Challenge, Man

The Pizzazz Challenge


If you’re like me, you thought “pizzazz” was spelled “pizzaz” or “pizazz.” I was surprised to find that it’s spelled “pizzazz.”

Marvel Comics ran Pizzazz magazine for 16 issues from 1977 – 1979. The word “pizzazz” lost its pizzazz in popular media after that time.

I fell for this word on Saturday night when it somehow came out of my mouth from literally nowhere during conversation (see dialogue below).

Once I said it, I knew I had hit a word nerve. Those nerves are hit when you come across a really cool word. Pizzazz is exactly that: a really cool word. The more I think about it, the more I want to say pizzazz.

It hasn’t always been this way. From what I gather, pizzazz had its moment of fame in the ’70s, followed by a slow death after 1980. It’s still lingering out there, it’s just more difficult to come by in spoken language, although apparently a growing number of books that are on Google Books use the word, as illustrated here:

The importance of the pə-

Pizzazz is pronounced: pəˈzaz.

The z’s in zzazz are important when you say the word out loud. As you can see, all four of those z’s land in just one syllable (play along with me here).

FOUR Z’S IN ONE SYLLABLE. Tell me when that happens.


Okay, there is zazzle, pizzazz’s 1st cousin. But as you can see, zazzle only has three Z’s!

Pizzazz begins so unassumingly with the opening syllable pronounced “pə-.” Like in the word “pedestrian.” It’s unbelievable to me that of all words, the unimaginative word “pedestrian” begins the same way as PIZZAZZ.  

The accented second syllable lets out a pə-nultimate bang as the “-ZZAZZ” shatters any notion that the word beginning with “pə-” would be dry, empty, and void of pizzazz.

What’s incredible is how the two pairs of Zs can be held for as short or as long as the pizzazz-speaker wishes. The longer the Z is sounded out, the more the pizzazz. It’s that simple.

NOT ONLY THAT but the A in the second syllable can be said with a Wisconsin “eh” the Philly “uh” the Southern dipthonged “eh-uh” or the British “ah.” Each way it’s said carries with it a definition of its own.

Try it.

I have.


A Challenge with Pizzazz

With that out of the way, I issue a challenge* to you. This is a real challenge (unlike those fakes ones) so if you’re not up to it, please stop reading and go read something much less interesting.

I challenge you to use the word “pizzazz” in your very next live conversation with another human.

You can use it as much as you want on social media (Twitter: #pizzazz), which will be too easy to do. But challenges aren’t meant to be easy so I will not count your use of pizzazz in social media as meeting the challenge.

Instead, you absolutely must, must, MUST use pizzazz while talking to a person or group. Yes, conference calls are fair game. No, saying it to a telemarketer is not. Again, leave your comfort zone. Do the right thing. Say pizzazz like you mean it.

The rules for this challenge?

  1. Don’t look up the definition of pizzazz.**
  2. Don’t be pedestrian.

For some accountability, I ask that you please share in the comments*** how you said “pizzazz” in your conversation. Share the reaction from the recipient as well, if any. If there is no reaction, share what you think the reaction was in the hearer’s mind. I expect zero, maybe one comment from this exercise.

I already used pizzazz in real life on Saturday night. I will likely never use it again. It came to me while referring to my youngest son and speaking about myself in the third person to my wife. Here is the overly dramatized version:

“From his mother, he inherited a broad smile that exuded charm. From his father, he inherited something that was…how do I say it in words? He inherited a quality of…of…it’s almost impossible to say. I’m grasping for the word. It’s at the tip of my tongue.”

I groaned slightly, unwilling to admit to her there was no word in the English language that could possibly say what I was trying to say.

I was sweeping the floor. She was organizing the spices in the cupboard.

“Oh, I think I have it. I think it’s – I think I know what to say.”

But I didn’t know what to say. I was stumped. Words were swimming toward the drain of my mind like bathtub water heading down that whirlpool tornado vortex thingamajig.

“From his father, he inherited…” I paused, when suddenly, it came to me.

I stopped sweeping.

“He inherited,” I paused for effect, “pizazz.” (That’s back when I thought it was spelled that way.)

If I ever publish anything more than this beautiful blog, I would love to use pizzazz in a story line.



My pizzazz challenge has nothing to do with the ALS ice bucket challenge going around social media over the last few days. The pizzazz challenge may have been inspired by the bucket challenge, though I’m not sure. The only thing I can be certain of is that the pizzazz challenge will not go viral.

