Saturday, December 29, 2007

Special Napkins

Terri B. of Buffalo, NY, says her mother taught her to read when she was three years old. That might've been her first mistake. One day, Terri was in the bathroom and noticed a box in the cabinet with the word 'napkins' on it. She asked her mom why the box wasn't in the kitchen, where napkins belonged. Her mom replied that those particular napkins were for "special occasions". A few months later on Thanksgiving Day, Terri was assigned to set the table for dinner, for which the special guest that day would be the pastor. When the pastor entered the dining room, he was speechless when he saw the "special" napkins Terri had used. At least she followed proper decorum and had tucked in the little tail on each one so they didn't hang off the edge of the table.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Regrets, He's Had a Few

Bob L., of Cherry Hill, NJ, has always had a habit of losing things. Usually, there are no serious consequences. But Bob does wince when he remembers that gorgeous blonde with sparkling eyes he met in college. She gave Bob her number just before she headed home to New York for the Summer, and told him to call her when he was in town. Of course, he lost the slip of paper with her number, and never bothered to track her down. The girl turned out to be Meg Ryan -- the Meg Ryan. He realized it when he saw her on the big screen for the first time a few years later. Even her comedies bring on the sadness now.

It Does Take Two, Right?

Beatrice C., a German native living in Fremont, Calif., wished someone would've warned her about words that sound alike in English. She might've spared her American-born husband Roger a little embarrassment during a bike ride one day. She got ahead of him, then had to backtrack to find him among a crowd of other bikers on the road. "There you are!" Exclaimed Beatrice. "I was half way through the intercourse when I noticed you were not there."

Roger turned beat read, the spoke loud ebough for the crowd to hear. "You mean half way through the intersection, I think, dear."

Friday, November 16, 2007

All Fired Up

Jeanne M. of Mission Viejo, Calif. tried to substitute a stove burner for her cigarette lighter -- and she got burned (literally). She was on the kitchen phone and couldn't reach the lighter, so figured she would improvise. Turning a knob on the gas-powered stove to 'High', Jeanne ignited one of the burners. Then she lowered her face, a cigarette dangling from her lips. The flame sprung up faster than she expected, singeing her eyebrows and eyelashes from her face. Jeanne insists she's not telling a bald-faced lie, of course.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Sausage and Gravel Pizza

Tom R. of Grand Rapids, Mich., knows good things come to those who wait. That's why he and his wife hung around for 45 minutes to get takeout pizza. When their order came up, they hurried to their car so they could get back home in time time for the big game. It would be worth the wait, though: they could almost taste the piping hot pizza from the wafting odor. It was only after Tom started the car and turned onto the busy street that his wife noticed the absence of that pleasant pizza smell. Panicked, she searched the car. "Hey, where's the pizza?" She asked. Her answer came immediately. At that moment, the couple watched the pizza box slide down the windshield, shoot off the hood and topple to the pavement. Tom had left it on the car roof.

Backing for the Business Deal

Billie S., of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., inadvertently added some value at business-related dinner. After using the restroom at the restaurant, she returned to the table where her husband was entertaining a client. "Everyone was looking at me," recalled Billie. "I decided they must've been admiring my lovely dress." Sure enough, it was her dress -- especially the back of it, which she had accidentally stuffed into the top of her pantyhose. Her entire backside was exposed.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Reflections on Poor Eyesight

Valerie T. of Omaha, Nebraska was walking down a staircase in a public building when she saw a familiar face walking toward her. The woman seemed friendly, too, with a broad smile like her own. Naturally, she greeted the approaching woman with a bubbly hello. But the greeting wasn't returned. "This lady is either rude or deaf," thought Valerie. Turns out it was Valerie who had the problem -- perhaps poor eyesight. The woman she saw was herself -- or a reflection of herself, anyway, in a full-length mirror. Maybe Valerie should've waved -- she would've either recognized her folly, or been satisfied with the friendly response of the "stranger".

