Trump calls Punxsutawney Phil.

Transcript of the President’s call today with Punxsutawney Phil:

Phil: Good morning, Mr. President.
President: Good morning, Phil. How are you?
Phil: Very well. A little jittery but well. How are you?
President: Tremendous. Listen, Phil, I hear you’ve decided on six more weeks of winter.
Phil: Well, it’s not a decision. I just utilize a series of indicators to predict …
President: Okay, well look. The problem is the people of this country would prefer spring over winter. More »


Illustration courtesy of Chris Piascik

The evening before Election Day, the house was full of welcomed quiet. The TVs were off. And after a glass of wine, Steph was on her way to bed.

But as she walked past Ben’s room, she heard sniffling. She cracked the door and understood he was still awake.

“What’s wrong, honey?” she whispered.

He rolled over to look at her, and Steph saw he’d been crying.

“Everyone is so angry,” he said. “I’m afraid what might happen tomorrow. I’m scared, and I don’t understand why this is happening.”

The presidential election, she thought. If it was a scary time for adults, it could be a terrifying time for children. She’d never thought how it might be for a 9-year-old who’d never really paid attention to a national election until this year.

She entered the room and sat on Ben’s bed.

“I think you’re old enough to hear the tale of the Trumpusnacht,” she said, caressing his forehead.

“The what?” he answered.

“More commonly called Trumpus,” she began. “It all started with Uncle Sam …”

More »

What we refer to now as “cell phones” are actually mini-computers, bigger, clunkier and less durable than what we might correctly refer to as “cell phones.”

So when my stepdaughter, Jordan, asked, “Why didn’t you call someone to pick you up?” and I answered, “Because I didn’t have my phone,” what I really meant was, “I’m not going running with my iPhone so it can slap against my leg for a half hour.”

And to clarify additional language, when I say “running,” I mean, “running a quarter mile, walking, jogging, running, bending over to catch my breath, then jogging while I attempt to re-lodge the right earbud, which unlike the left, continues to pop out.”

If I “run” for about two or three miles, I’m “running” for roughly a half hour. So, when I left the condo around 9 a.m. that morning and told my friend, Julie, I was “going for a run,” I certainly intended to return around 9:30 a.m.

This was on Hilton Head Island, and I decided to be cautious. I kind of know my way around Port Royal, but to be safe, I decided to run straight along Folley Field Road for 15 minutes then return, thereby ensuring a half-hour run.

On my way to the bike path, I passed another friend, Emily, who runs each day along the beach before anyone has awoken. I don’t run on sand, even wet sand, because doing so makes my shins feel like they’re going to snap in half. So, I decided to stick to blacktop and concrete. Emily, incidentally, doesn’t run with a cell phone either.

“Emily doesn’t need a cell phone,” Jordan said later, and from that I presumed a feebly-hidden meaning – “Emily is a functioning adult, and you aren’t” – I didn’t appreciate.

“I’ll be back in about a half hour,” I told Emily as I passed. I later noted, but didn’t voice, how Emily wasn’t alarmed when I hadn’t returned two hours later. More »

Timmy’s eyes opened. He’d heard something … something out in the hallway. He’d heard footsteps. Could it be?

He rose to sitting, clutching his blanket. His head was just inches from the ceiling, because his was the top bunk. Below, David still slept.

As quietly as he could, Timmy lifted the covers and jumped to the floor. Then he crept to the door and slowly turned the doorknob. The wooden door groaned a little as Timmy pulled it open. He tip-toed into the hallway, his slippers muffling footfalls on the hardwood.

Timmy turned left then right. The footsteps had gone left, he thought, toward the activity room, where the Christmas tree stood.

He concentrated to maintain a lingering silence as he moved toward the end of the hall. When Timmy reached the room, he saw the figure’s shadowy outline. He couldn’t make out much in the darkness, but Timmy thought he could see a plump belly and beard. His mind added the red suit and hat, the black boots. Could it be Santa? If so, Santa was just standing and staring toward Timmy. More »

Dear Sprint,

I’m sorry you had to hear about it like this. After nearly a decade together, maybe you didn’t see it coming. I know it had to be hard – hearing about our breakup from my new provider.

“Provider.” What a strange word to use. “Partner,” “companion,” “associate.” Whatever you want to call it. I’m with Verizon now.

I wanted to tell you myself. I really did. But Verizon said it would be better this way – to contact you directly and switch the number … and cancel our relationship. As I watched Verizon end us via keystrokes, I remembered our years together, the good and bad.

You gave me unlimited texting and minutes and minutes of talk time. When I first met you, that’s what I noticed – the talk time. Some people like eyes. Others like a sense of humor. For me, it’s talk time, and yours kept me coming back for new phones and new contracts.

Then it soured. I would call you, and it didn’t seem like you even cared. I would be on the phone for hours before reaching you, talking to your friends in South America and India, trying to explain why my bill was too high. And then you would finally talk to me, and you were so dismissive. More »

I don’t mind hip hop. I really don’t. In fact, I like some of it.

But blasting “All of the Lights,” by Kanye West, over and over again is inappropriate for a Christmas display. Delmar’s done it anyway, though, because Delmar is inconsiderate.

