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Do the ride thing

Jerry ZezimaAs a geezer who has learned that life has its ups and downs, as well as its twists and turns, especially with small children who aren’t prone to motion sickness, I have often been taken for a ride.

That’s what happened recently when I took my 3-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, to the Mattituck Strawberry Festival on Long Island, New York, and accompanied her on all the best kiddie rides.

This brought back fond if unnerving memories of the many times I took my daughters, Katie and Lauren, on roller coasters, Ferris wheels and other vertiginous vehicles designed to scramble brains, overturn stomachs and test the bladder retention of adults whose young companions were required to complete the physical and psychological damage by screaming directly into your ears and causing a lifetime of auditory damage before the white-knuckle experience was mercifully over.

As it turned out, I loved these rides even more than my daughters did.

We were regular (and sometimes irregular) visitors at the St. Leo’s Fair and the Annunciation Greek Festival, both in our hometown of Stamford, Connecticut; Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut; Lake Compounce Family Theme Park in Bristol, Connecticut; Playland in Rye, New York; Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey; and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.

We never visited Disney World in Orlando, Florida, possibly because I didn’t want to get in line while the girls were in kindergarten and finally reach a ride after they would have graduated from high school.

Also, I wasn’t keen on the idea of having to take out a bank loan just to buy a day pass and then melting to death in the blazing heat.

That’s why the Strawberry Festival was so much fun: It was low-key and inexpensive.

As soon as I arrived with Chloe and her daddy, Guillaume, we scoped out the rides, some of which were tame and meant for younger kids like Chloe, and some of which were wild and meant for older kids like me.

I went on the tame ones with Chloe anyway.

We couldn’t find the Teacups (maybe because it wasn’t 4 o’clock), so we went to the Carousel, where Chloe shunned the horses (she won’t grow up to be an Olympic equestrian, I guess) and instead rode the bench (which I used to do in Little League).

First, Guillaume went with Chloe, then I did.

“Are you having fun, Sweetheart?” I asked as we went around and around and waved to Guillaume every time we passed by.

“Yes, Poppie,” Chloe answered, though I could tell she wanted to go on something a bit more exciting.

She’s too young (and short) to go on crazy rides like the Octopus and the Giant Swings, so we settled for the Wiggle Wurm, which not only proved, as every fisherman knows, that worms can’t spell, but was so cramped for adult riders that, as my knees rammed into my nostrils and my boxer shorts rode up into an area generally reserved for medical specialists, I could have been the lead singer for the Vienna Boys Choir.

It bounced and jounced along, swooping up, down and around at a speed that seemed excessive under the constrictive circumstances but probably wasn’t much greater than that of a car driven by a little old man creeping in the left lane with his turn signal on.

Finally, we went on the Fun Slide, which required Chloe and me to climb a set of stairs not appreciably shorter than those in the Empire State Building and then, settling onto a canvas bag, whoosh down at a speed that could have broken all existing records at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

It was so much fun that we went three times.

Next year, Chloe will be old enough to go on some of the bigger rides. My heart, stomach and boxer shorts can’t wait.

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima, who served on the faculty at the 2010 EBWW, writes a humor column for the Stamford Advocate that is nationally syndicated through the Tribune News Service and regularly appears in the Huffington Post. He’s written three books, Grandfather Knows BestLeave it to Boomer and The Empty Nest Chronicles. He has won six humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month twice. He is the past president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Lessons from a junk-a-holic

Yvonne deSousaThe diagnosis was terrifying and overwhelming. I had a chronic illness. Then I was told something that was meant to be encouraging but instead, added more horror to my world. I could help control the severity of my fatigue and other symptoms, as well as my overall health, by committing to a healthy diet. I’m shaking right now just thinking about it.

You see, my name is Yvonne and I am a Junk-a-holic. Sweets, meats, salty things, starchy things and all things processed were my main food groups.

Monday’s dinner, drive-through.

Tuesday’s dinner was with my best buds, Ben and Jerry.

Wednesday was a healthy night that consisted of something frozen and microwaveable.

Thursday, processed pasta, the cheesier the better.

Friday was about being social; dinner out with friends.

Saturday, takeout pizza of course.

Sunday, combo night, leftover takeout pizza and leftover takeout from Friday.

I was not completely hopeless. I knew that my five foods groups were not the food pyramid the experts recommended. The people in the know (everyone) insisted that I get serious about my diet.

