Hysteria yes; a national emergency, no

Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-eight dead. Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia. Thirty-three dead. Stoneman Douglass High School, Parkland, Florida. Seventeen dead. Harvest Music Festival, Las Vegas, Nevada. Fifty-nine dead.

Finally, my wife is living the dream

When Tammy and I met almost exactly 15 years ago, there were a few adjustments we had to make, like most couples. She almost fainted when she discovered that there were entire walls in my house covered from floor to ceiling with compact discs and record albums. I could sense that she felt that my décor — “college boy with slightly more disposable income” — left something to be desired.

The inherent flaw of a rush to judgment

His is the face that provoked untold millions of posts on social media, the teenage boy from Kentucky face-to-face with an aging Native American man playing a drum, the two of them surrounded by a group of shouting boys, many of them in those red “Make America Great Again” hats.

We see the boy smiling. Is that a smug smirk, or the smile of a boy who has no idea how to react to what is happening in this moment? What does it “mean,” what does it “say?” The imagery itself is so fraught that it is all but impossible to view the photograph without experiencing waves of emotion, immediate and visceral, but also deeply embedded in a painful and resonant history.

We gym rats have our own little cliques

When I was in my teens, I was so skinny that people winced when they saw me. The local druggist offered to buy me a cheeseburger if I would eat it in front of him. Imagine if God had left the making of humans to a fourth-grade science class supplied with nothing but a box of coat-hangers and a bag of hair. That was me, all sharp angles and a mop of light blonde hair. I looked like a walking geometry problem.

I tried eating more, but no matter how many times I loaded my plate with spaghetti, or mashed potatoes and roast beef, or chicken and dumplings, I just could not “fill out.” I messed around some with weightlifting in physical education class, but I was so weak, I could barely lift the bar by itself, let alone with any plates on it, even the small ones.

Basking in the comfort of holiday traditions

They grow up so fast. Of all the clichés in the parenting handbook, this is the oldest and the truest. Among the things I love most about Christmas is that for a few joyous weeks, the inexorable march of time is held in abeyance by an even greater force: the hope, the peace, and the excitement of Christmas.

Our children are teenagers now, the oldest about to celebrate Christmas with us for the last time before she graduates and starts college in the fall of next year. Next Christmas is likely to feel different, be different, with her home for break. But that is not something we have to deal with today.

Mueller investigation closing in on Trump

“He (Trump) knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do so. It’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things. I’m not in charge of Trump.”

— Tucker Carlson, Fox News

“How can you drain the swamp if you keep muddying the waters? Your own words on lots of stuff give me lots of pause. You said Russia didn’t interfere [in the 2016 election] until some Republicans reminded you that they did.”

— Neil Cavuto, Fox News

As the Robert Mueller investigation barrels toward its conclusion and the walls close in on President Donald Trump, his regular splattering of tweets sound more and more like a modern-day version of Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” proclamation, but more fanciful and less coherent.

Out of touch with the Black Friday banshees

I’ve set my phone on vibrate so that I can watch the game while enjoying my holiday concoction of Chex Mix and mixed nuts without being disturbed, but when the phone buzzes on the night-table, I pause just a moment, then reach for it. I have developed an instinct for bad news, and it is best to hear bad news right away. I learned that watching The Godfather when I was in my teens.

Time for all to choose dignity over party loyalty

Perhaps you have noticed how popular the “what about” argument has become these days? You know it works: you make a claim. I can’t really debate it, so I change the subject and pretend that whatever I say is a reasonable argument, even though it has nothing to do with the point you are making.

Band culture is a thing, a good thing

When our daughter told us a little over four years ago that she was interested in trying out for the color guard for the Tuscola High School marching band, I thought it had to be part of some elaborate prank. She had never been much of a “joiner,” and had never expressed even a whiff of interest in extracurricular activities in elementary or middle school.

Check mate, and I’m off to Ingles

My wife and I do not play chess. A few years ago at a company Christmas party, we were participants in a game of Dirty Santa and came away with a chess set featuring oversized chess pieces that glowed in the dark. I had originally opened a gift I actually wanted — a big coffee mug with a nice bag of gourmet whole bean coffee — but some guy in a hideous Christmas sweater swiped it from me because he drew a better number and preferred my coffee bonanza to the chess set that he opened.

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