The Wacky World of Coke

The commercial was like countless others before it. Person after person sharing a Coke under the guise of making someone happy. In fact, in many ways it was less subtle as the song playing in the background spelled it out time and time again.

Make Someone Happy

There is nothing wrong with this message. The stranger bringing joy to another person has, in many ways, become a cliché in holiday commercials, but I do think it is a good thing to make people happy. I’m not a complete and total monster, after all.

I do, though, question what the Coca Cola company pictures when they imagine making someone happy.

We open on Sophia, a young child, bringing a piece of artwork to an adult, presumably a relative. Sure, the art isn’t great, but she’s only eight. We shouldn’t be expecting Claude Monet. The next scene shows a man handing an umbrella to a woman on a snowy night. Aside from the fact that I have not once ever seen a person use an umbrella in snow, I am okay with this as well. There is also nothing wrong with the doctor bringing the nurses food after a long shift. All of these things are sufficient when it comes to providing happiness.

Then it gets weird.

A bunch of youths spend their time crafting the snow on stranger’s cars into faces in hopes that the cleaning lady inside of an upper floor of an office building will look down and, at the sight of those faces, smile in joy, a joy they will not be witness to as they are several stories below this woman. This seems like a strange choice to make someone happy. While the cleaning woman may or may not get a chuckle out of this, the drivers of those cars are probably curious as to why a group of youths are skulking about their parking lot and using their cars for their strange pranks.

Kids these days.

Then an old man surprises his wife. He has installed a new light in the living room. As it turns out, this light is actually a disco ball. Based on experiences in my life, I feel that this sort of discofication would not be looked upon favorably. Through the filter of a commercial, though, the woman is so thrilled the two of them dance and laugh and dance some more. Nowhere in their laughing dancefest does the wife stop to ask what happened to the real light, can the damage done by putting this light in be repaired, or what possessed the man to replace a perfectly good light with a spinning globe.

I doubt that this would really make her happy.

Then two people are sitting on a bench at a bus stop. Or maybe a train station. A transportation depot of some type. As the two sit there, their backs to each other, the man jumps over the bench to sit next to the female. Already, this is something that would not spread happiness. Most women do not like strange men to approach them in a startling and sudden manner.

As if that were not bad enough, the man then proceeds to look at her intensely as he pulls his hat off, places it over his hand, then through the art of magic, pulls a bottle of Coke out for her. Instead of being concerned that a stranger who seems to think he is a magician is trying to give her a drink, the woman laughs and accepts the bottle. Apparently in the magical world Coke has created, women are eager to ignore creepy first impressions and see nothing wrong with taking drinks from strangers at bus stops. Or train stations. Or transportation depots of some kind.

We close on a family dinner as everyone happily eats their Christmas dinner, acting as if none of the abnormalities of their day have happened. Then Santa laughs like a maniacal fiend at the sight of the joy. In the world of Coke, this is all very normal.

I guess I see why there are Pepsi people in the world.

The Sweet Siren Song of Asiago Cheese

Being healthy is the worst.

I should really clarify, I suppose. Behaving in a healthy manner is the worst. Having physical health is an okay thing, I suppose, though if behaving in a healthy manner is what it takes to achieve it, I fear it may be highly overrated.

Recently, I decided to be a healthier person in an effort to, you know, not die. I began to watch what I was eating more and I started exercising every day. While my intentions are good, the issue I run face-first into every single day is that I hate it. Scratch that. I loathe it. With every fiber of my being, I despise it. I hate running, I hate lifting weights. I’m not even really all that fond of moving so the exercise part is a huge bummer. I had also carefully cultivated a diet consisting of the four most important food groups: cheese, grease, carbs, and a second but even meltier layer of cheese. This meant that all of my favorite foods were to be replaced with things like vegetables and whole grains.

Despite my hatred, I have stuck with it. After all, my body is a temple, or at the very least it is temple-like. It is not always easy, though.

