Author Archives: bleppblog

About bleppblog

I am a full time traveling humorist, children's author, comedian & storyteller. I travel the country saying clean, funny things the whole family can enjoy. The King of Little Things, my debut picture book, is available now!

I Spoke to Heroes

This past weekend I was part of the Inaugural Wine Country Spoken Word Festival in Petaluma, CA. The smoke from the devastating and deadly fires was in the air. The festival produces decided not to cancel the festival despite the fires, reasoning that since everything else had been canceled, people needed something to do.

There were many artists who participated and every one I heard/saw was fantastic. I can’t name them all here, because I’m lazy, but the festival culminated in a show at the Mystic Theater with myself, Steve Connell and Sarah Vowell.

And I’m not gonna lie. We rocked. It was one of the wildest mixes of hip hop slam poetry, storytelling, and hilarious tales of a sad sack cartographer that you will likely ever encounter.

But here’s the thing. There were three hundred people in the audience. Some of whom had lost their houses. They lost everything. Except the clothes on their backs and, oddly, their tickets to the show.

My job is standing on stage and saying words which I have organized in a manner intended to make you laugh. I’m not curing cancer. I’m not flying a tanker plane dropping fire retardant. I’m certainly not a firefighter parachuting into an inferno. I say words.

Your house burns down. Your whole neighborhood is gone. Forty people are dead. And your reaction to that is, in part, to come out and support the Wine Country Spoken Word Festival, to support Dave and Juliet in this endeavor because you know it will help your community be stronger in the future and despite your present tragedy you want to make sure your community thrives. Because next time it’s going to be someone else’s time for tragedy and you want a compassionate infrastructure in place so you can aid the next person. You people are heroes.

But you came for another reason, too. You also came to hear me talk. Yeah, you knew this was eventually going to be about me. You came in the midst of chaos to listen to Steve, Bil, and Sarah say words in the hope that we might take your mind off your loss for 120 minutes. That is a humbling and tremendous honor.

I work hard at my job precisely because I want what I do to be useful. I’ve had some people say some remarkably wonderful things about how my stories impacted their life, but I won’t ever forget that as your houses burned you came to see me. Okay, you came to see Sarah Vowell and Steve Connell, but I was in the mix. And that is humbling. I’m not going to say, “If even one you laughed just once. If even one of you forgot your troubles for one second…” cause we all know I’m too vain for that. I mean, I was there, you laughed. I had you for at least a few minutes. But that’s precisely the thing. You are heroes- the very heroes Steve described- and you needed a minute to just be human. To just be a laughing fool in a dark theater. A nameless moron without a worry in the world looking to bask in the revelry of Bacchus for a brief respite. And morons and fools are my demographic, baby.

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your dedication to your community. Thank you for supporting the festival. Thank you for Petaluma’s outstanding outreach to evacuees. And thank you to the people who couldn’t come because they were fighting the fires.

Steve said something to the effect of, “…It is our job as people, in times of need, to say to those around us,’I got you. Until you can get yourself, I got you.’” For that show we had you. Steve, Sarah and I had you, but I want you to know that for the rest of my life whenever I doubt my usefulness I’ll remember, well, first, what a lady in Pigeon Forge, TN, said about my stories, cause it’ll never be beat. But right next, I’ll remember that in your time of need you came to me and that I made some heros laugh. And that will hold me for a long, long time.


Sorta Clean Water spills into WV drinking chemicals

A storage tank containing 30,000 gallons of an ancient compound known as Sorta Clean Water sprang a leak last week. The breach went unnoticed for several hours, allowing the Sorta Clean Water to contaminate the drinking chemicals of thousands of West Virginians.

The Sorta Clean Water is a compound that was used extensively in the production of trees and wildlife.

Customers complained that no odor came from the liquid flowing from their faucets, and that they could “see clean through” their drinking glasses. “It was unnerving,” said one customer. “Honestly, if I can’t smell it? And if I can see through it? Yuck. I don’t want to drink it.”

Scientists are unsure of the effects Sorta Clean Water may have on people who ingest it.

Authorities are urging citizens to follow the procedures set forth in the Spoil Advisory. The Spoil Advisory contains detailed instructions on how to best recontaminate the water before ingestion.

