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The Interrogation

THE SCENE: Pre-dawn on a rainy Sunday in the disheveled office of Detective Drake Marlboro of the Seattle Police Department, 9th Precinct. For the past 3 hours, Marlboro, a chain-smoking, grizzled, no-nonsense gumshoe has been interrogating a middle-aged man with no fashion sense by the name of Tim Jones. Jones was picked up on suspicion of maliciously harassing innocent civilians by posting offensive commentary on the web about parenting, politics and other topics. Detective Marlboro suspects that Jones is holding back the truth. And so our story begins…

Interrogation - cop and suspectIt was another dark and stormy night in Seattle. The clock on the wall read 3:04 am. And there Tim Jones sat – if that’s even his real name – sticking to his story that all he could be guilty of might be hackneyed writing. But there was a problem. The guy’s story just didn’t add up. I’ve been a detective for 30 years. I knew it was just a matter of time before he would spill the beans. I was going to crack this case before that snake Lieutenant Jaworski in Homicide could spell “collar.” I was sure I was close.

Jones was fidgeting with his plastic Casio watch – the guy had as much class as a cubic zirconium unicorn. He was looking confused and anxious, wanting desperately to flee the confines of the cold, windowless interrogation room so he could return to the cushy comfort of his suburban living room recliner and watch another episode of The Big Bang Theory he’d TIVO’d. Not tonight, fella. Not ‘til I get some answers.

I offered him a cup of coffee. “Thanks, but I don’t drink coffee. Do you happen to have any Diet Mountain Dew?” he asked a little too eagerly. What law-abiding adult in Seattle doesn’t drink coffee – and asks for a teenager’s soft drink instead? Now I knew he was a two-faced liar. I was done playing “good cop,” waiting for his innocent, deer-in-the-headlights façade to crack. This had gone on long enough. It was time to tighten the screws. I lit another smoke.

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  • Scoop: Detective Marlboro's real name is Thomas Black or it could be J.P. Beaumont.
    Rey Carr
  • Published On Mar. 24, 2015 by TEJ
  • How to be more spiritual than your friends

    Competitive spirituality - man on mountain topIn 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.

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    • Another laugh-out-loud column for me! Thanks, Tim.
      Tracy T.
  • Published On Feb. 19, 2015 by TEJ
  • Myth-busting website Snopes.com revealed to be a hoax – according to Snopes.com

    snopes - HOAXVisit Snopes.com, the myth-busting web site and you will discover that a lot of things you always thought were true were in fact LIES!

    If you’re not familiar with Snopes.com, it’s a very informative website with a singular purpose: to validate or debunk incredible claims, warnings, and tall tales that circulate around the Internet. The site examines claims such as the infamous urban legend that told us that “for every person you forward this email, Bill Gates will donate $1 towards life-saving brain surgery for a five-year old girl named Tabitha.”

    Just last week I discovered to my great relief that, according to Snopes.com, swallowing a watermelon seed will NOT cause a watermelon to grow inside you – unless, of course, you also consume Ortho plant fertilizer mixed with large doses of Miracle Gro potting soil, drink two gallons of water per day, and sit under a sun lamp with your mouth open for 30 minutes a day over two months. But even then, it probably won’t be edible.

    Every day, people send me well-intentioned emails, passing along what they naively believe to be informative news alerts about some health scare or consumer safety risk. Almost always, these dire warnings turn out to be false – and I know this because I often verify the falsity of these ridiculous claims at Snopes.com – usually about 5 minutes after I’ve forwarded the well-intentioned dire warning email to 1,500 of my closest friends with an email subject line stating: Important dire warning: Pass this along to 1,500 of your closest friends! 

    snopes - Big FootHere are just a few of the email tips I received in the past month, all of which turned out to be completely without merit:

    • Flossing your teeth with cat intestines releases pheromones that will make you irresistible to women – FALSE! (Although in fairness, I did become instantly irresistible to my cat, Buttons.)
    • Eating a diet consisting of nothing but broccoli and tuna fish for four months will enlarge your penis. – Totally FALSE! (Don’t ask me how I know, but I do. )
    • Using cell phones while fueling up at a gas station leads to brain cancer in mice – FALSE! (As to why mice were using cell phones at gas stations, well, that’s a question scientists are still hotly debating.)

