Monday, May 31, 2010

On this Memorial Day

To all of our servicemen and -women, whether you served sixty years ago, sixty days ago, or are serving as I write this, you will forever live in my heart as the bravest and the best. I hope those of you who are in distant lands will soon receive the homecoming you so greatly deserve.

Thank you for defending, with your lives, our right to blather on about anything that comes into our brains and out our mouths. You'll never be forgotten.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rest in peace, Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper has died.

What is it about the quirky, weird guy in a movie that draws us to him? And maybe you aren't drawn to him, but I sure am.

Who can forget Hopper's character, Frank, in the cult classic, Blue Velvet? He was a whole lot of disturbed in that movie, yet who hasn't, deep down in our subconscious, desired to play such an insidious villain in a play or a film? Again, maybe you haven't... but I have.

In my opinion, we can all benefit from exploring our dark side, even if momentarily, just to acquire an opportunity to introduce our Yins to our Yangs. How much fun do you think Susan Lucci has had over forty years of playing the devious Erica Kane, on the daytime drama, All My Children? Do you think Kathy Bates didn't enjoy playing the sadistic Annie Wilkes in Misery, or that Marlon Brando didn't get off a little bit by immersing himself in the character of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now?

Granted, it's probably not advisable to take up permanent residence in that "other side of the tracks" of our personalities. Our kids and spouses might not like us very much.

At least, however, these talented thespians have been granted an opportunity to get some dark crud out of their systems, whereas a lot of famous people have taken the fall by playing up to the straight and narrow so vehemently, they've gotten themselves into trouble by pursuing more covert methods of discovering the other side.

Many of the fallen have come from the clergy. The reverends Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard are a few who come to mind as people who just couldn't resist a little bit of "experimentation." And more recently, George Rekers, a high profile board member on the Family Research Council, was forced to resign amid revelations that he hired a twenty-year-old male escort from to accompany him on a two-week trip through Europe.

Mr. Rekers was previously an outspoken anti-gay adoption spokesman in Florida, a state which does not allow gay couples to adopt.

I guess what I'm saying, in quite a roundabout way, is that it's fairly difficult to try to live our lives as if we know what's best in all circumstances. It's okay to acknowledge our dark sides, to show them the light of day. Otherwise, they tend to surface in some ugly fashions. We've got both, so let's just admit it.

Dennis Hopper, I hope you made peace with your dark side. God speed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Who's up for a little home improvement?

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Many of us will enjoy the fruits of this three-day weekend through leisurely activities, and others may utilize the extra time for a bit of home improvement. I'll be engaging in the latter option, as I plan to paint the interior of our cozy little bungalow.

I'm a confident painter; I've painted a lot, and I'm patient with all the prep work, like sanding, taping, covering, washing and second-coating. In my opinion, nothing matches that satisfying final step of peeling off the masking tape to reveal a nice, straightish, dark/light paint delineation.

While painting projects cause me minimal anxiety, a sliding scale of angst exists for other home improvements, and they are as follows, in order of least stress to most:

1) Furniture assembly—Hello, IKEA, that maze of a furniture store, where no matter what type of item you purchase, you leave the store with a huge, rectangular box full of parts. The instructions contain no verbiage, only arrows and numbers, and I've accumulated about forty of those little Allen wrenches. Everything at IKEA has been given a strange Swedish name, like "Durks" or "Sprar" or "Jilks." These names probably can be translated to mean "Bruised shins" and "Sweat lots" and "One critical piece is missing."

2) Electrical/plumbing installations—I gained tons of experience at my old house, placing ceiling fans in three different rooms. My learning curve displayed my true electrical aptitude, as the fan completion times evolved from nineteen hours to eighteen hours to nineteen hours.

I also possess a bit of electrical outlet installation experience. Last time, it proved quite lucrative, as I discovered over seven dollars in change which my daughters had dropped down my plumber's crack during the seven-hour ordeal.

I don't do plumbing, with the exception of replacing toilet "guts." This can only be accomplished while the women-folk are away, as I am the sole family member capable of effectively using the backyard emergency comfort station.

