On June 23, near the end of TPAC 2010, Simon Smithson and Zara Potts made their way to Dallas to meet fellow TNBers Slade Ham and Richard Cox.  Like most of their other visits, the friends from Down Under had never met their hosts in person before, and they were eager to see how reality matched up with the online presence of their two friends. What follows are selected excerpts from a transcript each of the four wrote about their experience.

And there might just be a bit of a surprise when you get to the end.  We’ll get to that in a bit though.

For now, enjoy.

* * *


Slade Ham: I have four rules for kids. Don’t get them wet, keep them out of sunlight, never feed them after midnight, and keep them out of planes. So when I got on the plane to Dallas and I saw a two-year-old sitting and staring at me, I knew, man. I knew there was a chance for trouble.

And this kid knew it, too. He had that look that kids get when they can see through your eyes and right into the back of your skull. He was like, “If my apple juice doesn’t get here right on time…”

So I telepathically sent this kid a message and made him a deal. I focused my thoughts and beamed a transmission across the plane cabin to him. “If you’re good,” I said, “I’m going to get my friends the Wiggles to play a concert at your house.” The kid’s mouth, which had been so ready to fall open, locked shut, and stayed that way for the rest of the flight. And when we got off the plane, I sent him another message.

“Lesson One, kid. Don’t trust adults who send you telepathic messages on plane flights. I’m not friends with the Wiggles.”  I walked out of the plane, and behind me, I heard the crying start.

That’s what you get for bringing a baby on a plane.

Richard Cox: It was already past noon when I finally left Tulsa for Dallas.

Still, I figured I’d be there in plenty of time to meet ZaraPotts and Simon Smithson, who were coming from Baton Rouge and probably dead tired and running late. Even the road construction and traffic didn’t concern me, at least not until Zara called and told me, in her impenetrable accent, they were already entering Dallas.

“What a load of horseshit,” I thought, since I was till two hours away.

“Where are you, Richrob?” ZaraPotts asked. She’s been calling me “Richrob” ever since she mistakenly addressed me as ‘Rob’ in a comment on The Nervous Breakdown. Apparently she had been thinking about Rob Lowe at the time, but I’m not sure I believe that. I mean, has Rob Lowe been relevant since 1989?

Simon Smithson: I found his work in Thank You For Smoking to be excellent, thank you, Richard.

Richard:  Put a sock in it, Simon.

Zara Rose Potts:  Shut up both of you! It’s my turn.

Simon and Richard: Fine.

Zara:  Dallas appears suddenly on the horizon, like a shimmering mirage. It is a gleaming skyline of sunlight on glass buildings but I do not care.

I am tired and the traveling has almost defeated me.  Not just me. Us. Simon and I both are exhausted from the miles of concrete road we have traversed.

Fortunately for him, he is only required to lie comfortably in the passenger seat and ponder why the rear-vision mirrors don’t work the same way here that they do at home.

Our hotel is blue and yellow. There is only one bed in our room, but we are not concerned. We are just happy to be at rest.

It is only five in the afternoon, but already I want to fall asleep in that single, simple bed. Simon receives a text. Richrob and Slade are just now leaving the airport.

Simon: As this was our first foray into the Lone Star State, Zara and I expected to share the highway with cowboys on horseback. Or at the very least oil barons driving vintage convertible Cadillacs with the tops down. Instead we found more of the same-semi trucks, pickup trucks, and SUVs. Finally we made it to Dallas, and after a few phone conversations with Mr. Cox, who arranged the accommodations, we reached our downtown hotel. Slade’s flight from Houston was scheduled to coincide with our own arrival, but as luck would have it, the plane was running late. As was Richard, who was driving in from Tulsa.  We had time to kill, it seemed.

Slade: Richard was waiting by the flight desk, hitting on one of the stewardesses. I heard him as I was walking up.

”And the sexy thing about particles,” he was saying, ‘is that it doesn’t take much for them to bond. Just a little flicker of… electricity.”

Richard: I didn’t try to pick up a girl talking about physics.

Slade: Well, that’s the show going on in MY head.  You write your own version.

Zara: Was it Amy, Richrob?

Slade: Why didn’t you dance for her?

Richard: We haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet and you guys are already embellishing it.

Slade: Because it’s hilarious!  Anyway, as I was saying, this girl was levitating out of her chair. There was a clear two inches of space between her feet and the floor. Her eyes were locked onto his lips like there was a secret tractor beam in his mouth. That’s when I slapped my boy on the shoulder.

“Yo, Richard Cox!” I said. “Slade Ham!”

Cox? Blocked.

Simon: Hahahahahaha.

Richard: Enough.

Simon: Hahahahahaha.

Slade: Richard is like the male equivalent of the chick from Weird Science, if she were a dude. He’s tall, and tanned, and good-looking and one charming motherfucker. And he’s so pleasant he’d make Mr. Rogers look like Freddy Krueger.

“Hey, Slade!” he said. “Nice to meet you, man. Simon and Zara are already at the hotel; they must have driven three hundred miles an hour to get here so fast.”

“Screw those bitches,” I said. “Let’s go get drunk. Nah, I’m kidding. Let’s go meet them. I hope they don’t suck.”

Richard: You didn’t actually say that.

Slade: Still my version, Rich.  Plus, I was thinking it.

Richard:  Eventually, I made it to Dallas and called ahead to let Slade know I was close by. He’d flown in from Houston and was at the airport waiting for me, but as soon as I got off the phone, traffic came to a complete stop and it took me forty minutes to travel five miles.

There wasn’t time for introductions or pleasantries because we were already running late. But it didn’t seem to matter, because for some reason I already felt like Slade and I were best buds. Finally we reached the hotel. I figured Slade and I would have time to put our luggage away and change clothes before we met our overseas friends, but as soon as we entered the lobby, we were spotted by Simon and ZaraPotts, who were already enjoying many glasses of champagne.

Zara:  Shit. Maybe I did drink more than I thought I did.

Richard: You did.

Slade: Total lush, actually.

Zara:  But not as much as you did Slade. Or you Richrob. Want me to tell them about Peaches?

Richard: You’re going to, anyway. I’ve already read this post.

Simon: Let’s get on with this, shall we?

You never know what to expect when you meet online friends. When our Texas visitors finally arrived, they strode into the hotel lobby talking like old friends. I honestly thought they were, and then we learned they had only met twenty minutes before at Love Field (which, before you get any strange ideas, is a nearby airport.) Slade and Richard were both taller than I had imagined, but more than that they carried a certain presence that made them seem even larger.

Zara and I walked over to greet them, and it was if we all had known each other for years, like we were old friends seeing each other after a long time apart. It’s difficult to explain, really, why we would feel that way. Of course many of us have conversed on TNB, or exchanged emails…but still, when you’ve never met someone in person you expect a certain awkward moment of moving a relationship from the online world to the real one. But with Slade and Richard it wasn’t like that at all.

Zara:  I decide on a glass of champagne. It bubbles and pops golden in the glass as I upload pictures from the last leg of our trip.

An hour passes, then two. I am certain that I will never like them enough to make up for having to wait this long.

The doors to the hotel slide open and they walk in. Simon notices them first. They are giants. In a Texas way. A good way.

It’s strange how quickly they run over to us, and we to them.  We hug in the lobby, happy to see each other again, or for the first time.  Already the line is blurry.

Slade: OK, so Simon and Zara. I like these guys.

Because as soon as we met, it was like we’d all known each other for twenty years. Simon said the same thing about me and Richard – he figured me and Rich were old pals, because we already had that easy kind of rapport. Same thing with Simon and Zara, except they talk weird.

So we went over to the counter to check in, and the desk clerk looked at us, looked at the ledger, looked back at us, and said “Sure. Sixth floor.  The room with just one bed.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Just one bed?”

Richard just glared at me. “I swear I didn’t know,” he said.

Richard: I didn’t.

Slade: Now, I don’t know if Rich knew or not…

Richard: Really, I didn’t.

Slade: …but Zara didn’t understand what the problem was.  “Why can’t you just share a bed?” she asked.

Simon got it.  “Two guys,” he said, and he exhaled, real slow. “Two guys can’t share a bed. What if, in the middle of the night, one of them… slips?”


Richard: Have you ever had that feeling when you meet someone, that you feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s how it felt meeting Simon and Zara. It felt like we were greeting old friends who we hadn’t seen for years. I noticed details about everyone, matching them with the images I already had of them in my mind.

Slade was funny and generous with both his laughter and conversation.

Slade: And really good looking.

Richard: Simon was as tall as I thought he would be, though he seemed to have more physical presence than I had imagined.

Simon: It’s probably because I’m so handsome.

Slade: Thief.  I just said that about myself.

Zara: He did say it first.  Both you are being insufferable.

Richard: Zara was beautiful the way I knew she would be. And she smiled and smiled.

We sat down to talk, and as the conversation progressed I noticed the ease Simon and Zara felt with each other. They seemed like sister and brother in the way they interacted with both themselves and us.

Simon: Once the two of them had put away their luggage and changed clothes, we sat for a time in the lobby talking. About our trip, about theirs, about TNB and Dallas and how goddamn hot it was. We kept pointing out that we should go find something to eat, since we were all hungry, but no one seemed ready to make a move. Finally we left on foot and went to find a restaurant, no particular destination in mind, and finally Richard suggested Mexican food.

We ended up on the roof of the Iron Cactus. The restaurant commanded a spectacular view, and the live music was a solo guitarist who played everything from 60s rock to Radiohead. Richard wouldn’t stop raving about him. I don’t know if it was the music or the margaritas that put the smile on his face. Either way, the setting for our TNB dinner would have been perfect if not for the oppressive heat.

We ordered our various dishes and immediately Slade began to hit on the waitress.

Slade: Just because I have flirty eyes doesn’t mean I was hitting on her…

Simon: You were totally hitting on her. I don’t remember her name, but Slade certainly did…

Zara:  Are you sure about that?

Slade: Yeah.  It was Jillian.

Simon: …and he used it liberally as he queried her about possible local bars to visit after dinner. She suggested both the City Tavern and the One-Eyed Penguin, and when Slade asked her to join us, she told him she might just do that.

“I get off at eleven,” said the waitress, and Slade just smiled. I imagined him thinking, “We’ll see about that.”

Zara:  Upstairs on the rooftop, I order a mojito and dip crispy chips into a bowl of fresh red salsa.  The mingling tastes of cilantro and mint and salt make me smile.

Slade: That would be you drinking again, Z.

Zara: An acoustic guitar strums a few tables away from us and Richrob recognizes every song played.  Our conversation dances effortlessly from writing to food and back to the music.

The heat and humidity would be unbearable were it not for the drinks. Perspiration builds on the sides of our glasses and leaks onto the table, the trickling rivulets running suicidal towards the edge.

Slade finally takes off his sunglasses as the sun dips below the skyline.

He’s also managed to catch the attention of our waitress. Her name is Erin, or something else young and waitress-y…

Slade: Jillian, goddammit.

Zara:  …and their eyes flirt as she returns with another tray full of drinks. I slip downstairs for a quick cigarette, and when I return Slade has already talked Erin…

Slade: Fucking Jillian!

Zara: …out of the names of a few of her favorite bars.

Slade: I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun just with dinner and hanging out. We ate Texas Mexican at a rooftop restaurant and the waitress, JILLIAN, came over and started talking to us about sleep cycles and The Nervous Breakdown. She recommended a bar called The One-Eyed Penguin for us to go to afterwards.

“They got this one-eyed penguin suit,” she said. “Sometimes people wear it.”

We all turned and looked at Zara.

Zara:  I have no idea what you are talking about.

Slade: Lucky for you.  You were two mojitos away from looking like an extra in Happy Feet.

Simon: When dinner was over we headed downstairs and into the street. By then we were all a bit drunk and no longer concerned with the heavy heat. Zara convinced Richard and Slade to swear into the camera as she shot video of us. “Motherfucker” seemed to be the American word of choice. I took random pictures of the nearby buildings and smiled. Slade and I fell into an easy conversation, like brothers, and Richard escorted Zara, gentlemanly positioning himself between her and the street.

Zara:  The night air is no cooler than the day here. It is as thick as seawater, but our laughter cuts through it like a ringing bell.

Simon and Slade share a story behind us while Richrob moves to my other side – the Southern gentleman thing to do – so that I do not have to walk closest to the street.

I am impressed. How could I not be?

Slade and Simon could be brothers. We all could be for that matter.

This is how things are supposed to be.

Slade: We’re really sucking up to each other in this post.

Zara: It’s because we’re all amazing.

Richard:  It was now time to unleash the Kraken, a black spiced rum that I had discovered quite by chance a few weeks earlier. I was determined that our visitors would taste the awesome power of this terrible drink, but the bar we went to didn’t know what I was talking about. Absurd.

Slade: I agreed to a shot of this rum begrudgingly.  I had done a wonderful job of keeping to my strictly whiskey diet.

Simon:  Hey, has anyone else noticed our interjections sound like director’s commentary on a DVD?

Zara:  Has anyone else noticed Richrob’s absurd use of the word absurd?

Slade: Has anyone else noticed that we’re about to get totally hammered?

Simon:  So we stopped first at the City Tavern, which was a tavern in every sense of the word…lots of dark wood and comfortable booths and a long bar populated by regulars. By now Zara was only sipping on her drinks, but Slade and Richard and I were kicking into another gear. We began to imitate each other’s accents. Richard picked up the Australian lilt fairly well, but Slade struggled to divest himself of the English accent he spoke so well. We took some great photos there, including this one in which a stray bartender decided to liven things a bit with his outstretched arms.

Richard:  And there was the hot, young blonde talking to some old fat dude that we thought must have been a blind date or something even worse. Instead he turned out to be her husband.

Zara: God. What is it with men and their constant checking out of women?

Slade: I know. What a mismatch, right? Anyway, we left the City Tavern in search of the Kraken. If you’ve never had it, you’ve never had a spiced rum named after a sea monster, and you’re probably better off for it. It turns out you can get it at the One-Eyed Penguin. Be careful though, because it also turns out the One-Eyed Penguin is a karaoke bar, which Jillian the waitress had neglected to mention. Here are my rules for karaoke:

1. If you’re going to sing anything by Peaches, you had better not look like Peaches.

2. If you’re going to sing Bohemian Rhapsody, you had better know the words. Seriously, how does anyone in the world not know the words to Bohemian fucking Rhapsody? Kim Jong-Il knows the words to that fucking song.

3. If you’re going to sing anything by Peaches, you can’t sing Vanilla Ice later. You just can’t. We’ve suffered enough.

And the One-Eyed Penguin broke all of my rules. But at least we got whisky.

Richard:  We walked up the wooden stairs and then we saw it: At the entrance to the One-Eyed Penguin was a poster advertising the Kraken.

I asked a girl to take our picture up against the metallic Kraken poster. I thought she was cute, blonde hair and blue eyes, or maybe that was just the alcohol talking. Her name was Amy.

Even though this was supposed to be a night for the four of us, I decided to ask Amy to come sit with us. As long as my new friends didn’t care.

