooza like more? A) Percy Jackson B) Harry Potter

Answer: B) Harry Potter. Another new question and another projection of my personal preferences. Harry Potter is a much better crafted world/story than Percy Jackson.


I’ve shared my own preferences in most of the questions above, so I’ll just jump to predictions. This week I fully expect to score 7/10 correctly (considering that some of the questions were new and I wasn’t able to directly apply my strategy). Let’s see how this works out!


Be well,

Monty

The Blogger Games II – Week 1

Paul, over at the Captain’s Speech hosted the first ever blogger games last year during the Summer Olympics. It was a fun time. The competition was fierce and although I made the podium once during the five week games, I didn’t place in the end. Well, the time is nigh for that to change. Peckapalooza from The Confusing Middle, one of my fellow contestants in the first games, has negotiated organizing rights with Paul and is hosting The Blogger Games II just in time to coincide with the winter games. Enough said. Let’s play!

The Blogger Games II – Week 1 (The Confusing Middle)

THE 10 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

1. Which of the following foods will Peckapalooza refuse to eat under any circumstances? A) Chocolate B) Spinach C) Broccoli D) Peanut Butter

Answer: B) Spinach. I reject Peckapalooza’s claim to being a grown-up adult.

2. What is most frequently Peckapalooza’s go to bowl of cereal? A) Frosted Flakes B) Cinnamon Toast Crunch C) Rice Krispies D) Honey-Nut Cheerios

Answer: A. Frosted Flakes. It’s a toss-up between Frosted Flakes and Cinnamon Toast Crunch so I went with my gut (and avoiding two B answers in a row). My personal go-to cereal is Cheerios (standard, but China’s variation on the cereal which is much more crunchy and robust. Vastly superior to the US version in my opinion).

3. Peckapalooza [claims] he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but which kind of pie does he consider the best? A) Apple B) Pumpkin C) Key Lime D) Lemon Merengue

Answer: C) Key Lime Pie. After Lemon Merengue, this is one of the worst pies in my opinion. Too sweet. That’s right! I’m throwing down and risking it all by challenging the judge. Just call me reckless. I’m a Pumpkin and Apple pie kinda guy.

4. What is the only drink Peckapalooza will order at Starbucks? A) Pumpkin Spice Latte B) Caramel Apple Spice C) Caramel Macchiato D) White Chocolate Mocha w/ Raspberry

Answer: D) White Chocolate Mocha w/ Raspberry. I’ve never even heard of this one, but it’s the least coffee-like drink on the list (and white chocolate isn’t really chocolate). Also since Peckapalooza is a monster and doesn’t prefer pumpkin or apple pie, that eliminated two of the other options. Oh, and who knew Raspberry had a “p” in it??? I certainly never did. When the red squiggle line came up I was convinced some one messed with the editor’s dictionary.

5. Which condiment would Peckapalooza never put on a hot dog? A) Mayonnaise B) Ketchup C) Mustard D) Chili

Answer: A) Mayonnaise. Because despite my contentious comments earlier I don’t believe Peckapalooza is a monster. Also Chili is a topping not a condiment in my book.

6. As a kid, when enjoying a glass of chocolate milk, what did Peckapalooza use to change the white milk to chocolate? A) Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup B) Ovaltine C) Nestle Quik D) Swiss Miss Cocoa Mix

Answer: C) Nestle Quik. Because Peckapalooza is a child of the 80’s. Would Swiss Miss even work in cold milk?

7. Which fast food chain did Peckapalooza avoid until his early teens because he mistakenly believed that, as a picky eater, he could not specially request what he wanted? A) Burger King B) Taco Bell C) Subway D) Wendy’s

Answer: A) Burger King. Because it’s reasonable as a kid to think you can’t make demands of a king. And while Peckapalooza’s food tastes are a bit unreasonable, he is actually a very reasonable guy.

8: What is Peckapalooza’s favorite flavor of Pop-Tart? A) Apple Cinnamon B) Grape C) Frosted Strawberry D) Unfrosted Strawberry

Answer: D) Unfrosted Strawberry. Because there has to be at least one instance that backs up Peckapalooza’s claim of not being a sweet-tooth.

9. What is Peckapalooza’s preferred salad dressing? A) Thousand Island B) Ranch C) Honey Mustard D) Italian

Answer: A) Thousand Island. Because it is the best at hiding the vegetables (a toss-up with Ranch to be honest).