I am, but it has been a long and bumpy road, fraught with many nutritional errors and setbacks. Along the way, I learned some shocking things. Please allow me to share them so you don’t make the same mistakes I was making. Reading Shape magazine is not enough. You actually have to do what the articles tell you to do.

1. Reeses Chocolate Peanut Butter Pumpkins are not actually made from pumpkins and, thus, are not good for you.

2. Similarly, a Mounds candy bar does not count as two servings of fruit. If you get the king size bar, however, and eat the whole thing, it does count as half of one fruit serving.

3. This one is really confusing. Just because you buy something at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market, it does not mean it is 100 percent healthy. Some of their items may actually be only 60 percent healthy.

4. Also frustrating: not everything in the yogurt section of the grocery store is good for you. For some reason, adding flavors, candy and cookies to various yogurts greatly diminishes their nutritional value. Doesn’t seem fair, but there it is.

5. Some spices can add health benefits to your diet. Cinnamon is a classic example. Cinnamon is good for you. Yet the experts don’t suggest sprinkling cinnamon on ice cream and puddings as the best way to reap the cinnamon benefits.

6. You need protein in your diet, and hamburger has protein. But big, fat juicy hamburgers are not that good for you.

7. You need dairy in your diet, and ice cream is full of dairy. Yet a big, fat ice cream sundae is not good for you.

8. You need grains in your diet, and bread is made from grains. But for some insane reason, fried bread dough is not good for you.

9. Finally, and this one broke my heart, raw cookie dough is bad for you and the calories DO count. I thought the calories didn’t register until you actually baked the cookies. It is a cruel, cruel world we live in, friends.

Please try not to be too overwhelmed with these lessons. If you get too confused, you only need to remember one thing. If something looks super delicious, it’s probably bad for you…

— Yvonne deSousa

Two years before Yvonne deSousa’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, a relative volunteered her to write an article for a local newspaper. Little did she know it was the beginning of a writing career. When MS threatened to turn her into a lunatic, she started writing more frequently and quickly discovered that writing about the insanity that is MS was helping to keep her sane. Her work has appeared on CapeWomenOnline.com and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Finding My Faith and Something On Our Minds, Volumes 1, 2 and 3. Yvonne also writes a weekly blog and since finishing her book, MS Madness! A “Giggle More, Cry Less” Story of Multiple Sclerosis, she presents programs to help others use humor to cope with chronic illness.

Sizzling weather sweats cool thoughts

Sammy SportfaceIt’s been so hot in my town lately that I’ve been re-watching documentaries on the Discovery Channel about Antarctica, ice sculptures and grape freeze pops.

It’s been so hot in my town that I have been reading books about the North Pole, Santa Claus and different brands of show shovels.

It’s been so hot in my town I’ve thought about frying eggs and bacon on my back patio but haven’t because experts tell me these foods will raise my cholesterol levels — the bad kind.

It’s been so hot in my town I have thought of getting an ice tub — like the ones you see in NFL locker rooms — and soaking my head in it every 15 minutes of every day but take a break while I sleep.

It’s been so hot in my town I have been reminiscing about a trip I took to Harvard University a few winters ago when there were 20-foot snow drifts and no students to be seen because they were hunkering down in their dormitories, probably doing what college students do.

It’s been so hot in my town I’ve been contemplating what life is like in cold weather states such as Maine and Minnesota, and chilly countries such as Denmark and Siberia.

It’s been so hot in my town I’ve thought about wearing an ice pack body suit.

It’s been so hot in my town I’ve wondered if we live closer to the equator than we realize and, if that’s the case, why haven’t we figured that out sooner.

It’s been so hot in my town I haven’t even considered wearing a suit and tie anywhere for any reason including weddings and funerals.

It’s been so hot in my town that when I touch the outside of my car in the front driveway it feels like when I was a kid and accidentally touched the kitchen stove while it was set to “high.”

It’s been so hot in my town that when I cut the grass sweat got in both my eyes, causing them to sting as if a bumble bee injected its juice into my veins.

It’s been so hot in my town that I thought I might be crying, but the tears evaporated before I could understand my emotions.

— Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface is possibly America’s best blogger. He is only mildly interested in the truth. To read his new book, Wipe That Smile Off Sammy Sportface, go to Amazon.com.

