Writers’ Wisdom

(americancinemathequecalendar.com photo)

(americancinemathequecalendar.com photo)

“You will either write or you will not —
and the only way to find out whether you will or not is to try.”

Jim Tully


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My 10 Favorite Pee-Wee Herman Quotes

Note: This story originally appeared on TheBlot.com on March 19, 2015.


I loved — and I cannot stress this enough — LOVED Pee-Wee Herman when I was a kid. I would mimic his odd, cartoonish voice all the time, so much so that my mom still, to this day, asks me to say one particular line of his. I do not oblige her, though. Mostly because she complains that it’s “not the same” because my adult voice isn’t as squeaky as it was way back when (though my brother would tell you different). I even dressed up as Pee-Wee one Halloween. And no, I will not be sharing a picture of that. Sorry not sorry.

So what I’m trying to say is that no one was more tickled pink than I when I learned that the character’s creator and actor Paul Reubens was teaming up with producer Judd Apatow to bring a Pee-Wee movie to Netflix. Called “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday,” the movie, which will be the character’s first film outing in more than 20 years, has actually been at the writing stage for about five years, Reubens told Entertainment Weekly. There is no premiere date as of yet, but production is slated to begin soon.

The premise of “Big Holiday,” Reubens said, will be akin to the 1985 masterpiece “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” in that it centers around a cross-country road trip. “But it’s not about a bicycle. I never really thought of ‘Big Adventure’ as a family movie, but I didn’t try to make an adult movie or a kid movie,” he explained. “We wanted to make something that appealed to a wide age range, and I think that’s the case with this movie also.”

Reubens also said that finishing touches on a new version of Pee-Wee’s signature suit are being done “and I’m getting new Pee-wee shoes made. The bow ties aren’t done yet, though, and the clock is ticking,” he added.

Be still my heart. I can’t wait, so without further ado, here are my 10 favorite quotes from Pee-Wee Herman.

1. [singing] “Connect the dots, la la la la. Connect the dots, la la la la.” (“Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”)

It wasn’t until my boyfriend and I recently started watching “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” on Netflix that I realized I did not, in fact, invent this saying, even though I’ve spent the past three decades thinking I did. I have said, and still say, this, proving that “Playhouse” is way more engrained into my very being than I actually thought.

2. “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.” (“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”) 


(pinterest.com photo)

3. “I’m trying to use the phone!” (“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”)

This would be my mom’s favorite line.

4. “Why don’t you take a picture, it’ll last longer.” (“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”)

pic last longer


5. “That’s my name. Don’t wear it out!” (“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”)

6. “Heard any good jokes lately?” (1991 MTV VMAs)

In July 1991, Reubens was arrested in Sarasota, Fla., for masturbating in an adult movie theater. News of the arrest (and his mugshot) exploded, well, as much as something could explode back then sans Internet, but CBS stopped showing reruns of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” and Toys-R-Us took all Pee-Wee toys out of its stores. Both the character and the man who played him kept a pretty low profile the next few years, but before that happened, Reubens made his first public appearance since the scandal at the MTV VMAs that September.

Dressed as Pee-Wee, Reubens took the mic and cheekily asked, “Heard any good jokes lately?” in that trademark voice. He got a standing O for that brilliant quip, and I remember laughing my ass off as I watched the show at home as a brand-new high school freshman. After the audience settled down, Reubens gave another quip, this time one of Pee-Wee’s famous quotes: “Ha, that’s so funny I forgot to laugh.” That’s what we call rolling with the punches, people.


(MTV.com photo)

7. “I know you are, but what am I?” (“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”) 

This line considerably lengthened childhood fights with my older brother.



8. “There’s a lot of things about me you don’t know anything about, Dottie.” (“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”) 

So dark, so dangerous that Pee-Wee.

a lot of things

(Tumblr image)

9. [falls off bike trying to do a trick] “I meant to do that.” (“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”)

This is so typically me.

10. “I call this the hot dog tree, because, we’ll, it’s a hot dog tree.” (“Big Top Pee-Wee”)

Can you even imagine if something like this actually grew? I can feel the heart attack already … but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t pluck from it at least twice a week.

Nikki M. Mascali is the editor of TheBlot Magazine.

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Writers’ Wisdom

(janeyolen.com photo)

(janeyolen.com photo)

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”
Jane Yolen


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Brooklyn’s Hot Bird pisses off the mommy brigade

Note: This story originally appeared on TheBlot.com on May 22, 2014

hot birdDisclaimer No. 1: I am technically not a mother. However, I am a respectful-to-others human being and a stepmom to two teenagers, which gives me all the credentials I need to weigh in on this matter.

Hot Bird, a bar in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, has done the unthinkable: It’s pissed off the mommy brigade, you know, those hip, the-world-and-sidewalks-and-subways-are-just-for-me-and-my-hip-brilliant-baby-genius-gigantic-stroller-pushing women.

What has the bar done that was so bad? Via a sign that states, “Children are not allowed,” Hot Bird has banned children from being in the establishment.

“There was a time when there were too many people bringing small children here,” one bartender said in the New York Post yesterday. “It became an issue. So we put up the sign.”

