Do You Take This Smartphone for Better or Worse?

I tepidly approached the empty stool next to her. 'Excuse me,' I said, my gaze traveling from her eyes downward. 'Not interested pal,' she replied curtly. 'May I just touch it for a moment? Better yet, can I hold it?'

I'm Sweating It

Nobody told me about the trap I was falling into. Not my friends, not my wife, certainly not the person who rang me up at the store. My hope here is I can provide for you what wasn't there for me

The TV Remote is Harvard's Answer to Birth Control

'Where's the remote?' My wife appeared, clutching the precious device in her left hand. 'May I please have it?' 'If you're expecting me to sit or roll over like the dog, may I remind you that my knees are killing me,' I replied

When Selecting Wine, Choose Your Words Carefully

I subtly glanced at the patrons around me, trying to mimic them by sticking my nose far into the glass and inhaling deeply. I pinched the glass stem and swirled, nearly splashing red wine onto my white linen napkin. Eventually I sipped. 'Tastes, uh, great,' was my review

Ray Lewis, Your Seat at The Kids Table is Ready

This year, the National Football League underwent more analysis than Lance Armstrong. By the time each ex-jock, former coach or retired referee told us what to expect in today's game, the contest was half over

Let's Name the Lottery Losers

There's nothing more stimulating to the brain than getting mad. I'm easily angered and there are so many things in the world to get mad about that my brain is seldom at ease. Nothing so regularly angers me as much as stories about lottery winners

Snow Memories Warm the Heart

The experts who know about this sort of thing have been predicting terrible consequences for the Earth and all of us on it unless we do something to stop the warming of our planet

Diplomacy: Lying Politely

There are a hundred places in the world that need the help U.S. power and money can provide. But we have to ask, how much can we do and how much do we have the will to do? How effective would diplomacy be?

It Should Have Been Super

One regular ticket for the Super Bowl costs about $600. If someone offers you a ticket for $10, don't buy it if you want to see the game. In the stadium, the game is an afterthought. It's treated as though it was an intrusion on the mindless noise flowing endlessly from the stadium speakers

Flu Sufferers, Your Facebook Posts are Making Me Sick

One recommendation for flu sufferers is to get plenty of rest. However, that hasn't stopped many of my Facebook friends from dragging themselves out of bed, firing up their computers

Where Are All The Young Nudes?

The San Francisco TV reporter was young, perky and brunette. Her interview subject was her polar opposite: male, late 60s and balding, with skin that looked as if it had traveled south for the winter and wasn't coming back

It's Your Cellphone That Makes You Fat!

Like millions of Americans, I begin each year vowing to lose a few pounds. As 2013 dawns, I plan to slightly modify my goal, focusing on a single part of my body. Specifically my thumbs

Things I Love to Hate

I came across a column by Dick Burdette entitled, 'These are a few of my favorite things.' I don't want to steal his column or lose my image as a complainer so I'll go in the opposite direction

Warm Coats and Inaugural Memories

It's that time again, so I've collected a few facts about presidential inaugurations. Maybe you can surprise your friends with them

Searching For Life, Any Life, in Rural New Mexico

I have been driving for just over two hours and have yet to see another vehicle. Cellphone reception is nonexistent and I am silently praying that I chose the most dependable rental car on the lot

Attention Sports Parents! In Cyberspace, No One Can Hear You Scream

Scenes like this are why it's time to harness my beloved streaming video technology. Venture capitalists listen up! I'm searching for backers for my new site, Here's how it works

There's No Joy in Junking Your Christmas Tree

I don't know of any work I hate more than dismantling the Christmas tree. But I know my reluctance to untrim the tree is part sloth and part sentiment. It seems so sad that Christmas is over

Food for Holiday Thoughts

We all look for that perfect day when we have enough to do but not too much. There's a fine line and we usually cross it. At this time of year, most of us have so much to do that there isn't time to sit back and enjoy our holiday

White House Tweets That Never Were

It makes sense that our most social media-savvy president would resort to strong-arming Congress via hashtags and @ signs. Don't you wonder how other presidents would have used Twitter had it been available throughout history?

Warning: Antiques are Addictive

It seems like there are more antique dealers than plumbers, and the supply of dealers far exceeds the dwindling number of antiques left for them to sell

Real Men Don't Wrap Christmas Gifts

I have accomplished all of the manly jobs that come with the blessed holiday celebrating the birth of our Lord. All that's left is the most difficult task for a man, any man: Wrapping gifts

Lessons From a Reformed Cybershopper

As the holiday gift-buying clock winds down and all you cybershoppers sit smugly at your computers, bragging to anybody who will listen how easy it was to shop online, allow me to taint your eggnog

The Joys of Email Hacking

When my smartphone is also flashing an enormous number of texts and missed calls, I brace myself, as I have learned the hard way that this usually means someone I love is in trouble