10) Which of the following topping combinations does Peckapalooza like on his pizza? A) Chicken, Bacon, and Sausage B) Pepperoni and Mushrooms C) Ham and Pineapple D) Peppers, Onions, and Sausage

Answer: B) Pepperoni and Mushroom. A classic. And mushrooms are the least vegetable vegetable there is. Option A, which is all meat, is a red-herring.


Monty’s Turn:

When Peckapalooza asks for a food story, you gotta deliver (in 30 minutes or less):

Ode to Soy

by Monty Vern (originally published in Monty’s Almanac 202x)

“Iron Sponge” – this is what you get when you source your tofu from a co-op’s bulk tofu barrel in Vermont during the 80’s and fry thick slabs of it seasoned only by the cast iron skillet.

“Iron Sponge”

Also known as “Torture by Tofu”, these healthy meals were a scaring introduction into the curdish world of soy. 

“Tofu Patties” – this is what you turn to when you take an ethics class about animal rights during senior year in college and are too lazy to read the counterarguments.

“Tofu Pattie”

If not for the illicit juices infiltrating these babies from the tortured cow patties cooked on the very same cafeteria grill and heavy overdoses of condiments all squeezed between bouncy buns, these might have cured me of senioritis. But to this day I haven’t read the counterarguments…I’ve just “conveniently forgot” the arguments in the first place.

“Silk de le Soy” – this, my friends, is a spiritual awakening in tofu form. A delicate tapestry of flavors and textures that serenade one’s tongue. A gift from the Sun gods to the chosen people.

One shouldn’t  complain or be too envious – they did after all give us  Mario, Luigi, and magic mushrooms. For me, this tofu epiphany came presented in a humble miso soup prepared by the mama-san of the company dormitory. Perfection.

“Silk-de-la-Soy”

“Dofu Delicacies” – having been enlightened, it was time to move on to the OG of soy (and seemingly all culture as we know it). It doesn’t take long when your living in China to learn that a delicacy is more about delighting the spectators of the poor laowai struggling to keep their stomach from turning upside down than any sort of culinary pleasure. Dofu is no exception. What’s beautiful about the Chinese is that they don’t mess around with euphemisms , with names like “stinky dofu” from Zhejiang to “hairy dofu” from Anhui , you know exactly what you’re getting.

A picture containing athletic game

Description automatically generated
“Stinky Tofu”

So, there you have it. My life in tofu. Wherever you are in your tofu discovery journey, I raise my glass (or more accurately my bowl) of soymilk to you wishing you health and joy and ever’ soy.


Be well,

Monty

January Hits & Misses (#bloganuary recap)

Well #bloganuary has come to an end and while I’m grateful that this event helped bring me over to the WordPress platform and significantly increased the level of my engagement with the blogging community, I’m also VERY happy to see it’s conclusion. I made the best of it and I will give the benefit of the doubt to the WordPress team for having the best of intentions, but some of these prompts were a pretty rough. As a relative newbie to the blogging world I applied my fresh energy to the challenge and tried my best to create some interesting content. Here is a recap of the top three posts from the series, and the worst performer (based on number of views).


No. 1: Living Courageously

The Stats: 32 views

The Prompt: What does it mean to live boldly?

Analysis: This one required some research to get started, which is a different from most of my writing as I tend to write from what I (think) I know. The result was a poetic list that feels right.


No. 2: I Don’t Feel Strong

The Stats: 29 views

The Prompt: Write about what makes you feel strong.

Analysis: This was my favorite post of the series by far. I had no idea where I was going to go with it when I started. I just knew I didn’t feel strong. The result is a bit of poetic prose that really resonates for me.


No. 3 (tie): Sun, Happiness, Coffee, Writing & Gratitude

The Stats: 26 views

The Prompt: What are five things you’re grateful for today?

Analysis: This one just flowed naturally (which I was grateful for)


No. 3 (tie): Past Present Future

The Stats: 26 views

The Prompt: If you could, what year would you time travel to and why?

Analysis: [Spoiler] There’s no time like the present.


The Flop (No. 31): Road Trip!

The Stats: 2 views

The Prompt: What is a road trip you would love to take?

