Secrets of Bob Wire: Author Spotlight – Shut Up and Drink Your Mashed Potatoes: Reports From the Front Lines of Fatherhood (Bob Wire Chronicles Book 1) – The man that is Bob Wire recently took some time to share a few bits of wisdom and random secrets with me. Bob’s new book, Shut Up and Drink Your Mashed Potatoes, parts the same kind of wit and insight as this interview. While I read Bob Wire’s stories about his front line battles of parenthood, I guffawed and thought, “Here, Here and AMEN” in recognition of the same inadequate feelings and responses toward my own kids. His stories are so relate-able and humorous, you forget your own mess of a monotonous life for just a moment, and recognize the jocularity that exists in your own family.
In our community Bob Wire has always been a little bit of an enigma. “Who is Bob Wire?” is thrown around and talked about almost as much as the buzz regarding the recent Paul McCartney tour postponements. I want to thank Bob for taking the time to divulge some of his secrets: his biggest passion, where he scribes his darker thoughts, his own childhood, and why his wife fell in love with him. Now for Bob’s Words–>
LG: What came first being a musician or writer? Where does your inspiration to write come from?
BW: Music is my biggest passion, but writing came first by a long ways. I had a poem published in the local newspaper when I was five years old, and they sent me a check for five dollars. I must have seen it as a viable career choice. I didn’t pick up the guitar until I was about 15, which seems kind of late. I wrote my first song when I was about 30, some typically overwrought, minor key psychodrama. Whether songs or stories, I usually gravitate to the laughs. I do have “serious” songs that I think are pretty damn good. But people like to laugh. As for inspiration, it’s everywhere. I learned how to see, and I learned how to listen. I read a lot. I file away interesting and funny things I overhear, or things my friends and family say. I know they must recognize a phrase here or there that I’ve pinched.
LG: When did you first decide you wanted to put together a series of three books? Why did you decide to publish them back to back?
BW: Even in traditional publishing, they’re more attracted to series than stand-alone books. I have a ton of material ready to go, so it just makes sense to dish it out in bite-sized chunks. These books will come in at the 16,000-20,000 word range. I’d compare the format to a Patrick F. McManus or a Dave Barry collection. I’ve already traditionally published one book under my real name, Ednor, and I have a novel just about finished. The Bob Wire series is a collection of pieces written for my humor column, “Bob Wire Has a Point (It’s Under His Cowboy Hat).” I’ve posted nearly one thousand columns in the last eight years, so I’m going through and cleaning them up, updating them where needed, and grouping them loosely according to subject. I’ve been encouraged to do this by a few friends and mentors. Currently the column has a home at MakeItMissoula.com.
LG: As a stay-at-home father, what’s your favorite meal you cook for your family?
BW: Spaghetti is not only fun to cook, but I’m cooking 8-10 meals when I make a pot of sauce. I scoop it into Ziploc bags and stack them in the freezer. It’s a huge ritual. I put on my lucky apron, crank up the Frank Sinatra and Louis Prima, and kind of dance my way around the kitchen. I’ve been perfecting my recipe for 30 years or so, and my wife says my sauce is what made her fall in love with me!
LG: Your humor comes off really strong in your first book Shut Up and Drink Your Mashed Potatoes. It wavers from tongue-in-cheek to straight up sarcasm in your day-to-day excursions with the kids, and the monotonous daily grind of raising a family. Many times you poke fun at yourself as well.
EXAMPLE: In the chapter, TODAY’S HOT LUNCH, Bob is the “Candy Sheriff”. He’s arguing with his son Rusty about his candy hoarding habits. Bob holds out the handful of baby tootsie roll wrappers and tells Rusty that he’s trying to help him, but he keeps sabotaging him with this crap. Bob says, “Look at this! I mean, where do you learn habits like this?”
“From YOU, okay?” Rusty yelled. “I learned it from watching you!”
Bob writes, “I flushed all the chocolate in the house down the toilet and checked into the Hershey Clinic that night.” This to me is so damn Relate-able!
Finally, here is the question: Is writing a sort of release for you? Is it your way to deal with the day-to-day grind in order to laugh at yourself and the situations you find yourself in with the kids?
BW: That “learned it from you” bit was from an old anti-drug commercial where the dad found his son’s stash of pot and confronted him. Nobody under 40 will get it. Writing is cathartic, sure, but the real personal stuff I save for my journal. Especially the darker thoughts. That’s like letting the poison flow out of you onto the page. But for my column and books, I just find so much entertaining material in my day-to-day experience that it’s fun to paint that picture, to share it with people who have probably been there.
LG: Name one family trip you haven’t written about yet that you would like to? GO!