“Amy? That took our picture?” Slade asked. “She should definitely come and sit with us. I’m sleeping on the floor anyway, right?”

As Slade, Zara, and Simon sang Bohemian Rhapsody,off-key even, I went and found Amy and brought her back to sit with us. She was a hairstylist, she said. She seemed interested in science, so I explained a particular theory to her.

After a while, Amy went back to the bar. For some reason I followed her, Finally, I realized I was being selfish, standing…

Zara:  STANDING?? I don’t think so, Richrob…

Richard:  …STANDING at the bar  while my friends waited for me in the back by the pool table. I traded phone numbers with Amy and rejoined Slade at the pool table.

Slade is seriously good at pool. He wiped the floor with us.

Slade: I did.  But enough about me.  Back to your “standing”, or whatever lie you’re telling…

Simon: At the One-Eyed Penguin there was a human-sized penguin suit that bar patrons could climb into for photo ops, but despite our best efforts, Zara wasn’t willing to humour us.

Zara:  I still have no idea what you are talking about.

Slade: Stop changing the subject!  I want to talk about Richard dancing!

Simon: The rest of the evening was a blur of billiards (Slade as a team of one defeated Richard and me), terrible karaoke, and Richard approaching a cute blonde girl at the bar named Amy. He even brought the fair maiden to meet us, which must have been strange for her, meeting a couple of people from down under and a comedian from Houston…all of whom had met each other for the first time this same evening. To her credit, Amy was a good sport, and after Richard exchanged phone numbers with her, we drifted into the street again.

Slade: Look, I’m thrilled to talk about my pool skills, but RICHARD WAS DANCING!

Zara:  Ok, I’ll get to it.

The thing I remember best about the One-Eyed Penguin is the karaoke.

Someone butchers Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and Freddy Mercury resurrects himself from the dead just so he can kill himself.

And there is Richrob, at the bar, moving to the music.  Simon, Slade and I sit and watch.

Dance, Richrob, dance.

Slade: Finally!

Richard:  I have no idea what you are talking about.

Zara:  Richrob started dancing.

“If I can just dance enough…” Simon says, and Slade falls out of his chair.

A large woman waddles rhinoceros-like to the stage. Her skin tries to hold all of her inside, a task that seems impossible.

She gyrates and slobbers into the microphone.

“Suckin’ on my titties like you wanted me, callin’ me.”

Her friends clap as we watch Richard from across the room. Never stop dancing, Richrob. Ever.

“Suckin’ on my titties.” She flicks her tongue like a fat frog as she repeats the words.

I will never scrub this image from the surface of my mind.

Richard: The bar was closing and while we were all fairly drunk by now, we were also aware that Simon and Zara were leaving the next morning. We walked back to the hotel. On the way there, Zara pulled out her camera and requested that we curse for her.

She tried to tell us that she hasn’t been drinking but this was bullshit. She’d had four mojitos in an hour but had conveniently forgotten that part of the evening. I started to curse and somehow ended up showing the camera lens my teeth.

“Focus on my teeth, motherfucker,” I said.

“That was amazingly aggressive,” said Slade.

Slade: I did say that.  It was quite aggressive.  He really wanted us to look at his teeth.

Zara:  We enter the hotel loud and happy.  We will meet for breakfast in the morning. We all embrace. It takes months to get to know people this well.

Dallas must be made of magic.

Simon: I felt like I had just spent the night with three of my best friends, and I didn’t want it to end. But, alas, the hour was late. Zara and I had a long day of driving ahead of us, so we all retired to bed. I imagined Richard and Slade sharing a bed together and laughed myself to sleep.

Zara:  It is coffee instead of champagne that sits in front of me this morning, though the table is the same. The elevator doors chime and open, and the two of them come out to meet Simon and me.

“So who ended up on the floor?” I ask.

“We were too tired to care,” Richrob says. “We shared the bed.”

“But neither one of us slipped,” Slade says quickly.

His admission is shocking to me. “Neither one of you slept?”

“Slipped,” he says. “Neither one of us SLIPPED. You need to learn to pronounce your vowels, Zara. It changes the conversation dramatically.”

Richard:  I think she was doing it on purpose.

Slade:  I’m pleased to be able to report that the next morning, Simon had his first ever breakfast burrito, even if we did spend twenty minutes walking around Dallas in the morning sun to find a place that could serve him one. And no one was hungover, which meant that no one got to experience the magic powers of a good breakfast burrito, but that’s okay.

Next time.

Simon:  The next morning we all met downstairs for coffee. Everyone looked fresher than I imagined they might. Once again we ventured into the streets on foot, and eventually located a breakfast restaurant that served wraps filled with eggs and sausage and bacon (Richard insisted upon calling them breakfast burritos). We watched a bit of the World Cup, cheering for the Kiwis, and reminisced about our perfect night.

Finally, Zara and I bid our Texas hosts goodbye, hopped into the car, and headed west. But we didn’t even make it out of the city before we were on the phone, texting them, already reliving the amazing hours we had spent together, wishing we could go back and do it all over again.

I have never wanted so badly to live in America as I did on that morning.

Slade: How did I spend a full day with you guys and I still don’t know what “Brew” means?

Richard:  We decided to go for breakfast before we all hit the road again. We walked for blocks, and eventually found a café that served breakfast burritos. Simon and Zara had never seen these and took their time ordering.

When we said goodbye, it felt entirely too soon. One night in Dallas was not enough. Simon and ZaraPotts bid us farewell and started their long drive back to L.A and Slade and I began the drive to Oklahoma City.

We spent the drive practicing our Australian/New Zealand accents. We had them down perfectly by the time we hit Oklahoma.

Zara:  Ha Ha Ha. Sure, you did. Almost as perfect as your dancing.

We eat breakfast and watch the World Cup in a little café down the street. Slade and Richard are leaving for Oklahoma in the morning so Slade can perform, and Simon and I are continuing our journey West.

We linger in the restaurant and then again at the hotel.  We should already be gone, but I do not want to go.

We make plans.

Plans to return to America and plans for them to visit us at home.

We exchange phone numbers and decide that one day we will build a compound and hire a bartender and take over the world.

But not today.

Today we must leave.

“We miss you guys,” the text message says, and I show Simon.

We haven’t even reached the Dallas city limits yet.

* * *

Now, if you’ve read this far, it’s only fair that we make it worth your while.  I mentioned a bit of a surprise earlier.  The truth is that we didn’t write what it looks like we wrote.  Each one of us chose another member of the group and wrote as them.  Your job now is to determine who is responsible for who (Or whom. I always screw that up.)

So yes.  A bit of a game.  We hope we did as well as we think we did at writing as one another.

To make it worthwhile, the four of us have agreed to throw in a bit of prize: a foldable “Fuck You” t-shirt from Slade, one of Richard’s books, a bit of Australiana from Simon, and something inherently Kiwi courtesy of Zara.

Certainly there are, buried within our attempts at impersonating each other, errors that will tip you off as to who is responsible for what.  Best of luck with your guesses.  It was a fun adventure.

We wish more of you had been there.


Drum roll please…  Starring, in order of appearance:

Simon Smithson as the Comedian, Slade Ham

Zara Rose Potts as the Dancer, Richard Cox

Richard Cox as the Australian, Simon Smithson


Slade Ham as the Kiwi, Zara Potts

Winners will be posted in the comments below.

TAGS: , , , , , , ,

SLADE HAM is a stand up comedian. He has performed in 52 countries on six continents, a journey that can be followed in his book, Until All the Dragons Are Dead. One day he hopes to host a travel show and continue to trick the world into paying him to do the things he loves to do. Slade is also an Editor for The Nervous Breakdown's Arts and Culture section. He keeps a very expensive storage unit in Houston, TX.

651 responses to “One Night In Dallas”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    If only I have switched my camera to ‘record’ when Richrob was dancing… if only! If only! If only!

    Ha Ha Ha Ha.

    Am I eligible to be in the competition?

  2. Becky Palapala says:


    I’ll play. Fuck. I don’t like to be wrong and I don’t like to play. You’re all a bunch of assholes, but I’ll play.

    *furrow brow* *computing noises*

    My guesses, quickly, before I change my mind:

    Simon wrote Slade
    Richard wrote Zara
    Slade wrote Richard
    Zara wrote Simon

    I think everyone’s accounted for.

    Who’s got the answer key?

    • Slade Ham says:

      First guess is entered. I suppose we should have some sort of cut off date. The “whys” behind the guesses should be fun too.

      I am finally going to catch up on reading the billion posts I’ve missed this month.

      • Zara Potts says:

        All I want to know is why I look so short in that last photo. And why do I insist on carrying round a bag that is big enough to hide a body?

        • Slade Ham says:

          Probably because you’re short? just a guess 🙂

          The bag was a necessity. Anything could have gone down that night, and we could have hidden anyone’s body in there for sure, except for that karaoke singer. We’d have needed two bags. Or three.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        I couldn’t possibly give my reasons, in part because I’m operating on 90% intuition and because I wouldn’t want my deductive processes to help or harm anyone else.

        This is evil.

        I need to know NOW.

        • Slade Ham says:

          What a bonus. I get to play a game AND test Becky’s patience all at the same time?

          Fuck. Yes.


        • Becky Palapala says:

          Only for so long, Slade’s evil twin. Did you read my email? Depending on how long it takes people to catch on, this could all be over very quickly.

  3. Gloria says:

    Look at Richard’s fucking teeth!

    Now I’m singing “One Night in Bangkok” in my head.

    Okay, I’ll read now…

  4. Dana says:

    Fun fun post and oooh a game!!

    Simon as Zara
    Zara as Richrob
    Slade as Simon
    Richrob as Slade

    Holy fuck, that was confusing to type.

  5. dwoz says:

    Ahh….Rashomon, revisited.

    Simon is writing Slade.

    Zara is writing Richard.

    Slade is writing Zara.

    and Richard is writing Simon.

  6. Cynthia Hawkins says:

    Simon writing as Slade.
    Hmm …
    Slade writing as Zara.
    Zara writing as Richard.
    Richard writing as Simon.

    And the next time you are all in Texas for a meet-up, you are not allowed within the state lines without me! And that’s that! 😉

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Okay, then. That’s 3 Simon-writing-Slade votes.

      If Simon didn’t write Slade, whoever wrote Slade thought they were writing Simon.

    • Slade Ham says:

      You should have joined us. You’re just up the road, no?

      • Cynthia Hawkins says:

        Yeah, San Antonio. I’ll have to crash that party next time.

        Okay, onto the reasons for my choices — I guessed SImon for Slade strictly due to “The Wiggles” reference, the Wiggles being Australian (come on, I had to start somewhere!). There was a comment about Freddie Mercury, I think it was, resurrecting himself only to kill himself that sounded like a Slade comment to me — thus Slade writing for Zara. Something about the phrasing, “fairly drunk,” for example, in the Richard pieces reminded me of Zara’s voice. Which left Richard for Simon. Plus the Magic 8 ball says “it is decidedly so.” And who am I to defy the Magic 8 ball?

  7. Jude says:

    Sounds like one helluva good night!

    Did anyone slip? Oops…I mean, sleep?

  8. I think it’s a bluff.

    Slade wrote it all.

    It even says so at the top… dead give away…

    • Slade Ham says:

      Goddammit, James. You figured us/me out.

      Damn damn damn.

      • All those years of watching Magnum PI and reading Sherlock Holmes stories finally paid off!

        • Richard Cox says:

          This sounds like multiple personality disorder.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Yes. Once you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbably, must be the truth.

          Did I totally fuck that up?

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I think the line might be ‘improbable’, but other than that that’s word-for-word what he says in A Study in Scarlet…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Ugh. That was just a typo. I knew it, honestly.

          I couldn’t have told you which one it was from though. Couldn’t even have come close. on top of that, it’s likely that I remember it more from it getting quoted in Star Trek: TNG than from the actual Sir Arthur.

          Not quite sure what that says about me.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          As someone who often still has to clean up typos on his TNB posts post-publication I can easly believe you.

          I only because… er… well, I’ve been reading them a bit this year. Although it’s easy to guess if you know A Study in Scarlet is the first story. It’s probably my favourite because there’s so much deducing going on, which is just so cool…

        • Slade Ham says:

          You might have just inspired to pick the Sherlock Holmes habit back up.

        • They are truly excellent stories.

          The first two novels (pretty short novels) are brilliant. The short stories are a bit patchy plot wise, but they’re always enjoyable and take about half an hour to read at most…

  9. Richard Cox says:

    Also, to make things more interesting, we’ve decided to edit the rules: Please provide the reasoning for your answer. This is retroactive, so all entries entered already are still in the running. There will be an additional winner for the most creative answer.

    • I would guess that Zara and Simon swapped because

      a). they should know each other pretty well by now and
      b). less likely to use an innapropriate phrase. i.e. they can each use ‘brew’ for example, more authentically.

      I’d guess that Rich and Slade swapped because, well, there’s no-one else to play with. Also two American males are going to be more convincing pretending to be each other than, say, a lovely female New Zealander immitating a Guinness-guzzling male American stand up…

    • dwoz says:

      My original post:

      Ahh….Rashomon, revisited.

      Simon is writing Slade.

      Zara is writing Richard.

      Slade is writing Zara.

      and Richard is writing Simon.

      I said that Simon was Slade, because of nothing other than the “Wiggles” comment at the top. If he’d been Slade, he’d have said Teletubbies or Thomas the Tank Engine or Sesame Street.

      I said Zara was writing Richard, because she slipped when she said that Slade and Richard were driving back to OK.

      I said Slade writing Zara because Zara is not prone to taking advantage of dialectical oddities in her writing, and Slade would just pee himself over the Slept/Slipped pun.

      I said Richard writing Simon because that’s all that’s left, but also because he started a sentence with the word “Once”, and also with an ellipsis, and also with the word “So,” which is SO not like our antipodal wordsmith.

      Also, Richard is being sardonic, which is SO like Zara.

      Elementary, my dear Watson.

      • Slade Ham says:

        Not to validate or discount your answer, but a note on the logic:

        While I did in fact pee myself (more than a little) over that particular confusion, it made it into more than one of our accounts, with the most attention being given to it by Zara when she wrote. Whether it made the final cut or not, I will not say 🙂

        And the ellipsis was interjected because it was broken up by our commentary, and not part of the original writing (if I remember correctly).

        All said though, well thought out indeed.

  10. New Orleans Lady says:

    Simon is writing Slade.
    Zara is writing Richard.
    Slade is writing Zara.
    Richard is writing Simon.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Very succinct. Any ideas as to your reasoning? 🙂

      • New Orleans Lady says:

        Yes, sorry. I was busy yesterday and didn’t catch the explosion on the comment boards.

        At first, I thought Simon was writing Zara because she is very descriptive in her writing and I thought only Simon would be able to capture that as well as it seemed. I changed my mind to Slade because even though it is very descriptive, it’s also very sarcastic, which just seems like him. Also, because of the “because we’re all amazing” comment.

        I think Zara is writing Richard because of the use of “absurd”.

