#146 When you ask the people in front of you if they’re in line and they’re not

I went to the airport yesterday.

Obviously, I got jacked on parking and my little pick up trip turned into a twelve-dollar fine for swerving around the maze-like lot for twenty minutes. On my way out I stopped at the Pay For Parking machines and, sure enough, all of them were packed with people.

I tapped my foot like Sonic The Hedgehog for a minute before noticing a woman spoon-feeding her baby in a stroller near one of the machines. I moseyed on up and softly said, “Sorry ma’am, are you… using this?” to which she replied “Oh, no, not yet, go ahead.”

Who feeds their baby in front of a parking machine?

Well maybe I’ll never know the answer to that.

But I’m so glad I asked asked.

Because it put me on the fast track.


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#148 The core of a cinnamon roll

It’s the center of all taste.

First off, icing that was smeared or drizzled on top a few hours ago is guaranteed to hit the cinnamon roll bulls eye which means your last doughy bite is loaded with that sweet white gold. If you’re lucky the icing will have crisped just slightly so your teeth sort of puncture it into tiny sugary shards, revealing the softer, more liquidy layer of icing below. On top of that, the core of the cinnamon roll is the tallest part of the roll, which means you’ve got a larger variety of textures to choose from. Do you bite off the sticky sweet top, slowly twist apart its fresh-bready innards, or maybe chomp away at that sticky flat bottom. And hey — let’s not forget about the cinnamon itself! We’re talking sugary brown powdered sweetness wrapped delicately around the nucleus of this entire bite.

Eating the core of a cinnamon roll means you just ate an entire cinnamon roll. Let’s stop and appreciate that for a second. You didn’t split it with somebody, you didn’t just have a bite, and you didn’t walk by the stand in the train station and enjoy the fumes. Nope, in one big move, in five big minutes, you just scarfed it all and told vegetable juice diets, pilates sweat-a-thons, and full-length mirrors to shove it.


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#149 Cheesy theme songs from 90’s sitcoms

Down with reality shows.

Tossing strangers on a beach in Costa Rica, surrounding them with boom mics, and overdubbing dramatic music is starting to get old. I’m not saying sweaty cooking competitions, suspenseful scale weigh-ins, or watching people who think they can dance dance isn’t always fun. It’s just that flipping past a neverending series of teary camera confessions, backstage breakdowns, and envelope opening closeups is making our thumbs hurt.

It’s time to go back to the good ol’ days from the 80’s and 90’s when cheesy scripts, awkward situations, and big dollops of family values got stirred into thirty minutes of prime time television on Friday night. Take us back to nutty roommates, take us back to closing morals, and take us all the way back to the cheesy theme songs:

10. Blossom. Buried between Cosby Show style dance moves and constant wardrobe changes is a bit of solid self-help advice: “Don’t know about the future, that’s anybody’s guess. Ain’t no good reason for getting all depressed.” In addition to the philosophizing this sitcom wins the Most Strange Names Ever competition with Blossom, Six, and Buzz all on the final ballot. In the words of Joey Russo: Whoa!

9. Home Improvement. This must have been a low-budget show from the beginning judging by the “construction cut-outs scattered on a desk” opening sequence. That also explains why they couldn’t afford rights to show Wilson’s whole face or spring for acting lessons for the youngest son.

8. Married… With Children. Ol’ Blue Eyes croons about love and marriage as a grouchy Al Bundy gives away all his money on the couch. Let’s be honest — the dog never gets old.

7. Family Matters. One great thing about old-school sitcoms was when they suddenly had a wild non-sensical plotline requiring the viewer to suspend all disbelief. Let’s call it the Great Gazoo effect. The best of these was definitely Steve Urkel’s classic alter-ego Stefan Urquelle where Urkel transformed his DNA using “Cool Juice” to suppress his nerd genes in an attempt to win over Laura’s heart. Just beautiful.

6. Martin. If you know what they’re singing in this theme song you win a prize. It sounds sort of like “Martin”, but sort of like, well, not that. Of course, the most common question people asked while watching this show was: Is that Martin playing someone else? Of course, the second most common question was: What else is on? (Note to Martin Lawrence: I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Thanks again for reading this blog. Love your work.)

5. Roseanne. Feel that raging saxophone smack you in the chest like you just walked into a smoky blues club on the south side. Get a little dizzy from the long and slow dinner-table-wraparound camera shot. Let this opening hypnotize you and laugh along with the high-pitched giggle at the end.