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Real Junk Food

A Laguna Beach, Calif. man didn't know who kept leaving donuts in the office break room every morning, but he enjoyed them anyway. Then, the custodian gave him a clue one afternoon: "Hey, do you know who's been eating these donuts?" The custodian asked him. "I pull them out of the donut shop's dumpster every morning for my dog, and stash them here. But they're gone by the time I come back for them."

A Tee'd Off Bride

A Florida woman had a ball -- literally -- at her garden wedding held near a country club. The ball -- the kind used on a golf course -- flew from the greens and knocked her in the head, as she was exchanging vows with the groom. She regained consciousness, but didn't heed the sign: a year later, she was divorced.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mother-in-Law is Tough as Nails

Kim H. of Raleigh, NC, knew that making a good impression on her mother-in-law would be tough. The old fashioned mom wasn't at all thrilled that Kim was a career woman. So Kim decided to make dinner for her husband's folks to show she could shine in the kitchen, too. But when the mother-in-law scooped up some salad from the bowl, she found something extra among the greens, olives and croutons: a bright red, acrylic fingernail. Sure enough, a quick count confirmed Kim had lost a nail on her index finger -- and any chance of getting in her mother-in-law's good graces.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Halloween Prank that Backfires

Watch what happens when this dad (portrayed by this blogger) tries to scare kids attending a Halloween party. This is an entry into a TV ad contest for Heinz Ketchup. Believe it or not, the producers were a pair of (very talented) 18 year olds.

>>Watch video clip (30 seconds)

Motivational Speaker

Sue N. of Oklahoma City, OK, found out what can happen when you stay in a cheap motel with identical rooms. In the morning, her husband wouldn't get out of bed while she -- anxious to continue their vacation -- was dressed and ready to go. "Get your buns out of bed!" She nagged. "I don't want to waste the day."

With that, she went to the front desk to settle their account. When she returned, she saw a motionless body, still under the covers. Now she was really steamed. "I TOLD YOU TO GET YOUR LAZY BONES OUT OF BED!" She hollered this time.

This certainly startled her husband, who was next door in their room, wondering why his wife was yelling at a total stranger. Su had gone into the wrong room. The man to whom she had actually directed her anger shot up in bed, showing his face to a mortified Sue. "Sheez!" He exclaimed. "This place sure has one heck of a wake up call."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Check Out Those Buns Without Sesame Seeds

Craig C. of Laguna Hills, Calif., wished he had heeded a sign from a cool wind at the beach one afternoon. After hours of surfing, he emerged from the waves, removed his wetsuit and towelled off. He had worn swimming trunks and a t-shirt underneath the wetsuit and they were a bit damp. But Craig knew that the sun's heat would soon dry him off. As he left the beach, he noticed his backside felt colder than the rest of his body. "Probably leftover moisture," he thought. He headed to McDonald's where he stood in line for several minutes to order. It wasn't until he sat down on the hard plastic seat that he noticed his bare flesh touch it. You guessed it -- a wide split in his shorts had exposed his full moon to the beach onlookers and the hordes of fast food diners.

Monday, June 18, 2007

It Sucks to Have a Car Without Air Conditioning

The next car Monique P. of Long Beach, Calif. buys will likely have air conditioning so she won't have to roll down her windows. She discovered this can be hazardous as she was driving to school with a freshly written term paper on the passenger seat. Somewhere between 50 and 60 m.p.h., a strong current scooped the document from the seat and sucked them out the window. Gone with the wind. Oh well, tomorrow is another day, as Scarlett would say.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Flushed with Embarrassment

Ken A. of Draper, Utah had just used the toilet in a modern movie theater bathroom when he new cell phone tumbled into the bowl. Rejecting the idea of an unsanitary bare-hand grab, he went to get a paper towel he could use retrieve the phone. But technology got the best of him. On the way back to the stall, the automatic flusher was engaged and his phone started its journey down the pipes. "No worries," said Ken. "The phone was a piece of crap anyway." A fitting end, then.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Flipping Out