 “If you are unable to properly recontaminate the water,” a spokesman for the Governor’s Office advised, “mix equal parts antifreeze, gasoline and Michelob Ultra Light. It won’t burn your esophagus going down as much as you are accustomed to from your normal drinking chemicals, but it should get you through the crisis without too many withdrawal symptoms.”

“It is especially important to make sure infants and children stay away from the freshwater,” warned Director Sogbottom, of the recently created the Department Of Environmental Destruction. “Old folks,” he continued, “and I mean the truly old, may be able to drink the Sorta Clean Water, as they probably still have some residual tolerance to cleanish water, but fresh water could be toxic to children, pets and big business.”

Asked for comment, Delegate Zatezalo, R-Hancock, said, “This is a tragedy and a travesty. When we passed House Bill 2506, recalculating the mixing zones and amounts of cancer-causing chemicals companies were permitted to dump into streams and rivers, we thought we’d effectively eliminated any chance of even a single child in West Virginia ever having to be subjected to drinking clean water again. We are not even sure why Sorta Clean Water was allowed to be stored in a tank a mere mile upriver from a drinking chemical intake. If industrial waste isn’t safe in West Virginia, then nothing and no one is safe.

“Trust me, we will take vigorous action against any and all people irresponsible enough to allow Sorta Clean Water to be present in any amount in any West Virginia stream or river. In fact, I’m working on legislation right now that would allow companies to dispose of their waste by pumping it straight into the, uh, um, boobs of breastfeeding mothers. We in the West Virginia House and Senate take the health and wellness of industry very, very seriously.”

For now, the National Guard will be mobilizing to bring in drinking chemicals from rivers, slag ponds and cesspools in Chernobyl and parts of India and China to get us through the crisis.

Please bring only lead-lined containers to the National Guard distribution site.

Bil Lepp is a storyteller and author.

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Turns out I’m Cis-Demisexual… Or Pronouns are the New Metric System

Bil Lepp Copyright 2017
My son, like any good sixteen year-old, is more socially relevant than I. We got to talking about gender identity and sexuality the other day, partly because we were driving through Omaha and I saw a sign that read, “Exit here for L-Q streets.” I says to my son, “Know what streets are in between L & Q? B, G and T.”


He laughed, but not entirely.


If I had to describe my dad via just one thing he said, I would go with: “It’s not true that a cat always lands on its feet. The cat only lands on its feet the first eleven times. And you’ll never see that cat again.”


I come from a long line of men who firmly believe, “If it ain’t broke, keep trying.”
And I mean that in the most positive way possible. In the late the 30’s my Grosspapa, after fighting the Red Army and making his way to America, was looking for work. He drove by the employee parking lot at Goodyear. He saw all the cars in the parking lot and thought, “If they can hire that many people, they can hire one more.”


The system may not have been constructed with us in mind, but we can always find a way in.


The only real argument my dad and I ever had was my hair. I didn’t smoke, or do drugs, and, unlike my brothers, I got grades. Not necessarily good ones, but I did get grades. So my hair just couldn’t be turned into that big of a deal. I kept it long. Maybe just to rankle him. And it worked. But one thing I swore was that I would never comment negatively on my kid’s hair.


My son’s hair is ridiculous. But I’ve never said anything about it.
Still and all, my son has informed me that I have a skewed ideal of masculinity.
No doubt. When I was a teenager my idol was David Bowie. How could my ideas about masculinity not be skewed?


So, I says to my son, “Know what streets are in between L & Q? B, G and T.”
That started the discussion. I come from maybe the last generation where it wasn’t uncommon to describe Uncle Charlie as a “confirmed bachelor,” or explain that Aunt Tonya and her friend Sonja live together to save rent. I’m a pretty liberal guy, I also come from the generation that nearly revolted when school boards tried to make us learn the metric system. Who cares if 5280 feet is a weird distance? It’s the way things are and that’s that.


My son says, “There’s not just male and female, and your gender has nothing to do with your sexuality.”


Again, I try and keep an open mind, but 128 ounces makes more sense to me than 1000 cubic centimeters.


He says: “First you have to understand the pronouns.”


“I gotta learn new pronouns?”