3) Windows, doors and structural improvements—no way. I'm not about to take on anything where I may have to sleep all night next to a gaping hole that used to be a front door. The one exception is the door I replaced on our tool shed. Two of the best weeks of my life.

Most of my friends, including my brother, have the handyman's gene. If we were all around 150 years ago, they could have successfully pulled off that trek out west in their covered wagons, while I probably would have broken down outside of St. Louis and been forced to eat my young.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

To the Class of 2010: for your ears only

I've always wanted to give a high school commencement speech, mostly because I've got so much really profound advice to offer.

Since I'll probably never get the opportunity, I'm using this web log as a forum for my virtual graduation speech that never was. Rather than offering lofty, abstract guidance, I'm choosing to take a more realistic, pragmatic approach, aimed at the fortunate youth who are moving on to institutions of higher learning. So, to the class of 2010:

As I previously stated, you are extremely fortunate to have been given this opportunity. Don't blow it. Nothing but sheer serendipity has prevented you from growing up on the streets of Mumbai or somewhere in Albania.

I know it's going to be tough making those 8:30 classes, but do whatever it takes to not show up for Geology 101 wearing jammies and flip-flops, and carrying a bag of breakfast burritos.

Please don't treat the academic week as follows:
Monday night—study
Tuesday night—study
Wednesday night—study
Thursday night—time to celebrate a hard week of studying
Friday night—Friday night!
Saturday night—Saturday night!
Sunday night—last night to relax before the rough week ahead

If you ever take a road trip with some friends to, let's say, Corvallis, and you go to a party and pose for a group photo, don't flash an obscene gesture, no matter how anonymous you may feel at the time. I did this. The picture ended up in our yearbook. My mom saw it.

On the rare occasion where your parents pay a visit to your living quarters, give yourself more than five minutes to clean up and prepare. Otherwise, they'll notice stuff you don't want them to notice.

Keep exercising. Too many 11:30 calls to Domino's and cheap, all-you-can-eat buffets will catch up with you.

Don't date anyone with a mustache, especially a male. Don't ask me why. Just don't.

It's okay to wear your clothes twice before washing them. After that, however, you'll begin to assume the aroma of beef barley soup cooking in a stair well.

If someone hands you a ticket to a free movie screening starring Tom Cruise, read the fine print and make sure the following sequence of letters is not included on said ticket: S-C-I-E-N-T-O-L-O-G-Y

When you meet someone new, try really hard not to ask him or her what his or her major is. This phrase is a kissing cousin of "What's your sign?"

Call your parents, bring your friends home for the holidays and take classes in which you're interested.

And enjoy that flat stomach while you can.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A letter from my teenager...sort of

The following is a letter from my fifteen-year-old daughter to me, written

I'm really glad we just had the chance to spend the whole weekend together, even though I haven't told you. It's been really nice to go away someplace and remind you of the person I really am and always have been.

Remember yesterday morning, when Mom asked me to do my homework, just to get it over with, and I replied, "Mom. I just woke up. My brain's not fully developed"? These statements were each completely true. The only thing is, it's not like I just needed to be awake for a while in order for my brain to kick in. The fact is, this will not happen for a few years, so please be patient... really, really, really patient.

I'm a good kid. You tell me this all the time, but then you yell at me for doing things I don't mean to do, like leaving the front door wide open when I leave for school, or swinging my tennis racket in the house and knocking stuff over, or not refilling the toilet paper.

I'm still naive about a lot. Sure, I'm the size of a larger-than-average woman, but there's tons of stuff I still don't know. That's why, when I took the eye exam at Department of Licensing for my permit, I closed one eye and only read half the letters when I looked into that box. Dad, I'm not stupid; that's the way I've always done it at the doctor. I also wasn't previously aware that you have to be dead for them to use your organs. Come on, otherwise that would've been sick and wrong. I am now an organ donor.

It's nice that you tell me you understand what it's like to be a teenager, and I'm sure you truly believe you do—but you don't. If you did, you would comprehend the fact that texting is of utmost importance to my friends and me. I wish you could fathom the absolute necessity of my being available to provide feedback to my peers, 24/7.