        I said Simon was writing Slade mainly because of the “RICHARD WAS DANCING” line. Haha.

        I think you, Mr.Cox, took over the part of Simon. Partly because of process of elimination, but mainly because you noticed small details in the pictures that most wouldn’t. You’re a lover of photography, are you not?

        So there it is. You see how my mind works. How far off am I?

        • Richard Cox says:

          Well, I can’t reveal how far off you are yet, but I will say some of your logic is sound and some is amusing.

          Your mind works in mysterious ways…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Zara has clearly masked her true self well is you don’t think she’s capable of typing the phrase “because we’re all amazing”, hahahaha 🙂

          She would have pronounced all the vowels incorrectly, but she would totally say that.

          We’ll pop the answer answer out soon. Well thought out, NOLA.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I totally would say that.
          But like this: We are aaaahhhhmaaaaayzung.

  11. Becky says:

    Okay. I won’t win for creativity, but here’s what little conscious thought I had:

    Simon’s voice is pretty distinctive. I thought I heard it humming along in the background on Slade’s bit, partly because Americans get OFF of planes, not OUT of them, but the undercurrent is masculine, so it shouldn’t be Zara. There’s other stuff I can’t put my finger on.

    The voice of “Richard” makes punctuation and diction choices that a journalist wouldn’t. Rule out Zara. Since Simon already wrote Slade’s voice, Slade is left.

    It would make sense for Richard to struggle with Zara’s flourishing style, since his normal diction is much more direct, with the complexity coming from the concepts, not the language.

    And, frankly, at this point, I was just out of options. Zara writing Simon was all that was left. Though I’m chewing on my knuckle because I hear shades of Richard in the “Simon” voice.

    ARGH. Fess up. This all a plot to get everyone at TNB to divulge information about their opinions and ideas of you without you having to say anything about them, isn’t it? And…AND…having offered all of this extra information, I now run the risk of being even wrongER.

    Evil people!

    • Zara Potts says:

      OHHHH! We are SO evil. I feel like the most evil person in the world.

      And I like it!

      • Becky says:

        Fuck. I just had a revelation. Can I change my answer? FUCK.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I wish we were clever enough to use this as a vacuum for sucking people’s opinions of us out of them..

        • Becky says:

          Well, see?

          You could learn something from me yet.

          For reasons I cannot divulge, I no longer think you wrote Slade, btw.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I’m going to say ‘Yes, of course you can.” Because I’m much nicer than the boys.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Do tell, Becky…

        • Becky says:

          Never! I will never divulge my secrets!

          Now I have to decide if I want to trust them or not.

          Fuck it. My rearrangement lands me with an answer already given, so it wouldn’t do me any good to offer it, anyway. Might as well stick with what I have.

          I will only say that, when and if my second-guess proves to be right, I have evidence that I knew the right answer.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I am so thrilled to see Becky this concerned, hahaha. We may have to wait a week to give the truth.

          Give up your secret and I may not be forced to wait that long…

        • Becky says:

          I’m not concerned, Slade, I’m competitive!

          And I’m a perfectionist.

          Two things in the world I hate more than anything: Losing and being wrong.

          Here I have the potential to do both in public, nonnegotiable fashion. It’s awful.

          However, aforementioned neuroticisms have led to the development of a third: Icy indifference. Which I will invoke should you take too long to give it up.

        • Slade Ham says:

          But what if we give it up quickly AND you are wrong?, What then?

          I’m not sure if this makes you feel more or less confident in your answer now….

        • Becky says:

          Then I will just give endless rationalizations about how my answers were totally reasonable, given the evidence, and it was you guys who fucked up or cheated somehow.

          It doesn’t matter how confident I am in my answer anymore. Not at this point. I’m stuck with it.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Yup. Forever ever.


        • Becky says:

          That’s okay. I don’t read or wear shirts or like foreign things. It’s just as well.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Actually, I didn’t consider the idea that this exercise would bring to light my writing flaws. Complexity from ideas and not language. Back to the drawing board!

          Haha. Just kidding.

        • Becky says:

          It wasn’t meant to be a flaw. You write differently than she does. So do I.

  12. Irene Zion says:

    I can’t believe you did this to us!
    I totally believed every one of you was who you said you were.
    Now I have to go back and read it again.
    Whoever wrote the rhinoceros doing karaoke is the best writer ever!
    I have to know WHO!
    You evil tricksters!

  13. Irene Zion says:

    Okay, I didn’t read anyone else’s guesses yet, I’ll do that next.

    First I had Slade = Zara, then I changed it.
    Slade=Richard. #1
    Then I had Richard=Slade, then I changed it.
    Richard=Simon #2
    Then I had Zara = Slade, then I didn’t change it.
    Zara=Slade #3
    Then I had Simon = Zara, which I didn’t change either.
    Simon=Zara #4

    I read this two thousand times and you are, each of you, tricky bastards trying to sound like other people!
    I better get a T shirt out of this!
    (I didn’t eventell you the versions I had in between the first and the final.)

    • Becky says:

      The = sign doesn’t say who is writing who, only that they’re connected, though. Is the first one listed the alleged writer or the actual writer?

      • Irene Zion says:


        The first person in the equation is the purported writer and
        after the equal sign is the real writer.

        Although I’m already having doubts….

        • Becky says:

          I know it. I know.

          Just remember it’s only worth changing your answer if whatever new answer you come up with hasn’t been mentioned yet.

          Unless they’re giving away more than one first prize.

        • Zara Potts says:

          You never know….. there may in fact be several prizes….

        • Becky says:

          What? We don’t get to know the rules of the game?

          Are there several prizes or not?

          *dons ref shirt, blows whistle*


        • Richard Cox says:

          There will be at least one winner for the first correct answer and at least one for the most creative reasoning. We reserve the right to award other answers, but the Magic 8 Ball says “Signs point to yes.”

          So if it were me I would change your answer to your newest best guess.

        • Becky says:

          Nope. Fuck it. Don’t care anymore.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I call bullshit.

          Becky cares.

          She does.

          Admit it.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I think Becky has finally convinced me not to be nice anymore. It took a while, but we all have our breaking points, I suppose.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Of all the things I’ve ever said, THIS is your breaking point? Richard, are you posting from the bar again?

          Slade, nope. The situation has caused me so much anxiety that I have shut down. Shorted out. In fact, I may retract my answer and not play at all.

        • Slade Ham says:

          You can’t retract it. It’s permanent. Plus, what if you’re right? You would be mad that you pulled out, and I can’t let you do that to yourself.

          Unless you’re wrong, in which case a good friend would let you go through with the retraction…

          I suppose you just have to wait an hour or two.

          This is waaaay more fun if I at least think you care a little bit.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          When given a risk that involves an outcome of either total exhilaration or abject despair, eschew the risk altogether and break even, neither ahead or behind, by refusing to play at all.

          I don’t tend to win–or lose–big when I gamble, either.

          That said, I will risk what is all but certain abject despair and leave my answer in play because the only thing I can think of worse than abject despair is abandoning my answer, having someone else pick it up, and watching them win. I may not want it, but I sure as shit don’t want anyone else to have it.

  14. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    Zara is Simon (cheering for the Kiwis in the World Cup)
    Simon is Slade (the line about drinking rum named after a sea monster was born in the mind of one Simon Nicholas Smithson)
    Slade is Zara (you describe karaoke like a stand-up comedian)
    Richard is Richard? (is this a trick?)

    • Slade Ham says:

      There are no tricks… We all definitively wrote as someone else.

      • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

        Simon is you, Slade and vice versa
        Zara is Richard and vice versa

        My reason is this:
        Marriage material. This would actually be an excellent pre-nuptial exercise. Zara and Richrob are more beautiful and sweet than the rest of us, so they deserve one another. Gay marriage should be legal so you can make an honest U.S. citizen out of Simon, Slade. You guys will be rich when you become a reality show.

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          PS. Simon hates babies on planes. Giveaway from the get-go. He has banana cream pie-in-the-face fantasies about kids on planes.
          PPS. This is a total nightmare for me right now. My OCD is bad enough.

        • Slade Ham says:

          As much as I’d like a reality show, and as much as I ADORE Simon… I think he’s marrying Megan already.

          I’m gonna have to choose someone else off my waiting list.

          And I HATE kids on planes too. I do. I really, really do.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Is there someone who likes kids on planes? I think all four of us are anti-kids on planes…


          I forgot I told you about the banana-cream-pie-in-the-face fantasy. I’d even forgotten about that fantasy. I’m so happy you’ve reminded me.

          Seriously, that kid had the kind of face that was just asking for a pie-ing.

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          Most of the time (like now) my memory is intensely embarrassing. People have no idea who I am, yet I remember every word, gesture and relevant side-stalking research I’ve ever laid eyes on.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I think I’ve already said I’d marry both Slade and Richrob just to be able to hyphenate my last name.


          Cox – Potts.

          Fucking brilliant.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Cox-Potts. It sounds like a cooking item.

          The roasts are cooking in the coxpotts.

        • Jude says:

          The ham is cooking in the coxpotts…

        • Zara Potts says:

          Okay. I’ve changed my mind. Now it just sounds gross.

        • Karen says:

          Wouldn’t it be Potts-Ham and Potts-Cox? Or does the guy’s name go first in a hyphenated married name in NZ?

          Either way, Potts and Cox would make a fun hyphenated name, so I think you should marry the Cox. Plus (channeling Simon channeling Slade) the comment below that RichRob made about you is so sweet.

          Oh wait, he didn’t write that… you did. HAHAHAHAHAHA! That comment made me smile warmly when I first read it. Now I love it even more! 🙂

        • Karen says:

          Oops, the comment I meant was this:

          Richard: Zara was beautiful the way I knew she would be. And she smiled and smiled.

        • Zara Potts says:

          No! I did, as him. But then he changed it. Wait! No!

          I thought it was a very sweet comment too, until I realised he set me up, so when the truth came out it would look like I wrote that about myself!!

          Ha! Ha! Richrob. Well played!!! Nicely done! 🙂

  15. dwoz says:

    I know this is hindsight and all…

    But when I was reading this, before I reached the denouement, I was thinking that it was …. sanitized.

    It really wasn’t four different voices.

    more like least common denominator voice.

    The possible implication is that you all suck at pulling other voices, or it was a double-cross. I’d go with double cross, because you don’t suck.

    • Zara Potts says:

      HAHAH! You think that we are tricking you all? And that we actually wrote ourselves?

      WRONG! It must mean that we suck.

      (to be fair – we did write our own interjecting comments…)

    • Slade Ham says:

      That’s an interesting take too, Dwoz. It is possible that by the time we crunched through the group edit, some of the more obvious nuances were washed away…

  16. Irene Zion says:

    You all so suck!

  17. Irene Zion says:

    When I read this I was tricked! into playing a game.
    I don’t play games, you chiseling charlatans!

  18. dwoz says:

    That’s the paradox…you all are brilliant. So it’s either a double-double cross, or the work of an editor-emeritus that has flattened you all into a pancake.

    I mean….it’s bollox enough trying to find your OWN voice. But to cover someone else’s, and well enough to fool not his fans but his PEERS…brilliant.

    • Becky says:

      Actually, I’ve always found mimicry easier than using my own voice. But that’s because I don’t have a very distinct voice.

      I think once you’ve got a solid voice, it’s harder to recapture the plasticity of a younger writer.

      But does this mean that a writer with an exceptionally strong voice will unwittingly allow his/her voice to show through, or that s/he will just sound incredibly awkward when trying to suppress it?

      Quandary, quandary…

      • dwoz says:

        I imagine that the problem is much like the problem that the cover band musician faces. Adopting the aesthetic of someone else.

        I think that doing that EFFECTIVELY is actually an advanced skill. It seems to be, to me, at least.

        It isn’t difficult to ape the broad brush strokes…but the incremental detail, that’s something else.

        It may also be the truth, that many of the great “voice” writers worked for many years suppressing their own voice. Take Olear, the advertising copywriter for example. Or any number of other writers…Samuel Clements the journalist, for example.

      • Zara Potts says:

        I found this so hard! I really struggled with ‘capturing’ the voice I was writing. It was so much more difficult than I thought it would be…

        • Slade Ham says:

          I was up and down with mine, in places it was easy and in others I couldn’t necessarily shut “myself” up.

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          So you are Simon. (King of the run-on sentence.)

        • Richard Cox says:

          I will second that the mimicry was more difficult than I expected. Especially because I feel like that’s one of my strengths as a writer.

          Even more interesting was reading the bit that was written as you. It’s weird. Really weird.

    • Slade Ham says:

      The perhaps I’m lucky that I have no voice of my own to quiet down 🙂 I’m quiet surprised that there have been any misses AT ALL, much less this amount.

  19. Irene Zion says:

    Swindling scam artists!

  20. Tawni says:

    Richard is writing as Zara. The clue: “Dallas must be made of magic.” Because we all know that Richard believes in magic.

    Simon is writing as Slade, because he spelled it “whisky,” and Americans more often spell it as “whiskey.” Plus, The Wiggles are Australian.

    Slade is writing as Richard, because the written voice just sounds funny like Slade, plus there were mistakes that the perfectionist writers-by-trade would have edited out before posting. (:

    (“since I was till two hours away” and a space needed between “Bohemian Rhapsody,off-key”)

    Zara is writing as Simon, because being tall himself, Simon wouldn’t have noticed Slade and Richard’s height upon first glance. And “queried” strikes me as a cool Zara word. Humor is also spelled “humour,” ruling out Richard or Slade.

    That’s all I’ve got.

    It was Colonel Mustard in the study with a lead pipe!

    • Slade Ham says:

      “plus there were mistakes that the perfectionist writers-by-trade would have edited out before posting.”


      I’m starting a file on all of you.


    • Greg Olear says:

      I was going to note that, too: The Wiggles are not a big deal here. Not on Nick Jr, not on Nick, not on Sprout, not on PBS Kids.

      • Tawni says:

        Yep. I have never seen The Wiggles. My older sister had children during their popular years and will still seethe scathing words full of venomous loathing for them if questioned. She has individual personality theories and particular reasons for hating each “Wiggle.” It’s quite entertaining. (:

    • Richard Cox says:

      Now, that was entertaining, Tawni. I like this answer a lot. I can’t say if it’s anywhere near correct, of course. 😛

        • Gloria says:

          If you get the Fuck You shirt, Tawni, will you please at least send me a photo of you wearing it?

        • Tawni says:

          You betcha! I’ll even wear lipstick for the photo. Just for you. But is a Lovemonger allowed to wear a Fuck You shirt?

          In my first band, I sometimes wore a black shirt that said “FUCKER” in silver glitter for shows. It looked great with the electric blue hair I was sporting at the time. Ah, youth. (:

        • Gloria says:

          I think that passive resistence can include the words “Fuck You.” It would also be a real conversation starter if you wore it to a PTA meeting. Family Reunion. Baptist Revival. Think about it. It could instantly make you the most popular person the room.

