Firsts and Lasts with Charles from Mostly Bright Ideas

cg-on-2011-02-21 (2)I first met Charles online years ago when he left a thoughtful comment on my blog about our mutual disdain for texting. I thought, who is this guy? He immediately struck me as sincere, intelligent and funny. Sure enough, so was his blog,
Mostly Bright Ideas.

Whether he’s pondering the current lack of face-to-face social interaction or detailing what it was like to grow up in 1960s Bronx when kick-the-can and bubblegum cards were the norm, his brilliant writing never fails to spark feelings of pure nostalgia and wonderment.  After reading his posts, I always come away feeling like I had learned a thing or two.  I’d even venture to say all of his ideas are bright.

Like these:


Charles cartoon1

He’s also a WordPress Recommended Humor blogger, and has been Freshly Pressed multiple times. His most recent FP was Gone, and Pretty Much Forgotten. No doubt, every single one of his posts should be — his writing’s that good.  And I’m not just saying this because he bought me a grande Frappuccino at Starbucks when we finally met for real last summer. (Yes, he is as polite, charming and funny in person as he is on his blog!)

Without further ado, please enjoy my Firsts and Lasts Interview with my September blogger of the month:

Charles from Mostly Bright Ideas


Blog Post: It was May 11, 2010, and was called “Things I Can’t Do (A Partial List).” There were several militant positive thinkers in my life then, and I’d grown tired of hearing about how we’re all capable of doing absolutely anything. It’s a meaningless idea. And if it were true, wouldn’t the world be pretty boring? I love seeing all the amazing things other people can do – things that I can’t do.

[editor's note: Can ya do this, Charles? Eh? I can.]
[Editor’s note: Can ya do this, Charles? Huh? Well, I can.]
Kiss: You won’t believe this, but I don’t remember. I know who she was, but I have no memory of the actual kiss.

Love: This is more difficult than I imagined it would be. What I thought love was when I was sixteen is completely different from how I see it now. If I were feeling now what I felt then, I don’t even think I would call it love. It was more like, I’m with somebody! Maybe I won’t be alone for the rest of my life! Pathetic, I know.

Childhood Memory: I climbed out of my crib, went into my parents’ bedroom, and told my mother there were ants crawling on me. She told me to go back to sleep. How old could I have been if I were still sleeping in a crib? Two? I still blame my mother for her apparent lack of concern, and I’m sure it’s the cause of my pathetic first-love experience.


Moment I met my significant other: Her daughter was nine and my daughter was about to turn eight. We lived in the same apartment building, and the girls had become friends. One day, they decided that she and I should go out on a date. Sixty-two days later, we were married. And just like that, our daughters went from being friends to being sisters, sharing a bedroom and losing that valuable only-child status. I think that’s when they learned to mind their own business.

Possession I would take if my house were on fire: Assuming everyone was out safely, I would take my car keys. If I couldn’t find my keys, I would go for my wallet. But I usually leave my wallet with my keys, so I wouldn’t be able to find either one. Then I’d probably panic and grab the nine-gallon jar of peanut butter we just bought at Costco.

[editor's note: What? No fluff?]
What? No fluff?!
Job I had: I was a stock clerk at the A&P. I think minimum wage then was $1.65. My first paycheck had deductions for taxes and union dues, and my take-home pay was eighteen dollars. It was four decades ago, yet that feeling of disappointment is as vivid as ever. But I still can’t remember my first kiss.

Time I got pulled over by a cop: I was doing forty in a thirty. It was a main road and everyone would always go about fifty, or even faster. I went to court and the judge reduced the fine, which made me feel as though I had righted an injustice. Later I found out that the judge reduced everyone’s fine if they just showed up in court.

Thing I think God will say to me at the pearly gates: “Did you make a reservation? Because we don’t seem to have any record of it.”


Blog Post: Literally Confused [editor’s note: a funny post revisiting childhood sayings. Find out if his mom really did have “eyes in the back of her head” and the real reason he didn’t take French in junior high]

Thing I cooked: Pizza, with homemade dough and sauce. I even used garlic, basil, and onions we grew in the backyard. Only the cheese was store-bought, and that’s because our cow was away on a business trip.

Movie I saw: Simply Irresistible. It’s one of those feel-good romantic comedies. It made me want to drown myself.


Book I read: The Joy of x. It’s about math. I like reading books about math, which I guess makes me a nerd. I also like thinking of myself as a nerd, because it’s the same as being a weirdo, but makes it sound as though I’m doing it on purpose.

Reality TV show I watched: I don’t watch television. I don’t have any regular shows, and never seem to even like the ones everyone else loves. When I do turn on the TV, they always seem to be in the middle of an endless commercial break, and after six or seven, I turn it off.

Person I kissed: My wife. I could go for a laugh here, but I’m not completely stupid.

Time I cried: A year ago, at my daughter’s wedding. They’d been dating for ten years, and now they had those rings on their fingers. I’d known all along that she’d found the right guy – somebody who treated her with love and respect. That’s one of the things we hope for, as parents, and there it was.

Time I told a little white lie: Some well-dressed Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the door, now for the ninth time in the past year. I told them I was contagious.


Time I did something really scary: I cut down a dead tree in the backyard. It was about sixty feet tall. I wasn’t scared so much for myself, but our neighbors are really neurotic about things crashing through their roof.

Indulgence: I bought myself a graphics tablet, because I thought I was going to start doing animation. I try to dust it off at least a couple of times a month.