Hard Choices in Store

A trip to the supermarket is one of the pleasures of my Saturdays. It's satisfying to have worked all week to make enough money to be able to spend some of it on Saturday for things you see in a store

The Junk Building Boom

I'm thinking how badly we need someone with absolute power in charge of controlling the buildings people erect. I'd not only want to control new construction; I'd also want the power to tear down some of the buildings already up

Vive La French Food

I feel about the French the way we all feel about difficult members of our family: They are infuriating but we love them anyway. Following are some notes I made -- mostly about French food

Beware the Revolving Candy Dish

It is 8 inches high, 18 inches around, made of crystal and, in my house, as dangerous as a loaded gun

Thou Shalt not Overlike on Facebook

Be nice to people, I say. It's okay to have lots of friends, I add. If you want others to like you, you need to like them, I conclude. Facebook, however, disagrees

Make Christmas More Like Christmas

While I'm thinking about it, this might be a good time to make some Christmas resolutions for future years. Here's my list

Christmas: Fugeddaboutit!

Some days, it seems as though I have so much to do I can't get anything done. It happens a lot around Christmas

Try Some of Andy's Christmas Tidbits

Bells are ringing like mad and shoppers are flooding the stores, so I guess it's not too early anymore to talk about Christmas. Following are a few things you may not have known about Christmas, and several things you know but may like to be reminded of

An 'F' is a very 'Nobel' grade

My daughter burst through the front door, dropped her backpack, grabbed a handful of potato chips and flopped on the couch. A typical after-school entrance. I tepidly approached

Is It Music or Noise?

Nothing divides one generation from another so definitely as its popular music. Those who grew up listening to the Beatles are either not interested in, or actively dislike, the sound of rap, hip-hop or heavy metal

'Here Comes Donald Boo Hoo' and Other Post-Election Reality Shows

The votes have been (mostly) tabulated, a winner has been declared, the election is over and now it's time for all television networks to get back to doing what they do best: Developing new reality shows

The Puck Stops Here: How to Convert Your Wife to Golf

I have a message for NHL owners and players currently locked in a tussle that threatens to wipe out the entire season: Take all the time you need. The longer the strike, the more time I have to convert my wife to golf

The New Elvis

The most watched clip in the history of YouTube is not the anti-Muslim film that set off rioting around the world last month. Rather, it's a music video that has now been viewed nearly 500 million times

Preparing for Doomsday One Candle at a Time

'Let's have a family meeting!' 'I'm doing homework, Dad,' came the reply from my two daughters. 'NOW!' It was the last line that got them downstairs. 'Yeah, what?' my wife said. 'We are prepping for Doomsday,' I said

Horror Stories from a Black Friday Dad

I groggily looked at the alarm clock, which registered 2:30 a.m. Time to get up and honor a commitment I apparently made to my 15-year-old-daughter less than six hours earlier: Drive her and her friends to Black Friday sales

When You Can't Catch a Break

Here's what you don't want when you visit the ER for a sports injury. No, if you go to the ER, darn it, you want to hear about some broken bones, or at least some solid ligament damage

A Homemade Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is uniquely American holiday, but it could use a little focus. We ought to do things that would remind us of the virtues we admire in the Pilgrim Fathers, not to mention, of course, the Pilgrim Mothers

Candy Distribution Tips for Halloween 2013

I have a few questions for every kid who rang my doorbell this past Halloween: Do you have any idea how to trick or treat? Do you even know what you're supposed to do when I answer the bell?

Is The Battery Half Full or Half Empty?

I open the hotel room door, gaze at my temporary home and immediately wonder where they are. Are there any behind the bed? Finally, I head to the bathroom. Yet wonderful at the same time

Presidential Debates Reveal More About the Candidates and Less

Candidates are as trapped with who they are as the rest of us. They have only their own personalities, their own intelligence or lack of it, their own virtues and their own defects

Forget the Birthday Greetings

As we accumulate friends over the years and relatives proliferate, there become more special occasions in our lives than we can handle -- or even remember

Sort Well-Aged from Old

Some things -- and people -- age well. Some things -- and people -- just get old

Silence is a Wonderful Sound

There are all kinds of sounds in nature that are better than noise. Some sounds are good or bad depending on where you are and what you're doing when you hear them

Learning to Say Goodbye to Honey Boo Boo

Tonight I'm going to make it easy on my eyes, allowing my brain to work harder. Instead, horrified, The LEARNING Channel delivers Southern culture courtesy of 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo'

My Thoughts on My Thoughts on the Romney Video

I have some thoughts about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's secretly recorded video. My thoughts are, I'll admit, eerily similar to some other people's thoughts

Coping with the Ravages of SNOT

I dialed the number with my free hand. 'Hello?' 'Hello, boss. 'What's the problem this time, Schwem?' 'I have SNOT.' 'We have Kleenex in the office.' 'No, not snot'

One Husband's Plan to Cut Grocery Bills in Half

Ladies, stop sending your husbands to the grocery store. The reason? Guys always come home with two of everything

The Fine Print of Parenting

It has been well-publicized that having children will greatly increase your ability to love and empathize, as well as to feel unbridled joy

For All School Needs, Visit the Third House on the Left

The first of many knocks occurred last week. I opened the door to see a neighborhood boy wearing a high school football jersey

Is It Too Late to Reconsider Chicago's Olympic Bid?

