Knife Sharpening Experts

We all agree. If a knife isn’t sharp, what’s the use, right? The sharpness of the blade will make all the difference in the world. And sharpness is largely dependent upon the quality of the blade material from which the knife is made. You’ll need to determine whether or not to get a forged knife or a stamped knife. Let’s make it clear.

Stamped Knives. Stamped knives are stamped out of, or cut from, sheets of metal using a template of predetermined size and shape. This process is called precision machining. As most of these stamped knives are generally flat and thin, the process is done quite quickly. But because they are so thin, they aren’t that dense and do not hold their edges very long. Unfortunately, this means more frequent sharpening is required by stamped knives than forged knives. As a matter of fact, some stamped knives sets claim that you needn’t ever sharpen them. They’ll stay sharp for a lifetime, the package will say. Please, don’t believe that. All things change over time, including the sharpness of a knife’s edge.

The blade of a stamped knife is usually fitted and fastened onto its handle and is not, therefore, thought of as a solid piece of metal. A loose handle could easily result in your having to throw the knife away. Such a waste. It’s good to know that not all stamped handles are this way. Some stamped knives have handles that are fitted over the tang.

Stamped knives are also lighter, and have less balance, than forged knives. So you’ll have to grip it fairly tightly and have to use much more pressure whenever you use them. Doing so will increase risk of injury.

Advantages: Fairly inexpensive. Lighter in weight.

Disadvantages: Usually unreliable handles. Requires more force, more ork from the user. Increased risk of injury during strenuous jobs. Poorly balanced. Needs frequent sharpening.

Forged Knives. Forged knives are not stamped. They are carefully made with great attention to detail. Steel is heated to extreme temperatures and set in a mold. It is than hammered out to form the blade. As a result, forged knives are denser and heavier than stamped knives and have better balance because of it. And while their tempering process results in a blade of extreme hardness, it is also more flexible. It usually has a nice thick bolster with a tang that is enclosed by the handle and is usually secured with three rivets.

Advantages: Much better balance. More weightier and so is more maneuverable. Metal is stronger and can last many years. Requires less sharpening. Less risk of injury as less work is required from the user. Solid bolster to increase safety. Secured, durable handles.

Disadvantage: Costs more. Weightier. Critical Point. Maybe 10 years ago all of the above would be undisputed. Not so today. There is quite a bit of dissent about the quality of stamped knives and whether or not they rival the quality of forged knives. Here are the popular points:

Some stamped knives are made with a high quality steel to begin with.

Some knives are stamped initially and then followed up with a forging process.

Today’s manufacturing process (especially involving heat) can produce stamped knives that are just as good as forged knives, if not better.

Just as good as forged knives, if not better. That’s quite amazing. Here’s another critical point:

Many prefer a forged knife because of its weight distribution, the resultant ease of maneuverability and the comfort and safety of the bolster.

What’s it to be then? It seems fairly easy to decide. If you’d like some strong, long-lasting knives, get forged knives. If you’d like something fairly disposable that you’d prefer not to have to maintain, get stamped knives.

But if you’ve got the time, the means and the desire, shop around. There are high quality stamped knives out there now. Some have good weight on them, too. They’re relatively young on the market, so you’re going to have to track them down.

July 2008

Recording A Life History

Last summer I found out that my husband’s grandmother did not have any kind of life history recorded. She does not have any journals and pictures are scarce. She is the last living grandparent on either side and the thought of my children not knowing her or even being able to learn about her through pictures and memoirs is devastating. I was determined to make some kind of record of her life history but found myself in front of a very daunting task.

I learned that making a record of someone’s life does not have to be as overwhelming as a novel-long biography or a cinema-worthy video- but that even a simple photo or handwritten story can be a treasure for years to come.

Recording a life history can be simplified.

First, decide on the structure you would like to use. For example, would you prefer a video, picture book, timeline in journal entries or biographical articles. Consider your resources, skills and time available for this project. Find the one that is the most practical and achievable in the time allotted for this project.

The next step and the most challenging will be gathering as much information as possible. Much of this information will be obtained by simply asking the right questions. Prepare your questions before the interview so that you can organize the stories into a chronological timeline. It was helpful for me to talk to her children before the interview. They remembered events that their mother had long since forgotten. Here are some thoughts to consider while planning your interview questions:

~ Were there any significant dates in history during their life? How were they affected?

~ Other than big historical events, the trivial things can be fun as well if they remember them- for example the price of bread or how they received the news.

~ Are there other people you would like to interview to get a different perspective of this person and their life? Children? Friends?