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    • Thanks for uncovering the hoax of all hoaxes. I had a feeling Snopes was not doing the job when I …
      Rey Carr
  • Published On Jan. 29, 2015 by TEJ
  • This holiday season, give the gift of guilt

    Gift of guilt - scissorsWhat comes to mind when you hear the phrase, the spirit of Christmas? When I was young, my notion was so naïve. Like many children, I believed Santa and his reindeer flew around the world on Christmas Eve bringing presents to all the children. But then I turned 25, and I began to question this narrative. Eventually I realized Santa traveling the world with eight reindeer was, of course, a complete impossibility. He would have needed far more than eight reindeer even in the best of weather conditions.

    Now that I am older, I know, of course, that Santa doesn’t deliver the presents (well, not most of them anyway). People do. I have learned that the spirit of the Holiday Season is first and foremost about people buying gifts for other people – and the 2 A.M. Black Friday fight fest to see who grabs the last 60% off flat screen TV – you or that jerk with the mullet haircut in camo pants and a T-shirt that reads “Recall Santa. I didn’t get what I wanted.”

    As far as what to get others on your Christmas list, I’ve discovered – mainly from watching my relatives – that Christmas is about ensuring that the recipient knows damn well how incredibly thoughtful your gift is, compared to their lame attempt. Studies have shown that most gifts will be forgotten within 48 hours – never to be seen again until next spring’s garage sale – or re-gifted to a co-worker at the office Holiday Party. So why not get into the true spirit of the season by giving them instead a gift they’ll remember for a long time – the gift of guilt?

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    • I'm getting everyone on my Christmas list a subscription to View From the Bleachers.
      Cynthia Clay
  • Published On Dec. 11, 2014 by TEJ
  • No, Grandpa, that’s not how you beam up. Let’s go over this one more time.

    Future tech - motorcycleI’m proud of my mother. At 93 years of age, she decided to tackle a computer for the very first time. Her bruises are healing. She even has an email account. It’s been a struggle, but after only a week of practice, she’s already figured out how to turn on her computer. Until 3 months ago, she had never heard of email or Google or Facebook. She’d never surfed the web, never watched a YouTube video of a cat riding a roomba.

    Today she sent me her very first email. She wrote, Dear Tim, I ma laerning ti sned emali but ti deos not thenw othew byrw kt wodh pcx; s93@m &m$k m1t8 btn%+. Love, mom”.  What a beautiful message.

    I appreciate that learning new technology comes more slowly to the elderly than, say, to an eight-year-old techno-dweeb raised with a cell phone surgically affixed to his thumbs. And it made me wonder: What sorts of new technology will be hard for me to comprehend when I’m my mother’s age?

    I can only imagine the conversation with my future eight-year-old grandson as he patiently tries to explain to me how to use the everyday tech tools of his generation…

    ************************************

    Grandson: Hey, Grandpa. I see you’re still having problems figuring out how to use some pretty basic devices. Didn’t you have jetpacks and 3-D printable holograms when you were growing up?

    Me: Surprisingly, no, Nathan. Things were less complicated in the 1960s when I was your age. Back then, we had not yet invented iPads or cell phones. Heck, as I recall, we were all pretty stoked about the recent invention of the Etch A Sketch. Hard to imagine, but people used to read these contraptions called books. So, yes, I could use a little help with these modern day gadgets.

