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?'
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
'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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
It's that time again, so I've collected a few facts about presidential inaugurations. Maybe you can surprise your friends with them
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
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
'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
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 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
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
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, parentsgoaway.com. Here's how it works
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
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
While I'm thinking about it, this might be a good time to make some Christmas resolutions for future years. Here's my list
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
Some days, it seems as though I have so much to do I can't get anything done. It happens a lot around Christmas
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
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
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
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
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
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'
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?
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
It is 8 inches high, 18 inches around, made of crystal and, in my house, as dangerous as a loaded gun
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
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'
Ladies, stop sending your husbands to the grocery store. The reason? Guys always come home with two of everything
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
It has been well-publicized that having children will greatly increase your ability to love and empathize, as well as to feel unbridled joy
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'
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
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?'
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
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
All the politicians and newspeople are already yakking endlessly about who will win the next presidential election. They never give us a break
There's so much competition for our attention that everyone is using up all our good superlatives to get it
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
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
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
Some things -- and people -- age well. Some things -- and people -- just get old
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
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
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
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
I recently purchased an iPad and, like most users, now spend every waking moment perusing the online App Store, randomly purchasing applications
The central problem with the Information Age is ... information. Or, to put it another way ...
The first of many knocks occurred last week. I opened the door to see a neighborhood boy wearing a high school football jersey
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
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
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
"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
Leave it to Lindsay Lohan to give naps a bad reputation
We don't really have one anymore. The days of going next door to borrow a cup of sugar are gone
Things don't come, we all know that
If you dine out regularly in large metropolitan areas, odds are excellent you will eventually encounter a famous person sitting nearby
All dads need to be keenly aware of a very ominous phrase: Do It Yourself or 'DIY' if you are texting
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
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
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
How many professional people do you know, in any field, who compliment the work done by anyone else?
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
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?
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
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 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
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
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?
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!
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
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
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
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
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
A lot of things happen in the movies that never happen to me
There are many reasons NOT to care about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or the induction ceremony. But, thanks to a friend ...
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
I am seriously considering steering my 15-year-old daughter toward a career in orthopedics
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
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
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
Perhaps I live in a fantasy world. But I like to imagine that Jimmy John's, Halsted Street Deli, Potbelly, my mom and others who have provided me with sandwiches over the years all love one another.
I come in praise of the common cold. I've been fighting one the past week and a half, and, honestly, it's been nothing but a pleasure. Every symptom has arrived right on schedule, been on top of its game, stayed its allotted time and then respectfully made way for the next stage
Dear Mark: Thank you for purchasing your ticket(s) to 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' for Monday, Sept. 20, 2010. Your confirmation number is 542HJLD7. You can pick up the ticket(s) at the theater box office
Hand washing is in the news because of a groundbreaking hand-washing study that has made previous hand-washing research obsolete and changed the field of Hand-Washing Studies as we know it
I don't believe in most magic, and by magic, I include fate, miracles, astrology, time travel and several major metropolitan light-rock stations. But I do believe in love at first sight.
My 5-year-old son is developing an interest in money, and -- at the risk of being labeled a socialist by Glenn Beck -- I'm not finding it very enjoyable
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
Everything's crowding in on me. Please step back and give the man some air.
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
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
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
I'm only talking to overweight people today. The rest of you can move on to something else in the paper
It would be easier to fix things if something else didn't always break while you were fixing the first thing
There's still a lot of work to be done on the design of all the things we use in our everyday lives
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
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?
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
Considering how much we profess to admire education, it's funny how often we take pride in our ignorance
There's a theory in the news business that there are only so many stories. Here are 50 you can depend on reading
A lot of people who know how to drive don't seem to know how to park
There's so much competition for our attention that everyone is using up all our good superlatives to get it
We may have gone far enough with bigger. The time may be at hand to start thinking small
You can buy a new one, but you can't get the old one fixed. That's the crisis in America.
There's a conspiracy against silence in the world. We seem to prefer a shout to a whisper
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
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.'
These suggestions for Thanksgiving dinner are late, so put them in the freezer and save them for Christmas
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
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
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
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
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 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'
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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'
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
Just for fun, I made a list of places I don't want to go to
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.
