At the risk of blowing everybody’s mind, the topic for Audience Participation Friday this week is Audience Participation Friday. I realize this is more postmodern than what you’re accustomed to at, but I’m running a little short on insightful and entertaining discussion topics. I thought I’d open things up to you, the audience. What do you think would make a good topic for an upcoming Audience Participation Friday, and why? To prime the pump, I’ll offer a couple from Aaron Roughton. To wit:

  • How did you find out that Santa wasn’t real?
  • What was the goofiest white elephant gift you’ve ever received?
  • What are three things you want to do in 2011?

If this goes well, I may not have to come up with any more APF topics this year. I’m counting on you.

  • JJ
    2:08 PM, 7 January 2011

    How do you determine what movies/books/etc. you and/or your children will read? Let me explain what I mean exactly. Hopefully this doesn’t derail your questio and start a discussion about this. 🙂
    Two Halloweens ago I was in the mood for a good ghost/haunted house story. Not something too scary or gross. I don’t like stuff like that. I loved the book I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. It wasn’t gross or scary, but it was a great book full of drama and suspense. I heard his book Hell House was one of the best haunted house books written. I heard it was pretty graphic but figured I’d give it a shot. I started it but after about 60 pages I had to stop. It was not the kind of book I wanted (or could) subject myself to, nor did I want it in my house. I got rid of the book the next day.

    Because of that, I started to think more about what kinds of books or movies are beneficial to me, how I choose them, etc.. I already review movie content on sites like or, but now that I have a son, I’ve been thinking more of how do I instill that in him to help him make wise choices. At 36 I’m still learning how to do that myself, after years of watching violent horror movies (which I can’t stand to see now). I didn’t use much wisdom throughout my 20s in what I watched, and now that I’m married and have a son, I want to learn how to impart that wisdom to him and to lead my family in that way.

    So all that to say, how do you do that? If you’re a parent, how do you determine what you or your children read or watch? If you’re not a parent yet or are single, how do you determine what you should or shouldn’t subject yourself to in terms of media?

  • Patrick
    2:28 PM, 7 January 2011

    What is the REAL reason the chicken crossed the road? What was the motivation for this character that she would risk life and wings to get to the other side?
    Death. Share your first experience with death, or the one that had the most significant impact on you. (is that too personal for a blog post?)

    Maybe do a run of “favorites” requests? Favorite fantasy stories, favorite real-world fiction, favorite biographies, etc… Although that would probably work better for a once-a-month than every week for a month. And it probably doesn’t need to always be about stories directly- a favorite recipe and how did you discover it? then we get a recipe And a story! lol

    I like the variety of real life story-telling, discussions, and spontaneous fiction writing. I always look forward to APF. You have a great thing here, Jonathan! Thank you for all the APF starters you’ve put out there for us. I’m looking forward to another year of participation. 🙂

  • Aaron Roughton
    2:29 PM, 7 January 2011

    I have another one: “How did you choose the Audience Participation Friday topic you just suggested?” Stew on that.

  • Patrick
    2:32 PM, 7 January 2011

    Great question JJ! I’m trying very hard to restrain myself from responding until it is the official question of the week. 😉

  • JJ
    2:37 PM, 7 January 2011

    Haha! Thanks Patrick. I’m trying very hard to not ask you to go ahead and comment anyway. We need to let Jonathan set the topic. 🙂

  • Patrick
    2:41 PM, 7 January 2011

    That is deep Aaron. Wow. Unconsciously your soul yearns to be freed from the inner torment that hangs on the resolution of the very items you have listed today. In putting your requests out-there you have invited us, the APF writers, to participate in this struggle. We can find peace together! If only we could understand the elusive “why?” behind it all.

  • Amy
    2:53 PM, 7 January 2011

    Which is your favorite character from literature and why?
    What do you think happened to the sad girl in Subway? Or maybe a question about happy endings.

  • Jess
    4:07 PM, 7 January 2011

    If there is a glass on a table and it is filled to the halfway point with poison, would you say it is half-empty or half-full? And would your answer make you an optimist or a pessimist?This question has been bothering me ever since I thought it up the other day. Save me from more sleepless nights. 😉

  • Jess
    4:20 PM, 7 January 2011

    Another more serious one: Why is it that as soon as you enter high school, you are required to read only the depressing and morbid side of literature? Just wondering. I’m in 10th grade and I don’t think I have read anything joyful or particularly redemptive since I set foot in high school (at least, school-wise. I read plenty on my own that keeps me from thinking the world is only a dark, dark place). Does this have something to do with being an “adult”? Now, I’m not saying that this stuff is bad, actually I really like and am inspired by much of it. But I always think a little more redemption and light should be included with the sin and dark, because really, both are part of reality.This whole paragraph is a question, or several questions, even if it seems like I am just answering my own question.

  • sally apokedak
    5:07 PM, 7 January 2011

    The APFs I’ve most enjoyed are the ones where you asked a question that made me think back to an incident that impacted me when I was younger. I liked writing those stories and I like reading the ones others put out there.
    So I would like to see more dramatic incidents:

    1) first kiss (ha ha I’m kidding…although…they might be pretty funny, come to think of it. Aaron could probably come up with something to make us laugh.)

