Wednesday, December 7, 2016

click click click, glug glug glug

It was bound to happen: clickbait writers, stressed out by the sheer volume of headlines they're forced to crank out on a daily basis, began drinking at work, leading to head-scratchers like the one below.

Monday, November 14, 2016

How are we going to survive reality for the next four years?

In the summer of 2001, one year after CBS's Survivor became the first breakout "reality" hit on network TV, encouraging all the networks to produce similar shows, I remember hearing friends and other people say, "This trend won't last." But the following summer American Idol debuted, and it was as big, if not bigger, than Survivor. The fox, and not just the Fox network, had gotten into the chicken coop.

The networks, and especially cable channels, like reality shows because they're cheaper to produce than scripted shows. Donald Trump's presidential campaign spent half as much money as Hillary Clinton's, but Trump still won the states necessary for him to win the election; the star of NBC's hit reality show The Apprentice, produced by the same company that unleashed Survivor on the world, beat the odds.

And even though reality shows aren't really "real"—they're partly scripted to maximize drama, and the people on-screen, despite not being professional actors, are often seen acting out for the camera—they indulge viewers' appetite for voyeurism and rubbernecking, just as Trump indulged in racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic comments to woo like-minded voters.

My supervisor at work reminded me of the scene in Back to the Future in which Marty McFly is trying to convince Doc Brown, in 1955, that he's traveled back in time from 1985.

Doc asks Marty who's the president of the United States 30 years in the future.

When he hears the answer he scoffs, "Ronald Reagan? The actor? Then who's vice president—Jerry Lewis?"

President Reagan reportedly liked Back to the Future. But the thought of four years (or more) with Trump as our president sends chills down my spine.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

a comedy sketch I wrote for a Second City writing class in 2004 about the Chicago Cubs and failure

For once—and only once—I'm happy to be proven wrong. Congratulations, Cubs.

"FAILURE" by Robert Cass
3/14/04 (version #2)

Peter Hillman - white, 36
Alex Hillman - Hispanic, 12

(The Hillmans' backyard on an afternoon in April.)

(Peter and Alex are playing catch.)

You're going to have the best time tomorrow, son.

I guess.

Your first Cubs game. Your first chance to see the legacy up close.

I've already been to a Cubs game.

(Alex drops the ball.)


(Alex picks up the ball and throws it back to Peter.)

When I was six. It was Orphan Night at Wrigley Field, so the orphanage took us.

I didn't realize.

(Peter throws a grounder to Alex, who bobbles it.)

All of us got our picture taken with Sammy Sosa and the Dominican flag. Nobody seemed to care that we were Puerto Rican, but it was still fun.
I still want to go tomorrow.

Okay. Good. Because becoming a Cubs fan isn't just about baseball.  It's about learning how to live with failure.

What do you mean?

The Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908. They haven't even been in the World Series since 1945, which was almost a century ago.

Well, actually, it's 1908 that was almost a century--

                     (continuing to talk)
Some people would say the Cubs aren't worth the hair that's about to start growing all over your young body, Alex, but those people know nothing about hope. They think it's easy to create a winning team out of thin air, but it's just like bringing a child into this world. It takes perseverance. And lots of money. And maybe even a scientific breakthrough of some sort.

The Cubs never give up, huh?

No, they give up every season sooner or later. But the fans never give up, no matter how many times they're let down. And tomorrow you'll begin to understand what hope really is. Tomorrow you'll begin to see what failure is all about.

What if the Cubs win?

That's my boy!
Pop fly!

(Peter throws the ball high up into the air. Alex catches it a few seconds later, then speaks.)



I don't want to play Little League this summer.

What are you talking about?

There's a summer math program at MIT that my teacher told me about. It sounded like fun, so I applied for it.

Well, don't be disappointed if you don't get in, okay? Think of it as a learning experience so you can brace yourself for future disappointments.

But I got in. The letter came yesterday.

                          (Peter doesn't say anything.)

ALEX (cont'd)
So is it okay with you if I go? Mom said I could.

Alex, you signed up for Little League last month. You have to honor your contract, just like the Cubs do.
Hard grounder!

(Peter throws the ball at Alex's chest.  Alex catches it, then drops it, then picks it up and throws it back.)

That wasn't a grounder.

I changed my mind. You've got to stay focused.

Okay, but ... see, MIT's practically paying me to go there for the summer. The Stanley's Wash-and-Shine Rangers aren't paying me anything.

That's not how Mr. Stanley operates.

But I don't like playing baseball. I'm not a good athlete.
                     (slight pause; proudly)
I'm a mathlete.

Alex, remember what we said about not using made-up words in the house? That applies to the backyard too.

Sorry. But it's true. I'm never going to be any good at baseball.

(long sigh)
You're right. You're absolutely right. You're not that valuable to the team.

                     (surprised by Peter's honesty)
Well ... yeah, I guess.

So you admit you're a failure at baseball! See, Alex, you're no better than the Cubs or me!

(Alex holds the ball in his throwing hand and doesn't toss it back to Peter. There's a long pause.)

I don't think you're a failure. And I'm not a failure, either. I just know what my strengths and weaknesses are, and I try to concentrate on the strengths the best I can.

(at the borderline of a breakdown)
Oh, so if I was able to conceive children with your mom, that would be one of my strengths, but since I can only shoot blanks, that's my weakness? Well, I can't control that, my darling little boy! And you can't let the things you can't control control you!

                          (There's another long pause.)

I'll just be gone for eight weeks.

(composes himself)
Sounds good.
And I'm sorry for that little outburst. I just ... it's just that I sometimes forget you already had a father before I came along.

But I never even knew him.

I know. But you're his flesh and blood, not mine. You'll never be like me. And I can't change that.

But you're my dad. I don't have your eyes, or your smile, or your short temper, but I do have everything you've taught me.

(Alex throws the ball back to Peter. They resume playing catch.)

Alex, there's nothing I can teach you that you don't already know. You're a kajillion times smarter than I'll ever be.

                     (slight pause while he thinks)
But I wouldn't be this good at math if you hadn't asked me to calculate the stats from all those scouting reports during the off-season. 

I won a lot of bets in spring training because of those stats.

You sure did.

(Peter walks over to Alex and puts his hand on the back of Alex’s head.)

Hey, here's a math problem for you, buddy -- if you add a little brother or sister to our family, how many family members will there be?

You're serious?

I've got to have somebody to take to Cubs games while you're gone. I can't just lay in bed with your mom for eight weeks!


Monday, October 10, 2016

"Howard, See Train"

If this Chicago Transit Authority electronic update board was a scratch-and-sniff children's book, it would smell like marijuana, urine, and expired hope.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Advertising or prostitution?

Sometimes it's the same thing, I guess. Sex sells. But did this store really have to pimp out the little mushroom in addition to mama mushroom?

I consider myself a fun guy, but this crosses the line.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Grim Sleeper, Wacky Neighbor, Texas Ranger

Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper," was sentenced to death one week ago today after being found guilty of killing eight women and two teenage girls in Los Angeles between 1985 and 2007. (He allegedly didn't commit any murders from '89 through '01, thus his nickname.)

Franklin was arrested and charged with those ten murders in 2010. One year earlier L.A. Weekly investigative reporter Christine Pelisek interviewed Enietra Washington, who survived an attack by Franklin in November of '88, after which he wasn't believed to have killed again until early 2002. One particular detail stood out to me in Pelisek's article:

"Task-force detectives have tracked down about 10 men associated with the victims, and have taken DNA samples from them to test against the killer’s DNA. They have checked hundreds of clues, many of which got tossed into the reject pile. One tipster insisted that Kramer from Seinfeld should get a close look, because the 13-year gap in the Grim Sleeper’s activity coincides with the years Seinfeld aired, the killings resuming after the comedy went off the air."

Seinfeld first aired on July 5, 1989, then didn't return to NBC's airwaves until May 31, 1990, for a first season comprised of only four episodes, an inauspicious debut for what would eventually become one of the network's biggest hits. The sitcom's final episode was broadcast on May 14, 1998.

But Seinfeld didn't have any black cast members, and Washington had identified her attacker as a black male. (On November 17, 2006, Michael Richards, who played Kramer, was caught on cell-phone camera yelling the N-word at black patrons during a stand-up set at an L.A. comedy club. He didn't kill that night, but he is guilty of bombing in the most offensive way possible.) Did any black actors appear as series regulars on any other long-running network shows that debuted after January 1, 1989, and ended before December 31, 2001?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury of tipsters with too much time on their hands, I give you Clarence Gilyard Jr., one of Chuck Norris's costars on CBS's Walker, Texas Ranger, which somehow lasted nine seasons, starting with a three-episode tryout in the spring of '93. Before that he was one of Andy Griffith's costars on Matlock (1986-'95) for four seasons, beginning in September of '89. Gilyard fits the too-busy-to-commit-crime-because-he-was-on-TV-fighting-crime profile, tipsters!

According to the Chicago Reader, however, Gilyard went back to school to study theater after Walker aired its series finale in May of '01—and in Dallas, not Los Angeles.

You're free to go, Mr. Gilyard, but we'll be watching you (in reruns, of course).

Monday, July 4, 2016

From 100 to 0 in one paragraph ...

