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Saturday, April 29, 2017

  • Friday, April 28, 2017 4:00 AM
    Since my wife and I are semi-retired, we are taking more frequent vacations. When we travel, our favorite activities are parasailing, hang gliding, and whitewater rafting. But watching other people risk their lives has become a little stressful. We knew it was time for a change.
    We spent this past week in New Orleans with our friends John and Jane Murphy. We decided to forgo the extreme spectator sports and opt for some more intellectual and culinary activities. By the way, we did not go during Mardi Gras. As Yogi Berra once aptly noted in another context, “No one goes there that time of year: it's way too crowded.” We did go to a Mardi Gras museum. Mary Ellen and I don't usually like the same kinds of exhibits, but this museum was filled with the kind of stuff both men and women can both enjoy. Ironic, because in the thousands of photos displayed, you can't even tell the difference between the men and the women. 
    If you have any plans to visit the Crescent City, I submit the following warnings regarding the French Quarter, the hub of all tourist activity. 
    Cover charges: During one dinner, a three-piece combo played jazz. The restaurant tacked on a six-dollar cover charge per person for the music. “Wait a second,” I said to the server, “we came here to eat and talk. We didn’t even know about the music.”
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  • Friday, April 21, 2017 4:00 AM
    Remember Arshid Chowdhury? I wrote about him years ago when he invented something called a sleep pod, a high-tech structure that can still be seen in several airports around the country. Crawl into the enclosure, and you can catch 40 winks in the middle of the day for about 20 bucks, or about 50 cents a wink. (Before we all got so politically correct, I’d have made a funny joke about my reputation of innocently—and inexpensively—flirting with the ladies.)
    Chowdhury has enjoyed great financial success since I first wrote about him, despite problems in the beginning: many customers could not successfully nod off while nesting. Some travelers just stared into space with their eyes wide open, something most people can already do at their place of employment and actually get paid for it.
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  • Friday, April 14, 2017 4:00 AM
    We hear a lot about frivolous lawsuits, but we don’t hear nearly enough about the delicious ones, so here’s a tasty bit of gossip: A guy from Kentucky is suing the company that makes Oreo cookies. He asserts that Oreos are slowly killing him. So what’s the problem? This sounds like a fun way to die.
    It’s probably not the first-cookie related suit on record. I myself debated legal action against the Girl Scouts in the ’80s when I became addicted to Thin Mints. I’m not saying I bought too many boxes, but one year while I was at work, my wife was selling cookies back to the Girl Scouts at a substantial discount.
    The Nabisco company claims that 450 billion of these treats have been eaten in the last 100 years and no autopsy has ever listed the cause of death as Oreo cookies. Now that’s a record Nabisco can be proud of. I’m not sure the Slim Jim people can claim the same. A Slim Jim, by the way, is 98 percent fat, has no nutritional value whatsoever, and makes you want to drink a six-pack of beer. On second thought, let’s cut them some slack, also.
    I’ve been eating Oreo cookies for 65 years. I think we all know the ritual. You get a huge glass of cold milk, plus 20 or 30 Oreos, and then you start twisting them apart. Some people eat the side with cream frosting first; some just eat the frosting. Others start with the plain chocolate wafer. Some dip the cookie in milk; some guzzle the milk after the cookie. How can you sue a company that has given you so many wonderful options in your life? It’s un-American. 
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  • Friday, April 07, 2017 4:00 AM
    The nice lady offering free samples at Costco asked if I wanted to actually buy a box of the quiche I was nibbling on (after I had eaten six pieces). I’m kind of a health nut, so I didn’t purchase any; they just had way too much sodium and saturated fat.
    An hour later, my Costco cart was laden with soft drinks, garbage bags, a snow tire and a year’s supply of salsa. I was in a good mood because I had managed to circle around several of the other demo tables and inhale a dozen different offerings without being fingered as a “repeat sampler.”
