Dad Libs: Throwback Thursday

My son Jonathan and I trying not to lose it.
My son Jonathan and I trying not to lose it.

This has been a scary week, the first week of a certain presidency that pushes my family and me way past the uneasy mark. But rather than give that blowhard, narcissistic, buffoon any more press today, we’re going to jump back to some old Dad Libs, our twist on the classic Mad Libs game.

Micah is spending the week with the old man here and he mentioned to me that he’d like to record some new versions of these, so as we warm up for new Dad Libs episodes, here are three of our favorites from over the years. The first is from 2010 when we recorded the very first Dad Lib on my old Acer laptop, so pardon the poor quality. The next two are just, well just favorite examples of the most fun a family can have indoors without alcohol.

Oh, and we seem to have a thing for butchering Robert Frost poems and great political speeches.

Where the Pickle Confuses, Celebrating Shel Silverstein

From my collection.
From my collection.

I have been rearranging the living room, and in the process of organizing the shelves discovered that I seem to be missing a few books by birthday boy, Shel Silverstein. Hopefully, they are at my boys’ house.  You may not be aware that Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, was his first children’s story, published in 1963. It was a gift to me after my coming out, from a dear and intimate friend, a reminder that others, on all sides of the sexuality spectrum, would try to shape me into what they saw me as, an identity created by them to match their own stories. I think he wanted me to be aware of the danger, and to encourage me to continue to be brave, to write my own character, my own story, my own life.

Despite the enormous influence he’s had in our family’s reading time, and my own autonomy, I haven’t  recorded much of Shel Silverstein’s work. It’s hard to compete with his many recordings, his playful voice and guitar. But in celebration of his birthday this September 25th, here are a few videos for the occasion.

The first is pretty much self-explanatory. The second is probably his most famous poem, and you can certainly find better readings of it these days. This was recorded years ago, quickly and slipshod, on an old laptop for those (possibly two people?) who were not familiar with it as a point of reference for the final in today’s trio, a parody, developed “Mad Lib” style, for our family’s Dad Libs feature.

For more information about each video, please check out the video descriptions on YouTube directly.

Listen to the MUSN’Ts

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Pickle Confuses

Flashback Friday: More Dad Libs for Family Fun

My son Jonathan and I trying not to lose it.
My son Jonathan and I trying not to lose it.

Last Friday I reblogged as a flashback an old post called Dad Libs, a Mad Libs Alternative. This week I’m including one that never made it from the family YouTube channel here to the blog, so I know it will be new to most of you. I’ve decided to include our very first Dad Libs recording as well, to offer up a bit of history on the art of our family’s twist on an old game. I’ll post that one below the newer one for comparison (the old webcam gives it a real historical feel).

Like Mad Libs, the game that inspired us, which was created in the late 1950’s by the team of Leonard Stern and Roger Price, our twist, “Dad Libs” is a language game. It operates on the same principles as the original, but it calls for the whole family to be creators, not just to fill in the blanks of someone published by someone else.  A blind panel of friends or family members are asked to give seemingly random parts of speech to fill in the blanks of a text.

The creative-ish part is that we take turns deciding what the text will be, a poem, a famous speech, an obscure news story, whatever you think will be fun. Then you copy and paste the text, and proceed to choose which words to blank out, words that will be filled in by the rest of your merry band, who have no idea what text you’ve chosen.

Then the really fun part is that you turn on the camera, and make someone read the newly altered text for the first time, and save for posterity the giggles and gaffs. If you don’t have kids, don’t worry, your friends will enjoy this as well. Honestly this has to be better than sitting around the kitchen table playing bridge.

If you’ve never done Mad Libs and are still confused, you might want to google it because the explanation I give in the older of the two videos below is pretty feeble and fumbling.

This newer video was recorded last Summer (You can thank the Monkey for his editing) and in it we are mad-libbing Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” followed by Tom Hanks’ award-winning grave-side monologue from the movie “Forest Gump.”

The second video was actually our first one back in 2010, and my son Jonathan aptly named it “The Gettysburg Massacre.” In the clip’s description (on YouTube) you can find the whole text, which you are free to copy, but trust me, you’ll have even more fun if you do this from scratch. If you have even more time to procrastinate on this Flashback Friday, you can watch the whole playlist here. I hope it inspires you to try something creative like this with your clan.


Mad Libs for Father’s Day

Okay, so maybe a little late for Father’s Day, but honestly, it was such a joy to have all three boys with me for so long that I couldn’t be bothered with getting online. I love you guys, but this place feels more like home when they are here, and what a great weekend it was.

