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Sunday Is Coming Too Soon


Cecilia helps clean the cat dishes

I’m posting this Wednesday night. In a little more than three days, my wife and I will say goodbye to our 16-year old beagle, Cecilia. Her health has been declining for some time, and although we would love more time with her, we know she is in pain and not living a great life with her arthritis. The medicine and acupuncture we’ve been using to treat it no longer offer her the relief they once did. She also has Cushing’s disease, and a heart murmur. She has fought the good fight to eat as many treats as she could wrangle and charm from you.

When we first adopted Cecilia, she was already seven or eight years old. She walked into our house as if she’d lived there for years, and made herself right at home. Never the most affectionate dog – Cecilia never learned to give kisses –  she mostly warmed up to you at meal time. Still, she would occasionally jump up on the couch, not to make herself comfortable, but to wander over to me, climb on my lap, and lean against me. It was her way of giving a hug. Because of her arthritis, she hasn’t been able to do that for a couple years.

Another trick Cecilia can no longer do is one her former owners must have taught her. Whenever she wanted a treat, she would stand on her hind legs, put her front paws together, and wave them at you. As a beagle, she always wanted a treat. If she could not coax one from you, she would take any opportunity to sneak off and try to help herself to the cats’ food.

A few years ago, my wife and I used a baby gate to block off the family room from the kitchen and the rest of our house, to keep Cecilia corralled when we would leave to run errands. One day, we came home to find Cecilia standing on the kitchen side of the gate, instead of the family room. As best we could figure, she jumped up on the couch in the family room, jumped from there to the recliner, jumped up on the back of the recliner, launched herself from there onto the counter in the kitchen, and then jumped down from the counter onto the kitchen floor. That last move proved a bit too much for her, as she tore her ACL. Still, she dragged herself to the back of the house, ate the cat food from the dishes on the floor, then dragged herself back to the kitchen which is where we found her when we came home. After a $2,500 surgery, her ACL was back to normal.

Like most dogs, Cecilia loved her walks, and always insisted she be allowed to go, even when it was too painful and tiring for her to do so. We bought a baby stroller to push her around in, and she insisted on standing up in it the entire time we were walking.

Last winter was rough on Cecilia, and I remember wondering if she would be able to make it through the bitter cold and snow. Finally, the weather warmed and her ability to move up and down her ramp improved. But in the past couple weeks she’s struggled to both stand up and lay down, and I know another winter would be a punishment to her. We’ve made arrangements to have a vet we know come to the house on Sunday, when we will help her cross the rainbow bridge.

I need so much more time with her.


2017 Fall TV Preview

The 69th (nice) Emmys were tonight, which means the new TV season is just around the corner. Let’s review this fall’s lineup of new network shows to see which might be the next big hit, and which might be the next “The Real O’Neals.” All shows are listed alphabetically by network, with the expected air date and time listed.


9JKL (Monday, 8:30/7:30)

OK, before I tell you what this one is about, try to guess its premise. How long did it take you to come up with three adjacent apartments on the 9th floor? If there’s anything audiences like about a comedy, it’s a challenge. This one explores a man who lives in an apartment (9K) between his parents (in 9J), and his brother and his family (in 9L). I understand if they make it to a second season, they’re moving to consecutive floors.


Alex, Inc. (TBD, midseason)

Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) returns to TV with this sitcom based on a podcast about a journalist and family man who starts his own business. Whew. So, he’s not a journalist, I guess.


The Crossing (TBD, midseason)

Set 250 years in the future, this gritty drama follows refugees from a war in America who seek shelter in a small town in…America. A conspiracy drives the narrative, and the conspiracy is about who thought it was OK to put BBQ chicken on pizza.


Deception (TBD, midseason)

This is a show about “a superstar magician” whose career is ruined. It was ruined when one of his tricks goes awry and a woman in the audience is trampled by a buffalo named “Chicken Wings.” I’m guessing. The important thing is, he ends up at the FBI, where he uses his skills to help trap criminals. Basically, it’s “The Mentalist” with magic instead of fake psychic powers.


For the People (TBD, midseason)

Do you remember “Boston Legal?” This is “Boston Legal,” except it’s set in NYC.


The Good Doctor (Monday 10/9)

Do you remember “Doogie Howser, M.D.?” This is “Doogie Howser, M.D,” except the doctor is a little bit older. And has autism.


Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (Tuesday, 10/9)

Originally called “The Gospel of Kevin,” this drama centers on a man going through a mid-life crisis related to his series being the first one canceled for the season. I kid. Jason Ritter stars in the title role as a man tasked with saving the world. God is the one who has tasked him to do this. Joel Osteen is just untouchable right now, otherwise it probably would’ve been him.


Inhumans (Friday 9/8)

ABC takes a novel approach as it returns to the Marvel well by launching this series with two episodes that showed in movie theaters in early September, then wasn’t seen for another two weeks. The show runs for just eight episodes, and revolves around a royal family that lives, uh, on the moon with all its amenities, and end up fleeing due to a coup and end up in Hawaii. The main things are that it stars Serinda Swan, and a giant CGI dog.


The Mayor (Tuesday 9:30/8:30)

A rapper runs for mayor on a lark, but – get this – ends up being elected.


Roseanne (TBD, midseason)

Ugh. Here’s hoping John Goodman and Sarah Chalke are the saving graces of this relaunch of the 90s sitcom.


Splitting Up Together (TBD, midseason)

“The Office” alumna Jenna Fischer stars in this show about a couple whose relationship finds new life after divorcing. It’s apparently based on a Danish series, which is always a recipe for success.


Ten Days in the Valley (Sunday 10/9)

Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”) stars in this short-run drama about a TV producer whose daughter disappears, just like in the TV show she produces. “Why didn’t I produce a TV show about chicken wings?” she wonders aloud in the pilot episode.



By the Book (TBD, midseason)

A man going through a midlife crisis decides to live according to the Bible. I believe this is a comedy, but not sure. Stars David Krumholtz (“Numbers”).


Instinct (TBD, midseason)

A former CIA employee (played by Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife”) helps the NYPD stop a serial killer on the loose. Although apparently not, because there’s a whole series about it, and if they actually caught the guy it would be, like, three episodes total.


Me, Myself, & I (Monday, 9:30/8:30)

Remember Urkel from “Family Matters?” He’s in this! So is Saturday Night Live alum Bobby Moynihan. He plays the present-day version of a man who’s played as a teenager by Jack Dylan Glazer, and a future version by John Larroquette. It’s not a show about time travel, just a story about a guy told from multiple perspectives. Unless they struggle in the ratings, in which case they’ll probably switch to being about time travel.


S.W.A.T. (Thursday 10/9)

“Criminal Minds” alumnus Shemar Moore stars in this drama based on the 2003 film by the same name. How many flies and mosquitoes will he be able to swat? Tune in to find out!


SEAL Team (Wednesday 9/8)

This team of highly trained circus seals has escaped and are hellbent on a journey of revenge. Kidding! It’s about a military team led by David Boreanz (“Bones,” “Angel”). Sometimes, they gots beef with each other, not just the enemy. They train like the dickens.


Wisdom of the Crowd (Sunday 8/7)

Oh, god. This is going to be terrible. People download an app to help solve crimes. Like “Person of Interest,” except out in the open, and it involves everyone instead of just three or four people trying to keep a secret. Are there points? Do I get points for finding criminals? Will I be Venmo’d money? Can I redeem the points for chicken wings?


Young Sheldon (Thursday 8:30/7:30)

Going to the “Big Bang Theory” well, Chuck Lorre produces this show about a pre-teen version of the character Sheldon Cooper as he grows up in Texas and attends high school as a nine-year old.



A.P. Bio (TBD, midseason)

Hooray! A show about a high school class most people loved!! This comedy stars Patton Oswalt as part of the story of a former Ivy-league professor who misses out on tenure (so, not a professor) and plots revenge by teaching high school. As one does.


The Brave (Monday, 10/9)

A show about military special ops. See, S.W.A.T, SEAL Team above.


Champions (TBD, midseason)

This comedy produced by and co-starring Mindy Kaling concerns an unambitious gym owner (stereotype much?) and his dimwitted brother. Their bro-lives go topsy-turvy when Kaling shows up with the gym owner’s bastard. So, “Three Men and a Baby,” expect “Two Men and a Pre-Teen.”


Good Girls (TBD, midseason)

Have no idea what this one is about, neither can I tell from the description if it is a drama or a comedy. It stars Retta (“Parks and Rec”), so maybe comedy?


Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers (Thursday, 10/9)

If there’s anything an audience loves, it’s seeing a story rehashed over and over again. This mini-series covers the trial of Erik and Lyle Menedez, who killed their parents several decades ago. Mercifully, this show will last for only eight episodes.


Reverie (TBD, midseason)

Remember “Robocop?” This isn’t that. Instead, stars Sarah Shahi (“Person of Interest”), Dennis Haysbert (“24,” Allstate commercials), and Sendhil Ramamurthy (“Heroes”) in a show about a former detective brought back to work after a virtual reality program does some bad things.


Rise (TBD, midseason)

Remember “Glee?” This is “Glee,” with Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother”).


Will & Grace (Thursday 8/7)

High hopes for the relaunch of this series following Will, Grace, Jack, Karen, and Rosario.



911 (TBD, midseason)

Drama starring Angela Basset as a supervisor of 911 dispatchers. Bold move not making this a comedy.


Ghosted (Sunday 8:30/7:30)

This comedy partners stars from two successful NBC sitcoms (“The Office,” “Parks and Rec”) as a team investigating paranormal or unexplained events, like when my wife empties the dishwasher without being asked. Ha! Just kidding. They look into ghosts, specters, that sort of thing.


The Gifted (Monday 9/8)

Based on Marvel’s characters, this show addresses a number of teenage mutants just discovering their powers as they are pursued by the government. It’s not clear whether Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy plays Professor X in this one.


LA to Vegas (TBD, midseason)

This Will Ferrell-produced comedy covers a flight from LA to Vegas on Friday night, and the return trip on Sunday morning. In between? Hijinks!


The Orville (Thursday 9/8)

Fox has a long history of canceling sci-fi dramas. This season, they wanted to see what it would be like to cancel a sci-fi comedy. Starring Seth Macfarlane (creator of “Family Guy”), the show lampoons space travel (ala Star Trek) as it follows the crew of the eponymously named ship across the galaxy.


The Resident (TBD, midseason)

A medical drama, in the vein of St. Elsewhere, ER, Grey’s Anatomy, etc. Nothing to see here. Unless you like that sort of thing.



Black Lightning (TBD, midseason)

Just when he thought he was out of the superhero game, they pull him back in! Cress Williams stars as the titular character of this DC-based metahuman whose real name is Jefferson Pierce, a black man named after one white slave owner, and a white southern sympathizer. He returns to the vigilante life after his daughters are threatened. His superpower involves the ability to summon a broom and clean a room in a heartbeat. Just kidding, that’s Nanny McPhee. I think. Black Lightning uses lightning for both offense and defense.


Dynasty (Wednesday, 9/8)

Winner of this year’s “The Show No One Asked For” award, this rehashing of an old prime-time soap opera revolves around two wealthy families (the Carringtons and the Colbys) as they fight over…I don’t even know. Some crap. No one cares.


Life Sentence (TBD, midseason)

Hey, good news! The lead character in this show doesn’t have cancer as she thought she did!! Bad news: the lead character did and said some real messed up things when she thought she was going to die. Time to atone for eating all those chicken wings.


Valor (Monday 9/8)

Finally, another show about helicopter pilots! “Airwolf” broke the mold, and “Valor” is here to inherit its title as most unrelatable profession depicted on TV. This one is about military helicopter pilots in an elite division. The lead character, Capt. Jack Valor, flies his helicopter (also called “Valor”) on missions in Valor Valley. No way this one gets canceled.

The Things We Do (or not) Before We Die

One of those viral lists is going around Facebook right now. This one is about popular bucket list items – things you want to do, and places you want to see before you die. You mark an X next to whatever you’ve accomplished, and if you haven’t been there, done that, you just leave the item blank.

