Have a nice day!

“Romeo????  Romeo!!!!  Wherefore art thou!!!!!!”



Screwing up the punctuation can turn an amorous inquiry into something your mom might say when you leave your skateboard in the hallway ( “Get your butt down here at once, Romeo Montague!” ). Replace a period with a question mark, say, and a valid question turns into a line from an a Abbott and Costello routine:

  • Where is the 2 PM meeting.
  • Who is responsible for this.
  • What is the next step.

Another assault on the punctuation mark is the misuse of the acme of urgency:  the exclamation point.   As you know, exclamations are meant to express sharp cries or emotions (Notice how they cleverly encapsulated the word “exclaim”  in “exclamation.”).   For example:

  • It’s a boy!
  • My pants are on fire!
  • You just drove over my foot, as$h%$&!

Now, which of the sentences below – all retrieved from my inbox – is an exclamation?

  • I don’t know, but I believe So-and-so does!
  • Just took a look but I don’t see any!
  • See you on Monday!

You’re right!  I mean, you’re right – none of them is an exclamation.  That’s the problem: the exclamation point has become so overused that real exclamations can go unnoticed.  Imagine a world in which every mundane statement sounded like a life-changing event:

  • It’s a boy!
  • I am joyless and devoid of feeling!

You wouldn’t know whether to hand out cigars or kill yourself.  Of course, emotions are much easier to understand in person:  the raised voice, the sweat, the fire licking under the door.  But if you completely misuse an exclamation point when you’re writing, the purpose of your communication is obscured so that you are no longer able to convey emphasis where it’s needed.  For example:

Hi Joe,

Great to see you today!  I’m glad things worked out!  If you don’t sign the contract by tomorrow, I’ll be fired!  Have a great evening!


On top of thinking that I’m a dimwit, Joe may not pay attention to the most important sentence in that email: about him having a great evening.   That would be a shame.

Using exclamation points inappropriately isn’t cute or friendly; you don’t seem like a nicer or more cheerful person because you use them indiscriminately.  Instead, you diminish the value of what you’re saying and maybe even run the risk of casting yourself in a negative light to your audience.  So if you want to close the deal or get that promotion, don’t misuse exclamation points!  I mean, don’t use exclamation points.

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Reality TV: Satan, sweat, and more!

Since people love reality TV, I’m going to pitch the following story.  Let me know if you think it has legs (That’s a pun. You’ll see).

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 12.49.18 AMIt involves six middle-aged men in a van taking turns running about 100 miles, stopping only occasionally to drop off and pick up runners, grab a meal, and tend to other basic needs that don’t include sleeping or showering. It’s loosely based on my experiences during the 2015 Reach the Beach Relay, in which I shared a van with – you guessed it – five other middle-aged men.

What scintillating topics might be covered when six men spend 30 hours trapped together in a tight space?   Here are a few ideas – out of thin air, of course:

  • Polite conversation about how the guy in van one nearly pooped himself during his run and charming anecdotes about everyone’s similar experiences.  Also some detailed discussions of the most effective peeing strategies for runners – not nearly as spirited.  Numerous references to Porta-Potties, their benefits, and pitfalls.  Finally, some academic discussion about the molecular composition of one’s body odor –  say, mine – compared to things that have died. Actually, strike that last topic, as I think it is not respectful of the dead.  Either way, hilarity ensues.
  • The anatomy of a waiter’s girlfriend and its impact on the participants’ collective future.  Before assuming that our protagonists are cretins, consider that during a rare, brief restaurant hiatus, a waiter offers to have his girlfriend stand on the relay course in a bikini as motivation for the runners to finish.  This, of course, sparks a lot of speculation:  would this cause them to stop and admire her beauty or run faster to [not] admire her [not] beauty? Either way, hilarity ensues.
  • An in-depth conversation about Satan’s asshole.  Satan’s asshole is (obviously) a leg during the relay that is so named because it’s a pretty tough run. I have no clue about how it compares to Satan’s real, ya know, butt, but I’m guessing it’s different. Van-mates discuss the origin and suitability of this name, and then try in vain to use other parts of Satan’s anatomy to describe additional running segments.  They fail, noting that  once you name something after Satan’s asshole, no other parts of his body seem worthy of association.

    Artist's rendition of Satan's asshole. Do you capitalize the second A?

    Artist’s rendition of Satan’s asshole. Do you capitalize the second word?

  • Donald Trump.   Assuming he’s still running for president, a raucous discussion of The Donald is must-see TV, followed by a smooth segue to pictures of train wrecks.
  • Driving skills.  Each participant takes turns driving.  One scares the others repeatedly.   We  really needed to give Stew more time behind the wheel. Hilarity ensues.
  • Lost stuff.  Participants lose sweaty articles of clothing, which end up touching others and skeeving them out.  Then sweaty undergarments go missing, raising suspicions and evoking dirty looks.  Tensions rise.
  • A discussion of Ginger or Mary Anne.  Mary Ann.