My Response: This was a five-for-one so you all missed a great deal. My only guess as to why this one performed so poorly is that it was very early and I hadn’t established an audience yet (but I can’t explain why it outperformed the first post of the series). *shrug*


Be well,

Monty


Oh Captain, My Captain (‘s Quiz)

Paul, over at the Captain’s Speech has been hosting the preeminent blogging quiz awhile now. I was a slow starter, but I created the ultimate underdog feel good story by taking the Captains’ Championship Crown in the last round. It’s a strange feeling to be defending the golden podium. I’m not sure I like having such high expectations of myself. I’m much more comfortable flying high and loose without a real care. I’m going to try and channel my underdog energy and let’s see how this turns out. All I’m truly confident about is that this will be a fun time. Paul has a way of making things interesting.

Captain’s Speech – The Captain’s Quiz 7 “Well That’s New”

THE 10 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

1. In the first High School Musical movie, Troy and Gabriella sing a song called, “Start of Something New”. What are three things you would tell kids before they start high school?

The future tense of this question throws me since both of my kids have already finished high school and I’m completely over and done with the whole educating teenagers thing (not just physically, but emotionally). With that said, here is my advice:

1) Be unapologetically yourself. Peer pressure is overrated.

2) Have fun (safely). This is the time to experiment and discover yourself…but don’t be stupid about it.

3) Get the Taco Salad for school lunch. You’ll never find it on the menu again for the rest of your life. Don’t live to regret this important decision.

2. The first iPhone came out in 2007 and thousands of people lined up to get one. What is the longest you’ve ever stood in a line? What was it for? Was it worth the wait?

Shoot. I hope I don’t lose the whole quiz based on this question. I don’t think I have any epic line waiting stories. I’m struggling to recollect. The longest line I’ve ever waited on, based on how long it felt, was probably at the DMV trying to get my driver’s license changed from Vermont to New Jersey. Boy that was painful (but I’d be facetious if I said it wasn’t worth it). I’d say the wait was probably 2 hours in total.

Darn. I really think the points are going to favor those that have fanatically waited overnight to get into a concert or something, but I gotta stay true to the facts.

3. On the game show, The Price is Right, they often give away a brand new car and most contestants jump up and down in excitement. If you won a new car on TV, how would you feel?

I’d be happy about winning a major prize. That just doesn’t happen to me. I’m never a winner at even small types of prize give-aways. But, honestly, my happiness would be a bit muted as I’d be wondering about how much tax I would owe on this thing and whether there would be an option to take a cash alternative. A car is a very personal and long-term choice. It’s very unlikely the prize car would be something that I would actually want to own and drive myself. I guess I could give it to my kids. But the tax thing is still bothering me. I know. I know. Boring answer. But again, I’m stuck with being an honest bloke.

4. Four teams in the NFL have the word “New” in their name: New Orleans, New England, and New York (x2). What are three words that have “new” anywhere in the word.

Newt. Knew. Anew.

5. In what year did your favourite artist/band put out their latest album? How many songs are on that album and how many of them do you like?

Current favorite band is twenty one pilots. Their last album release was in 2021: Scaled and Icy which included 11 songs. This album is quite a bit different from my earlier favorites (Vessel and Blurry Face), but I still enjoy it considerably. I just re-listened to the album from beginning to end and can confirm that I like 8 of 11 songs (the other three are ok, just neutral).

6. Many items (books, cars, video games, clothes, etc.) can be bought used, instead of new. Tell me about some used items you’ve purchased.

Hmm. Purchased, huh? I’ve acquired plenty of used items for free over the years (isn’t that how we all furnished our first apartments before IKEA existed?). But actually handed cash over for? Let’s see. All I can remember is the Nintendo NES game system I bought from a co-worker at my part-time job in a movie theater back in high school for about 60 bucks. A great deal. It came with a number of games including Super Mario, which I eventually played to completion.

7. What foods are just as good, if not better, as leftovers?

Spaghetti and most pastas are just as good as left-overs. Leftover spaghetti is a super comfort food for me as it reminds me of my childhood when all spaghetti was overcooked. Lasagna is particularly amazing 2nd day. Stews and Chilies are better as leftovers as the flavors really come together and the texture thickens deliciously.