There are two errors in the final paragraph of this article from Macon, Georgia's The Telegraph, my hometown newspaper, that a "spell check" tool probably wouldn't have caught—"movies stars" should be "movie stars," "in the box office" should be "at the box office"—but "movies star" Vin Diesel might argue that a third error trumps the others: he's given third billing for the latest sequel of a franchise he's headlined since 2001 (minus the first and second sequels, for the sake of accuracy).

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Throw the book at me, but please spare the face.

Now with extra long-winded flavor! Once again, here's two years' worth (June 2014-May 2016) of FB filler ...

1. When it comes to Donald Trump, you never get the whole truth.

2. I'm going to give the Market Place the benefit of the doubt and pretend that "gourmet" didn't have an official spelling until 1929.

3. Anybody here missing a dog named Woogums? I think I found him, but I don't know if a Milk-Bone is going to bring him home this time—ol' Woogie-oogie-oogie has done pretty well for himself since you last saw him. (Some would even say he changed the spelling of his name to make it clear there's no longer a "you" in his life, but don't listen to those female dogs.)

4. It makes me angry when people litter in front of the museum where I work. I mean, if you're going to toss a bottle of beer into the shrubs, at least finish what's inside before you toss it—don't make me chug your beer for you, lightweight.

5. I hope the next Star Wars movie includes a subplot about Han Solo gambling his life savings away betting on the wrong team 30 years ago: "They were tiny bears with slingshots fighting soldiers in body armor, for God's sake! I know I'm the kind of guy who says, 'Never tell me the odds,' but once I was told those odds, how could I say no?"

6. Dear Sprint customer:

We hope you're enjoying our "Framily" ad campaign. And if you're into psychedelic drugs, we know you're enjoying it.

By the way, don't take the brown acid. We repeat, do not take the brown acid, or you may find yourself watching one of those ads for Microsoft Surface that ends with Sara Bareilles singing, "Honestly, I want to see you be brave," and the next thing you know, you'll be the not-so-proud owner of a Surface tablet. (Honestly, that would make you brave, but only because everyone in your framily is buying an iPad instead.) Or you'll watch one of those Modelo Especial commercials and think that hipsters and beardos actually notice when you and your music-nerd friends walk into a bar.

What we're saying is, you can't go wrong with 30-second commercials featuring a French girl surrounded by cartoon birds and Andrew "Dice" Clay as a talking hamster. After all, life doesn't make sense, so why should our advertising be any different?

Hugs and kisses,

7. Because I couldn't print out a receipt for a customer yesterday in the gift shop at work, I had to ask for his e-mail address so I could send it to him that way. After he gave me the address he wanted my assurance that it wouldn't be sold to a third party. "Absolutely not," I said. "But only because it's no longer 1999, and therefore your address is worthless."

8. I'll sleep when I'm dead, which is also when I'll get around to playing Candy Crush Saga, so thanks but no thanks for the invitation, Facebook friends.

9. Thanks to a friend of mine who gives me a discount on pirated DVDs, I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past last night without having to pay $15 at the theater.

It wasn't what I expected.

For one thing, I didn't recognize any of the new X-Men: Bulldozer, Raindancer, Soldier Boy, Urban Cowboy, etc. And the whole storyline about the X-Men going back in time to 1979 to make sure disco became the "sound" of the '80s was muddled at best. But hey, Steve Guttenberg still looks as youthful as ever, and I'm glad that Bruce Jenner and his original face have been reunited.

The biggest surprise, though, was seeing Hugh Jackman bring his Broadway-level singing skills to his role as Wolverine. See for yourself in the following clip ...

10. Keep calm and choose a T-shirt, bumper sticker, or promotional slogan that says something else.

(Keep calm and worry about something else, Robert.)

Pipe down, inner voice of reason!

11. Last night while texting with my older niece, Olivia, I discovered the key to successfully conversing in writing with a nine-year-old: "emojis."

Olivia asked if I was [airplane symbol] or [car symbol] to North Carolina on July 4 [American-flag symbol]. I told her I was flying and that I still don't have a car, which was a big concern of hers last Christmas. "I hope you're not too disappointed," I wrote. She replied, "Cool get a [female symbol]."

The girl knows how to deliver a punch line. I'm so proud.

12. I haven't seen the movie version of Jersey Boys yet, but I'm still disappointed that no one in Hollywood responded positively to my idea of remaking William Friedkin's 1980 psychological thriller, Cruising, starring Al Pacino as an undercover cop tracking a serial killer through New York City's leather bars, as a jukebox musical called "Cruising Boys."

After all, Pacino and Frankie Valli looked like twins separated at birth in the late '70s, and the setting of Cruising is perfect for recontextualized Four Seasons songs such as "Walk Like a Man" and "Dawn (Go Away)." As for the infamous leather-bar scene featuring a fist drenched in Crisco, why of course it should be soundtracked with Valli's 1978 solo hit, "Grease"!

Hollywood, you also haven't returned my calls about "12 Years a Slave, 120 Minutes a Singing and Dancing Sensation!" or "Schindler's List of His Favorite Cole Porter Love Songs," but if the box-office returns of Jersey Boys continue to disappoint, you know where to find me.

13. "He's a detective who's seen everything. It's a bunch of 1950s broadcasting equipment. And together they're the most explosive crime-solving duo on television ..."

14. Stop looking at me like that, running shoes I bought two weeks ago but haven't tried on since I left the store.

15. As most of you are aware by now, I lost my case in front of the Supreme Court yesterday: household pets and famous Renaissance paintings are legally allowed to enter and win my apartment-building management company's "selfie contest."

16. I received an e-mail today from Tumblr letting me know about various blogs I can follow on that site. One is called "lowbudgetbeasts," but despite the fact that the accompanying photos showed various Beauties and Beasts, I read the last part of the blog's name as "breasts."

I guess I've been single for a while now.

17. Extreme cold! Extreme heat! Extreme weather in general! Global warming is obviously a myth—Mother Nature's just going through menopause.

18. No, I do not want pancakes made out of baby.

Rest assured I called the cops, who arrived right as the offending food truck was making its getaway. Luckily, the two "Follow Us!" signs on the back of the truck made it easy to track down.

Good work, Chicago police. And good luck out there, babies.

19. I'm your private dancer. A dancer for money. I'll do what you want me to— What? (stifled sigh) Yes, I also accept bitcoin.

20. To ensure that LeBron James can find his way home, Cleveland will celebrate another chapter of its storied past this summer by lighting the Cuyahoga River on fire.

21. Ever spent time with a self-righteous narcissist? Hallelujah, you've been touched by Mesus!

22. Is there any difference between orange and yellow peppers? I'm not a food racist, so I can't tell.

23. If I were a mean person I'd get a cat just so I could make it wear a sweater with "YOLO" emblazoned across the front. That way other cats would see my cat and say, "Stupid cat—you live a lot more than once."

Then I would force my cat to watch the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice with me just in case any other cats happened to be watching us watching the movie from an open window. They'd say, "Stupid cat—you also live a lot more than twice." Then they'd fall out of the open window but still land on their feet four stories below and say, "That's the fifth time that's happened today. See what we mean? Stupid cat."

But I'm not a mean person, so I would never do that.

24. I was disappointed when I heard "Jesus, Take the Wheel" for the first time today and discovered it's not about the consequences of texting while driving.

25. ROBERT'S FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY TIP #1: White males in their 50s who choose to wear shirts that even a 14-year-old would find questionable shouldn't pose for pictures in said shirts while standing in front of a dinosaur skeleton.

26. Don't judge a book by its cover. Don't judge a magazine by its partially obscured title, either—you'll only be disappointed.

27. Yesterday I saw a woman with "WTF" on the front of her shirt pushing a stroller. She took the initials right out of my mouth.

28. Chicago, I'd love to stay, but it's clear that "nortwest" Indiana needs all the help it can get.

29. In my day people had manners. They knew a thing or two about etiquette. If you left a comment under someone's Facebook update, they responded, dagnabit! Or at the very least they liked what you wrote! But these days ... (trails off into incoherent mumbling)

—me in 50 years ... or now ... (trails off into incoherent mumbling)

30. Like most people, I follow the three-second rule when it comes to eating food I've accidentally dropped on the floor, but because profanity is always a possibility, I also benefit from a seven-second delay.

31. "Yesterday I wore the Superman shirt, so today I'm gonna wear my Captain America shirt."

Aren't 40-year-old boys just the cutest?

32. I read that Dollar Tree wants to buy Family Dollar for $8.5 billion, which is approximately $8,499,999,999 higher than my bid.

33. Thank you so much for this exclusive honor, black people! I promise I won't let you down. Then again, if the history of my people is any indication—

Hey, where's everybody going?

34. Legend has it that Greenland and Iceland were named by Vikings. Legend doesn't have it that Ireland began as a theme park for pirates called Arrr-land, but please spread the word anyway.

35. A fanny pack with "PARTY" stenciled on the front is still a fanny pack. Nice try, but no.

36. My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over: on Monday I received my final check from a freelance employer I last worked for in January.

If you think I'm being overdramatic and a tad self-centered, you're welcome to join my official Enemies List, which, like Richard Nixon's, includes Paul Newman. Yeah, I know he's dead, but have you ever noticed how many kernels are left unpopped in a bag of Newman's Own microwave popcorn? Disgraceful.

37. Every day should be Bring Your Umbrella to Work Day, because whenever I actually remember to bring my umbrella to work, it ends up not raining. (Do the same rules apply to Bring Your Daughter to Work Day? Mental note: GET A DAUGHTER; CHECK WALGREENS FIRST IN CASE THERE'S A SALE.)