Rather than limit this information to only those I’m friends with on Facebook, I’ve decided to copy and paste it here for you to use as a litmus test for the value of your own life and the regrets you’re collecting:

Swam in a pond

Visited Hawaii – X

Went camping – X

Went on a blind date only to realize I have nothing in common with this person, and while she’s a lovely individual, why did anyone think we would work together? – X

Ordered spaghetti and meatballs at a white tablecloth restaurant – X

Continued to spend the night in a tent even after someone in there threw up on me – X

Showed restraint at a catered meal after a funeral

Thought about how nice it is to breathe through my mouth most of the time – X

Fired a potato gun

Ate a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs at a white tablecloth restaurant without using utensils or my hands – X

Made a parody film called “Close Encounters of the Second Kind,” about a peaceful turd from outer space

Successfully put together a piece of patio furniture after six tries

Considered planting potatoes, but then didn’t – X

Farted while parasailing in Hawaii – X

Threw one of my shoes in a pond, so I could complain about having only one shoe – X

Fired a gun at a potato – X

Had a nice time while riding the bus once – X

Fell off a roof while attempting to hang holiday lights for Cinco De Mayo

Went to an Air & Space museum’s gift shop to ask if they had one of those posters of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” – X (they didn’t)

Thrown away a pair of underwear

Been in a car accident, due to the BBQ ribs slipping out of my hands

Had a child

Had a child look me up & down while I was seated, and was told, “You’re big.” – X

Went to the dentist recently

Had a telephone conversation with Jay Leno about what a nice guy he is – X (he did all the talking)

Eaten just waffles and breakfast sausage and cantaloupe and fried chicken and chocolate mousse and roast beef and asparagus and mashed potatoes for dinner – X

Watched more than one episode of “My Cat from Hell,” for some reason – X

Successfully used diet and exercise to lose 20+ pounds, only to gain it all back again because pizza – XXXX

Jumped out of a plane while it was on the ground – X (technically, I missed the last step, but I’m still counting this one)

Swam in a volcano to retrieve a potato I dropped in there

2015 Fall TV Preview

Tonight is the annual Emmy awards show, where actors and shows from the previous television year are recognized for excellence, or because they air on a network and have flumped their way to broadcasting a level of pablum that is an achievement in itself. It also marks the start of the new fall TV season, so this guide to the new network shows is just in time to let you know which shows are worth your time. My selflessness knows no ends.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
CBS 8:30/7:30 Life in Pieces This is one of those multi-family shows, in the vein of ABC’s Modern Family, except no one is gay, and they’ve found a new way to make bodily function jokes. Also, Jordan Peele (from Comedy Central’s Key and Peele) shows up for what I hope is more than just a cameo.
8/7 (Nov. 1) Supergirl Remember the CW show Smallville, which was about Superman when he was a teenager, but played by a 30-year old? This is the story about his cousin, who like Superman, was jettisoned by her parents from a dying Krypton (too bad that family didn’t bother sharing their child-saving technology with anybody else, huh?), and like Superman protects her identity by wearing glasses and living in the most densely populated city in the U.S. Importantly, the trailer for the show manages to include both a woman providing an excuse for the sexist title (why not Superwoman?), and a male co-star who mansplains to Supergirl how to be a hero. Good times!
ABC ABC is airing no new shows on Monday, preferring instead to take their counterprogramming chances with the 83rd iteration of Dancing with the Stars.
FOX 9/8 Minority Report Remember the 2002 movie by the same name, which starred Tom Cruise, and had the same dissatisfying ending of every Philip K. Dick story ever? Now you can experience that dissatisfaction every week! This is Fox’s latest failed Sci-fi drama, following last year’s Almost Human, 2012’s Alcatraz, 2011’s Terra Nova, and 2010’s Dollhouse (I had to look up that last one).
NBC 10/9 Blind Spot OK, so tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A duffel bag shows up in the middle of an empty Times Square. Inside is a naked woman, covered with tattoos. Turns out, she’s an amnesic super spy whose tattoos are a cryptic message about her past, or maybe something having to do with the future, or perhaps a lasagna recipe. This show is apparently an attempt to capitalize on the wildly popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novel by Stieg Larsson, with the hope that audiences will remember nothing about it except that it featured a girl, with a tattoo.
CW 8/7 My Crazy Ex-girlfriend This show was originally a racy, foul-mouthed half-hour comedy on Showtime, but is now an hour-long comedy on the CW, because sure, why not?