Scotty B. of Palm Springs, Calif., was only following a custom of big city driving when the car behind his kept honking. He apologized to his girlfriend in advance, then shouted profanities out the window and did the one-finger salute. It was only after the offending driver stuck his head out the window that Scotty's girlfriend recognized her father behind the wheel -- next to her mother. The parents had spotted their daughter on the road and had only wanted to say hello. Dad later had a man-to-man talk with Scotty about temperance.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Life Sucks for Bird

Life really sucked for the parakeet of an 84-year-old Utah woman. Gladys left the Hoover vacuum running and the hose wedged inside the bird’s cage when a phone call interrupted her cleaning. Soon after she greeted the caller, she heard an ear-piercing chirp, then a dull sucking sound: Her parakeet had gotten the half-second tour of the Hoover Tunnel. Gladys rushed to the Hoover and turned it off. She opened the bag to find the bird still alive, but he may’ve wished to be put out of his misery. His concerned master saw that he was caked with dust and dirt, and generously showered him under the kitchen faucet, then blasted him with a blowdryer. The parakeet survived the trauma, but it left him chirpless. Now he just sits and stares, according to Gladys. No doubt he’s thinking he’d be better off with Sylvester the Cat.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Senior Swimmer

At a lakeside family picnic, Vinal M.'s granddaughter, Susan, persuaded him to join her for some rowboating. He wore his Sunday best — slacks, dress shirt, tie and jacket — hardly a fitting ensemble for the occasion. Vinal may have been hoping to avoid soiling that attire as he cautiously placed one foot in the boat. Or perhaps his bifocals made the transition more difficult. In any case, the distinguished-looking old man stood with one foot on the dock, one foot in the boat and the distance between the two ever increasing. Within seconds he was doing the splits. This was not a pretty sight, given the old guy’s barrel shape and stubby legs. Reaching out her hand in a last desperate attempt to help him aboard, Susan unwittingly pushed the boat even farther from the dock. The laws of physics ran their course: with one foot pointed east and the other aimed due west, Vinal descended into the lake with a mighty splash. He sputtered to the surface, groping for his spectacles. A lifeguard rushed over, and dragged him onto the dock. Vinal eventually forgave his Susan. He’s quite flexible about things, she learned.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Senior Stripper

Shirlee, a retired school teacher in Avinger, TX, is a modest person. How, then, does she explain her public performance that rivaled a Britney Spears concert? Shirlee blames her poor eyesight. She forgot to wear her glasses when she went to change her blouse in the restroom of a busy restaurant. It was after she had stripped to her brassiere and replaced her blouse that she first noticed the blurred, white objects along the wall. They had an uncanny likeness to urinals. Squinting without her trifocals, she asked herself why they would be in the ladies room. The three men behind her - now snickering - had a better question: why did this woman just strip in the men’s room? Shirlee gasped, rushed back to her table and hid behind the desert menu until she saw the men leave. Shirlee now wears contact lenses that stay in her eyes all day.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Man in a Pinch

A Walnut Creek, Calif. man paid the price for being too frisky just after his wedding. Mike M. was shopping with his wife and his new mother-in-law when he attempted a no-look pinch to his wife’s behind. But the mother-in-law had stepped between the couple at the last second and Mike groped the older woman's derriere instead. Naturally, Mike immediately discovered his faux pas with the fingers because the posterior he patted wasn’t as "familiar" -- or solid -- as his wife's. The three of them had a good laugh, of course, and Mike now calls his mother-in-law "Mrs. Robinson."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Crappy Condiment

Oscar V. of Houston, Texas was just about to bite into a decked-out ham sandwich when his wife asked him to hold the baby for a minute. He held the little diaper-clad fella with his left arm and reached again for the sandwich. As he did, he noticed a yellow streak on his fingers. Oscar thought it was mustard from his sandwich, and licked it off. But it wasn't mustard -- it was a sample from a load in the baby's diaper. After Oscar's wife stopped laughing -- and while Oscar rinsed his mouth out -- she enlightened him: "Now you know why they call that mustard 'Poupon.'"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cat's Got Your WHAT?

