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).