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When I worked at my late uncle’s junkyard during junior high school, one of the regular customers (a crusty coot who resembled a cantankerous Roy Rogers sidekick wannabe) assured us that he luxuriated in a steaming bathtub each and every night.
In mid-1971, I experienced a most distressing visit to the dentist.
Early on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was a newly minted warehouse supervisor for a farmers cooperative.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the fledgling online gambling industry is poised to explode in popularity.
According to CNN, pandemic fears and enhanced unemployment benefits have left the nation facing a serious shortage of qualified school bus drivers.
The Tyree family recently took advantage of our state’s eagerly anticipated annual sales tax holiday on school supplies, clothing and electronics.
A 1986 Pantene commercial carried the tagline “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful.”
While in Santa Claus, Indiana to cool off at Holiday World, the Tyree family took a side trip to tour the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in nearby Lincoln City.
My family took the easy way out – again.
Life is returning to normal. But where dental health is concerned, normal may not be good enough.
“You load 16 tons and what do you get? Disability payments and not a Corvette.” – with apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford.
If some retro prankster had asked me a week ago, “Is your refrigerator running?,” my reply would have been, “It’s complicated.”
My new supervisor anticipates being a first-time father in a few months.
Prospects of a long, hot summer bring pet peeves to the surface.
Five years ago, in conjunction with my 25th wedding anniversary, I was halfway finished writing a 40,000-word book of hard-won marriage wisdom.
With the school year ending and the economy slowly reopening, let’s reminisce about the illustrious history of summer jobs.
By the time most of you read this, my son Gideon will have marched across the gymnasium floor and received his high school diploma.
Misery loves company, but it’s cold comfort that many of you – like me – still haven’t filed your 2020 income tax returns.
As graduation looms, my son Gideon has been named both salutatorian and Wittiest Boy of the Cornersville (TN) High School Class of 2021.
Tree huggers, are you contemplating a Zoom meeting with Mr. Elm instead?
My wife and I would never have met, except that her family fled a densely populated state when she was 11.
There was certainly nothing trivial about the events of that first Easter Sunday, but that hasn’t stopped magazines from cranking out baskets of Easter trivia year after year.
First off, Louis Armstrong was right about it being a wonderful world. And I realize many people suffer far worse troubles than mine.
Sure, it made the rounds of the “News of the Weird” columns when a Nashville businessman left $5 million in a trust fund for his beloved border collie Lulu.
The company has become increasingly desperate to cajole us into getting the repair done.
Whether you read these words before or after Presidents’ Day 2021, be advised that I’m already thinking ahead to Presidents’ Day 2071.
Although the bar has been set remarkably low during some epochs (“Dearest, you’ve survived to produce seven more viable male heirs than my second wife”), society has always expected couples to use terms of endearment to grease the wheels of their relationships.
There’s no middle ground with middle names.
It has been a bittersweet experience seeing the mailbox flooded with college recruiting brochures addressed to my son Gideon.
Reminiscing with one of my mother’s photo albums, I encountered a snapshot of a long-deceased neighbor (a dear, sweet man) who is still summed up by the phrase “He never met a stranger.”
My son Gideon certainly had a high-octane understanding of the THEORY of driving last winter.
I spent Monday nights in the fall of 1975 breathlessly watching my favorite TV show. And I do mean breathlessly.
In case you (expletives deleted) missed the marketing campaign, on January 5 the noble public servants at Netflix will launch a six-episode series, “History of Swear Words,” hosted by actor Nicholas Cage.
“Hello. I’m Grandpa.” For Christmas 50 years ago, my parents splurged and bought me a compact reel-to-reel tape recorder.
I must confess that I haven’t attended a symphony orchestra performance since a long-ago elementary school field trip.
We all know Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf,” but the man carries a well-stocked bag of regrets.
It may be the sort of birthday where someone shouts, “50 candles blazing on the cake?
As your host, I have gathered a cornucopia of genuine Thanksgiving trivia, thanks to “Good Housekeeping” magazine and other sources.
I was trying to clear the cobwebs from my mind, and all I could find was random thoughts about Halloween (a.k.a. Hallowe’en, a.k.a. Allhalloween, a.k.a. All Hallow’s Eve, a.k.a. All Saints’ Eve, a.k.a. the Holiday That Is Bankrupting the Federal Witness Protection Program).
When I was a carefree lad watching “Lost in Space,” the Robinson family’s high-tech hydroponic garden sounded neat.
This is a year of double milestones: my mother’s house turns 75 and (as of Oct. 30) she will have been living there for 50 years.
My electronic key fob is putting more mileage on ME than on the car.
Ironically enough, I did not sleep PEACEFULLY last night, because I was concerned about taking the wrong tone with this column about the iconic singer/songwriter/musician and anti-war activist who wrote “Give Peace A Chance.”
“The first thing we do, let’s reboot all the lawyers.”
My first knowledge of the War in the Pacific probably came from then-new episodes of “McHale’s Navy” and the 20-year-old “Made in Occupied Japan” dishware that my mother collected.