~ Try to include stories instead of just facts. Stories can reveal someone’s character in a way that questions and answers cannot.

~ Legacy questions- keep in mind that what you write is how future generations will remember this person. What kind of legacy would they like to leave? What are some life lessons they learned that they would like to pass along? Financial? Family-oriented, etc.

During the actual interview, remember to have fun and enjoy getting to know the person. Be genuinely interested instead of simply filling in your answers. Try to be flexible with your questions and let the conversation flow naturally so they feel comfortable sharing details of experiences with you and reminiscing.

Lastly, put your final project together. Whenever possible ask for the person’s opinion on the structure or layout before the project is completed. Respect that, although you are doing much of the work, this is their history and they may have a preference on how it is presented. They may have not given this much thought, but it is polite to ask.

When the life history project is completed, keep it in a place where you can pull it out often to remember them when they are gone and if possible make copies for other family members or friends to treasure as well. Be sure to keep a digital copy if possible for backup. This is one project you will never regret having completed and with a simplified approach it need not be overwhelming.

Old Time Radio

Old time radio (OTR) is not dead. In fact, it’s alive and well on the Internet. The Internet has actually helped to revive old time radio. After the days of OTR were ended, the only way to get any of these shows was to find them on old reel to reel tape and listen to them in this format. Some kind folks converted these shows to phonograph records and later to cassette tapes.

There were small group of OTR fans that used to do this and trade the shows among themselves. Very few people that would have enjoyed these shows knew about these small clubs and therefore couldn’t get the shows.

When computers became available to more and more people, smart PC users learned how to convert these old shows to digital format. 70 minutes of shows could be put on one CD. With the appearance of the mp3 compressed audio format, distribution was now possible via the Internet.

So many people can now enjoy the fun and adventure of OTR due to the efforts of everyone who converted the shows and posted them on the Internet. With the high speed Internet connections we enjoy today, we can download as many shows as we want in a very short amount of time.

OK, so now that we know that these great old radio shows are available again, how do we go about locating them? There are several ways to acquire these shows.

The most expensive way is to buy the shows at a book store in audio format. Sure, these audio CD’s will play in any CD player, including the one in your car, but you can only fit 70 minutes of shows on each CD. Plus, these are rather expensive.

You can search the Internet and buy old time radio disk sets in mp3 format. These are compressed and many hours of shows can fit on one CD or DVD. They don’t play in most standard CD players, but you can listen to them on your mp3 player or on your computer.

Or, you could join an OTR download club and pay a monthly fee to be able to download any of the shows they have on their website. This is much cheaper and a good option for those with a home computer.

The very best way to get old time radio shows on mp3 is to find a website that offers them for free. These sites are few and far between, due to the fact that there are expenses involved in starting and maintaining a website. There is the cost of registering the domain name, paying a monthly fee for web hosting and paying for the old time radio disk sets. Because of this, many of these sites can only offer a few hundred shows in limited genres.

The best old time radio websites are those that are run as a hobby club. This is where the visitors donate ten or twenty dollars one time, to help pay for the website and to buy more shows.

From then on, everyone who made a donation gets full access to all the old radio shows on the website, plus all the new shows as they are added. A good club will also have an OTR discussion forum so the webmaster and the club members can talk about old time radio, ask and answer questions from other club members and request and share shows with each other. Also, a good news blog is helpful. The person who runs the club can post news to the site to let the members know when new shows are added.

Why is a hobby club better than a download site? Some people, not all, who ask for a monthly fee are more of a business than an old time radio lover. A hobby club is usually run by someone who loves old time radio and just wants to share it with as many people as possible. This is the reason for the small donation fee instead of asking ten or more dollars per month as some sites charge. By combining their resources, all of the club members can listen to many more shows then they could afford on their own.

An old time radio club can be lot’s of fun. It’s a way to enjoy and share this wonderful hobby with others and it also helps to keep old time radio alive for future generations to enjoy.

Overexposing And Underexposing Photography

To be underexposed means that an image contains not enough light, so there is too much darkness that was recorded on the film or image. The darker the photo is, the more underexposed it is. Sometimes you can even underexpose a photo on purpose to make pictures more dramatic, so keep that in mind too – NOT ALL UNDEREXPOSED IMAGES ARE BAD. Underexposure can happen two times throughout the photography process: while taking the picture, and then while developing it. Typically, if it happens while you are taking the picture, it is at night and the lighting is very poor outside, therefore, not giving the camera enough light to capture the image that the photographer wants. If your photos are getting underexposed while developing it, then there are ways of fixing that too.

