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Showing posts from June, 2013

Happy Birthday, You Old Geezer

Congress needs to pass a law that we all get to take our birthday off work. You get to lounge around the house, visit your favorite coffee shop or tavern, and treat yourself to a special day. If your birthday falls on the weekend, you get to take the Friday before.

For me, it's the most special day to me in my entire existence, because — to paraphrase Brooke Shields — "if you don't have a birthday, then you have lost a very important part of your life."

So, on my birthday, June 27, I take the day off every year to celebrate it and pamper myself. This year, I'm going to read and enjoy a quiet coffee at my favorite coffee shop, have another coffee with my daughter, and then get a massage, thanks to an early birthday present from my mother-in law.

Mind you, I was given a gift card for the massage. I am NOT receiving a massage from my mother-in-law.

This year, I turned 46 at the stroke of midnight when Wednesday, June 26 became Thursday, June 27, 2013. And not just b…

The Commencement Speech I'll Never Give

Thank you, students, faculty, administrators, and parents.

It's a proud moment for me, giving advice to a group of college graduates to guide you as you make your way in the world, or at least not put you to sleep.

I had never heard of North Dakota Polytechnic Institute until your president called me, offering 50 bucks and a Greyhound bus ticket, and the promise of the return ticket home if I could get through this speech without swearing.

So here is my useful advice to you, the summer graduating class of 2013.

Developmental experts believe your mid-20s are the last time your brain will undergo major developmental growth. Just like the developmental leaps you made as a toddler learning to talk, and as a teenager going through puberty, you have one more stage of development that will occur over the next few years. This means something very important:

Your twenties are not an extended adolescence.

This is not the time to "find yourself." Or to work in a coffee shop so you …

Erik's 16 Commandment of Garage Workshops

Last week, after publishing my column "Erik's Commandments of Fishing," working on a recent woodworking project, and realizing that my family is getting a little too lackadaisical and free wheeling about how they use my garage workshop, and I decided to create this: Erik's 16 Commandments of Garage Workshops.

I'm going to carve these into a large slab of wood and hang them on my wall. Assuming I can find any room among all the hammers, chisels, and saw blades.

1. Useth not mine tools, unless thou returneth them to their exact same location, precisely as they had been found. Leaveth not mine tools outside where morning dew may cause them to rust or they may be stolen by raccoons that want to break into yon trash cans.

2. The fact that I have not returnethed mine tools to their exact same location is unimportant. I am in the middle of an important project, and I must be able to find them where I left them.

3. The garage is not messy. I am in the middle of organizing…

Ohio Musician Susan Wojnar Releases New Songs

In all my years of reviewing CDs for in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there are a few names and faces I'll never forget. Susan Wojnar is one of them. For one thing, her publicity photo was taken while she was staring off at someone to her left, not the photographer, and looking confident and comfortable on stage. The half-smile on her face said "I know a secret about music that you don't."

But I also remember her because I have never, ever met anyone else named Wojnar. And I just like writing it. Wojnar. Wojnar. Wojnar.

I've always enjoyed Susan Wojnar's music, and I was thrilled when she emailed me and asked, "Hey, I don't know if you remember me, but I have a new CD out."

Did I remember her?! Did I want to review it?! Hell yes!

Wojnar is still playing her style of singer-songwriter Southern rock, although she's gotten a little quieter since I last heard her play in Fool'sircle with Pix Ensign (I was even able to find t…

Erik's Commandments for Fishing

Erik is out of the office this week, so we're reprinting a column from 10 years ago, and are hoping you won't notice.

As spring gets warmer, and the days grow longer, that can only mean one thing: fishing!

There are those people who argue that fishing is a year-round sport, and will fish during the winter, but these people are weird. If the whole point of fishing is to relax, why do I want to sit through bone-biting cold when everyone knows the fish are at home, drinking hot chocolate and watching "Jaws IV: The Revenge."

Every fisherman dreams of finally hooking the big one, like Fat Cat, the 132-lb. catfish from the Tennessee Aquarium. Kathie Fulgham, public relations manager for the Tennessee Aquarium, told me several years ago she was the largest catfish on display in the world.

I thought it was rather odd that they would hire a catfish to handle public relations, since that's usually a job for sharks, but Kathie said she was not the catfish, Fat Cat was.

But …