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    • Love this story Tim and the jargon is fabulous. Less than 40 years from now hum... and it …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Oct. 28, 2014 by TEJ
  • Announcing a new and improved name for the Washington Redskins

    Redskin helmet - No IndianLately, all the media attention about the NFL has centered on the issue of domestic abuse. But long before that issue grabbed the headlines, another controversy had been building for months, even years: The often emotional debate over the name of the NFL team located in our nation’s capital: The Washington Redskins.

    A tiny fringe group of a few million annoyingly sensitive Americans, including 35 Native American tribes and more than 50 organizations that represent various groups of Native Americans, seem to think the term “redskin” is an offensive stereotype that stirs images of primitive, angry, bloodthirsty savages screaming menacingly and wishing to annihilate their enemy – in other words, acting like a typical Washington Redskins fan. And they are demanding that billionaire team owner Daniel Marc Snyder change the team name to something less offensive – say, the Washington Camel Jockeys.

    The list of suggested alternative names grows by the day. Some names that have been proposed include:

    The Washington Gryffindors, the Washington Slytherins, the Washington Hufflepuffs,… well, pretty much anything you can think of from Harry Potter. Also, the Washington Redhawks (which personally I would find highly offensive if I were a Blackhawks fan), the Washington Skins (not sure how our nation’s nudists would feel about this one) or the Washington Pigskins (which I would find highly objectionable, personally, if I were a pot-bellied pig).

    None of these names has generated much support, so naturally I came up with several much better ones. Tell me what you think: The Washington Lobbyists, or how about the Washington Cabinets? Or maybe the Washington Gridlocks? I thought about the Washington Senators – but then I realized I was too late. The Senators had already been bought.

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    • Very reminiscent of one of the first articles we wrote for the law school newspaper in which we attempted to …
      james ellis
  • Published On Oct. 14, 2014 by TEJ
  • Study says a dark day in America – Blacks are getting happier

    happiness - black man - white manBLACKSBURG, VA – A newly released longitudinal study reveals potentially upsetting news for millions of white Americans. The shocking conclusions: Black Americans are getting happier – much happier.

    The study by the University of Pennsylvania, tracking the “happiness gap” between black and white Americans since the 1970s, reports that the gap has dramatically narrowed in recent years to the slimmest margin since the study’s beginnings. Fortunately for white Americans, they are, on average, still happier than their black counterparts – but not by much.

    Even more alarming is the study’s finding that while blacks’ happiness has progressively improved over the past four decades, whites’ happiness has steadily declined. A spokesman for the National Association for the Advancement of Non-Colored People (NAANCP) argues that there can only be one conclusion to draw from this study: that over the past forty years, blacks have been deliberately and systematically stealing happiness away from whites, without even asking permission or giving so much as a thank you kindly, leaving millions of white Americans outraged and nervous about their futures.

    happiness - obamaThe study’s researchers claim there are other plausible theories for why blacks are getting happier: higher income levels, increased educational opportunities, a significant decline in lynchings, and dramatic strides in career advancement, all of which have fueled greater optimism about their future. In fact, in most states, blacks rarely have to fear getting arrested simply for sitting next to a white person at a Denny’s (with the notable exception of Mississippi and parts of Arkansas). “Why are black people in such a hurry to have more happiness?” asked NAANCP spokesman, Ferry White. “They stopped being slaves a long time ago. What more do they want, anyway?”

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    • Love it but am a bit surprised at the disclaimer. I am currently seeking a worthy Hungarian to introduce you …
      Laurette
  • Published On Jun. 26, 2014 by TEJ
  • America’s worsening attention span probl – Hey, Pam just texted me : )

    attention span - frowny faceRecently I have noticed a disturbing trend. People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. In fact, if you’re like 85% of Americans under the age of 35, you lost interest after the sentence Recently I have noticed a disturbing trend. It’s an epidemic.

    For the 15% of you still reading, let me explain. Thanks to texting, people now spell the words U and B4 because they don’t have the patience anymore to take the extra two seconds required to spell out you and before. God forbid the word might contain more than two syllables, such as a word like, well, syllables. People simply can’t be bothered – too many keystrokes. And when was the last time you wrote a personal handwritten letter? Let me guess. President Clinton was still dating Monica, right?