        • Slade Ham says:

          You could wear it to all of those things, as it doesn’t actually say Fuck You until you fold it…

  21. Gloria says:

    I experienced the exact same sensation when I met Cheryl over my birthday weekend this year. It was like we’d only just seen each other last week. When I meet Tawni or Ashley or Irwin or Richard or… it’ll be the same thing. I might squeal a little when I meet Tawni. We all know that Tawni is the Grand Exalted TNB Commenter.

    “If you’ve never had it, you’ve never had a spiced rum named after a sea monster, and you’re probably better off for it.” Ugh. Thanks for the warning. I drank some rum once that the purveyor referred to as “The Crippler.” That was possibly the worst night of my adult life. Maybe I should just avoid rum – or any beverage a pirate would drink, really.

    First breakfast burrito ever? Holy shit. That’s almost like watching someone lose their virginity! Breakfast burritos are the food of the gods. Wow. First breakfast burrito ever…

    And now my short men are coming in and I STILL haven’t finished this yet. It is so long.

    Okay, more later.

    • Becky says:

      Am I the only person in the world who was nervous meeting TNB people? Clomping around in my severe shoes, cursing my hair?

      Maybe I need to meet more TNB people. Or be more extroverted. Or grow some balls.

      • Greg Olear says:

        I think their description was right — like meeting old friends I haven’t seen in years, only the relationships are current. I’ve met quite a few TNBers at this point, and while everyone is slightly different than what you’d pictured, there have never been any real surprises.

        • Becky says:

          I wasn’t AS nervous as I thought I’d be. In the split second when I first poked my head up out of the car and heard Simon ha ha haing both into my phone and from down the sidewalk, I was more happy and excited than scared, but still.

          That initial moment of recognition–of “I know these people already”–was tempered to some degree over the next few hours by the reality of having to interact face-to-face for an extended period of time.

          To see the microexpressions and have mine seen…the tics…the kind of stuff that really makes people and human interaction and is impossible to experience online, that’s distracting. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I was preoccupied, not nervous. Maybe I was collecting data.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          No one was really nerve-wracking to meet. And no one was really and truly different from how I thought they would be. I had the benefit of a protective force-field of fatigue shielding my cognitive faculties from the outside world, so there was that benefit, too.

          Don’t fret, Becky. You were awesome. We loved you.

        • Becky says:

          Aw, thanks.

          We loved you guys, too.

          I’m not fretting so much as analyzing, probably too much so. Like trying to figure out the line between what elicits sardonicism and tenderness in Zara, or the difference between your fake laugh and your real one.

          These things.

        • Zara Potts says:

          That’s the second time I’ve been called sardonic.. I’m going to have to go and look it up now.

          (Oh and Becky – you were fabulous. We had such a good time with you. Your hair was beautiful and so were your shoes.)

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh! I like it.

          Except it should be – Zardonic.

        • Becky says:

          Okay, now the flattery is getting to be too much.

          Flattery with no elaboration is…it’s like telling me my ass doesn’t look fat in these jeans.

          I don’t even believe you guys anymore. Stop talking about it. You’re freaking me out.

          Zardonic! Of course! *smack forehead*

        • Zara Potts says:

          Hmmm. I was worried that might sound a little Simon Smithson. This pretending to be each other is hard to shake….

        • Zara Potts says:

          NOT that I am in any way implying that I was Simon…

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Becky – Your ass doesn’t look fat in those jeans.

          In their defense, they really did say they liked you a lot. I do remember that part. Not as much as they liked me, but a lot.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Yeah, you’re right. My ass doesn’t look fat.

          But still, all these compliments are disconcerting.


        • Slade Ham says:

          Damn. She was giving me a cut of the loan for corroborating her story.

      • dwoz says:

        “…Or grow some balls….”

        what, you need FOUR?


        • Becky says:

          You’d find me surprisingly agreeable and charming in person, dwoz.

          Of course that says nothing of what I’d say about you after you left. Or if you pissed me off in person.

        • Zara Potts says:

          It’s true. She’s a kitten.

        • dwoz says:

          oh, I’m absolutely sure of that. The blustry facade you put up here is clearly just because you love to spar, or perhaps in light of Zara’s interim post, you’re like a kitten and I/we are like a scratching post.

          I have no doubt but that after you drank me under the table, you’d put a pillow under my head, a blanket on my feet, and I’d wake up the next day with no sharpie on my face or butt.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Hmmm…I like the scratching post metaphor. The best of both worlds and probably fairly accurate.

          Oh no. I don’t do sharpie. Not because I’m such a nice person but because I’m a snob, and that’s the sort of thing only Philistines do.

        • Slade Ham says:

          A comic buddy of mine had a joke about a friend of his that passed out at a party. The guy woke up next to a few scattered Sharpies, extremely concerned about having blacked out like that.

          “Dude,” he said. “You guys didn’t draw dicks on my face while I was sleeping did you?”

          “No,” my friend said. “Of course we didn’t draw dicks on your face. We traced them.”

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Icky boys.

      • Gloria says:

        You won’t be nervous when we meet. It’ll be rad. You’ll see.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          One of two things will happen depending on whether I’m feeling introverted or extroverted that day:

          I will either be totally overwhelmed by your high energy and unable to keep track of your fast-talking, OR I’ll feed it and feed off of it, and we’ll turn into a swirling vortex of manic Aries pandemonium, leaving a trail of giggles and questionable, impulsive decisions in our wake.

          The latter would be totes rad.

        • Gloria says:

          Oooh! Becky, let’s do the second one. (Which is likely the one that will happen anyway. We should probably establish a safe word now…)

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Apple crap? Unicorn sex?

          Or no.

          Those are two words. And way too likely to come up normal conversation.

        • Gloria says:


          Moist will be our safe word.

        • Becky Palapala says:


        • Gloria says:


        • Slade Ham says:

          A little Lords of Acid in the background while you two scream the safety word “moist”? And I thought Richard and I sharing a bed was weird….

        • Becky Palapala says:

          You make it sound like Gloria and I would be the ONLY people in the room.

        • Gloria says:

          I think we should do that, Becky. It would be a unique way to meet someone for the fist time. You and I could put on some LOA, sit on couches across from each other and take turns screaming the word moist. Maybe a strobe light. We could record it and turn it into an art film. I’ve seen stranger art films.

        • Dana says:

          Gloria said fist. 🙂

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Gloria – And it would still be better than most art films I’ve seen.

          @ Dana – Hahahahahahaha. Nice.

      • New Orleans Lady says:

        NO! I’m terrified to meet other TNB people!

        Partly because I’m extremely self-conscious, but mainly because I feel like you guys are all a step ahead of me. I’m not a writer and I’m a fairly new reader. I didn’t spend my childhood or high school years reading or discussing books. I spent them….high, I guess. I spent all my time with an all male lowrider car club. Really, thinking back, I’m lucky to be alive.

        I’ve always loved poetry but my ADD has kept me from reading anything longer than a few pages. Also, I don’t have this amazing vocabulary in my arsenal, like you guys. Almost every post I read has me looking up words on my dictionary app.

        But, I do love to read. And I do have an opinion about almost everything. And I love to learn new things. And I really love all of you guys. Unconditionally. That will have to be enough.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          For the record, I didn’t spend high school reading or discussing books, either.

          I spent it, likewise, high. Except I was–get this–a raver. At least for part of the time.

          I always wrote stuff, but only like all teenagers do. I didn’t develop my more scholarly affinity for books and writing until much later.

          No worries, Ashley. Should we ever find ourselves in a room full of TNB people and not sure what to do with ourselves, we can be overwhelmed together.

        • New Orleans Lady says:


          We can talk about drugs, music lyrics, and how we are too much like one of the guys to fit in with the girls. Stupid girls. bitches!


        • Slade Ham says:

          @ NOLA – I bet you would be just fine. (I always have a tough time deciding between real names and screen names when replying. I think you are forever NOLA on here.)

          @ Becky – Wha? A raver? For serious?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Shut up. I don’t want to talk about it.

          I liked LSD.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Oh, I loooooove this side of Becky. Couple of glowsticks and bottled water… in a warehouse. Fuck yeah.

          My experience with acid is limited, but definitely not non-existent. I clearly remember that it is impossible to get drunk when on it though.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          In my defense, I will offer that I was a fan of hardcore techno and industrial music, primarily.

          None of that house or ambient shit.

          For the record.

          As much as I was able with the options available to me, I chose the techno that rocked.

        • Slade Ham says:

          So, more Ministry, Front 242, and Nitzer Ebb and less, well less of whatever that shitty stuff was/is?

        • Richard Cox says:

          No listening to ambient even when tripping? Really?

          How about trance?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          No way, dude. I was dancer, not a vegetable. All the weirdos and junkies hung out in those ambient rooms.

          I was a high-functioning space cadet. I needed to DO stuff.

        • New Orleans Lady says:

          Becky, I can totally picture you as a raver chick. I went through a similar phase when I discovered ecstacy. I still miss that.

          @Slade: Thanks. I’ll take it as a compliment. And NOLA is fine with me. Actually, it’s kind-a nice. Definitely better than Ashley. I’ll take it!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Richard is a dancer too…

        • Becky Palapala says:

          That might be the only thing funnier than the notion of ME with glow sticks, a nuk, and giant pants.

          Richard with same.

        • Richard Cox says:

          That would be funny. And not very accurate.

          Although I love ambient and trance and post-rock and all that instrumental mushroom music.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I’ve come to dislike most (not all) electronic music pretty intensely.

          Of all my teen/young adult phases, the only one whose music has really remained consistently in my good graces is the one featuring The Cure, NIN, Portishead, Jesus & Mary Chain, etc.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I can totally see you with glow sticks, Richrob. Because you got the moves…

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ NOLA – Now it feels weird NOT calling you Ashley, hahaha. I’ll figure it out eventually.

          @ Zara – He was doing that little spinny thing with his hands. Glow sticks would have been brilliant.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I was focusing more on his elbows…

        • Slade Ham says:

          They were moving back and forth like an engine. Hahahaha. So not fair when he’s not here to defend himself.

          I feel bad Rich.

          Not bad enough to delete it obviously, but bad still 🙂

        • Zara Potts says:

          I feel worse than Slade, Richrob.
          He made me do it.

        • Slade Ham says:

          What? Wait. No. Did not! LIIIIIAR!

          She totally started it all on her own.

          Never trust a Kiwi. Never.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Shut up and listen!!!

        • Karen says:

          And focus on his teeth, motherfucker!!!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Nicely played, Karen!!!

    • Tawni says:

      “Grand Exalted TNB Commenter”


      I am definitely going to squeal when I meet you in person too. Like an eight-year-old girl watching twelve dancing kittens. Like a high school cheerleader drunk on Peppermint Schnapps. Like Screech being chewed into a talentless mass of chum by angry sharks. Oh, how I will squeal!

  22. Greg Olear says:

    The logical assumption is that Simon is writing Slade, because we know Slade is funny, and so is Simon, so we can’t choose the cup in front of Slade.

    But Simon is from Australia, and everyone knows Australians are liars, so we can’t choose the cup in front of Simon.

    Zara is the only woman, and the Richrob character as written is being picked on, which three guys would do, so we can’t choose the cup in front of Zara.

    But women are masters of deception, and Zara is a woman, so we can’t choose the cup in front of Richard.

    Of course I know you wrote which part. You’ve given it away! You’ve given everything away!

    Oh, my…look, over there…what’s that?

    OK, enough. I’ve spent the last few comments building up a resistance to caring about knowing who wrote whom. What I really want to know is, did Richard ever go out with Amy, or did the dropping of particle physics knowledge scare her off?

    • Slade Ham says:

      I go the email alert for this when i wasn’t around my computer, dammit. I can do the entire movie. When you got to the “everyone knows Australians are liars” part, I was almost fist pumping in my car. Seriously brilliant.

      You’ve beaten my giant, which means you’re exceptionally strong…

      As for Richard and Amy, he DID get her number. I can’t vouch for it after that.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        No more rhyming! I mean it!

      • Greg Olear says:

        I let my kids watch that movie a few months ago — at five and three, they’re really too little for it; I had to keep explaining the motivations of Inigo Montoya — and they really dug it, to the point where, for awhile, they were playing a game where they would die first by sword, then by beating the giant, then by drinking poison and falling over. It was really funny to watch, once I figured out what they were up to, and got over the fact that I’d corrupted their innocent brains.

        My favorite character in the movie, incidentally, is the prince. He has all the best lines (aside from the Bezzini monologue).

        • Slade Ham says:

          If for no other line but this one:

          “I’ve got my country’s 500th Anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped.”

          Wallace Shawn’s character trumps them all though.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Best line in the whole movie, that.

      • Gloria says:

        I named one of my twins after the Spaniard. I can do the whole movie, too. One of the best movies of all time.

        Greg’s answer put a permanent smile on my face.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Inigo or Indigo?

          I am such a nut for this movie. If we ever all meet, you must make me do all the impressions. It’s fun.

        • Gloria says:


          And here’s why: I thought that’s what they were saying and I never bothered to read the book. Or, apparently the end credits. Also, I blame Andre the Giant. There is the scene toward the end where Fessik is looking for Inigo and in the Thieves Forrest and he yells “Eeeen-dee-go.” Totally misleading. I tell my son that Andre the Giant named him. 🙂

        • Slade Ham says:

          Gotcha. I thought the same thing. So have you read the book since then? If not, you MUST.

        • Dana says:

          The first 3 times I saw the movie, I thought it was Indigo too. Great movie and one of the most fun to quote too!

        • Greg Olear says:

          Mandy Potenkin was spotted at the Lowe’s in Highland, NY, just down the road from me, last year. He was very not nice to my friend. : (

    • Dana says:

      Awesome Greg!

    • Gloria says:

      You fool! Never go against four writers when a shirt is on the line!!


      *fall over dead*

      *end scene*

    • Erika Rae says:

      Best comment ever.

  23. Erika Rae says:

    I knew it! I knew it! I fucking knew it!

    What? I’m excited.

    OK, here goes:

    Simon as Slade
    Richrob as Simon
    Zara as Richrob
    Slade as Zara


    Simon as Slade – Simon’s style no question. Aggressively funny. Also, didn’t we discuss the Wiggles when you were here? I believe my kids may have planted that seed… Plus, Cox? Blocked. Come on! Simon all over it.

    Richrob as Simon – Too much knowledge of the highway terminology btwn Tulsa and Dallas. Also, Richard gets quite a few compliments from “Simon” – which is hilarious.

    Zara as Richrob – Uses terms like “luggage” and “pleasantries”. Also, “I think she was doing it on purpose” (approx) knocked it out of the ballpark for me. SO funny.

    Slade as Zara – He does an admirable job spoofing Zara. Hilarious. But what makes me think Slade was “Zara” was the whole “slipped” bit. It just sounds like Slade’s comedy style. Hysterical.

    I can’t wait to find out!!!!

  24. Zara Potts says:

    But… but.. the slipped bit really happened!!!! Honest!

    • Erika Rae says:

      No, no – I believe you. But it’s in the telling. I can literally “hear” Slade telling that in that way.