38. I think I've been stood up by my apartment building's maintenance man. Looks like my shower's water pressure (sniffle) isn't the only thing that's (uncontrollable, undignified sobbing) broken.

39. Yesterday I received an e-mail from a research librarian at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, asking if she could use a photo of me for a PowerPoint presentation on "scholarly literature search." She found this particular photo, which I used in a blog post four years ago, after googling the words "oh my god face," and told me that the text in the following PowerPoint slide translates to English as "Argh! Can't we just find everything... in one place?? ...almost ...soon."

If this ends up being the most notable contribution I ever make to the field of library and information science, I'm cool with that.

40. Last night on the sidewalk I heard a girl say to her friend, "I thought the Blue Angels were good," referring to the famous flight squadron's appearance at the Chicago Air & Water Show earlier in the day, "but I was hoping all six would do stunts instead of just formations of four and two."

There are first-world problems, and then there are first-world complaints.

41. What a diff'rence two days make.

42. There are lots of hyphens out there that could use a good home. Sadly, this isn't one of those homes.

43. This is the section of the grocery store that all former dictators must visit before they're extradited for genocide and whatnot.

44. Internet, we've known each other for almost 20 years now. And I realize that if I said, "I know you better than you know yourself," you could easily interrupt me and say, "Because of all your digital breadcrumbs, not to mention that I never forget anything, I really know you better than you know yourself," so I won't go there.

But the thing is, Internet, you've been acting like a mean drunk lately. I'm not saying I won't be your friend anymore—you don't have to remind me that I need you more than you need me—but I do think you should see a therapist. Would you like a referral? Mine uses Skype, if that helps.

45. I bet we wouldn't feel so bad about the plight of homeless people if we started calling them "home free" instead.

46. How many librarians become bartenders, and vice versa? Bartenders, stay where you are—at least you receive tips.

47. Life's a bitch. And if it uses that word on a regular basis, I bet it's a misogynist too.

48. I came for the mild stammer. I stayed for the tender sirloin. ("B-B-B-Benny's servin' chops ...")

49. Hey, kids! Can you guess which state is formed by the pool of sweat on the back of my shirt today? Enter now for a chance to win big prizes! (See official contest rules for details.) *

* OFFICIAL RULES: (1) Kids living in Kansas or Colorado are prohibited from entering the contest. Too easy. (2) No kids from Hawaii are allowed to enter, either. Your state is what's formed by the sweat on the FRONT of my shirt each day. (3) No kids from Rhode Island are allowed to enter only because I haven't produced a pool of sweat that size since I was in single digits. (4) When I said "big prizes," I meant a big sweaty hug and nothing more. Now aren't you glad you read the official rules?

50. Last night I passed by a bar with a chalkboard sign out front promoting "Super Gay Football." Isn't it great that we've lived to see the day when the adjectives "super gay" and "American" are accepted as interchangeable?

51. If all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players, then the constant death grip most of us have on our phones can only mean we're terrible actors with no clue what to do with our hands.

52. Sorry, Deadheads and Phish-ophiles, but you're not welcome in my office's copy machine.

53. You can't always get what you want, especially if it requires all of your garments being cleaned for under four dollars.

54. "Sadie, have you tried the velociraptor? It's not kosher, but it's to die for."

55. A guy sitting next to me on the bus yesterday was reading Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, which reminded me that when I was 22 I read For Whom the Bell Tolls in a vain attempt to impress a girl. The guy on the bus had the right idea: in case she just wants to be friends, skip to the end by reading the shorter book.

56. In an article from yesterday's New York Times about Girls creator and star Lena Dunham's new book, Theresa Zoro, director of publicity for Random House, said, "We're trying to establish her as a writer, a very serious literary writer, so we put her in conversation with authors who are very literary."

In my mind Zoro added, "And because I'm not a writer, when I say 'very literary' I mean literally literary. Seriously."

57. In case of gross misinterpretation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, break glass.

58. I think it's adorable when one of the over-the-air channels I receive shows a horror movie, because the real horror comes during the commercial breaks featuring ads for Colon Flow (now with helpful animation!) and something called "dump cakes," not to mention a legal-service warning about transvaginal-mesh implants gone wrong. Your move, David Cronenberg.

59. Adderall is the greatest lover your metabolism will ever have. "I feel like a teenager again!" it'll say. But after your mind starts pinballing from one thought to another—you were warned dear Addie could have that effect, although in her defense she never promised she could "save" you, lazy boy—you'll be asking, "Is Adderall full of crazy, or am I?"

Maybe both, whereas Lexapro just wants to calm you down. Relax, she says. Don't stress out so much. And remember that I'm here for you, no matter what.

God bless you, Lexapro. But why is my waistline suddenly expanding? What did you do to my restored metabolism, Lexie baby? WHY ARE YOU TAKING MY CHEMICALLY ENHANCED FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH AWAY FROM ME, JEZEBEL?! I know you hate it when I raise my voice, but you know I hate exercise, so don't make me run after you!

But in the end Addie is the storm and Lexie is the eye. Deep down you know she's worth the reunion with that extra inch around your belt loop.

60. Tonight on a very special episode of The Walking Dead, we find out what the Bradford clan from Eight Is Enough has been up to since the zombie apocalypse began.

61. "To whom it may concern: I am writing to apply for the position of Entry-Level Champion. As the former King of Wishful Thinking (1998-2013), I feel I am highly qualified for this job. A blank page, otherwise known as my resumé, is attached."

62. "You broke it, you bought it" should only apply to retail, not relationships.

63. I read that singer Chris Brown recently tweeted, "I don't know ... But I think this Ebola epidemic is a form of population control. S**t is getting crazy bruh."

Interesting. I have a similar theory about domestic violence.

64. This morning at the laundromat I watched a man get angry when the detergent vending machine dispensed Tide instead of Cheer. "I'm gonna file a lawsuit!" he yelled.

The manager apologized for the error—but said she prefers Tide, for what it's worth.

"No, dude!" he said. "Cheer protects colors better!"

On my way home I saw the man asking for change outside the 7-Eleven at the end of my block. I assumed he was raising money for that lawsuit he'd threatened, and I had to admit, he knows his detergents—Cheer ColorGuard made the colors on his jacket really pop.

(Cheer ColorGuard detergent approves this message.)

65. Looks like most of the big boxes moved out to the suburbs.

66. Like many adults, I decided to dress up for Halloween. I just wish I'd remembered before I left my apartment this morning that I have therapy on Fridays—my Eeyore costume was a tad redundant.

67. A new election law should be passed that states, "If you vote early, all negative campaign ads on TV up through election day will be replaced with toy commercials from your youth." I don't know how this would be accomplished, but it sounds like a great promise to make, which is why I want everyone to remember that when I run for public office one day, whoever I'm running against is corrupt and not to be trusted.

68. Whenever you feel like the whole world is laughing at you, remember: you're not world famous, so the odds of you being mocked by seven billion people are ridiculously low. Wait, did you say your name is Beyoncé? Just kidding.


1. Buy iron-cleaning solution.

2. After ruining white dress shirt with $4 solution, stop being so cheap and buy $13 iron-cleaning kit.

3. After failing to read iron-cleaning kit's instructions and fusing polyester dish towel to iron's soleplate, thoroughly question your intelligence, maturity, and most basic survival skills.

4. Buy new iron.

70. Yesterday I started writing a novel about a man who travels into the future just so he can return to the present and say, "Oh, is that an iPhone 6? How cute. Hey, do you mind if I take this hologram call on my iPhone X? I'll just be a nanosecond." I think it's going to be a big hit with sci-fi fans who also happen to be rich assholes.

71. I bet a pickup line like "Where have you been all my life?" would sound a lot more sincere coming from a guy in his nineties.

72. Producing some interesting work lately, Yoda's ad agency has been.

73. DID YOU KNOW? Folgers's most famous tagline was chosen in 1984 only after the coffee maker had tested various other slogans in consumer focus groups. Here are some of the ones that didn't make the cut:

"The best part of waking up is ..."

* "... recognizing where you're waking up."

* "... realizing you're not dead."
* "... realizing the hooker next to you isn't dead."

* "... not having to take that stupid test you didn't study for in that stupid anxiety dream that was such a stupid waste of your stupid time."

* "... knowing today's the day you're going to check off every single item on your to-do list so you can finally start writing the Great American— Then again, one more hour couldn't hurt."

* "... (uncontrollable sobbing)."

* "... knowing someone has it worse than you. Which is a terrible thing to say, but I thought you people wanted truth in advertising. No? Then the best part of waking up is sunshine, a smooch from your husband/wife, and mediocre coffee in your cup. Happy now?"

74. "Pennsylvania trooper ambush suspect Eric Frein spoke of revolution, charged with terrorism," according to the AP headline I received on my phone this afternoon. In related news, Tracy Chapman has just crossed the border into Mexico.

75. I just realized that New Edition's 1984 song "Mr. Telephone Man" is a warm tribute to the customer-service representatives who patiently answer our silly questions every day: "I assure you, Mr. Brown, there's nothing wrong with your line. That click you hear when you 'dial your baby's number,' as you put it, is the sound of your heart breaking, which, I'm afraid, doesn't fall within the range of technical problems covered by AT&T."

76. Oh dear. Could someone please tell Joel Edgerton that the producers of the new Annie movie decided to go in a different direction for the role of Daddy Warbucks? Wait, never mind—I see he's been cast as Ramses in Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings. Or he's grown especially fond of his Yul Brynner Halloween costume, but either way, he didn't shave his head for nothing.