Much of the nation is experiencing a prolonged heat wave, so of course your humble columnist counterintuitively conjures up WARM MEMORIES to comfort himself.
Speaking as a father (“What – am I made of money? Go ask your mother! When you have your own roof, you can make your own rules! No, my abs aren’t flabby, they’re just meditating…”)
One of my biggest pet peeves: people who can’t hold up their end of a conversation.
There are exceptions to every rule, but in general, decade by decade, people grow more mature, stable and mellow as they age.
“Never in history has such ruination – physical and moral – been associated with the name of one man.” – Sir Ian Kershaw, English historian.
The recent death of actor James Drury (star of the 1962-1971 TV Western “The Virginian”) adds insult to injury when one considers what will occur next month.
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” – C.S. Lewis
Since “Playboy” recently published its final print issue, and since I’m reading a biography of publishing magnate Conde Nast on my tablet, I felt it appropriate to share my misgivings about magazines.
Not that you were so brazen as to ask, but one of my greatest sources of pride as an old, happily married man is that I always managed to resist the siren call of premarital sex.
The recent New York Times article “The Struggle to Mend America’s Rural Roads” used Wisconsin as a microcosm for the infrastructure crisis that either directly or indirectly affects all Americans.
I was nearly a decade late, but, yes, I finally summoned my intestinal fortitude and underwent a colonoscopy.
I hope the document remains locked away unused for many years, but my brother and I finally got around to meeting with a lawyer and helping our mother make out her last will and testament.
I sit typing this column on the 20th anniversary of the massive heart attack that took the life of my father, and “middlebrow” is one of the words that pops into my mind when remembering Dad.
Readers of fine newspapers may recall that last July I unleashed a tirade titled “Slow drivers: are they driving you insane?”
Just because a mentor starts unconsciously humming Motown tunes during a heart-to-heart talk with you about temptations, that doesn’t mean his advice is irrelevant.
Did you realize that Jan. 19 marks the 100th birthday of that indefatigable advocacy group the American Civil Liberties Union?
Do I owe someone an apology for not taking a more active role in the iconic cultural, technological and political developments of the 2010s?
Most of my Christmases have become hopelessly blurred together, but Christmas 1969 holds a special place in my heart.
If you’re tired of running around in circles to find a Christmas gift for the dog lovers on your list, I know just the thing for you to fetch.
Maybe it’s because my first viewing of “Rudolph” occurred when I was four years old and my first viewing of “Frosty the Snowman” happened when I was a worldly wise nine-year-old, but I’ve always been extra cynical about Frosty.
With festive turkey-based feasts fast approaching, and having just re-watched a classic Thanksgiving-themed Steve Martin video, I thought it appropriate that I share a few of the things for which I am thankful.
My extended family has suffered more than its fair share of dental issues in 2019.
Has the traditional workday become an interminable torture for both you and your boss?
The words weren’t aimed directly at me, but I was recently flummoxed by an unexpected undercurrent of animosity.
I’m not proud of it, but I haven’t visited the now-disheveled cemetery on the hillside behind my late father’s childhood home in more than 40 years.
Remember when big news meant scientific breakthroughs, assassinations and economic meltdowns?
Are you more familiar with the little trees hanging from your rearview mirror than the trees in your own yard?
With alarming frequency, my wife and I are engrossed in a movie or TV drama only to find the characters plunged into an interminable shadowy scene with some sort of nebulous pandemonium breaking loose.
What can you say about the eavesdropper wannabes who sigh, “I wish I could be a fly on the wall for that conversation”?
“If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a perfect kid. And six of ‘em, yecch!”
“I wanna be Bobby’s girl. I wanna be Bobby’s girl. That’s the most important thing to me.” – as sung by Marcie Blane in 1962.
Do you long for the days when the only outbursts our delicate ears had to worry about were the Z word (“Zoinks!”) and the J word (“Jinkies!”)?
On a Sunday afternoon fishing trip with my little brother and late father, I caught 15 fish at the lake in Lewisburg, Tennessee.
“Took away our native tongue/And taught their English to our young...” – from “Indian Reservation,” by John D. Loudermilk.
For various reasons, my graduating class has seen two milestone anniversaries sail by without a class reunion materializing.
I'm a big softie when it comes to children's books. I remember my first library card (TWO trips to the library that glorious day!), and my held-together-with-duct-tape childhood copy of Little Golden Book "Danny Beaver's Secret" (sits proudly on my writing desk.)
“What to buy (and not to buy) at the dollar store,” blared the headline for a Washington Post analysis of retail chains such as Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only.
I feared that the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing might get eclipsed by other celebrations (the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the 10th anniversary of financier Jeffrey Epstein’s latest girlfriend learning to tie her shoes, etc.), but apparently the sky is the limit for Apollo 11 remembrances.
Sure, when my family goes on vacation, the predictable frustrations include getting the SUV tuned up, packing clothes and toiletries, fighting traffic and encountering outrageous souvenir/restaurant/theme park prices.
“This is the time to remember, ‘cause it will not last forever.” – Billy Joel
Twenty years ago this June, when my father’s youngest sister Gwendol passed away, I glanced over at dad during the funeral and thought, “He looks as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.”