      More rationale:

      “Slade” uses “pleasant” and “charming” to describe Richrob. (Sounds like “down under” usage)

      And I defy you to tell me this doesn’t sound like you, Zara:

      “…It felt like we were greeting old friends who we hadn’t seen for years. I noticed details about everyone, matching them with the images I already had of them in my mind. Slade was funny and generous with both his laughter and conversation.”

      That has Zara quality written all over it.

      Also, “Zara” writes “In a Texas way. A good way.” *ahem*

      “Simon” – Richard finally suggests Mexican food / Richard wouldn’t stop raving about him (the musician). A lot of funny self plugs and self-deprecation. (I know it’s you, Richard! Hahaha) Also, “We took some great photos there, including this one in which a stray bartender decided to liven things a bit with his outstretched arms.” This line couldn’t possibly be delivered by Zara. I remember the FB string on this photo. Not her style.

      More later…

      • Richard Cox says:

        I am ashamed that Erika thinks I’m subtly (or not so subtly) promoting myself. Whether she’s right or wrong. Ugh.


        • Slade Ham says:

          They must have taught you this people reading shit in Hong Kong, hahaha.

          Not that you’re right of course, Erika…

          I do forget though, that you are one of the few that has actually met me. You have heard me tell a story or two. Still doesn’t mean you’re right though.

          On a separate note, while we’re having this big online love-in, I might miss my Colorado buddies just a bit. We should fix this soon.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I miss all my TNB buddies. We should fix the shit out of that.

        • Slade Ham says:

          My September is still open 🙂

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Somebody had better come to MN, goddamnit. I’m sick of driving all over hell and damnation.

          We’ve got the largest freshwater lake in the world and boats and squirrels and tornadoes and acme comedy club and a couple of TNBers families and everything, but no one makes a move.

          I’m beginning to think I smell.

          *ZIIIP IT* ZARA!

          Do not tell me I smell like roses. I’m not giving you any money.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I really am attempting to get booked up there.

          in the summer of course.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Come! Come to MN Slade! Bring my booby prize with you!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Becky, you smell like roses.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Richard – Ha! If my guess is right, then I think it’s hilarious! I saw it as an inside joke – not as shameless self promo. Hahaha. Of course, if I’m not right, then boy do I feel crappy. But I AM right. I know it. Don’t ever fuck with a linguist. Unless, ahem, I’m wrong. At which point I would point out that linguistics isn’t magic, you know.

          And Slade – supposing I’m right, then I would have to point out that there is simply no mistaking your comedy style. It’s genius in action. Since I am one of the few TNBers to have actually seen you in a live show, I get to brag a bit. Yes? Also, I have to admit that I am envious of that style. I kinda sorta have even analyzed it a bit. Is that weird? It’s just that it works so freaking well. And if I’m wrong…nice work whoever did Zara. You sound like Slade Ham!

          Becky – I wanna come to MN! My kids might be more than you could take, though….

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Nonsense, Erika. Kennels are cheap and our basement is very spacious.

          And as long as ashtray babyhead is still a functioning rangefinder, he (he?) may consider his keep earned and sleep in the kitchen.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          NOT A DIME, Zara.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Erika – You are in a very small group. I believe just you, Megs, and Richard. My curiosity is piqued now, as to the analysis. Very much so. We should discuss it over a Tiajuana Ninja.

          That will never stop being funny to me.

          I like the confidence of your answers btw. The truth at 6:00 pm Central!

          Who will be right?

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Erika – You are in a very small group. I believe just you, Megs, and Richard. My curiosity is piqued now, as to the analysis. Very much so. We should discuss it over a Tiajuana Ninja.

          That will never stop being funny to me.

          I like the confidence of your answers btw. The truth at 6:00 pm Central!

          Who will be right?

  25. Gloria Harrison says:

    Okay, here goes:

    Richard as Slade
    Simon as Richard
    Slade as Zara
    Zara as Simon

    And why? I don’t know. I just think Simon did Richard. (tee hee hee hee)

    Also, I really, really, really, really, really want that Fuck You tee shirt.

    • Slade Ham says:

      You just wanted to say “Simon did Richard.” I knew it.

      Now, about that t-shirt… I guess we’ll find out tomorrow?

      • Zara Potts says:

        Well. There was no sleeping…. was there?

        • Simon Smithson says:

          There was no sleeping to ensure there was no slipping.

        • Gloria says:

          I’m pretty confused about this whole “slipping” thing. Were you guys sleeping on a bed full of banana peels? How, exactly, would “slipping” occur.

          Wait, wait… Let me get a pastry and more coffee…

          Alright. I’m set. Go! But, please, speak slowly and leaving nothing out…

        • Slade Ham says:

          I sleep “big”. That is the problem. Super stretched out like a starfish. And I am a tosser and turner and flippy flopper. That works well in my big queen sized bed. Alone. Not in a bed with another guy…

          I don’t need my hand haphazardly landing somewhere it shouldn’t and vice versa.

          I hung off the side of that bed like a leopard sleeping on a tree branch 🙂

        • Gloria says:

          Big. Tosser. Hung.

          *fans face*

        • Dana says:

          Guys are so dumb. 😀

          But leopard sleeping is a great descriptor!

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Gloria – Baaahahahahaha

          @ Dana – But seriously… what if I had slipped. Hard to explain on the first night you meet someone.

        • Richard Cox says:

          We seriously considered putting someone on the floor with the comforter and a pillow. But hotel room comforters are nasty and in the end we were too drunk to care.

          But I think I fell off a couple of times, sleeping as close to the edge as I did.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Boys are so silly.

        • dwoz says:

          What the women fail to realize, is that we don’t wake up the way we do because of the beautiful woman sleeping next to us, we wake up that way because it’s nature’s way of preventing us from pissing all over the bed while we’re asleep.

          There’s a certain “danger” to “slumbering while tumescent.”

        • Richard Cox says:

          Dwoz, are you commenting and drinking Scotch at the same time again?

        • Joe Daly says:

          Can’t a guy use the word “tumescent” without everyone accusing him of being loaded on scotch?

        • Richard Cox says:

          No. You’re obviously hammered as well.

        • dwoz says:

          actually, rum, not scotch, but that’s because rum was cheap last week, and single-malt was very expensive.

          Plus, it’s gotten to be so hard to buy good single malt. There was a time that you saw a scottish name on the bottle, and you were pretty much ok.

          Glanmoringishmereal 12 year cask strength. Good to go.

          NOT ANYMORE.

          Today, you find so much nail polish with fancy scottish names, and it’s just as expensive as the good stuff. It’s sad, especially for those of us that can’t remember a name from one sentence to the next.

  26. Slade is the point man.
    Richard is the forger.
    Zara is the architect.
    Simon is the extractor.

    Zara carries a kiwi egg, weighted to stand on its pointy end.
    Slade keeps his totem secret even from his colleagues.
    Richard has a special dance.
    Simon carries a tiny cloisonné portrait of Janeane Garofalo that winks at him. In his dreams

    • Dana says:

      Nice! Inception!

    • Slade Ham says:

      Man. Best answer EVER.

      • Richard Cox says:

        Great answer, indeed, but I was vastly disappointed in that film. The multiple reality thing was handled in such a juvenile way, and I could have done without all the one-liners.

        Great concept, poor execution. Or maybe my expectations were too high.

        • Dana says:

          My husband didn’t like it either. But I quite liked it. I feel like I need to see it again, even if it’s just for Ellen Page because she’s adorable and I loved her foldable city.

        • Lucky they could all ski, eh?

        • Richard Cox says:

          I guess one could make the argument that it was a dream and they could will themselves to ski, but this is the sort of thing I mean. Nolan took the concept of dreams and artificial reality and fried it in a bad James Bond film with none of the fun. But again I admit, being something of a participant in reading and writing Philip K Dick style reality, I had extremely high expectations.

          And I’m with you Dana, and I love Ellen Page, and the foldable city was probably the best part of the film, realizing the power they had, but unfortunately for me I thought Ellen Page was grossly miscast in this particular role.

        • Dana says:

          What bothered you about her Richard? Not a fan of the cute AND smart? 😉 Who would you have liked to see in the role?

          Bill thought it felt like 4 or 5 action movies spliced together haphazardly, but to me it seemed quite organic, likely because I often dream vivid and bizarre scenarios. My favorite scene was when Cillian Murphy’s character was in a hotel bar and Leo’s character was explaining that they were in a dream. The moment of realization by Murphy was perfection.

          How weird is it that I never recognized Tom Berenger? Also, it seems in my memory that Michael Caine had 2nd billing in this movie for approximately 2 minutes of screen time. Lame.

          And since we haven’t talked enough about movies in the comment section of a post having nothing to do with movies; The Time Traveller’s Wife I haven’t read it, I haven’t seen it, but I know you enjoyed the book especially. A girlfriend told me the book was one of her favorites of all time, but she also enjoyed the Twilight series, so, um, should I read it and did you like the movie?

        • Richard Cox says:

          No. I thought the role was beneath her. Far beneath her. I don’t know who I would have liked to have seen. Megan Fox, maybe. That’s about how well the character was drawn.

          She just seemed so out of place to me. Come on, Ellen. Don’t sell out!

          It took me a while to place Berenger. It was the voice that did it. I just watched Major League a couple of weeks ago. Haha.

          I haven’t seen the film of The Time Traveler’s Wife. Only read the book. I know women who enjoyed it and also enjoy the Twilight series, but they easily recognize the difference. You should absolutely read it. Don’t see the film first. Maybe don’t see it at all. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t add anything to the experience.

        • Dana says:

          I don’t even know who Megan Fox is except I remember her name being bandied about when
          Transformers came out.

          Don’t be too hard on Ellen. She probably wasn’t aware during filming how it would turn out and she certainly couldn’t have guessed that it wouldn’t meet the standards of admired novelist Richard Cox, writer of the much superior The God Particle.

          One L in Traveler. duh. Okay! I have two TNB’ers up next, but after that, I’m on it! Thanks Richard. 🙂

        • Dana says:

          :p Italics amok.

        • Richard Cox says:

          The inherent problem critiquing a story when you yourself are a writer of stories: People assuming you mean your own works are superior. Hahaha.

        • Dana says:

          Dude. I LOVED your book. I wasn’t being facetious and you’re MORE than entitled to render your opinion on any art form that you wish.

          Also, there’s a slight chance that I may be miffed because I sucked at the game. I hate to lose.

          Who wants to play Scrabble?

        • Gloria says:

          I do, Dana! I want to play Scrabble! I’m gloria on Lexulous.com and my email address is, well, not something I feel comfortable putting here. But I’ll play with you! I will!

        • Dana says:

          Gloria! yes! we have to do that some time soon. I’ll email you.. I think I have your address because you commented on my comment.

        • Gloria says:


        • Richard Cox says:

          Well, thank you, Dana. That’s quite nice of you to say and I appreciate it. I never know what people are going to think about that book, which is sort of a mishmash of particles and romance and sex.

          Wait. I do not try to pick up flight attendants by talking about physics!

  27. Greg Olear says:

    Simon is Slade. You can tell
    By all the jokes he crams
    Into the story. He did it well,
    But Aussies aren’t Texan Hams.

    Slade you’d think would be
    Balls out. But with some mascara,
    And some words flowery,
    Boom, he’s a very tall Zara.

    Zara’s written many a loving post,
    The stuff that will just make you sob.
    But she’s more sardonic than most
    People realize. She’s Richrob.

    That leaves our friend Cox,
    Whose teeth are a work of wonder,
    He’s used to women around him in flocks,
    Just like Simon, the hunk from Down Under.

    • Richard Cox says:

      “And some words flowery…” Hahaha.

      Nice answer, Greg. I like this one quite a bit as well.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Bravo, good sir. Bravo.

      • Zara Potts says:

        Greg gets a prize for rhyming Zara with Mascara.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Even if it doesn’t really rhyme… ; )

        • Slade Ham says:

          It depends on who’s saying it. There are so many random, fucked up accents running around TNB, it’s bound to rhyme in one of them 🙂

        • James D. Irwin says:

          It rhymes in British.

          At least if you are as well spoken as I am…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Speaking of accents, I remember hearing something about how if you say “beer can” in British it sounds like you’re saying “bacon” in Jamaican patois.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Yeah, that totally works.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Or ‘beer beer’ for baby.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Greg – It totally rhymes if you say with a kiwi accent.

          Zah rah

          Mas cah rah.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Zara – Did pippah put the pippah on the pippah?

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I was going to add that I was sure it would rhyme with an Aussie or New Zealand twang.

          Different, but rhyming vowel sounds.

          Zar-rar and Mascar(like NASCAR)-rar

        • Zara Potts says:

          Australians have a short ‘a’ sound like Americans. They say ‘dance’ (as in: Dance, Richrob, Dance) like Americans do. Whereas, we Kiwi’s say ‘daaaahnce’ like you Brits.
          It’s because we are more classy.

        • Zara Potts says:


          Whay! Yew arrr serch a tayse. Ya’ll know perrrfecly wayall thayat ah don’t tahk laike thayat.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          More classy?

          Shane Warne has been on TV a lot recently, so I can easily believe that.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Shayne Warne? This is where this ugly American gets completely lost….

          @ Zara – That is exactly how Texas girls sound. You can type it… but can you SAY it. I heard you read that menu…. hahahaha.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Exactly! Shane Warne is possibly the biggest bogan ever to have walked the planet.

          We are much classier! Ha! Take that Australia!!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Ah am gonna git yew.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Shane Warne was a cricketer, and perhaps the finest spin bowler of all time. A ‘bowler’ is kind of like the pitcher in baseball.


          What is so utterly brilliant about the guy is that throughout his career he was regularly using cocaine, cheating on his wife and generally being quite fat for a professional athlete.

          Sporting genius AND a regular fat Australian. Kind of like if Toadie from Neighbours made it as a pro athlete…

          Love the Texan accent. It’s like the Irish accent, not in the way it sounds but the way they’re both naturally warm and friendly sounding…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Oh wow. What a douchebag… but what a spin on that ball! I forget that you’re a huge cricket fan. I know almost nothing about the game at all.

          That guy, despite his shitty character, looks pretty impressive though.

          He also appears to have a horrible fake tan in that video, though it may just be the video itself.

        • Zara Potts says:

          The best thing about Shane Warne is when he bashed those Kiwi kids who filmed him smoking when he said he had given up.

          Oh, or maybe it was when he blamed his mother for his drug use.

          Or the pervy ‘what are you wearing darlin” texts.

          Or the sex tape.

          Or the blonde tips and fake tan.

          Jinkers. Shane Warne. Australian.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Yeah, not many people can make a cricket ball do that. There is nothing more boring than a dull game of cricket, but a good one is so, so good.

          Also it’s one of the few sports England are now doing very well in. Also athletics. For some reason I’ve gotten really into watching athletics, which is even more pointless than cricket.


          Shane Warne has been a terrible person, but he’s a great pundit. Or more, he’s quite funny because he’s just an average Australian guy who happened to somehow be one of the greatest in the history of his chosen field.