    2) favorite teacher or worst teacher

    3) broken bone or hospital stay or operation for you or someone you knew

    4) first time you became aware of prejudice and discrimination or one time it impacted your life (have you ever been bullied or bullied someone else?)

    5) beloved family pet–getting him, favorite memory of him, losing him

    6) most embarrassing moment…at school…in front of the church ladies that were visiting your mother…as a parent…at church…during a wedding…in the parade you were in when the entire town was watching and the boy you were in love with was in the front row (I’m kidding, I’ve never embarrassed myself and all my dear friends in a parade or a wedding)

    7) we already have done a lot of “terlet” stories, as Lou Alice calls it, but maybe we could do other plumbing stories–funny faucet stories, or funny garden hose stories?

    8) memory of a camping trip with the family or any family vacation that went horribly wrong or wonderfully right

    9) worst neighbor (I thought about this when you were talking about Strawberry Girl. I might not have thought her neighbors were our-of-the-ordinary-dangerous because I’d had a horrid neighbor my own self and I thought they were the norm) or best neighbor

    10) worst prank you got away with or kindest anonymous deed you did

    11) worst thing you were caught doing that you were punished for or best thing you received recognition for

    12) It’s a good thing I learned _________ before I got married.

    13) If I’d never gotten married (or had kids) I would have never learned ___________________.

    14) make up a proverb about child-rearing (or marriage or man’s relationship to God or man’s relationship to a dog or man’s relationship to an alligator or any other relationship)

    15) write some feechie love poems

    16) write love limericks for Valentines day and if you use a town you have to use the town the love of you life came from (so mine would be I once knew a man from Iguigig—pronounced IG-ee-og-ick–ha ha, and maybe some of you southern folks would have to say, I once knew a gal from the Okefenokee. This could be fun, actually.)

    17) write a country western song about love or loss or adultery (I’m sorry)

    18) write 200 words on why you love your wife (husband, child, dog, preacher, secretary, mother, father, whoever) you can’t go over 200 words so you have to really think about what are the best things about this person you love

    19) go with holiday themes (as you have done)–for St. Pat’s Day we could all talk about…I haven’t read your St. Pat’s book (or anyone’s else’s for that matter). What did he do that we can find in our own lives? For Easter we could talk about resurrection. For Ground Hog Day, we could talk about things that scared us that turned out to be shadows.

    20) I can’t think of one more lame thing, but I wanted, Monk-like, to make this an even 20. I threw a lot out, knowing that most of it wouldn’t stick and also knowing that there are 52 weeks in the year so you have a lot of slots to fill. Good luck, JR, as you set off on another exciting year of blogging. jonathan-rogers dot com is one of my favorite destinations.

  • sally apokedak
    5:12 PM, 7 January 2011

    Jess? Tenth grade. And so funny and smart? I’m amazed.
    I hated Lord of the Flies and The Red Pony and quit reading required books after those. I’m not sure I made the right decision but there really is something to the old “ignorance is bliss” deal.

  • Jess
    5:16 PM, 7 January 2011

    Wow, Sally has done it for us and now we don’t have to. (Right?) 😛 😉

  • Jess
    5:19 PM, 7 January 2011

    Oh yes, I know, I surprise even myself with my funniness and smartness. 😉 Thank you for the compliment 🙂

  • Aaron Roughton
    5:50 PM, 7 January 2011

    Feechie love poems. Brilliant. And ghost stories. Love all these suggestions!

  • Jonathan Rogers
    6:13 PM, 7 January 2011

    Great topics. Keep them coming. Amy, I had actually planned to make the girl in Subway the topic of an APF…I kind of forgot about her. I’m liking the variety of topics yall have come up with. We’re looking at some great discussions in the coming months. I truly do feel blessed to have the readers I have at this blog. Very creative and funny and smart; even the tenth graders. I NEVER commented on a blog when I was in tenth grade. So good on you, Jess.
    And Sally, naturally, has gone beyond the call of duty and gotten us into June.

    By the way, the feechie love poem thing has been done before–by Sally. Check out the hilarious entries from a contest Sally ran on her blog many moons ago:

  • Jess
    6:51 PM, 7 January 2011

    Hmmm. When you were in tenth grade, Mr. Rogers, were there even blogs? Not meaning to say you’re old or anything, just… wondering. 😉

  • Joe
    7:00 PM, 7 January 2011

    JR: “I NEVER commented on a blog when I was in tenth grade.”
    For the obvious reason that blogs didn’t exist when you were in the tenth grade, right?

    How about pick a topic and ask for poems (which was basically suggested already), but they could be about something unusual or unexpected. Or how about a jingle for a TV commercial for a product of your choosing, or a product from a past era before TV.

  • Drew
    9:00 PM, 7 January 2011

    I enjoyed the heck out of my high school literature classes. It was back in the early 80s, and in our small town public school we were still reading “the classics” rather than those books that get taught now merely because they fill a particular race or gender quota.
    Literature class was eye-opening in a way that none of the other courses were. Other courses taught facts. Literature class taught about life.

