Showing posts from March, 2013

Taking Easter Out of Easter Egg Hunts

"I just don't get it, Kid," said Karl. "How the hell do you take Easter out of an Easter egg hunt?"

Are we still talking about that thing in Seattle? I said.

"Yeah, $#@&! Seattle," growled Karl. "The blasted parks and rec department wants to be inclusive of everyone and so they take out the word Easter from their Easter egg hunt, and think that magically makes everything all better."

We were sitting in First Editions, our favorite literary-themed bar, watching a friend read from her novel-in-progress about Dizzy Gillespie's wife, Lorraine Willis Gillespie.

Well, you have to admit, having a Christian-only holiday celebration does leave out other people who might want to participate, I said.

"So let 'em participate. No one's stopping them." Karl plonked his beer mug on the bar. Our friend looked up, startled at the noise, but continued reading. She had gotten to the part where Dizzy had tried to cut Cab Calloway with …

U.S. Teens Need Better History Education

Erik has been sick this week, so we are reprinting a column from 2001, which only seems like a few years ago.

Parents, educators, and humor writers across the country were shocked and amazed several years ago when we discovered that American high school students were seriously deficient in simple geography. That's when the now-famous statistic "one in four high school students can't identify Canada on a map" was bandied about like a ping-pong ball in a wind tunnel.

Now we're pretending to be shocked — but we're not really that surprised — by news out of Norfolk, Virginia that American teenagers are equally as bad at simple American history.

Colonial Williamsburg, a living history community dedicated to educating people about life in America in the 1700s, polled 1,020 US teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 on basic fourth-grade level history questions.

What they found may shock you. But then again, if you have a teenager between the ages of 12 and 17, it p…

Students Suspended for Disarming Gunman

In all my years of writing about school administrators who suspend students for the dumbest reasons known to man — a teenager holding an ibuprofen; making a gun with a finger and thumb; or, having a replica baseball bat in a car — this case may actually take the cake.

Last month, an unnamed 16-year-old Cypress Lake High student in Fort Myers, Florida was involved in an altercation on the bus when student Quadryle Davis pointed a loaded revolver at another student and threatened to shoot him. Our 16-year-old wrestled Davis to the floor and took the gun away from him. The kid believed Davis was going to shoot the other student, so he jumped on Davis, saving the other boy's life.

And got suspended for it.

In fact, there were three students who tackled Davis and they were all suspended.

According to a story on, the student's referral slip said he received an "emergency suspension" because he was involved with an "incident with a weapon." That's…

How Bananas Turn Brown

My family doesn't like brown bananas. They prefer the bright yellow ones with a slight greenish tinge. The kind where they're still bitter because they're not yet ripe.

I'm the only one who likes brown bananas. Not icky brown, when they're completely mushy, but when they start getting their spots. Like a leopard.

"Bananas are not like leopards," said my son. At age ten, he usually believes everything I tell him, but he wasn't buying this one.

"Sure they are," I said. "Bananas are like leopards. When they're born, they don't have any spots. They're smooth and brown, kind of orange. But as they get older — and this all happens within a few hours after they're first exposed to sunlight — their spots begin to emerge."

"Daddy, I don't think that's how leopards work."

"Sure it is. They kind of work like fawns, only in reverse. When a fawn is born, they have spots."

"What's a fawn?"…

Indiana Is NOT 2nd Most Depressing State

"Kid, I don't think I can take it any more," said Karl, closing his eyes and running a hand through his hair.

But we were having a good time, and now you're tired of it?

"No, not you, this," he said, waving an arm at the room.

What, you mean First Edition? Was Kurt watering down the rum again? We were sitting in the literary themed bar for Manly Mojito Night, celebrating Papa Hemingway's favorite drink, and lying to each other about our current book projects.

Karl shot me a look that somehow incorporated a middle finger without him ever raising a hand. "No, Indiana. I'm just so damn. . . tired. This place is depressing."

But you're one of Indiana's biggest supporters. You talk constantly about state trivia, you sent your kids to IU, and you've named your last three dogs 'Hoosier.'

"I know, Kid, I know. But I've been here for 64 years, and I'm getting tired of the cold, gray winters."

What brought all t…