Today, I walked into work and what greeted me was not the usual aroma of stale coffee or the stench of that one coworker who loves essential oils, but a fresh-baked smell. There, on the break room table, sat bagels. Dozens and dozens of bagels. Small tubs of cream cheese were laid about the bagels in an inviting pattern, one tub per every two boxes of bagels. I glanced, but as I am now a very healthy person, I continued on. Then, past the throngs of people groping and grasping for cinnamon bagels, I saw it.

The crumbles of cheese reflected the unnatural fluorescent lighting giving it the appearance of a halo, very appropriate in this case. If you listened closely, I am fairly certain you would have heard a chorus of angels singing in honor of this blessed object. See, what set before was the most perfect thing man has ever created, a perfect opus penned in dough and cheese.

There sat the Asiago cheese bagel.

There are few things I like as much as Asiago cheese bagels. I like them so much that there was a chance at my wedding that I would say “I take thee Asiago Cheese Bagel…” If a doctor told me I could live another 70 years by giving up Asiago cheese bagels, it would not be an easy decision. When I reproduce someday, my son’s name will be Asiago Bagel Badley. Unless I have a daughter. Then she will be Asiaga Bagel Badley. When I die, I want to be buried in a pile of Asiago cheese bagels inside of a casket made of Asiago cheese bagel with a giant Asiago cheese bagel as a tombstone.

I did what I knew I should do, though, and I swallowed my strong Asiago feelings. I remained strong and headed to my desk far away from the siren’s song of crisp Asiago goodness. Every so often, someone would come by and speak to me while eating a bagel. We received an email from the department administrative assistant reminding us of the looming threat of bagels in break room.

As one does when they become healthy, I began to try to justify eating a bagel. Cheese is dairy which has calcium, so that’s good…

That was all I could come up with. Not a strong pro-bagel case.

I turned to my coworker. He is a much healthier individual then me, so I was hoping to hear him explain that bagels really aren’t that bad.

“What I like to do,” he said, “is skip the cream cheese. Then I take a spoon and scoop out the middle of the bagel so I don’t eat all of the extra bread. I just get the good part on the outside. It’s still not great for you, but it isn’t as bad.”

That sounded like a lot of work. I really should have stopped listening at “skip the cream cheese.”

After a few more minutes of wavering, I gave up my bagel dreams. I pulled my chocolate flavored protein bar out for a snack. It was as good as a chocolate flavored protein bar can be, but it was no Asiago cheese bagel. I swallowed the dry chalky bar, satisfied with the idea that instead of a terrible bagel full of empty carbs, I was consuming 180 calories of protein and other vitamins. 180 calories of something resembling chocolate. Yum.

I continued to work, but eventually I had to go to the printer. In my office, the printer is right next to the break room. I would be thrown back into the lion’s den and there was nothing I could do about it.

I walked past the bagels, glaring at them. I had found my new mortal enemy and I would not become a victim. I went to the printer and grabbed my piece of paper, then went back through the break room. I passed by them, then I remembered a very important thing a person once said.

The great Oscar Wilde once said, “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” I wanted to be successful! If Oscar Wilde said it, it must be true. And that is why I ate a bagel with cream cheese. And I left the middle of the bagel intact.

Did I have any regrets? Sure. Namely that protein bar. I will never, though, regret an Asiago cheese bagel. Never.

Decision Making Can Be Hard

It was around noon that my wife texted today.

“I think I mentioned last night that I will be spending the evening at the library working on a term paper. You are on your own for dinner.”

I read it twice just to make sure I knew exactly what text had been messaged to me. I would be on my own for dinner. That meant that tonight was a wild card night. Anything could happen and there would be no wiser half there telling me not to do this or eat that.

Of course, I have no idea why this made me excited. If I were to tell my wife that I wanted to eat a large pile of garbage smothered in cheese sauce, not only would she say she didn’t care, but she would likely encourage me. “You have eaten very healthy lately. If you want cheese garbage, go right ahead.” In fact, most of the time I am the one saying that we should be eating something healthy and then reiterating my stance that just because a doctor said chocolate can be healthy does not mean we should shove whole bars of it in our faces.