Embarrassing moment: See my Good Deed, below:

Good deed I did: Just the other day, I helped a lady at the supermarket by getting something she couldn’t reach on the top shelf. She thanked me, and I said, “Well, it helps to be incredibly tall.” She looked at me and without a moment of hesitation, said “Yes, you are tall – for a short little man.” See what happens when you try to be nice?


Thanks for humoring us with this in-depth interview, Charles. I owe you a Frappuccino!

Do yourself a favor and visit him at Mostly Bright Ideas

And be sure to check out all my other bloggers of the month.

**Up next: Steve from The Brown Road Chronicles**

43 thoughts on “Firsts and Lasts with Charles from Mostly Bright Ideas

  1. HA! This was FANTASTIC. And I was surprised, because I’ve heard all about you, Charles. (Never trust a woman with such PowerPoint/Photoshop skills.)

    “I think that’s when they learned to mind their own business” and “our cow was away on a business trip” really got me!

    1. I know, the cow one made me laugh, too. Actually every answer he gave made me giggle. I really hope that was intentional…?

      And I really wanted to do MORE powerpoint slides of him but time wouldn’t allow it. Maybe he wouldn’t mind if I did a follow-up post with only slides of him in various hilarious situations?

  2. Great Job, Charles & Darla. But you know, Charles, I think that you should just email God one of your posts (probably not any involving nuns, though) before you head on to heaven. He’ll make room.

  3. Thanks again for doing this, Darla. I’m always amazed at how much work you put into each post, and I think your many loyal readers are, too. Being blogging buddies with you all this time — more than three years — almost feels like we’ve gone to school together. I guess we have, in a way. See you next time we’re in Maine!

    1. It does feel like school. Funny, you started blogging around the same time I did. Isn’t three years blogging equal to 100 years real time?

      I want to thank you, Charles, for being one of my very first followers and biggest supporters of my writing. Several times I was pretty close to giving up blogging and you would pull me back in with a thoughtful comment. So I blame you for my wordpress addiction.

  4. Following Charles, for sure!

    I applaud your local, home grown pizza and hope your cow was away at the “how do we make ACTUAL chocolate milk” convention.

    D, STUNNING PowerPoint skills per usual. Adult baby Charles is my fav.

  5. Darla, I’m envious. You actually got to meet Charles? I’m envious. I would have loved to have been there. You are both such a hoot. I love his responses to first moment he met his significant other and the photo of contagious Charles welcoming Jehovah’s witnesses into his home.

    Charles’ posts are hysterical, thoughtful and nostalgic. He was one of the first bloggers to encourage me when I began my blog 2 years ago.

  6. Hey! This is not fair, Darla. I’m back from my hiatus (isn’t that a hernia?) and the first thing I read of yours is this? Two great bloggers at one time? (You and Charles). And you get my comment before he does… I shall now go off to his blog and do that catching-up-thing. (That’s a catching-up thing. I just thought the second hypen would look cool there.)

    1. I’m about to go on a long hiatus myself and it DOES sound kinda like a hernia. ha!

      Enjoy the catching-up-thing over at Charles’s, he was just FP again recently and it (of course) was worthy.

      Hope you had a nice break and are well rested enough to come back to the craziness that is blogging, Val.

  7. Great interview! Charles, I love your cartoons, I did do that thing with banking my summer vacation months until I was older and wiser, but now that I’m both of those things, I can’t find them. Any clue where we go to redeem all that carefree, childhood vaca?

    Darla, you go from good, better to bestest with your mad Photoshop skills – Charles in the crib is da bomb! AFter that incident of total parental neglect, it’s no wonder he is afraid of kissing around ants and Fluffo.

  8. I just got through culling the blogs I don’t read and now I am about to add another into the read list? Ah well, I trust you to guide me properly, based on this fantastic interview I won’t be led down a primrose path to blah.

    Cows on vacation? I have heard of this but never met anyone who actually experienced it.

    Well off I go to read!

  9. Great interview. Darla, you do know the most interesting people. How do you get around with that busy schedule of yours? Really! How many blogs do you subscribe to? I’m trying to manage my blogging life and need some advice.

    1. Yes, Charles is an old blogging buddy, he encouraged me to continue with my writing and my blog from the very start. I swear many times I would have given up blogging if it weren’t for him. His blog has always been a favorite of mine.

      I’ve no idea how many blogs I subscribe to….I think it’s 50? I wish I had advice about managing blogging but I’m just barely able to post lately on my own blog. Life keeps getting in the way.

      1. I whittled my subscriptions down to about 55 (from aver 100). I’m hoping that will help. I just have to get the first draft of this novel written so the real work on it can begin! Thanks for your input, Darla.

        My Philip is just starting an online Masters program and our life (well, mostly his) has changed dramatically. I kind of forgot all the work it takes to be a student AND have a life. May the Force be with you! 🙂

  10. Well done you two crazy kids. I plan on checking out Charles’ blog as soon as I get back from picking up my goats from the airport as they have just arrived home from a banyard animal junket in Toledo.

  11. What I want to nkow is . . . how did the Charles baby get into my son’s room? Because, if I’m not mistaken, that border is the exact same as the one in my house. This is getting a little creepy.

  12. reinventionofmama

    I’m so happy to read this post! His blog is one of my favorites. I check it often, always hoping for something new. What a funny, smart character.

  13. Fantastic interview. I’ve followed Charles`s blog for a while now. He’s even invited me to his 21st birthday party. Although I think I let him down badly with my ignorance about baseball players. Hope I`m still invited though. 🙂

Tell me about it.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s