A Fountain Valley, Calif. man opted not to tell his co-workers how he hurt his head because the cat got his tongue -- and then some. Ivan B. was on his way into the shower when his wife begged him to re-set the garbage disposal. Completely naked, he crouched under the sink to perform the task. But it was all game for his new kitty, Buttons, who pounced from around the corner to claw playfully at the object she spied dangling between his legs. When Ivan‘s reflexes made him shoot straight up (like a cat, ironically), the sink cabinet knocked him out cold. Buttons is still a playful little critter, but she’s since been declawed.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Preacher's Cup Runneth Over

After one powerful sermon, Pastor Jeff of Mission Viejo was humbled yea verily. Half way through his discourse, he noticed both his audience and his bladder were being moved. The first needy soul he planned to help after the sermon was himself. After the last Amen, he raced to the restroom faster than you can say Apocalypse. The Hallelujah Chorus played loudly in his mind as he stood at the urinal. This flood would have impressed Noah. He shouted praises of joy.
His kidneys were well on their way to salvation when the deacon came rushing in. He looked as though he had seen the devil, and had been struck dumb. He silently drew his finger across his neck to communicate the "cut" signal and pointed to the wireless microphone Pastor Jeff had neglected to shut off before he left the pulpit. The congregation had heard everything, from the happy groans to the urinal flushing. This was one baptism the congregation shouldn't have heard.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Wallet Stew

Marjorie, a single senior living in Spokane, WA, thought she was shrewd to hide her wallet in the microwave. After all, she reasoned, it’s one of the last places a burglar would look for valuables. The plan worked well enough to fool even her. She had forgotten all about the wallet when she placed a bowl of leftover stew in the microwave later that evening. After the oven cooked for three minutes on high, she retrieved a piping hot bowl of stew — and a steaming, withered wallet. The contents, including Marjorie’s driver’s license, credit cards and family photos, were a melted mass of plastic and paper. She stashes her new wallet in the refrigerator. She likes it raw, not well-done.

Surf's Up -- His Nose

Like many surfers, the only drag to catching a wave for Robert M. of Laguna Hills, Calif., is saltwater buildup in his sinuses. He never knows when a bit of the Pacific is going to drain out through his nose.The dam broke for Robert at work — not a big deal unless you happen to have Robert’s job — waiting tables at a gourmet restaurant. A steady stream tumbled from his schnoz into the dinner salad of a high-society customer. The only tip Robert got that evening was from his boss, who kindly counseled him to start looking for a new job the next day.

Trailer Blazing

Sometimes, you just got to run free and break loose. Just ask Dave W. of Santa Ana, California. Problem was, the enlightened individual wasn't human; it was a trailer that carried a 16-foot boat Dave had just purchased. He was the towing his new prized posession down the freeway at about 70 m.p.h. in the fast lane when he heard a metallic grind -- and felt a yank at the bumper. He was easing his truck to the shoulder, when he eyed something passing him on the left. It was his boat, riding atop his runaway trailer that had become unhitched. Dave watched helplessly as the trailer -- with his new boat as braking material -- scraped along the cement center divider before coming to rest. Talk about rough sailing.

Terms of Compensation

First of all, these terms apply only to stories or concepts -- based on submitted narratives -- that are published in a book (electronic or print) on another web site or in a newsletter (email or printed). And, of course, these terms are in effect only if this publishing activity generates profits.

If story or concept is published on other sites, or in a newsletter (email or printed), narrative provider will receive 5 percent of net profits from its use. If story or concept is published in book, narrative provider receives proportional share (based on the number of other stories or concepts in the book) of 10 percent of net profits. Amounts are payable within 30 days of the Hard Luck Gazette receiving the profits, along with an accounting of profit totals for that particular story or concept. Questions? Contact


In 1993, I launched the Hard Luck Gazette as a printed newsletter as a means of uniting clods of the world and encouraging otherwise circumspect folks to share their foibles. The Gazette presented hilarious brief accounts of people from all walks of life -- people one with the fact that none of us is immune to minor calamities, so why not laugh about them instead of hide them? It was never meant to ridicule or disparage people. Rather, it was sort of a self-deprecation club

Through uncommonly good fortune, it garnered a good deal of media attention. At the height of its success, the Gazette had hundreds of subscribers across the United States and in a few other countries. But just as it was taking flight, I learned that having children biologically would be a challenge. So my wife and I embarked upon a journey to adopt, and I knew I would again muddle through -- this time on on the road to parenthood.

