• Humor Columns
  • You’re not my friend if you don’t repost this


    Yes, I write humor columns too. This Humor Me column originally appeared in the Herald-Independent on March 10, 2016.

    In all my years on Facebook, I’ve never posted one of those chain Facebook statuses. But who am I to pass up an opportunity to be slightly passive aggressive? It’s time to get off my high horse and come up with some posts. Here goes:

    Please put this as your status if you, or a middle-aged woman you know, have worn makeup in a desperate attempt to look more youthful, only for your face to break out like a teenager’s in return. This is not the type of youthful look you wanted. There is still no known cure for this cruelest of ironies. Many won’t copy and paste this. I did. Will you?

    Unfriend me if I’m wrong. But all of us have a thousand wishes. To be thinner, to have more money, more days off or maybe just to scroll through our Facebook feed and not see political posts. Office workers everywhere have only one wish: to not freeze at our desks every working day of the year and never again here the dismissive words “Just put on a sweater.” Wearing cardigans in mid-July sucks! I know that 97 percent of you won’t broadcast this, but my friends will be the 3 percent that do.

    I don’t normally do this kind of status update, but this one seemed too important to ignore: After all these years of being online, too many videos still auto-play when you bring up a web page, as if this was 1990s Internet. If you, too, have been the victim of an assault of unwelcome audio when browsing the Internet in the middle of the night during a fit of insomnia, or while attempting to surreptitiously check your phone during a boring lecture or meeting, then copy and paste into your status and leave it there for one hour.

    On April 1, 2016, Facebook will change your privacy settings and will own all the media you have ever posted, such as your pet videos and vacation photos, and even including your daily memories status updates from five years ago that nobody wants to read again. To stop this from happening go to Settings > Emotional State > Paranoia > Off.

    Send this column to 10 people in the next 10 minutes or next time I will become even more passive aggressive and start vaguebooking, which I can’t go into right now, because I haven’t felt like this in a while, but I’ll post more information soon.

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  • Humor Columns
  • Let them eat bread (or gluten-free air)

    Because lately we keep hearing how healthy foods like salad make us fat (why don’t they just come out and say that even air is high in carbs?), I have to hand it to Oprah. She recently lost 26 pounds while eating bread every day. It’s no surprise the Weight Watchers stock soared after she said the equivalent of “Let them eat bread!”

    I could also make the case that bread makes me lose weight. The avoidance of bread, that is. But talking about my own gluten-free diet would cause stock to crash, not soar. Even Ted Cruz spoke derisively about the gluten-free diet the other day, saying he wouldn’t make gluten-free meals available to the military.

    It was being on a leprosy medication a few months ago that drove me to my current diet. I had a terrible, blistering rash caused by accidental gluten ingestion. For some reason, leprosy medication is the treatment for it.

    Unfortunately, the rash attacked my face, making me look constantly embarrassed. which, technically, I was. Another downside is this also made me appear as if I was had just come back from exercising at the gym, which, technically was accurate, I guess, as the Prednisone I was also on made me run around as if I was constantly working out.

    After that ordeal, I changed my diet to go beyond gluten-free, which it has been for many years due to celiac disease, and is now also anti-inflammatory. It even includes things like putting grass-fed butter in tea, which a normal person would find scary. I’m now that annoying person who when going out with a group usually can’t eat much of anything, especially at a potluck.

    I realized things were perhaps a bit out of control when I got all excited over a frozen desert that was pitched on the “Shark Tank” show. The entrepreneurs recited a lengthy list of ingredients not in the dessert (no gluten, sugar, nuts, dairy, etc.). The investors were unimpressed with the taste and no offers were made. But that didn’t deter me. “A food that has nothing in it!” I exclaimed to the family members in the room. “I have to order it!”

    I’ve looked longingly for this product on the shelves of the local grocery stores but to no avail. It seems Monona and Madison stores are committed to selling me food that isn’t made out of nothing and has actual ingredients in it. Go figure. Oh well. At least air is gluten-free.

    This Humor Me column of mine originally appeared in the Herald-Independent on March 3, 2016.