77. "NBC scraps Bill Cosby project in wake of mounting sexual assault allegations," reports the AP. "This doesn't mean we wouldn't work with Mr. Cosby again," said one network executive. "But unless we reboot To Catch a Predator next season, it probably won't be anytime soon."

78. Let's go over the definitions of "need," "want," and "'cause I feel like it" one more time ...

79. Merriam-Webster's online "open dictionary" defines a Napoleon complex as "an inferiority complex afflicting short people that is characterized by aggressive personality," whereas I define a Napoleon complex dynamite as "RUUUUUUUN!!!!"

80. Oh, great, I get to sit by the window that's having an identity crisis. This could be a long flight.

81. I can safely say this is the most excited I've ever been about football.

82. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the job listings at became a Craigslist-like hook-up destination for toddlers.

83. Last night the StreetWise vendor outside the Trader Joe's on Diversey said she tells me things about her past that she doesn't tell other customers. That's why I took back the two dollars I gave her for the magazine: like Lucy van Pelt, my amateur psychiatry isn't free.

84. The New York Times is reporting that Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of the first home system for video games, has died at 92. Let us observe a moment of silence. But first ...

85. Is there a Scottish Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Glasgow? If so, is the cocktail napkin on which Teenage Fanclub wrote the lyrics for its 1991 album Bandwagonesque on display?

86. Yesterday at a coffee shop I watched a toddler try to get his mom to stop texting for five seconds and pay attention to him.

No such luck.

The next time I looked over at the boy he wasn't wearing pants.

Still no reaction from his mom.

I wanted to tell him, "Never give up, because this isn't the last time you'll be ignored by a woman after you strip down to your underwear," but because I'd already taken off my own pants in solidarity, I was in the back of a police cruiser at that point.

87. ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER #63: Politely ask "You gonna finish this?" before claiming a friend or relative's expired medication as your own.

88. Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing and screenwriter of The Social Network, wrote in yesterday's New York Times that "every news outlet that did the bidding of the Guardians of Peace" by reprinting the hacked e-mails of Sony movie executives "is morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable." In that case, thank you, HBO, for canceling Sorkin's latest TV show, The Newsroom, before he had the chance to make Jeff Daniels lecture those news outlets about their treason.

89. I haven't seen Divergent, but the other day I watched a trailer for its upcoming sequel, Insurgent, and now I can't wait to find out what happens in the final chapter of the trilogy, Regurgent.

90. Last night I saw two men walking down the street and holding hands while staring at their phones. If that isn't proof that gay marriage is as traditional as "traditional" marriage, I don't know what is.

91. It pains me to hear my gentle, loving nieces talk about the mean kids at their school, which is why I like to remind them that before they know it they'll be driving, "and then you can run those mean kids over."

92. Earlier today I misread the last word in the sentence "The point is the doing," thinking it was an example of onomatopoeia like Mike Myers and Dana Carvey's use of "Schwing!" in old "Wayne's World" sketches. Reading should be a turn-on, but much like a beautiful woman, it can attract men who are clueless about context.

93. "Technology creates new alternatives and distractions, and that's something that we as people who make content and show content have to be aware of," said Dave Hollis, Disney's executive VP of distribution, in a recent interview with Variety. "There has to be a clutter-buster strategy of making events inside cinema, where missing these events come [sic] at the expense of social currency and where people aren't able to participate in water-cooler conversation."

You know, if there's one idiom in the English language that proves you're aware of the technological times that are a-changin', it's got to be "water-cooler conversation."

94. In keeping with the spirit of the message, I stole this picture from someone's Instagram page.

95. Yesterday a man on the sidewalk started to ask me for money but burst out laughing when he saw a Trader Joe's canvas shopping bag on my arm.

Now I know why more people don't recycle.

96. After watching a season and a half of Californication on Netflix, I can totally relate to its protagonist, Hank Moody, because now I'm filled with self-loathing too! (Plus, every woman I meet throws herself at me, but that goes without saying.)

97. There's a guy in my neighborhood who rides a skateboard while walking his dog. I can never tell if he's trying to get some exercise or just competing for attention.

98. Dying is easy, comedy is hard. So the saying goes, but no one should have to die because of comedy. Or have their e-mail hacked, or be threatened with violence if they choose to spend $10 on a Seth Rogen-James Franco "bromance" at the multiplex.

We don't all have to agree on what's funny, thank God (or Kim Jong-un, if you prefer), but we should be able to forgive others for making jokes we don't like, and the last time I checked, forgiveness is still a pretty big deal in every major religion. Minor ones, too: why else do you think John Travolta remained a free man after his fellow Scientologists saw Battlefield Earth for the first time?

99. My seven-year-old niece, Sophie, recently sent me a thank-you note "for the CD and the elephant calendar and all of my other presents." The CD and the calendar were the only presents I gave her at Christmas, but I admire her technique, so I've started utilizing it in job-application cover letters, e.g., "My experience includes writing, editing, and everything else."

100. Yesterday at Walgreens I brought a Snickers "2 to Go" bar up to the checkout counter, where the cashier informed me I could buy three regular Snickers for the same price. "I'm already not exercising impulse control," I politely replied, "so please don't encourage my shame eating with financial logic."

101. The next time you're caught staring at a stranger's neck tattoo on public transportation and he growls, "Take a picture, it'll last longer," educate him on the evolving yet precarious state of archival standards for digital photography. He'll be glad you did.

102. WARNING: Results may vary on elevated trains.

103. I've heard some people complain that the year 2015 as depicted in 1989's Back to the Future Part II doesn't match up with the one that's now 23 days old. Don't those people realize that Marty McFly and Doc Brown didn't arrive in 2015 until October 21? That's why I'm reserving judgment until the fall—a lot can happen in nine months.

104. If I ever run for president, "food and man living in harmony" will be the key theme of my campaign.

105. I bet I'd make a great dad. For one thing, I wouldn't be the kind of dad who tells his kids he's going down the street to buy a pack of cigarettes, only to never return. Instead, I'd tell them I needed a protein bar or a V8, because I feel it's important to set a positive example of healthy eating habits.

106. The comma that used to regularly show up in sentences after city-state combos like Madison, Wisconsin, and dates such as July 20, 1969, has died. Funeral services will be held in Worcester, Massachusetts as soon as the city digs out from the record snowfall of Tuesday, January 27 that blanketed much of the New England area.

107. Yesterday I discovered that the Illinois Department of Labor is also known as IDOL. I have a hunch it used to be named the Illinois Department of Labor and Employment, but since unemployed people are already frustrated about being I-D-L-E, it's not as if they needed a reminder.

108. It makes me angry when people trivialize potentially life-threatening winter weather with buzzwords like "snowmageddon" and "snowpocalypse," especially when it's obvious that "snowblivion" is much more pleasing to the ear.

109. Last night I watched a rerun of Seinfeld, which made me wonder if Michael Richards is still haunted by that racist rant he delivered at an L.A. comedy club in 2006. After all, if he'd waited just one more year someone could've captured it on an iPhone, and the picture quality would've been so much better.

110. Mercury Rising, a suspense thriller starring Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin, was filmed in Chicago and released in 1998. Jupiter Ascending, a sci-fi adventure starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, was also filmed in Chicago (and outer space, I guess) and comes out this Friday.

I now fully comprehend my destiny here in the Windy City, and you'll see exactly what I mean in 2032 when you download Uranus Mounting to your cerebral cortex.

111. You think Brian Williams's lies are bad? Last fall I went out with his daughter, Allison, for a few months (no big deal, whatever—she has a thing for older, shorter, underemployed men), and on our very first date she told me she had magical flying powers. But when I watched her play Peter Pan on NBC in December, I could instantly tell she was being carried through the air on wires, not magic.

She's a sweet girl, but once the trust is gone it's over.

112. Dear Eddie Bauer:

On April Fools' Day, please consider changing the name of your stores to "Jack Bauer" for 24 hours ... OR ELSE.

The clock is ticking,


113. This afternoon I received an e-mail from a "recruiting specialist" about a job at TechLink Systems, but since I don't own a car I told him I wouldn't be able to commute from Chicago to Abbott Park, Illinois, four days a week (to work just five hours a day!). He replied, "Once I find a job matching your profile with an easy commute, I will intimate you."

"Easy"? "Intimate"? Sounds like somebody wants to be my valentine, and all I had to do was play hard to get.

114. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. While you're at it, keep the door close in case you end up at a party with your enemies after they've discovered you're not their friend.

115. I bet Michael Keaton would have won the Oscar for Best Actor last night if he hadn't chewed gum throughout the ceremony. Just thinking about his appalling lack of etiquette makes me as emotional as Terrence Howard at a Benedict Cumberbatch movie.

116. I wonder how much traffic receives from white-wine drunks trying to reach

117. On Wednesday a supporter of Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia told The New York Times, "I've been a city employee for 30 years, so I've seen a lot of mayors." No kidding! Does anybody even remember the name of that one guy who was in office for 22 of those 30 years? Yeah, me neither.

118. Seeing ads for Patricia Arquette's new TV series, CSI: Cyber, a week after she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress is like reading a newspaper story about a local hero who rescued a child from a burning car, then recognizing that hero at McDonald's the next day as you're being asked, "You want cheese on that?"