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
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
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
A few thoughts on social anxiety. I'm not what you'd call the life of the party. In fact, more often than not, I'm not even at the party. I'm at home with my wife and my cats, puttering about the house, watching television, eating a snack, reading a book or hand-painting small figurines of 17th century French peasants
Alas, March Madness is over. Well, that is, unless you ...
I am writing this column from the road while promoting my new book, 'Mr. Funny Pants.' THESE WORDS, literally those last two words, the ones in caps, and THESE WORDS, too, are being written while I sit here in the San Francisco airport en route to Los Angeles
The numbers are in. More than 111 million households watched the Super Bowl. That makes this year's Super Bowl the single-most-watched television broadcast of all time. Yes, even more than the premiere of 'Jersey Shore' season two. It's hard to believe, but completely true
The question I am most commonly asked by my guy friends is, 'Are you nervous?' To which I respond, 'No. Why? Should I be?' Now I'm nervous about the fact that I'm not nervous. The question that I am most commonly asked by my women friends is, 'Are you excited?' I have the same response. 'No. Why? Should I be?' Full disclosure: I am excited, but I'll never cop to it. Never!
You may have heard about the new Spider-Man musical on Broadway. Apparently the production is suffering all sorts of problems. Aerialists are breaking wrists and feet, the budget has boiled over $65 million and a radioactive spider bites the main guy -- almost immediately! Talk about bad luck.
'Conviction' tells the true story of Betty Anne Waters (played in the film by Hilary Swank) a working mother who spent over a decade educating herself so that she could become a lawyer just to prove her brother Kenny was innocent of a murder. It is an amazing and uplifting human story with a heartwarming and satisfying ending. Here's what they don't tell you in the movie
I recently had the great honor of performing a wedding ceremony for my good friend Bob and his now-wife, then-fiancee Jane. To perform said wedding ceremony, yours truly had to become a legally certified 'wedding officiant' in the state of New York. This was no easy task and I am happy to report that I did in fact receive said certification
I was coming into my building the other day and I saw a flier taped to the wall next to the elevator. It read: Breast Pump (like new) $50. I may be alone here, but my feeling is that with such things, there's really no such thing as 'like new.' Right?
One night, a few years ago, three of my buddies and I went out for a burger. We had a great time and after the meal we decided that it was such a success that we should do it again. We called ourselves 'The Burger Boys.'
It's not as easy to find a child named after an Apostle as it used to be. Fewer Marks, Thomases, Peters and Pauls are around -- which is the polar opposite of when I was growing up. One of my peers has a father, brother and husband all named John. Yet, when she gave birth to a child, she named him Kenya
What with August covering the country like a horse blanket, it's definitely time to update this annual list of heat-beaters. Feel free to clip and save, mix and match, and add your own
Shame on Lebron James for wanting good teammates! The nerve of this guy! Speaking for myself, I want to work with the most mediocre people I can find. Why? Because it's the right thing to do! It's the only thing to do! Why is it the right thing to do? Uh . . . I don't know! Leave me alone! It just is!
You can come, which would be nice. Or you can skip it, which is fine. But you can't watch it over the Internet. Enough of life is already done through a screen. For death, you're gonna have to put in some effort. I say this in light of recent stories about the surging popularity in webcasted funerals. It's the new new thing in saying farewell
There are those who freak out over weather and those who don't. I'm not talking about tsunamis or Category 5 hurricanes. Anyone would freak out over those. I'm talking about snow and rain, two things we have, somewhere on the planet, on a daily basis
Recycle everything you can, reuse it all before you do and keep a steady eye on your carbon footprint. But, for goodness sake, when life is kicking your butt, treat yourself to a nice package of paper plates
Parking illegally wasn't my intent, wasn't part of some pattern of criminal misconduct. I was taking my kids to the modern-art museum, for goodness' sake. We had no intention of stealing the paintings. I just wanted to teach my sons to appreciate art or, failing that, the gift shop
I just got back from France. It was my 10th wedding anniversary, so I chose a week in Paris. My wife went to Barcelona. And like any vacation to another country, it opened me up to the unique beauty of another culture while giving me a renewed appreciation for all I cherish about home. My word, are you bored yet? So, let's concentrate on the negative instead
Thank you so much for asking me to fill out your short online survey concerning my recent in-store accessory purchase. I wasn't just completely satisfied; I was also, as I know is important to you, Completely Satisfied.