Bye, bye shorts
Hello, varicose veins

 

Barrie BismarkI’m getting old.

Old age has arrived at my doorstep, and I think she is here to stay. I have just been living my life the way I have always been living it and suddenly…BAM. The horrifying realization that I am no longer the young, sweet thing I once was. I have morphed into an old and weathered mom, wife and co-worker.

Over the last few months, it seems like this aging process went from 0 to 60. Here are the things that have happened to me just in the last two weeks. I broke a tooth and had to get a crown and threw out my back while putting a plate into the dishwasher. I repeatedly told my kids to turn down the music/movie/video game because the volume was literally hurting my ears and had to go to the eye doctor because my up-close vision is not what it once was. And I am quite certain I had a mild concussion from being hit in the head and nose by the back of my toddler’s head.

What’s next? A broken hip? A bunion? A walker? Damn. It’s clear I’m past my prime.

The physical ailments are mounting every day. I have acne again, wrinkles, hot flashes, slowing metabolism causing weight gain, grey hair, dry skin, blotchy skin, new chin and lip hair. And can someone please explain to me the new, saggy, excess skin that is now above my knees and under my belly button? Where did that come from? Go away flab, you are not welcome here.

It’s a bi***, but I’m still alive. I mean it is better than the alternative. I remember my mom once said to me when I was in my 20s that this is the best my body is ever going to look. I didn’t believe her at the time. Now I completely understand. The transformation is brutal, and I dream of the days I looked like I did the first time I thought I was fat.

Millennials. Those young whippersnappers make me feel old as sh**. When I first entered the workforce, I was the new, young, fresh one. Suddenly, I find myself being the old bag of the office, the one with the experience, kid advice, life lessons and the funny stories from my many years in the workforce. All these young kids are explaining things to me because they just assume I’m too old to grasp them on my own — and some of the time they are right!

And the slang. Please stop the nonsense. “Totes Adorbs.” I don’t get it. Why can’t we just say totally adorable? Is it that much easier to say “totes adorbs”? It just sounds stupid. My rapidly aging brain just doesn’t understand this new, crazy talk.

I’m now the one in mom jeans that don’t show my ass crack, shirts that cover the parts they are designed to cover and shoes with good arch support. I am the one judging these young kids who are wearing inappropriate skirts and shorts and who listen to their inappropriate music too loud.

I can no longer get up off the couch or floor without making grunting sounds or other sound effects, and I’m lucky if I don’t pull a muscle. And, once I do get up, I can’t remember why because of my forgetful mind.

Ma’am, that’s what I get called now. No more miss or young lady. I’m an old bag, Ma’am. When did this happen? Clearly I am way too young to be called Ma’am, right? I am in my mind. People say I’m grouchy in my old age. I’m not (at least not any more than normal). I just dislike traffic, people, waiting, loud sounds, barking dogs, driving too fast, dressing skanky when you are 11 and other things I can’t remember because of my old age. So, there you have it. I’m old.

This getting older thing…physically, it’s not so great. But, it is necessary. Otherwise you’d be dead. Life, it’s one giant parade to death. So, here we come. Jowls, grey hair, crow’s feet and Depends…welcome.

— Barrie Bismark

Barrie Bismark, the mother of three, is “amazed every day at the chaos, laughs, adventures and exhaustion that motherhood brings.” She works full-time in commercial real estate and in her free time she enjoys. …Oh, wait. She has no free time. She blogs here.

Say it ain’t so!
Cracker Jack discontinues toy prizes

Is nothing sacred? I recently read that Cracker Jack — the sweet-salty snack hailed as America’s original junk food — is replacing the iconic mystery prize found inside each box with stickers bearing digital codes for “baseball-inspired mobile experiences” (aka online games).

Roxanne JonesAre you kidding me?

I understand companies must evolve to keep up with changing customer needs and wants, but to this baby boomer, this move by Cracker Jack (which is owned by the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo) smacks of sacrilege. Granted, I haven’t eaten the caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts mix in years (too much sugar and I don’t want to risk losing a filling), but come on — no more little trinkets inside the Cracker Jack box?

Who among us doesn’t remember the childhood thrill of anticipation (What’ll my prize be this time?), and comparing your booty (back when that word didn’t mean your backside) with that of your friends?