Naturally, because the world is their oyster only, this did not sit well with moms who frequent the bar. One took to a mom message board to post: “Hotbird no longer allows babies/toddlers/kids, so I wanted to spread the word, before you go and get kicked out.”

I’m sure that’s just the beginning of what will be an endless bevy of moms complaining about “discrimination,” and maybe they’ll even stage a protest outside Hot Bird. Can’t you just picture the moms out front shouting, “Hell, no, MY kid can go!” as they hold up artisanal D-I-Y signs with one arm and hoist their Salt Water-sandal-wearing tots on their hip with the other. Disclaimer No. 2: I am writing this whilst wearing a pair of silver Salt Waters.

Now allow me to Cliff Note this for you just for emphasis: A bar has banned children.

As we’re all fully aware, the drinking age in New York — and the entire country, mind you — is 21. Not 21 months, so what the hell were children doing at Hot Bird to begin with?

And don’t give me that, “I’m a parent, and I deserve a night out/a drink/fun.” I totally agree that you do, parenthood is fucking hard/exhausting/unending, as I’ve learned since discovering that I do, in fact, have a maternal side since becoming a stepmom. I’m sure you need a drink more than just about anyone I know; however, doing so with your kid in tow at a bar where there are people who maybe A) are not parents or B) are and left their children at home where they belong is not the place for it.

Sure, you might be the kind of parent who thinks you’ll just die if you aren’t able to hover over and talk to 11-month-old Kale like he’s an adult as you have your beverage of choice, but do you really want your child to be around people who are drinking, cursing, making out and God knows the kind of debauchery we all have found ourselves in on probably more than one occasion in a drinking establishment such as Hot Bird?

The sheer logic of my statements is almost mind-blowing, I know, but you can’t get pissed off about it, moms. You get way more perks in life (I’m specifically talking about your tax breaks just so you know) than those of us who have not put another mouth to feed or future douche bag into the world, and are welcomed with open arms at so many places, so leave the bars alone.

One person interviewed for the Post story even alluded that kids in bars are tiny cock blockers. “Kids shouldn’t be running around where people are trying to drink and hook up,” Sophia Black, 27, said. I’m sure all parents can relate to that at some point, romantic Mommy and Daddy time getting interrupted by a crying baby or kid walking in on you. Now imagine that getting in the way of just talking to a stranger or someone you’re on a date with. It’s already hard enough to meet someone, so imagine a date getting kiboshed because Kale or Apple or [insert whatever name is currently hip right now] is running amok/screaming/crying/making a mess in your vicinity.

After the story of this broke yesterday, Gothamist updated its original story with a statement from Hot Bird owner Frank Moe, in which he stated that the Post story doesn’t reflect his decision as an owner and that the sign was actually posted last summer, not in recent days. Moe went on to say that it was easier for Hot Bird to ask everyone not to bring children to the bar to avoid getting into “occasionally uncomfortable confrontations with certain parents.”

“When children are left unattended, which happens constantly because parents treat Hot Bird like a playground, kids run around, play with balls sometimes, go up to patrons who smile because it’s a child but are in fact annoyed,” Moe continued, “I don’t see why I should allow this when I don’t allow this behavior from my older patrons.”

Because Hot Bird, like just about every other place of business, is legally responsible if someone hurts themselves at their establishment. This could include adults tripping over a carpet, slipping on a spill — and countless calamities that could happen when a child is running amok. “Unattended children fall, climb on stools, etc. The first year we were open, a dog bit a little girl,” Moe shared. “The dog owner fled, and all of a sudden the bartender was responsible for the dog bite and the girl petting the dog on her own. Where were the parents?”

He also recalled an instance when a parent asked for the music in the bar to be turned down because their 5-month-old baby was trying to sleep. “Again, something we wouldn’t do for anyone else,” Moe said. And, again, the baby is trying to sleep — in a bar.

At the end of the day, Hot Bird, and other places mentioned in the Gothamist article that have opted to not welcome children, has staff who are there to serve drinks to patrons who are there to drink them, “not to watch over children and deal with unreasonable demands from the parents,” Moe said. “It’s sometimes difficult to turn away responsible parents that we wished were welcome as customers, but it’s easier just to ask everyone not to come in with their kids, and avoid the headache of selecting who is well behaved and who is not.”

This sounds completely fair to me. Let’s put this into perspective: You’re at your Mommy & Me class or Central Park play date or Chuck E. Cheese’s and in stumbles, for the umpteenth time, an adult cursing, carrying on or spilling a PBR or a martini all over the place. Would you turn a blind eye then, or would you take action?

I thought so. 

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Writers’ Wisdom

Ursula K. LeGuin, Children's Books Winner, 1973“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp.
The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.”

Ursula K. Le Guin


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Writers’ Wisdom

(telegraph.co.uk photo)

(telegraph.co.uk photo)

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are.
The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents
of your mind, your heart, your soul.”

Meg Rosoff


Posted in On writing, Writers' Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Writers’ Wisdom



“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story.
You never quite know where they’ll take you.”

Beatrix Potter


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