119. Whenever I hear a young person complain about being sent on a wild goose chase at work, I just shake my head and think, Wait until you're sent on a dull, uneventful, completely legal, drug- and nudity-free goose chase. Then you'll see, kid. Then you'll see.

120. In a new campaign ad for his April 7 runoff election against Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel says, "Look, I'm not gonna always get it right. But when it comes to fighting for Chicago, and Chicago's future, no one's gonna fight harder."

It's good to see Emanuel taking a page from the playbook of Vic Hedges, who ran for mayor of Melonville in 1982 with this message: "I've made a lot of mistakes in my personal life, and I'll probably make mistakes as mayor. But I'll tell you one thing: If I do make a mistake, you're gonna know about it. Because with me as your mayor, there'll be no surprises." His campaign slogan was "Because Nobody's Perfect."

Hedges was played by Joe Flaherty on SCTV, which sprang from the Second City theater troupe formed in 1959 in Chicago, so at the very least Mayor Emanuel deserves credit for not outsourcing his recycling. (Never mind that SCTV was produced in Canada. Focus on the big picture—details don't win elections!)

121. Last night a friend told me she'd recently sent a passive-aggressive e-mail to an ex, which made her feel like a hypocrite since she doesn't like people who are passive-aggressive.

Can you believe that? What a passive-aggressive way for someone to call me passive-aggressive!

122. Where I come from, the soil is red, so when I see a red wine that's fifty shades of grey, I know what to expect—mud.

123. Last night I passed by a restaurant advertising "Korean Street BBQ." Finally! I'm so sick of eating Korean barbecue that grew up with a silver spoon in its mouth.

124. I can't believe this Durst guy was arrested for murder. I mean, I never liked Limp Bizkit's music, either, but I'm still breathing.

125. We now join "Upstairs Neighbor Returning Home at 4:53 on a Weeknight and Ignoring the Fact That the Floorboards Are Really, Really, Really, Really Creaky" already in progress.

126. Incomplete headlines can be so cruel ... but Suge Knight is still (allegedly) crueler.

127. Sometimes I wish the girl I was stalking online had a more mature sense of humor, but no one's perfect, I suppose.

128. She works hard for the money, so hard for it, honey. And I ... well, I mean, yeah, I work, but ... look, nobody likes a show-off.

129. While waiting to vote for Chicago's next/same mayor this afternoon at the nursing home around the corner from my apartment building, certain book titles caught my eye as I scanned the shelves of the community room, including Needful Things and Dr. Death. I was relieved when I finally came across a title that expresses some optimism about the twilight years: Kill Me If You Can.

130. Ever gone to a party with a significant other right after a tense argument, but he/she is all smiles around the other partygoers, as if the argument never took place? That's what I'm reminded of whenever I see a happy, giggly toddler waving at strangers from a stroller being pushed by a dead-eyed parent.

131. If I were to attend an interracial wedding in England, would I automatically be ushered toward the aisle of white? Probably, but I bet that sort of stereotyping drives the Black Irish crazy.

132. Last night I overheard two twentysomethings having a long conversation about their favorite TV shows. It ended with one of them saying, "I don't even have a TV."

"I don't have a TV" used to mean "I don't watch TV." Now "I don't watch TV" usually means "I don't watch network TV," but whatever you're watching on whichever device, the Communists who manipulate our brainwaves via televisual content appreciate your continued business. (Oh my god, have you seen FX's The Americans? So good.)

133. I just passed by a truck advertising Labriola Artisan Breads. Now I'm hungry, but because of the company's vaguely erotic name, I also want to seduce a loaf of pumpernickel while listening to Bread's "Make It With You."

134. "Know it sounds funny / But I just can't stand the pain." Proof positive that the Commodores were too easy on their malpractice-ing doctor.

135. If you see only one movie this weekend while abusing over-the-counter allergy medication, make it Avengers: Age of Adaline.

136. While watching tonight's David Letterman special on CBS, I started to wonder: when did Paul Shaffer become a cross between Elton John and the mid-aughts Six Flags mascot who resembles Junior Soprano?

137. This morning I passed by a man wearing a large cowboy hat. He was walking his border collie and wiping the corner of his eye with a bandanna.

Actually, he was walking two Lhasa Apsos, and the bandanna was a blue plastic bag he was about to use to pick up the tiny dogs' droppings.

Maybe that's why he was wearing the cowboy hat. Some men have to be dragged kicking and screaming—or lassoed, if you prefer—into modern masculinity.

138. You know when the Red Line train pulls up to Belmont or Fullerton while the Brown Line train waits on the other side of the platform? We all hustle from one to the other, as if the doors will close on us if we don't, but I'm here to tell you: play it cool. Take your time. Be aloof. It'll only make that train want you more.

139. A couple of my ten-year-old niece's friends are now "following" me on Instagram. I followed them back because I felt it was the right thing to do. I just hope that if I ever have to repeat that last sentence again, it's not preceded by "Your Honor ..."

140. I've never liked gritty R&B. I prefer a clean sound, which is why I listen to the music of Procter & Gamble & Huff.

141. If those who can't, teach, then I should've been hired to teach Japanese years ago.

142. Spring cleaning reveals that seven things I never knew about Bill Cosby last September don't compare to the one thing I know he's been accused of over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again since last October.

143. Reminiscent of the 2008-'14 TV series "Sons of Anarchy," nine bikers were killed today in Waco, Texas, in a shootout between rival gangs. Incidentally, the shootout took place at a restaurant named Twin Peaks, so it seems entirely not inappropriate to remind everyone that the series finale of "Mad Men" airs tonight on AMC.

144. Yesterday I saw an elderly man shuffling down the street with his hands over his ears. One block later I saw another old man walking toward me with his hands wrapped around his throat. I found all of this to be terribly sad, but I knew what would make the situation better, so I put my hands over my eyes and walked into traffic.

145. I have a daily calendar that once belonged to my grandmother. Each page contains a prayer along with a humorous saying such as "Many speakers need no introduction, just a conclusion." The other day the prayer was "God—I often procrastinate and I have difficulty getting down to business. Help me to discard this habit and get myself in gear. Amen."

I didn't get much work done that day. I guess somebody was too busy procrastinating to keep up His end of the bargain.

146. Whoever left the empty Red Bull can in the north stairwell of my apartment building last night, I forgive you. After all, Red Bull is the energy drink that gives you wings, not the energy required to carry an empty Red Bull can up more than one flight of stairs.

147. I'm doing freelance work this afternoon at a coffee shop in my neighborhood. One of the baristas is named Mohammed, and he has an Abe Lincoln beard. God bless America.

Oh, and I think he's high, so God, bonus points for bringing your A game this Memorial Day! I love you, dawg! (Hey, did y'all know that "dawg" spelled backwards is ... wait, never mind.)

148. "I really think I should get the girl."

(FUN FACT! The Empire Strikes Back originally featured an entirely different romantic interest for Princess Leia.)

149. "If you see me jogging down the street / And I give you a fake smile each time we meet, it's because I don't know how to jog and smile and breathe at the same time, okay? / Jog on by, jog on by ..."

150. "Political influence going once, going twice, sold to the shadowy corporation in the back row for $2 million!" (Republican friends, as soon as I find a photo from Hillary Clinton's cattle-auctioneering past, I promise I'll update this post.)

151. Pepsi is being made with real sugar again, and its latest ad slogan is "Live for Now." I assume that phrase tested better with focus groups than "Only the Good Diabetes Young."

152. I had a dream last night that 98-year-old Kirk Douglas had become a talent agent and was calling one of his clients from my childhood home. "Hello, Mr. Crocodile," he said when Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon picked up the phone.

I know exactly what that dream was trying to tell me—but I still refuse to pay $10 to see the Entourage movie this weekend. Nice try, Warner Bros.'s marketing dream team, but no sale.

153. If you're at a party and you find yourself being interrupted whenever you talk, or you notice that the people you're talking to keep looking around the room as you're talking, there's only one solution to the problem: you must slap those people in the face. Otherwise you'll never know whether or not you've died and forgotten that you're now a ghost.

154. Yesterday morning I began scratching at what I thought was a dead piece of skin on the left side of my chest. Dead skin removed, I headed for the shower, but as I passed by the bathroom mirror I noticed blood running down my torso.

Not what I expected to see, but I washed off the blood in the shower, put a Band-Aid over the wound, and headed downtown to Printers Row Lit Fest, where I was doing a favor for a friend by promoting Pleiades, a journal published by the University of Central Missouri, to passersby.

One of the fiction writers featured in the most recent issue was sitting at the Pleiades table with me, and at one point we were talking about past relationships. As the temperature rose in the afternoon I decided to take off my sweatshirt, but after my left hand brushed past my chest I found fresh blood on my fingers. I looked down and discovered I'd been bleeding through my T-shirt the past several hours.

I didn't mind, though, because if you're literally going to have a bleeding heart while talking about lost love, you might as well do it at a literary festival.

155. I hope disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter can enter a witness protection program in Europe. Not because I think outraged soccer hooligans may be endangering his life, but if anyone could use a permanent name change, it's this guy.

156. If for some reason the FCC decides to approve the creation of a TV channel that shows nothing but Modern Family reruns, I won't stand in its way.

157. Yesterday I had to give a urine sample after my early-morning physical while Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" played on Pandora in the lab technician's office.

Now I see why Pandora is magic. I'm sorry I doubted all you true believers.