I don't realize it yet, but I'm carefully observing the way you interact with Mom, my sister and me. It's a really good way for me to assess what a healthy male-female relationship involves when I'm ready for it. Oh, I've seen you screw up, many times. But I judge you by how you learn from your mistakes and how you deal with those whom you've hurt in the process. So keep trying, because I'm watching.

Remember, five years ago I was ten, and ten years ago I was five. I'm still a kid, and your more important to me now than you've ever been. I love you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I ♥ logos

I'm a sucker for logos. I love them. Always have.

In my opinion, logos are some of the purest forms of graphic design, and I'm constantly noticing and commenting on them, much to the chagrin of my family.

Logos are the window into the soul of an organization, and therefore, should not be underrated. Who isn't familiar with these pervasive symbols:

You can literally smell the trans fat and exploited child labor when viewing the above iconography.

And then, there are the logos which have evolved, some due to public outcry, such as the Syracuse University logo, where a savage cartoon character:

morphed into citrusy sex offender:

Or at Stanford University, where this hapless depiction of a Native American:

became an automotive air freshener:

Other institutions may want to take this lead, since, although their logos aren't offensive, they're simply ridiculous. I don't know how many times I've run for my life from a pissed off duck:

Or beaver:

And make sure you get the hell off of this guy's lawn:

Other logos have changed because the organizations public image is so tarnished that keeping the old identity would have drastically affected the bottom line. It makes sense to create a new handle for the same old mercenary group:

so that the public is too involved trying to pronounce the new name that it's distracted from its murderous ways:

And in the extreme, some logos make the greatest leap, traveling from:


Lastly, some logos fall within the "ironic" classification, such as:

Those lucky people are dropping like flies. And another brand of irony would be the logo of my high school alma mater, the "Trojans":

Our town experienced the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state. Maybe the school nurse could've handed out a few more "logos."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hurry up and read this.

In today's fast-paced world, sometimes we don't have time to delve into the story beyond the headline. We're constantly rushing off for that weekly mani/pedi appointment, that meeting with our attorney regarding the men's restroom misunderstanding, or to make sure the two-for-one special with lard-stuffed crust is still available.

We still thirst for the latest news, yet we can only digest the most concise synopses. And this is why I'm so thankful for publications like and, two websites which are clued in to my rigid time constraints. Judging by yesterday's posts, all we need is a headline:

Sexually dangerous inmates can be held indefinitely, high court says.
Okay, I'm definitely not sharp enough to be a Supreme Court justice, but I think I could've made this call with a black robe and one brain cell.

Low-performing Bellevue school likely to be closed.
This makes no sense to me. Just think if we eliminated the worst baseball team, person and Halloween candy, respectively. We'd be saying goodbye to the Seattle Mariners, Rush Limbaugh and Twizzlers.

Car thief says stealing cars a better high then meth.
I suppose that's true if they have to choose between the two, but it seems like most of these guys like to have their car and snort it, too.

Army recalls 44,000 combat helmets.
Wouldn't this be enough of a reason for the war judge to declare a mis-war and send everyone home?

New Miss USA may lose her crown for stripper pole pictures.
We definitely wouldn't want to tarnish the pristine image of the Miss USA pageant, where the only difference between the swimsuit competition and pole dancing is the pole.

MIT's proposed jet could cut fuel use by seventy percent.
This sounds great, as long as that massive rubber band doesn't break.

Artificial insemination: Is it for you?
Definitely not. And I would call it more accidental than artificial.

See what I mean? All we need is a headline.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Am I cool? Guilty.

What truly is cool? Is the term ,"cool," an absolute, or is it, in fact, in the eye of the beholder?

Well, this is your lucky day, because I've got the answer. Cool is an absolute, and fortunately, I needed to investigate no further than my own basement to find such a solution. Cool is something we either have...or we don't.

Let's begin.