Challenges are classic conditional logic, where IF you do this, THEN that will happen.

Anyway, a San Francisco based company has a pizzazzimatic tool that can help save time between apps. The concept is here.

I’d like to do more reviews of pizzazztic companies I follow and pizzazzified services I use. But writing about things like the word pizzazz somehow is more fun for me.

Sidenote: I just had to reconstruct this post after I tried to embed a foreign language tweet that used #pizzazz and it deleted 80% of my post.


*I hate challenges

** I think pizzazz is only generally definable. The word pizzazz is almost more than a word. It’s one of those rare words that says more after it’s said than when it’s actually said.

*** Challenges that ask for accountability are extremely annoying and are probably pizzazz counterfeits (or foolzpizzazz).


How to Sit

When asked whether I’ve seen a certain Seinfeld episode, chances are I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen this one, either, but like all the others I haven’t seen, the concept looks funny. Season 9, episode 12.

I carry a slim wallet around. The slim wallet has improved my quality of life ever since it was given to me seven or so years ago.

I love my slim wallet because the slim factor makes it barely noticeable in my back pocket when I sit for long periods of time and also for short periods of time.

Not only is the slim wallet good for carrying the essential cards and cash, it is also a good door opener when I’m trying not to touch germ-infested door handles in public places.

It doesn’t work well trying to open the doorknob variety, though. I use the shoe method for that. [Please watch the three second video at the link in the preceding sentence. I've never actually opened a door that way but it makes me want to film a few different versions.]


Do you do this or is it just me?

Since I can’t easily feel my wallet anymore after going with the slim wallet, I have developed a habit of giving my rear end a subtle pat to see if my wallet is still there. I try to be discreet about it. Sometimes it’s not there and I get a little panic, until I realize that it is conveniently placed in my shirt pocket.

I find myself checking my rear end and shirt pocket fairly often.

–––It’s just a thing I do. [Please click on the link in the preceding sentence for my favorite "It's just a thing" ever.]


Future Biographer: Title this chapter of my biography “His Wallets”

I didn't verify, but this gentleman definitely has a thick wallet in his rear pant pocket -- the one on the right side

I didn’t verify, but this gentleman definitely has a thick wallet in his rear pant pocket — most likely the pocket on the right side, though it could also be on the left side. If it is on the right side, by sitting the way he is over one and a half chairs, he avoids tilting Pisa-style into the woman to his left.

For the ten or fifteen years prior to discovering the slim wallet, I carried the classic billfold wallet in my back pocket. The problem was that back pant pockets would quickly wear out, long drives became uncomfortable, and the see-through plastic card-holding insides would fall apart or become so seared, scarred and sticky with black ink impressions of their former contents that they would become virtually unusable.

Worst of all, I even appeared to lean a little to the left while sitting, which was always embarrassing to no one but me.

In the early days of wallet carrying, I didn’t have enough cards/pictures/etc to fill the plastic inserts. I didn’t have a bank account either, which meant that the money I earned entered my wallet — cash, coins, and all.

Through my teenage years, my wallet began to be a place I kept notes, cards, and keepsakes. It became the home of a dollar bill signed by musicians that toured through the more indie theaters in Philadelphia.

I kept a strand of Morrissey’s shirt in my wallet for a long time. The inch-long string of shirt is now ashes below a smoldering heap of trash somewhere in Landfill, PA.

I’m sure I spent the dollar bill sometime later when I began to value food more than autographs. The vending machine’s Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies were totally worth it.

My wallet also became a place I kept more spiritual things to remember.



In my early teens in the backseat of a police car, I admired my friend who boldly showed the cop through the glass partition his wallet-sized LDS For The Strength of Youth pamphlet and said, “This is what I live by,” as we tried to convince the cops that we were innocent of planting bags of cocaine along a trail in a nearby park.

It all began when we decided to call the police after noticing suspicious looking bags on a trail. We weren’t idiots – we were probably hoping for careers in the FBI – but apparently the police thought we were better candidates for the Police Academy films.

…Or they were better candidates for those films.

“You boys better come with us, ya hear?” as they picked us up from my home. Five or six cop cars waited for us at the trailhead.

Later, the older cop was getting frustrated. After splitting up me and my friend, they saw inconsistencies with our story. The older cop said, “Son, you lie to us and you will have to ride behind a mule picking up its sh**.” He thought he was terrorizing me.

That line worked well in 1642, I hear.

