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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.