4. Friends. Back when I was growing up in the burbs our group of friends didn’t always have much to do on Friday nights. Sure, there was movies, there was the mall, there was the food court, but sometimes it all got a bit old. I wish one of us had thought of dressing up in suits and dancing in a water fountain.

3. The Wonder Years. Joe Cocker’s strained crescendo-building ballad over grainy family videos of wistful summer barbecues gets me every time. Every relationship in the show is almost perfectly reduced to a couple seconds of cutaways in this opening montage. Pass the tissues and tune the heartstrings. We’re going in.

2. Full House. Everywhere you look… Michelle is mispronouncing ice-cream, Danny is cleaning the cleaning supplies, Jesse is writing commercial jingles, Kimmy Gibbler is going bananas, and Joey is telling everyone to just cut… it… out.

1. Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I think we can testify to the long-running greatness of Will Smith’s Bel Air antics. For those of you who missed this series let me summarize the two main jokes for you: 1. Uncle Phil is fat. 2. Carlton is short. Also, you want to know what’s rarer than seeing Bigfoot flying on a spotted owl while eating a Pizza Sub from Subway? I’ll tell you: Seeing the long version of this classic. Let’s break it down:

These days we may be knee-deep in reality TV but that doesn’t mean we can’t relive old favorites from yesterday. Grab a bowl of popcorn, pour a glass of cola, and curl up under the blankets as we all go back together to enjoy these great moments with old friends.


Check out the full list of 1000 awesome things.

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#151 When the lights dim at the movie theater

Okay, you know what’s awkward?

That ten to fifteen minutes before the movie starts on opening night.

Seriously, it’s a jumpy whisper-fest in red plushy tundra as everyone runs in, jockeys for prime seats, and elbows for armrests. Saving seats gets stressful and without rules there is Seat-Saving Anarchy, with jackets lying everywhere, tense questions, and evil eyes. Commercials start booming in the background as toothpick teens amble past bony knees holding giant slippery Cokes and spilly bags of popcorn. Tall guys sit in front of you as cell phones ring and friends debate moving while constant streams of people pour in and quickly fill the place up.

It can be very stressful.

And it can be great when the lights finally dim and turn it all off.

Yes, that’s when everyone stops, everyone shushes, and all worries fade way back to the background. Suddenly nothing matters when the trumpets blare, previews roll, and lights flick to black. It’s like a big heavy wooden door slowly creaks open and welcomes you down a dark path to somewhere you’ve never been.

Slip away from your worries, slip away from the world, and slip and slide right into the


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#152 When someone bakes you a cake on your birthday

Grocery shopping, cake making, and cake baking means somebody’s big wet eyes are twinkling like stars for you. Hey, they went to the store, dropped coin on flour, and waited in long lines before coming home and sweating up a storm in the kitchen. Beating eggs, mixing bowls, and pouring out big pans of batter is one thing. Smearing icing on top, sticking chocolates on there, and spelling out your name is something else altogether.

Congratulations, my friend.

Somebody loves you.


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#154 Reading an actual newspaper

We used to read newspapers.

Do you remember waking up on Saturday morning and tiptoeing onto the ice cold porch to grab that tightly wound paper in the plastic bag?

After tossing it on the kitchen table you’d tear it open and fill the air with the stale stench of newspaper ink, hot plastic bag, and morning dew. Next you peeled off that disgusting black rubber band and unroll it till you had a bumpy beautiful stack of crisp fresh news.

And there was something beautiful about the paper before it was opened.

Strawberry jam fingers hadn’t dog-eared corners, flyers weren’t scattered everywhere, and unapologetic backwards-folding hadn’t flipped sections inside out, making them flimsy and disorganized — pages at different heights, untethered middle sheets slipping onto the cold linoleum floor.

Yes, it was just a clear window to the world on your kitchen table.

When you flipped open the paper there were kids huddling under cars in distant countries, stern-eyebrowed generals swearing in to lead violent armies, and tornados blasting barns to bits, all photographed inches away, just yesterday, and sitting in your hands right now.

Reading an actual newspaper came without distractions.

Windows couldn’t pop up, email wasn’t a click away, and detergent jingles didn’t scream out of random corners. Everything faded into the backyard background as you got sucked into tales of police corruption, stunned by fiery photos, or captivated by a long two-page profile of the local athlete on a comeback bid.

And after reading for a long time your fingers turned black with ink smudges smearing your body like tiny tattoos. It was like the newspaper marked you. While you were leaving greasy prints in its cracks and corners, it was leaving something with you. In a way you touched each other, traded molecules, and became one.