There's "so little, you don't know what the term means" cool:

And then there's "kindergarten turtle neck" cool:

There's "brooding, iconic, sports figure" cool, because only the hippest, coolest athletes can successfully rock vertically striped socks:

And of course, you've got "pointy-collared" cool, which obviously stands the test of time:

There's "I'm so cool, I don't even care that I've got more zits than Idaho has Nazis" cool:

And it's no coincidence that "cool" begins with the same letter as "camel toe":

And who isn't familiar with guys who are so cool, they don't mind standing in front of the same butterfly that's on most tampon boxes:

I realize I'm really blessed to have never had an awkward, uncool phase in my life, and I hope no one who reads this feels any pangs of jealousy. Sometimes I wish I could be different, but one thing's for sure:

You can run from cool, but you can't hide.

Friday, May 14, 2010

You're driving me crazy. When are you coming home again?

Families tend to assume the form and function of businesses, and mine is no exception.

Viewed through corporate-colored spectacles, my wife would be considered the CEO and Secretary and I, the President and Lead Custodian, while my ten-year-old daughter would be the Controller.

This leaves my  fifteen-year-old daughter assuming the duties of Vice President of Public Relations. It is not a nine-to-five position. Constant vigilance must be devoted to how the company, and most notably the VP of PR, is perceived by the earth's population, and she must closely monitor her subordinates in the departments of Potential Public Embarrassment and Awkwardness.

As fate would have it, the Controller will be leaving today for a weekend girl scout camping trip. Although she performs vital functions, her absence can also prove healthy for the rest of the company, as tonight the President and CEO will be attending an off-site team building exercise, also known as date night.

I'll stop the analogies now.

Like most parents, my wife and I don't spend nearly enough time just hanging out together—just spending a couple of leisurely hours per week not devoted to planning, cleaning, organizing or reprimanding a child. Routines can be such an overwhelming portion of each day, mostly because routines are efficient, and efficiency creates time to perform additional routines.

After temporarily exiting the circus big top that is parenthood, it doesn't take long to again notice that, hey, we still have fun together. We may not have the occasion to spontaneously hop in the car and drive up to Canada for the weekend, but an afternoon at the local bistro can go a long way. Sure, the main topic of conversation is usually our children, but at least the kids aren't present to say, "I know you're talking about me. Stop talking about me. What do you mean you're not talking about me? Why aren't you talking about me?"

But, inevitably, once they've been away for an entire night, an ache slowly builds, and I begin to miss their agonizing ways. I'm again ready to grind my heel into a cheese goldfish, to lift cushions in search of the phone or to again utilize the couch as nice, cushy storage for dirty socks, backpacks and tennis rackets.

It's time for the the company executives to return.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dancing with myself

One of Seattle's local schools, Vashon High School, has announced that their 2010 senior prom has been canceled. A school official sited lack of interest, as well as controversy over student "freak dancing" as reasons for pulling the plug. Less than fifty kids had purchased tickets.

What a shame it is to cancel senior prom. I don't think these students realize what a rare beast a school dance is, what a ritual of passage it can be for students of all ages and what an extinct opportunity it will prove to have become during their adult lives.

I will remember my first school dance until my dying day. I attended Olympic Junior High in Auburn, Washington, and the school held three major "night-time" dances per year, as well as numerous "sock hops" after school. During that fall of 1975, the first such hop was scheduled for immediately after school on a Friday afternoon in September.

It was the beginning of my seventh grade year, the first year in a non-elementary school setting—in other words, the big time. We had been given ample notice about this dance, and I was petrified about it, given my ample girth and the thought of some sweet, young girl watching it quiver rhythmically from two feet away.

The night before the event, my dad had graciously driven me to the local clothing store, Rottles, where we'd purchased a fresh pair of Lee wide leg jeans, a silkish shirt and some new socks (it was, after all, a sock hop). I returned home with my new purchases, walked straight into my bedroom and shut the door.

The new duds looked relatively good on my portly body as I posed in front of the mirror, yet I couldn't decide what to do with the shirt. Tuck it in? Nope. My gut hangs over. Tuck it out? No way. It totally covers my butt so I look like Florence Henderson in a pantsuit. Since I had never danced before, I carefully watched myself as I tried a few of the moves I'd seen on American Bandstand. This didn't help my all. Only my feet moved in spastic gyrations.

