No money, no honey

This is my 11-year-old son Andrew:

On his birthday, he enjoys cake. But every day of the year, he love-love-looooves apples. We’re talking a 3-4 apple a day habit. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, this kid is going to top Methuselah’s record. He loves apples so much that we call him “Applehead Andrew.”

Andrew loves apples, and apples are fruit, and fruit is healthy… so what’s the problem? Well, Andrew’s favorite variety of apples is the Honeycrisp. Sure they’re super-sweet and oh-so-juicy… in fact they’re so addictive that I sometimes call them Honeycrack. But it seems like the darn things cost more per pound than caviar.

Sticker shock!

If you’re lucky, you can find ’em on sale for $1.99 a pound. When we see that, we fill our basement fridge with reinforcements… which Andrew quickly demolishes. But usually they’re in the $2.49-$3.49 a pound range. Nearly four times the going rate for most varieties. Why? Well, for starters, Honeycrisps were developed 20 years ago by David Bedford at the University of Minnesota, which still has a patent on them, so growers have to pay $1 per tree back to the university. Honeycrisps also are finicky about climate so they can’t be grown all over, and they’re much more labor intensive (the apples grow so large that the trees require a trellis system, the fruit on a single tree doesn’t all ripen at the same time, they’re more susceptible to diseases so they need more sprayings, and they bruise more easily so they need more TLC in handling/packing). It all adds up to a hefty price tag for these fancy pommes.

I guess we’ll have to suck it up and take out a second mortgage on our house so Applehead Andrew can keep on crunching. I suppose there are a lot worse “Honey” products that he could be bingeing on:


Image result for little debbie honey buns


Image result for honey cereal

Image result for honeycomb cereal


And Andrew’s obsession always reminds me of this fantastic duet about “champagne tastes on beer budget” from the brilliant John Prine and the incandescent Iris Dement:



Generation Gap

I need your advice on a Christmas gift for my 15-year-old son. He told me he wanted some beets. I couldn’t find the “Doctor Dre” brand he mentioned, so will these do?

I’d hate to disappoint him. But beets are beets, right?


Burgers on the brain, brain on the burgers

According to this sign, Rally’s has a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) burger.

It’s a slippery slope. First the burger learns what condiments you like on it. Then it cooks and serves itself to you. Then things take a turn for the worse:

  • you wind up serving the burger (literally and figuratively)
  • the burger becomes fully sentient, and you become Soylent

  • Ultimately, the AI burger stages a bloodless (but not ketchup-less) coup and overthrows the erstwhile Burger King.

So enjoy that buttery steak flavor for now. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!



Bigger than the Super Bowl (to me)

You’re damn right I signed up to host the 1/18 show. Fingers crossed.



Godspeed, John Glenn

WWII combat pilot. Astronaut. Senator. Most of us would be extremely lucky to have but one of those on our resume. John Glenn, who passed away this week, did it all… he even went back into space at the age of 77, aboard the Discovery space shuttle.

On February 20th, 1997, the thirty-fifth anniversary of the date he became the first American to orbit the earth, John Glenn announced his retirement from the Senate in a speech in his hometown of New Concord, Ohio, at Muskingum College, his  alma mater. Here are a few excerpts that ring very true today:

To me, a willingness to build peaceful relationships with other countries is perhaps the most profound measure of a great nation. 

The enemies I’m talking about are cynicism, apathy, selfishness, hostility toward government and incivility toward one another. 

We didn’t win our world leadership by bemoaning our fate, by overemphasizing our shortcomings, by carping about what was bad — but by building on what was good. And we rose on the strength of our ideas and on the ingenuity and self-confidence of our people, with education for all, and emphasis on curiosity and research into the unknown. 

Democracy in our country must be constantly reinvented – it must be fought for. And nothing worth fighting for comes easy. 

Don’t tune out, cop out or drop out. Don’t give in to complacency and cynicism. Don’t ignore what is bad, but concentrate on building what is good… and never forget that in our democracy, the government is not “them” — it is “us.” 

In fact, one thing I’ve learned in my 75 years on this planet is that the happiest and most fulfilled people I’ve known are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self interest. And I’ve learned that there is nothing in this world more special than the simple act of helping others. 

