Tag Archives: humor

Time to Retire


After giving the matter very little thought over a short period of time, I have decided to retire.

[Pause to allow cheering to die down.]

I admit that this is somewhat anticlimactic for a freelance writer. Many people don’t consider the gig economy to be part of the “real” employment market. I don’t feel that way.

In June 2013, when I left my last full-time job at the Society for Human Resource Management and began accepting freelance assignments, I was pleased to find that I was working about 40 hours per week almost immediately. However, the party didn’t last forever. In the past two years, I have dealt with family crises, surgeries, all sorts of prescription drugs and a disturbing increase in orphan socks. All of these issues have left me with less bandwidth and focus than I would like.


Anyone who follows baseball is familiar with the veteran pitcher who keeps hanging on long after he is effective, hoping for a last shot at glory and few measly million bucks. But he has lost the hop on his fastball, and he is a shadow of his former self. That’s probably not the way he wants to be remembered. Same for me.

I retire happy with what I have done professionally since I started contributing articles to the Richmond-News Leader while I was a college student in the 1970s. I got five backs per article. (It seemed like a lot at the time.) My last journalism class was in the tenth grade, so I guess you can say I overachieved.

One of my favorite memories is from my stint as a copy editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Faced with a narrow column in which to fit a headline about a man arrested for a sex crime, I wrote:


It seemed innocuous enough. But the next morning, the newspaper’s switchboard was inundated with readers asking where they could get theirs charged.

Several years later, I was sitting in a Washington Post news conference when an editor mentioned that one of his female reporters, who happened to be quite attractive and talented, was rumored to be a candidate for a TV network job. With impeccable timing, Executive Editor Ben Bradlee responded: “Arrange for a scar.”

My favorite article was written while I was at the Post. It was about two children with failing livers at a pediatric hospital in Philadelphia. One donor liver became available. To whom should the surgeon give it? The kid from rural Pennsylvania, or the one from Bolivia? In a somewhat Solomon-like action, the surgeon gambled and sliced the liver in half and transplanted a piece into each child.

What made the story really special for me was that, while the parents were waiting anxiously for the surgeon to finish work, the families bonded strongly. None of them spoke more than a word or two of the other couple’s language, but that didn’t stop them. The last I heard, the two kids had reached adulthood in good health.

I had hoped to continue my career for a few more years, but I got reality check during a recent visit to my doctor. I started hearing voices. They said the same word over and over: “Battery…. Battery….” I thought it was my subconscious mind beating me up for that awful headline back in the 1980s. It turns out that it was just my hearing aids trying to tell me they needed more juice. But I took it as a sign.

Now, some of you have reacted very strongly to my suggestion that I might abandon this blog as well. Despite your fervent pleadings, I have decided to continue it anyway. At least for a while.

In addition, I will write science fiction short stories as long as editors keep buying them. The great thing about sci-fi is that you don’t have to worry about accuracy. You can invent universes in which anything is possible. Well, almost anything. In all the possible universes, there is none in which Congress actually gets anything accomplished.

Some things never change.


End the Health Care Impasse


Americans are fed up with the failure of Congress to agree on a plan to eviscerate Obamacare. Fed up, I say! So let’s compare alternative solutions for ending the impasse and get on with it.

Please let me know which one of these options that you think is best. Then we’ll call Congress—call Congress, I say!—and tell them which bill one we, the American people, demand that they pass.


TRIAL BY COMBAT: Let each political party choose its champion, put them in an arena, and let them fight it out to the death or until one concedes. Let’s assume that the chosen combatants are Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi. I’m not sure which one is meaner, but it’s high time we found out.

THE STATE FAIR: Remember when you petted cute goats and ogled your neighbor’s ribbon-winning apple pies? Me neither. But some people go to state fairs. We could rent a booth and display all the competing health care bills for the judges to poke and sniff and pass their judgment.

BATTLE OF THE ROBOTS: Kind of like trial by combat, but this time we could use robots. There would be 38 of them—one for each version of the Republican health care plan that has been put forth so far. The robot with the most effective health plan would surely survive onslaughts from the others and come out victorious.

GAME SHOW: I know that reality television and the leadership of our country seem like they do not mix, but why not have a “Price Is Right,” “Jeopardy,” or even–dare I say it–an “Apprentice” episode devoted to picking the best health care bill. No Congressional Budget Office personnel would be eligible. (“I’ll take Trashing Medicaid for 400 Billion, Alex.”)

PIN THE TAIL ON THE… Donkey, or Elephant. Whichever you prefer. Draw lines all over the chosen animal and fill in each resulting section with a different health plan. Then blindfold your favorite senator and have him or her take a stab at it. Literally. And let’s leave the blindfold on for the rest of his or her term.

FOREIGN INTERVENTION: I hear that the Israelis and Palestinians are willing to sit down and negotiate a peace deal among warring members of Congress. It’s that bad.