For some reason, though, being on my own for dinner gave me such a thrill of control. Maybe I would eat a whole pizza. Or I could just get a bag of cheeseburgers and sit there shovel burger after burger into my facehole until my jaw was tired of chewing. I could finally live out my childhood dream of eating only cookies for dinner if I wanted.

Then the implications of my decision-making set in. Sure, I could do all of those things. I could do them all at one time. Then, though, that one night of sheer gluttonous desire could be the night that pushes my body over the edge. My internal organs would all stop working as I slipped into a coma brought on by trans fats and carbs. I’m not 100% certain I know what either of those things are, but by all accounts they are not great.

My inner dialogue was out of control.

“Maybe I should just have a salad,” My reasonable half thought. “Salad sounds good and if I put some spinach in it… I mean spinach is a superfood…”

“No!” My gluttonous side screamed. “You can eat anything you want! Anything! Whatever it is, it should not involve superfoods.”

“Not even blueberries? I like blueberries.”

“Fine!” I sighed back at my more reasonable half. “Blueberries are fine. You could also have sweet potatoes, but only if they’re in French fry form.”

My reasonable and my gluttonous halves went back and forth for what seemed like hours. It was an epic battle of wills, two evenly pitted sides making equally nonsensical points. The debate could have gone on for hours, maybe even days. By then, of course, my free dinner would have passed and I would have eaten nothing at all. I had no idea what I was going to do.

That’s why I decided to buy and eat a sandwich. A normal sandwich that I have ordered and eaten many times. And it was very good, but not too good. Just the right amount of good.

I should ask my wife to never skip dinner again. It’s just too stressful.

My Home, The Zoo

Photo from

Ever since I was a kid, I have been a big fan of pets. If there wasn’t some sort of four-legged critter following me around or trying to climb onto my lap, something just didn’t seem right. I wanted as any animals around me as possible. Someday, I thought, I would live in a place full of dogs, a home loaded with pets to share their love and affection with me.

That is why one of the first things my wife and I did when we got married was to find a dog. After looking long and hard for the perfect animal, we chose an animal for the same reason anyone does: it was cheap. A woman had a litter of miniature dachshunds that she was attempting to find homes for on Craigslist. A couple of emails later and we found ourselves in a nearly abandoned parking lot pulling up next to a mysterious car. We handed over the very reasonable sum of money and she, in turn, pulled a very tiny dog out of the car. In retrospect, it would have looked much like any drug deal I have ever seen on TV, the main difference being the adorable puppy that sat in place of a large bag of heroin.

For years, Charlie was our dog. After the death of my wife’s cat, we found ourselves with a single animal.

This, of course, did not last long.

A few months ago, my friend was talking about a tiny white kitten that he had rescued. The cat had been left in a lot nearby his house. It was a very good kitten and he was happy to take care of her except for one single fact: he is allergic to cats. When he said this, I did not press him on the details. I imagine that if he were to keep the cat, his entire body would have swelled up to double its original size. He probably would have just turned into a giant red blotch of hives. The point is that I had no choice but to take this cat and, in turn, save my friend’s life. I’m very selfless that way.

It took months for the cat and Charlie to become accustomed to each other. At first, the cat would gradually sneak up on Charlie just long enough to touch her with her paw. Then she would run away. After a while, she became braver. She would try to play with Charlie and, more than once, even attempted to sit directly on top of her. Charlie did not take kindly to this. Eventually, though, she just let it happen. They played together and a couple of times they even curled up on the couch together. And all was peaceful.

Then my wife offered to dog sit two standard dachshunds for a week. The two are good dogs as well. They, however, do not care for the cat. In turn, the cat does not care for them. Charlie is indifferent to all of it. That is why I have spent the last two days with a rotating carousel of three dogs attempting to sit directly on my lap and a cat hiding in the bedroom afraid that the hoard of dachshunds will come after her turn her into kitten cacciatore. There has been snarling and running and hissing and jumping and whimpering. We have kept the dog out of the cat food, the cat out of the dog food, Charlie out of the cat’s food and the other dog’s food, and all of them out of our food.

I’ve learned a very important lesson the last few days. There is such a thing as too many animals. In case you were curious, that would be four animals. Four animals is exactly too many animals.

