On July 4th, we will once again celebrate our independence from the tyranny of England. Those British monarchs can be so oppressive. If it were up to Queen Elizabeth, we’d all be forced to drink Earl Grey tea with every meal.
Every year at this time, Americans proudly mark our independence with fireworks, burgers on the grill and binge drinking. And why shouldn’t we? Ours is the greatest nation in the solar system. I’m a patriotic American – something my wife will never understand because, sadly, she’s Canadian.
When it comes to being great, no country on earth is better than the U.S. of A. We’re NUMBER ONE! Look at the Olympics – God almost always backs the Americans – except in soccer – because he knows that Americans love God more than any other country. Every time a U.S. athlete wins, the first thing he does is give thanks to God. The Czech Republic (ranked the least religious nation on earth) never thanks God. And do you remember the last time they won a gold medal? Me neither. Because they hate God.
Oh sure, I’ve read a few misleading statistics about how the USA ranks 12th in college graduates, 27th in life expectancy, 37th in healthcare, 47th in press freedom and 53rd in ability to locate Mexico on a map. (I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere west of France.) But most of those statistics came from CNN’s World Desk Editor Fareed Zakaria. And that sure doesn’t sound like an American name to me. He probably has an axe to grind about his visa status.
I don’t care what statistics you want to throw in my face. It doesn’t change the fact that the USA is #1 in the world. Finland may rank first in education. And technically speaking, the Netherlands’ first place ranking in broadband access just nudges out our 23rd place finish. But in many other categories, the USA is Numero Uno. For example, America ranks …
- 1st in guns per capita
- 1st in cocaine seizures
- 1st in obesity
- 1st in percentage of the population that’s incarcerated
- 2nd in carbon emissions – but we’re coming after you, China! So watch your back!
My plan to become a millionaire and retire by the age of 40 is a little behind schedule. Personally, I blame it on a combination of factors: the recent volatility of the stock market, global warming, and the shrinking market in publishing for humor writers who are paid $500,000 / year for working eight hours a week. But mostly I blame my financial situation on China. Those ruthless bastards.
I tried starting my own business, with dreams of launching the next Facebook or Instagram. But after several weeks, I‘ve concluded that my mail-order business, Rent-a-Snake.com, is probably doomed.
Turns out being an entrepreneur is way harder than it looks. It requires a clear vision, years of hard work, unyielding persistence, and a willingness to take intelligent risks. My train pretty much left the tracks at “a clear vision.” Besides, who has the energy for all this hard work? There must be an easier way to become a multi-millionaire – and it’s called “Kickstarter.”
I’m excited to announce my own Kickstarter campaign to make yours truly a mega-millionaire. What is Kickstarter, you ask? It’s a web-based fundraising service intended to help bring projects to life by means of “crowdsourcing” the financing. What is crowdsourcing, you ask? Well, it’s the process of using the internet to get a “crowd” of people to help produce a project collaboratively, like Wikipedia. What’s Wikipedia, you ask? Stop reading right now. Just stop. You’ll never get the rest of this piece. I suggest you go online and Google it. Oh wait. Never mind. You’ve probably never heard of Google either.
When I was first learning how to color in 1st grade, my art teacher taught us about red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black and white. Pretty much all the colors I’ve needed ever since. Then I got my first box of 64 Crayola crayons. It blew my mind. So many colors I had never imagined. One called Reddish Orange. Another one called Orangish Red. And Indian Red, which I could not in clear conscience draw with until they renamed it Native American Red.
Recently I learned that Crayola has actually retired 34 colors – including Lemon Yellow, Teal Blue and Thistle. Did you know that for the rest of eternity there will never be anything drawn in either Burnt Umber or Magic Mint? And yet for reasons unfathomable to the normal brain, they continue to crank out that annoyingly wimpy color, Periwinkle.
They’ve replaced the retired colors with nouveau-sounding ones like Asparagus, Bittersweet, Inch Worm and Tumbleweed. What the hell color is Inch Worm?
It’s hard enough for my 8-color-palette brain to grasp the difference between Sage and Mint. More astonishingly, for all the colors in Crayola’s 64-color box, I’ve discovered there are literally hundreds of shades of white. When did that happen?