A month ago, I used this column to join the legions of slightly overweight, often lazy but, hey, pretty happy Americans railing against Amy Chua's 'Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior' essay in The Wall Street Journal. To back up my words with action, I took my son this past weekend to see monster trucks. Hmm, maybe Amy Chua was on to something
Like much of the Western world, I read Amy Chua's 'Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior' and immediately wanted to call my very American mom and thank her. But I'd promised my 5-year-son we'd have a 'Scooby-Doo' marathon and from there the day just kind of got away from me
What happened to regrets? Nobody has them, or at least admits to them, anymore. As someone who sets aside an hour before bedtime each night to regret much of what transpired earlier in the day, I find other people's contentment in all their decisions, well, regretful
Are you ready for 2011? By that I mean, are you ready for Mariah Carey's twins? To be sure, there will be other topics deserving of attention next year: A presidential election will start to heat up, 9/11 will have its 10th anniversary, WikiLeaks will publish every e-mail you've ever sent . . . But in 2011, nothing or nobody is going to be able to touch Mariah's twins.
Forget carbon dating. When archaeologists of the future piece together the story of America, they'll have a better tool at their disposal: zipper dating.
My first job after college was as assistant to the editor of an alternative weekly. This was in the pre-Internet glory days when prostitutes bought countless classified ads because, of course, of their firm belief that only an alternative press could hold our government and the mainstream press accountable
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?
Over the years, I have had several bit parts in commercials. In actor's terms that means, 'blink and you will miss me'
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
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'
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
I have recently been made aware of how loud certain sounds can be, right down to the exact decibel
Whenever I fly, I always scan the passengers boarding the plane and wonder if there is an air marshal in my midst
The other day a famous Jerry Seinfeld comedy bit popped into my head as I was cleaning my kitchen
I have recently begun playing Words With Friends, the online letter game that is addictive, infuriating and biblical, all at the same time
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
My hometown of Chicago is extremely quiet and boring in February with the exception of two events
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'
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Every journalist charged with writing a weekly column yearns for two things
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
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!
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
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
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'
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
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
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
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
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
The last time I Googled Mark Zuckerberg, he was a 27-year-old billionaire who invented Facebook
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
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
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
Certain things in life should be kept separate. Cheese fries and cholesterol screenings. Fourth-graders and 'Bachelor Pad' episodes. Coupons and medical procedures
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
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 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
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
Sometimes all it takes to get the day started right is an upbeat headline about circumcision
Will you read one more story about the Super Bowl? I promise not to break down the performance of the Patriots' secondary or anything like that
We got broken into. The worst part? It happened on my day off. I had a couple of vacation days to use up at the end of 2011, because, with two little kids, we never go anywhere
There is nothing like starting the holiday season with a little mace to the face
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
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
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
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
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'
Thanks to her George Clooney connection, Keibler's fee for special appearances has more than tripled -- to $25,000
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
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
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
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
Is there a household appliance more useful, more pleasurable, more giving than the blender? Yes, the vacuum cleaner deserves our admiration and our gratitude
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
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
I'm feeling lightheaded and numb, but this column is urgent, so here goes: Stop thinking such evil thoughts about dentistry!
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
'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.
They say there are nine planets in the solar system. But that is not true. There is a 10th. The Apple Store. On this planet, no one has a job or anyplace to go. They simply drift all day in an endless swirl of new products, most of them white
In the name of fiscal responsibility and recognition of our changing times, here's a serious thought: Let's transform the 2012 Republican presidential primary into a reality TV show. While that might sound flippant, it's really a pragmatic suggestion
Remember when air travel was glamorous? Once upon a time, men took trans-Atlantic flights clad in suits and fedoras and ladies didn't step onto the tarmac without seamed stockings and white gloves. And the stewardesses?