I wore the pantsuit to school the next day, my insides churning with the notion that I'd soon be embarrassing myself in front of the whole school. I toyed with the notion of ducking out at the last minute and taking the bus home, until she walked up.

"Hi, are you going to the dance after school?" It was Renee. She was in my math class and also the unsuspecting future mother of my children.

"Yeahhhh." My spleen throbbed.

The day crawled along until the final bell rang out, signaling the beginning of the end of my life. I tentatively shuffled into the dark gym to the sound of "Ballroom Blitz," removed my hiking boots and
set up camp in a dark corner of the room. "This works," I thought. "I'll just stay here, maybe for the whole time. Yeah, that's what I'll do."

"Hi, Tim. Wanna dance?" My head whip lashed to the left. She wasn't Renee, but she was a friend of my older sister's...and she was a ninth grader and she was a goddess.

"Okay," I barely muttered through my pinched throat. Every muscle in my body had clinched to near spasmic levels. She towered over me as she led me to the center of the gym, her long, dark hair nearly caressing the tops of her tight bell bottoms. I felt the heat of my colleagues' stares as the Amazon and I established our positions.

She glided effortlessly to the beat of something by Aerosmith, while I abandoned every move I had rehearsed, opting to focus on sucking in my gut. I'm not sure if I moved as much as swayed, but it didn't matter, as I felt the weight of a silverback gorilla hop off my shoulders and out of the multi-purpose room.

The song ended. "Thanks." She smiled as she turned and disappeared into the darkness, the fleeting aroma of her Love's Baby Soft lingering in my nostrils.

"Oh, no, thank you," I thought, as I returned to a group of my cronies, sliding victoriously on that new pair of tube socks.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't like Mondays? Hmmm.

Nothing conjures up that negative, blue side of our dispositions like a Monday. It's been immortalized in song over the years, and not in a good way. The Bangles sang that it's Just Another Manic Monday, while in Monday, Monday, the Mamas and the Papas summed up the mood in a tone so melancholy that we all should steer clear of sharp objects, bridges and bottles of valium while listening to it.

And who can forget I Don't Like Mondays, the Boomtown Rats' true ballad of a 16-year-old girl who shot randomly into an elementary schoolyard across the street from her house, killing two and wounding eight. When asked why she'd committed such a horrific act, she replied, "I just did it for the fun of it. I don't like Mondays." Apparently.

Our Monday morning today in Seattle is the epitome of a blue Monday: a dank, rainy follow-up to a brilliant pair of 70-degree weekend days. Since today is perfect fodder for that damp blanket of bum-outedness, I'm going to attempt to spin this whole most-depressing-day thing on its ear. So, here we go.

Since I'm an average American guy, my life span is expected to be 75.2 years, or 27,448 days. Doesn't seem like that many days, does it? If we truly despise each and every Monday of our lives, that eliminates 3,921 days, or 10.75 years, from our lives. That would put my "quality" lifespan at 64.5 years. Whoa.

Taken to the extreme, let's assume, as Loverboy once said, that everybody's Workin' for the Weekend. This would imply that our quality lifespan now consists only of Fridays, Saturdays, and most of Sundays (Sunday nights are part of the work week, in my opinion.) Now, a guy my age would enjoy himself only 3/7 of the time, which is a mere 11,763 days, or 32.2 years.

Talk about depressing. I don't know about you, but 32 years of quality time doesn't quite cut if for me. So come on. Let's grab this Monday, and every other day of the week, by the horns. If we don't, we're allowing ourselves the lifespan of someone who grabbed the woolly mammoth by the horns.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Teachers, this one's for you

Seriously, I don't know how they do it. All day long. 180 days a year.

Today marks the conclusion of Teacher Appreciation Week, and I'd like to use this opportunity to appreciate teachers on a personal level.

Like I said, I'm not sure how they do it, but those in the education profession emit some kind of "Teacher Doppler," waves of energy that command respect and the use of common sense and courtesy. They make us think that our epiphany about long division is the result of some divine intervention, when in fact, the instructor's patient tutoring is the source of our learning breakthroughs.