My artist wife and I were discussing what color to paint her art studio. Apparently, it’s important that artist studios be painted in neutral tones like white – I have no idea why. I had suggested Bubble Gum Pink, but apparently that’s not quite neutral enough pour ma femme artiste. No, she insisted, it had to be a shade of white. A shade of white? Hmmm….
Recently my wife Michele and I started a new chapter in our lives by moving to a lovely, somewhat remote island. We also decided to start working together. We thought, what better way to strengthen our marriage than to spend every waking minute of every single day together – eating, playing, sleeping and now working? What could possibly go wrong?
Okay, I know what you’re about to say: What were you thinking? But before you question our wisdom, I should point out that our skill sets are remarkably complementary. On the one hand, my wife is an extremely talented portrait artist. And on the other hand, I am the husband of an extremely talented portrait artist.
My job will be to market my wife’s portrait business. I am an experienced professional marketer. For example, remember the pet rock – a crazy, fun idea from the 1970s that generated millions in sales simply by packaging an ordinary rock in a box with funny instructions about how to care for it? Brilliant marketing. No, that was not actually my idea. But the idea for selling a 25-pound box of litter for your pet rock was mine. Sadly, it never made it to market. Okay, perhaps this isn’t helping make my point about being a marketing guru.
My wife wanted someone to oversee marketing so she could spend more time painting – and shooting down every marketing idea I came up with. (I still think my idea for her to parade the sidewalks of Seattle in a sandwich board handing out coupons for $10 off a portrait would have worked. But alas, we’ll never know because she squashed that idea, too.)
Exciting news from Match.com, the world’s largest online match-making service. Since our launch in 1995, our goal has been to help men and women find their perfect someone. To date we have found matches for several million people – and successful matches for over 50 of them.
But why should humans be the only ones supported in finding their soulmates? That’s why we are proud to announce our newest service: CatMatch.com, the first online matchmaking service for cats. No longer will your favorite feline need to prowl the alley for a suitable mate. Check out some of our hottest kitties and subscribe your cat today. Who knows? Perhaps the kitten she’ll be smitten by is just a mouse click away.
Dusty7045 – 11-year old female, Portland, OR
Seeking male kitty for spooning on couch and cleaning fur
Relationship: Single – one owner.
Body type: Furry, light shedder – mostly on my master’s pillow.
Have kids? Yes, four, but they all disappeared at 8 weeks and I have no idea where they went.
Litter box trained? Absolutely! (But sometimes I forget when I’m tired.)
Favorite hobbies: Chasing red laser pointers, licking myself in my privates.
Favorite food: Ants, dust, rubber bands – pretty much anything I find on the kitchen floor. Oh, and my own vomit. But no one else’s – that would be gross!
More about me: If you like curling up on the bed for 18 – 20 hours a day, I may be just your girl. But don’t ask me to go outside. It looks terrifying out there.
Our girls are grown and living far from home now. So a few months ago, my wife and I decided, somewhat impulsively, to sell our suburban house and move to a quirky but lovely island 75 miles from the world we had known for a quarter century. We now live in an idyllic setting on Camano Island, overlooking Puget Sound and snow-capped mountains. Ah, the island life.
Camano Island has a well-earned reputation as a haven for artists (one reason my artist wife was drawn here). In our brief time in this new community, we’ve met dozens of people. The one constant among them: They are all exceptional people – which is starting to get on my nerves.
Seriously, it’s really starting to annoy me. Apparently, in order to live on this island, you must be the next Picasso or Santana or Hemingway – and you must swear an oath to spend at least 30% of your time volunteering to protect the rain forest or bottle-feed orphan kittens. Don’t ask me how I managed to sneak past the island’s security. Some border guard must have called in sick the day I arrived.
Everybody on this island seems gifted in some way. If you haven’t published a book of sonnets or are unable to play the lute, you’re viewed as, well, a bit of a disappointment. Last week, I met a novelist, a painter, a sculptor, and a quilter – and that was just in the checkout line at the grocery store. By contrast, my biggest artistic achievement was playing Frère Jacques on the recorder in the 6th grade orchestra. Not to brag, but I totally crushed it.
Few things reveal more about the kind of man you are than how you dress. Fashions go in and out of style, but some things are timeless – like Members Only jackets. They are as embarrassingly out of fashion today as they were when first introduced in 1980. Speaking of fashion, another timeless trend is wearing shorts. Some men prefer to wear them all the time. I am one of those men. And I’m not embarrassed to show my legs in the dead of winter, no matter what my wife says.
