Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Virtual Blog Tour: Welcome To My Mad World (Cross-Posted from my other Blog)

Friday, July 25th, 2014

A wonderful poet, Daniel Ari, honored me with his invitation to participate in the Virtual Blog Tour. And if you’re not familiar with Daniel’s poetry, you owe it to yourself to pay his blog and his blog tour post a visit. Actually … many visits.

Wait. Where are you going? I didn’t mean for you to visit him right this very minute. You have to at least pretend to read my post first.

Okay, now that I’ve recaptured your attention, I should probably explain the concept behind the Virtual Blog Tour. As best as I can figure out, it’s a method of introducing our readers to other bloggers we admire. Every participant answers the same quartet of questions about his/her writing process. And, in theory at least, we all gain some new readers.

So, on to Question 1: What am I working on?

In theory, I’m pulling together three different humor books: a limerick collection, a humor column collection, and a third book that’s so hard to describe, it’s unlikely to ever happen.

Aside from my books-in-progress, I write tons of limericks every week. Okay, maybe not tons, but A LOT! I also write light verse in other forms, even sneaking humor into haiku. (Of course when I write funny haiku, I get yelled at for not calling them senryu.)

Additionally, I spend a good chunk of time running a weekly limerick contest: Mad Kane’s Limerick-Offs. You can always find the current contest here and the most recent winners here. (Everyone’s welcome to participate both here on my blog and on my Facebook page.)

Question 2: How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, for one thing, it’s written by an oboist turned lawyer turned humor writer. And for another, I stretch the boundaries of limericks by writing them about every topic imaginable: marriage, politics, taxes, death, petty aggravations, serious problems, etc., in a tone which varies from bawdy to satirical to serious, to silly — frequently writing multi-verse limericks. And if I want to be extra hard on myself, I sometimes even attempt acrostic limericks.

By the way, although I post most of my limericks on this blog, I have a second blog reserved for political limericks. Why a separate Political Madness Blog? Because many readers who enjoy this blog, hate my politics. Separate blogs help limit the bloodshed.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do?

Like most writers, I write what I write because I have to. There was a period when I had to write humor columns. Next there was a period when I had to write a satirical George W. Bush diary and political song parodies. And right now I seem to be in my have-to-write-limericks period.

(There was also a 14 year period when I had to write legal briefs. But trust me, you don’t want to hear about that.)

Question 4: How does my writing process work?

I’m always writing limericks — often at inconvenient times, like while showering … or sleeping. Unfortunately I have an awful memory, and can’t trust myself to remember anything. So jotting down ideas immediately is key. Deciphering those notes? Another matter altogether.

While much of my limerick inspiration seems to arrive out of the blue, I’m always actively on the hunt for limerick ideas. I make a point of doing lots of daily news reading, headline scanning, and visiting “what’s trending now” on Twitter, Facebook, and sundry search engines.

I read several political sites a day in my quest for politicians to mock and political issues to have fun with. I also check out several sites specializing in oddball news items, as well as Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, and other possible sources of quirky news items that might inspire me. (Dave Barry’s blog is an unusually good source of such items.)

Limerick inspiration often comes from stories about silly lawsuits, oddball inventions, strange holidays, and weird trends.

Family members, especially my husband Mark, can be a constant source of humor inspiration. (Fortunately Mark enjoys being the subject of limericks and humor columns.)

If I’m really lucky, a limerick just comes to me whole cloth. When that happens, it’s just a matter of writing it down and doing a quick edit. But other limericks present more of a challenge, especially when it comes to news-oriented and political limericks, where I have to pack a lot of info into the limerick and still follow the rules and make readers laugh. (Speaking of rules, you can find my article on how to write limericks here.)

I often start with a single line — either the first line or the last. And in framing that line I usually try to end it with a word that has lots of rhymes. After all, the more rhyme word choices I have, the better the odds of my managing to polish off an amusing limerick.

What happens when I can’t make a limerick work? I add it to an ever-growing digital document jam-packed with hundreds of limericks (and partial limericks) I can’t bear to give up on. And often, months later, I manage to rescue some of them. On the other hand, many have been languishing in that file for years, taunting me to fix or delete the damn things.

I should probably mention some tools I find handy: Rhymezone, while far from perfect, can be very useful. The Syllable Dictionary is helpful as well. And then there’s the wonderful Memidex Dictionary which, among other things, has an excellent audio component. I can’t imagine how I ever survived without it.

*****

So that’s it for my answers to the Virtual Blog Tour questions. At this point, I’m supposed to recommend three other poet bloggers who promise to answer the same four questions. But alas, everyone I invited (1) had already participated in this tour; (2) didn’t feel they had the time to commit to the tour; or (3) didn’t feel they could persuade three other poet bloggers to participate.