If teachers actually wore hats, they'd have to keep a stack of them in their closet (that place a lot of us thought they lived after we all went home). Throughout the school day, he or she would walk over to the closet, take off the parent hat, and don the counselor hat. But wait! Time for a hasty change to the enforcer hat, since that kid Dennis just gave Wayne a wedgie. And now that Dennis has gone to the office, it's time for the cap of compassion.

I'll bet each of us possesses a memory of a defining moment with a teacher, an incident which left an indelible mark on our lives and the type of people we grew to become. One day in second grade, my reading group sat in a circle in the back of the classroom. We were involved in a really interesting conversation about a book, but I'd had to relieve myself for quite some time. I strained to wait until our discussion was concluded, since school would be adjourning in about ten minutes. Unfortunately, my bladder reached critical mass all-too-quickly and I had an accident while sitting in my chair. I asked if I could use the restroom, and my teacher said yes, but the damage was done.

I stood in the lavatory, completely humiliated. I lingered in there until the bell rang, ending school for the day, and then returned to my classroom. My teacher's eyes betrayed a look of empathy and kindness as she said, "Come one. I'll take you home. It's okay...everyone has accidents." She drove me to my house, had a quick, discreet conversation with my mom and drove off. She must have also spoken to the class that day, because I heard nary a word about my mishap from any of my classmates.

I hope she doesn't mind, but I'm going name my second grade teacher. Barbara Mielke, I'll never forget how much you helped me on what remains the most embarrassing day of my life.

So here's to you, teachers in my life: My mom, Peggy, my dad, Lionel, my sister, Ann, my wife, Terri, and friends Michelle and Larry and Karen and Kathy and Chris and Elizabeth and Bryan.

And can I borrow a pencil?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Today's top ten career choices: easy money

Future career options are frequent topics of conversation between my daughters and me.

I remember constantly revising my future vocation as a ten-year-old, vacillating from NASA scientist to talk show host to orthodontist. My ten-year-old daughter is no different, as she has recently updated her choice from bartender to fashion designer/cake decorator/stay-at-home mom.

I'm sure a lot of us have read or heard about how tight the job market is for recent college graduates, so I decided to do a little research. I found this piece in U.S. News and World Report, regarding the most desirable careers for 2009. Criteria included pay, job satisfaction and demand. Here are the top ten:

1) Audiologist—I know absolutely nothing about this, but it definitely sounds cool. Back in my single days, what I wouldn't have given to approach some babe at the TGI Fridays around 1:30 AM and say, "Hi, I'm Tim. What do I do for a living? Glad you asked. I'm an audiologist with Audiological Associates of Anaheim, and I specialize in the detection of audiological pseudohypoacusis. Want to get some breakfast?"

2) Biomedical Equipment Technician—This sounds fairly simple. It probably concerns tasks like restocking that huge tissue paper roll at the foot of the exam table. You know...that thin layer of parchment for which your hospital gown parts.

3) Clergy—This would also be a slam dunk. All you have to do is buy a helmet-like, gray man wig and sit on a throne-type chair, while your clownish wife in her gunny sack dress sobs and begs old people for their social security checks. This can be accomplished with traditional television or YouTube.

4) Curriculum/Training Specialist—Fun. You just walk into, for example, a workplace lunchroom and say, "The English Muffin setting is here. Bagels, right here. Everything else, use this one. If anything comes out charred and black, you've toasted it too long. Okay, I'm going to get some Dim Sum. Peace out."

5) Engineer—What a blast, especially if I get to lean out the window of the locomotive, wave to kids and wear that special hat.

6) Genetic Counselor—Another unchallenging, yet apparently appealing, career. All you have to do is say, "Hi, come one in. Have a seat. Well, it appears that what we suspected is've got genes and so does your husband. Go ahead and see Blanche on the way out for your next appointment."

7) Ghostwriter—I would love to do this one. In fact, if anyone out there wants me to ghost write their book, I'll do it for a six-pack of I.P.A. and two tickets to see Night Ranger at The Royal Fork Buffet.

8) Government Manager—one word: oxymoron.

9) Hair Stylist/Cosmetologist—I have too many friends who perform this job, so I'm not going to skewer it. Plus, it's difficult on the back and requires a creative approach, combined with customer-service capabilities. Love you guys.