    I went through the check-out but when I got to the exit, the employee at the door looked me over from head to toe. He was holding something behind his back. Could it have been some kind of breath-analyzer to detect whether I had eaten too much free food? I was a little embarrassed about possibly being caught with egg on my face. I should have finished with the chicken wings instead of the quiche. 
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  • Friday, March 31, 2017 4:00 AM
    My mother, rest her soul, drove her 1997 Buick until almost 90…and sometimes faster. She was in great health at age 87, but it irked her that many of her friends had handicap license plates that allowed them to park closer to the grocery store. She’d get out of her car and drag her foot along the ground to appear disabled. The A&P manager overlooked it. He wasn’t as lenient on the shoplifting charges, though.
    In memory of Mom, I’m going to admit to something that will probably generate a lot of hate mail filling my inbox. Two or three times at the supermarket over the last 10 years—when I’ve been in a huge rush—I parked in the space that said:
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  • Friday, March 24, 2017 4:00 AM
    Mary Ellen is planning our 2017 summer vacation. She wants to go to the Canadian Rockies. I get nervous about trips like this. Sometimes we get on each other’s nerves when we travel together and it looks like this time we’re going to have a particularly rocky start . . . and finish. 
    Back in 2007, we took a trip to the Grand Canyon, the only place in America where you’re allowed to drag your kid to the precipice of one of the world’s deepest chasms, but they put you in the slammer if you feed a squirrel.
    In the gift shop on the South Rim, the clerk recommended a book called—hold on to your hat (actually, hold on to anything you can): Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon. What a charming choice for fans of light summer reading.
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  • Friday, March 17, 2017 4:00 AM
    I gave my wife a Fitbit this past Christmas. In her attempt to reach that 10,000-step goal, she is continually checking the wristband and monitoring her progress. The other day I walked into the living room and she was shaking her arms wildly back and forth while watching TV. “What are you doing?” I asked.
    “Very unfair . . . bad,” she said, which sounded just like a Trump tweet. “It only registers steps when your arms are moving. When I pushed the cart around Costco for an hour, I didn’t get any credit for my effort. So now I am trying to fool the Fitbit.”
    I was shocked by this. Mary Ellen is the most honest person in America, having nudged an entire convent of nuns out of first place. Trying to put something over on your Fitbit is about as low as a human being can go.
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  • Friday, March 10, 2017 4:00 AM
    Richard Simmons has not been seen in public in a long time. Here is my memory of our friendship with the hope he is doing well.
    It was the fall of 1983 in Indianapolis, and I remember doing the classic comedy double-take, snapping my head to the side as I looked incredulously at the cover of The Globe newspaper, one of several trashy tabloids at supermarket check-outs.
    In the top left corner of the publication was a photo of exercise guru Richard Simmons, donning a sporty jogging outfit while running in Central Park. Next to him was me, at the time the new host of a morning talk show in New York, but not well-known enough to merit being identified. The caption read: “Jog with a Lover.” This was pre-Seinfeld’s “. . . not that there’s anything wrong with that,” but there was something inaccurate about it. Yes, we were friends, which is why reports of his absence from the public have been so troubling to me.
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  • Friday, March 03, 2017 4:00 AM
    Hi! Dick Wolfsie’s cell phone, here. My earlier model wrote a column about 10 years ago to tell you how a tough a job this is. Things have gotten no better since then.
    He misplaced me 43 times in the past 18 months. Of course, I was never really lost. I knew exactly where I was, but have you ever tried to get this guy’s attention?
    What a week I’ve had. On Sunday, we were at the Boat, Sport and Travel Show where Dick was doing a daily TV segment. First, I was in his back pocket, then he tossed me onto the hood of an RV. Then he shoved me under his coat on a bench. He started looking all over for me. He borrowed someone else’s phone to call me. I was totally charged up for this. Success!
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  • Friday, February 24, 2017 4:00 AM
    Happy 15th (fifteenth?) anniversary to Heidi. Heidi is my proofreader (proof-reader?). Everything I’ve written for the last 15 (fifteen?) years is first sent to her via e-mail (email?) to make sure there are no spelling or usage errors. This week she is very busy with an out of town (out-of-town?) commitment, so I’m doing my own proofing. If I said I wasn’t nervous, well that would be a bald-faced (bold-faced?) lie.