Obtaining two children (in '95 and '97), and helping to care for them, tapped most of my time and energy. Sustaining the Gazette was an unreasonable burden, so he suspended publication in 1997. As the babies have sprouted into kidlets, their maintenance has taxed me less and less -- at least physically. So I've eeked out some spare time and I'm leveraging a blog to re-launch the Gazette. I believe a blog is an ideal vehicle for sharing these kinds of stories because it allows for immediate commiseration like a print publication never could. Plus, it's much easier to publish and distribute.

I look forward to publishing the Gazette indefinitely. Maybe my kids will carry it on after I'm gone -- if they survive me as their dad.


I first introduced the Hard Luck Gazette in 1993 as a printed newsletter. A new media campaign is in the works to launch this blog version, and I have faith that it will be received as well as the original newsletter. This homespun publication was covered first in the Arizona Republic, then soon after in the Long Beach Press Telegram, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the National Inquirer, New Choices Magazine and the Orange County Register. The Associated Press also distributed a story over its wire services. On the radio, the Osgood Files profiled the Gazette in one of its morningtime segments and myriad radio stations around the world interviewed me live on air. My guess is that I happened to catch a few kind journalists who were bored with the standard fare of press releases on management changes at Acme Widget Inc. In any case, I'll seek their good graces once again with an upcoming news release. If you are a reporter, you can reach me at 949-633-0100.

Helping the Truly Unfortunate

We are committed to donating 10 percent of our net profits to A Child's Hope Foundation. The Foundation is committed to saving the lives of orphaned children everywhere who otherwise face a hopeless future. It bridges the gap between orphaned children and adoptive families who are committed to raising them in faith and hope.

This cause is close to the heart of Ed Mauss, founder of the Hard Luck Gazette. The father of two adopted children, Ed is adoption advocate (read an op-ed and an essay) and looks for opportunities to serve vitally important causes, such as donating blood at a children's hospital or volunteering for a local children's home. His first visit to a children's home in his community was an affecting experience. It broke his heart to see how emotionally devastating it is for children who have been betrayed by adults entrusted with their care. Says Ed: "While most of us can laugh about the minor missteps in our lives, these children suffer terrible misfortune by no fault of their own. So while this blog is all in good fun, there are serious circumstances that deserve our thoughts, prayers and actions to remedy."

Share Stories

C'mon, it's time to let it go. Don't hold it inside. Enough time has passed, and the wave of embarrassment has long since subsided. Ask any therapist. Letting it go is good for the psyche. Plus, you'll give a lot of people a good laugh. Maybe you'll even trigger a case of incontinence or two. That alone is worth it. We'll even help you to loosen up with civilization's enduring motivator: Money.

That's right. If we use your story, you'll get a share of net profits we could make from publishing the stories in a book (print and electronic versions) as well as from syndication to businesses. See our Terms of Compensation for full details. You'll never have to worry about reliving your embarrassment, because we'll never use your full name in the story -- just your first name, first initial of your last name, and your city. If you decide to tell your friends and family that your the subject of the story, that's between you and The Almighty.

Submitting a story is easy. Just e-mail us the details in this order:
-Name, address, phone
-When did the incident occur?
-What happened (to you, or caused by you)?
-What were the consequences?

Don't agonize over the narrative. Just use your own words, as if you're telling someone the story verbally. Try to keep keep it under 500 words. We'll be writing the story from the third person point of view (he/she/they) and using excerpts from your narrative as quotes. To get started, contact Type "story" on the subject line first, then key in your narrative in the message area. Our receipt of your e-mail is also a confirmation that you've read and accepted both the Terms of Compensation.


These cartoons are based on actual incidents reported by a few good sports. Are you a cartoonist? We have tons of fodder you could use for your next work. Contact me at

Silence gripped the room when little Chuckie mispronounced Father Schmidt's name.
(based on an incident in the life of Jeff R. of Akron, Ohio.)