    Thanks to Facebook, we have all become conditioned to posting micro comments on people’s “walls” which according to the Facebook Code of  Condensed Communication Conduct (FCCCC) must not exceed 24 characters. Say your family dog passed away after 18 years, and you decided to share your grief about your loss. Here is the response you would likely receive from one of your closest  friends:

    1)     In 1974: Hey, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear Golden Retriever Buster. I know that he was a family member to you. I hope you can be heartened in your time of grief knowing that he lived a good life. I hope you don’t mind but I baked you my homemade apple pie. I am always here for you. (This note would of course have been handwritten.)

    2)     In 1994: Hey, so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. What was his name? Anyway, imagine you’re pretty bummed. Would love to talk more, but gotta go – Monica’s soccer match. Can’t be late. (Sent by email.)

    3)     In 2014: Hey,  attention span - frowny face - small(Sent by iPhone.)

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    • Q. How many kids w/ ADHD does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A. Let's go bike …
      Peter Cohen
  • Published On May. 14, 2014 by TEJ
  • My wild “Hangover” weekend in Vegas

    Las Vegas - lineupI’m not much of a drinker. And I don’t really gamble. So naturally, I decided to go to Las Vegas for the weekend. What a bizarre place Vegas is. I must have had one hell of a weekend, because I barely remember a thing. It’s all still a blur. It was just like something out of the movie The Hangover – except without all the strippers, car chases, Bengal tigers in my hotel room, or getting the crap knocked out of me by Mike Tyson. But otherwise, the parallels with the movie were eerie.

    I decided to stay at the Hooters Casino Hotel – mainly for the pool. At first everything was fine – until I ventured out onto the strip and did something no sane tourist in Las Vegas would ever do: I made eye contact with the street hawkers. As a result of my reckless mistake, I was offered 27 invitations to strip clubs, a chance to ride a white tiger at the Mirage, and $100,000 of term insurance with an option to convert to whole life at age 65. I finally broke down and grabbed one deal that was just too enticing to resist: 60% off on linens at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

    I don’t remember much of what happened after that. But the next morning, I woke up to find a scantily clad woman in my bed – with a wedding ring on her finger. Oh, shit. Who was she? A cocktail waitress? A stripper? What had I done! I frantically put on my glasses. Oh… right. My wife came with me on this trip.

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    • Love the photos Tim and Michele. Too bad you don't remember your trip. I bet Michele had fun even though …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On May. 01, 2014 by TEJ
  • Common Courtesy Rules for the 21st Century

    courtesy - smiley faceLet’s face it. We’re all busy. Life now is much harder than it was back in the days before cell phones, the internet and Roomba vacuum cleaning robots. There’s barely enough time in the day to update our Facebook status, let alone find time to see if our kids remembered to make themselves dinner before putting themselves to bed.

    In a more primitive era, say around 1989, life was far less complicated. People had much more time to show appreciation and be considerate of others. But thanks to social media and 982 cable channels to choose from, our lives are much more hectic. Nonetheless, it’s still important to try to be polite – okay, maybe not that important come to think about it, but still something to think about when you’re not too busy admiring your own reflection in the window at Prada’s. Here are some common courtesy guidelines to ensure you extend every bit as much consideration to others as do, say, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

    Tip #1: Cell phone etiquette: One thing we can all agree on is how much fun it is to talk on your cell phone anytime, anywhere. But when using your phone in public, be sensitive to people around you.  When yakking on your phone to your buddy Eddie while watching a film in a crowded theatre, smile at the person next to you and whisper, “This will only take a minute. The game is in sudden death overtime.”

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    • When I finally got to the end of your post, Tim, I had almost forgotten what I was going to …
      Drew Fisher
  • Published On Mar. 05, 2014 by TEJ