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
CBS 10/9 Limitless It seems most of the TV shows this season started with the pitch, “Hey, remember that time when there was that show/movie/idea…” This show is no exception, capitalizing on the somewhat popular 2011 movie by the same name, which starred Bradley Cooper as a drug-fueled supergenius. Cooper makes a return in the pilot, but only sticks around long enough to get a new guy hooked on whatever he was using. A strong, family message for the kids, really.
NBC 9/8 Heartbreaker Quick: what do you expect a show called Heartbreaker to be about? A supercute guy or gal who’s constantly disappointing would-be paramours? A horrible cardiac surgeon, perhaps? Two flatulent mice sharing a flat in Budapest? Well, the second choice would’ve been the closest, as it’s actually about a heart transplant surgeon. This show will be replaced at the start of the TV season by Chicago Med (wonder what that one will be about?), while the lead in Heartbreaker takes leave to have a child.
10/9 Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris The title of the show is somewhat confusing, as it’s not clear to me whether this is, in fact, the best time you could ever, ever have, or merely the best time you could ever have with Neil Patrick Harris. But I digress. As does the show, apparently, consisting of a hodgepodge of skits, pranks, games, celebrity appearances, and amateur performances. If the opening credits don’t show someone throwing spaghetti at a wall, I’ll be disappointed.
ABC 8/7 the muppets No one will ever voice Kermit the Frog exactly the way Jim Henson did. No one else can seem to quite capture the spirit of his creations either, but we’ll watch this show anyway, in the hope it won’t be as bad as past resurrections, and for the can’t-miss doses of Statler & Waldorf in the balcony.
10/9 Quantico How often you must’ve found yourself wondering, “What do young FBI recruits look like when stepping out of the swimming pool?” Finally, here comes a show that can answer the question. Other secrets from the FBI’s training program are also revealed, such as, how to look sultry to your co-workers, and hey, one of us is a terrorist?
FOX 8/7 Grandfathered John Stamos, who played the hilarious Uncle Jessie in the iconic sitcom Full House, plays the hilarious role of a Greek restaurateur who irresponsibly fathered a child he didn’t know about for a couple/few decades, and that child also just became a father, so now John Stamos is a grandfather. Therefore, he’s not really “grandfathered” into anything, but he’s joined in the cast by Paget Brewster who played the hilarious serial-killer hunting Emily Prentiss on CBS’ Criminal Minds. It’s unclear at this time what could possibly go wrong with this show.
8:30/7:30 The Grinder Oh, I sure hope this is a show about a baked sub-style sandwich! Let me check the previews. Nope. Not about sandwiches at all. Turns out this is an Odd Couple-type story where Rob Lowe plays a character who played a lawyer on TV, and is brother to Fred Savage, who plays an actual lawyer. William Devane also stars as their father. It’s not explicitly stated in the advance materials, but I’m guessing he fathered them with two different women. After the end of an eight-year run for his show where he played the most popular lawyer on TV, Lowe’s character moves back to Boise, ID, as most TV stars do, and busies himself by meddling in his brother’s life. This is a comedy.
9/8 Scream Queens I’m a little nervous to out-and-out guess what this one might be about, so let me do some research first. Ah, I see. It’s a black comedy/satire type show that centers on Kappa House, a popular, elitist sorority that’s forced to change its ways and accommodate all comers, even though there’s a bunch of murders that happen, or something. The show is executive produced by the team that brought us Glee, and stars Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis (who plays the Jane Lynch-type role of antagonist/disciplinarian). The color of Curtis’ track suit was not revealed.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
ABC ABC has no new shows scheduled for Wednesdays.
CBS 10/9 Code Black If you’ve missed a high-stress, fast-paced hospital drama in your TV life, this is the show for you. Well, either this one or Chicago Med on NBC Tuesdays. You make the call. This one has the advantage of taking its name from a situation where there are more patients than resources available to help them. Look for its spinoff next year, Governmental Allocations and City Planning.
NBC NBC has no new shows scheduled for Wednesdays, because – incredibly – they couldn’t come up with anything better than Mysteries of Laura.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
ABC ABC has no new shows scheduled for Thursdays. Does ABC know they’re allowed to have new shows? This is confusing.
CBS CBS has no new shows immediately scheduled for Thursdays, as they will be airing an NFL game, and laughing at the other networks for showing anything other than reruns.
8:30/7:30 Angel from Hell Probably the fall’s most promising comedy (although, if you’ve been reading all of these previews, that’s not a tall hurdle to clear), it stars Jane Lynch (not in a tracksuit) as the guardian angel/weird friend to dermatologist Maggie Lawson. Can a woman of science accept a spiritual being in her life? Or will it turn out that Lynch’s character isn’t an angel after all? Or will fellow co-star Kevin Pollack lose his mind and just start doing Sinatra impressions out of nowhere and the director shrugs and says, “What the hell, let’s see where this goes?”
FOX Fox has no new shows scheduled for Thursdays. They know Bones and Sleepy Hollow aren’t beating the NFL. Way to give up, fellas.
NBC 8/7 Heroes Reborn Another deceiving title for a show that is not about sub-type sandwiches. Someone lost a bet with this one; that’s the only way to explain it. (Probably the bet was with Greg Grunberg.) The original Heroes show from a few years ago had about 2.5 good episodes, but stumbled badly after that, like someone who trips over the threshold while walking into a room and clumsily attempts to regain his balance all the way across it, only to fall into the fireplace. That was the original Heroes. How this one will differ from that one, I don’t know. My suggestion is to turn it into a cooking show that demonstrates how to make great sandwiches.
10/9 The Player You probably think this one will be about a card player, or maybe some suave dude who picks up women all the time, or a suave card player, right? Well, it is set in Las Vegas, but it’s not clear why. The gambling that takes place is about crime, which presumably could happen anywhere. The important thing isn’t the ridiculous, outright laughably bad premise, it’s that it stars Wesley Snipes.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
ABC 8:30/7:30 Dr. Ken There you go, ABC! Way to get off the Schneid. I knew you had to have at least one more show in you. If you’re a fan of Ken Jeong, this is the show you’ve been waiting for, as he plays the eponymous character. If you’re a fan of unimaginative, thinly drawn, poorly written comedies, I’m pretty sure they’ve got you covered here as well.
NBC 8:30/7:30 Truth Be Told This show was originally going to be called People Are Talking, but apparently no one could come up with what it was they should be talking about. A more common problem than you’d think. Instead, we have a show about, um, two couples who hire a babysitter that they think might have done porn. Well. That certainly seems like something to talk about. I bet it turns out the babysitter has a twin sister. No wonder ABC felt safe putting a new show up against this one.
CBS Instead of coming up with new shows for Fridays, CBS and Fox looked at the two above, then gave each other a high five.