Now that the Olympic flame has been extinguished and the Royal Family has gone back to doing whatever it is the Royal Family does, Chicagoans such as myself can only ask, 'What if?'

An Appreciative Husband's Gratitude

Wives do a thousand little things for their husbands that they don't get credit for. Right here, I want to give credit where credit is due

Everything is Coming Up 'Awesome'

There's so much competition for our attention that everyone is using up all our good superlatives to get it

The Sad, Pathetic Personality of a Computer Hacker

My 79-year-old father looked at me through tears of frustration, staring at his PC. In just 24 hours, he had been shunned by dozens of people who, up until now, he thought were his friends

The Hershey's Diet: Love, Support and 20 Extra Pounds

I have always fervently supported my children in their extracurricular endeavors. My only rule is that my personal health and safety not be in danger

Life Isn't Fair When the Ball Goes Foul

The ball towered off White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez's bat. As it began its descent, the occupant of lower box 123, row 11, seat 6 had only one thought: 'That's headed right at me'

Politicians Have It Hard

It's good fun to criticize our politicians and we all do a lot of that. It's hard not to, but I often feel sorry for them

Time on My Mind

More as a matter of habit than plan, we divide our days, weeks and years into parts that don't make sense. It has always seemed wrong to me that we sleep for seven or eight hours out of every 24, but apparently the body needs it

Police Report

When the music and the news on radio begin to get repetitive and I want some friendly noise in my workshop, I turn on a shortwave scanner that picks up police, fire and aircraft frequencies

Home is Always The Best Place to Be

When I go into someone else's house, I'm always pleased that the owners don't know what I'm thinking. I come in the door, say hello and right away I start making changes

The Glories of Maturity

Except that you have more years ahead of you, youth isn't necessarily a better time of life than any other. School was harder than work ever has been

How I Almost Lost Two Pounds

Are you tired of being overweight? Does it make you mad at yourself because you're unable to control the amount of food you eat? If that's true, this is for you

Goodbye, Old Pal

It's too sad to talk about, but I'm going to talk to you about it. If I'd had a gun, the humane thing to do would have been to shoot it. I didn't have a gun, so I turned it over to a stranger

To My Child, I Bequeath The Blade

True, she's nearly 16, but she still seems so young to take on this much responsibility. She had better not be texting while the apparatus is in motion

Please Let Lindsay Lohan Sleep

Leave it to Lindsay Lohan to give naps a bad reputation

We're Doing Too Much Kissing

Joy Cartier from Honolulu has written me a good, sensible letter suggesting I write something about kissing. Joy seems to feel that kissing has gotten out of hand

Parents: Have Your Kids Had the Photo Talk?

Recent news events have made it necessary for me to have yet another Big Talk with my daughters. Not the Sex Talk and the Stranger Danger Talk -- But the Photo Talk

The Only Word You Need to Remember is 'Apple'

I recently purchased an iPad and, like most users, now spend every waking moment perusing the online App Store, randomly purchasing applications

Here's Some Information You Don't Need

The central problem with the Information Age is ... information. Or, to put it another way ...

The White House? No Thank You

All the politicians and newspeople are already yakking endlessly about who will win the next presidential election. They never give us a break

Don't Order the Reindeer

On my first night in Alaska I noticed my in-room dining menu offered 'reindeer sausage' for breakfast. Or so I thought until one sunny evening

Repair My Cellphone, Repair My Life

I used to think the Department of Motor Vehicles was the best place to find a collection of individuals in catatonic states that cannot be broken. Then I visited a cellphone repair store

'None of Your Business' Makes for Good Business

I strode into my local dry cleaner and awaited Gary, the proprietor. After a minute or so, he emerged from behind a rack of neatly pressed suits, covered in plastic bags

Click Here to Dislike

After recent articles in The New Yorker, The Week and posts in every twentysomething's blog about Facebook being too intrusive and totally outdated, I now have enough confidence to close down my page

A Fish-Out-of-Water Tale

This is an important message for people who manage, sit on the board of, or in any other way play a prominent role in the operation of large-scale metropolitan aquariums

My Neighbor The Stranger

We don't really have one anymore. The days of going next door to borrow a cup of sugar are gone

Nothing Comes

Things don't come, we all know that

The Caesar Salad will be $10,000

If you dine out regularly in large metropolitan areas, odds are excellent you will eventually encounter a famous person sitting nearby

The Do-It-Yourself Guide To Not Attempting It At All

All dads need to be keenly aware of a very ominous phrase: Do It Yourself or 'DIY' if you are texting

Pigeon Paradise

Oak Park, the town -- or, excuse me, village -- that I proudly call home, is known for a few things. For starters, there's architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who set up shop in Oak Park for years

Are You My Daughter? Prove It!