Ways to correct underexposure:

• Add more light to your canvas. One of the more simple ways of doing this is actually just turning your flash on, that is what it is there for so use it. Another way is by adding a reflector; this will help keep the lighting in the photo in a way that adds more definition to the scene or image. • Adjusting your f/stop could very well be the problem too. Changing this will allow more light exposure to the photo, so just play with it until you find the right f/stop. • Or change your shutter speed while keeping the f/stop the same. I only recommend doing this if you have a model that is not moving and you are using a trip pod. Switching your shutter speed from 1/60 of a second to 1/30 can really make a noticeable difference; it might feel like it’s only changing a millisecond but that period of time can make all the difference!

Overexposure is exactly the opposite of underexposure, you are letting too much light be recorded by the camera and that is causing the photo to be ‘blown out’ or ‘white washed’. When this happens, you lose a lot of the color in the photo and it can be too distracting to see what the photographer was trying to create. Some people overexpose on purpose to allow more details to emerge on a dark object and setting, but typically overexposing is not a good thing. Just like the definition of overexposing is the opposite of underexposing, the ways to correct overexposing are also the opposite.

• Take away light by moving to the shade or using a darker reflector. A darker reflector will absorb some of the access light, therefore, helping your photo from getting blah-looking. If you cannot find shade then find a cloth or something to block direct sunlight. • Try changing your f/stop. Play around with it and get closer to f/11, see what works for the shot and use it. • Shutter speed is another option. Move it up this time, go to 1/125 to let less light in to your sensor or film plane.

Let’s Dance! Ideas For Planning A Fun Dinner Dance Event

Is your group planning a dinner dance event? This is a very popular type of event that can also be a good fundraiser for your group. Here are some tips to help make your dance run even more smoothly this year and help with your fundraising.

Try to Plan Early. The success for many events is simply having the extra time to be able to get organized. You can “shop around” for sponsors or for items needed for the event like decorations and food. Extra time can also help you find more volunteers, committee members and let people know about your event.

Plan a Great Menu. When your dance event also includes dinner, it’s important to have a menu that your guests will enjoy. The food you choose may depend on the style of your dance – is it formal, semi-formal or casual? Or is it a theme party, like a ’50’s dance or costume party? Choose a menu appropriate to the style or theme of your event. Also keep in mind the types of foods your guests will enjoy and don’t forget to have desserts! A dance for adults may feature a cash bar, which a school dance would have sodas. You could even rent a margarita or daiquiri machine, or slushie machine if it’s a student event.  

Add a Raffle or a Silent Auction. A great way to raise funds at a dinner dance is to add a raffle or a silent auction. The best way to create these is to have volunteers or committee members that are focused on obtaining items for for the event. Encourage committee members to be friendly and ask everyone they can think of for some type of prize, you never know who might come up with a great prize. Of course it is unlikely that you will get prizes unless you ask for them! A raffle and/or silent auction can help to boost the fundraising aspect your dinner dance fundraiser event.  

Ask for Dinner Sponsors. You can ask for people to help sponsor the cost of the dinner. This will help you raise more funds. These sponsors can be recognized in a special way (in the program or at the event itself). You may need sponsorship for catering, disk jockey, dessert, linens, glassware and liquor.  

Create a Program. Many dinner dances give away a journal or program for the event. This a terrific way to thank your volunteers and a good way to obtain even more sponsors and get donations for your dinner dance. Committee members and volunteers can ask people if they are interested in purchasing advertisements in the dinner dance program. One way to “sell” even more journal ads is to have different levels of ad sponsorship available, based on the size of the ad and/or the amount of donations. You will need to have some dedicated volunteers or committee members in charge of the journal, and a terrific graphics person to put it all together.   Make it a Photo-Op. Hire a photographer or recruit a great amateur to take photos of your event. You can set up a special photo area for couples and friends to get photos made together. Your photographer can also take group photos and casual shots. Dance guests can then order photos after the event. You may find a photographer who puts proofs online and then guests can choose or order their own prints.  

Say “Thank You”. It is important to thank everyone involved in the dinner. From the staff that worked on the dinner to the volunteers that helped in any way and the guests that attended thank them in person at the event for their help. An thank you note or letter sent by mail can also be a nice touch. If this was primarily a fundraiser, let people know how funds will be spent. People will remember your appreciative attitude, in addition to the great time that they had at your event.

Rock Music

When children are young, it is easy to control the type of music they listen to. Mostly, children listen to what the parents do. Parents may choose to listen to music written specifically for kids, but at other times, the family may listen to whoever set the stereo station last.

The question becomes: Is Rock music safe for children?

