Sixty Miles

I’ve been a space nut all my life, and always will be.

But while everyone celebrates the men who walked on the surface of the Moon, I sometimes think about the guys who got so damned close - but had to watch from orbit.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11, I’d like to salute Michael Collins. The dude who waited in the car.

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Goodbye to Mad Magazine

I was a good kid, the son of a military first sergeant, always on my best behavior.

Which is why getting my hands on a copy of Mad Magazine probably meant more to me than other kids. It was true escapism for me.

And now, after 67 years, its days are numbered. In this piece I look back on why such a goofy publication inspired the comic side of a straight-laced adolescent.

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The Middle Dom

We celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, which gives me a chance to reflect on how how grateful I am for the other two people in my life named Dominic:

My dad and my son.

Together they’ve made my life more than complete. They’ve made it joyful.

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Become a Plumber

I write under a variety of pen names, and many people ask me where I come up with them.

Here’s the true story of the origin of Harlan Plumber, a name I’ve used to write creepy short fiction for adults. There’s language here that may be offensive to some. But I’m quoting the guy.

This post is an excerpt from a book I published for aspiring writers, titled The Color of Your Dreams.

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Don't Renew Your Vows - Rewrite Them

On the radio show we talked about couples renewing their wedding vows, a practice often seen on 10th or 20th anniversaries.

I gave it some thought during a commercial break and came to the conclusion that people might be looking at it the wrong way. Sure, you can renew your vows and pledge once again to be faithful and supportive — you know, the usual words spoken millions of times before.

But to me this puts your marriage vows on the same level as your car’s registration, a routine that’s somewhat mechanical, following an established procedure on a predetermined timeline that everyone follows.

After the show I drove home, still pondering the idea. Here’s what I think:

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Crazy Transformed Asians

The sentence didn’t look right. I read it twice, and thought, “An editor at ESPN missed this.”

The line read: “Morrison played just 28 percent of the defense of snaps for the Packers last season . . .”

The defense of snaps?

Then, in the next paragraph, it happened again, only with a different team: “Morrison played 75 percent of the defense of snaps for the Colts . . .”

It took a few seconds before the big a-ha moment: Somebody dictated this article and the artificial intelligence mistook “defensive” for “defense of.”

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I Forgive Melissa McCarthy

One of the best pieces of advice a writer can receive has to do with building a lead character:

Make them likable or unlikable, but for God’s sake make us feel something about them.

I recognize Melissa McCarthy’s stature as a comedic star. I mostly enjoyed her turn in Bridesmaids, but after a while her schtick grew a little tired to me. And, based on recent box office results, it’s not clicking too well with the rest of the movie-going public, either.

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Give Canada a Break!

I’m writing this on Election Day 2018, and we all know how ridiculous it can get. But there’s one thing in particular I can’t understand.

Why, oh why, do so many celebrities - on both the left and the right - keep warning us that they’ll “move to Canada” if their candidate loses?

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OD'ing on CGI

Opening weekends for movies are generally not my thing. But I made an exception this weekend because Gretchen and I were both anxious to see the new movie about Freddie Mercury and Queen called Bohemian Rhapsody.

This is not a review of that movie - all I can say is that it was fantastic. Go see it.

There was an interesting contrast that stood out to me, however.

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We're Moving Thanksgiving and Halloween

(There’s currently a movement underway to adjust where Halloween falls on the calendar. I think it’s a good idea - but they got the details wrong, I believe. So I’m resurrecting this post from two years ago to set the story straight. This is how we should change things.)


I like Christmas, but I love Thanksgiving. It’s got everything you want in a holiday: time off from work, a chance to hang with family and friends, a little bit of football, and the best food of all time. On top of that, while it might inject a little bit of stress, it doesn’t come close to the crushing pressures we associate with Christmas.

The only problem is that Thanksgiving comes at the wrong time. Let’s move it from late November to the fourth Thursday of October. Here’s why:

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