As a parent, I know that by nature children are inquisitive. Now, with the presidential election heating up, I fear I will be helpless when trying to respond to their curiosities about politics

I Don't Want The Music to Stop

I HAD a birthday yesterday. There was nothing even vaguely celebratory about any part of the day. I hated it from beginning to end. The only thing worse would have been not having another birthday

Against Whistling

Whistlers are a little crazy. They're nice and I like them, but they're slightly batty. They don't have both oars in the water. They live in a world of their own

The Urge to Eat

No number of articles detailing the kind or amount of food I should eat to lose weight will ever convince me that I'm not a person who's just naturally overweight

It Only Happens in the Movies

A lot of things happen in the movies that never happen to me

I Can Dine Alone But I Still Need a Hug

Recently I became aware of a new website getting an inordinate amount of buzz from the media, the cyber community and women who travel on business

Put Up Your #Dukes and Tweet Like a Man!

Hardly a day goes by when I'm not reading about a 'Twitter feud' between people who really should have better things to do with their time and their cellphones

Warning: This Program is Rated NSFCPP

I have come to the conclusion that all programming, be it movies, TV shows or even content coming from our home video cameras, needs a new rating classification. I call it NSFCPP: Not Suitable for Certain Public Places

Are Band-Aids Starter Tattoos for Kids?

Does a brightly colored adhesive bandage on a child's once clean and bare arm/leg/left eyebrow make an identity statement the same way a tattoo does?

Your Kid's Next Birthday Party -- Done Wrong!

Many kids do celebrate their birthdays around this time. If you have one of those lucky kids and are looking for a new way to celebrate his/her birthday, here are some ideas!

Your Baby Can Now Get The Celebrity Treatment!

Babies born to noncelebrity parents get the shaft. Paparazzi yawn, Twitter doesn't crash and the only people on the Internet who will share the news are members of our immediate families

Burying Barbie and Other Depressing Parental Duties

I am a firm believer in the 'Death Comes in Threes' adage, not only for celebrities but also for children's toys. It happened again recently

An Actor's Tips for Jobhunting

Perhaps my fellow underemployed Americans would appreciate a professional actor's (read: continual interviewee's) tips on keeping your confidence intact when hustling for work

Just a Few Observations, and They're on the House

No matter what you call it, it's dull work. I've been home a lot lately and inevitably have been pressed into some housework. The following things are true about housework

Sinatra Had the Quality of Genius

Twenty-five years ago, I flew to Palm Springs with Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt, the producer, to write an hour special about Frank Sinatra on the occasion of his 50th birthday. I got thinking about the experience on his 75th

I Didn't Do It, But I'll Resign Anyway

Maybe we're being unreasonable when we expect our congressmen to be honest. We're asking too much. What do we expect of ordinary mortals, anyway, perfection?

What's Right in America? A Great Deal!

Columnists make a living pointing out things that are wrong with America. What are some of the things that are right with America? Let me count the ways

We Must Create Time for Ourselves

Everything's crowding in on me. Please step back and give the man some air.

Some of Life's Unpleasant Tasks

I am undertaking the job of cataloging some of life's unpleasant little tasks in an effort to bring us all together. The following are hard jobs

Wake Me Up When You're Done Reading This

I want to tell you about something I do exceedingly well. If there were some way of ranking the people who do it in order of their proficiency at it, I believe I'd be near the top of the list

Play First, Read Instructions Later

The directions that come with any new appliance or tool must all be written in one place in some remote foreign country because they all sound the same

Do Not Fret, Fat People, It's Not Your Fault

I'm only talking to overweight people today. The rest of you can move on to something else in the paper

Repair Jobs Come in Bunches

It would be easier to fix things if something else didn't always break while you were fixing the first thing

Things Could Be Much Better, Or Maybe They'd Just Be Worse

There's still a lot of work to be done on the design of all the things we use in our everyday lives

A Perfect 10 is the Number of Our Dreams

The best colleges are faced with a dilemma every year: They need a lot of freshmen to pay for their buildings and teachers, but they have to keep the place hard to get into if they want good students

Squeeze, Twist and Pull Just Doesn't Work

The tops of jars and bottles are too hard to take off. Stuff that comes packaged in plastic is too hard to open. How come companies are selling us stuff we can't get at?

Please Pass the Eponyms

It's fun to know more about the English language than is necessary to speak or write it. Eponyms, for example, are an interesting linguistic aberration

Why Do We Take Pride in Ignorance?