There’s even a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, and the nostalgic little toys and trinkets are sold and traded on eBay. Their discontinuance likely will drive up prices, a boon for collectors. But for many of us boomers, it feels like the end of an era — right up there with discovering there’s no Santa Claus or Easter bunny, for cripes’ sake.

This revoltin’ development got me to thinking, however, how savvy corporate marketers could capitalize on the void left by Cracker Jack’s defection to digital. Specifically, they could offer us an entirely new set of more age-appropriate prizes with the food and snacks we consume. For example:

• A packet of salt substitute in every bag of potato chips to remind us to limit our salt consumption
• A multivitamin with every fast-food meal to offset the lack of nutritional value in what we’re eating
• A purse-size magnifying mirror in every box of chocolates so we can detect rogue facial hairs wherever we are
• A magic decoder ring with every six-pack of beer to help men understand what the women in their lives are saying
• A stick-on tracking device in every package of ginkgo biloba to affix to our glasses or keys so we can figure out where we set them down
• A pack of fiber pills with every low-fiber snack food to make up for the lack of roughage
• An eye mask with every package of coffee, to help us sleep if we have too much caffeine late in the day
• A pen with invisible ink with every bottle of wine (or other adult beverage) in case we sign something we shouldn’t while under the influence
• A dental floss pick with every bag of popcorn, for getting the hulls out of our teeth
• A packet of antacid pills with any spicy food, to counteract its impact on our acid reflux
• An activity tracker with every package of cookies that tells us how many steps we must take to work off the calories in each cookie we eat
• A stress-relieving squeeze ball with every carton of ice cream, so we can squeeze the ball instead of gorging on the ice cream when we’re upset
• A small fan with any food that may trigger hot flashes in menopausal women
• A magnifying glass with any junk food, for reading the list of ingredients (and perhaps helping us resist eating it)
• A packet of digestive enzymes with foods that trigger flatulence and bloating
• A set of marbles with every meal on the go, for those times when we’re so frantically busy we wonder if we’re losing ours
• A powerful gadget with every cake or pie that causes the calories to leak out when you cut into it
• A little notebook and pen with every package of herbal tea, for when we take the time to sit and contemplate — and need to write things down
• A bathroom locator device with every bottle of water (for obvious reasons)
• For those who haven’t dated in a while, a magic bullsh** detector with every first-date meal so we can tell if the person sitting across from us is full of it
• A piece of chocolate with every bunch of kale, just to balance things out

Yes, life has changed as we boomers have gotten older. The demise of Cracker Jack prizes as we knew them is just one small measure of how our world is different today. But the fact that we’re still in it remains something to be grateful for, right? And it inspires this haiku:

It’s nice to stroll down
memory lane; the return
trip is bittersweet.

— Roxanne Jones

Roxanne Jones blogs at boomerhaiku.com, a mostly lighthearted, often irreverent look at life as a baby boomer, 17 syllables at a time. When she’s not tapping out haikus, she’s a freelance medical copywriter, enjoys chardonnay and contemplates plastic surgery to get rid of the wattle on her neck.

If you wait long enough

Claire Connelly“What goes around comes around” is just one expression related to something we consider a part of us that suddenly disappears and loses favor, and we are LOST…or seemingly so. WHAT will we do without this item? The simple answer is that if you are patient enough and wait long enough, it will reappear.

One perfect example of this amazing adventure for me would be my stirrup pants — the most important part of my wardrobe for years. They would be popular forever. They belonged to the ’60s and ’70s and suddenly they were considered very out of fashion; very strange; something only a hippie would wear and they were GONE. Woe was me! Recently I noticed that two major clothing stores were now featuring my lost pants as a NEW fashion item. However, within two days both stores reported they were “out of stock” on those pants. I can wait!!

Stovepipe jeans for men have also decided it is time to return, not only as jeans but as part of a tuxedo as well. These jeans found fame in the 1950s and with approximately only a nine-inch opening at the hemline, this may not be an ideal reunion for many. For those of you considering ordering a second pair you may want to check out the rear view first.

The hippie movement was a wild time and surprising many, it has decided to return as a much broader movement allowing participants to suffer less criticism than the previous movement. It might be a good time, if you are so inclined, to inquire about air fares to San Francisco and into the famous Haight-Ashbury area where the “real” hippies of yesteryear gathered in huge numbers.