158. Don't lecture me about recycling, Pixar, when you're the one throwing away valuable commas.

159. If your idea of the perfect Father's Day includes watching Bullitt on Blu-ray with your dad right before euthanizing him with one of summer's hottest handguns, then this gift guide has got you covered.

160. Last week I watched two women in hijabs share photos on their phones as our bus crawled down Michigan Avenue. It was inspiring to realize that no matter where a person comes from or what higher power he or she believes in, we all like to take pictures of the same stupid coffee drinks.

161. Gotta hand it to Robert Frost—dude is aging well.

162. "I enjoy your early, funny work, Sean. For example, your marriage to Madonna." (photo credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images, 4/23/12)

163. A parade commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March will take place this morning in downtown Chicago.

Correction: Today's event is the Million Mullet March, commemorating the Chicago Blackhawks' third Stanley Cup victory since 2010. The parade will be all business at the front of the route, with a party in the back; please plan accordingly.

164. I wish I was more magnanimous. That means "able to shoot lava out of one's fingers after being exposed to radiation from a nuclear bomb detonated inside an active volcano," right?

165. The Associated Press is reporting that WikiLeaks has evidence of the NSA spying on the last three French presidents. Well, wouldn't you? American presidents have been a lot less worthy of invasion of privacy since Wild Bill left office 14 years ago.

166. Yesterday I was sent volunteer/intern job listings for various "Editor" positions at Felix, "a luxury lifestyle magazine currently serving Chicago, Los Angeles and New York." The top editorial qualification listed was "a passion for mens and womens economic opportunities"—just not the applicant's own, of course, which is why working for free shouldn't be a problem. (Oh, and apostrophes are obviously a luxury at Felix, so be sure to bring your own supply.)

167. Shortly before I learned of the Supreme Court's historic ruling on same-sex marriage this morning, I "married" two identical bottles of discount moisturizer. Did my economically forward-thinking act somehow influence the Court's decision? I guess we'll never know ... but since I desperately want to feel connected to something larger than myself while simultaneously overshadowing it, YES I CAN!

‪#‎proudofmypride ‪#‎pridetimespridecancelsoutthesin ‪#‎notthatgayprideisasin ‪#‎heyisthatdonnasummersghostonaprideparadefloat‪ #‎exitstageleft

168. If it's true that writers get their best ideas in the shower, what will happen to the entertainment industry if the California water crisis limits Hollywood writers to just two 45-minute showers a day? I'm too old to start reading (non-Glee-based fan) fiction!

169. Yesterday afternoon I watched a man in a suit and tie clip his fingernails on the subway. A friend of mine once saw a man relieve himself on the subway late at night, but she never said what he was wearing. My guess, based on careful consideration of the social contract, would be a tuxedo.

170. Yesterday afternoon I watched a man a few yards in front of me on the sidewalk begin yelling at another man across the street. He then crossed the street, at which point the other man began yelling in his face. I watched their confrontation for a few seconds in case it got violent, but it didn't, so I continued on to the grocery store. A half hour later, on my way back home, I saw the two men sitting inside Five Guys and eating burgers while laughing and slapping each other on the back.

See? Drugs aren't all bad.

171. Are you tired of your dog jumping on the kitchen counter to take a bite out of steaks you just finished grilling? And are you tired of your friends and family telling you they're tired of hearing that same tired story? Sure, we all do.

Hi, I'm Robert Cass, and I'm here to tell you about a revolutionary new concept in pet-free dining and heightened storytelling: Eating on Your Roof! Remember, you can't create a compelling narrative without first raising the steaks.

(WARNING: The maker of this bad pun cannot be held responsible for damage or injury resulting from Eating on Your Roof. In other words, if you had a problem with his drinking problem you should've said something before you invited him to your Box Gable Barbecue.)

172. Schumer 1, Irony 0

173. My eight-year-old niece, Sophie, now has a hand-me-down iPhone, so she's begun texting me. On Monday she told me that her day camp was going on a field trip to Cumberland Caverns the next day, but "I think it might be scary to go into a cave because there might be bats and spooky things like that," she wrote.

I assured her that the only things to be scared of in the caverns were the ghosts of children who'd wandered away from their adult supervisors. "But don't worry—the ghosts are friendly, like Casper," I texted Sophie. "But do you know why he's a friendly ghost? Because he has to make up for all the terrible things he did when he was alive, or else he'll never be accepted into heaven, much like an NFL player who can't go back to his favorite strip club until he apologizes for trashing the champagne room."

It's the little things you say to a child that can make a world of difference.

174. Since Donald Trump is so worried about Mexican immigrants committing crimes in the U.S., I pray no one reminds him about the havoc wreaked by Cuban immigrant Tony Montana back in the '80s. ("When we said hello to his little friend 32 years ago, we said goodbye to any chance of friendly relations with his home country. Cuba, no va!")

175. My phone just informed me that Tove Lo is Shazaming, which is great news, because for a second I thought I'd become dyslexic.

176. I just discovered that the versatile jazz musician Joe Sample, whose career spanned more than 50 years, passed away last September. Here's a paragraph from his obituary on the website of Mammoth Times, a newspaper in California:

"Some of his works were featured on The Weather Channel's 'Local on the 8s' segments and his song 'Rainbow Seeker' is included in their 2008 compilation release, The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II."

This means that when I die the best I can hope for is an obituary that says, "He was known for talking about the weather with family, friends, and, on occasion, strangers. 'Sometimes he'd even ask how I was doing,' said his daughter."

177. A Luddite resists the advance of technology into everyday life, but a Fuddite merely resists the advance of rabbits into his backyard.

178. Netflix's streaming service reminds me of crushes I used to have: the more unavailable a movie is, the more I want to see it.

"Yes, Robert, White House Down isn't available at the moment, but Olympus Has Fallen is," Netflix seems to say, "and they're pretty much the same movie."

"But I want to see the one with Jamie Foxx as the black president, not the one with Aaron Eckhart as the white president."

"Okay, but are you aware that Morgan Freeman plays the Speaker of the House in Olympus Has Fallen? He played the president in Deep Impact 17 years ago. Isn't that close enough?"

"You know it isn't!"

"Okay, but you do realize neither of these movies is intellectually stimulating, right?"

"Have you not noticed what I've been watching the past six months?"

"Good point. So what did you think of G.I. Joe: Retaliation?"

"I watched that? Good point."

"By the way, as of five seconds ago Olympus Has Fallen is no longer available to stream."

And that's how I fell head over heels for Olympus Has Fallen.

179. Last night I passed by a smoke shop advertising "Vapor by Davy Jones." It's good to know that the heartthrob from the Monkees didn't die in vain.

180. This fall I'm starting a charity that will distribute used silicone to underprivileged narcissists; in exchange, donors will be provided with brand-new body art. I'm calling it Tits for Tats.

181. Yesterday I jogged past a man staring at the phone in his hand. That's not unusual in 2015, of course, but I was surprised to see his other hand pushing an empty stroller. I just assumed that the new Ba-dar® app had the situation under control and kept on jogging.

182. Yesterday afternoon a cute girl texted me, so I wrote her back. Then she called me using FaceTime, but despite the fact that she initiated the call, I felt like I was the one who had to keep moving the conversation forward with questions. After a couple minutes she said, "My battery's at 2 percent, so I'll call you back later." But she never did.

My eight-year-old niece is going to be a heartbreaker in high school.

183. The opening lines of Public Enemy's 1988 song "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" are "I got a letter from the government the other day / I opened and read it / It said they were suckers."

I wish my tax refunds were that self-critical. A simple "We know we let you down" would go a long way.

184. Yesterday I walked past a shaggy dog of a man downtown and thought, He looks like Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. A few blocks later I walked past Sam Elliott, who's actually in The Big Lebowski.

The targeted advertising for LebowskiCon 2015 is impressive, to say the least.

185. Happy birthday to Kenny Rogers, who turns 77 today! And happy birthday to Kenny Rogers's face, which turns 10!

186. It seems ironic that bad manners have been in plain sight the past two times I've gone to a bar called the Hideout. Bad luck, I suppose, but on the flip side, if I ever find myself drinking at a bar called the Middle Finger, I expect to be welcomed with open arms.

187. According to its signage, the Vitamin Shoppe first opened its doors 38 years ago, so don't even think about calling it Ye Olde Vitamin Shoppe until it's 65.

188. Hey, everybody, let's not be so quick to judge that county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After all, who are we to say that her religious beliefs don't include "Thou shalt not blindly rubber-stamp official documents, especially when thine ink pad is dry"? Give her a police escort to the promised land, a.k.a. Staples, and I'm sure she'll see the light.

189. The first draft of my new YA novel is almost complete. It's about a 13-year-old girl named Gwendolyn Grace, who only likes to be addressed by her middle name as she enters puberty. The working title is "Grace, Period," but if you can think of something better, please keep it to yourself.

190. Don't say the police tape didn't warn you. (photo credit: Robert King/Newsmakers, 11/26/00)

191. There's one extramarital affair of President Clinton's that the media never told you about ... (photo credit: Cynthia Johnson/Liaison, 7/21/92)

192. When the bad guy in a movie pulls a gun on the good guy, then details his plans for world domination instead of just shooting the good guy, that's a technique known as "the Glock 'n' spiel."

193. Last year I sold my spacious beach house in the Hamptons because I was sick of being surrounded by movie stars. Now I'm in a not-spacious studio apartment in Chicago, and look who my neighbor is. Why won't you respect my privacy, famous people?!