Season one concludes with a frolic on the beach, where participants are greeted by beautiful supermodels and a five-course meal.   The final scene shows a sunset dinner with  supermodels, champagne, and romance.   Fade to black.

What do you think?  We could film season one in the Fall of 2016.

* Disclaimer:  Certain topics did not arise during the actual van ride  (I still say Mary Ann).   The rest is true.

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Will there be a nativiaity scene in Nativia?

I recently came across a scintillating Facebook post claiming that Sarah Palin wants all the Native Americans to leave the U.S. and go back to Nativia.  I could easily see Palin uttering those very words,  but a visit to snopes.com confirmed that it was too good to be true.  Even after I revealed in the thread that the post was fallacious, lots of people continued to either gleefully revel in the confirmation that Palin is a moron (Does that still need confirming?) or lash out self-righteously about Palin-bashing.

As a deception, a Palin snope doesn’t even register on the danger meter.  Some are much more serious, like the strip-search phone call scam, whose success still blows my mind.  Apparently if you put it out there, somebody  will believe it – regardless of the consequences.

So how do you know what’s true and what’s a bald-faced lie?  Here are a few pointers:

First,  if your ‘evidence’ consists of an email, a Facebook post or perhaps a coffee-stained, stapled manifesto, it’s definitely true.   Just because you never heard it on the news or saw it in a so-called reputable newspaper shouldn’t deter you from following your heart.  In particular, you should always trust any assertion  by someone who keeps cash in mattresses or lives in a bunker.

Second, if it sounds like bullshit, you may be letting the facts get in the way of your point of view.  If you need further evidence, please Google Donald Trump.


Unlike the other nut-cases, this guy’s conspiracy theory is true.

Third, When you’re on the fence and looking for evidence, do a smell test of your sources.  As you know, the U.S. government, the CDC, the WHO, the New York Times, and all the rest of ’em are all out to get you. So if you have to choose between one those institutional liars and the guy in the tin-foil helmet clutching a semiautomatic weapon, is there even a question?

And finally, if you’ve been a victim of an Internet snope or scam at some point in the past, you should definitely go with your gut.  What’s the chance you could be wrong twice?

Following these simple steps will not only guide your decision-making process, but also make you a hero to all of your Facebook friends who can’t wait to find out that the U.S. is taking over Texas,  martial law is about to be declared, and that a fat woman starved her kids to eat more.

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For sale

Moving day is nearly upon us, and we must reduce before we can pack.  As such, some tough decisions on valuable items are in the offing.   Take a moment to consider buying one or more of these priceless treasures:

  • Previously used cat toy with 20-year-old catnip.  This toy was played with and often vomited on by Scruffy The Cat, a dearly loved family member who died in 1995. Dirty cat toy I’ve been holding on to this memento since his passing, but it’s time to find a new home.  $2,935.
  • Mexican jumping beans. I was given these beans as a nine-year-old, along with a guarantee that they would jump.  Sadly, they have not performed and my patience has worn thin.  However, my loss is someone else’s gain, as these beans are all-the-more likely to jump at any minute.  $1,500.
  • Jumping beansBaby shoe from 1961.  I have been told that this was my baby shoe, but I have no idea since my memory from the time is fuzzy (no doubt due to extensive ‘experimentation’ during college). If it is my shoe, I hate to part with it but it’s taking up too much space in my closet.  $2,000.*
    *  If it is not my shoe, you may have it for free but you must prove that it’s not mine.  If it’s your baby shoe, the price is $2,500 and you don’t have to prove it.
  • Camp underwear with my name tag stitched in. I kept these at first as fond reminders of my camp days, and then to use in case I lost my faculties.  So far I am still lucid, so it’s time to pass these on to someone with my name.  $700.
  • Sneakers in which I ran my first marathon. Stinky but historic.  $250.
  • First wife. I realize now that she can’t remain buried in the basement.  Free for the right home.
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Driving me to distraction

I wanted to write a post about the insanely bad drivers I see every day, but I thought that everyone complains about how others drive (which they do) and that it would just be a self-serving, hackneyed rant.  Then I came across some research that totally justified the self-serving, hackneyed rant you’re about to (or not about to) read.


Wicked wize wohds.

After crunching the numbers, Allstate recently reported that Boston drivers are the worst – literally.  In their 2015 Best Drivers’ report, which ranked driving skills in the 200 largest cities in the United States, Allstate not only determined that Boston drivers are the worst, but that Worcester – just down the road – is second-worst, Springfield, MA is fifth-worst and Providence, RI – which may be annexed by MA any day considering their tenuous fiscal status – is sixth-worst.  That’s correct:  Four of the six worst-driving cities in the ENTIRE COUNTRY are within 100 miles of each other, and all around me.