I have always been a pioneer of haute couture. I’m not sure where I cultivated my “road less traveled” fashion sense – perhaps it was my private school education, which required me to wear the same grey wool pants, grey shirt and black tie to school every day for twelve years. In ninth grade, while my classmates were wearing their straight-legged khaki slacks on a Saturday night date, I was stylin’ in my room in my purple corduroy bell bottoms. The fact that I never had a single date on Saturday night during ninth grade is strictly coincidence.
Throughout my youth, my fashion sense grew ever more avant-garde. Take my exotic collection of Far Eastern apparel. Strutting down the street in my lime green Nehru and silver Capricorn medallion, I left people speechless with envy. I could tell by the way girls shyly averted their glance as I approached that they knew I was not like other guys.
Now I wear shorts. And not just when I’m mowing the lawn, wearing my “Support your right to arm bears” T-shirt. I wear them while jogging, doing errands or even clothes shopping for, well, shorts.
In order to succeed in life, you have to compete. Some say life is a zero-sum game. And they’re right, of course. There are winners and there are losers. And nowhere is this truer than in the game of your spiritual quest. It’s not enough anymore to be “good.” You have to be the best.
I am widely regarded as an expert on competitive spirituality. Not to brag, but it’s just a matter of time before I overtake the Dalai Lama on the footpath to enlightenment. The Dalai Lama once told me over a latte at Starbucks, “My religion is kindness.” Well, I’m here to tell you: My kindness is better than yours, Dalaiman.
In order to achieve spiritual supremacy, you have to demonstrate your supremacy. Oh sure, it can sound arduous. You’re probably asking yourself, “What do I have to do? Go on a 2,000 mile trek across the Gobi Desert? Fast for a month in a cave? Climb Mount Everest wearing nothing but a toga and sandals?” Slow down, Skippy. Those journeys are way more hassle than they’re worth – plus you’d almost certainly miss out on Opening Day of Baseball.
No, my tactics for achieving spiritual superiority are far less taxing. Many can be achieved while lying on the couch. You see, most people behave passive-aggressively. Outsmart them by being aggressively passive. They won’t know what hit ’em.
Recently I turned 35 years old, and by recently, I mean 25 years ago. But more recently, I turned 60 – this past month. When you turn 60, you start asking yourself uncomfortable questions like, “How long has that mole been there?” You ponder your own mortality and your legacy and how is it that AARP got your mailing address so quickly.
Lately I’ve begun asking myself challenging questions: What have I done with my life? What do I want to do with the limited time I have left on this planet? Did I have breakfast yet? Where did I leave my car keys?
I wonder about the impact I’ve had on the people in my life. What might these people say about me if they spoke at my funeral? It got me to imagining, which got me to worrying…. a lot…. about what they might have to say:
My earliest childhood friend, Danny: Yeah, Timmy and I were tight – until he destroyed my purple bicycle. I loved that bike. You son of a bitch. When you rode it into that pond and wrecked the frame beyond repair, from that moment on, you were dead to me. You hear that, Timmy? You’re DEAD TO ME!
My first grade teacher, Miss Kelly: I remember Timothy, yes I do. He was a rather chatty young lad. An unhealthy need for approval, if you ask me. As I recall, he had the worst penmanship and he was a very slow reader. Took him forever to get through the book Fun with Dick and Jane. And every crayon drawing he ever did always included a rainbow. I privately wondered whether he might be gay. Read More…
This past week the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Day. The iconic civil rights leader would have been 86 this year. On a swelteringly hot day in August 1963, Reverend King delivered one of the greatest oratories in American history – his famously inspiring “I have a dream” speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
While I don’t claim to possess Mr. King’s eloquence, I too have a dream. And it’s very personal. With your permission, I would like to share it with you today.
I have a dream, too – By Tim Jones
My fellow Americans, like the great Reverend Martin Luther King, I, too, have a dream.
I have a dream that one day there will be peace throughout the world, and that people of all races and religions will walk hand in hand, free from hatred, distrust or fear, united in a common belief that all men and all women are truly created equal in God’s eyes – with the possible exception of people who like Duck Dynasty.
I have a dream that one day I will be able to look out my window and see little white boys and girls playing with little black boys and girls and I’ll be able to shout out with joy and happiness, “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!”