For years, sports fanatics have debated which is the most exciting spectator sport. Some argue nothing beats football for sheer intensity and physicality. Others point to the gladiator-like combat of hockey. And some people prefer badminton, but then, some people are idiots. For me, it’s female mud wrestling. I really don’t think I should have to explain this.
But recently I came upon one more contender for your consideration: Soap Box Derby racing. Before you scoff, hear me out. A few weeks ago, I attended the 11th Annual Stanwood-Camano Island Soap Box Derby – the only such event in the entire state of Washington. When I heard the race was coming to town, I immediately submitted my application as a last-minute entry. Alas, I just missed the competition age limit (by 550 months – oh, so close).
First a bit of background. The Soap Box Derby is a racing program for kids ages 7 through 17, which has been run throughout the United States since 1934. The National Championship Finals are held each July at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio. Racers compete in ultra-lightweight unpowered vehicles which they have built themselves, traversing a gentle incline over the space of roughly 1,000 feet, relying on their driving skills and gravity to reach the finish line first.
Having neglected to educate myself on the rich history and subtle nuances of this sport, I had no idea what to expect. I apparently arrived too late to catch the live pre-event concert by the Beach Boys. But what I did see was a colorful parade of home-built cars – 72 in all – each one sponsored by a different local business, like Camano Hardware, the Kiwanis Club, and Rothschild Estates’ White Swan Polo Club.
The competitors took great pride in their vehicles, having sawed, sanded, glued and painted them with only a little help from mom or dad. The Rothschild Estates entry, however, drew a few murmurs as the it appears the family’s footman clearly played a hand in its construction. Continue reading “Soap Box Derby – The Thrill of It All” »
[The following is a message from the Portland, Oregon Visitors’ Bureau.]
Welcome to Portland, Oregon, America’s Most Livable Liberal City.
If you’re planning to spend a few days in the Rose City, we at the Portland Visitor’s Bureau would like to offer a few friendly suggestions to help make your stay as pleasant as possible.
First, we might as well get this one right out of the way. In Portland, we’re slightly left of center in our politics. If you’re a lifelong Republican or you accidentally voted for Donald Trump, no need to apologize. But, you might want to rethink your travel plans. We hear Tulsa is a place you might enjoy, with its expansive plains and oil rig fields.
But if you’re someone who thinks Hillary should have been our 45th president, or better still, Bernie, or even better yet, Spider-Man, then you’ll feel right at home here. Our city’s motto is KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD. In case you thought that was Austin, Texas’ motto, you’re right. We don’t mind sharing.
One of our more iconic residents is The Unipiper. He can be seen pedaling around town on his unicycle, donning a Darth Vader helmet while playing the Star Wars theme on his bag pipes, as they shoot flames. In most cities, such a sight might be a bit unnerving. Here in Portland, we just wave and say, “Hi, Brian.”
We’re extremely laid back about most things – that’s because at any given time, roughly half of us are stoned. We don’t mind if you’re a couple hours late to work, so long as you remember to buy a latte for a co-worker when you stop at Stumptown Coffee on your way in. Continue reading “Welcome to Portland” »
[The following is a 100% partially true story.]
That is actually Barack Obama behind me. We’re working out together… well, not together, but in the same fitness center at the same time. I think he’s taking a photo of me, Tim Jones, the famous Humor Blogger. It took all my willpower to resist hugging him and crying that I missed him. So, I settled for a kiss.
People routinely accuse me of telling over-the-top fabricated stories in this column. They make these outrageously unfair accusations just because I may bend the truth a tiny bit occasionally – and by occasionally, I mean not more than 80% of the time. (The other 20% I’m telling the truth, although, admittedly, that’s usually by accident.)
But this time, I swear I’m writing with utter veracity. Recently I had a private workout with Barack Obama – the 44th president of the United States. I was in San Diego for an industry conference. Obama was the keynote speaker. I wasn’t able to attend his address because it started at 8:00 am, and that was just way too early to rise and shine – even for my favorite President.
I was staying at a nearby Hilton. The day following his speech, I was working out in the hotel’s fitness center, doing my usual exercise routine of pretending to pedal on a stationary bike, while watching an episode of Parks and Recreation on my iPad.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear but the 44th prez with two bodyguards near.
There he was, not ten feet from me, pumping barbells and doing pushups. There were only eight of us in this rather large room, plus Obama and his two-man secret service detail, who were stoically standing at attention in the far corner of the room.
My brain was spinning way faster than I was pedaling at the sudden realization that the former president (my hero) and I were, in essence, working out together! There was no metal detector, no security pat-down or any effort to detain me from entering the gym. Thank God they didn’t check to see I’m a humor writer who makes fun of politicians, or else I’d probably be sitting in a Guantanamo cell right now.