10) Health Policy Specialist— I love how the word, "Specialist" is tacked onto a lot of job titles. I guess the rest of us are merely "Averagists."

Hopefully, these careers will still be around when my ten-year-old is out job hunting. If not, I guess I'd better clear out the spare room for potential cake making, fashion designing and child raising.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Of all the insulting, disrespectful...

"I've never been so pissed off in my life." Reynolds Portman IV cranked the wheel of the Jaguar XJ13 hard as they ascended the steep, winding road.

"The nerve of those people, asking for proof of our membership." Constance "Connie" Portman, his wife of seventeen months, adjusted the temperature of her heated leather seat.

"Connie, this is obviously a rhetorical question, but I'll ask it anyway." Reynolds' gin blossoms glowed with ire; his pores contracted like clam pits. "Who in his right mind isn't fully aware that the Portmans landed in this country on the Mayflower, that the Portman Trading Company was the first supplier of fine spirits to the native Americans?" The car rolled slowly under the receding garage door and came to a stop.

"Well, sugar angel, we were both aware of the new rule at the club." Connie's Manolo Blahniks clacked hard on the smooth pavement as she stepped past Carlos, who had opened her door. "We're now required to produce our legacy paperwork when requested, or we're not allowed inside."

"I know, I know, but it's utterly absurd, Con Con. Am I supposed to carry around a notarized copy of my family tree every time I feel like taking in nine holes of golf? It's insulting and disrespectful. I feel like I was profiled today simply for wearing an obvious off-the-rack blazer."

"Come on, love. Let's just go inside and cool down. I'll tell Maria to bring a pitcher of martinis out to the pool area. By the way, have you paid the staff yet this week?"

"Oh, I guess I haven't," Reynolds replied. "There are some envelopes of cash in the freezer. If anyone complains about the amount, just tell them they can be"

"Yes, of course." Constance disappeared into the main kitchen.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The demise of the American newspaper

Apparently, I'm a dinosaur.

Not this kind.

Not this kind (except maybe last week at work).

And definitely not this kind, since some adults like me.

I'm also not the type of dinosaur which many people believe Adam and Eve rode three thousand years ago.

Nope. I'm a Sunday-morning-newspaper-reading dinosaur. One of the greatest pleasures of the week, from my 47-year-old perspective, is pulling back the handle on the front door, gingerly bending over and lifting that dewy, cellophane-wrapped weekly rag into my waiting embrace.

The headline can always be read through the plastic and above the fold, so the perusal begins even before I pull up a chair at the dining room table and set a steaming cup of life-sustaining brown magic in front of me, thereby establishing a small reading and drinking command center.

First I read the front page, but usually just for the headlines and summaries; I don't normally delve past page A1, because the sports sections beckons far too strongly. After spending about fifteen minutes and the first cup of joe on the sports, it's time to move on to local news. By now, the caffeine has provided enough of a bump to sufficiently gird my loins for the the fires, murders, robberies and other unfortunate events which have happened overnight in my own backyard. Occasionally, someone famous has gotten a DUI, so that's always worth investigating.

And all of this before checking the Facebooks.

Last week I conducted an informal survey of my coworkers, regarding which of them indulges him- or herself in the Sunday paper. I was surprised, yet not surprised. Since the closest person to my age is nine years my junior, they are technically of a different generation, one which doesn't read newspapers.

It's no coincidence why local papers are folding (pun intended) at such a rapid rate. Newspapers are expensive to print and distribute, and by the time they reach the reader, the news is often obsolete. The kids simply aren't reading them because they're joined at the hip by a personal data device 24/7.

Although the demise of the American newspaper is a natural consequence of technological advances, to this old guy, it's a sad harbinger. I'm a newspaper pack rat; I've saved front pages from many historical events, such as the moon landing, Nixon's resignation, the Seattle Supersonics 1979 NBA title, Barrack Obama's election.

It's hard to imagine seeing a historical headline on, printing it out on 8.5" x 11" copier paper and filing it away in the basement with the other yellowing newsprint. There's something about a 96-point, Helevetica Bold headline that puts anything else to shame.