As it turns out, some of your childhood dreams are very stupid even if they revolve around love and affection.

The Best Last Minute Halloween Costumes A Person Can Get

Uh oh! It’s Halloween and you still have not gotten a costume! Now your significant other will be so upset that you ruined one of his or her favorite holidays again! This is just like that St. Patrick’s Day disaster all over again.

Fret not my procrastinating comrades. I am here, as always, to offer up my services to you. The last thing I want is for you to be in the proverbial (or in some much stricter and weirder relationships, literal) dog house. We here at the blog have put together our collective minds and dreamed up some great last-minute costume ideas for you. (Editor’s note: Nathan is acting like his blog is a major website with many people at the ready. When he says “collective minds,” what he really means is his singular, for the most part adequate, mind.)

Open up your brain and prepare for the Halloween brilliance to fill it.


Costume Idea #1: Classic Ghost

Nothing says Halloween more than ghosts. Impress your friends with a timeless costume. Your friends will surely be startled until they realize it is not truly the soul of a deceased person, but just you in a great costume!

The steps are simple. Step one: find a sheet. Step two: cut eyeholes in the sheet. Step three: wear the sheet on your head. It cannot be simpler than that. Just be sure not to mix up step two and three as the results can and will be disastrous.

You may be thinking, “How can I impress that hottie at my Halloween party wearing a sheet?” The answer is all in the sheet. By using a nicer sheet for your costume, you are telling everyone at the party how classy and successful you are. No one can resist a ghost made with an 1800-thread count Egyptian cotton sheet!


Costume Idea #2: Geoff

Who’s that cool guy over there at the party? Why, that’s Geoff! Geoff is a fun-loving individual. Everyone loves Geoff. He’s the life of the party!

This costume could not be simpler. Step one: Get dressed. Theoretically, I shouldn’t have to tell you that step, but better safe than sorry I always say. Step two: place a name tag on your person that reads “Geoff.” Done! You have morphed from your own boring self into the baddest dude to ever walk into any party.

Note: this costume is meant for men. If you are a woman, you will want to bypass this and head to costume idea #3.


Costume Idea #3: Geoffina

Who’s that cool girl over there at the party? Why, that’s Geoffina!

Note: this costume is meant for women. If you are a man, you will want to bypass this and head to back to costume idea #2.


Description English: A jawless zombie, as done by students in Tom Savini's Special Make-Up Effects Program at the 2008 Pittsburgh Comicon. Date	27 April 2008, 12:15 Source	Jawless Zombie Uploaded by GrapedApe Author	Jim Reynolds from Cleveland, USA

This person did not wait until the last second to get a costume.

Costume Idea #4: Zombie

Thanks to The Walking Dead, zombies are so in right now. Take advantage of it. Head to your party as an undead corpse!

Now, some people are going to tell you that you need makeup and fake blood for this costume. Those people are hacks. To be a convincing zombie, it’s all in the body language. All you need to do is pretend you are in a great deal of pain every second of the party. Walk with your legs stiff, your arms dangling, and a grimace across your face. If you are having a hard time looking convincing, ask a friend to kick you right in the shin several times. That is sure to give you that “fresh out of the grave” zombie look.

But what about the costume? Well, I think we can all agree that zombies were once normal people just like you and me. That means they wore normal people clothing. As it turns out, you have been dressed just like a zombie every day for your whole life. You just didn’t know it!


Description	 The nachos with some guacamole. At Bodean's, Byward Street. Date	26 June 2010, 19:30 Source	Bodean's, Tower Hill, London Uploaded by tm Author	Ewan Munro from London, UK

Costume Idea #5: Guacamole Bandit

Head to your party in whatever you currently have on. People will be very confused and frequently asking what you are dressed as. Well, obviously you are the guacamole bandit!

That is why you are going to wait until no one is looking. Then you will steal the guacamole and go home. Sure, you are missing out on the party, but really so is everyone.

It’s not a party if there’s no guacamole.