I remember well toddling around in my very high heels going off to work on a commuter train, then the long walk to my subway line and finally standing all day in those painful heels. For sure they have returned and sneakers have found their way into the back of many closets. Now we have STILTS in terms of how high these new heels have grown! I am envious of those who can handle them without a wobble, but many desperately need to have medical attention waiting nearby!

Don’t clean that closet! Instead join the “in” crowd now who MUST own a storage bin for all former discards, which also doubles as a meeting place for early morning coffee and afternoon cocktail hour. The criteria for finding your storage bin are all about location, location, and there is strong competition out there. Tres chic!!!

I think it’s time to put away the sadness for favorites that are no longer in style and plan ahead for that BIG party at the trendy storage bin you purchase for each lost item that returns. Naming your bin is a major event. I named mine “LOST AND FOUND.” Progress!

— Claire K. Connelly

Claire K. Connelly is the author of seven books, which includes six of children’s books. She is also a featured magazine writer for several magazines in North Carolina, where she resides, and has previously written a newspaper column based on humorous incidents in her life. She mentors adults and children who have expressed an interest in writing and publishing. Her children’s books include Harley, Harley In The Doghouse, Goober, Moxie and Let’s Rocket Into Space. She also has published a book of essays about her life titled Blue Hair and City Bound, which was dedicated to Erma Bombeck. She is currently at work on the sequel.

Enough with the bongos!

The next week, a trailer appeared on a piece of land midway up the lane.  Again, Vic had thought the land in question was part of the lots on either side, not a separate lot.

The appearance of the trailer meant that within two years (the Township did have one bylaw), a cottage would be built. She hoped they’d hire the local construction crew. It would be done in three weeks, Monday to Friday, nine to five. If they did it themselves, there’d be no telling how many years it would take.

It also meant that, in the meantime, they’d have to pay just $200 a year in property taxes instead of something closer to $2,000. Even though they’d use the roads, the dump, the library — scratch that, what was she thinking—even though they’d use the roads and the dump just as much. More, probably.

And since they probably wouldn’t pay to hook up to hydro until they started building, it meant that everyone on Paradise Lake would hear their generator whenever they wanted to watch TV. They’d probably also hear their TV, given how loud it would have to be to be audible over the generator.

When she paddled past, on her way up the river, she saw that the teenaged son was up with all of his friends. Three tents were set up around the trailer.

She thought for a minute. Had she seen an outhouse?  Or would there be sh***ing in the bush. Ten feet from the lake.

She heard a belch. A long, extended belch.

A lot of sh***ing in the bush.

She considered giving a heads-up to the woman down-current with the red bathing suit who swam every day. Scratch that. Used to swim every day. (The jetslams near-slammed into her one day.)

She thought nothing more of them until well after she’d returned. Until two o’clock in the morning, in fact. At which time the bongo drums started.

They probably have a fire too, she thought, as she set aside her work and headed out.

It was that whole primeval thing again. Sitting by a fire, sending messages by drum, chowing down on a mammoth… What’s next, she wondered as she got to their driveway, hurling spears?

Something whizzed by, just missing her face.

“What the f***?” she screamed as she dove into the bush.

“Sorry!” How he’d heard her, given the bongos, she had no idea.

She picked herself up and walked in.

They had one of those straw targets set up on the driveway. Its back to the road. See what she meant by the drop in IQ due to all that DEET and two-stroke engine fumes?

It was, she noticed, as yet unpunctured.

“Give me that thing,” she said to the nearest 20-something, the one with the bow and arrow in his hand. He handed it over. She loaded the arrow and fired it into his leg.

“F***!” he started hopping.

“And enough with the bongos!” she screamed.

They stared at her.

“There’s a fire ban,” she said then, searching for the one in charge. The one with half a brain.

“What’s a fire ban?” someone asked.

What? What?!

“We haven’t had rain for over two weeks,” she explained. “No outdoor fires are allowed.”

She waited for it. Altogether now, ‘We can do whatever we want on our own property!’

Surprisingly enough, they were silent. Probably still trying to figure out the relevance of rain to fires.

“Suppose that thing,” she pointed to the six-foot high blaze, “throws a spark.” She bent down, picked up a rock, and tossed it into the fire.  Some of those present — not all, note — moved back from the shower of sparks.

Unfortunately, one of the sparks landed on one of the tents. Nylon, it blazed immediately.