8. You need a new pair of shoes. Describe the process of finding the perfect pair.

Aesthetics come first. Pick out some choices that look good for the purpose you need. Then comes fit and comfort. Here it’s critical to try on both the left and right shoe and walk around a little bit (make sure to bring socks that are representative of what you would wear with this type of shoe). Each foot is different so don’t make the mistake of buying based on trying just one. Last is price. If they look good and feel good, then you just need to assess if they are within your budget. I’m inclined to spend more on shoes than other articles of clothing as quality is so critical to comfort and durability.

9. Would you rather have a new friend, a new book, or a new TV show to watch? Explain your choice.

New friend. I’m an introvert living in a foreign land so friends are rare and precious. Becoming friends with someone is a mutual affair. A new book or show just requires my individual effort to find something I’m interested in. I recently ‘acquired’ a new friend. A fellow American living in my neighborhood and we’ve been hanging out some. It’s been a blessing.

10. The Newlywed Game is a game that married couples, as well as friends, play to see how well they know each other. The last person you texted/sent a message to, is your partner. How well would you do at this game?

My Mom. I sent her my wordle results for the day. Ok, mom as partner is a bit awkward in the context of a newlywed theme, but we’ve got this! Mom and I grew up together and we speak weekly now, so I think we would rock this game.

BONUS QUESTIONS

1. You just got a new job and must introduce yourself by sending a group email to your new co-workers. Write your introductory email as if you’re typing it while riding a rollercoaster.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. A new restaurant is opening in your town. You decide to go there for dinner a month after they open. Write a review of your experience. (All the details: name of restaurant, food, layout, etc., are up to you).

Curtis’ BBQ (Shanghai) is a dream come true. A true-to-original recreation of this southern Vermont treasure was established by Curtis’ daughter, Clarissa, who learned to BBQ under her father’s guidance. The only restaurant in all Shanghai serving food from an old school bus, and with a pet pig overseeing the pit as bonus. I ordered the full menu for old times sake and not a single regret. Five Stars! Highly Recommended!

originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts
originally published in Monty’s Almanac 202x

3. You are the creator of a new social media platform. Tell me about it.

One is the transformative new social platform that allows every community member one post per 24 hours. One post like per 24 hours. One post comment per 24 hours. Make them count!

(Inspired by Wordle’s limit of one game per day creating more lasting engagement and interest. In this world of too much of everything sometimes less is more).


Be well,

Monty

Self Love

26th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)


The Prompt: What is your favorite part about yourself?


What a strange question. Am I to dissect myself into different parts and judge them against each other? How does my left pinkie toe compare vs. the birthmark I have on my cheek? What are the criteria? I don’t think I’ve studied this subject before. I’m feeling wholly unqualified to properly execute this request.

So, I’m inclined to cheat on this one. Why not love my whole self? Why play favorites? If pressed, I guess I would have to say my brain/mind? After all, that’s what makes me me and not just a random sack of meat. But if you asked me to give up my left pinkie toe, I’d argue I’m better whole than in bits and pieces. So I’ll politely ask not to be dissected. At least not until I’m deceased, then take all my parts worth anything and give them to those in need. There most be someone needing a new left pinkie toe.


“Mockingbird” – originally published in Thirteen Words

Be well,

Monty


Dear Father,

23rd post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)


The Prompt: Interview a fictional character.


I’m stretching this prompt a bit, but this is what I feel like sharing today. In many ways, the Father in this poem is fictional. The creation of a young boy trying to make sense of a situation that didn’t make any sense. Originally written last year.


Dear Father,

Dear Father, is it true? Did you leave to be free of me?

I come from you. Are you ashamed? Do I spoil your good name?

I’m sorry I’m not worthy.

Dear Father, are you listening? What should I do?

Your blood runs within me. Tarnished by my stupidity.

Should I slice it free? Will you answer me?

Dear Father, where are you? Are you a reality?

Or are you just an origin story? A false memory?

Something to make sense of life biologically?

Dear Father, your silence is my answer.

I know what I must do now. I’ll let you be.

This feels right. I see the light beckoning me.

Dear Father, please forgive me.

I promise I tried my best. Honestly.

I’m sorry. I am not worthy.


Be well,

Monty


Serenity, Courage, Wisdom

22nd post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)


The Prompt: What is your favorite quote and why?


My Answer: The serenity prayer because…

“17” originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts

Be well,

Monty