Nobody watches TV on Saturday nights. Probably why no new shows are scheduled.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
ABC 9/8 Blood & Oil ABC is the only network to offer new shows on Sunday, as Fox already has a solid lineup of comedies, NBC has football, and CBS just hopes CSI: Cyber and Madam Secretary don’t end up poisoning The Good Wife.

This half-baked monstrosity sees Don Johnson (occasionally) faking a southern accent, while acting as a patriarch eking out the living of a hardscrabble Texas oil tycoon. Some other characters are also present, but whether they’re supposed to prove more entertaining than Johnson and his accent, I can’t tell.

10/9 Of Kings & Prophets Finally! Another biblical drama. This one covers King Saul, Samuel the prophet, and David. It’s for the Game of Thrones crowd that doesn’t want to have to pay for HBO, I guess. Expect plenty of palace intrigue and politicking, bronze-age warfare, and sexytimes with people who have no access to indoor plumbing.

A Guide to Being an Author

Self-publishing authors are all the rage these days. With the advent of technology like ebooks, and platforms such as Kickstarter and Go Fund Me to help defray (if not outright cover) the costs of physical publishing, people today are able to bring their ideas to fruition easier than ever. No more vetting by monolithic publishing companies, or meddlesome editors interfering with your effort to bring to light your thoughts on the next earth-shattering idea. You, too, can be the next Malcom Gladwell, Amy Tan, or David Sedaris.

The only question, really, is what to write about to drive an audience to your Next Great American Novel? If you’ve perused lately, you’ll see that the adage “There’s no accounting for taste” is alive & kicking. But what can you write about that both hasn’t been covered, and will prove to be popular? One way to solve such a dilemma is to engage in an exercise where you come up with a list of book topics that almost certainly won’t generate any interest from the public, then write something that is the opposite of that. What follows is a list of titles I have handily compiled, to help you know what books NOT to write. All you have to do is figure out the book that is not one of these, and then write it, and publish it. Profits soon to follow. You’re welcome.