There’s Always Next Year, Royals Fans

Picture via the Washington Post

I was six the first time I became aware of sports. I mean, I’m sure I knew about sports before that. I was not completely unaware of the world. It’s just that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a lot more to offer, namely ninja weaponry and a love of pizza, than any sport I had ever seen.

It was a vacation to Kansas City with my family. We came to Kauffman Stadium and watched the Kansas City Royals play. I don’t remember who they played or the outcome of the game. What I remember was the crowd united in a cause, cheering on a team. It was the final season that one of the greatest third basemen of all-time, George Brett, would play. There was so much hope in the air as people watched the team feverishly in a season that would see them again falling short of the playoffs. Eight years before, George Brett had finally gotten the long elusive championship, the baseball holy grail. Since that day, the Royals had never again come close.

I remember sitting in the hotel the next day. I was so taken by the Royals that instead of watching the Cartoon Network, I had chosen to watch another game. The vacation ended and we would find ourselves moving to Kansas City shortly thereafter.

Thus my futile fandom was born.

Being a Kansas City sports fan is hard. There have been only two major sports championships in the city’s history. Yet there I was, every spring convinced that this was, in fact, the year for the Royals. Second grade had me going to school on Halloween as first baseman Wally Joyner in a jersey hand-made by my mother. (I believe any statute of limitations involving copyright infringement has past, so hopefully the lack of approval from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association will not lead to a weird and awkward lawsuit.) I rooted for Bob “Hammerin’” Hamelin, a player who could hit a ball harder than I could imagine, but also had the ability to strike out just as hard.

I watched as the Royals developed future stars. Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran, Zach Greinke all came through the system, followed by them all leaving town due to a significant lack of money for a team that had not been competitive in years. Yet there I was, still convinced it would someday happen.

As a Royals fan, I grew up, graduated high school, met and married my wife, graduated college, got a job, and moved to Nashville. Meanwhile, the Royals continued the same incredible streak of suckitude. Despite this, I would still tell my wife that it was finally their year. Then she would say, “You always say that and it never is.” Then she would change the subject because there is very little in life my wife would like to talk about less than baseball.

Then, finally I was right. This was the year. After 29 years, the Royals made the playoffs. Suddenly, the crowds that had been absent for years were there. Then the craziest thing started to happen.

They won. They beat the Oakland Athletics in dramatic fashion. They handled the team with best record in baseball easily. They destroyed the Baltimore Orioles. Suddenly, they were in the World Series. They battled the San Francisco Giants. I watched every second, cheering and yelling. My cat spent the better part of the last week scurrying out of the room as quickly as possible. Apparently she does not care for me arguing with the umpires or shouting directions at the players on TV.

Not every story has a happy ending, though. After a tough battle, the Royals lost, unable to score that final run that was needed. The championship drought continues.

I won’t lie. It’s disappointing. The team I root for, the team I have always considered my own, the team that has not had a shot at championship in my entire lifetime, came as close as a team can to winning a championship only to fall short with a runner on third in a one-run ballgame.

I, however, cannot be upset. There is no reason to be sad, upset, depressed, or any other synonym that your thesaurus can dream up. I finally got to see what I had wanted to see for most of my life. I got to see my team win. Sure, they may have lost in the end, but after all of these years, people suddenly felt the same optimism that I have forever. They, again, loved the Royals, championship or not.

Besides, there’s always next year. I have a good feeling about it.

Wallpaper: Satan’s Favorite Interior Decoration

This image was originally posted to Flickr by Hotel Domspitzen Köln at It was reviewed on 25 October 2012 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.

In cartoons, Hell is always depicted in a specific way. Inside of a very red cave, deep in the center of the earth, is some sort of creature dressed in all red with matching pitchfork. Flames lick up in every direction from deep holes in the ground. Apparently fixing giant fiery holes in the ground is not a line-item in the Hell budget.

There are two issues I have with this. First and foremost, why are cartoon characters going to Hell? I specifically remember seeing Sylvester bargaining with Satan in an effort to catch Tweety Bird. It’s really a miracle that every child that was raised since that cartoon came out is not in therapy prattling on about devil dogs and how cats have nine lives.