“Yep. You can keep He and She, but you need to adopt Ze and Hir (pronounced Here) for gender neutral people. And Mx. (pronounced Mix) Instead of Mr., Ms. or Mrs.”


“Really? Like, ‘This is Mx. Johnson’s car. It’s hir car.’”




1000 meters in a kilometer…


“See,” my son explains, “you think in terms of binary genders. Male and female, but that excludes nonbinary genders and makes you  cisnormative.”


“Wait, I’m a what?”


“Cisnormative. See, you’re cisgender.”


“I am?”


“Yeah, your gender and biological parts assigned at birth align.”


“Like I’m an Aries with a moon in Jupiter?”




So I say, “You mean I was born male and I have boy parts? Is that bad?”


“Bad is word you need to disassociate with this conversation,” counsels my sixteen year old. “So you’re cis, and cisnormative people think there are only two genders.” He continues, “There are people who are Agender, Androgynous, Androphilic, Aromantic, Asexual…”


“Okay, hold up. I know androgynous, what’s the others?”


“Agender has little connection to traditional genders at all.
“Androphilics are attracted to males or masculinity.
“Aromantics have little or no romantic interest in others.
“Asexuals have little physical interest in others.
“Got it? Cause that’s just the A’s.”


….Twelve inches in a foot, three feet in a yard.


“Then there’s Bigender, Bicurious, Bisexual and Butch.”


“Hey, we used to say Butch. Can I say Butch?”


“You probably shouldn’t.”


“Then there’s Cisgender…”


“That’s me!”


“Demigender, Demiromantic, and Demisexuals…”


“Those sound ominous.”


“Not at all. Demigender people are basically nonbinary but might lean a little toward one gender or the other.
“Demiromatics don’t experience romance until they are physically involved with someone and
“Demisexuals don’t experience physical attraction until a strong emotional bond is formed.”


“Wait! I think that’s me, too! I’m a cis-demisexual. Sounds like a Star Wars character.”


“Feminine-of-center and Masculine-of-center are folks who present, understand themselves, and/or relate to others in a more feminine or masculine way, but don’t necessarily identify as women or men.
“Which is not to be confused with Feminine-presenting or Masculine-presenting which is someone who expresses gender in a more feminine or masculine way.”


“Oh, no,” I say, “that’s not confusing at all.”


A liter used to be described as a kilogram of water under standard conditions.


“Fluidity describes a gender identity that shifts over time.
“FtM and MtF is for transgenders going from male to female or female to male.
“Gender Non-Conforming, Gender Normative, Gender Straight and Gender Variant should be pretty self-explanatory,” says my son.


They should?


“Then we get to the alphabet soup. LGBT, LGBTQ, GSM and DSG. LGBTQ stands for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer.”


I want to ask why we need the Q after the LGBT, but I’m afraid of sounding cisnormative.


And then my son says, “Sometimes the Q stands for Questioning instead of Queer. If you see a plus sign after the Q, that means And Everybody Else. GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities and DSG is for Diverse Sexualities and Genders. And sometimes you hear somebody say QUILTBAG.”


I have heard people say quiltbag, but it was generally little old ladies who were referring to a bag in which to carry a quilt. I hold my tongue. Then I wonder if there’s a name for people who like to hold tongues.


“QUILTBAG stands for Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian Trans*, Bisexual, Asexual/Allied, and Gay/Genderqueer.”


“Seriously?” I say.




“Is that it?”


“Tip of the iceberg.”


I’m a dad in the 21st century raised by men born in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here’s what I know. If you see a parking lot full of cars you can think, “There’s no room for me,” or you can think, “There’s easily room for one more.” And, as a dad, you always have the option of deciding that you are right no matter what. And you can prove it. You can drag that cat up onto the roof and chuck it off until you do irreparable damage, but you’ll likely never see that cat again.


Sometimes you just need to accept that the centimeters have always been right there, across from the inches on your ruler.


Note: This is a composite of several conversations, not an actual start to finish conversation

Lying Effectively in Public- A Primer or We Should Withdraw from the Solar System Because, Let’s Face It, the Rest of the Planets Just Aren’t Pulling Their Weight


By Bil Lepp Copyright 2017

I have to say that I am professionally insulted by the standard of lies that have been making the news in past weeks.  And though I don’t want to aid the competition, I feel compelled to share a few pointers on successful lying, so as to not tarnish the reputation lying in general.