194. Hollywood, I know you're always on the lookout for the next blockbuster movie franchise or hit TV series set in a dystopian future, but you and I both know that crowd-pleasers like The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead require big budgets for special effects. Luckily, I've come up with a cost-effective, cinéma-vérité-type scenario for a fictional world in which everyone has easy access to guns, and mass shootings are considered commonplace. Sounds like the stuff of nightmares, right? I even have a title you can use: "The Day After Today." Let me know what you think ...

195. My eyes are tired, but I can't wait to try Sausage, the new fragrance from Dios (translation: Spanish God) and His celebrity-spokesmodel son, Jesus Depp.

196. In 2012 actor Mark Wahlberg told Men's Journal that if he hadn't canceled his ticket for American Airlines Flight 11, the first of two jets that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, "it wouldn't have went down like it did," adding, "There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, 'OK, we're going to land somewhere safely, don't worry.'"

Looks like Republican presidential hopeful Ben "I Would Not Just Stand There and Let Him Shoot Me" Carson has found himself a running mate. (Running toward, not from, just to be clear. Please don't hit me, sirs.)

197. I was going to answer, "Not her clothes, which makes me concerned about the quality of this particular day-care facility," but pneumococcal meningitis sets off alarm bells too, I suppose. Speaking of which, does this day-care facility have a fire alarm? Yeah, that's what I thought. C'mon, Emma, we're leaving. Grab your coat— oh right, you just have the diaper.

198. "A new fantasy millionaire every week"? Big deal. I'm a fantasy millionaire every single day, and you don't see the FBI investigating me. The trick is to be clueless about football, though I am sorry to hear that the Cubs won't be going to the Super Bowl this year. (See?)

199. Walking downtown the other day, I heard someone just a few feet behind me singing the phrase “Murder, she wrote” over and over again. Happy Halloween to you too, Ms. Lansbury.

200. My John Travolta Halloween mask is more lifelike than I expected. The wig, however, is exactly what I expected.

201. "The Mexican Supreme Court has opened the door to legalizing marijuana," reports The New York Times. Just make sure you don't close that door, Mexico, because once you do, you'll be stuck in an endless loop of Cheech & Chong's "Dave's not here" routine.

202. When noted fiction editor Gordon Lish joined the Boy Scouts of America in an advisory role in 1984, the Scout Law was temporarily modified from "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent" to "A Scout is."


FRANCE: Wow, can you believe it's already 1886? Our bad, America, but we'd like to say "Happy belated centennial" by giving you this Statue of Liberty.

AMERICA: Awesome! Thanks, France! And we love the sonnet that goes with it: "Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

FRANCE: You're welcome. But just so we're clear, that doesn't apply to Syrians.

AMERICA: Well, if you say so ...

204. If the apartment building I live in is any indication, it's important to pull up the blinds and turn the lights back on after a tenant moves out. Otherwise, the building's manager won't be able to tell which apartments are occupied and which aren't—you know, when he's standing outside, at night, facing the building.

205. All paper accepted, but check out which kind of paper is accepted above all others. Typical ...

206. "La dolce vita" just rolls off the tongue better than "La gastrointestinally distressing vita," don't you think?

207. If you truly want to be an early adopter, hide under the bed in a honeymoon suite and yell "Dibs!" at the moment of conception.

208. ADVERTISING FUN FACT! After months of internal debate, the makers of Halos decided that "If you don't have Halos, they don't have halos" was a more consumer-friendly slogan than "If you don't buy our California mandarins, your children will murder you in your sleep."

209. Donald Trump is absolutely right: all religious fanatics should be banned from this country. Only then can we be sure that the people most likely to vote for Trump next November won't be able to.

210. When flashing help is on the way, just be grateful you're receiving any kind of help, okay? And remember, EYES UP HERE UNLESS YOU WANT TO SEE WHAT'S DOWN THERE.

211. You should never break up with someone just because you think he or she isn't intelligent enough or mature enough for you. After all, none of us are perfect, and you may regret your decision if you end up with someone even less intelligent or mature.

In other words, I bet Donald Trump is making a whole lot of people nostalgic for Sarah Palin right now.

212. Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar? I know both kinds. And, depending on who you ask or whether or not the date went well, I am both kinds. Be more specific, greeting-card industry.

213. Good news, everyone! I just got back from the new Star Wars movie, and I'm happy to report that the First Order, the successor to al-Qaeda, has been defeated. I mean, ISIS, the successor to the Galactic Empire, has been ... Whatever, you get it.

That wasn't a spoiler, was it? A spoiler would be something like "I was shocked when Chewbacca was revealed to be the father of seven illegitimate Ewok children. Then again, we all saw how he bonded with those resourceful little teddy bears in Return of the Jedi. Chewie, you dirty dog-type alien creature, you!"

In conclusion, pay your interspecies child support. Thank you for listening.

214. Comedian Andy Kaufman used to disguise himself as an obnoxious entertainer named Tony Clifton, who insulted everyone in sight. Kaufman died of lung cancer in 1984, shortly after Donald Trump rose to national prominence with the opening of Trump Tower in Manhattan and profiles in The New York Times and Town & Country magazine.

Of course, some fans think Kaufman faked his death for the sole purpose of crafting the greatest anti-comedy joke of all time, and I'm starting to see what they mean—I think he just got tired of playing Tony Clifton and decided to run for president 31 years after his "death" as someone even more obnoxious.

215. My computer's calendar seems desperate for attention tonight, possibly because my computer's weather forecast commanded my attention on Tuesday by predicting that tomorrow will never come.

216. I hadn't yet heard the 1972 James Brown song "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing" when I clipped this ad from a newspaper in New York City on my first trip there, 20 years ago this month, but the phrase stuck with me. The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business was prescient about the general tenor of social media.

217. One of the stocking-stuffer presents my sister-in-law gave me this Christmas was the book I Am Charlie Wilson, based on the true story of the Gap Band's lead singer attending a screening of the Tom Hanks movie Charlie Wilson's War in 2007 and shouting his memoir's title at the screen. I can relate—I once had a dream in which I yelled a similar title during the opening credits of "Robert Cass's Losing Battle Against Neck Fat," a much braver act of self-identification, if you ask me.

218. This morning I walked past Velvet Taco, which promises "taco magic till 4 AM!"

I felt a little wistful when I saw those words. When I was a boy, brothels didn't have to advertise.

219. Sarah Palin, the Republican Party's candidate for vice president in 2008, has endorsed the party's current front runner, Donald Trump, for president.

In related news, train wrecks have endorsed death.

220. I saw Muhammad on the bus last Friday. He was wearing a disguise, but you could totally tell it was him. I asked if I could take a selfie with him, but he politely declined. Seems to be big on privacy, which I totally respect.

221. There's been a lot of talk lately about the lack of diversity in Hollywood, especially in light of this year's blinded-by-the-light-that-is-all-white Oscar nominations. But I'm here to tell you that Hollywood does celebrate diversity, and the evidence can be seen in Robert De Niro's latest movie, Dirty Grandpa.

Just like De Niro, Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando were once thought to be the best actors of their respective generations. Unfortunately, neither one was given the opportunity to truly soar in his golden years and take on the demanding role of a horny, foul-mouthed senior citizen. I believe it was Constantin Stanislavski who said, in the late 19th century, "To act is to be, but to be starring in R-rated comedies at the age of 72 and saying things like 'The greatest gift a grandson can give his grandfather is a hot college girl who wants to have unprotected sex with him before he dies' is divine."

It gives one hope. More specifically, it gives me hope that in 30 years Leonardo DiCaprio will agree to star in my long-awaited directorial debut, "[Untitled, But Some Sort of Pun Involving Depends or Viagra Would Be Great (a.k.a. Everything Old Is Blue Again)]." Diversity—making dreams come true every day!

(This message has been paid for by every old white man in Hollywood.)

222. I completely understand why Donald Trump is skipping Thursday night's Republican presidential debate. Everyone is grieving for Abe Vigoda in different ways.

Speaking of which, Vigoda has joined Mickey Rooney in the pantheon of actors presumed to be dead by the general public years before they actually died. Kirk Douglas must either be relieved he's still breathing or offended that he's now the president, secretary, and treasurer of an increasingly exclusive club.

223. Walgreens would like to remind you and your family that the Stormtroopers® from Star Wars: The Force Awakens® (in theaters now!) work for the bad guys. The inflatable Stormtrooper® pictured here is guarding our hard-liquor display from curious children, not encouraging them to come closer and ask for a free sample.

So if your children develop a taste for Jack Daniel's because they think it's yet another Star Wars® product tie-in, don't blame Walgreens for mixed signals. There are no mixed signals here. (This Jedi Mind Trick® has been brought to you by Walgreens.)

224. I bet the Zika virus could be wiped out in no time if the World Health Organization started a tourism campaign encouraging Central and South American mosquitoes to breed with other sexy singles in the shimmering standing waters of Flint, Michigan.

225. Elton John has entered the Roy Orbison phase of his career. Not in a musical sense, but just like Orbison in the mid-'80s, whenever I see pictures of Elton now I think, She seems like a nice old lady.

226. Peyton Manning's reference to drinking "a lot of Budweiser" in a post-Super Bowl interview with CBS Sports reporter Tracy Wolfson was equivalent to $3.2 million in free advertising, according to In addition, the Broncos quarterback's reference to "the man upstairs" was linked to approximately 23,649,712 utterances of "Oh, God" by people who went home together after drinking too much Budweiser during the game, although roughly half of those utterances were later reported to have been faked.