My second issue, though, is a question of precision. See, I feel that this is not an exact portrayal of Hell. In Hell, there are no flames or giant red creatures. I have a very specific theory as to what Hell would look like.

This last weekend, my wife and I had some work to get done. Walking into the kitchen of the home we are moving into, one would find beige walls with stripes. I am unsure of the exact age of the peeling paper, though I am sure that you could date it by counting the layers of gunk that had accumulated from years of ghastly people and their nauseating habits.

Naturally, we did not care for this wallpaper. We rented a steamer and headed over to the house. Our attitudes were very gung-ho. We would get in there, steam the crap out of the wallpaper, and scrape the hideous stripes off. We filled the steamer and got to work. That is when we found a surprise.

Behind the hideous stripes, we found our walls covered with vines and brown flowers. So we continued, steaming and scraping, steaming and scraping. Having even older and uglier wallpaper would not do, after all. The whole point was to have bare walls, not walls covered with some long-forgotten pattern that seems to be depicting dead flowers. After a great deal more steaming and scraping is when we found the paper with orange flowers. It turns out that this room had been wallpapered three times and not once had anyone removed wallpaper.

This is what I would imagine Hell is like. Instead of flames, every person is confined to a single room. Once there, they will scrape layer after layer of wallpaper for eternity. Just you, a scraper, a steamer making the room unbearably humid, and infinite layers of devil’s favorite wall decoration.

See, there is no way you can convince me after this experience that wallpaper is not pure evil incarnate. It could be the happiest wallpaper in history, a lovely motif involving a herd of majestic unicorns flying through a rainbow filled sky, and all I would see is malevolence. I would imagine that sometime many years ago, some particularly evil minion of Satan designed this idea.

“Honey,” the minion’s wife would ask. “What are we going to do about these walls? I suppose we should get some paint.”

“No, I have a better idea. I think we should get some giant sheets of paper, then glue them directly to the wall!”

“But… that seems like a lot more work than just painting. Besides, if we glue it to the wall, won’t that be hard to take down later? What if we want to change what our walls look like?”

“Why, we’ll just glue more paper over that.”

The minion’s wife looked confused. “But at some point, someone will probably have to take that down, right?”

Satan’s minion began to grin the grin that only the most evil beings can muster. “Yes they will.” He then laughed diabolically for the next twenty minutes.

In the end, we were able to get all of the paper off. Sure, it would have taken less time to burn the entire house down and rebuild it. It was taken care of, though not without destroying every animated version of afterlife punishments I had in my head.

Wallpaper ruins everything.

The Mystery Of The Palm Bruise


Sleep is meant to be a tranquil activity. There may be tossing and turning and, in the case of my wife, an occasional flailing arm that lands directly atop me, but for the most part sleeping people are meant to lie still for several hours of undisturbed silence.

I have always liked this part about sleep. Life can be difficult, but at the end of the day I can always count on sleep to be there for me, cradling me in its soft embrace for hours of quiet, peaceful unconscious bliss.

Thoughts like this are why waking up with a mysterious bruise across my palm is very disconcerting.

In my life, I cannot think of a single time I have ever bruised the palm of my hand while awake. I have hurt my hand in many ways, from cutting my finger on a potato peeler to breaking a finger while playing flag football in high school. I have burnt my hand, scratched it, scraped it. I have even bruised the top of my hand. Never, though, have I ever bruised my palm.

As I got ready for work today, I could not help but look at my hand. In the midst of sleep, something with a great deal of force had struck my palm, somehow not awoken me, and left this mark of its visit. I began to have Sherlockesque visions of what could have cause this.

My first instinct was to blame my wife. I am not sure why. I should probably ask a therapist about that sometime. For a moment, I wondered if she had somehow accidentally punched my palm in her sleep. Or worse, what if it wasn’t an accident? Perhaps she had waited in bed until I fell asleep, then for some bizarre spiteful reason she had wound up and punched the palm of my hand.