Anyone else completely enamored with the show 'Extreme Couponing'? Not since 'Deadliest Catch's' maiden voyage have I been this obsessed with a television program. Premiering around the time of my first book tour, I was so taken with All Things Crab that instead of discussing my work, I couldn't stop yapping about the unforgiving Bering Sea and Capt. Phil and how the Opies might be running
I'm overwhelmed. Much as I appreciate the 24/7 access to information from cable television, the Internet and satellite radio (plus special alerts sent directly to my phone, in case I somehow avoided all the real-time updates from the other sources), I find myself faced with news overload
I married a man who isn't afraid to wash a dish, scrub a toilet or have his unibrow waxed into submission by a licensed professional. That's not because my husband is so in touch with his feminine side. So, when the time came to paint the old dresser I've been storing in a damp basement for the past decade, I decided to do it myself
My daughters are twins. They are 2 years old and cute and smart and everything else every mother thinks about their little ones, but that's not why they get so much attention. Strangers want to talk to them simply because they are twins
There's a growing problem in this country and I can't turn the other way anymore. I'll remain in denial no longer. Why? Because I'm tired of being encroached upon, I'm angry about being undermined and I'm sick of being mocked
As a nation, we're divided in almost every respect. Our citizens never hesitate to take sides against one another, whether it's Democrats versus Republicans, Coke drinkers opposed to Pepsi enthusiasts or Yankee loyalists against Red Sox aficionados
Despite my best efforts, I've managed to grow up. Matter of fact, I'm so grown up that I'm experiencing the existential angst of having done so. Fortunately, the solution to my midlife crisis is soft, sweet, and cuddly with a pink belly, so my husband and I are adopting . . . a pit bull puppy
I knew I'd catapulted across the line into adulthood the day my husband, Fletch, and I found ourselves at our dining room table debating the benefits of term versus whole life insurance. There we were, not only having voluntarily invited the insurance agent, but sitting in a room where -- by design -- it's impossible to eat dinner
'The Social Network,' better known as 'That Facebook Movie,' opened at No. 1, boasting $23 million in ticket sales. The film introduces hoodie-clad founder Mark Zuckerberg and chronicles Facebook's inception, its resulting multiple lawsuits and its current corporate valuation of $25 billion
Last week Chicago gangs held a press conference to express their displeasure at being targeted by law local enforcement.
'You know what I blame this on the breakdown of? Society.' Spoken by barkeep Moe Szyslak in the 'Miracle on Evergreen Terrace' episode of 'The Simpsons,' these words have never felt more true than today
A very nice bank has agreed to loan us a couple of bucks. In return, we'll exchange said funds for a small plot of land containing at least four walls, some kind of finished flooring, segments of transparent glass through which we might see said yard, and a roof, preferably watertight. How hard can it be to find a home with these features, right?
As a mother of mixed-race children, I was thrilled with the recently released findings of the U.S. Census: That since the choice to check more than one race became an option 10 years ago, the growth of the biracial population is now up more than 50 percent in many parts of the country. This news felt really inclusive to me. But not so much when I left my house
I live in the city of Los Angeles, which is abuzz at the moment with shocking and dramatic breaking news. The news about pilot season, that is.
I know this makes me sound like a negligent parent, but as soon as she was done coughing, then gagging, then vomiting, she would happily race back to the other kids and play. Finally, on the umpteenth vomit of the day, I remembered the story of an adult who got a nut stuck 'in his lung.'
My favorite Christmas gift as a soon-to-be-mom was a Hooter Hider -- a piece of fabric with a strap attached to hang it over your neck. This clever garment leaves both hands free so a mother can adjust a baby, drink water and maintain her privacy while simultaneously breastfeeding
There is a voice in my head that tells me every day not to pay three dollars for a cup of tea. It's not even coffee! And perhaps not even real tea. Which made me realize that I'm not just overpaying for not-so-great tea: I'm waiting in line to do it. How did this happen to me?
Elin Nordegren finally said her piece publicly, after holding her tongue for three-quarters of a year. If someone had made a cuckoldess of me at least 10 times in less than half that many years of marriage, I fear I would not have behaved with such grace.