227. "Scientists have found evidence for one of Einstein's famed prophecies," reports The New York Times. "They captured the sound of black holes colliding." This is exciting news, because until now I could only find photographic evidence of the January 19 collision.

228. "I'm Donald Trump, and even though I wouldn't be caught dead using a coin-operated washing machine, I approve this one's message."

229. "In reply to Pope, Trump says a religious leader questioning a person's faith is 'disgraceful,'" reports the AP. And according to the Wikipedia entry on the Book of Job, when God asks, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" in response to His follower's crisis of faith, "Job makes a brief response, but God's monologue resumes, never addressing Job directly."

Finally, we know who taught Donald Trump how to debate.

230. The secret to being a good Oscar host, according to Whoopi Goldberg, is "Hide backstage at a taping of Ellen, then wait for the host of that show to casually mention the secret to being a good Oscar host to a coworker, friend, or intern."

231. Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "Nothing in this world is certain except death and taxes." He added, "Oh yeah, and pimples. I swear to God, the day my portrait is drawn for the hundred-dollar bill, I'm going to wake up with three of those [expletive deleted] on my forehead."

232. My friend John remarked the other day that album covers aren't as interesting as they once were. That reminded me of a 2011 New York Times article that pointed out how album art has been affected not only by the shrinking budgets of record labels but the need to simplify covers so they immediately stand out on smartphone screens.

Then I listened to Bobby Brown's first album and realized he was 30 years ahead of the curve: the cover of King of Stage is simple and direct, and all it required was a trip to Glamour Shots.

233. Upon learning the details of the 2016 presidential race after having spent the past year in orbit, astronaut Scott Kelly remarked, "You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!"
He has since been placed in quarantine.

234. Two popular poses for Facebook profile pictures are "sipping from coffee mug" and "hands cradling face." I decided to combine the two, but the result wasn't selfie friendly.

235. According to pop songs, love makes you feel ten feet tall, but in developing countries I bet people are happy just to feel five-eight.

236. It's always awkward when you run into someone you've met before, yet you can't quite remember the person's name. (photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images, 1/2/08)

237. If I could give a teenager just one piece of advice, it would be: Don't get high. Or at least don't get high as a kite. If you're going to get high, get only as high as a half-deflated Mylar balloon in a room with a ceiling low enough to make a professional basketball player say, "My neck hurts. Let's find another room."

238. One of the headlines I saw today was this one from the AP: "Obama orders new sanctions against North Korea in response to 'illicit' nuclear, missile tests."

One of the articles I looked up yesterday was about song lyrics and the band Pavement, from a 1997 issue of The New Yorker; Alex Ross wrote, "Pavement had a small hit in 1994 with the song 'Cut Your Hair,' which seemed to be about the rock business and its emphasis on 'career, career.' [Lead singer Stephen] Malkmus insisted to one critic that he was actually singing 'Korea! Korea!' and foresaw a nuclear conflict with that nation."

Stephen Malkmus: Singer. Songwriter. Secretary of State? (My finder's fee may seem steep, Mrs. Clinton, but student debt is a growing crisis, so you'll look like a real hero by paying off mine.)

239. With all the movie and TV production taking place in Georgia these days, it's a crime that no one's created a cop show titled "Peach Fuzz."

240. Every morning on my way to work I pass by the Poetry Garage, which, according to its website, features "sights and sounds of poetry" that "will entertain parkers and enable each guest to remember where to find their car." I hope to eventually add my own original composition to the garage's hallowed concrete walls:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
But Range Rovers aren't "compacts"
How could I not key you?

241. "Hey, slow down—I'm not that kind of superhero. Look, this is our first movie together, so what do you say we get to know each other a little better? I bet you have a great origin story."

242. Sylvester Stallone – decades of plastic surgery and hair "restoration" = Jonathan Banks

243. If you get on the Brown Line at Adams and Wabash, you can see Trump Tower directly ahead, with Trump’s name getting bigger and bigger as the train moves forward. Then it veers left and “TRUMP” is gone.

I consider that a good omen for November 8.

244. AMC and ABC should figure out a way to do a crossover episode of The Walking Dead and Scandal in the style of My Dinner With Andre just so fellow Texans Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry) can spend 42 minutes spouting the nuttiest only-in-Texas expressions the writers of these two series can think of.

"Why, Robert, that's nuttier than a starvin' squirrel in a nuthouse chock-full of nuts!" one of them might say. But I'm not from Texas, so I'll leave the rest of it up to the writers (who are all from Texas, no doubt about it).

245. My nieces gave me this handmade picture at Christmas as part of a belated 40th-birthday gift. I'm not afraid of clowns, but if you cut the caption off a New Yorker cartoon featuring a clown and add ransom-note-style lettering that spells out my full name, I become very afraid. Excellent work, Olivia and Sophie! I'm so proud (and paranoid).

246. Sisters are boozin' it for themselves. (I was hoping to buy a copy of Cheryl Strayed's Wild 2: Wild Turkey today at Barnes & Noble, but the sales clerk said she's still sleeping it off.)

247. Happy 273rd, Thomas Jefferson! Something tells me that when your friends and family asked you what you wanted for your birthday 200 years ago and you replied, "Anything black," you weren't talking about waistcoats or pantaloons.

248. People are always telling me how boyish I look. My secret? I'm always throwing temper tantrums.

249. Before committing to a 30-day juice cleanse, make sure you can afford to fill your bathtub with Tropicana and V8 for an entire month.

250. Last week I rediscovered "Donald Trump (Black Version)," a song by the Time, from their 1990 album Pandemonium, that may hold the key to the Republican Party's success in this year's presidential election. Here's the chorus:

Donald Trump (black version), maybe that's what you need
A man that fulfills your every wish, your every dream
Donald Trump (black version), come on, take a chance
A 1990s love affair, the real romance

It's too late for Ben Carson to rebrand his campaign, but the Time's frontman, Morris Day, can still beat the clock and enter this race.

Plus, the rest of the band can easily fill his cabinet: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have minted plenty of hits for Janet Jackson and other artists as writer-producers, so they'd make great secretaries of the Treasury; Jesse Johnson can shred his guitar, so it stands to reason he could shred ISIS as secretary of defense; and since Jerome Benton has proved more than capable of handing Mr. Day his mirror at a moment's notice, he's the perfect choice for chief of staff.

(I already promised secretary of state to Pavement's Stephen Malkmus on March 16. Check my Facebook status updates—I have nothing to hide, senators, though I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't speculate on my recent Messenger conversations with one Steven Patrick Morrissey about "Benghazi in Platforms," a new musical we've been workshopping with Michael Bay and Harvey Fierstein.)

Now Mr. Day just needs a running mate, and if you liked the incorrigible puppet-master antics of Dick Cheney in the aughts, you'll love Vice President Prince. He wrote most of the Time's early material and played all the instruments on their first two albums, so you know he's going to have something to say about every single decision made in the White House (black version, est. 2009).

If you're concerned that Morris Day has never held elected office, well, neither has Donald Trump (white/orange version), and only one of them has ever stooped to the level of appearing on a reality show. (Oh-wee-oh-wee-oh!)

Donald Trump (black version): come on, Republicans, take a chance.

251. Ever accidentally served Boston-style NYC pizza to drunken Yankees fans? Then you understand why the redundancy in this sign is necessary.

252. In 1979 Prince used the back cover of his self-titled second album to demonstrate the leisure activity he most looked forward to trying once he got to heaven: clothing-optional horseback riding.

253. Rebooting a computer is the Robitussin of tech medication.

254. Last night I dreamt I was at a restaurant. I'd ordered a New York strip steak, but the waiter brought me a Texas rib-eye that also happened to be cold and slimy, so I sent it back. Five minutes later he returned with the same cold, slimy steak, and out of the corner of my eye I could see a fully formed cow fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while across the room someone said, "We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain."

That's what I get for telling a friend, "I won't be losing any sleep over Ted Cruz picking Carly Fiorina as his running mate."

255. Oh, North Carolina, don't you understand that it doesn't matter who goes into which bathroom since NO ONE IS SUPPOSED TO MAKE EYE CONTACT IN PUBLIC BATHROOMS? That's the law you should be enforcing. I don't care if Jesus Christ Himself stood next to me at a urinal and said, "Hi, I'm Jesus Christ Himself," because I'M NOT LOOKING UP. (No, not even if He said, "Hi, I'm Jesus Christ Superstar," which would be funny because it's true, but rules are rules.)

If a man who was born a woman wants to brave the potential olfactory Inferno of an exit-ramp McDonald's men's room during lunch rush, he has every right. Just get in, get out, and avoid chitchat like the rest of us, which shouldn't seem out of the ordinary to North Carolinians—it's what they do every July 3 when they cross the border into South Carolina to buy fireworks.

256. Of the three presidential candidates still running in this year's race, only one is being played on Saturday Night Live by a current cast member. My fellow Americans, outsourcing is no laughing matter.

257. Yesterday afternoon at the local Laundromat a talkative three-year-old girl told me I was a mermaid. I explained that if I were half fish I'd be a merman, not a mermaid.

If your own toddler would like to be taught regressive views on gender assignments for mythical sea creatures, I can be contacted at this address. (Please, no questions about Ethel Merman for the time being—I'm still gathering data.)