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Great Fires Aren't Good

Mark
This column did get printed in time for Fire Prevention Week—it’s just late getting online. But really, shouldn’t something like this be all year round?
Meanwhile, the new publisher has allowed me to write a farewell column for the newspapers I’m no longer employed by, so you’ll see this once more … maybe twice.

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK


            The National Fire Prevention Association would like to point out that, if your smoke detector is not working, it won’t work.

            Sure, it seems obvious. But it’s also obvious that if sprinkler systems aren’t installed they don’t put out fires, safety belts that don’t get used aren’t safe, and people who stay in Washington, D.C. turn into blithering idiots. And yet we defeat sprinkler laws, don’t belt up, and reelect blithering idiots, so sometimes the obvious needs saying.

            This is why we have Fire Prevention Week, which is a week during which we try to stress preventing fires. Fire Prevention Week is always nearest October 9th. That’s the historical date of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which took place in 1871, was indeed in Chicago, but really wasn’t all that great.

            “Great” is a term used for fires that get so out of control that they get weeks named after them. The NFPA has devoted itself to keeping fires from turning great, and the best way to do that is to keep them from getting out of control. It’s counterintuitive, but they would not then be called “good”.
           More importantly is to keep people from getting killed in a fire, which is the job of smoke alarms, which are just like smoke detectors except with fewer syllables. A working smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in a fire in half. You don’t have to be Captain Obvious to see the value of that.Collapse )

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The Notorious Ian Grant

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The Notorious Ian Grant

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A poll: My future as a humorist

Anne - What do you think?
This might as well serve as the official announcement: With my newspaper job gone and thanks to my paranoia about deadlines, I have around thirty unpublished humor columns. After talking it over (and crunching the numbers), Emily and I are turning them into a book entitled, yep, "Slightly Off The Mark". But what of the future? I still need to make up for lost pay, and I do love writing humor. So although I have an idea of the way to go, I thought I'd ask your opinion, dear readers, because you've been such dear ... um ... readers.

Don’t have Facebook? Don’t blame you—just tell me what you think!

https://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/czaugd?

My tweets

The Notorious Ian Grant
  • Sun, 04:21: They've found a spider in the rainforest the size of a "small puppy". And I'm no longer complaining about living in a cold climate.
  • Sun, 06:57: Alan Rickman and Morgan Freeman; worth watching. Speak of the Devil: The Five Hoods: Is That An English Accent? http://t.co/3HxUnHiQ8d
  • Sun, 08:06: RT @XplodingUnicorn: 4-year-old: *sings* The really big spider went up the waterspout Me: It’s “itsy bitsy spider” 4: Not the one in our …

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The Notorious Ian Grant

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Goodbye, Cruel Newspaper Publishing World

WTF? Buffy
Well, it appears I’m now a former newspaper writer, and my humor column is an orphan. Ironically, I didn’t find out KPC News bought the papers I wrote for until I read it in the paper. But while I considered the possibility that they might use their own reporters to gather local news, I held out hope that they might like my humor column, and maybe even use it elsewhere.

Instead, my first official contact was a phone call informing me I had become a “duplication of effort”. On the one hand, it seemed kind of abrupt after 23 years of writing Slightly Off The Mark and close to 25 years of doing news articles and features; on the other hand, the people making these decisions aren’t the same ones I’ve been working with. It’s business. You can storm the newspaper office to protest (and I kinda wish you would, just to make me feel better), but it’s probably pointless. I am upset that I didn’t get a chance to write a farewell column, though. Instead of going out like M*A*S*H, I went out like “Alf”.  (Oh, just look it up.)

            In addition to being the end of the best job I’ve ever had, it’s a huge hit to us financially. I still have my full time job, but this is the equivalent of taking a ten percent pay cut. I’d like to find someone else to print my column, but everyone wants to be a humor columnist and nobody wants to print one. My very funny friend Barry Parham, after trying to sell his column to literally thousands of publications, titled one of his books after the response he got from one editor:  “Sorry, We Can’t Use Funny”.

           To add insult to injury, I have nine or ten columns written ahead! I don’t know what my next move will be, but if I don’t find a home for the column, start selling some books, or win the lottery, I might have to give up my writing in return for that oft-joked about career in the fast food industry. Stay tuned.

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The Notorious Ian Grant

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The Fall of The Conservative Lawn Mower

The Notorious Ian Grant
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK


            With the purchase of a brand new lawn mower, only the third new one I’ve ever bought, I said goodbye to my conservative lawn mower.

            (So named because it stopped working whenever it tilted to the left.)

            It had a good, long run. In fact, the conservative lawn mower wasn’t one of the three bought brand new—I got it used, just like my house and my cars. If it’s good enough for Pontiac/Ford/Dodge/Buick/Chevy/Nissan/Ford again, it’s good enough for Briggs and Stratton. (The less said about Renault, the better.)
         Well, good for a while. I should have retired the conservative lawn mower the first time I tried to mow the hill out front, only to have it putter and die. From then on, it only worked when on the level or tilted right. That wouldn’t have been so bad on a nice, flat lawn, but over my entire lawn there is exactly one square foot of level ground. It’s as if my landscaping was done by a guy with an inner ear infection.Collapse )

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