  1. The Technology of Babies
  2. A Sojourn with Monkeys: My Visit to the Topeka Zoo
  3. The Paradox of Black Light Candles: Understanding the World through the Prism of Impossible Dreaming
  4. Making Friends at the Mall
  5. A History of Church Picnic Menus
  6. Aloha Olaf: A Guide to Cabana Wear for Norwegian Beaches
  7. Learn Anything in About 20 Minutes: A Specific Guide to Being Terrible at Everything
  8. The Trouble with Overweight Giraffes
  9. A Restaurateur’s Guide to Dining at 3:15 p.m.
  10. The Curious Case of Diaper Disposal Systems around the World
  11. The Hamburger that Talked (About Politics in New Guinea)
  12. Mistakes Were Made: Why Pinatas Don’t belong at Funerals
  13. The Price of Misjudgment, or How I Spent 40 Years without Beets
  14. Why I Named My Cat Franklin Pierce
  15. Silent but Deadly: How Shrimp Flatulence Threatens the World’s Oceans
  16. A Pawn in the Game of Scrabble: Introducing Disruptive Innovation to Your Family Game Night
  17. The Day I Loaded a Dishwater on an Airplane: A Critique of Contemporary Law Enforcement Training at Airports
  18. The Armadillo Who Thought He Was a Bicycle
  19. Shrugging Your Shoulders at the World: A Self-Help Guide for Kindergartners
  20. Measuring Boiling Noodles in a Pot, and Other Bad Ideas

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

“Hi, honey, how was the bar?”

Oh, it was OK. I ran into Larry.

“How’s Larry doing?”

Well, unfortunately, he and Susan recently divorced.

“Oh, that’s too bad. I’m really sorry to hear it. Money troubles?”

No, she wanted him to learn the names of the fish.

Hands and a Foot

My wife and I marked our 10-year wedding anniversary this week, so I wanted to put up this post. It’s about a new toenail fungal medicine called Jublia. More specifically, it’s about this commercial for Jublia:

Jublia Commercial

If you didn’t click the link, the commercial shows an animated foot playing tennis against the words “Toenail Fungus” in block letters. Let’s review all of the problems I have with this commercial:

  • First, why does the foot have hands? “To grip the racket, you big dummy!” is what you’re probably thinking. But its Toenail Fungus opponent doesn’t have hands. Why does only the foot have hands? If Toenail Fungus doesn’t need hands to play tennis, what special qualities does the foot lack that require it to have two floating, disembodied hands? And why are the hands wearing purple rubber gloves? Is that allowed in tennis? Maybe only on the pro-am circuit?
  • Second, what sort of game is this they’re playing? At no point does the foot ever follow the rules of tennis. It starts by serving the ball not at the opposite side of the court, but rather directly at its opponent. It hits Toenail Fungus square in the gut! This is followed by a volley in which the foot repeatedly hammers the ball against the opponent. Were this tactic to be used on an actual tennis court, it would not result in a victory. Why not show the foot beating Toenail Fungus per the game of tennis?
  • Next, the foot is giddy and smiling throughout the commercial. (The big toe has a face.) Does it not know that it has no idea how to play tennis? Or is it taking some kind of sadistic pleasure in purposefully breaking the rules, just to physically damage its opponent? Does this indicate that you should also take a Xanax with Jublia?
  • Additionally to the point of the foot’s humanistic depiction, why is it wearing a visor? Did the ad agency think we wouldn’t take the foot seriously as a tennis player if it merely had the face, hands and racket involved?
  • The stadium is shown as being packed with lively fans. I’m going to assume the people there had no idea about the match they were about to see. I mean, if someone told those folks, “Hey, let’s go watch a tennis match!” and then they asked who was playing, and were told, “Just a disembodied foot versus some toenail fungus,” and they still showed up in droves? I am really not OK with that kind of world. On the other hand, if they didn’t know who was playing ahead of time, but still stayed to watch a foot versus a fungus, I’m probably even less comfortable with that.
  • Finally, considering that the foot is depicted as being infected with toenail fungus itself in the commercial, why not show it being gradually cured over the course of the ad? The foot looks just as bad at the end as it does at the beginning!

Anyway, I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of these seeming discrepancies and confusing plot points in this commercial. After all, if you can’t trust a drug maker to make an accurate cartoon about an anthropomorphic foot playing tennis, how is it supposed to cure whatever it is that ails you? Also, Happy Anniversary, honey!