Considering how much we profess to admire education, it's funny how often we take pride in our ignorance

50 Stories You'll Be Reading This Year

There's a theory in the news business that there are only so many stories. Here are 50 you can depend on reading

Parking Spaces are Another Endangered Species

A lot of people who know how to drive don't seem to know how to park

Everything is Coming Up 'Awesome'

There's so much competition for our attention that everyone is using up all our good superlatives to get it

Too Much Bigness is No Small Matter

We may have gone far enough with bigger. The time may be at hand to start thinking small

Big Breakdown on the Little Things

You can buy a new one, but you can't get the old one fixed. That's the crisis in America.

Gratuitous Noise is Irritating

There's a conspiracy against silence in the world. We seem to prefer a shout to a whisper

Make Christmas More Like Christmas

While we're thinking about it, this might be a good time to make some Christmas resolutions for the coming years. Here are some proposals

Great Place to Hang Around In

Most days, both old and new, are good. I like remembering familiar and pleasant old things, but it doesn't pay to spend much time thinking about them. You can probably guess what's coming. I'm going to talk about 'the good old days.'

A Movable Feast

These suggestions for Thanksgiving dinner are late, so put them in the freezer and save them for Christmas

You Don't Mind If I Sit, Do You?

This is my first column. What follows are some clues to my character. --I prefer sitting, but when I stand, I stand in size 8-1/2 EEE shoes. --When it comes to politics, I don't know whether I'm a Democrat or a Republican

It's Fun To Save All That Stuff

I love the idea of saving anything, but all the things I enjoy saving are as hard to know where to put as money. At the moment, I'm sitting in a workroom in the basement of my house. It's separated by a door from my shop, where my tools are

What's Right in America? A Great Deal!

Columnists make a living pointing out things that are wrong with America. There isn't much money in talking about the all the good things because it's dull. What are some of the things that are right with America? Let me count the ways

Don't Make a Wastebasket What It Isn't

Wastebaskets play an increasingly important part in our lives as the proliferation of paper threatens to bury us before we can throw it out, but a wastebasket is a strictly utilitarian object

You Don't Have to Buy Anything To Have Fun Shopping

The other day, one of those newspaper columns that gives advice gave some suggestions on how to stay within a budget when we're shopping. The suggestions were to shop alone, stick to a list and don't shop for food when we're hungry. The only part I accept is the advice to shop alone

The Grammar Police Are At It Again

The grammar police are a large, unaffiliated group of readers, usually women, often retired schoolteachers, who pour over the newspaper every day searching for dumb mistakes -- like writers who say 'pour' when they mean 'pore'

People Ought to Sign Work They Do

Maybe signed work is the answer to getting better workmanship again. Everything that anyone makes should have his or her name on it for praise or blame and for reference

We Must Create Time for Ourselves

There are too many events, too many movies and too much television. There are too many books to read. The newspaper keeps coming. There's no time to sit down and stare out the window without feeling you ought to be doing something

The Dream of An Incipient Snob

If I could have three wishes, I'd use one to wish for a valet. My standards of dress have deteriorated and I ought to do something before I become a real slob

They Don't Disagree and Never Fight or Borrow Money

Old friends may be the best friends, but new friends you don't know very well are good, too. New friends, by which I mean friends with whom you have no serious relationship, make life pleasant

Maintaining Cars and Bodies

My car and my body are in about the same shape. I don't know which is harder -- taking my body to the doctor or my car to the garage. It's surprising how many similarities suggest themselves in the treatment of our cars and our bodies

Who Says Autumn Anymore? It's Almost Fall

Summer dies hard. We try to keep it alive for just a little longer. We keep doing a few of the things we did on vacation, just as though it wasn't really over.

We Need A Universal Language

Sometimes it's hard to decide what to think and write about. For instance, I might be able to make something out of the difference between the words 'some time' and 'sometime' and even 'sometimes'

My Summer Vacation On the Lake

I sometimes think vacations are harder to take than going to work. When you go to work, you know what you have to do, but you go on vacation to have fun and take a break from your everyday life. Good times are more apt to come unexpectedly rather than by design

Traveling? Include Me Out

Just for fun, I made a list of places I don't want to go to

Remembering the Cars of Yesteryear

The automobile industry always makes changes in its new models, but it isn't until 10 years later that you realize cars have gradually become different.

We All Need to Carve Out Some Down Time

Everything's crowding in on me. Please step back and give the man some air. It isn't just too many people; it's too many things to do, too many possessions, too much equipment designed to make life easier, too many wires leading to too many electric appliances, too many relationships to maintain

What a Week for the World

There are stories in the newspaper every day that interest me and stories that don't. I'm not proud of myself for this; it's just true. The world was informed of the death of Osama bin Laden. I've read about Bin Laden often enough that I can now remember how to spell his name, and because of the monumental nature of this story I can barely get to the other stories in the papers

What Not to Wear

It isn't anything I want to think a lot about, but for some reason I woke up in the middle of last night and got wondering why men wear pants and women wear skirts. I guess I was thinking about clothing because of all the talk this week about what Kate was wearing when she married Prince William

'How Are You Paying For This?'