    I spent ten years of my adult life writing literature curriculum, and I hope that what I wrote didn’t suck the joy out of these books, but rather helped shed light on the truths that one can find in the best literature.

  • S.D. Smith
    9:13 PM, 7 January 2011

    You have completely bi-passed the gatekeepers.
    Genius, pure genius.

    1. What does Milton mean by “The Argument” in Paradise Lost when it’s not an argument, but an overview?

    2. Real One (since you can’t answer that): Tell us what the top factors that motivate you to be really invested in an author/singer/snow-cone maker etc. What elements are essential to you? Good story, a sense of connection to the author –or whatever– (through blog/FB/twitter), the person who recommended it, a sense of shared values…that kind of thing.

    Does that make sense? Maybe you can make it sound all Ph.D-ee. Or, not use it. I don’t care anymore!

    • Jonathan Rogers
      9:45 PM, 7 January 2011

      Joe, from the looks of your picture, you’re even younger than Jess.
      SD, you’re in luck. I do happen to know why Milton uses the word “Argument” to refer to his summary at the beginning of each book of Paradise Lost. I looked it up in my 2-Volume Oxford English Dictionary, which comes with a magnifying glass that I have had to rescue from the yard more than once after family members carried it outside for fire-starting (hopefully not ant-burning) purposes.

      It’s going to take a couple of steps to get there, SD, so stay with me.

      Step 1: We all know what an argument is. You and I might soon have one, SD, if you don’t change your mind and declare that you love Flannery O’Connor’s stories after all.

      Step 2: Somewhere along the line (about the sixteenth century, from the looks of things in the Oxford English Dictionary), folks started using the word “argument” to refer not only to the “argument” itself, or even the proofs offered in the argument, but the thing(s) being argued about. Which is to say, there is an argument about healthcare, there are arguments presented in the course of that argument (we still use “argument” in both of those senses), but also (and we don’t use the word in this sense anymore) healthcare is the argument according to this sixteenth-century sense. To put it another way, the argument is the content or subject matter.
      Step 3: Milton (and Shakespeare and others) sometimes used the word argument to mean “content or subject matter” quite apart from anything related to disputation.

      In the meanwhile, the uses of “argument” in steps 2 and 3 above have dropped back out of the language, leaving us with the old, original meanings related to disputation.

  • Sondorik
    1:36 AM, 8 January 2011

    Can I add my one and a half cents worth as a newcomer?
    1. What is your most funny/pitiful/memorable traveling experience? Extra points for international trips involving language blunders.

    2. If you were blindfolded and someone wanted to stir up good or bad memories via aromatherapy, what would they wave under your nose? Why does this aroma cause such a clear connection to a place, person or experience in the past?

    Looking forward to schlepping through the coming year with JR & Co. as best I can!

  • Canaan Bound
    3:49 AM, 8 January 2011

    Sondorik, I really like those. Yours as well, A. Roughton.
    Here’s mine. Take or leave:

    1. Pranks gone bad

    2. Original theories (not excluding conspiracies)

    3. Unforgettable foot-in-mouth moments

  • S.D. Smith
    3:38 PM, 8 January 2011

    Phase 1) You’re just being argumentative now.
    Step 2) Thanks.

    Quarter 3) Ignoratio elenchi non.

  • Hannah
    5:24 PM, 8 January 2011

    Humm…favorite movie/book quotes?

  • Joe
    3:22 PM, 9 January 2011

    Touche. But amazing that I can already type, right?

  • Laura Peterson
    4:40 PM, 9 January 2011

    Oh, I am SO happy to be visiting a blog that references the Oxford English Dictionary. Excellent.
    Here are my APF suggestions:
    1) Have everyone share a favorite poem (include a link if it’s a long one).
    2) Stories about being the only person in your family/group to witness/experience a certain weird event and then having to convince everyone else that it really did happen.
    3)Best treehouse you’ve ever been in?

    Excited for a year of reading everyone’s answers!

  • Dan Kulp
    6:01 PM, 18 February 2011

    I didn’t have any great contribution to the list at the time. But I’ll add now only because the idea hit me recently.
    Clerihews. (maybe on RR about the brothers Peterson).

    • Jonathan Rogers
      6:18 AM, 19 February 2011

      Dan, I had to google ‘Clerihew,’ but I love that idea. From Wikipedia (for the benefit of those, like me, who didn’t already know the term):
      A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. One of his best known is this (1905):

      Sir Christopher Wren
      Went to dine with some men
      He said, “If anyone calls,
      Say I’m designing Saint Paul’s.”

  • Dan Kulp
    12:16 AM, 19 February 2011

    Somehow I stumbled across them while reading up on Chesterton. Aparently he was a big fan and here’s a book they co-wrote.

    A quick one out of there:

    The people of Spain think Cervantes
    Equal to half a dozen Dantes:
    An opinion resented most bitterly
    By the people of Italy.

  • Canaan Bound
    2:32 AM, 20 February 2011

    I’m loving the Clerihews. Great idea, Dan!

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