It must have been a slow day, because a couple hours of amateurish interrogation later, trying to break us, their case fell apart when they saw that a small patch of dry skin on my earlobe was in fact dry skin and not remnants of cocaine.

I know what you’re thinking, “That’s an unusual place for dry skin.” I agree. But it was a blessing. Today, I could be in rural Arkansas riding behind a mule.

After the cop incident, I began to carry that church pamphlet around in my wallet.


How I almost lost my slim wallet

The problem with slim wallets is they are so expensive. I used to buy a wallet for ten bucks. My Ralph Lauren slim wallet retails for $80. But it still looks great, even after floating down Independence Avenue.

Shortly after receiving my new wallet when I lived in DC, I got a call from the National Chicken Council (this isn’t a joke) saying one of their employees had found my slim wallet floating along the curb toward a sewer vent on Independence Ave. Re-tracing my steps, I had left my wallet on my lap as I paid a cab driver before exiting at the curb for my office during a significant rainstorm.

Point is, my slim wallet has been through a lot and it still looks great.


How to Sit

I’ve titled this post “How to Sit.” Here’s my advice:

  • Don’t sit with the wallet in your pants pocket.
  • Don’t sit with the wallet on your lap.
  • Slim wallets will help with the leaning factor while sitting in a convention workshop (if you missed that, see above image of man sitting)
  • Carry something uplifting in your wallet.
  • Don’t hurry out of a cab on a busy street when it’s raining hard and you have a lot of stuff in your hands.
  • Don’t call the cops unless you have dry skin on your earlobe.
  • Oh, and sit up straight. Don’t slouch.



Enter Bellroy, the company that also creates leather slim wallets within that price range. When mine wears out, I don’t know what I’ll do. Either RL or Bellroy or something else.

The Bellroy site caught my eye yesterday and I meant to write a post that said, simply, “check this out.” Then I wrote a lot more than that.


Two Weeks Notice

Hi again Chief, you’ve got your ‘s and “s mixed up.

After wasting so much time on this blog, I’ve been strong-armed to finally phase it out. It wasn’t exactly by choice.

After my last post on the drought or spleens or something, I got a call to schedule a time to meet in the publisher’s office for this blog. It had been awhile since we last held a work meeting in his office, so I was eager to hear what he had to say.

I wish they had met with me instead.


I walked in, he told me to close the door and didn’t even wait for me to sit down. He began reading me the riot act – I did this wrong, I did that wrong, I used bad grammar, too many commas, blog didn’t make sense – then he began talking about how he climbed some mountain I’ve never heard of and quoting a guy named Seamus who I think used to be his neighbor?

I was incredibly confused. An unintelligible mass of words spewed from his mouth. After a minute of nonsensical rambling it became clear he was actually going to fire me, especially when he said, “So it’s time to start packing up your things. We don’t need you anymore. You can’t write garbage…”

I surprised myself when I interrupted my superior by saying with a slight smile, as nonchalantly as possible, “You know what?”

He immediately stopped lecturing me. Amazingly still behind his mahogany desk, he gazed directly into my eyes.

I had asked a question, hoping he would answer.

Why did I hope he would answer me? I mean, the man was never at a loss for words!

Isn’t “you know what?” an expression that tells the listener you have more to say? Oh wait. I thought that by cooly asking that question, he would answer me! I thought he would tell me something he knows! I forgot how the expression worked! How did I do that? I can’t believe I didn’t realize that. It must have been nerves. No wonder he hates my blog. I don’t even know expressions.

At the moment, however, I somehow believed my “you know what?” question had thrown him. For a moment, he kind of had a look of panic, as if I had thrown him. He didn’t look like my boss anymore. He looked weak. He looked like me.

This gave me a dose of much needed confidence, but I was still at a loss for words.

“You know what?” I repeated, still thinking he would answer the question.

I continued to endure unbearable silence for over a minute. He seemed to endure it effortlessly, making him look like my boss again.

I thought of my options. There weren’t many. He was essentially firing me, but he hadn’t yet said, “You’re fired.”

Ever the competitive one, I didn’t want him to beat me to it. So I yelled at the top of my lungs, “I QUIT!”

Motionless, emotionless, and in his thick Colorado accent, he said, “You’re an idiot.”

I said, “Don’t sugar coat this. You heard me, I quit! I’m not sticking around slaving away for you anymore!”

“You can’t quit.”

“Why can’t I quit? I can do whatever I want!”

He told me I was correct about that and then added, “When you quit, you won’t be able to collect unemployment insurance.”