I am five time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest.  I lie for a living.  I stand in front of huge crowds. Huge.  And tell them lies.  They love it.  They give me standing ovations that are very long. Very.

No, seriously, that is my job. I am a professional storyteller who specializes in tall-tales, fibs, and untruths.  Look me up.


First, before you go in front of a huge audience, really big, you should write your lies down on paper and read through them to see if they make any sense.  Any sense. You should have a few trusted associates look over the lies beforehand.  Sometimes they can point out the flaws in your lies.  Also, you may want your associates to know what lies you are planning to tell so they can be prepared to back those lies up, or at the very least, not contradict them.

After you write the lies down, you should rehearse them before saying them to large crowds of people. Or Tweeting them.

A good lie, by which I mean a successful lie, depends on you connecting with your audience in such a way that you build rapport with them.  You need your audience to feel that you and they have something in common.  And if you are going to tell a real doozey, you need to work up to it.  Start by saying something the audience understands, or is familiar with, maybe something that is, if not true, at least honest.

That cunning witch from Scotland who wants your children to worship the Devil is good at this.  She’ll start a book innocuously enough: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”  Totally believable statement, right?  We understand that people live in houses and houses have addresses.  She would not be a zillionaire had she begun with, “Once there was a boy who had a stick with a feather in it and he could wave it at stuff and say fake Latin and unlock locks and crush the dreams of a poor, misunderstood orphan named Voldemort who only wanted to control the world and be super evil.”  This statement is harder to adjust to because it isn’t something most of us have experienced and so it seems a little dishonest.

I often start my lies with a simple truth like, “I have a dog.”  Again, an easy statement to swallow.  Lots of people are dog owners, or at least understand that people have dogs.  There are no dog agnostics.  I might be planning to tell you I once flew a train with my tongue, but I start by telling you I have a dog.  One key to a good lie is gradual exaggeration.

For example, if you want to tell people that some widely believed scientific fact is hooey, you first must establish some kind of truth.  Instead of saying, “There is no moon.  It doesn’t exist.  And any scientist who tells you the moon exists is a very bad scientist. Very. Bad. That scientist is likely paid by some liberal, vegetable eating, environmental think-tank that hates God, the USA and Russia.  Also that scientist is likely a member of ISIS.”

See, that is a little too much to take in all at once.  A little.  Furthermore, it doesn’t establish a connection with a broad audience. [By Broad, I mean wide. Not just the ladies.]  Also, it might be offensive to vegetable eaters.  It is best not to start a lie by alienating a portion of your audience.  A good lie requires building trust with your audience, and it is hard to build trust when you start with pugnacity.

Start slow.

You might start by saying, “There is this thing people call the moon.”

Your audience will accept this.  They will nod in confirmation.  You are drawing them in.

Next, try, “You may notice that at certain points during this moon’s so-called lunar cycle, it is not visible.  It is usually not visible during the day, either.”

Who can dispute this?  This is an experience of the moon we all have in common.  But, more importantly, you are working toward a credible lie because you are sowing reasonable doubt.  The audience has to admit- sometimes they just can’t see the moon.

They begin to trust you.  You’re talking sense.  And their imaginations start to hum in-tune with yours.  They are starting to see the world your way.

Now that you have the audience thinking the way you need them to, you can launch into the more dramatic parts of your presentation: “So if you can’t see the moon part of the time then it obviously either isn’t real, or it is hiding because it is plotting a nasty attack.  Nasty.  And therefore we should build a wall to keep the moon out and make Mars pay for the wall, and then withdraw from the Solar System because, let’s face it, the rest of the planets just aren’t pulling their weight.”

See how much more believable your statements are now?  I mean, heck, I just wrote the above lie and I know it’s not true, but I wrote it so well I’m already starting to believe it.  Starting to believe your own lies can be dangerous.  If you start to believe your own lies, then you begin to live in a fantasy world from which there is no escape.  So, be careful about that.