          An average Australian who just happened to do a lot of coke and sleep with many women who he wasn’t married to. But be fair, you’ve got to do something to make living in Australia interesting…

  28. Joe Daly says:

    Simon is Slade- it’s got that edgy male-ness to it that is one of Slade’s calling cards. Funny, funny, funny stuff.

    I think Coxy is Zara. Whoever did Zara nailed it to a tee, and I’m guessing that both Coxy and Zara have such an eye for detail in their writing, that Coxy has made an admirable go at it.

    Conversely, Zara is Coxy. Not just because their styles are close, but the dialogue between Coxy and Slade is a bit more um… “sensitive” than I would guess it really was. Not enough f-bombs, “motherfuckers,” or “tits.”

    Therefore, Slade is Simon. This makes sense to me because Slade tells the shit out of a story, with a similar narrative to the way that Simon is recounting stories here. So I’m going to say that in this case, the style tipped me off.

    OK, I haven’t read anyone else’s guesses, so this was pure, uninformed speculation. How did I do?

  29. JM Blaine says:

    Zara & Simon had
    discussed a pass through Tennessee
    but alas
    I was out of state.
    Possibly for the best
    since the TNB account of that trip
    probably would have went something

    JMB had us meet him
    on Blackjack Mountain
    at midnight
    the jackass was sitting in a
    cedar tree
    & would only
    shout down to us
    theories of antigravity
    & sacred geometry
    then later we found out
    it wasn’t even him
    but Chet, the dude who
    works on his car.
    Here’s a blurry cell phone pic
    of Chet riding a donkey away
    from the mountain.

    Nobody was drunk.

    The End.

  30. Lorna says:

    I think Erika Rae wins. I agree with her 100%. Is there a booby prize for the most incorrect?

  31. Oh you are quite the wonderful foursome, you are. You should rent yourselves out to parties, that way no event will ever fail. But if there are crying kids at any of the shindigs, well Slade, looks like you’re gonna be busy the whole time trying to manipulate their minds into shutting the hell up.

    Guess that means more potential scoring action for Simon and Richard. As for you Zara, you go wild and do whatever you want. Heck, you look fantastic just standing around and sipping your drink.

  32. Dana says:

    Simon played Zara. His last regular post was such a departure from his usual style that it occurred to me that he’s quite the chameleon and he’d enjoy taking on the female role. Plus have you seen those eyelashes?!

    Zara played Richrob. “What a load of horseshit!” and “Zara was beautiful the way I knew she would be.” Ha! I just love the thought that she penned those lines and laughed and laughed.

    Slade played Simon. The Love Field comment and “We ordered our various dishes and immediately Slade began to hit on the waitress.” I just could feel Slade calling himself out on being total hound.

    Richrob played Slade. From all accounts Richard and Slade appeared to be long lost friends instantly and I just have a gut feeling that Richard, despite his gentlemanly appearance and good manners, lies the heart of a beast. 😉

    Although, everytime I read someone else’s answer and reasoning my theory seems so flawed. Oh well. I’m sticking with it. Also, I DEFINITELY got confused by this, as the first thing that came to mind when it came time to explain my choices was that Simon had to be Slade because of the whole Wiggles thing. And then I realized that’s not what I wrote. Hee!

    Also, please tell the trick of the rearview mirrors. Why couldn’t the downunders use them properly?

    This past Saturday we were out at a terrible Irish Pub and behind the bar I saw a bottle of Kraken. I immediately thought of the 4 of you and wondered if THIS could be the elusive Kraken of all the commentary.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Simon will have to explain the rear view mirror debacle. Or Zara.

      The Kraken was absolutely the same Kraken you recently passed.

      And you are on to something when you say that I would have called myself out for being the flirt. That doesn’t mean I wrote Simon… but it does mean that I would have done it 🙂

      • Dana says:

        Well at least I got SOMETHING right. Honestly though, I spent WAY more time than I should have thinking about this. When are you letting the leopard out of the bed?

      • Don Mitchell says:

        It’s easy.

        In the right-hand-drive world, when you’re sitting in the right hand seat you’re the driver, and therefore you expect that the right side mirror shows you what a driver in a left-hand-drive car sees in the left side mirror.

        But it doesn’t.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Do you know that it took Simon and I FOUR WEEKS to figure that out? It wasn’t until we arrived home and I was driving Simon out to the airport and we were still trying to figure out why we couldn’t see in the rear vision in the USA.
          The penny dropped for both of us at the same time and we felt like the biggest fools ever to walk the planet.
          Same thing with the GPS – when we were programming it – it would ask us: ‘Do you know the city?’ Simon and I would look at each other and say: “No. We’ve never been there before.’
          Oh. Do you KNOW what the city is CALLED???
          Idiots. That’s what we are – idiots.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Hahahaha. I wasn’t gonna be the one to out you guys. Hahaha. And the GPS thing? I had no idea! How did you not tell me this?!!?!

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Nah, hardly idiots. If you were really idiots you’d never have made it XC and back again.

          By the way, R and I drove through East Randolph on Monday. Lots of trees down — huge piles of branches on the sidewalks waiting to be picked up, but not too much damage to the buildings. And the Oregano restaurant was fine.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Slade – I know!!! It took us an embarrassingly long time to figure that out. There was much yelling at the GPS -‘NO!! WE don’t know the bloody city! We’ve never been there before!!” – before we figured it out.


          Right. The name. Ha. Ha.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Don – I’m so glad to hear that the restaurant is okay. One of my favourite things I brought back from the U.S was the Amish remedy book that I bought in that restuarant. It has a recipe for ‘jogging in a jog’ – which is fantastic.
          That was such a lovely town. I’m so glad we met you and R there.

  33. Dana says:

    I should explain the last sentence. I noticed the phrase “Release the Kraken” in several comments on posts after you’d all met and kept wondering if you’d managed a screening of Clash of the Titans during your time together…

  34. Becky Palapala says:

    I was as a big My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Lords of Acid fan. I wasn’t really a raver long enough to develop very esoteric taste.

  35. Jude says:

    Many hours later with much accompanying laughter, I have to DECLARE this is the funniest and most amusing post and comments I have read at TNB.

  36. Richard Cox says:

    Now is the time on Sprockets vhen ve dance!

    Or rather the time when we announce the winners of the “One Night in Dallas” author contest.

    Honorable mention goes to Gloria Harrison because she really, really wanted a T-shirt. Gloria, congratulations on your Fuck You T-shirt.

    First prize in the creative category is a tie between Erika Rae and Greg Olear. Erika’s answer(s) in our opinion were the most accurate and especially thorough of the lot, though a few other answers came close. Greg’s answer in verse was also accurate and especially well-written. Congratulations, Erika and Greg.

    And first prize for answering correctly the quickest, beating out Cynthia Hawkins by barely four mintues, was Dwoz. Congratulations, Dwoz. You apparently either have the quickest and best pattern recognition skills, or you are the most talented stalker. Just kidding.

    Thanks to everyone who played! If you would like to appeal this decision, please contact Simon Smithson or comment directly below.

    • Zara Potts says:

      I would like to appeal your spelling of ‘honourable’ please..

    • Slade Ham says:

      Simon is definitely the recipient of any hate mail. I only say that because he isn’t here at the moment. I am totally using people’s absences to exploit them.

      I will say that I was REALLY impressed by Erika’s rationale. Dwoz got it more quickly, but Erika smoked the reasoning.

      And Cynthia deserves at least a big digital hug for almost snatching the win from Dwoz.

      Oh, and Becky lost, going 1-4. We haven’t decided what to get you yet, Becky.

      And one more note… I had more fun writing Zara than I could have imagined. This was an incredibly interesting exercise. I’m glad to have fooled some of you 😉

      • Richard Cox says:

        I thought it would be easy to write Simon. The style was a challenge but really it was difficult to see myself and the rest through his eyes. In fact we did consult each other a bit on our first impressions.

        That being said, I would like to point out that ZaraPotts wrote my bit and described herself as “beautiful.”

        • Zara Potts says:


          I can’t speak. I am speechless!
          I can’t believe you said that!!!!

          Now, no matter what I say – no one is going to believe me. You set me up so bad…

          You are in BIG trouble.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Great. Our little union is falling apart three comments after the reveal.

          Pull it together!

        • Richard Cox says:

          Hahahahaha. Okay, okay! We each reviewed the bit that had been written about us to look for any obvious errors that would give us away too easily. When I did that, I inserted the line about ZaraPotts being beautiful and she only realized after the fact that it would appear as if she had written it about herself.

          Apologies, ZaraPotts. Now delete that video of me dancing. 😉

        • Zara Potts says:

          Ah bless you, Richrob. You are a true gentleman.

          But I will never reveal whether in fact I do have a secret video of you dancing. This means you have to be nice to me for the rest of my life.

          • Slade Ham says:

            And to me too, because if she does have a video, she gave me a copy… in case anything ever “happens” to her.

        • Erika Rae says:

          I TOTALLY wrote that [Zara being beautiful] in my first comment (which got wiped out somehow). I thought it was hilarious. Zara – you rock.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Honestly, I didn’t write it!!!
          I really didn’t!!!!

        • Slade Ham says:

          That really was impressive… nothing got by you. You’re a sneaky one, Erika Rae. Very sneaky indeed…

        • Zara Potts says:

          Ahhh. So you DID do it on purpose, Richrob!!! And here I was thinking it was just part of your natural charm…. Jinkers.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Where did I say I did it on purpose? I didn’t set you up on purpose!

          “…she only realized after the fact that it would appear as if she had written it about herself.”

          YOU realized it. You’re the one who told me!

          Bloody jinkers!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Ahhh! and THAT’s where you come undone, my dear Richrob.

          “…she only realized after the fact that it would appear as if she had written it about herself.”

          That sentence tells me that it was a cunning stunt of yours designed to set me up!!

          That’s why you laughed so hard when I told you! BECAUSE YOU ALREADY KNEW!!!!

          Bloody fucking jinkers.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Nonsense, dearest ZaraPotts.

          I would not set you up like that. This is the second time in one day my attempt at kindness has been turned against me!!

          Bloody fucking jingo jinkers!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Okay, Richrob. I’m going to take you at your word. But only because you have such delightful manners, as plainly evidenced by your walking streetside in Dallas.

          I can’t believe that everyone is turning your kindness against you! Absurd!!

          Bloody fucking jingo crikey jinkers!

        • Richard Cox says:

          Thank you, ZaraPotts. Our team is back on calm seas again.

          I have just returned from a 5K and must retire to the shower. Is that what they call them in Nu Zullund? Showers? Or something more exotic and ironice?


        • Zara Potts says:

          Nice, Richrob. Ironice.
          We could start our own language!
          Showers? We call ’em One Eyed Penguins down here.


      • Becky says:


        Good thing I didn’t change my answer, though, I would have fucked up the only one I got right.

        Simon, here’s looking you and your irrepressible voice. I love you both. You can stay.

        But fuck the rest of you guys.

        I will have my revenge. And keep your…your…pity prize.

        (Maybe. Unless it’s good.)

        • Slade Ham says:

          You still never gave your reason for wanting to change.

          Your pity prize depends on it (though we still have no idea what it is).

        • Becky says:

          Simon, please tell Slade that if he wants to know, he can ask Richard. Back when we were still friends, I told him.

          Oh, and also tell him that any mocking thing they might send me will be sent back. ON FIRE.

          *cross arms*

        • Slade Ham says:


          I absolutely love you, Becky.

          I’m asking Richard. You talk to Invisible Simon.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh dear. Is Becky talking to me? Can someone ask? Becky!!

        • Becky says:

          I will talk to you because I know you are not reveling in my failure like Slade and that other boy are.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Slade, Becky almost changed her answer because she wondered if I had written the line “Cox? Blocked.”

          I’m not reveling in your failure, Becky, though I am enjoying your responses. I’m sorry we aren’t friends anymore. When the package of glow sticks arrives, just refuse it.

        • Becky says:

          OH! That is IT!!

          I thought you wrote it because I said it to YOU mere weeks ago!

          And you conveniently leave out the fact that you ENCOURAGED me to change my answer, knowing full well that in doing so, I would screw up the only one I had right!

          But now I know that Slade and I like-minded comedic geniuses and you are just the worst friend in the whole world.

          Now you are the only one left on the shit list. For your own safety, may we never meet on a hockey rink.

          Good DAY.

        • Becky says:

          No SIMON is a comedic genius.

          Whatever. Fuck.

          I don’t care. Slade can stay anyway. He loves me.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I slipped right through. How the fuck did that happen?

          No more reveling. Just hysterical laughter coming from this side of the computer…

          • Becky says:

            Because I am so awful taht even knowing the answer, I can’t get my shit straight about who wrote “cox blocked,” and as a person of integrity I couldn’t retract your pardon, however accidental, in good conscience.

            Richard, on the other hand, is fucked.

        • Simon Smithson says:


          Cox? Fucked.

        • Richard Cox says:

          When I suggested you give it another go, I had forgotten your text would change the Simon as Slade answer. I was honestly trying to help you out, and you replied that you didn’t care anymore.

          I wasn’t trying to screw you over. This is all in good fun. I’m sorry for misleading you.

          That’s all I have to say about that.

        • Becky says:

          OH, Richard, for Godssakes. Bless your soul.

          I luurrrrve you, remember?

          I’m not ACTUALLY mad.

          Well, maybe a little. But not at you.

        • Slade Ham says:

          No no no. She’s really mad. She told me. She did.

          And he said he WAS trying to screw you over, Becky.

          This was so much more fun before you two hugged….

        • Becky says:

          You fuckers send me glowsticks, though, the next one will be for real.

          And no accidental pardons, either.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Eh. We still have to trick you out of your address.

          THEN, the glowsticks.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Glow sticks and a flash drive full of ambient mushroom music.

        • Becky says:

          No one gets my address but Zara.

          Cox. Blocked.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Then your prize is coming from New Zealand.

          They have glowsticks there too, I’m sure of it.

        • Becky says:

          Mmm. But I trust her not to send them to me. Then again, I don’t want a box full of Maori fish hooks, either, and I’m not sure what else they have in New Zealand. 😀

          Okay, okay. Enough. I have to go to bed. Send me what you will. I have to admit some curiosity. Surprise me.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Sleep well, One of Four.

        • Becky says:

          Bite me, funny man. xo

        • Zara Potts says:

          Yay! Becky is still talking to me. And she thinks I’m trustworthy!
          She’s totally bloody right of course.
          You boys are such tricksters.

          I am THE only trustworthy one.

        • Richard Cox says:


          Cox? Fucked.”

          That made me laugh out loud, Simon. Literally.

      • Richard Cox says:

        And I was impressed with Erika’s rationale as well. “Cox? Blocked!” the bit about the highway terminology, “luggage” and “pleasantries.” Good eye. Ear. Whatever.

        Cynthia you were so close! We couldn’t believe two people got it correct that quickly.

        NOLA’s reasoning was also well-reasoned.

