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Showing posts from October, 2015

Say 'No!' to the Man Bun

I have a terrible confession to make. It's going to come out sooner or later, and I want to get ahead of the story rather than fall victim to the maliciousness that threatens to expose my shameful secret. (There are photos.) So I need to clear the air while I can still tell the story on my own terms:

I used to have a mullet.

It's a long story — well, it's short at the beginning, and it gets longer toward the end. I was 24, everyone was doing it, and we thought it looked cool. It was the thing to do in the early '90s in Indiana, if you didn't live on a farm. Those guys still had crewcuts.

Of course, mine didn't look like a mullet, because I tied it in a ponytail. Basically, I had a ponytail with short hair in front, which may actually be worse. Like the difference between stealing and stealing from orphans.

At the time, I worked for an uptight, stickler-for-the-rules university department. But we were also all about diversity and respecting differences, so I ado…

Karl the Curmudgeon Hates Bullies

"People can sure be mean," Karl said. "I mean, downright mean."

I didn't say anything! I protested. All I said was I didn't think that was a good throw.

"Not you, Kid!" Karl said. "Not everything is about you, you know."

Oh no, of course not. That's 'cause it's all about you. You and your big bushy beard that just insists upon itself, and sticks itself out there!

"What the hell are you talking about?"

I don't know. I think that last schnapps went to my head. We were sitting in The Tilted Windmill, our favorite Dutch-themed bar, watching the Dutch Women's Curling Team in the European Curling Championships. It was a tough match against Ireland, but our ladies in orange were giving it their all.

"I'm talking about online," Karl said. "People are terrible people online. They're mean, abusive bullies."

Those people are called 'trolls,' I said. Their lives are so pathetic and sa…

I'm The Kind of Guy Who Laughs at a Funeral

I've never been one for being serious. I'm not truly happy unless I'm laughing or making other people laugh. My entertainment choices always run to comedies, never dramas. Not unless there are car chases and explosions.

If there are car chases and explosions, I'll watch just about anything you want. Unless it's a movie about how a car chase blew up a building filled with orphans and puppies, and the survivors search for healing in a world gone wrong. Then I'm just going to watch a show with fart jokes, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Downton Abbey.

I've built my writing career around humor. You could say my whole life is built around it. When I give talks at conferences, I'm always trying to get people to laugh. And when I'm out with friends, I always want to do something fun and enjoyable, not moving and meaningful.

This includes my theatre selections.

Not "theater," because that's the place where you go to watch movies. "Theatre"…

Today's Parents Need to Relax a Little

Today's parents are often reluctant to let their kids do the things they did at that age. I don't let my children date, they don't stay out until midnight on weekends, they've never seen a rated R movie at 14, and they certainly won't have a chance to get throw-up drunk at age 16.

But what about when they're 10? Would you let your kids ride their bike out of your sight? Would you let them spend the night at a friend's when you barely know the parents? Or how about letting them build something in the garage with tools without your supervision?

What about letting your 10-year-old watch a PG movie?

I saw a recent advice letter in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (official motto: "No, we don't mean 'smarter.' Stop emailing us.") that may be a little too protective. A helicopter mother wrote to columnist Carolyn Hax, concerned that her 10 year old son was hearing about PG movies from his friend.

The other 10-year-old boy has told her son about…

Measuring the Dollar Value of Friendships

We don't admit it. Not in our polite, the-best-ship-is-friendship society.

We judge the value of our friendships based on money.

Not "how much can this person give me?" value. Rather, it's a "how much am I willing to spend on behalf of this person" basis.

A friend recently wrestled with a wedding gift idea to give another friend she wasn't close to.

"Oh, you mean a low-dollar-value friend," I said.

She gave me the side-eye.

Her friend had mailed a postcard wedding invitation, probably from VistaPrint.com, announcing the wedding. It even included a web address for their gift registry, a Williams-Sonoma meets GoFundMe.com type of website.

"What are your options?" I asked.

"The wedding is next weekend, so most of the good stuff is gone already. All that's left are a few house gifts they'll never use, like a pastry server. Who the hell needs a pastry server?"

"What is a pastry server?"

"A fancy pie spatu…