BW: We visited my wife’s family a few years ago at a favorite spot on Florida’s Gulf Coast. After the family reunion the four of us spent three days driving up the coast to Pensacola, where we turned in the rental car and flew home. During that part of the trip we visited Ponce de Leon State Park, and swam in the supposed Fountain of Youth. It was a gorgeous summer day, and this state park was jam packed with more hillbillies and crackers than I’ve ever seen in one place, outside the Walmart lawn and garden department. We saw a big Southern mama yelling at her son because he was swearing. She said, “I’m gonna take off my flip flop and wear you out!”
LG: If you had to watch “Mr. Mom” everyday for a full year, before taking the two week vacation of your dreams, would you do it?
BW: That would be a Groundhog’s Day I could live with. I’ve been a work-at-home dad for ten years or so, and to see that movie now…Michael Keaton was a rank amateur. I was kind of clueless like that at first, but now I have this household running like a well-oiled machine. Please do not ask my wife to back me up on that.
LG: What/Where would that vacation be?
BW: The best part of my childhood was spent in Pensacola, so I have a special love for the Gulf of Mexico. But I’m also a child of the Pacific, having been born in Orange, California. If it were just me, I’d probably go to Mexico. But if it’s my family, we all love the Florida coast. So give me two weeks on Sanibel Island, then a side trip down to Key West.
LG: You spend quite a bit of time as a musician performing until bar close. Water, beer, or shots on performance night? Did you have groupies?
BW: Let’s get the groupie question out of the way first. In Missoula I had exactly one groupie, and I married her. As far as showtime libations, these days I’ll have a couple of beers during a show. I’ve always had water too, because the voice will be shot in five songs on just alcohol. Back in the late ’90s, early 2000’s with the Fencemenders, it was three shots of tequila over the course of a four-hour show. There really wasn’t much time to even finish a beer. Any more to drink, and the show would suffer. As would I. And believe me, I put a lot of time into researching that tequila limit.
LG: Would you call this a book on fatherhood and parenting? How would you categorize it? What will the other two books be about?
BW: This particular book is all about my unconventional approach to fatherhood. The one piece of advice I always give a father-to-be is this: ignore all advice. I’ve done it on pure instinct, and I think my kids are stellar people. It helps that their mom is brilliant and generous and endlessly patient. When I started writing for NewWest.net in 2006, they said I could write about anything. That can be both freeing and paralyzing. I wrote about politics quite a bit, although I am no political junkie. After eight years of weekly (and more) columns, I’ve written about almost everything. I’m still editing, but I think the next two books will be about enjoying the Great Outdoors (“I Think I Smell Bigfoot”) and playing in a band (“Music Isn’t Just a Lifestyle, It’s a Way of Life!”) I’m grouping the collections into other things like TV Sports, Marriage, Drinking, Music, Cultural Trends, Travel, the Media, Cooking, Politics, Manhood, and hopefully many other themes that will emerge as I bulldoze my way through this body of work.
LG: The floor is yours. Anything you would like the reader to know about you?
BW: Although I lead an interesting, unique lifestyle, so does everybody else. Life is a trip. Everyone has a trunkful of interesting and entertaining stories. I’m just writing mine down.
“Shut Up and Drink Your Mashed Potatoes is a selection of twisted stories dealing with children, a few novel approaches to solving everyday parenting issues, and how to raise those kids without wrecking their lives too badly. . . .From grocery shopping with his kids to chaperoning school field trips, Bob Wire never misses an opportunity to mess with their little heads. If you’re feeling inadequate as a parent, frustrated at your child’s behavior or just wondering if there’s anyone else out there who is going through the parenthood grinder, crack open a cold one and join Bob Wire for a little break. You could use a good laugh, especially when it comes at his expense.” – Book Description from Amazon.com
Contact Bob Wire
Bob Wire writes words and plays music in Missoula, Montana. This father of two teenage redheads spends much of his time working frantically to keep up with his kids, but is usually a step or two behind. Fortunately his long-suffering wife keeps an eye on the ball and knows where everything is.
Bob’s blog, Bob Wire Has a Point (It’s Under His Cowboy Hat), runs weekly at MakeItMissoula.com. He writes with no holds barred from his unique perspective as a beer-swilling, guitar-slinging, road-tripping, meeting-skipping, freelancing, dinner-cooking bigmouth. Sports, politics, Missoula culture, education, the outdoors, the indoors, travel—Bob spouts off on all that and more. But it’s fatherhood that most frequently inspires his blog, and Bob’s offbeat, open-minded parenting style is as entertaining as it is effective.
His seminal Missoula band the Fencemenders roamed Western Montana for ten years at the end of the last century, and was named Best Local Band by the Independent poll twice. Bob was named Entertainer of the Year at the Trail Entertainer Music Awards in 2007. He has won several song writing awards, and his latest album, Off White Christmas (with Chip Whitson) is available online and at several Western Montana retail locations.
For more information:
Bob Wire Music – You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers.
Bob Wire Has a Point – Humor Parody Satire Funny Comedy Ironic Silly Writing
Bob Wire Has a Point (It’s Under His Cowboy Hat) – Make it Missoula
Category: Indie It Books