We had a picnic with my siblings and their cousins to surprise my own father for Dads Day, but the rest of the time we had to ourselves to play games, inside and out, watch old reruns of LOST and yes, create and record our own personalized Mad Libs, which we like to call Dad Libs. After a couple of rounds of Apples to Apples Micah said, “We haven’t done a Dad Libs in a while. We should do a Father’s Day edition.” So he and Josiah came up with their material in secret, and asked the rest of us for the parts of speech needed to fill in the blanks. You and your family really need to try this. It’s so much more fun than the pre-made ones.

Dad Libs, a Mad Libs Alternative

Do you have “Game Night” at your house? No, I don’t mean Friday Night Football; I mean a night when you and your family, and/or friends gather around the dining room or coffee table and play games, board games, card games, drinking games… well, okay, maybe not with the family. At our house our favorite is probably Apples to Apples. We have expansion sets, the travel version, and even the new Green Apples version. I’m not going to link you to the board game geek site, because those bozos only gave it a 6.38 rating out of 10. That’s insane! It’s a smart and creative game, if not a competitive one.

Another smart and fun game we play is called Dad Libs, no not Mad Libs, but our own tailored version of the game. If you haven’t played Mad Libs before, check out some info on it by clicking here. Now what my sons and I do is one of us picks a story, a song, a poem, something online. Then he cuts and pastes it into a word or Google document and blanks out some of the words. Without giving away the source the leader of the game asks the rest of us for adjectives, nouns, verbs, etc. until the blanks are filled in.

Below is the example of what we came up with about a month ago. My youngest son did the recording and editing, and uploaded it to his unessentialusername channel on YouTube.

Where the Pickle Confuses, a Mad Lib Alteration of Where the Sidewalk Ends

For those of you who don’t go to YouTube for the description, I’ve copied it below the video. This is one of Micah’s favorite ways to do Game Night. Usually he likes me to do the reading, but I’m looking forward to his turn! 🙂

I misspoke by saying we did not like any of the readings of this poem on YouTube. So if you did one, please don’t be offended. We were just goofing off. There were actually some nice visuals and some darn cool musical versions. What I mean to say is that we couldn’t find any straight readings of the poem, something that represents the piece on it’s own terms.

This is another vid for that small audience who has come to love these “Dad Libs.” For those of you who are still confused, here is how it works. Dad Libs is our bastardization of the term Mad Libs. You can check out their website at and if you click on their Mad Libs Widget you can see for yourself how they work online.

The ones we grew up with were in those little tablets, where you would find a story, a song or a poem, often one you already recognize, but many of the key words would be replaced by blank spaces and prompts for you to insert words of the same grammatical parts of speech, ie. Noun, Verb, Adverb, possessive pronoun, past participle, etc.

Now what makes it so much fun is that the person holding the tablet does not divulge the identity of the piece of writing which is being altered by the other participants’ word choices. The tablet holder merely asks for the parts of speech which the other players provide, not knowing what mayhem will ensue when it is read back within the framework of the original piece.

Micah, my youngest son (the one in the vid with me) had the brilliant idea of creating our own, by simply cutting and pasting at our laptops. So it has become a Game Night tradition to search the web for a favorite poem, song, speech or bit of prose, and then cut and paste it to notepad, and create our own Mad Libs.

Micah and I had no idea what Josiah (the oldest brother) was causing us to transform, or undermine, when he asked us for the various parts of speech. Jonathan (the brother in the middle) is not seen or heard in this production, but many of the awesome word choices involved were from his thoughtful head. Here is the original poem for this reading. The delightful nonsense that resulted is printed below the original. We hope you enjoyed it!

Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silversetein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

And our version after Mad Libbing:

Where the Pickle Confuses

There is a place where the pickle confuses
And before the painting begins,
And there the grass fluffy soft and peach,
And there the giant burns foolishly bright,
And there the tv-station rests from his porta potty
To cool in the favorite wind.

Let us expunge this place where the dead slobber vermilion
And the Irish street spit and sip.
Past the genius where the asphalt morons grow
We shall usurp with a slice that is subsided and slow,
And watch where the pissed arrows go
To the place where the hobo mixes.

Yes we’ll blink with a injury that is uploaded and slow,
And we’ll go where the hairy arrows go,
For the dads, they mark, and the hearts, they know
The place where the pick confuses.