Outwardly, I continued to remain calm. But inwardly I was freaking out. I could not take my eyes off him – even though the Parks and Recreation episode was a particularly good one.
In my head, my brain was buzzing with things I wanted to say if Obama came near me:
Mr. President, I miss you so much!!! [after which I would commence sobbing] … Or Continue reading “My Private Workout with Obama” »
Welcome, Tense Traveler.
Thank you for choosing High Anxiety Tours (HAT) to arrange your trip. We’ll take care of everything. Take a deep breath and relax. We understand that as a first-time international traveler, you may be a tad nervous about venturing into the unknown. At HAT, our mission is to ensure you have a 100% stress-free experience.
So, this is your first visit to Colombia. As travel experts, trust us when we say there is (almost) nothing to worry about. Word has it that the Colombian drug lords have no documented plans to kidnap or torture American tourists in the foreseeable future. Of course, their plans are subject to change without notice.
Before you leave for the airport, remember to go through a departure checklist so you can R-E-L-A-X while away. Did you …
- Bring your passport?
- Pack sunscreen?
- Turn off the stove?
- Get a sitter for your cats?
- Refill your Xanax?
- Are you 100% sure you turned off the stove?
You are now ready for a calm, peaceful holiday in tranquil Colombia– that is, if you make your flight. It is imperative to be at the airport a minimum of four hours before departure, in case of unforeseen glitches such as highway construction or a wildcat strike by baggage handlers. In rare instances, flights do take off a day or so early, to adjust for the time differences. The odds TSA Security will mistake your traveler’s trepidation for drug-smuggling jitters are 3-1, at best. So, don’t sweat. No, seriously, do NOT sweat! If they see you sweat, they’ll get suspicious and probably conduct a full body cavity search.
Continue reading “Vacation Adventures for High-Strung Travelers” »
I belong to a men’s doubles racquetball league of 13 seniors. Okay, when I say “league” that sounds a bit more serious than it really is. It’s actually more like a “club.” No, that’s not quite it either. “Herd.” Yeah, it’s more like a herd – as in cattle, because some of us play the game about as well as a spry Holstein. We meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8am sharp – unless it’s Christmas. Then we play at 11.
Not to toot my own horn, but out of this Baker’s Dozen of racquetballers, I routinely rank among the top 15. As I see it, the only thing separating my game from my teammates’ is my lack of speed, power, accuracy, court awareness, and peripheral vision. Oh, and ability. Yeah, I’m sort of lacking in that department, too. And yet, despite how consistently inconsistent I am, they still let me play. My theory is that I make them all look like pros by comparison.
At 63, I am one of the youngest players. The ages range from 54 to 80. Jerry is eighty years young. He’s right-handed, but due to a shoulder injury, he now plays lefty. And he still cleans my clock on the court. Now, I’ve only been doing racquetball for forty years – whereas Jerry started playing during the Garfield administration. And as a relative rookie, I’m still learning the subtleties of this sport. For example, just last week I was informed that it’s legal to play the ball off the back wall. Thanks for finally telling me, guys. That’s a game changer.
Not long ago we accepted a woman into our men’s club. Kate is extremely talented – better than most of the guys – so, I always graciously invite her to be my partner. That’s because I am a gentleman and want her to feel comfortable and accepted in our group. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that with Kate as my partner, I might actually stand a chance of being on the winning side for a change.
Continue reading “The League of (Un)Extraordinary Gentlemen” »
Over the years, many people have questioned my intelligence, most notably several past bosses. You need look no further for damning evidence to back up this charge than Exhibit A: I once ran a marathon. And not as a court-ordered punishment for littering. No, I did it voluntarily.
If you’ve never run a marathon and you happen to be someone I strongly dislike, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a great way to waste four to fourteen perfectly good hours punishing your body and shattering your emotional well-being. During this endurance contest, as your will to live slowly disintegrates, you may catch yourself asking soul-searching questions like “Would anybody really notice if I cut off a few miles by taking the subway?”
A marathon is an absurdly long distance to travel without a car – 26 miles and 385 yards, to be exact. To put this into proper perspective, that’s twice the length of the island of Manhattan. It’s wider than the English Channel. And it’s 26 miles longer than I ever plan to travel on foot any time between now and when I die.
I did some research and found that the word “Marathon” comes from the Greek mara meaning “sea” and thonus meaning “lacking in thought”, or, roughly translated “a sea of idiots. This makes complete sense when you realize that every year, tens of thousands of otherwise sane people pay good money for the opportunity to inflict pain and suffering on their bodies over 26 miles of concrete.
I ran my first (and last) marathon on Sunday, November 4, 1990. It was the granddaddy of them all: the New York Marathon, which winds through all five boroughs of the Big Apple. I was one of an elite few selected to participate. They shut the door after 25,000 registrants.
Continue reading “The Time I Tortured Myself for No Good Reason” »