How many professional people do you know, in any field, who compliment the work done by anyone else?

Knowledge Times Weight Equals Diploma

I am seriously considering steering my 15-year-old daughter toward a career in orthopedics

The Wife: A True Musical Oddity

I heard the lyrics as I prepared steaks on the grill one warm Saturday evening. The band's name was Ween. We had the best time at your party. The wife and I thank you very much

It's Only The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, But

There are many reasons NOT to care about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or the induction ceremony. But, thanks to a friend ...

Proud to Be Dumb

Considering how highly we prize an education, it's strange that we take so much satisfaction in our ignorance. We're always proudly proclaiming that we know nothing about something

That's What You Think

There's something annoying about public opinion polls. The other thing that makes public opinion polls unreliable is the suggestion on the part of the organization taking the poll that we are all predictable

Keeping Golf Legal: Notes from a Recliner Referee

Doesn't my better half realize that televised golf has become interactive? That it's up to middle-age husbands like myself to keep the game's integrity intact by exposing possible criminal activity among the links' elite?

Don't Drink The Water, Become The Water

Over the years, I have had several bit parts in commercials. In actor's terms that means, 'blink and you will miss me'

Time to Fill Out Your Presidential Bracket

My favorites choked, my dark horses stumbled and I watched helplessly as my NCAA bracket literally folded itself into a paper airplane and flew into my office garbage can before the Sweet 16 was even solidified

Age is Nothing More Than an Intricate Equation

The child sat in the grocery cart, happily eating breakfast cereal as his mother transferred items onto the belt. 'How old is he?' 'Twenty-two months.' 'Nice.' 'But he's not two. 'Sure. Whatever'

An Ad Campaign With No End in Sight

My cursor hovers over the 'cancel' button. But my brain won't send the downward movement to the fingers. The brain is overly cautious because I am considering canceling my monthly payment to Google

Birthday Wishes for the Hard of Hearing

I have recently been made aware of how loud certain sounds can be, right down to the exact decibel

I Owe My Sanity to Google

Whenever I fly, I always scan the passengers boarding the plane and wonder if there is an air marshal in my midst

The Unsolved Case of the Missing Lids

The other day a famous Jerry Seinfeld comedy bit popped into my head as I was cleaning my kitchen

Thou Shalt Play Nice When Playing Words with Friends

I have recently begun playing Words With Friends, the online letter game that is addictive, infuriating and biblical, all at the same time

How to Annoy Your Parents in Any Language

We are driving. We are hoping to experience zip lining for the first time. My wife has the steering wheel in a death grip while I desperately try to read the directions from our hotel concierge

The Robot is in the Driveway

My hometown of Chicago is extremely quiet and boring in February with the exception of two events

A Password for the Ages and the Aging

I am staring at my computer screen reading and re-reading the four words that confound me the most whenever I surf the Internet: 'Please enter your password'

A Super Dilemma Only the President Can Solve

I hope this letter reaches you before Super Bowl Sunday; if not, simply stick it in the official White House shredder alongside all those memos and suggestions from John Boehner

Running The Country From the Three-Point Arc

Like most of the country, I spent the past week reading Jodi Kantor's revealing portrayal of our nation's first couple. By 'reading,' I mean I skimmed, searching for any sentence that contained 'Kardashian' or some form thereof

The Perfect Snowball Only Costs 10 Bucks

Sometimes I wonder how I reached nearly the half-century mark of life, particularly when my kids seem just inches from serious bodily injury or worse on a daily basis

Rise of the Middle-Aged Protester

Tis the season to look back on the previous 12 months, identify regrets and vow to try something completely different in the coming year. For me, that means protesting

Feeling Like a King at 30,000 Feet

The gentleman seated next to me took a sip of his drink and sighed. I quickly agreed. We could have been discussing love, fame, money or maybe even a decent golf swing.

Nothing Says 'I'm Too Lazy' Like a Gift Card

The fact remains that I am simply too lazy to Christmas shop via the normal methods. Instead, I have created another day in which to start and finish my holiday buying

Customer Support Never Tasted So Good

Every journalist charged with writing a weekly column yearns for two things

The Sexiest Man Alive is Out There Somewhere

The People magazine lay on the kitchen island along with a stack of bills and Christmas catalogues. I glanced quickly at the cover before pushing it into my wife's pile. Well, it's official. Bradley Cooper is the 2011 Sexiest Man Alive

It's Time to Delete the Pause Button

As a man living in a house with three women, I have a small request for television manufacturers, cable companies, set top box makers and whomever else is responsible for temporarily suspending the present with the click of a button: STOP IT!