He has multicolored icicle lights strung along his gutters, and from what I can tell, they surround the entire house. Plus, he has LED snowflakes, also multicolored, hanging intermittently with the icicles. These lights flash, fade and twinkle with the music, which is streaming from an open kitchen window. “All of the Lights,” over and over again. The entire light show is on repeat.

But he also has animatronic snowmen and reindeer staked in his lawn. The snowmen slowly wave and lift their top hats. The reindeer slowly bow and lift their heads. The movements are completely out of the time with the frantic music. It’s creepy. Plus, he has a sequential light display against the right side of his house that displays a spinning ballerina. I suppose Delmar would argue it has something to do with “The Nutcracker,” but it seems more like some random decoration having nothing to do with Christmas. More »

Blockbuster occupies the corner space at the shopping plaza. A friend of mine in Oregon had scoffed, over Skype, “You still have a Blockbuster?” Actually, up until last week, we had two Blockbusters. The other location was only five miles away.

But that one, a victim of a wireless world, is empty, and here stands the last Blockbuster.

“Blockbusters and CD stores,” my friend had said. “I don’t know how they do it.”

Well, I presume this last Blockbuster will get some traffic from its dead sister, a few new customers who refuse to watch movies on-demand, who refuse to download movies from the internet, who refuse to join Netflix. It’s a free-market presumption.

But that’s not what my friend was talking about. His thoughts fit better with free-market ideas. How would a Blockbuster survive into another decade?

In other words, why am I standing in this Blockbuster scanning new releases? “The Amazing Spiderman,” “Lawless,” “The Expendables 2.” In other words, why am I about to rent “Lawless?” Now I’m thinking about renting “Atlas Shrugged” to add a bit of irony, but I’d rather watch “Lawless,” which probably exudes a better sense of free enterprise anyway.

“You still rent movies from Blockbuster?” my friend had said following my Skype confession. More »

The Grim Reaper was ringing a bell. That’s what Jill saw as she was leaving the grocery store. Why hadn’t she noticed when she was walking in? Was he there?

He wore a skeleton mask and skeleton gloves, as well as a long, ragged, black cloak. A hood frayed around the mask. His right hand grasped an entirely wooden sickle, the blade painted silver with blotches to convey a worn, rustic look. The small bell, its handle black and body gold, was in his left. The reaper stood near a red Salvation Army collection kettle, which hung within a tripod. The sign atop the tripod was similar to the Christmas version, except it had an orange border and bats instead of holly leaves.

Jill, who had a shopping bag in each hand, was going to keep walking, but a thought stopped her.

“Excuse me?” she said to the Reaper. “Is this really a Salvation Army thing? Is it … sanctioned?”

“Yes, ma’am.” The reaper’s voice was baritone.

“Because … and I don’t want to offend you, but this seems like a scam,” she said, a little apologetically.

“No offense,” the Grim Reaper said. “We’re looking to capitalize on the Santa thing. Christmas isn’t bringing in as much in donations as it once did, so we’re expanding to other holidays.”

Jill nodded. “Sure.”

“Halloween is the test run,” the Reaper explained. “If it goes well, we’ll have a pilgrim at Thanksgiving. Maybe a big turkey. Then Santa, of course, for Christmas. Then a bunny for Easter, midgets for St. Patrick’s Day, Uncle Sam in July, so on, so forth.” More »

Tony was shining a flashlight here and there on the dark street for the second time in two nights. He illuminated the plastic garbage can pulled to the roadside for pickup in the morning. A white bag, stacked on two others, peaked above the rim.

He pointed the light toward bushes and brush across the road, then up and down the road itself. He saw no movement.

Tony went back inside. Then a few minutes later, he heard it again. The garbage can was moving, scraping on the cement.

Back outside, he lifted the top back and investigated. The flashlight’s beam was bright inside the can. He could see nothing that would be disturbing it. He replaced the bag and again illuminated the surroundings. He heard crickets and cars in the distance but little else.

Last night, he’d heard an SUV screech. The horn blasted. Then it sped on. More »

Scott almost picked a wineglass but instead chose a red, plastic cup. He filled it with Marietta cabernet, 2008.

“Don’t you think that’s a little nice for a plastic cup?” Josie asked.

“Was 2008 a good year?” Scott asked, sipping.

“I’m presuming,” she said, sipping a white wine from a wide-rimmed glass. “All the others are 2010.”

Scott didn’t know much about wines, and besides, the plastic cup was a better match for a flannel button-up and old jeans. He was wearing boots, for God’s sake, so why would he care about drinking wine from plastic.

Josie, on the other hand. Sure, she was wearing jeans, too, but they appeared to be designer jeans. Her brown top was heavy with sequence. Her blonde hair was smooth and shiny, meticulous. She should be drinking from a glass, and honestly, should not be drinking something from 2010.

Jim was wired, pacing from room to room, placing dishes, juking and shuffling between and around people as they conversed and popped appetizers into their mouths. He was looking for bowls, had explored the cabinets for bowls, Scott noticed, and was scanning faces, looking for his wife, Deb.

“Have you guys seen Deb?” he asked Scott and Josie.

“Upstairs, maybe?” Josie said.

“Maybe.” Jim started to move away, toward the stairs, then stopped and turned back toward Scott and Josie.

“I think she’s 10 minutes away,” Jim said. “Just got a text from her.” More »