        This was a lot of fun. Thanks again to everyone who played. Even you, Becky.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Oh, and I realize that a lot of people nailed Simon for writing me. I’m chalking that up to the Wiggles, and possibly the fact that he made it funnier than I actually write. When he first sent it to me I read it on my phone, and I was laughing so hard in my car that I had to look like a crazy person.

          Ok, crazier.

        • Becky says:

          Hmm? What was that noise? Did someone fart?

        • Richard Cox says:

          “…reasoning was also well-reasoned.” Yep, that’s me. Novelist and TNB contributor.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Hahaha. Brilliant, Rich. Brilliant.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Woo-hoo! Four for four, and I only read it once, AND I wrote the poem while Prue was having a very loud time out in her room.

      This was great, guys…great to read anyway, but the game made it that much more fun.

      • Richard Cox says:

        Yeah, Greg. You were totally spot on. Nice work. At one point we counted and there were more correct responses than incorrect responses. We were fairly sure the only people who would get it right would do so by chance.

        How wrong we were.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Does this mean Greg and I don’t get a T-shirt?

      Oh – and Greg’s Princess Bride answer had me giggling like a drunk Catholic schoolgirl.

    • New Orleans Lady says:

      You guys suck! I was robbed.

      …or, richrobbed…. *ha ha snort*

      • Slade Ham says:

        You were. You deserve credit for a beautiful read on all of us. 4 for 4.

        I suppose a round of applause from me at this point is not as rewarding as an actual prize though, is it? Nicely done, regardless 🙂

  37. Irene Zion says:

    I have to admit this was fun, even if I didn’t win a T-shirt and I complained about being tricked.
    You win.

  38. Zara Potts says:

    Just to be serious for a minute..

    This was so much harder than I thought it would be. I thought it would be fun if we just pretended to be each other and that it would be easy. Ha. Think again.

    I wish I had been better at capturing Richrob. His voice is so distinctive and I don’t think I did him justice at all, his writing style is hard to imitate – such complex ideas and so beautifully written. Sorry, Richrob!

    I think Slade did a superb job as me. I laughed so hard when I saw it. The first version was much longer and it was perfect. Slade opted to write me before anyone else got a chance and now I see why! My style is easy to parody! But he did a great job.

    This was such a fun experiment. Everyone should have a go!

    • Slade Ham says:

      I picked you, not just because I thought the style would be easier, but because it was definitely the furthest from my own style. I’m really happy I did in hindsight. It was pretty fucking fun.

      God, I forgot how much we cut…

    • Richard Cox says:

      Nonsense, ZaraPotts. You did an excellent job! We all did a minor cleanup exercise to remove the obvious Kiwi and Aussie and American references. I can’t believe none of us spotted the Wiggles. Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t know what the fuck the Wiggles are.

      Hats off to the three of you. It was great fun meeting you guys in Dallas and reliving the evening with this post. Let’s all return there soon and visit the One Eyed Penguin. I think there is some Kraken there that is begging to be released.

      • Greg Olear says:

        I can’t believe there’s a bar called the One Eyed Penguin. That shit would never fly in New York. (And not just because penguins don’t fly).

      • Cynthia Hawkins says:

        Soooo close! Well, I’ve already very uncharacteristically cursed at dwoz, so I suppose now I can just cross my arms in a hard little knot, mumble “congratulations, dwoz,” and then sniffle. I’m gracious like that. But seriously, all hail the Magic 8 ball! I’ll take my digital hug now ….

        • Slade Ham says:

          We had a very long debate about how to award first prize – because you really did hit it on the head, and quickly too – but that stupid four minutes simply beat you.

          You beat US, and that’s what matters.

          You’ll have to kick Dwoz’s ass for the prizes though.

        • dwoz says:

          My dear, It was just a simple timing error in wordpress or something. We tied. Let’s split the goodies!

          That is, as long as the judges acknowledge in instant replay that I ALSO beat Erika to the punch with the Wiggles analysis.

      • Erika Rae says:

        OK – but MY kids watch the Wiggles and they are 100% American kiddos. Just sayin’. The only reason I was suspicious was because when my 6.5 year old daughter met Simon, we pointed out to her (jokingly) that he has the same accent as the Wiggles. She ate it up. And then we all skipped around the forest and sniffed Neapolitan trees for an hour or so. Simon therefore no doubt drew a conclusion that the Wiggles were a safe American reference. Which they are. Except to me…hehehe. (It seemed like extraneous information at the time…)

        • Simon Smithson says:

          “Simon therefore no doubt drew a conclusion that the Wiggles were a safe American reference. Which they are. Except to me…hehehe. (It seemed like extraneous information at the time…)”

          Oh my God.

          Get out of my head, devil woman! How are you doing this?!?!

        • Erika Rae says:

          gemini + linguist = voodoo priestess

          “The bones! The bones told me!!!!”

        • Slade Ham says:

          That’s some true ninja shit, man. The devil’s work, to be sure.

          Goddamned Wiggles. How DID we miss that?

          Maybe because I still have no idea what a Wiggle is…

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I thought they were internationally renowned! Americans reference them all the time!

          @Erika: I don’t like you having this kind of insight into my head. That’s where I keep all my stuff!

        • Richard Cox says:

          Well there is the small fact that Slade and I don’t have any children and haven’t watched children’s television since WE were children.

          I don’t know what your excuse is, Simon.

          P.S. Did you ever tell Slade what “Brew” means? Hahaha.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Australia doesn’t generally export a lot of entertainment, Rich. You leave Simon and his Wiggles alone.

          And yeah. What the fuck DOES Brew mean? Hahahaha. I really still don’t know. I’m guessing you do, Rich?

        • Richard Cox says:

          The way Simon explained it to me, you use it as a term of endearment, the way you might use “sweetheart.”

          Which is why they call each other that, but it wouldn’t make sense for one of them to use it while talking to us.

          “Yeah, so Sweetheart and me were on the way to Dallas, and he wouldn’t stop singing Bon Jovi.”

          And, it being a personal thing, it doesn’t make sense for one of us to refer to them that way, either.

          Is that pretty close, Simon? Zara? Brews?? Haha.

        • Erika Rae says:

          I know everything about you, Simon.

          But seriously, that is only one example. Simon, your style is unmistakeable. You are a constant stream of hilarity.

          ”And the sexy thing about particles,” he was saying, ‘is that it doesn’t take much for them to bond. Just a little flicker of… electricity.”


          Because it’s hilarious! Anyway, as I was saying, this girl was levitating out of her chair. There was a clear two inches of space between her feet and the floor. Her eyes were locked onto his lips like there was a secret tractor beam in his mouth. That’s when I slapped my boy on the shoulder.
          “Yo, Richard Cox!” I said. “Slade Ham!”
          Cox? Blocked.

          Simon. (The “yo” as acquired from Reno’s gangsta lessons)

          “Thief. I just said that about myself.”

          Definitely Simon. An American guy most likely would have said. “You stole that from me.”

          And the best one: That would be you drinking again, Z.



          OH – another thing that gave ZARA away. This line:
          “Richard: Zara was beautiful the way I knew she would be.”

          Richard was apparent (dare I say “transparent”) in this line:
          “and Richard escorted Zara, gentlemanly positioning himself between her and the street.”

          I was dying when I read that.

          Here’s a good Slade giveaway:

          “Slade finally takes off his sunglasses as the sun dips below the skyline.

          He’s also managed to catch the attention of our waitress. Her name is Erin, or something else young and waitress-y…”

          I could go on…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Oh, but THIS is where it gets sooooo fun. We did actually write a few of our own interjections… and.. you ready?

          “Thief. I just said that about myself.”

          “That would be you drinking again, Z.”

          I wrote both of those myself. Mwuuhahahahahaha!

        • Erika Rae says:

          Dammit. I guess I *was* getting a little cocky there.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Also, Zara and Simon both remarked to me in email about my walking between Zara and the street, which is what made me include it. I would have never thought to suggest that because it’s just something one does almost unconsciously.

          And I added the line where Richard (supposedly Zara) calls Zara beautiful during the editing phase.

          Your reasoning was the best, Erika, but be careful you don’t talk yourself out of the sale. 😉

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Possible I’m making a nerd move here missing the point of the joke, but I’m pretty sure “brew” comes from the chiefly Australian pronunciation of “bro”, as in “brother” of course, but it’s developed into an independent term of endearment regardless of sex. I’m used to seeing it written “bru”, though.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Erika – It makes you no less ninjish 🙂

          @ Uche – You continue to amaze me. You’re on my trivia team. I call dibs.

        • Simon Smithson says:


          Close, but no cigar, Uche.

          Here’s a hint (hope this works)

          • Slade Ham says:

            Well now I have to kick Uche off my invisible, made up trivia team…

            With that said, I have no idea what I just watched. Hahahahahahahaha.

            That didn’t help at all. Was that the Twitter Whale?

        • Simon Smithson says:

          This was made by an Australian group and it was all anyone could talk about.

          Because this is how they all talk all the time in Nu Zullund!

          It’s as if someone had made an animation set in a Canadian boot factory.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Simon, ummmmmm, Urban Dictionary agrees with me.


          (definition #4)

          Though I did check, and the “bru” spelling is attested as South African, not Australian:


        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          However, I should point out that I can’t claim to know better than you or Zara got your own usage from, just to say that there is at least a strong body of attestation of Australians saying “brew” as a corruption of “bro.” But of course these are much less literate Australians than you, I’m sure, brew 🙂

        • Slade Ham says:

          Uch-e is back on my triv-ia te-eam!

          If you read that like Eddie Murphy’s “Ice Cream” bit, that’s how I meant it.

        • Erika Rae says:

          OK – fair enough, but:

          Slade: When you wrote those two lines, were they in your authentic voice or were you writing with Simon’s voice in your head?

          Richard: When you wrote that about Zara, did you do it with full knowledge that people would read it and, upon learning she was playing you, they would assume she wrote it. Did you do this as a little joke?

          Because if Slade did in fact write with Simon’s voice playing his own in his head…and if Richard wrote this as a private little joke to play on Zara in a way that ultimately reveals Zara as the author in at least the majority of “his” other lines, then I would argue this actually ADDS to the sale (in an increasingly complex and yet equally valid way).

          (BTW – I like what you did there to Zara, Richard, because that was YOUR style as Simon – to compliment the actual person behind the role. It’s good comedy in the way of a good private joke. I think it adds a great punch.)

        • Slade Ham says:

          Nope. I wrote them as me actually. I was attempting to go over the top and sell Simon as me by adding some very legitimate Slade to the mix.

          It’s unfair that over the course of the last month, I have taken to abbreviating Zara as Z. A month ago that would have been a sure tell.

          If you heard me actually say those lines, particularly the “thief” one, you would hear me immediately.

          And still, I can’t believe that this is the only, minor aspect you’ve missed. It’s ridiculous how confident you were even before we announced the truth.

          You’re a fucking magician 🙂

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          “You ain’t got no ice cream! You ain’t got no ice cream!”

          (looks around, picks up the scoop)

          “I got an ice cream!…”

          (clint eastwood music / mother’s voice)

          “Boy did you just pick up that ice cream from the ground?!” WHOO-PISH!

          Love that show!

        • Erika Rae says:

          Also, Richard – don’t misunderstand me on the walking on the outside of the street bit. I have no doubt Zara and Simon called attention to it. But it’s how you wrote about it. It’s not an isolated comment in a string of similar comments about you from “Simon”. I’m going to stubbornly insist that it still gave you away. It jumped out at me, anyway. And you can’t say I’m wrong because it was actually you who wrote it, so… pbbt. ( : (And it was funny, godammit! I’m not criticizing!)

        • Erika Rae says:

          Ah well. I concede.

          And now, thank you Uche, I’ve got a case of the giggles. Not to be confused with a case of the Wiggles.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I see what you mean, Erika. And yes, you did guess it. Also, I agree with Slade that your confidence before you even read the reveal was pretty impressive.

          A magician indeed.

          Also, I hate to tell you this, but we all exchanged each other’s WordPress logins and have been commenting this entire time as our assumed authors. So right now you’re speaking to Zara!


        • Erika Rae says:

          Hahaha – the thought had occurred to me early on that you guys might have done that (you guys are a sneaky lot), but if it’s true, you are all doing an excellent job of sticking to your roles.

          And how can you never have heard of the Wiggles? They’re famously horrid. Like Barney has been hitting the Richard Simmons power shakes too hard in the morning and then tickle-wrestling crocodiles. And still, my kids L-O-V-E them. I’m beginning to suspect they’re not mine.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Yeah, no. We didn’t really. But that would have been even sneakier, eh?

          Btw, I just Googled the Wiggles. Never seen ’em. The only children I see on a regular basis are my gorgeous niece and nephews, and I don’t think my sister is global enough to have run across the Wiggles. Or maybe she is and I just don’t know it.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Yeah, no. That is an australasian phrase! Hahahahah.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Jinkers! Teeheeheeheehee *snort*

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Ooh, realize I stole the laugh/snort from NOLA without attribution. If ASCAP comes for my arse, I’ll do the switcheroo with that annoying laugh by the rival lady in Oklahoma.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Ah, I see, re: the Urban Dictionary explanation of brew.

          FOB, Uche, is Fresh Off the Boat: so it’s poking fun at the way Kiwis talk. Prime examples are ‘Hey!’ (Hee!), ‘fish and chips’ (fush und chups), ‘six or seven’, (sux or suvun), and, of course, ‘festivals’ (fistivils!)


          Brew is the term for ‘bro’. Leading, of course, to the wonderful Australian joke:

          Q: What did the Jewish Kiwi call his son?
          A: Hee brew!

          I told that joke to Z, along with:

          Q: What did one New Zealand stone carving say to the other?
          A: S’tat you, brew?

          And somehow we just started calling each other brew.

          Note – and this is important – normally, Australians and Kiwis would not call each other this. It wouldn’t be a cause for blood to be drawn, but it might be a little bit cheeky.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Thanks. Always good to get the cultural nuances you can’t from dictionaries, and the corny ass jokes, too 🙂

          Shoot I *wish* I was just off the boat in Aussie.

  39. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    Dang. I knew I guessed wrong. Why? Because deep down I knew that line “Simon” says about horses on the highway and oil barons in convertible Cadillacs could only come from a Southern man’s mind. And Slade, that fucking karaoke scene. It was all you. Next time I will think like a writer, not a wedding planner. High fives, ya’ll.

    • Slade Ham says:

      The karaoke scene was my downfall. I couldn’t play it straight. That fucking wildebeest BUTCHERED those songs. Dear god.

      • Richard Cox says:

        Wildebeest. Hahaha.

        Lisa Rae, I used that line because I thought any good Aussie or Kiwi would have grown up watching “Dallas” reruns.


        • Slade Ham says:

          I grew up in Texas and even I haven’t ever watched Dallas. Wasn’t it a soap opera? Where JR got shot? i should know this. I think it was on my Texas History test.

          And yes, everybody, we actually take Texas History in the 7th grade.