  • Humor Columns
  • The side effects of the post-binge watching blues




    This column originally appeared in The Herald-Independent on January 21, 2016.

    I hope someday they make the Post-Binge Watching Blues an official diagnosis.

    I get an acute case of this every winter, when I do most of my binge watching, because it’s too cold to do anything else. The letdown after finishing a binge, with nothing on the immediate horizon to watch, leaves me bereft and disoriented.

    I haven’t seen anything yet that describes the side effects of binge-watching each show, so I’ll get the conversation started by listing them for a few of the shows I’ve binged:

    “House, M.D.”?—?Side effects are the fear of suddenly having a violent seizure or coughing up blood, because you’ve seen that happen in each of the 150-plus episodes. You diagnose every ailment of your family members and friends as sarcoidosis. At work, you have an overwhelming urge to bounce a tennis ball against the wall while thinking and interrupt brainstorming sessions with withering sarcastic remarks. Tendency to say “everybody lies” as often as possible.

    “House of Cards”?—?This was my gateway show that introduced me to binge watching. You always remember your first, and it remains my favorite. I can hardly wait for the next season on March 4. Side effects: silently crying inside because you don’t have Claire’s cheekbones or wardrobe and compensating for this by buying Oxford shirts like hers. Tendency to say, “You might very well think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment,” at every opportunity.

    “Monk”?—?It’s a tradition in my house to do mini-binges on a season or two of this every summer. We’ve seen every episode multiple times. The garbage strike episode with Alice Cooper is our favorite. Side effects: the urge to touch every fence and lamppost when walking outdoors. Saying “You’ll thank me later,” “Here’s what happened” and “He’s the guy,” at every opportunity. Regularly stirring up “Who is better, Natalie or Sharona?” debates during car trips. Frequent attempts to imitate Monk’s maniacal laugh in the garbage strike episode.

    One could also do a cocktail approach to binge-watching. For example, one episode of season 1 “House,” followed by a chaser of two “Monks” from season three, then a shot of “Breaking Bad” to really get the party started. Well, I could go on, but I just found a new show to binge-watch. Whew.

  • Humor Columns
  • Gym offers an exercise in community


    This Humor Me column appeared originally in the Herald-Independent on January 14, 2016. Why do I also write humor columns? This explains it.

    A recent article said some people turn to CrossFit gyms the way others seek out church because of the supportive community.

    I found that amusing, because, for me, the presence of other people at the gym is the worst part about going to the gym.

    My greatest achievements at the gym aren’t those times I managed to jog on the treadmill for 30 minutes straight without stopping (or dying). They are the two times in five years I managed to have the entire gym all to myself. One of these was during a snowstorm a few years ago. The other time was at 10 a.m. this past Mother’s Day.

    The next best thing to an empty gym is when I get a treadmill that has an empty treadmill on either side of me, creating the illusion of privacy. Unfortunately I’m not always so lucky.

    The way I endure treadmill claustrophobia is to occasionally glance at my neighbor’s treadmill screen and see their stats. What are those new large treadmill screens for if not for snooping? It’s a lot more interesting than looking at my own stats and makes the time go faster.

    Speaking of church, it’s a good thing there isn’t a “Don’t covet thy neighbor’s stats” commandment at my gym, because my neighbor’s speed is usually 10 mph or more, whereas I’m barely galumphing along. They aren’t hanging on to the treadmill handles for dear life like me, so I often don’t get to see their pulse, but when I do, it’s usually only 120. A peek at their timer shows they have been on the treadmill for at least 30 minutes without any signs of fatigue. To ward off despair, I mentally review my justifications about my poor running performance, and before I know it, my workout is over.

    Things get trickier when I step off the treadmill and venture over to the section with the kettlebells and weights. In this area, it’s harder to have privacy. Occasionally, someone will even smile at me, which always makes me wonder what exercise I did that looked foolish.

    We almost never talk to each other, yet these are people that see me at my worst, contorting and exerting, and wearing attire I wouldn’t wear in public. A few times, I’ve noticed after leaving that my yoga pants were inside out the entire time, and no one laughed at me or said anything. On second thought, if this is what community is, I’ll take it.


    Photo: Farhad sh