Monthly Archives: November 2010

I didn’t say ‘junk’

Did John Pistole have the timing down just right? As head of the Transportation Security Administration, he waited . . . and waited for the start of the busiest travel time of the year to surprise air travelers with three options: submit to a full-body screening, agree to an “enhanced” body pat-down, or stay home.

Thanks to our oldest son Stan’s decision to move to, marry in and become a father in Denmark, my wife, Bonnie, and I do a lot more air traveling than before. Much more. And in the past I’ve written considerably about my conviction that I’m one of the few travelers singled out constantly so others can check my stuff.

I didn’t say “junk.” That interesting choice of words comes from a John Tyner, a traveler in San Diego, whose cause has become viral after he resisted going through a full-body scan that, though less touchy-feelie than the pat-down, is more “observant.” Continue reading

Humor is therapeutic

Ever have a day when anything you attempt to help brighten things falls flat? That’s the story of my life.

Here’s how:

I often try to reach people through humor. I don’t mean that I see life as an interminable joke-fest but merely that I believe in the therapeutic qualities of laughter. And if that’s true, my students of more than 40 years ago have to be healthy. There are limits, and on occasion I’ve needed to make sure the person with whom I attempted the humor is comfortable. It’s also a joy, not to mention flattering, when the recipient of my humor pays me back in kind.

Starting work at the Optic almost 10 years ago, I noticed I’d become the second-oldest employee here, the oldest being Humberto Gurule, the proofreader I replaced. Continue reading

Try these movie titles

Ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men …

We wanted to provide an accurate list of movies you might enjoy seeing, but the poofreader took a few days off, and the typist got a bit careless. Nevertheless, let’s see how many movie titles you can ferret out of these descriptions.

Here’s how it works: We provide false information on a movie, and, helped by a few clues, you conjure up the new title. For example, this movie stars Prof. John Forbes Nash, who ponders the loveliness of a chocolate confection of the kind you’ll find on your pillow in a fancy hotel. The answer: A Beautiful Mind becomes A Beautiful Mint.

E-mail or hand-deliver your answers, and if you have movie titles of your own, send them to one of these e-mail addresses: or Each movie title will have at least one change, in spelling or pronunciation — or even an atrocious pun. Deadline: Noon Monday.

1. This movie, based on a book by John Carlin, stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. Before the World Cup rugby matches, some cops charge the players with crimes, and the local D.A. convinces a grand jury there’s enough evidence to take them to court. Continue reading

Don’t try this at home

How many times have you been admonished: “Don’t try this at home”?

We read the notice most often on television, when someone demonstrates some kind of skill that might prove dangerous if someone goes ahead and attempts it, without proper supervision.

Where I work, there’s a surprising amount of humor swatted back and forth. We in the newsroom would carry off all honors if there were actual competition, perhaps a trophy being offered. So when we fellows in the newsroom share some of our humor, we implore others not to try it at home. They might be disappointed.

But back to things that matter: Continue reading