What had I done to make her that mad? Maybe she has an irrational hatred of palms. Even if this were the case, I reasoned, it could not be her. While my wife may be many things, she certainly does not have the upper body strength to bruise the palm of my hand with a single punch. Plus, she bruises very easily so I am pretty sure she would have a bruised fist to match my palm.

Maybe this was the result of some exciting dreams. While some people sleepwalk or sleep eat, maybe I get up and sleep high-five. I could have been sleep running through our apartment complex sleep high-fiving everyone from the skateboarding youths that should not be up that late on a school night to the gentleman who likes to sit on a bench in the middle of the night and call someone while on speakerphone. I probably would have thrown some sleep fist pumps in there for good measure.

This too was out, though. On my way to my car, I ran across one of those skateboarding youths. He did not give me a weird “you were running about high-fiving everyone” look, but the same old “old men like you just do not get my generation” look. Then, I imagine, he went to go do something very rebellious.

For a brief second, I entertained the idea that perhaps I had sung “If You’re Happy and You Know It” while asleep and, due to my love of sleeping, had been way too happy. While clapping, I had ended up bruising my hand expressing this joy. This, however, was ludicrous. I would never sing while I sleep, but if I did, I am fairly certain it would be something awesome like Pink Floyd or The Clash. Definitely not a children’s song.

I may never know how this mysterious bruise appeared. I may need to start wearing protective hand gear to bed in case whatever cause this was to appear again. I just hope that the serenity of sleep has not been ruined for me forever.

Who am I kidding? You can’t ruin sleep.

Dear Nathan: Penmanship Is Officially Dead

DEAR NATHAN: What’s up with penmanship these days? A few years ago, my mother gave me some old letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother. Some of them are treasures because the written words are not only loving and endearing, but the penmanship is beautiful. The script writings are actually examples of “art” in this modern age.

I work at a bank, Nathan, and many of the signatures I see every day are illegible. Is written communication becoming obsolete? With the electronic age and schools going paperless, will penmanship become unnecessary? — MARY IN HUNTSVILLE, ALA.

DEAR MARY: What is up with penmanship indeed! I myself have noticed the same thing you have mentioned in my life. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I wrote an entire paragraph by hand. I thought about writing my response to this by hand but I was pretty sure there would be a great deal of cramping by the time I finished writing. Besides, this is a blog so handwriting is not exactly welcome.

I do believe written communication is becoming obsolete. I was speaking with my coworker about this today and his reaction to the thought of writing something by hand was the following: “That’s why we have computers! What, are we Amish?” Granted, this is the same individual who had a twenty-minute rant the other day revolving around our vending machine’s inability to accept debit cards, but I think it still says something about our generation.

Maybe we should do something to keep the art of the hand written word alive. We could find pen pals and invest in a calligraphy set. Of course, there is no spell-check for handwritten notes. I do not think the world is ready for people to start writing things without spell-check.

Condolences on the death of the written word,



DEAR NATHAN: At a wedding, while shaking hands with a friend, I accidentally bumped another friend’s wine glass, staining his $180 shirt. The stain is a small one, on the lower portion and not very noticeable. Now the man insists I pay for the shirt.

Is there an etiquette rule on this issue? I feel bad, but not bad enough that I think I should pay for such an expensive shirt. If you have the means to pay for a shirt that expensive, I don’t believe you should expect others to replace it. — CHRIS IN DENVER

DEAR CHRIS: $180 for a shirt?! What, is the shirt made of platinum?! Does this shirt cure diseases?!  And if this person is spending a small fortune on a dress shirt, what is he doing spending time near any sort of staining beverage? A shirt that expensive is meant to only be worn inside of a temperature and moisture controlled environment void of any food and or drink.

As far as I am concerned, there is an etiquette rule here. If it is your fault, you are responsible for the shirt. Maybe not replacing it, but at least getting the stain out.

That is why I would recommend you blame your wine-swilling friend.

Everyone knows that this friend cannot handle their alcohol! First it’s a single drink, the next thing you know they are stumbling around spilling wine all over priceless shirts! There might be a call for an intervention. The first thing you should bring up is how their behavior is hurting their friend’s shirts.