An ill-considered choice of a date for the law office party cost Fae a promising job
(based on an incident in the life of Fae D. of Racine, WI.)

Brenda learned the hard way what happens when you apply "Icy Hot" to your lower back on a hot, humid day.
(based on an incident in the life of Brenda P. of Boston, MA.)

The little guys' ingenuity paid off; their target had seen 'Jaws' and was profoundly affected by it.
(based on an incident in the life of Courtney S. of Miami Beach, Fla.)

It took man's best friend to help a very hungover Bryan realize he had walked into the wrong house much earlier that morning to sleep.
(based on an incident in the life of Bryan M. of Grand Rapids, MI)


Let's say you're in charge of getting a speaker for a meeting or a leader for a team-building event. Sure, you could get one of those motivational types, but the message -- albeit somewhat customized -- is always the same: reach for stars, you can accomplish anything, yada, yada, yada.

Or you could seek out one of those out-to-pasture political leaders who'll milk you for astronomical fees while boring half of your audience members to the point of dousing themselves with gas and lighting a match. And how about one of those egomaniacal business all-stars who spends more time talking about what he did than how he did it.

Shake things up a bit and book the Hard Luck Gazette blogger for your next corporate retreat, trade group meeting, commencement or just about any other event. Our theme is unique and has universal appeal: all of us flounder, but admitting we're human helps us to keep things in perspective and avoid getting caught up in our own self-importance.

Our engaging presentation combines dynamic but humble remarks with the recounting of select stories, audience participation and a small-group collaboration activity (if event is for team-building). Plus, we won't cost you an arm and a leg -­ more like a pinky and a toenail.

To check availability, contact us today: We look forward to getting you a lot of pats on the back from colleagues.

Film Fodder

It's stunning that the amateur video sites, such as, are so popular considering how schlocky the clips are. The problem is that budding filmmakers need good material. And we've got a ton of it here on which you can base your next project. The cream will rise to the top and your film will get downloaded more than you can imagine.

Check out a few premises for your big hit:

>A naked man's dangling appendages are attacked by his kitten when he stoops under the sink to fix the garbage disposal >A preacher forgets to shut off his wireless microphone after a sermon and his congregation hears the sounds of his restroom visit.
>Man drops pager into toilet inside state-of-the-art bathroom; he races to get a towel, but as he returns to retrieve pager, toilet automatically flushes, taking pager down.
>Motorist, with girlfriend in car, flips off honking driver behind him, but soon discovers the offending driver is father of his girlfriend simply saying hello. >Man is fed up with puddle under his washing machine and destroys the machine in a rage; turns out a leaky pipe caused the puddle.

Contact me at for access to several narratives from which you can develop a script, or call 949-633-0100 for more details.


Leverage the Hard Luck Gazette vignettes featured in this blog for your customer/prospect newsletter, your web site, or both. Why? Because they can help grow your business. Building a web site is one thing. Getting people to go there is another. That's why content is still king. If it's compelling, it will draw visitors to your site and engage them. The more they visit, the more likely they are to purchase your products or services. And what's the second most popular type of content found on the internet? That's right: entertainment/humor-oriented. (Shame on you if you know what the most popular content is.)

Brief, funny human interest stories, such as those from the Hard Luck Gazette, are sure to get the attention of your newsletter audience or make your site sticky. Not only will your audience look forward to this content and think happy thoughts about you for providing it, but they'll also be inclined to forward it to their friends and family. This is classic viral marketing -- legions of people spreading the word about you for free.

Here are some sample segues you could use with the stories:

-Everyone commits minor miscues like this and we laugh about them later. But for the serious misfortune in our lives, there’s XYZ Insurance.
-We’re all bumblers at one time or another, but when it comes to [service offered], I won’t botch the job. Contact me today.
-I can't help you in situations like this, but I will provide you with high-quality products and excellent service. Contact me today.

If you're looking for a unique way to liven up your site, start copying and pasting. All we ask in return is attribution and a link to the blog (if content is used online).