Sh**. She looked around, but they didn’t have buckets of water at the ready. Of course not.

“Call 911!” she screamed. Her cabin was just five lots away.

“And enough with the bongos!”

But as quickly as it had blazed, the tent, now an ex-tent, had congealed into a sad, melted marshmallow.

“Never mind.”

— Jass Richards

Jass Richards has a master’s degree in philosophy and used to be a stand-up comic (now she’s more of a sprawled-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, she has received four Ontario Arts Council grants. In addition to her Rev and Dylan series (The Road Trip Dialogues, The Blasphemy Tour and License to Do That), which has reportedly made people snort root beer out their noses, she has written This Will Not Look Good on My Resume, a collection of short stories described as “a bit of quirky fun that slaps you upside the head,” followed by its sequel Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun. Her most recent novel, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of Godcan be purchased (in print and various e-formats) at all the usual online places.

Love in the slow lane

Curt MacDougallThe automakers are trying to entice me by stuffing their products full of the latest technology things like on-board wifi, touch-screen displays and silky-voiced “assistants.” Sadly, it’s all for naught.

As a recovering vintage Volkswagen addict, I still find myself gazing fondly on those rusty relics of the Third Reich. Exactly why they hold such a special place in my heart, I cannot say.

Most likely, this all goes back to my first sexual encounter, which took place in the back of a yellow squareback sedan. Parked in one of the scenic turnouts along Trail Ridge Road high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, it was a magical convergence of nature, libido and machine. The moonlight reflecting off the snow-capped peaks, the lights of Estes Park twinkling below and the bold yet unassuming lines of the minimalist interior combined to leave an indelible imprint on me. If memory serves, a woman was also present, but that seems almost inconsequential now.

I was particularly enamored of the microbus, having owned a total of four. Despite a variety of mechanical quirks, they fell into a category that VW owners refer to, with great optimism, as “daily drivers.” Typically the term is held to a pretty loose interpretation. So long as the vehicle can be started (pushing is allowed), attain a speed that keeps you from being run over by traffic coming up from behind (a stiff tailwind is the vintage Volkswagen driver’s best friend, thanks to an engine that produces roughly the same torque as a ceiling fan), and then brought to a stop, the basic criteria have been met. Should things like the heat, windshield wipers and turn signals work, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

My first was a two-tone camper — the quintessential “hippie van” — hand painted by its previous owner. To the man’s credit, he did use an exterior latex and a short-napped roller. One of my early attempts to tune up the engine resulted in a minor fuel leak. The ensuing fireball was quickly extinguished and my eyebrows grew back in only a few months, but the vehicle was known from that time forward as “The Hindenburg.”

Defined as anything Before Radiators, these vintage models are not for the timid. Handling and maneuverability are on par with your basic soap-box derby entry, and often times the road is visible beneath your feet due to a tendency of the floors to rot away like vampire flesh caught in a shaft of sunlight. Every trip requires a stockpile of spare parts, along with the ability to install them at a moment’s notice. It’s been said that, to fully appreciate the air-cooled driving experience, one must develop a Zen-like acceptance of breakdowns as part of the journey. That and a knack for reaching your “happy place” while being seared by red hot engine parts. Peace, love and pass the metric tools, dude.

Thanks to an intervention where friends forced me to watch Little Miss Sunshine for three days straight, all that remains of my addiction is an old oil stain on the garage floor. I can now say with certainty that I am happy to be driving a vehicle that doesn’t require scraping the inside of the windshield during the winter months. But sanity, like sobriety, can be a tenuous thing. If my eyes start to glaze over the next time I pass an old Beetle broken down on the side of the road, just punch me as hard as you can while shouting “Slug Bug” at the top of your lungs. That usually snaps me out of it.

— Curt MacDougall

Curt MacDougall’s journey has been unconventional, to say the least, something akin to Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. From airborne traffic reporter to marketing shlub, freelance columnist and TV news producer, the road has never been boring. And through it all there was the need to write, whether it was jokes for a radio morning show, translating “engineer-speak” into layman’s English, lighthearted musings in Michigan’s second largest daily paper or scripts meant to feed the insatiable news machine. On his blog, Lies Jack Kerouac Told Me, he writes “largely about small matters and smally about great affairs” to steal from James Thurber (another inspiration).

Reflections of Erma