Dear U.S. Olympic Ski Team:
Congratulations on an outstanding Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. And hey, that 18 year-old Mikaela Shiffrin was impressive on the giant slalom. Well done. I just have one minor complaint to register: Why did you leave me off the team? I contacted you last summer, telling you I wanted to try out for the men’s freestyle aerials or half pipe or any alpine event you guys thought might attract babes. But nobody ever replied to my text message – which by the way I typed in ALL CAPS to get your attention.
I have to say, as qualified as the team members you selected may have been, your decision to leave me off the roster is confounding. I demand an explanation. When I attempted to get on the team plane for Sochi, one of your staffers refused to let me board. I must say he was very discourteous, even after I flashed him 100 rubles to let me get past.
I demand to know why you refused to let me compete with the rest of the skiers. Was it because I’m 59 years old, and the next oldest competitor was 37? News flash: I checked, and age discrimination is totally against the law. Besides, I may be almost 60, but sometimes I use Grecian Formula (dark brown), making me look closer to 52.
Was it because you learned I was married to a Canadian and you questioned my loyalties? Or were you worried my wife would get into a cat fight with the American women’s hockey players? Or maybe you learned about my humor blog and worried I might write a sophomoric column which would spark an international incident. I doubt I’d do that (although I confess I’ve never met a Russian figure skating judge I trusted).
[Note from the staff at VFTB: Last week Tim Jones wrote a piece called “Wedding vows I don’t remember making.” This week, Tim’s wife Michele has requested equal time for a rebuttal. Tim is confident his wife’s piece was written with as much love and sensitivity as Tim displayed in his post.]
I read my husband Tim Jones’ post last week titled Wedding vows I don’t remember making. I love my husband very much, and when I say “love” I mean, I put up with him. Can I be honest? Being married to a humor writer is no picnic. It’s almost like living with an eleven year-old, except that I don’t want to belittle the maturity of any eleven year-olds out there.
I have so much to be thankful for, being married to you, my husband / man-child, these past 26 years. I want to thank you for:
… your never-ending concern that I might get over-heated on a winter’s night from having too many blankets covering me and your thoughtful habit of yanking all those blankets to your side of the bed in your “crocodile death roll” maneuver in your sleep.
… your willingness to educate me about defensive pass interference in football. Thank you for being so flexible about our television viewing options each evening too. You’re always so willing to let me choose, so long as it’s ESPN 1, ESPN 2, ESPN Classic, or whatever channel broadcasts the Lingerie Football League.
It’s Valentine’s Day – a day each year when millions of us husbands take time to show our wives just how much they mean to us, before we go back to complaining about them to our male friends the other 364 days. Today, I’m thinking about all the joy my wife has given me these past 26 years. It’s the little things mostly, like when she gently reminds me for the fourth time that I forgot to take out the trash, or her endearing habit of nagging me about my weight whenever I reach for a donut, or her playful quips about how she’d be living in a far nicer house if only she had married that other guy.
I fondly recall that magical day when she and I walked down the aisle and both said, “I do.” I remember the vows we made to love, honor and cherish one another until one of us decides to kill the other. Admittedly, I was so lost in happiness that day that I may have forgotten a few details. Now, as I think back on our 26 years of wedded bliss, it seems that list of wedding vows must actually have been much more extensive. Here are some of the other vows I apparently made on that special day:
My dearest darling, I promise you, for as long as we both shall live…
…that I will respect you as my equal and never ask you to do a household chore that I would not be willing to do myself – with the addendum that I agree to killing all bugs like the icky spider in the bath tub, for that is a “man’s job” for which it’s perfectly reasonable to interrupt my Sunday afternoon nap even though you could have killed the damn bug simply by stepping on it with your shoe.
Recently two states legalized the recreational use of marijuana: Colorado and my state, Washington. And as a result, their football teams (Seattle and Denver) are headed to the Super Bowl. That’s why I enthusiastically voted for passage of this law. And I want to apologize for my decision. I had no idea that legalizing weed would unleash a tidal wave of chaos, lawlessness and nonstop ESPN clips of Richard Sherman ranting that he is the best corner back in the history of the universe.