Nearly all the best-selling albums of all time are Rock. But is this ‘rebellious’ genre of music having a positive or negative impact on children and society?

As with just about every subject, there are many pros and cons.

The fact is: Rock is a form of art that promotes creativity and expression. Many songs have very poetic lyrics and send off great messages to people. A big message sent through music these days is world change.

In 1985, Live Aid was put on by many rock musicians from Black Sabbath to U2. It raised over 232 million dollars for famine relief in Ethiopia and was inspired by the song ‘The Tide is Turning’ by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd.

Even today, many bands put on benefits for a plethora of causes. Several bands have toured in Iraq to perform for our troops overseas. Also many rock benefit concerts were put on to raise money after the 9-11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake.

Bands also promote Christianity in their music, especially in today’s day and age. Popular bands, such as P.O.D., Flyleaf, Pillar, and many others, widely and openly promote religion through their music. And other bands, such as Breaking Benjamin and Chevelle, subtly promote it through their poetic and abstract lyrics.

Looking at their generosity of both their talent and money, it is clear that many Artists have chosen to spread joy. Are there other benefits?

Music in general, as well as Rock, can inspire children to pick up a healthy hobby of playing music. Learning an instrument helps a child find a form of creativity they can express in an unimaginable amount of ways. Even if they aren’t going to become the next icon, enjoying music can often grant the listener or player an outlet for emotional issues or traumatic events as life progresses.

However, much like all good things, inevitably, you will also find the bad.

Many artists express their feelings through morbid and perverse metaphors and talk about dark taboo subjects. These artists have a breathtaking talent that people should be open to, but they are simply not for children.

Parental advisories can’t always be trusted. For instance, the songs ‘Digital Bath’ and ‘Lhabia’ by Deftones talks about a daydream of grisly melancholic acts, acted out of boredom. This album has no parental advisory on it at all. Yet, that same band has songs against drugs, racism, and other positive influences, but is also not for young children.

As much as the R.I.A.A. tries to help, they are not the parents of America.

As our children start to discovery their own taste in music, parents need to monitor the content and words. Maybe your child has found a singer or band that they really like. You have listened to the song and approve. Make sure when you buy that CD though, you carefully listen to all of the songs or simply purchase the one song that you approved.

Rock seems to be the most controversial but it also has many positive influences that should be taken in to consideration. There are some negatives that come with it, and those should be filtered out by the parents.

As a family and society, we do not want record companies, or anyone else for that matter, to decide what we feel is appropriate or not. We enjoy the privilege of making that decision. We do appreciate their input, hence the labeling. But, when it comes down to it, we are the parents; we will take responsibility for what our children are plugging in their ears.

So, the next time your child wants to listen to a song they like, instead of immediately refusing, listen with both ears. You will learn much of what your child likes and dislikes. You will gain insight into the thinking of your child. You will also learn what to absolutely deny your child.

Comedy Acting

In an actor’s training, the principles of comedy are seldom given their deserved attention. One reason is that comedy, unlike drama, demands a much more disciplined, stylized, precise performance, and the resulting complexities make it both difficult to fully comprehend, to perform, and likewise, to teach. This chapter cannot cover all the complex elements of comedy, but it will attempt to simplify them and make them understandable. My goal here will be to give you a foothold on the basic comedy techniques, their terminology’s, the tools and skills one needs, along with the principles that govern comedy performances.

How does comedy work? How does one dissect humor and explain this phenomenon called laughter?

My approach, presented through out these articles, is to analyze what is happening in the mind of the audience. To look more at the changes occurring in the audience and the reasons behind them. And through this study, we come to realize that the audience, as a group, behaves in a way governed by certain physiological and psychological principles. Because once the actors understand what’s happening out there in the audience, they can create, adjust, or change the presentation so that the style, look, and perspective is consistent with the story elements and its purpose. And by doing so, the acting ensemble can achieve the desired results whether it is drama or comedy.

Many look on comedy as soliciting laughter, but comedy is the medium through which the character, the situations, and the story come to life in a world of humor. It’s still storytelling and it still has a purpose, a premise, presenting arguments and revealing truth. But it’s done in a specific style, with lighter touches, broader strokes, and yet, like drama, somehow reflecting the times and speaking to our lives.

One of the key considerations with respect to the audience is to establish early on the style of the performance. Some bit of business, behavior, or dialogue must reveal that what follows will be comedy. Something indicating we are going to have fun and that the level of reality is going to be distorted, unbalanced, and stretched a little (or a lot).