I Desperately Need to Talk Turkey

Now that the Halloween decorations are back in storage and my Kit Kat hangover has subsided, I can turn my attention to a fantasy that has been swirling in my brain and won't go away. I want to man the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line

My Children Will Become Actuaries

I crept up behind my daughter as she sat at the kitchen table, slumped over her MacBook. 'What are you doing?' 'Facebooking.' I had no idea 'Facebook' could be used as a verb

More Towels, Sir? We Already Knew That

The headline caught my eye as I sat in my Orlando hotel room, futilely struggling to open the complimentary coffee packet: 'HOTEL STAFF 'READS' GUESTS' NEEDS'

My Daughter's Brain: A Work in Progress

As the orthodontist put braces on my 14-year-old daughter, I sat in the waiting room, casually flipping through National Geographic. Halfway through October's cover story, I realized I could never let her see this issue

Little League Rules for Big League Debates

After watching the 2,407th Republican presidential candidate debate, this one LIVE FROM LAS VEGAS, I feel it's time to incorporate youth softball rules into the contests. Something needs to be done

A Good Putting Stroke is All in the Wallet

As a Chicago resident and die-hard Cubs fan, I'm used to living through springs that begin with so much promise, only to turn into summers full of zero improvement and wasted opportunities, followed by September cries of 'wait till next year.' My golf game plays out in identical fashion

It Takes Very Little Effort to Be a Man

Apparently, testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, drops when men become dads. Even more alarming? The study suggests levels plummet further when guys take active roles in child rearing. In short: The more involved a man is with his kids, the less 'manly energy' he has

Congress Needs a Three-Martini Lunch

As Congress continues to bumble its way through existence, I feel it's finally time to step in and offer a solution that will solve our nation's ills. The Three Martini Lunch

Mark Zuckerberg Needs Some Kids

The last time I Googled Mark Zuckerberg, he was a 27-year-old billionaire who invented Facebook

Thankfully, Nevin Shapiro Never had Children

There is football on my TV, the greens of my backyard leaves are slowly giving way to fiery reds and my kids have resumed both school and youth sports programs. As long as Nevin Shapiro stays in jail, it's going to be a great fall

The Best-Kept Secrets are Left in Bars

I'm currently writing a one-man show. I haven't finished it, but I know it's going to be awesome. Critics will rave, theaters will sell out and tickets will go for three times face value on StubHub. How do I know all of this? Because I'm going to leave the unfinished script in a bar. Hey, if it worked for Apple, it should work for me

OMG! The Pope is Tweeting!

Pope Benedict XVI recently sent his first tweet. Before this monumental event, the leader of the Catholic Church had been interacting with his followers via speeches, written by hand and sometimes composed entirely in Latin

Your Good Health ... for 50 Percent Off!

Certain things in life should be kept separate. Cheese fries and cholesterol screenings. Fourth-graders and 'Bachelor Pad' episodes. Coupons and medical procedures

Back to $chool

This week, millions of Americans stood helplessly by as significant portions of their net worth were wiped out. And no, I'm not talking about the stock market. I'm talking about something far more horrifying: The moment they saw their child's back-to-school supply list

A Few of Life's Little Ironies

The following things are true, or so I believe

'Veep' Entertains, But Doesn't Hold Mirror to Reality of Office

The irrelevance and incompetence of the American vice president is enjoying a rerun. In the new HBO comedy series, Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina Meyer, the well-meaning airhead of a fictional administration

Nothing Like An Upbeat Circumcision Headline

Sometimes all it takes to get the day started right is an upbeat headline about circumcision

Failure to Launch

There is a term for all those twenty- and even thirty-somethings who just can't leave home: 'failure to launch'

Why You Have a Crush on Jeremy Lin

I'm watching Knicks games again for the newest star on the hardwood floor because, like the rest of America, I'm totally charmed by Jeremy Lin's story

Correction: Jennifer Aniston is Not Pregnant

After a careful eight-month study of celebrity gossip magazines, I've determined that, on occasion, these publications get their facts wrong

Diane Farr

Feeling the Seasonal Spirit

There is nothing like starting the holiday season with a little mace to the face

Could the Kardashian Divorce be the Answer to the Recession?

The Kardashian-Humphries wedding is reported to have netted $17.9 million. Nor does that purse include the millions of dollars in gifts given to America's sweetheart/sex-tape graduate on her big dress-up day

Anxiety in the Palm of my Hand

If someone were to ask me what I value most in life, my first answer would be my children. Although sometimes the truer answer is 'alone time away from my children.' I'd quickly want to also include my husband, many friends I can't live without and a varied career to that list

The Etiquette of Blogging

There is nothing more exciting than creating a pretty new blog as a forum for discussion about something you've worked hard on and seeing strangers leave comments for you. It feels flattering that people you don't know have taken the time to read your thoughts and now want to have a dialogue about it. Right up until you read these comments

The Luck of a 20.5-Carat Engagement Ring

Any triumph that I might have felt that for Kim Kardashian was squandered when Kardashian became engaged and the circus over her 'score' began. That would be for the 20.5-carat engagement ring given to her

Because You Are a Blabbermouth!