For years, my parents, my minister and my 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Curtis, warned me about the dangers of marijuana. The critically acclaimed 1936 documentary film Reefer Madness proved conclusively that even a single puff of marijuana could lead to a life of heroin addiction, crime and attempting to French kiss nuns during mass.
The evidence is overwhelming that prolonged marijuana use can interfere with one’s ability to concentrate and inhibit one’s motivation. In a 1987 study of rhesus monkeys, researchers found that those monkeys who had routinely inhaled marijuana over a six-month period displayed no motivation to accomplish anything constructive, instead opting to lie around and pick fleas out of their fur. Critics of the study’s findings argued: “What did you expect? Were you waiting for them to draw engineering plans for the next space shuttle? They’re rhesus monkeys, for fuck’s sake.” Critics of legitimate scientific studies often use very coarse language.
Recently both of our daughters came home for the holiday break. Their return brought us a new set of parenting concerns. When kids go off to college, they suddenly consider themselves adults. They feel the old kids’ rules from their high school years no longer apply. So it can be stressful to know how to parent your almost-adult child now that they’ve concluded they no longer need to listen to a word you say. That’s why, in the most loving way possible, you should periodically remind them – roughly every two hours – about who is paying for their college and how you’d be delighted to spend that money on a Mediterranean cruise for yourself if they don’t clean up their act during their brief time home.
I would like to share my best parenting advice for how to get your kids to cooperate when they come home from college. I really would. But I can no more decipher the code for how to parent college-age kids than I can explain why some people pay $200 more for a cell phone custom-colorized to match their purse. But I will try to impart some wisdom just the same.
Challenge #1: The pit stop. Many parents experience the short-lived joy of welcoming their kids home for winter break only to become annoyed as their child vanishes seconds after their arrival, shouting, “Hi, Dad. Gotta go. Meeting Bridget to go shopping.” It’s easy to feel like your kids are only using your house as a place to crash at night, but that’s not true. They are also using your house for the free food, free laundry service, and free use of your Lexus. Oh, and just in case you were wondering whether your child might be heading off to shop for a Christmas present for you – they’re not. They’re going shopping to swap out the color pattern on their swaggy new cell phone so that it can perfectly match their – well, you get the picture.
[The following post was written by my longtime friend and fellow humorist, Steve Fisher. You can check out Steve’s humor blog at Fishful Thinking.]
Hello and welcome to Windows 8, the new PC operating system from Microsoft. Now that you’ve successfully installed our new system – perhaps on the third or fourth attempt (sorry about that) – we’d like to give you a quick tour of its many amazing new features and applications. Let’s get started, shall we?
As soon as you launch Windows 8 for the first time, one new thing you’ll notice right away is that your computer is now completely fucked up. Don’t worry. Shortly after we rolled it out several months ago, some minor technical glitches were discovered, which we quickly resolved in an update to all users.
Following that update – which unfortunately resulted in a number of aircraft dropping out of the sky and a partial collapse of the electrical grid in the northeastern U.S. – we issued a second update which resolved all of the issues caused by the first one. That is, with the exception of a repeated system crashing problem, which was subsequently resolved by our third update.
Since then, via a continuing series of further updates, we have successfully corrected nearly all of the remaining system issues. Thus you can now simply switch on your computer and enjoy the full benefits of Windows 8 without your PC bursting into flames (update 15), your hard disk melting (update 23), or your printer exploding (update 156). And, if you’ve managed to read this welcome message so far without experiencing an epileptic seizure caused by rapidly pulsating pixels on your monitor (update 259), then we’re very happy indeed.
Whew! That was that a close call. There was a point earlier this week when I thought I might never see my kids again. Worse yet, I feared that my final blog post might be last week’s lame rant about Sarah Palin. How humiliating. I live in Seattle, and for the past ten days, the entire city has been hunkered down in the grips of an arctic blast so bone-chillingly cold that most of us wondered if we’d ever again be able to venture outdoors in December in flip flops and shorts.