Even when doing a scene extracted from a comedy play or screenplay, it’s best to establish the genre at the opening of the scene. By doing so, you place the audience in the proper perspective and give them permission to laugh. This is best done with behavior, attitude, or some other non-verbal communication, as this will convey the genre more convincingly and quickly than would dialogue. This initial bit is often called the grabber because it pulls the audience into the celebration and sets the tone for comedy. And as the story unfolds, these initial moments help establish the plausibility for the outlandish situation that follows.

In first reading and analyzing a comedy play or scene, one is likely to focus mainly on the humorous payoffs, the punch lines, or jokes, and thereby base their interpretation solely on playing for the laughs. In doing so, the story elements suffer and weakens the purpose or premise of the play. The performance becomes a series of comedy sketches with little holding them together.

Comedy, at its best, comes out of the dramatic truth of the situation. A character has an obstacle to overcome, a connection to make, or a need to be satisfied. And when that’s expressed, clearly, emphatically with conviction, the audience laughter becomes a kind of celebration.

It now becomes more than jokes. There is a solid sense of reality, even in the most outrageous situations. The audience cares about the characters because they believe the character’s needs and feelings are real. It may seem silly, but its serious silliness, for the audience is now involved in the story and the dilemmas of the characters.

What we sometimes forget is that in every humorous interaction, there are three essential components. First is the humorous material itself, the story and its characters, the funny ideas, the hilarious situations, or the jokes. The second is the medium through which it is conveyed be it a book that is read, actors performing a play, or someone telling or retelling a joke. The third component is the audience, the people to which the humorous material is conveyed via one of the various mediums.

Each of these components is inter-related by basic principles that make comedy work. Humor depends on some shared context, a shared familiarity with social rules, customs of society, nuances of its language and behavior.

Therefore, the comic material must be relevant to the audience or, somehow, the audience must be knowledgeable about the subject matter. In like manner, the comic material must be conveyed clearly to the audience and understood as humor to be funny. The actor/character, who conveys this material, likewise, must be perceived with shared familiarity to create a common ground plus a sense of reality.

The success of humor will depend on how well these three components connect.

When one or two of these components are missing, comedy is not possible. Consider what would happen if a joke fell in an empty theatre. Would there still be laughter? No. Comedy becomes possible when relevant comic material is clearly conveyed to a receptive audience by familiar, identifiable characters.

So now, we have a general idea about the components that have to be in place to make comedy work. Next, let’s look into the specifics as to how comedy is constructed. The major enjoyment in this genre, of course, is the laughter that comes as a result of the situations, the punch lines or payoffs. However, to make these surprises work, the audience has to be led into the trap.

This means luring the audience into a proper state of mind that sets up the joke. The level of comic reality has to be established and the event identified as something that could actually happen. And within the context of the story, the characters and the situations must appear to be logical and acceptable.

Most comic situations revolve around solving a problem, answering a question. For example, how does the character get out of a certain dilemma? As the audience is fed the essential information; i.e., the needs, wants, emotions, obstacles, and other relevant data, the groundwork is laid which later supports the joke and the punch line. The setup may also misdirect the audience, create uncertainties, or encourage belief in the seemingly inevitable conclusion to the dilemma.

Recognizing the elements in the setup that make the joke work is a vital part of interpreting a scene. Without this information, the actor may be unable to shape and emphasize the right elements to maximize the humor.

The classic joke involving Jack Benny’s character is a perfect example. When the robber points the gun at Benny and demands, “Your money or your life?” the element that makes the punch line work is the fact that Benny’s character is an obsessed penny-pinching miser. Without this fact ingrained in the mind of the audience, Benny’s long-delayed response and punch line, “I’m thinking it over!” doesn’t make sense.

Another example is Henny Youngman’s four-word classic: “Take my wife, please!” If you were unaware that much of Henny’s comic anger is about the confinement of marriage, this joke would have little impact. But when this fact is set up earlier in his routine, with this resentment showing, the joke works beautifully.

These two examples bring up a good point. Humorous bits, especially in television situation comedies, are difficult to duplicate fully because they are so indigenous to the character and the set of circumstances. They would not have the same impact when reproduced in part by others. Therefore, it’s important to analyze everything that leads up to each humorous incident. That would include character development and relationships from earlier scenes and even earlier episodes.

Let’s examine the construction of comic gags or jokes and the terminology used to describe their individual sections. Note that jokes are not just situations. It’s the character in the situation. Many jokes are a relationship between two opposing ideas or points of view that are expressed in a way that saves the surprise for last.