In addition to the ink, maybe you connected with the columnists. You learned from them, were challenged by them, and read everything they wrote. You hated them some days and loved them on others. Whether it was the sharp-tongued sports writer who hated ownership but loved the game, the provocative political pundit with the bleeding heart, or the snobby movie critic with biting reviews that kept you laughing, you could always count on opinions. Crystal clear voices and friendly faces in tiny boxes felt like chatting with friends. You even missed them while they were away and were met by a line on F2 saying “Dave Perkins will be back next week.”

That was when the game was a story instead of a score, ideas weren’t reduced to bullet points from news feeds, and movie reviews weren’t dumbed down into online percentages with lines like “59% of people like Rochelle, Rochelle.”

That was when newspapers were more than information.

They were entertainment too.

Little poems caught your eye in obituaries, colorful characters pulled you into cartoons, cheeky letters to the editor got you laughing, and crossword puzzles kept you and dad guessing for hours. Flipping through the paper was a little escape out of your head. It was a twenty minute vacation into a faraway world where you were watching Olympic games, attending film festivals, and trying new banana bread recipes, all from your front porch.

Quiet authority was baked into every page of the paper, too. Behind the stories was a team of experts deciding what was news and what wasn’t. Sometimes they went in-depth, sometimes they sent reporters overseas, and sometimes they created a weekly series to crack big cases in your hometown.

Instead of clicking the most popular articles there was something about flipping past everything all stitched together and making up your own mind. It was slow, meandering, and adventurous, instead of flashing headlines hitting you like a rubber mallet to the forehead. Album reviews, stock quotes, and relationship advice were waiting every day for new listeners, investors, and lovers.

“Just think,” my dad would say as I was growing up. “A team of people spent weeks digging up stories around the world, taking pictures and writing everything down, arranging and printing it on paper, and carrying it right to our front door…for fifty cents!”

Newspapers helped decide what was important and acted like filters against information overload. Costs prevented spam, space limited excess, and daily deadlines prevented constant updates from buzzing on cell phones all day. When there was a big sale at the corner shop, they splurged for a full page ad. When a new school was proposed in town, they posted notice for a local meeting. When your neighbor’s daughter finished college, there she was in her graduation cap, flashing a big toothy grin, in fuzzy black and white.

Clipped and cut into squares and rectangles were painted patches of our city and our friends and our lives.

Yes, long, long time ago, I can still remember … how that paper used to make me smile.

Now fat weekend papers are getting thinner, foreign bureaus are getting dimmer, and there’s bad news on the door step, with flat wire stories replacing local depth.

Sure, time changes, life changes, the world spins and moves on. Maybe we’re all fitter, happier, and more productive, and maybe we’re better informed with wider choices, greater access, and more transparency.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy those papers from our past, too.

Next time you pass a newspaper stand, next time you snap a dirty rubber band, next time you crinkle thin sheets in your hand, enjoy the feeling, enjoy the moment, and just enjoy the view.

Let’s remember to enjoy reading an actual newspaper.

Let’s remember to remember it’s


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#155 Correctly guessing which pocket your keys are in while standing at your front door

I used to have a man purse.

Somebody bought one for me a few years ago and I found myself strapping it on around town while I was in school. Once the cell phone and wallet got tossed in there everything else was fair game. I’d stuff a burrito in before the movie, skip plastic bags at the corner store, and avoid taking a backpack to class. “So practical,” I’d find myself saying to friends. “I feel like a new man.”

And when I was toting the man purse around I always had a specific pocket to stash my keys. It was on the front for easy access and I preferred having them there instead of stab-jabbing my thighs through a day of classes.

But sadly, my friends, those days are gone.

See, I left my man purse in the back of a cab one night by accident and it sped off into the distance, leaving me in a cloud of dust, never to be heard from again. It was like that tragic scene in An American Tail where Feivel gets separated from his family. Only I was Fievel. And my family was the man purse.

These days I’m back to my thigh-jabby self again with assorted wallets, keys, and phones poking out of pockets all over the place. Random folded pieces of paper, bus transfers, and jing-jangling coins come along for the ride too, strapped right onto me, everywhere I go.

It’s always a tense scene when I get to the front door and suddenly go on a frantic Pocket Search to find my keys. Winter coats, sweatshirt pouches, and cargo pants complicate matters and there are times I’m stuck searching for up to two seconds.


People, that’s what makes it great when I manage to correctly guess which pocket is holding my keys at the front door. Call off the search party and scrap the mission because now we ain’t going fishin’ — we’re just getting in, getting comfy, and getting


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