Companies are springing up to offer package deals that are almost exactly like traditional two-person weddings.
After I started working at a convenience market during high school, it irked me when the boss stood at the back of the store and presumed to judge my productivity solely by the rhythm of the cash register.
So, thanks to the recent arrival of baby Carter, our niece Emma will be celebrating Mother’s Day as a mother for the first time.
The tragic fire that engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral compels me to write about services that we take for granted, right up until the moment we suddenly need them ourselves.
Trivia buffs know that singer Jerry Lee Lewis's career was nearly destroyed when the public learned that his third wife was his 13-year-old cousin.
Author Harlan Ellison once dropped me a postcard remarking that my mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."
Cash is king – but here comes the guillotine!
I'm seldom late to supper, but I am sometimes late to a topic.
On a recent Saturday evening, I had the pleasure of picking up my son after his chess tournament.
Although my family recently watched the 1943 “Lassie, Come Home” on TV, we haven’t seen the “in theaters now!” movie “A Dog’s Way Home” yet.
It’s time to brush up on your knowledge of speakeasies, bathtub gin, demon rum, homebrew, bootlegging and other icons of the Roaring Twenties.
Okay, maybe it’s a little misleading for me to headline a column “Celebrities We’ll Lose In 2019.”
Sentimental fool that I am, a recent change in my son’s extracurricular activities was like an early Christmas gift.
A Merry Christmas was desperately needed in 1968.
Does your workplace have a tradition of employees giving a Christmas gift (er, holiday gift...um, scrupulously secular seasonal transfer of goods) to the boss?
My lunch got off to a bad start on Nov. 12 because of the news bulletin that rattled my phone.
This year I can’t think of Thanksgiving without thinking of Barry Manilow’s melancholy song “Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again.”
I don’t think the average American military veteran has the time or the temperament to spend 51 weeks a year asking such a question, but a reasonable person could hardly blame him if he did.
Did you realize that November 24 marks the 100th birthday of the venerable (and still-published) comic strip “Gasoline Alley”?
My son Gideon will not be trick-or-treating this year. It’s not because of any fear of ghosties and ghoulies, mind you. We decided last year that his advancing age meant 2017 would be the last hurrah for the door-to-door begging.
Maybe I shouldn’t share something so personal with the world, but...my love affair with books continues unabated.
Folks who go to a rage room on a lark don’t worry me. But is it wise to have the hotheads who really, really NEED a rage room driving through heavy traffic to get there?
Shaving is mind-numbingly boring, and you can’t even employ the coping mechanisms you use elsewhere in life. You can’t exactly tell your chin, “Yes, dear. No, dear. Is that right? Only seven more shades of mauve to try on?”
As a college freshman in the fall of 1978, I spent countless evenings camped near the TV in the dorm lobby. And why not? Three freshman sitcoms offered a ray of sunshine in the cultural malaise.
Today’s workers have more options than the parents of the Baby Boomers did. The miraculous internet makes it easier to track down jobs closer to home, or even work from home – assuming you haven’t signed over your home to a Nigerian widow.
It’s a drastically different world than when I was working a summertime job during college.
According to NBC News, the travel industry’s latest trend is the “nacation.”
Nonverbal cues ain’t what they used to be.
Yes, a combination of laziness, ignorance, cheapness and orneriness can make some people a nuisance to the general public and a genuine hazard to their “fur babies” ... Treat your pets right and you’ll have unconditional love for years to come – both at home and while traveling.
As a keen observer of social trends (and a keen observer of which slowpokes I can wiggle ahead of in an all-you-can-eat buffet line), I couldn’t resist reading the New York Times article headlined “San Francisco Restaurants Can’t Afford Waiters. So They’re Putting Diners to Work.”
I’m looking forward to another professionally orchestrated fireworks display at our municipal recreation center this Independence Day, but nothing can quite match my childhood memories of backyard fireworks extravaganzas with barely any adult supervision.
According to the Washington Post, at some universities, nearly 50 percent of first-year students have already screened and selected a roommate before moving into a dorm.
For your least-favorite local eatery, the headline “Grease Turns 40” might elicit chuckles of “I TOLD you those bribes to the health inspector would pay off. But for cinema fans, it means the top-grossing movie of 1978 is back in the spotlight.
My son thought I was kidding him, but I really am writing about the LIGHTER SIDE of the 20th anniversary of being downsized out of my previous “day job.”
The final indignity is that the friends of retired vacationers can’t remember what the traveler needed a vacation from – and the co-workers of pre-retirees like me can’t remember how they ever got along without the new guy who was hired in the vacationer’s absence.
My mother sometimes answers the phone that way, when she has reached her limit of political bickering, Hollywood scandals, televised terrorist acts and heard-it-through-the-grapevine rumors about the terminal illnesses of acquaintances.
The fact that the U.S. unemployment rate is at a 17-year low does have a downside. (And not just the downside of our being unable to escape hearing Hillary moan, “Now the Electoral College will NEVER call me back and apologize for delaying my ascendancy over the deplorables!”)
“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” – Henry David Thoreau.