It’s difficult to say where each joke begins because many of the qualities that make the joke work begin as the curtain goes up or as the story fades in. This preparatory section we call the pre-setup and the qualities mainly informational. They consist of character’s characteristics, attitudes, relationships, setting, along with the comic tone or the freedom and atmosphere to appreciate the humor.

Next is the setup, the actual beginning of the gag or joke. This is the happy idea or happy notion along with the vital information directly supporting the joke. It sets up the situation, the argument, the problem, and/or the premise and clarifies the objective/emotion/obstacle polarizations of the character(s). It also defines the subject of attack and the plan of assault. I use the terms attack and assault here because most of comedy is blasphemous, insulting, or anti-something. Anyone or anything can be attacked.

Sometimes there is a specific fact or vital bit of information that heightens the audience expectations and the impact of the punch line. This information we call the plant. The plant is the cause while the gag becomes the result or effect. It’s usually the item that sets the gag rolling toward the surprise ending. The plant should be spaced no more than 100 seconds before the payoff. Otherwise, any more time and the connection to the plant is unlikely.

Following the setup, is the build. In this section, the joke is further developed with complications, embellishments, or variations. Tension increases; expectations heighten as the audience senses a solution to the pending question.

All that has gone before now climaxes with a surprise ending. This is the derailment of thought, the payoff, the explosion of the punch line. It’s the resolution or fulfillment that goes beyond the expectations of the audience.

This is followed by the audience’s response, the after-effect.

The laughter, the warm glow, or savoring the fun in knowing they’ve been surprised or had. Laughter is most often produced by a fall from dignity — by other people. And that fall or drop can result in an audience reaction ranging from a silent warm glow to a buffo where the audience lets loose with contagious laughter, feeding on itself. In between, you can have the chuckle, the audience seeing the irony, the titters, the belly laughs coming from deep inside, or the howling guffaw.

Each of these after-affects has its place in the realm of comedy. However, sometimes a big laugh or the wrong type of laugh can hurt a scene by making it peak before the ultimate “big joke”. One can control the laugh response with tempo, timing, emphasis, and/or reaction so the scene is properly shaped and the humor properly projected.

A topper is a short joke/punch line relating to the previous joke, but tops it in humor and response. The actor’s timing, emphasis, and/or reactions set this up so the audience can roll to a higher level of laughter. The saver is a line or behavior used to bump up a weak after-affect, or a joke that’s bombed. Savers are found most in stand-up comedy as ad-libs, but they are also effective in stage and audience attended TV productions to help keep the laughter on a roll.

So a joke or gag, with all the sections in place, might look something like this:

  1. Pre-setup
  2. Setup
  3. Build
  4. Payoff or Punch Line
  5. After-effect
  6. Topper or Saver

The plant could appear either in the setup or in the build, but as mentioned before, it should be positioned no more than 100 seconds before the punch line. You will note that in comedy, there is a stylized order to the presentation. Comic information builds upon itself. What goes before relates to what follows. And if one item is left out or placed in the wrong position, the humor is weakened.

This article provides the basic principles, which govern comedy performances. The subsequent article on implementing humor will cover the tools and skills in telling a humorous story.

List Of 21 Good Dares For Playing Truth Or Dare

On sleepovers, college parties and birthdays, Truth or Dare still is the most popular game ever. The only problem is: people run out of ideas for good dares pretty fast. Check out this list of dares for the next time you play Truth or Dare!

1. Get your wrists and legs tied together for 5 minutes

This dare is especially evil if other dares have to be completed with tied hands afterwards. You can even tie different players together for added fun.

2. Go out and feed at least one cat in the neighborhood

3. Pin a coin against the wall with your nose for 3 min

This dare is much harder than it sounds. Especially if your friends make you laugh in the meantime.

4. Act as if you are crying and describe your worst date

Get creative and make some good drama. Let others have fun with your little scene!

5. Act like a dog and get out in the courtyard for 5 min

Tail wagging, leg lifting, barking – your dog names it, you do it!

6. Ask the most beautiful person of the party for a kiss

This is a very sweet dare. Whomever you ask will get this not-so-subtle compliment. But it’s still cute. Go get that kiss!

7. Go outside the next time you have to go to the toilet

This one is easy for the guys to do.

8. Imitate an animal and have everyone guess what it is.

You’ll be surprised at how bad the other players are with hearing your elephant that sounds like a dying frog-giraffe…!

9. Stand in corner for 5 minutes while others are watching.

Especially effective if you have been handcuffed to someone/something, stripped or drenched. Or if you are ticklish and others can tease you while you are stuck without being able to fight back!

10. Lick ketchup from the back of a person of your choice

Easy, sexy or horrible dare. Depending on the back of the person you are licking!