Also, don’t go too far.  For example, I said “…the rest of the planets just aren’t pulling their weight.”  This statement goes against the laws of physics and so-called physicists like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, both of whom are doing amazing jobs and are getting recognized more and more, might get together and dispute your claims based on the pseudo-science of gravity, throwing your whole lie into question.  One little step outside the context box and the credibility of your whole carefully crafted lie comes into question.

Great Big Mammoth Wind Hole- Celebrating 100 Years of National Parks

Copyright Bil Lepp 20106

In honor of the National Parks 100th Birthday, I have an idea.  They want us to go to the parks, but some are just so remote.  In fact, one is called Pacific Remote Islands.  So what if we combined a few parks to make visitation easier.

Wind Cave, Mammoth Cave, Big Bend, Great Basin & Jackson Hole could become

Great Big Mammoth Wind Hole


We could meld Arches and Gateway to get St. Louis Arches


Glacier Bay & Glacier seem like a nice combo


Lake George & The New River Gorge would be New River George


How ‘bout The Great Great Great Smoky Sand Basin Dunes Mountains


If Hanford Reach married Misty Fjords we’d have Hanford & Misty Reach-Fjords


For marketing purposes we could do:

The National Mall & The Mall of America to get The National Mall of America

Badlands & Carlsbad Caverns = Carlsbadlands Jr.

Brookstone & Yellowstone could work out a deal


Papahānaumokuākea is fine the way it is

I’m voting for Crater Lake of the Moon

And just to please the GOP and ignore political correctness, I say Rainbow Bridge should lead to Harper’s Ferry

If Johnny Fever ran the Olympics the slogan would just be Higher Faster

It used to be that the Olympics inspired me.  I remember watching the 1984 Summer Games.  I ran track at the time.  I was a distance runner.  Distance running is one of the most unglamorous and unheralded sports in the whole sports cosmos.   To save you the trouble of looking it up, distance runners are those folks who run all the way around the track more than once.  Really good milers can run a mile in around four minutes, but hardly anyone has the stamina to watch someone run in circles that long.  Sure, sports fans can watch the last two minutes of a college basketball game for ninety minutes, but they can’t watch a miler run around a track four times.

The only thing more boring than watching distance running is watching distance swimming.

I watched the 1984 Summer Games and thought, “If I buckle down I could run in the ’88 games.”

I did not compete in the 1988 games, nor any subsequent Olympic games.  I would have mentioned it earlier, and often, if I had competed in the Olympics.  I’m pretty fast, I still like to run.  I hold the record for the mile on the treadmill at the YMCA , but so far I have not developed the fire to compete on the world stage.  I’m not even positive ‘Mile on the Treadmill’ is still an Olympic event.

It is a bad sign when the Olympic announcer says, with awe and reverence, “At thirty-two years old she is by far the oldest competitor in this event.”  I can’t help but think, “Thirty-two?  I’m four Olympics older than she is!”

I watched the Dark Knight trilogy enough times to make it clear why I wasn’t in the 2012 Summer Games.  In those movies Bruce Wayne does approximately twelve pull-ups and eighteen push-ups to be cut and toned enough to be Batman.  I wish I had that kind of drive.  If twelve pull-ups and eighteen push-ups can make you Batman, I bet half that many will get you into the Olympics.  But when would I have time to do six pull-ups?  Plus, the Summer Olympics are hot.  And the Winter Olympics are cold.  Is there a Spring or maybe Early Fall Olympics?

Even if I take up Skeleton sledding and become a citizen of East Timor there is no guarantee I will medal.  Part of my problem is that I don’t want to do it if I don’t medal.  What truly moves me watching the Olympics is seeing the athletes on the stand, bending down to have someone hang a medal around their neck.  That is so cool.  It speaks of accomplishment, hours training, a dozen pull-ups, and the culmination of a dream.  It also bespeaks of peaking too soon.  If you win your first Olympics at twenty, what then?  People are going to have huge expectations for you.  You can’t just become a car salesman after that.  Sure, you can sell plumbing fixtures at Lowes while you are training for the Olympics.  That’s noble.   But, if you are still selling plungers twelve years after you medal you may have not only peaked too soon, but over focused.

I don’t over focus, and as far as I know I haven’t peaked yet.  I’m still on the up-slope, I hope, and medaling in the Olympics would only dispel any illusions of success I still harbor.