Good luck making everyone view your friend as an uncontrollable lush,


P.S. Seriously?! $180 for a shirt?! $180!


DEAR NATHAN: My girlfriend watches the 24-hour news channels and seems to be obsessed with them. It is hurting our relationship and affecting her happiness. She’s constantly worried about national and international politics, global warming, the economy, health care, crime, etc. She neglects herself and her family. She seems agitated, anxious and depressed by all the news.

Is this a disease? How can I help her get off this habit? What should I do? — MISERABLE IN MINNESOTA

DEAR MISERABLE IN MINNESOTA: The 24-hour news channels can be depressing. In fact, these are some of the trending subjects now on CNN’s website: Neo-Nazi killers, Abducted girls, bear attack, Flight 370, Gold heist. These all seem like subjects that could cause a person to feel a bit down.

The worst part is once you start watching the news, you cannot stop. You are waiting for something good to happen, so you keep watching. Every so often, a feel-good story will come on. This is, though, immediately followed by another story about an impending financial disaster or a terrible car wreck.

For your sake, though, I devised a way to wean her off of the deadly drug we call “news.”

First, you will need several dozen kittens. You will need to record these kittens reenacting the terrible news stories. Soon she will stop being worried about serial killers and instead look forward to the kitten that plays the serial killer on your adorable news reenactments.

From there, slowly slip less and less news in. Pretty soon, she is just watching a pile of adorable kittens. Nothing stops agitation, anxiousness, or nervousness like kittens.

You will want to move this plan along quickly, though. Several dozen kittens will, soon enough, become several dozen cats. No one wants to deal with that nightmare.

Best of luck with your adorable kitten news,


How To Build A Fire

Step 1: Find some wood. Neatly pile that wood in a way that seems to resemble fires that you have previously seen in your life. Once the wood is piled, remember that you need something to start the fire, also known as “kindling.”

Step 2: Find some kindling. This can be pine needles or small pieces of dried bark. Odds are it will be paper, though. It can be any paper, from sensitive incriminating documents to leftover napkins from that Taco Bell by your home that thinks one Grilled Stuft Burrito will somehow cause a mess that requires 70 napkins.

Step 3: Place that kindling under the wood that you already stacked. Begin lighting the kindling with some sort of fire producing device.

Step 4: Your kindling all burned up but the wood did not start to burn. Add more kindling and try again.

Step 5: It has now been 20 minutes and your pile of wood is still just a pile of wood. The kindling is doing nothing but creating smoke and sending tiny pieces of flaming paper into the air. You would take the time to worry that these pieces of paper will land on something or someone and set that thing or person on fire, but you are far too busy lighting more kindling. Find a bottle of lighter fluid and squirt a generous amount directly on top of the pile of wood. Light the wood again.

Step 6: Add more lighter fluid and relight.

Step 7: Add a lot more lighter fluid and relight.

Step 8: Stand back staring at the pile of wood and burnt up paper wondering where you went wrong. Perhaps the wood was not stacked properly. Maybe the logs are wet so the moisture in the wood is preventing you from building a large inferno that is visible from space. Maybe the Taco Bell gave you faulty fireproof napkins. Mutter your doubts about the likelihood of this fire ever taking off, then feel a small amount of hope when you see that a tiny plume of smoke is coming out of the far side of your wood pile.

Step 9: Use the rest of the lighter fluid. Light the wood again.

Step 10: Pray to your respective deity that this time the fire will start. You do not know how much more fire building fun you can possibly stand, so you desperately need it to work this time.

Step 11: Notice a corner of one log has begun to smolder just a bit. Take care of that tiny flickering flame like it is the child you never had. Coddle it and say sweet things to it. Blow on it gently so the flame will begin to grow. Begin to add the last of your Taco Bell napkins nearby the flame.

Step 12: Tell all of your friends and family nearby that you “think it’s going to take off this time.”

Step 13: The fire has spread and the wood is now putting off a bit of heat. Relish in your success.

Step 14: It turns out the amount of time it takes to build a fire was far greater than expected. Now that it is finally going, everyone has to leave. Sit there for a second staring at your handiwork then begin sulking.