Now I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m an impatient driver who enjoys the upper end of the acceptable speed parameters.  But I also pay attention, use my signals, and don’t stop in the middle of the road for the hell of it.   For those reasons, I am in the extreme minority around here.  I can’t understand why the state with the highest percentage of residents with college and advanced degrees  would also have such galactically bad drivers; isn’t there some correlation between intelligence and not imperiling others with two tons of steel?BostonDriver1

I think I know the problem.  I recently renewed my license, at which time I was given a grueling test, the entirety of which included making sure I could see a few letters that were the size of the Eiffel Tower, identifying a triangle (I kid you not), and confirming that I saw green flashing lights to my periphery.  BTW – the RMV person told me that there were green flashing lights to my periphery and asked if I could see them.  This in-depth exploration of one’s driving skills is the equivalent of certifying a skydiver by asking him if he’s in the air.

However, there is a solution: I think Massachusetts can improve its sullied reputation by including these totally uncynical questions during the license-renewal process (answers in parentheses):

  • When is it OK to stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason (Never)?
  • What is that stick on the left side of your steering column and when should you use it (The turn signal indicator, which is used PRIOR to turning)?
  • How much space should you leave when passing runners and cyclists (More than the two inches you currently allocate)?
  • How many things can you do simultaneously while driving (Uh, zero)?
  • How important is it to pass that car on the highway, pull in front of it and then slow down (Apparently it’s crucial)?
  • Is it OK to cut off a car while pulling into traffic and then stop to let another car in, nearly causing the car you just cut off to back-end you (No)?
  • Is it OK to drive like crap just because you’re old (No)?

Now that I see them in writing, I guess the questions are a little cynical after all.   But they’re better than certifying my ability to control a lethal weapon by asking me to identify a three-sided shape.

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Free at last, Free at last

You may know that Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because she thinks it’s against God’s will,  was released from prison today. This must have come as a huge relief for Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, both of whom supported Davis, the thrice-divorced yet devout Christian, as they can now finally stop stumbling over each other to throw the Constitution under the (Lord’s) bus.  While the news of Davis’ release is not earth-shattering, of greater interest is the heavyweight pander-bout going on between these two very Christian presidential candidates.

Dejected Ted Cruz checks to see if his FitBit is accurate.

A dejected Ted Cruz checks to see if his Fitbit is accurate.

Apparently Huckabee’s “thugs” stopped Cruz from being with Davis as she bathed in the glory of freedom in front of her adoring public.  As she demonstrated her elation onstage, the senator from Texas stood on his own, perhaps realizing that Huckabee had a significant head start at becoming husband number five.


Kim Davis’ husband makes a feeble attempt to keep his wife from Grandpa on the Munsters

But Cruz was able to recover later in the day, posing with Davis and her trophy husband in a show of support for the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.

Of course, the whole episode is somewhere between silly and scary, and demonstrates how far politicians will go to appeal to their bases.  According to a Gallup poll, only 1/3 of Republicans are both conservative and highly religious.  Such a small plurality of voters might swing a primary in Iowa – where there are lots of religious conservatives – but not in many other states. Rick Santorum proved four years ago that you can’t lead with religion and win a presidential election, or even the Republican nomination. But Cruz and Huckabee won’t let the facts get in the way of a good delusion.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

And that’s the reason why I’m not voting for either of those two losers.  My vote is with Trump, because he believes the Constitution is unconstitutional, he’s a much more effective megalomaniac than the other guys, and Tom Brady likes his hat.BradyTrump

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Attached please find

Morris the cat

He was also finicky.

I am really picky.  I drive my wife crazy with it, but apparently she’s just not aware that there are men out there who are not as much of a pain in the ass as me. Please keep this important fact a secret and save my marriage.

Here’s a great example of how I am a pain in the ass: The business world has standardized for decades on all kinds of writing shorthand that would be great if they didn’t (or shouldn’t) violate basic grammar rules.  Now I could just enumerate all of them right now and bathe in the glory of my self-righteousness, or let them drip like a coffee maker.  I’ll go with option two so I can entertain you with more of my titillating prose later on.

Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis. Tattoo poster boy thinks her hair smells amazing.

Virtually any email I receive with an attachment starts with some variation of “Attached please find,” “Attached is,” and so on.  It’s one of those writing tics that has become so prevalent that it’s now acceptable grammar.  Typically, the only time you want to start a sentence with the object is when you want to emphasize the object:  “Now her I could look at all day.”  Of course, I’m speaking about my wife in that sample sentence, not  Mila Kunis.  Unless Mila Kunis is attached to your email, please don’t start with it.  After all, what’s wrong with “I have attached…” as an alternative?  Would you ever start a real conversation – you know, when you’re actually talking to someone – by saying “Attached please find my resume?”  That sounds like an invitation to me, and if Mila had in fact attached her resume to a part of herself and then couldn’t remember where, I’d willingly oblige and try to find it.

Are there more egregious violations of basic grammar?  Absolutely.  Is this one a violation at all?  Well, maybe and maybe not.  But I’m writing the rant, so I say it is.  At least I’m not saying the moon landing was staged or that vaccines will give your kids autism.



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