However, if you’re still hungering to be introduced to other limerick writers, please do check out my weekly Limerick of the Week Posts. While, most of the weekly winners don’t blog, they’re a funny group of limerick writers you’re sure to enjoy.

(Cross-Posted from my other blog: Mad Kane’s Humor Blog)

Interview Of Me

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I was honored to be interviewed as part of Poets United “Life of a Poet” series. It’s fairly comprehensive and includes some fun photos and limericks. So if you’d like to know some of my deep, dark secrets, here it is. :)

My big thanks to Poets United and especially to my interviewer Sherry Blue Sky. She did a great job!

Why I’ll Never Be A Supreme Court Justice

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

As the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss points out, the U.S. Supreme Court is packed with graduates of Harvard Law and Yale Law:

Assuming President Obama wins confirmation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, that august body will be exclusively filled with judges who earned their law degrees at Harvard or Yale.

Strauss thinks such exclusivity is a bad idea and, as you can tell from this limerick, so do I:

Why I’ll Never Be A Supreme Court Justice
By Madeleine Begun Kane

It appears that Supremes have to hail
From the law schools of Harvard or Yale.
My law school’s St. John’s.
That’s just one of my “cons.”
Plus I’m sixty — I might as well bail.

Happy Birthday To Me

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Friday, September 11th was my birthday — one of those traumatizing, ends-with-zero birthdays. So I told my husband Mark that, unless he wanted me to be a basket case on nine-eleven, he’d better plan something good.

So, did Mark rise to the occasion? He sure did, as I describe in this three-verse limerick:

Happy Birthday To Me
By Madeleine Begun Kane

My nine-one-one birthday was great!
Hubby Mark planned a fabulous date:
God of Carnage — fine play —
Four fab stars on Broadway.
Yes, I married a wonderful mate.

The play featured James Gandolfini,
Who did not play a mafia meanie.
Hope Davis starred too
And Jeff Daniels. Woo Hoo!
Marcia Harden’s the fourth. Creds ain’t teeny.

We dined on gourmet Mex cuisine:
Toloache’s the best I have seen.
And we drank and we danced
At two bars. Age advanced?
Well, perhaps … but I felt sweet sixteen.

(Cross-posted on my non-political humor blog.)

Laughing Matters

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Every so often, one of my essays ends up in a college textbook. It’s a delightful honor, of course. But I’m always just a bit freaked out by the thought of someone writing an essay analyzing one of my essays.

My latest textbook appearance is in Laughing Matters, a “comic rhetoric” textbook by Stanford University’s Marvin Diogenes. It’s a great book, and I’m really proud to have a humor column (actually a satirical music lesson contract between parents and child) included in the “forensic rhetoric” section, along with pieces by Chekhov, Benjamin Franklin, and Ian Frazier.

And happily, it’s NOT a what-not-to-do example.

1996 Humor Column About Underwear Shopping With My Mom

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Thanks to all of you for your kind emails, comments, and Twitter tweets about my mother’s death. I really appreciate it!

In my mother’s honor, I’m posting a 1996 humor column she inspired during happier (and funnier) times:

Secret Shopper
By Madeleine Begun Kane

“I’m not going in there. No way. Forget it.”

My seventy-something mother’s stance was as rigid as her words; arms folded across her chest, unyielding legs pointed away from the shop I’d just suggested.

She and I had spent the entire afternoon combing through three department stores for the definitive pair of panties. Or at least my mom’s idea of same. This illusive undergarment had to be loose, comfortable, 100% cotton, and totally devoid of lace. And that was just for starters. It also had to completely cover my mother’s hips and come in a large size, the exact number of which she resolutely refused to disclose. … (Secret Shopper is continued here.)

Rest In Peace, Mom

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

2008 was a very difficult year for me and for my family. My father died in January, and my mother died December 30th and is being buried tomorrow.

Rest in peace, mom. I hope you and dad are together again.

I love you both and miss the two of you more than my words can express.

Beatrice Begun (1925-2008)

Rest In Peace, Dad (Updated)

Monday, January 21st, 2008

I just got word that my father has died.  He was a wonderful man, and I’ll really miss him. I love you Dad!

Ernest Begun (1915-2008)

Update: Thanks so much to everyone who posted and emailed such kind comments on my father’s passing. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Here’s the somewhat unorthodox eulogy I read at my father’s funeral:

My father, who was very into politics, always enjoyed my political limericks. I’d like to think he’d also enjoy this limerick about him:

My dad, known as Ernest Begun
Will be missed by his wife and his son,
And his daughter, of course,
Cause our dad was the source
Of much joy and support and, yes, fun.