11. Sing a really romantic song with a hard and dry voice

Have the girls do this dare. It’ll be fun for everyone!

12. Drink a mixture of 1/3 sugar, 1/3 salt and 1/3 coffee

You can mix up all sorts of drinks. Be sure that you have the right age for the drink you’re drinking.

13. Imitate a cartoon character and have everyone guess it

14. Pretend to be a clock and show the time with your legs

And show everyone how flexible you are (or not).

15. Put a pillow up your shirt and pretend to be in labor pains.

You’ll have some really sarcastic fun with this one! Be sure to check with the neighbors before you make too much noise. You can pretend the pillow is your baby after it’s born.

16. Think of your favorite swear word and yell it out loud

17. You have to ask out the next person coming in the room

Or you can go up to him or her and try to get a kiss in. Don’t get slapped!

18. Exchange one piece of clothing with your right neighbor

Have a girl and a guy with very different sizes do it for added fun.

19. Have a pointless conversation with a stranger for a min.

The key is to hold the conversation for a full minute. This will seem longer than you think. If you fail, start over.

20. Have someone pour a glass of cold water down your pants.

21. Have the group mix different sauces. You have to eat it.

That’s it: hope you can make good use of those dares for Truth or Dare. Don’t get too crazy with it. Truth or Dare parties are all about the fun, not so much about having someone feeling guilty or disgusted.

Tenant’s Rights And Pets

All too often I hear of people who are giving up their beloved family pet because their landlord enacted a new no- pets policy, or because they are moving into a rental property that has a no- pets policy. Less frequently, I also hear of landlords who will allow cats but require that they be declawed.

Before you accept a rental policy that costs your family, disrupts your life and harms your pet, there are a few steps you should take.

Know your rights

Did you know that, as a tenant, you have certain rights? Each area will have its own set of rules and bylaws for tenants and landlords, but don’t just assume that your landlord is following these rules. Make sure you know what your rights are regarding your tenancy and pets before you are forced into doing anything.

For example, did you know that in Ontario your landlord cannot evict you or force you to get rid of your pet unless they are dangerous, causing excess noise, damage to the unit or allergy problems? Even if you signed a lease with a no- pets agreement, they cannot evict you. No- pets clauses are considered invalid under the law and the only way you can be evicted for having a pet is if the Landloard and Tenant Board of Ontario determines that the pet meets one of the above criteria. This means that, while a landlord can choose not to rent to someone who has pets, once you have started your rental and are moved in, they cannot evict you for having pets.

Laws will vary depending on where you are, but don’t let yourself be bullied into disrupting your life or your cat’s life when the law may actually be on your side! Be informed.

Don’t capitulate, negotiate

If local laws will not protect you and your pets, then the next step is not to give up and give in, but to negotiate and educate your landlords.

Most landlords that do not allow pets or that require cats to be declawed have these policies because they are worried about property damage. Noise, allergies and messes in communal areas such as the lobby or front law may also be a factor.

As a responsible pet owner it is worth your while to try to educate your landlord about why these policies are misguided and unnecessary. If you can provide reasonable alternatives so that your landlord can feel that their interests are sufficiently covered you may be able to convince them to change their rental policies.

  1. Acknowledge their concerns. Be polite and reasonable and let them know that you understand their concerns and respect their desire to maintain a clean, undamaged building.
  2. Explain normal cat behaviour. The people creating policy may be completely unfamiliar with cat behaviour. Explain that cats can easily be trained to use a scratching post instead of the carpet, and that cats instinctively prefer to bury their waste in clean litter rather than depositing it just anywhere. Explain that cats do not typically scratch at walls, doors and trim, and that even an untrained cat is more likely to scratch the tenant’s furniture than destroy the unit itself. Let them know that you will provide a clean litter box and appropriate surfaces for your cat to scratch.
  3. Let them know that your cats are spayed/neutered. Explain spaying/neutering eliminates the undesirable cat behaviours that they may be concerned about, such as yowling, territory marking with urine & feces, fighting, and attracting stray cats to the area. Let them know that these behaviours are typical of intact animals and that yours have been fixed.
  4. Assure them that your cat will be in a carrier or on a leash any time they are in a public area. Animals running at large can be dangerous and a nuisance. Reassure them that your cat will be kept under control at all times.
  5. Explain what declawing is and that it often results in other undesirable behaviour. Many people do not understand what declawing is and have no idea that it may result in other even more undesirable behaviour, like peeing outside the litterbox. Make it clear that declawing is unnecessary and cruel and that if they are concerned about the cat scratching there are alternatives, such as Softpaws [], which you would be willing to use.
  6. Provide documentation to support your claims. Provide supporting evidence from reputable sources to back up what you are saying. Best Friends Network provides many good resources for tenants who are required to declaw: If your landlord requires declawing, talk to your vet – they may be able to provide a document or letter supporting your stance against declawing.
  7. Offer to pay an additional security deposit. Assure them that while your cat is trained and you do not expect your cat to destroy anything, should something in the unit be damaged by the cat, you will take responsibility for repairing or replacing it. Show that you are serious about this by offering to pay a larger security deposit.
  8. Remind them that a responsible tenant is a responsible tenant, and likewise an irresponsible tenant will cause problems even without pets. Their rental agreement should already cover troublesome tenants, such as ones that cause excess noise, disruption or property damage.
  9. Offer to provide recommendations on drafting a rental policy that allows pets but protects their building and other tenants. If you can do some of the leg work for them, saving them time and effort, they may be more willing to make changes.