You see, normally the high temperature in Seattle is required by law never to dip below 45 degrees any day from November through May. That’s because of the nearly permanent cloud cover that acts like a thermal blanket to keep us from ever needing to put on gloves or a scarf – which we still do anyway because we Seattleites are extremely fashion-conscious. Oh sure, we might have the occasional fleeting cold front that dips the high temp to 43. But we are a hardy stock. We’ve been known to weather conditions as low as 41 with only mild bouts of panic.
All of that changed last week when suddenly, freakishly, the clouds mysteriously parted. Temperatures plummeted to the low 30s by day and – I kid you not – into the teens at night. It was excruciating. It was chaos. And the only way to survive the brutal blast of frigid air was to put on, say, a Burberry overcoat and matching scarf, and perhaps a pair of J. Crew cashmere-lined suede leather gloves, accented by some Uggs. Now that I think of it, staying indoors might have worked too.
Christmas Day is just around the corner, a time of peace and love and harmony, unless you’re Jewish. But this year, our Christian values of tolerance and forgiveness are being overwhelmed by a cataclysmic war on a scale the world has never seen. The images we see on television are heartbreaking. When will this senseless war stop?
No, I’m not talking about the twelve-year war in Afghanistan, nor the civil war tearing apart Syria. I’m not even talking about the brutal Mattress Price Wars, although the televised images of those retailers viciously slashing prices before my very eyes is enough to make me cry. No, I am, of course, talking about something far more pernicious and deadly: The War on Christmas.
In her lovingly written new book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas, distinguished author and former Alaskan beauty pageant winner Sarah Palin launches into a heartwarming tirade in defense of Christian values against the onslaught of political correctness, the secularization of Christmas, and the abominations of atheists and liberals (which two groups are, of course, essentially the same). And I for one could not agree with her views more, even if I understood what she was talking about.
I’ve spent the better part of the past 30 years (as well as the worse part) in sales and marketing. One thing that has always impressed me in perusing the web sites of the industry leaders is how I have absolutely no idea what they actually do. Smart marketers learned a long time ago that when it comes to beating the competition, you don’t have to build a better mousetrap. You just have to sound like you build a better mouse. trap. That starts with the words you use to describe what your mousetrap does.
No industry has mastered this technique more than high tech. Ever heard of a little company called Computer Associates? Here’s what they do, in their own words: “CA Technologies provides robust management solutions utilizing closed loop orchestration of provisioning and configuration across physical and virtual resources.” It’s just that simple.
Or how about the 800-pound gorilla in the world of routers, switches and network systems, our buddies over at Cisco Systems. I wonder what they do. Here’s a description any seven year-old (with a graduate degree in Linux computer programming) could understand: “Cisco’s Borderless Network Architecture is implemented as a five-phase plan that moves from baseline services to advanced policy management and integration that ultimately delivers the borderless experience for users.”
I just returned from a two-week vacation to Italy, and I have to tell you, it was a nightmare. The first thing I did when our plane touched down in Seattle was to kiss the tarmac. The second thing I did was to find a restroom to wash my mouth. That tarmac was disgusting.
A few months ago, my wife convinced me to go on a European vacation. So we took a two-week tour of Southern Italy. The brochures make it look charming and relaxing: Rome for three nights, followed by visits to quaint mountainside villages along Italy’s rugged coast. Even a boat ride to the fabled Isle of Capri. But the entire experience was anything but tranquil.
We went on an organized tour with 15 other very nice people, who were fairly willing to make limited eye contact with me, despite the fact they found out I was a humor writer. But the moment we arrived in Rome, I knew that I was in for a bumpy ride. Turns out the taxis in Rome have really bad suspensions.
Before the trip I watched several films with notable actors of Italian heritage: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, even Sylvester Stallone. But it was no use. I still could not understand a word of Italian – except “Yo, Adrian”, which, strangely, not one Italian uttered. So I knew I would have to improvise in Italy. Upon our arrival at our first hotel, I attempted to communicate with the hotel clerk by speaking English but using my best Italian accent – which unfortunately sounds eerily close to my best Norwegian accent. It was no use. He couldn’t understand a word I was saying. I quickly discovered that Italians have a different word from ours for just about everything.