Get the full range of information available to you. Don’t let your views of government and politics and world events be formed through the filter of other people’s biases or ignorance. Develop your own ideas, for you are the government. If you want to join a political party, by all means do so. But before you do, read up on the issues and define in your own mind what political values and principles are most important to you. Then choose a party. Don’t join a party just because your friends or your parents are associated with it. 

Fight for equal rights for all people; battle racism and ethnic hatred; build bridges between people and generations. Your work may not make headlines or send you on ticker-tape parades – but you will make a difference. And you will know it. You will know it. and that will be reward enough. 

If today’s politics lack civility, my reaction is not to run away — but to work harder until we make it better. When I see people in public office whose ideas and policies would lead us backwards instead of forward, would gut educational opportunities, would cut help to children who otherwise have little hope, would cast senior citizens aside, my impulse is not to quit but to stay and fight for the kind of future Ohio needs and America deserves. 

I believe the day will come when this nation finally and forever lays aside racism, sexism and every other “ism” that divides and cripples us. And I believe we will yet make the old dream of justice a new American reality. 

Playing Bowie’s “Space Oddity” would make sense here, but I have to give some love to a Cincinnati band instead:




Dreams, meet reality

It’s time for another guest column from my old and dear friend (he’s more old than dear), Dave B. Also known as “Mookie” for reasons that shall remain unnamed (because I can’t remember). Dave and I are of the same vintage, and he has some Jack Handey style “deep thoughts” about the aging process, and what happens when the balloon of big dreams meets the thumbtack of reality.

Without further ado, Mookie:

Everyone has goals in life. Some are super lofty, and in retrospect you might look back and say “WTF was I thinking? I had neither the ambition nor the life tools to achieve that!”

As we get older, we scale back a bit. Followed by even more concessions and re-calibrations as you sense your ultimate timeline winding down.

Where did I start and where did I end up? Let’s take a look and later you can play the home game version with your own goals.

Age 5: Be a garbage man. Should have stuck with this one. I could have done this. Really. I had the U.S. public education and the physical and mental tools. By now I’d be retired with a nice city pension, instead of still toiling away for “The Man.” I think about this every time I throw away the plastic wrapper on yet another bottle of Advil. 

Age 12: Own a Ferrari. Hoo-boy, I was way off on this one. Those damn posters at Spencer’s Gifts and Alex P. Keaton-era Republican rhetoric led me to believe that anything was possible if you worked hard. I settled for a Prius later.

Age 16: Have a supermodel wife. Hey, I’m no Tom Brady but I didn’t fail in this department. I punch WAYYYY outta my weight class, as anyone who has met my lovely bride will tell you. She’s never been on the Victoria Secret holiday special but she’s a little bit ‘o alright.

Fast forward to Age 30: Hey maybe a I can get a Porsche 911. I know how to work on cars and have restored one. I can get a 911 at the bottom of its depreciation curve and retire it. Nope. Life and family squished that.

The car I restored                                                                               

The car I’ll never have

Age 40: Retire and be able to travel at will. Be a traveling ambassador. Enjoy the world and try to make it a better place. Nope. Thanks Wall Street! You greedy bastards single-handedly tanked the world economy and my 401K. I hope you all die lonely and in a lot of pain… but you won’t. Everyone loves money and you rodents squirreled away enough with your golden parachutes to ensure the highest quality healthcare and enough hangers-on to not die alone. So unfair. 

Age 50: Sadly my only achievable goal left is to finish an entire tube of ChapStick before I leave it in my pocket and it goes through the wash and coats everything in a lovely-smelling waxy film.

Keep reaching for the stars! Hope your swan song looks a hell of a lot cooler than mine!

Advertising 101

Can you read the tiny text on this billboard?


Didn’t think so. Imagine how difficult it would be to read it if you were driving past at 40 m.p.h. Back when I worked at ad agencies (I believe it was the Iron Age), the rule of thumb for billboard copy was “7 words or less.” And the goal was to have one key image with words and logo in a large font, so that drivers could get the message with a quick glance as they were whizzing by. Clearly no one at Erie Insurance’s ad agency got that memo. That text up top would be difficult to read if it were a foot from your face, much less from 40 yards away in a moving vehicle.

So basically they’ve wasted whatever money they spent on this billboard. That’s OK, they’ll probably make it up by jacking up premiums.




Freedom of (ego-stroking) expression