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Showing posts from January, 2013

Want to Avoid "The Traffic?" Leave Later

Leaving early is the worst thing you could ever do at a football game.

My friend, Mark, had invited me to an Indianapolis Colts football game with him, his wife, and their friend, Steve. We rode to the game together, knowing that parking was always a hassle.

This was in 1995, when Jim "Captain Comeback" Harbaugh was the quarterback, and the Colts were having a potential playoff season, their first in years. They were playing the San Diego Chargers, and a win would guarantee a spot in the playoffs. A loss meant they needed to win the following week.

Two minutes to go, fourth down, the score was 24 – 24, and San Diego had the ball. A field goal would get the Chargers into the playoffs. Kicker John Carney was warming up for a 45 yarder.

"Come on, we have to go," said Mark.

"GO?! Are you kidding me?!" I said.

"Yeah, Steve has to go to his family reunion."

"But there's two minutes left in the game, and we need Carney to miss this field goal.…

Karl the Curmudgeon Worries About Writers

"I despair for our profession, Kid," said my friend, Karl. He was in a rather maudlin mood tonight, which was unusual for him. He was usually more cantankerous, wanting to debate some point of literature or grammar. Instead, he had spent the last 20 minutes staring off into space, occasionally grunting in agreement with whatever I said to him.

I believe the dangling participle was left behind by an alien race, I said. I think Twilight is the Great Gatsby of our time.

"Uh-huh," he mumbled. "He was on Charlie Rose last night."

He finished his beer, and waved at Jean the bartender for two more. We were sitting at a small table in The Burns Unit, a literary bar dedicated to Scottish poet and serial philanderer, Robert Burns. It was Tuesday night, open-mic night, and we were there to make fun of the hipster poets.

What? I said.

"Our profession. I despair for it," he repeated like I was stupid.

I heard you, Yoda. I meant, what are you yammering on abo…

Ode to Jason Falls on his 40th Birthday

It finally happened, it finally came.
Some were amazed, some were ashamed.
The world cried out, and screamed "Oh Lordy!
"Jason Falls is turning forty."

He's working out more, he's eating fine,
He's even drinking healthy red wine.
He'll buy a new car, bright red and sporty,
'Cause that's what you do when you turn forty.

His hair's turning gray, but it's not falling out
That would only make him whimper and pout.
It once was longer, but now it's short, he
Looks respectable at age forty.

A guy from the sticks, now he's all urban
With a house and a yard, and his fancy bourbon.
But he's still earthy, he's still bawdy,
It'll only get worse now that he's forty.

It's downhill from here, things can only get worse
You're one day closer to the ride in the hearse.
Spend the next thirty years turning wrinkled and warty
Because that's what happens when Jason turns forty.


Dedicated to my good friend, Jason Falls, my co…

Has Anyone Ever Died from the Willies?

I originally published this as a blog post-only on January 9, but re-ran it as a newspaper column, so I'm republishing it in the regularly scheduled column slot.

In a past job, I worked with people who are blind or visually impaired. I traveled extensively to different conferences, and met all sorts of people and saw all sorts of products related to technology, mobility, and independent living.

One thing I learned is that a lot of blind people — and they prefer to be called blind (read the article. It's a real dope slap to people who use PC euphemisms like "hard of seeing," which blind people think are ridiculous.) — have a strong independent streak. Organizations like the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind use "of the intentionally, because they don't want you to do things for them. They'll do it themselves, thank you very much!

In fact, the NFB members are so independent, they even choose to forego using guide dogs;…

What's Your Name Again?

I'm not just one in a million, I'm one in 1.75 billion.

Turns out there are four Erik Deckers in the entire world. There are three in Belgium, and I'm the only one in the United States. And I totally own those guys on Google.

In fact, if you Google my name, you won't find any of them for the first several hundred results, which I'm sure bugs them to no end. But if you keep digging, you'll find a few entries for the Erik Deckers who is a real estate agent in Brussels.

I've thought about getting business cards that say "Just Google me," but that seems a little arrogant, even for the only Erik Deckers in the entire western hemisphere.

But even though I can claim this unique title all to myself, people still have trouble remembering my name. Sometimes they don't even bother learning it.

I am often called Buddy, Dude, Partner — partner? What are we, cowboys? — or the occasional Bro, especially by bartenders and baristas.

"What can I get you, B…

LSSU's Banned Words for 2013

It's a brand new year, and you know what that means — Lake Superior State University (LSSU) releases its annual list of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. This is their 38th year, and the 7th year I've covered their linguistic eliminations.

As a word nerd, I'm always interested in learning what parts of the language are changing, evolving, or should be smashed with a hammer, so I enjoy seeing what words LSSU wants everyone to stop using.

This year, LSSU received tens of thousands of nominations, totaling more than 800 entries, and 12 finalists. And I liked 11 of them. Normally, I support every banned word, but this year, I passionately disagree with one of their entries and think the people who submitted them are just whiny little gits.

As you probably guessed, "Fiscal Cliff" topped the list, but we've hopefully heard the last of it. I don't think it was that the word was overused all year, but rather,…