“I don’t care about un–”

“Josh,” he stopped me mid-sentence. “Do the right thing.”

“What ‘right thing?’ I said I’m out!”

I put my hand on his office doorknob, but surprised myself again when I didn’t turn it immediately to open the door and leave his office for good.

He was right, I considered, hopeful to get a hold of that unemployment check. Maybe this was a way I could monetize the blog, I thought. How ironic.

I laughed to myself, my back to him. Then I heard him say words that were as if a knife had been thrown into the center of my back.

“You know I don’t need you,” he continued, evilly calm. “You know I don’t like your work. To be blunt, it’s pathetic.”

I turned around, facing him, quickly checking my torso to see if the knife had passed all the way through. It hadn’t. Then I remembered the knife wasn’t real. “Knife in the back” is a figure of speech. I had forgotten.

Confidence waning.

No longer looking him in the eyes, I said, “I thought you wanted me to do the right thing and stay.”

He was listening. I garnered a little more courage. “Instead, you mock my work. You know I’m the best blogger on this site!”

I’m sure my face was bright red, a genetic characteristic attributed to my Nordic roots. I tried to cover it with my hands. Maybe he would think I was about to cry.

I was about to cry.

“Do the right thing.” He paused. “Give me two weeks notice.”

“Oh.” I hesitated, trying to understand what had happened. “Oh!” So he didn’t want me to collect unemployment! He wanted me to earn my pay for two more weeks.

I knew he would counter-offer, just not so soon.  It was instantly clear who had won this dance.

“Then fine!” I said, acting disappointed.

I left his office and headed to mine down in the basement of the large office complex. It was a mess down there, as usual. I faked being mad. I threw things around and then I cleaned things up.

And that’s basically how it happened.

I have two more weeks to blog. Then I’m back on the street. Since November 2013, I’ve never “not blogged,” so this will be a real transition for me. I ask for your understanding as I transition to becoming a normal person, which will be so difficult.

There will likely be normalizing pains, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes in order to no longer blog in two weeks.

If you are concerned about my blogging employment, read below the “***” that is coming up after the period that is a little lower and to the right of the point of this arrow –>.




Very good. You are good at following instructions. Now look for the “&&&” below, and read what comes next.




Excellent. You are learning quickly. Now look for the “%%%” and see what follows.




Ok, now that you have carefully followed my instructions, I’m going to give it to you straight from the heart. I feel like I need to explain myself every time I write satire, because an unusually high number of people (more than 2, less than 5) think most of my satire is true. I guess it’s that good or that bad, depending on your point of view.

I should add that I’m not referencing the email signature post where I say you should keep reading the longest email signature in the computer age. I didn’t mean for people to read all the sweepstakes fine print. It was that same very lengthy email signature that included the entire Gettysburg Address as an inspirational quote. I copied and pasted the absolute longest email confidentiality statement, inserted “please keep reading!” after which is included the longest sweepstakes fine print I could find on the Internet. I feel bad about anyone reading all of that. I also am happy to hear that some muscled through the fine print because it means there are some who actually do read what I write. If there is ever anything like that again, I will try to be more clear.

For the rest of you, allow me to tell you that what you just read above about my giving two weeks notice is satire. There, I’ve just ruined the whole thing. The magician lifted his sleeve. The comedian explained the irony. The blogger typed more words.

I said I was phasing out the blog, right? Then you keep reading and learn that the publisher is firing me, then asking me to give two weeks notice. The publisher of is Josh Rolph, who happens to be me. I don’t have a publisher. I’m the one who publishes. Get it? There should have been several other clues that this couldn’t possibly have happened. Like the “you know what?” part is a personal favorite of the piece. The “knife in the back” part is second favorite. Saying “I’ve never ‘not blogged’” is my third favorite. Oh and the irony of monetizing my blog by collecting unemployment when there is no more blog. Do I have to be writing this? Why am I writing this? I’m ruining the whole thing even more! Maybe I should be fired from this blog.

Anyway, I realize it’s not funny to you and that’s okay. It is. I’m sorry you didn’t understand what I meant. Now look for the “###” below.




You know what? You should subscribe to my blog or share it via those round social media buttons below (they are only seen if you click on the title of this post). I have no self esteem and don’t take medication for that ailment, so a click or a share goes a long way toward helping me guilt trip people into doing what I tell them to do. By subscribing or sharing, you and those you love will have something to read. [jetpack_subscription_form]