THE EASY WAY OUT: Just change a few words and add a few commas here and there in the Obamacare law. Then claim that it has been repealed and replaced. Everyone goes home a winner. A winner, I say!

Kicking Off My Bucket List


I have no plan to die anytime soon. But I have been thinking lately about my mortality and all the things I want to do before I pass on. So here’s a first crack at a bucket list. I’d like to hear about what is important to you. Maybe you’ll persuade me to amend my list.


Here goes:

  1. Visit Egypt

I want to cruise the Nile River and tour the pyramids. But mostly I want to get confronted by terrorists and punch one in the face. Might as well go out swinging.

  1. See One Washington Sports Team Win Something

The baseball, football, hockey and basketball teams in D.C.—well, most of them—are pretty good at times. Until it comes to the playoffs. Then they melt like butter. Just once….

  1. All the Stuff Steve Martin Wished For

Remember that terrific “Saturday Night Live” Christmas skit? The one in which he wishes that all the little children could hold hands in harmony—and a few other things. I want all that. You can watch the skit here.

  1. Three Straight Spring Days Without Rain

It hasn’t happened. It probably never will. I’m getting used to talking my daily walk in the rain. But please, just three days.

  1. Be a Contestant on “Celebrity Stalker”

Okay, there is no such show. But there should be. And when there is, I want to compete for cash or prizes by stalking some overrated, overpaid actor or model on some obscure cable channel.

  1. Grow a 50-Pound Tomato

My garden is a source of great spiritual satisfaction, not to mention vegetables, fruit and flowers. And my gardening book won two awards. Still, there’s got to be some new challenge to keep me covered in mud year after year. So that’s my goal.

  1. Discover Clothes That Don’t Shrink

First of all, it seems ridiculous that a guy can wear the same clothes over and over and they wear out after a mere 10 or 15 years. But the fact that the waistlines on my pants keep shrinking—even without them being washed—is just too much.

  1. Find a Use for Laundry Lint

Speaking of washing, this thing about laundry lint is really bothering me. We pull it out of the dryer and just toss it in the trash. That’s millions of tons of useless waste filling our landfills every day. There are people devoted to cutting down on plastic that enters our oceans and other goody-goody projects. They should find something to do with laundry lint. Maybe they can turn it into, I don’t know, laundry.

  1. Discover a Cure for Sarcasm

Some people tell me that they never know when I’m being serious and when I’m being sarcastic. I tell them: It’s easy. I’m never serious and I’m always sarcastic. But now I hear that there might be a cure for sarcasm that involves only a partial lobotomy. Sign me up.

  1. Have a Real President Again

Forget the other nine bucket list items. I don’t even care that much whether the next president is a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Vegetarian or Philatelist. I just want a president who surrounds himself or herself with good people and listens to their advice. And doesn’t start any wars.

Want Health Care? Get in Line, Soldier


President Trump and leading congressional Republicans have settled on health care legislation that would provide low-cost coverage in exchange for intensive public service, the In Sight blog has learned.

gop health

That public service will require extreme manual labor, which contributes to good health. The alternatives for this public service were still in the “conceptual stage” when this Fake News blog was being written, but an unidentified source with little or no knowledge of the actual GOP discussions said that these are among the options that Americans will be able to choose from:

SERVANTS: Citizens will be able to sign a contract of indentured servitude, requiring that they become servants for rich people. Serving drinks, rubbing sore feet, stoking fires, refilling sherry decanters, cleaning bathrooms and serving more drinks will be among the tasks. Servants with high IQs will help their masters cheat on their taxes.

SOLDIERS: Those with good eyesight and questionable morals will be sent to the front lines in the wars in Syria and North Korea. Freeze-dried daily food rations will be supplied at a reduced cost to these brave public servants. Those who survive will be given the same quality of veterans benefits that today’s veterans enjoy.

CLEAN ENERGY: Americans will be detailed to walk in circles pushing turbines to generate electricity for energy-intensive wide-screen televisions and other devices for the affluent. Even senior citizens with walkers will be able to contribute in this manner.

TRANSPORTATION: Want a sea voyage in exchange for cheap health coverage? Sign up for the galley option and get strapped in with the rest of the rowing crews as they propel military vessels across the seven seas. Watch out for that whip.

CONSTRUCTION: A large number of Americans will be needed to build the wall separating Mexico and the U.S. At first, volunteers will threaten private landowners who refuse to donate their property. Next they will battle coyotes and cougars and fell massive trees as they clear the land. Finally they will carry construction materials on their backs to get that wall done.

SECURITY: Here’s where children and small adults will get their chance to contribute. They will crawl through hollow walls and other confined spaces in the Trump Tower, the White House and other federal buildings to systematically remove all the wiretaps planted by the shameless Obama Administration in its final, bitter days.