    Newspapers that publish my column have editors who check my work, but I wouldn’t want whoever (whomever?) has that responsibility to think that on a week to week (week-to-week?) basis, I’m not a careful writer. I would be really embarrassed if they continually (continuously?) found mistakes in my column, so Heidi is a preventative (preventive?) measure to be sure I get it right.
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  • Friday, February 17, 2017 4:00 AM
    "Seriously," I responded to Mary Ellen, "in the middle of the afternoon? At our age? You must be kidding."
    "Why not? If we wait till evening, you'll just fall asleep. Take your little blue pill and let's get going."
    So I took an Aleve for my arthritis and we headed out for a class in line dancing. 
    We were in Florida with our friends Joy and Steve. I figured it was Joy who dragged Steve along to the community center for these lessons, but Steve tells Joy he loves the activity. So it turns out that her husband, who is a better golfer than I am and a better bowler, is also a better liar. 
    The sign in front of the community center said WATCH YOUR STEP, which at first I thought was a warning about an unsafe change in the flooring, or possibly a whimsical instruction for beginner dancers. But it could have also been a warning to recalcitrant seniors like me not to be uncooperative and cranky.
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  • Friday, February 10, 2017 4:00 AM
    I had blood drawn the other day. I don’t envy phlebotomists. Imagine having a job where everyone hates you for what you are about to do, and the first thing you say to the person is “make a fist.” Plus, when she tells people she’s a phlebotomist, a lot of her patients think she has six husbands.
    My technician, Shirley, uses the same jokes every time. First, she looks at me with flirty eyes and says, “It’s too bad you’re married. You’re my type.” Next she says, “I didn’t much like your column last week so I’m sticking it to you twice today.” I laughed at this stuff for my first few appointments, but now I have my own joke. When she tells me what a tough day she’s had, I tell her to just go with the flow. I’m not sure how much longer we can keep this up. Probably ’til my LDL goes down.
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  • Friday, February 03, 2017 4:00 AM
    I recently made the biggest gift-giving mistake of my life. I got Mary Ellen a Fitbit for Christmas. My wife has become somewhat of a health nut, which I should clarify, includes eating about six varieties of healthful nuts. She has wanted to keep track of her walking. I am not a walker myself. Truth is, I have walked back several promises I made when we first got married, as well as three 2017 New Year’s resolutions. That’s about as much exercise as I’m comfortable with.
    Wait, I do walk to my office every day (it’s not my fault I work from home) and I walk to the pro shop to get my golf cart. Oh, and to the garage to get on my riding lawn mower. Maybe I’ve never given myself enough credit.
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  • Friday, January 27, 2017 4:00 AM
    There are more sad clown faces than usual at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus this month. RBBB, The Greatest Show on Earth, is closing after 146 years.
    No one is sadder or more shocked by the news than Don West of Fishers. Don owns one of the premier collections of carnival and circus memorabilia in the Midwest. His lower level is filled with eye candy for anyone who has ever ridden a roller coaster, seen a sideshow or gone to a circus.
    Don started out as a young man doing traditional model railroad collecting, but somewhere along the line he got off track. Ironically, it was after his change in direction that he learned circuses and carnivals ran in his family, way back to his great-great-uncle and grandfather, who owned a sideshow. “That’s when I knew it was in my blood,” he says.
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  • Friday, January 20, 2017 4:00 AM
    In 2005, famed political humorist Art Buchwald entered hospice in Washington, DC.
    Last week, I described how I first met Mr. Buchwald in 1967 in an encounter that lasted a mere two minutes. I was a 22-year-old college kid who read his feature every day in the Washington Post. He was one of the most successful syndicated humorist in the world. As he read my own column in his office, a flick of his wrist over my byline in my school newspaper made an indelible impression on me. There, he curmudgeonly wrote: 
    Wolfsie, stay out of my racket! –Art Buchwald
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