        • Richard Cox says:

          How else would we know that Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna in the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, solidifying our independence from Mexico and allowing us to become a truly sovereign nation?

          What’s so strange about that??

        • Jude says:

          There was many a party held at our house the nights Dallas was on the telly. People came dressed as their favourite characters – sometimes standing room only!

          No wonder Zara had to go to Dallas…

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Rich – Or that George Childress wrote the Texas Declaration of Independence…

          @ Jude – Oh, poor Child Zara.

        • Zara Potts says:

          And that is why, Richrob got it right when he wrote that piece as Simon. I was totally looking out for stetson wearing cowboys and Southfork ranches.

          ‘Dallas’ shaped my whole childhood.

        • sheree says:

          Just for you lovely rose of a country vine, I’m going to write up and post on my blog, the story of my great great uncle, who walked to Texas from the indian territory when he was 12 years old and slowly built a 1,200 acre cattle ranch. He paid for parts of a city to be built. By the time he died he owned a few square miles of TX. He left that land and all his worldly good to two sisters who lost their husbands in wartime. He rode a donkey and drank whiskey every day of his life. Never married, had children or took a lover. If they wrote a night time soap opera about his life in Texas, I’d be glued to the old boob tube with eyes peeled wide open.
          Cheers to you beauty!

        • sheree says:

          Oh and I will be posting a picture of him on his donkey in the city he helped build in TX

        • Zara Potts says:

          Aww. Sheree! You are the sweetest. Let me know when you have posted so I can read!

        • Slade Ham says:

          I’ve still never seen one episode. Never ever.

        • sheree says:

          I’ll have Zara pm you a link when the post is up. I have a couple hundred years of Bad Ass Texas stories in mah brain.

  40. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Oh my good gracious! I have to take a couple of days away from TNB because of some super mother fucking heavy work shit (which I think is all tidily resolved in the end, yay!) and look what all I miss!

    “Cox! Blocked” would not have been a bad motto for the prize tee

    Love field?! Who knew it was still even open. I lived in Dallas for about 2 years and only once ever flew out of there (versus probably 50 times at DIA). Of course I was a contractor at American Airlines for at part of that stay. Is Love field still pretty much just Southwest Airlines?

    “Fuck the pain away! Fuck the pain away!” Did rhino chick really sing all of peaches in karaoke?! That’s psycho.

    Now we need a stalker prize for anyone who can obtain any video of Rich dancing. Bonus points if it’s after he’s had kraken.

    I already saw the answers before the comment section (boo!) but I was there for the Wiggles discussion chez Erika, so I guessed what the surprise was as soon as I was smacked by the clear Simon-writing-as-Slade clue. That said, the rest of Erika’s triumphant logic is truly ninja, and probably well beyond my skills. Props to dwoz, too, who I suspect also had razor-sharp logic but was trying to beat the buzzer by not typing it all in first.

    And big big massive up to Greg for dropping the science poetical (…subliminal, so artistical…)

    Someone frame this post in solid fucking gold. It’s an international treasure.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Uche, I couldn’t have created the Rhino Chick with every ounce of my imagination. She was too real, and sang too much of Peaches.

      I hate that you’ve missed all the fun. Had you been here, I have no doubt we would be sending an additional package to Colorado.

      Love Field is still there. It was a quick Southwest Flight, into a very small airport.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Uche, Love Field is still mainly Dallas’ Southwest connection. I don’t know if SW sends any planes to DFW or not. I’m thinking they might…Love Field is so damned small. And there’s no good way to get to it.

      Erika’s answers were so good they were scary. Too bad you weren’t here to play. There was some stiff competition.

      That’s right, I said stiff.

      I guess I’ll have to hold off on releasing the Kraken when TNB folks are around to prevent any secret dancing videos. Hopefully my Tulsa friends won’t sell me out.

      Yes, the “more to love” lady sang Peaches and whatever else she could type into the karaoke machine. Fortunately for me I have forgotten most of her performance. But not all. “Sucking on my titties…”

      How about the Colorado contingent holding a contest? Andrew and Megan and Erika and you. Or am I missing someone?

    • dwoz says:

      actually, it was AFTER my first post that they changed the rules and asked for the rationale.

  41. Irene Zion says:

    Do you have any idea how hard it is to find what you guessed in four thousand comments?
    Out of the four of the people, I am surprised to find that I got ONE right!
    I said Richard was Simon!
    Yeah for getting 25 % on the test.
    (Better than Zero, right?)

    • Zara Potts says:

      Yay, Irene!!
      Much, much better than zero. I don’t know that I would have guessed anyone right. In fact, I was having difficulty trying to remember exactly what I HAD written during the editing process..

  42. Karen says:

    Oh boy, that was fun! If you are ever in my neighborhood, I want to come out and play with all y’all.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Karen.. that ya’ll leads me to suspect you may already be acquainted with The One-Eyed-Penguin???

      Next time – we play!!!

  43. Irene Zion says:

    @Zara, and actually @ Richard and @Simon and @Slade:

    It must have been very difficult to write using someone else’s head.
    I bow to your prowess!

  44. Lorna says:

    I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. I should have played. Dang it. 🙁

    Congrats to Ericka, Greg and Cynthia. Smartie pants.

  45. Dana says:

    So… I won, right?

    Too many comments!

    Congrats to the weiners! And the winners too. You guys are super smart and beautiful.

  46. Cheryl says:

    This was so much fun! I was planning to participate, but work kept interrupting. Stupid work.

    I had only gotten part of my analysis done. At first I thought Slade might be writing Richard, but I changed my mind as soon as I saw “Zara’s” rhino-chick-Peaches rant. Actually, it sounded a lot like my husband, so that whole rant had me in stitches. The only person on TNB as hilariously crass as my husband (at least regarding what gets posted on this site) is Slade (:

    The comments and analyses were so much fun, too! Congrats to the winners – well deserved!

    • Zara Potts says:

      Yes, try as I might, I couldn’t hope to be as wonderfully descriptive of the karaoke singer as Slade was!

  47. dwoz says:


    I won! how strange!

    Now, what worries me the most is that I wandered in here round about late April, and you guys have known each other for millenia.

    I would like to ask that Cynthia and I share the prize, since it seems that Erika will get a prize regardless. Cynthia can have the tee-shirt, and I’ll keep the jar of Marmite from Simon. I am under the assumption that Zara will be sending “something kiwi”… I really don’t know where I would KEEP, nor how I’d EXPLAIN when Imogen Bailey shows up in the post, so maybe send her to Texas instead.

    I will take the copy of Richard’s book, because she’s already got a copy.

    I would like to thank my agent, without whom this would never have been possible. Thank you, nobody, for believing in me when no-one else would, and standing behind my work and putting in those countless thankless hours.

    I’d also like to thank my mom, and God.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to all the other people in my life that have made a difference, and that keep the machine oiled and running. You’re the BEST!

    I’d like to take a moment to mention a cause that’s very dear to my heart, the organization “SPETCHDA” (“Society for the Prevention of Egregious Traffic Citations in Hurricane Devastated Areas”) that works tirelessly around the globe to raise awareness and alleviate suffering..

    Thankyou, thank you ALL. hey….what’s that hook….no, I’m not done yet….hey, wait….

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Maybe, dwoz, as a newcomer, you have some kind of objectivity that others of us lack. I mean, it bears noting that Cynthia, too, is relatively new to the site, and she hit bang on almost as quickly as you did.

      Irene and I, the wrongest of all, have been around for a pretty long time.

      I’m sensing a pattern.

      • dwoz says:

        Let’s just say that it was a dead heat tie, and wordpress screwed up the timestamps.

      • dwoz says:

        There’s another part of that at play too.

        You can guess according to content, or according to technique (i.e. style). For me, it mostly came down to content clues, which are pretty easy. It’s like bullshitting your way through a discussion in a field where you’re a novice…sooner or later you say something that an adept in the field recognizes as an incongruity.

        I think they all did a good job of mimicking writing style.

        The “walking on the outside against traffic” thing was a BIG clue.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Out of curiosity, why was it a big clue? This one continues to baffle me.

        • dwoz says:

          this is gonna kill you.

          SIMON notices that “you” do this. But in the picture, you’re going up-street FACING traffic. In Australia, they drive on the left.

          Also, it’s Simon and Zara who pick up on this purported act by Richard, and RECOGNIZE IT’S SIGNIFICANCE. This is an archaic rule of etiquette. I recognized it because you do that with your children, you keep them to the inside so they can’t dart out faster than you can put a mitt on them.

          I mean, they’re from down under, a continent wholly peopled by thieves and murderers.

        • Becky Palapala says:


          dwoz, I may like you yet.

        • Richard Cox says:

          So you’re saying such an act would be so foreign to them that they would easily notice it? Or that they shouldn’t have noticed it because, thieves and murderers that they are, they would have no idea what I was doing?

          • dwoz says:

            Ok, now it’s time to get serious.

            Have you read the Simon/Zara diaries?


            …he makes her drive the HARD legs of the trip.

            He doesn’t sleep on the floor when they get messed up accommodations.

            It’s never his fault when they get lost or miss directions.

            I never read once where he offered her his coat.

            He’s a NIGHTMARE.

            I am fearful to even ASK if he let her have the window seat on the flight home.

            And you think that THAT GUY would recognize that impeccable brilliant move on your part?

            Now, we move on to Zara.

            She sees you move to the outside.

            What’s her first thought?


            “This guy is right-handed, and when he tries to put his LEFT hand on my ass, If I should break it for him, he’ll still be able to write.”

            See, you may lead with your particles, but you follow with your left.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I want Dwoz, Cynthia, and Erika to open a detective agency. I’ll pay you guys a quarter like Encyclopedia Brown.

          I had no idea that we were going to need to disguise ourselves much better than we did.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Yeah, dude. We were so, so wrong about that. SO wrong.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh!!! Dwoz!!

          You are onto something here… It’s true that there is very little chivalry in NZ. In fact, I am totally blown away when a guy opens my car door for me. It just doesn’t happen here.

          I hate to say it, but the majority of NZ men are not gentlemen, so I do notice good manners and am hopelessly impressed by them.

          BUT!! I do have to stick up Simon (Even though he IS an Australian!!) even though your comments had me laughing…

          I offered to drive the cities… and Simon did a fantastic job driving through the torrential Nebraska/Iowa rain…

          He was always gracious about accommodations and when there were times that sleeping on the floor was called for – he did it without complaint. Bless him!

          He never offered me his coat because he left it in a hotel somewhere..

          And most importantly: he was an absolute trooper on the plane. Because I am a nervous flyer…He hugged me from the time we took off until we leveled out and he didn’t make me feel silly about it even just a little bit.

          Now, I have put that right.. I will go back to laughing at your comments!

        • Slade Ham says:

          Awwww. The unity 🙂 You guys really got along so well. Like brother/sister well.

        • Zara Potts says:

          He’s everything you could want in a brother. They should make clones of him.
          Oh! Maybe that’s how we make the money for our compound – sell Simon’s genetic blueprints.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Not my blueprints!

        • Zara Potts says:

          But.. but.. think how much we could get for them! And besides, we can totally cheat it.

      • Slade Ham says:

        That is impressive, that newcomers guessed most accurately. Honestly though, while I have been a contributor for almost two years, I have only really surfaced in the last 6 months or so. In January, I was thrilled if I got 10 or 20 comments.

        Cheers, to new faces 🙂

        • dwoz says:

          May I say that it is a Pyrrhic victory…as the best prize would have been to be odd-man-out fifth wheel, walking around Houston with you four.

        • Slade Ham says:

          You’d have had a good time. We all did. It was not one for sober souls however. You have to pick a liquor before you get into the ThunderDome.

          I am having serious TPAC+RC withdrawals now…

        • Zara Potts says:

          There’s only one solution: TNB Compound.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Damn, man, me too.

        • Slade Ham says:

          WHEN DAMMIT?!?!

          I am sooo serious.

        • Zara Potts says:

          There must be a way. There must be.

          Okay. Let’s make it happen.


        • Joe Daly says:

          I have only really surfaced in the last 6 months or so. In January, I was thrilled if I got 10 or 20 comments.

          You cereal? Holy crap- I had no idea. Irwin and I were talking about TNB Origins in another thread just yesterday. I always assumed you were one of the original or close to original TNBers. Go figure.

          Being a member of the Class of 2010, I still have a lot to learn. For starters, I’d like to learn how to pick stocks, and then I’d really be interested in learning how to set up my own guitars. I would also appreciate instructions on bedding Jessica Biel and talking to animals.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I can help you on the animal whispering, Cupcake.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Pookie, BEHAVE! 🙂

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          Cupcake and Pookie?
          Where have I been?
          I think you should work this angle, you two. Joe has a really nice house, Zara. And you’d be relatively local to me too 🙂
          As I backtrack through these comments… You know, TNB folk, if we stormed Joe Daly’s house at once he might just take us in. California commune!

        • Zara Potts says:

          I have NO idea where Cupcake came up with that ludicrous nickname for me.

        • Joe Daly says:

          You know, TNB folk, if we stormed Joe Daly’s house at once he might just take us in. California commune!

          Well, I DO have the drums and plenty of guitars. At the very least, we could make a whole hell of a lot of noise. No one who’s allergic to dogs, though- Cabo and Lola come with the territory.

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          Joe has awesome dogs, you guys. I can vouch for the dogs. They are woofin.
          I am getting my Fender fixed, Joe. Prepare for invasion.

        • Joe Daly says:

          If you bring that Fender, you might never leave! Hatches being battened in preparation!

          I’m thinking about our jam session already. 🙂

      • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

        I love how we all just insist on calling him dwoz when a simple click of the dwoz lets us know he has a name.

  48. sheree says:

    The boot is in the room!!! Ahahahahaha! I’d buy that on a t-shirt.
    Seriously funny stuff here.

    • Slade Ham says:

      But… the boot really was in the room.

      *insert sinister laughter*

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Show me your teeth.

      • sheree says:

        As a kid riding thru the indian territory on sunday drives with my dad. I’d often notice one boot sitting on porches outside of doors. I finally asked my dad what the hell it meant to have one damn boot on the porch. My dad roared with laughter and said, not much, since the fellah still has one boot in the room. I later learned that one boot on the porch meant the fellah was about to be kicked out by his wife for layin out drinkin and playin pool in honky tonks for more than half of the previous night.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Ahhhh. In my case, it was the one that I should have been wearing on my bad Achilles, but left upstairs because I didn’t want to go out drinking in a cam-walker boot.

          Either way, alcohol was involved 🙂

        • Zara Potts says:

          I still don’t know what you are talking about.

  49. Alison Aucoin says:

    Holy crap! I’m glad ya’ll rested up in Baton Rouge before that!

    • Zara Potts says:

      Resting up in Baton Rouge, was just what the doctor ordered. Honestly, that was so wonderful, just spending the afternoon with you, and R and Miss Ella eating brownies and ginger kisses. It totally revived us! And the stories you told, were just priceless!

  50. Greg Olear says:

    646 is an area code in New York.

  51. Aaron Talwar says:

    Love the Gremlins reference.

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