Your last resort

If your landlord is unwilling to listen or work with you and insists that you get rid of your pets or declaw, then you have a difficult choice to make. It may be time to consider moving to a more pet-friendly home or if that is not feasible, you may need to re-home your pets. I do not consider declawing your cat to be an acceptable compromise.

Ideally you’ll be able to find a new place that allows pets in its rental agreement. If not, properties that are owned by individuals may provide more flexibility than large rental companies on pet policies – at the very least you may find it easier to get access to someone who has the power to make that decision.

If moving is not an option and you must re-home your pets, do everything in your power to find a new home yourself, rather than dropping your cat off at a shelter. All shelters have an abundance of cats and too few adopters, and your cat runs the risk of being in a cage for an extended period of time or being euthanized if they are not adopted quickly. Use all the resources at your disposal – friends and family, community billboards, Freecycle (if your local list allows) and Craigslist. You’ll feel much better knowing that your cat is going to a home instead of a cage and you will have a say in what type of home your cat goes to.

Contact your local governing body that handles tenant and landlord laws and lobby them to create bylaws that protect pet owners without compromising the safety and integrity of landlords properties.

Through responsible pet ownership and proactively promoting understanding through education we can encourage property owners to set reasonable rental rules and decrease discrimination against pet owners.


Unlike what some fitness commercials would like you to believe, creating a flat, toned belly in just minutes a day is physically impossible for most people.

When exercise fails, modern surgery can help you achieve a slender stomach in just a few hours.

If you’ve been religiously sweating at the gym, grunting through hundreds of crunches and sit-ups each week, and still seeing no results, you might just be out of luck. Although exercise and maintaining a healthy weight is always beneficial, no matter what you do, you can’t sculpt specific parts of your body. You may indeed have a lean, powerful physique, but it might just be hidden beneath a layer of stubborn flab.

It is a rather common predisposition to develop a pot belly or love handles around the midsection. The effects of aging, pregnancy, massive weight loss, and even stress will make the abdomen particularly resistant to toning.

If having a smooth belly is important to you and genetics are not in your favor, you might consider liposuction.

Liposuction is not a weight loss method and will not drastically lower the number on the scale, but it will smooth out stubborn lumps and small pockets of fat that refuse to melt away regardless of exercise and diet. The procedure is primarily used to sculpt the body, refining the skin so that your curves land in the right places.

The procedure is versatile. You can get liposuction on nearly any part of your body, from your neck to your toes, but the stomach is one of the most common areas.

Basic liposuction will target one specific area. The surgeon inserts a hollow tube into the body and gently moves it back and forth through the layer of fat, sucking out the cells. Afterwards, the surgeon may or may not stitch the incision closed. Sometimes it will be left open in order to drain excess fluid.

One of the major appeals of liposuction is the relative ease of recovery. Depending on the anesthesia given, some patients will be comfortable walking and caring for themselves immediately after surgery.

If only a small section is operated on, you could even return to work in as little as a few days. While you’re healing, expect the area to be tender, bruised, and swollen. The results of the liposuction will be visible shortly after surgery, but it can take anywhere from a few weeks to months before all the swelling goes down.

As with many cosmetic procedures, there will be some minimal scarring and the possibility of prolonged numbness.

The major appeal of the procedure is that not only will you look great, but as long as you maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regime, the fat cells will never come back! The fat is permanently removed, but if you aren’t careful, the remaining cells near the area can still plump up, causing some odd distortions.

So if nibbling on celery all day and pushing your body to the limits at the gym isn’t trimming the fat anymore – don’t beat yourself up. You might consider letting a surgeon sculpt out the flat stomach that you desire.