Amtrak stopped one of its trains recently to allow police to remove and arrest a 'loud cellphone talker' -- charging the woman with disorderly conduct. This particular cellular-sloth had been on her handheld nonstop during a 16-hour journey in the 'Quiet Car'

Mark Bazer

Scenarios in Which Stacy Keibler Would be Paid For a Special Appearance

Thanks to her George Clooney connection, Keibler's fee for special appearances has more than tripled -- to $25,000

How to Save the U.S. Postal Service

The U.S. Postal Service recently announced that it had lost $5.1 billion this past year. But all is not lost. Here are some suggestions for how the U.S. Postal Service can get out of the red

An Error-Filled Errand in Brooklyn

Along with writing this column, I host a talk show at a small club in Chicago every month. Think Conan O'Brien crossed with Charlie Rose and then divide the audience by a gazillion. Last week, I took the show to New York City. Brooklyn, specifically

The Massage is the Message

Let's start with you lying on your stomach, you can put your gently perspiring face in that little circle where someone else just had his gently perspiring face, and, yep, that's perfect. You are soooo tight

This Really Takes the Cake ... Away

Yesterday, the email came, out of the blue, into my inbox. The principal of my son's elementary school -- incidentally, one of the most caring and conscientious principals I've ever met (and I am not just saying that because my son has five more years there) -- had some news. NO MORE FOOD AT IN-SCHOOL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS

The Perfect Blend

Is there a household appliance more useful, more pleasurable, more giving than the blender? Yes, the vacuum cleaner deserves our admiration and our gratitude

No Bees, if You Please

In blatant disregard for their future electability, Oak Park's village board members, writes Jim Jaworski in the Chicago Tribune, 'tentatively moved to repeal the existing ban on beekeeping.' We can at least take comfort that the board 'tentatively moved.' That's smart when it comes to bees

It's Time to Play the Feud

Aunt Pearl turns 95 this week with her animated, often wacky spirit intact, though tempered by mordant references to her sooner-than-later death. Aunt Pearl's at her best when these light and dark sides converge. Sometimes I want to call her up just to hear her delightful cackle

In Defense of Dentists

I'm feeling lightheaded and numb, but this column is urgent, so here goes: Stop thinking such evil thoughts about dentistry!

Say Hello to Fred and Anne

Here's what happens every time a celebrity has a baby. The birth is announced, but details are lacking. Name? Gender? Father? We don't yet know, but joy floods our hearts.

Jen Lancaster

That's Some Bad Hat, Harry

In light of everything terrifying happening in the world -- suicide bombers, Solyndra, drum circles, debates, etc. -- suddenly the idea of voluntarily viewing an old-school horror movie doesn't seem so daunting

Target Shoppers of the World Unite

I'm convinced there are two kinds of people in this world -- Target shoppers and Walmart shoppers. That's not to say that Target shoppers never hit up Walmart, nor are Walmart shoppers immune to Target's charms. But everyone trends one way or another

Saving the Planet -- or Not

Recently, I've become more conscientious about going green. Because I'm not having kids -- ergo I'll never pollute a landfill with a mountain of disposable diapers -- I kind of thought I was exempt from worrying about the environment.

What, Me Worry?

We're all feeling stressed about current events, yes? I mean, you're panicking and trying to figure out how much you might get for your fillings, too, right? Personally, I'm kicking myself for investing in the market and not buying a full set of Lil Wayne-style dental bling

That's the Night the Lights When Out (in Lake County)

My husband, Fletch, believes we should be prepared for any eventuality. Maybe it's his military training or perhaps he watches too much it's-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it Discovery Channel programming. But for whatever reason, he's concerned an apocalypse will occur in our lifetime and when it happens, he assures me we'll be ready

The Real Role Models of Orange County

'Why are you watching that garbage again?' My husband, Fletch, says this every time I tune into anything with 'Real' and 'Housewives' in the title. As three iterations are currently airing -- Orange County, New York, and New Jersey -- he asks this question a lot.

Michael Showalter

How Hot Was It?

After experiencing a scorching atmosphere for the past week that I could have in no uncertain terms baked cookies in, I can honestly say that today's forecast of 'highs in the upper 80s' actually had me considering dressing in layers

I Have Good News ... and Bad News

I feel the good news / bad news axiom really holds true. Like, one year ago my wife and I moved out of our tiny little apartment and for a great price bought a beautiful and spacious town house. That's the good news. The bad news is that to purchase said beautiful town house, we had to move to a neighborhood that is, how can I put this, really crappy

Sometimes, You Just Can't Be Cool

There are certain things you can't look cool doing, so don't even try. For instance: You can't look cool while pretending to be a cat. Let me explain

A Vacation Day -- and More -- Stolen

My Super Dilemma