Another part of my problem is that I have a Johnny Fever attitude toward sports.  I want to be in a lawn chair way out in right field with an umbrella giving me shade, and another umbrella floating in my drink.  Of course, if Johnny Fever ran the Olympics I think the slogan would just be Higher Faster.

Last Olympics I discovered I have a deep affinity for curling.  I’m not sure I had even heard of curling before the last Winter Olympics, but I watched it with all the fervor of a fresh convert.  It is just another sign that I am getting too old for the Olympics when the sport I most anticipate is also the sport most like shuffleboard.  If I start training now, and move to Djibouti, maybe I can curl for the Gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018

copyright 2016 Bil Lepp

Garage Sale String Theory

We’re (NOT) having a garage sale next Saturday

By Bil Lepp
For the Sunday Gazette-Mail

We are having a garage sale next Saturday, but don’t get too excited. We’ve been having a garage sale next Saturday for about nine years now. Reasons it will turn out that we cannot have a garage sale next Saturday include:

•  It is not a good weekend for it.

•  We did not advertise soon enough.

•  Our garage’s atmosphere and ambiance are not conducive to a garage sale.

•  Migratory birds are unable to find enough to eat due to over-fishing of horseshoe crabs.

And my all-time favorite:

•  We have too much stuff in our garage to have a garage sale.

I did not graduate from the Wharton School with an MBA in Garage Sale String Theory, but I do believe that the main reason to have a garage sale is because you have too much junk in the garage.

I want to donate our excess stuff to the unfortunate people in our community who do not have enough stuff to contemplate their own chances of not having a garage sale next Saturday. We have enough stuff that several families could not have garage sales next Saturday. But we cannot donate the stuff because we are having a garage sale next Saturday. After the garage sale, I’ve been told, we can donate whatever is left over.

Truth is, it is not just our stuff accumulating in our garage. My wife’s friends have found out that we are having a garage sale next Saturday and they have brought their stuff to our garage so we can sell it for them in our garage sale next Saturday, which we are not having because we have too much stuff in our garage to have a garage sale because people keep bringing stuff for us to sell in our garage sale that we are having next Saturday.

This is the Great American Circle of Too Much Stuff.

Some would suggest we get a storage locker to store our extra stuff but that is just feeding the vacuum. I refuse to get a storage locker. If I move all of the stuff into a storage locker I guarantee our garage will fill up with fresh stuff, which I cannot donate because we are having a garage sale next Saturday. I have this theory that if I built a flat surface in the woods, and there was nobody around, my wife would come by and put stuff on it.

Also, renting a locker doesn’t solve the problem because not all the stuff in our garage is ours. Some of it belongs to my wife’s friends. It is bad enough that I have to store their stuff in our garage; I am certainly not going to pay to store their stuff in our storage locker. Furthermore, I cannot move all our stuff to a storage locker because the most convenient day to move all our stuff would be next Saturday, and I can’t do it next Saturday because we are having a garage sale.

Others would suggest I get a new wife, but that doesn’t solve the problem either. I love my wife and don’t want a different wife. Plus, if my wife and I split, I’ll bet you the profits of next Saturday’s garage sale that she would end up with the good stuff, and I would end up with the stuff in the garage.

In fact, I would end up with the stuff in the garage, and I would end up having to store it in a storage locker. And I refuse to rent a storage locker. Double furthermore, where would I find a new wife who doesn’t already have, and regularly acquire, stuff?

The house across the street from us has a yard. My wife suggested that we ask the neighbors if we could use their yard next Saturday to have a yard sale because the ambiance of their yard is far more conducive to a sale than the mood of our garage.

Unfortunately, before we could ask the neighbors, they moved. Before they moved they had a yard sale. A “Moving Sale,” to be exact.

New neighbors moved in. We were going to ask them if we could use their yard next Saturday, but before we asked them they upstaged us and had a yard sale. A “Moving Sale,” to be exact.

I don’t know if they really needed to move, or if they just wanted to spite us. The nerve of them, moving, just so they could have a yard sale after only living in that house for five years.

So, if you need me next Saturday, or the Saturday after that, or after that, forget it. We’re having a garage sale.

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