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roller coaster

Filed Under , on April 14th, 2018

Thrill Ride

By Seth Kabala

I delivered my 10th speech at Toastmasters this past Thursday, earning me the ranking of Competent Communicator (CC), as if there was any doubt. I’ve found it helpful to post these speeches here, as 1) they might help you light a fire under your ass to start your public speaking journey, and 2) I like looking back over my work. Some things I’ve written over the years maintain their gilded edge; others, not so much, so it’s helpful to have a record.

Title: Thrill Ride
Type: Inspirational
Length: 8-10 minutes


For nearly nine years, I have, most weeks, written a column for, a humor site I founded in 2009. Sometimes the work is good; sometimes it’s a flaming bag of dog crap, but it is, if nothing else, regular exercise for my writing brain. Sometimes stream-of-consciousness-writing is the only way to get stuff on the page.

I credit this weekly regimen with building the writing skills I have today, skills that have earned me paid publishing credits. From time-to-time, I interview published authors and professional comedians, some of whom seek me out because of my reputation for solid writing.

In addition to writing, I love to read, typically finishing about a book a week. This year, however, I’ve taken on a new role with my employer, working longer hours; my kids are getting older, are more involved in activities; and I’m finding myself with infrequent spans of unplanned reading time. The only dedicated reading time I have anymore is during my ingress and egress to work on MAX.

Despite my efforts to dedicate time to reading, I’ve already come across two clunkers this year that I had to put down because they were actively devouring my soul. They were that bad.

How to pre-screen books to ensure this doesn’t happen again? How to incorporate writing practice at the same time? I’m glad you asked.

I’ve set up a new system, whereby I pick a book with an interesting title and, without having read the plot summary, I imagine my own plot summary. If the snippet I concoct is halfway interesting, I proceed with reading the book.

Here are several I’ve drafted. Let me know if you’d be interested in reading these books.


1. Lullaby Road

Restless children crawl out of their beds, out of their homes, enter the freeway, and … you can guess what happens—cleanup in the pancake aisle. Got some extra flat ones today—creating a new genre of hardcore music known as twisted-baby-death-metal. If you’re a fan of Slipknot and/or Stephen King, you’ll probably like this book.

2. The Power of Habit

Following an unprecedented Supreme Court ruling, tobacco companies once again win the right to advertise their products in commercial marketplaces, e.g., billboards, television, and the internet. With increased market awareness, the societal masses bind their collective brain power together to create the ultimate pizza with peppers, olives, onions, cheese, and sausage, making this a true Supreme Court ruling.

3. Choke

You’ve seen it advertised on the Home Shopping Network. You’ve seen celebrities and non-paid people—had to throw some non-paid people in there. Had to at least make an attempt at legitimacy for this product. Wait … that made it into the final jacket copy? Aw, sh—now see for yourself what all the fuss is about. Choke describes everything you’ve ever wanted to know about controlling airflow into internal combustion engines for lawnmowers, weed trimmers, tractors, and every other kind of engine where you can’t abide a too-rich fuel mix. What are you waiting for? Don’t get choked up. Read Choke.

4. Rooster Bar

Do you work 40 hours per week? 60? 80? Bet you like to unwind at the end of the week at your favorite watering hole, don’t you? Hey, Mr. Fat Cat or Catwoman—no, we hated that movie, too. We’re only dropping the reference here for purposes of gender equity in jacket copy writing. Do not take this to mean anything else—have you ever thought about the needs of roosters? No, well, they work hard, too, getting up at the butt crack of dawn every day to make sure the rest of the farm gets up and … does stuff, and they need a place to unwind, too. Rooster Bar is all about them. All about roosters having a place where they can … squawk to the other roosters about … throat scratchiness and stuff. Don’t judge. Roosters matter, too.

5. The Pale Horseman

All little Jimmy ever wanted to do was ride horses. It was his dream from the day he was old enough to go to the tracks with his gambling addict father. After the mob took his father on a long car ride and never came back, Jimmy wanted more than ever to learn to ride horses, and he made that dream a reality. Unfortunately for Jimmy, on the day he learned to ride horses, a giant flat-bed trailer hauling empty buckets overturned, and one of them lodged itself permanently onto Jimmy’s head. This had the— … What? It’s p-a-l-e? Oh, as in coloring. But I’ve already got this copy written. And the expense of … Yeah, ship it. I agree.

6. A Game of Thrones

They thought it would be fun. They thought it would be entertaining. They were dead wrong. The newest version of musical chairs, instead of sitting, involved lifting thrones made of silver and steel and iron, each easily weighing 500-600lbs. In order to play this game, they were going to have to alter their lifestyles, eat nothing but protein and vegetables, lift weights for six hours per day, and build the strength necessary to enter the game. Can they do it? Will they succeed at hoisting that big hunk of metal over their heads? Probably not, but won’t that be a funny fail video when it crushes them like an empty milk carton? Oh, relax. It’s fiction. We think.

7. Barbie Love Pets

No matter who it comes from, Barbie is appreciative. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a stranger’s hand caressing her hair. Being a desperate and lonely plastic doll, she misses out on the human contact she desires, so she rides the train to be among people with heartbeats. When the inevitable petting starts, she waits for the best time to drop her opening line. “Say, I’ve gotta hand it to you.”


Is some of this stuff funny? Maybe. You laughed. There’s the proof. Is most of it crap? Probably, but hold your agreement until after this speech is over and my ego has received sufficient attention.

Why did I write this? I’m interested in the creative journey.

The brain will take you in strange directions if you get in the car. On some levels, the brain behind the wheel has been smoking weed, dropping ludes, and slamming shots of the best Kentucky moonshine all day long. But that’s the brain. That’s not you.

Take the creative journey.

Make it a habit.

Engage stream-of-consciousness thinking.

And enter a state of flow.

It will be a supremely interesting thrill ride.

Just remember to watch out for those flaming bags of crap.


No longer just a halfway competent communicator–or is it halfway to competent communicator? Never got clarity on that–I’m officially competent. Guess what’s next?

More Toastmasters meetings.

And illicit drug references.


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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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