Class Act

A commencement speaker at Point Park University here urged graduates to brush their teeth. Whether she was grasping at a clever metaphor for handling life after college or she actually felt that a diploma along with good dental hygiene were keys to happiness, I couldn’t tell. Commencement speeches come in many flavors.

Donald Sterling’s Message

The issue brought to light in the Donald Sterling matter is this: neither passing legislation nor even electing a black president can cleanse all minds of evil thoughts. Bill Day / Cagle Cartoons Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, is alleged to have made racist remarks about African-Americans. Considering Sterling’s past behavior,…

Media Drones

Today I am announcing a new venture to grow aspara-berries. These tasty and nutritious hybrid plants combine the best features of asparagus and strawberries to create a mouthwatering treat. Adam Zyglis / Buffalo News While I haven’t produced any aspara-berries yet, I do have a website containing maps of actual acreage where the plants could be grown. I’m also tweeting furiously about how…

Doo Dah, Back at You

OCEAN CITY, N.J. — Everyone loves a parade, or so they say, and by Labor Day practically every town and village in America will have one. They could all learn something from the way folks here conduct a mid-April oddity called the Doo Dah Parade. This community, built on a barrier island roughly two hours…

Phone Lost, Friends Found

LOS ANGELES — If you’re reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t get your name, but I wish to thank you for returning the cellphone I left in your taxi. Moreover, I want to explain how you and several others at LAX provided a refresher course in good nature. Rick McKee / Augusta Chronicle This was…

Foul Balls

Over in the sports section they greet each baseball season with rankings, predictions and detailed summaries of off-season roster moves. Here on the opinion page we usually prefer to wax about emerald green grass, the crack of the bat and the vernal reawakening of our Great American Pastime. Nate Beeler / Columbus Dispatch But this…

The Plane! The Plane!

The other night I got into bed later than usual and wondered if I had missed the nightly installment of this month’s hottest talk-radio topic: the missing Malaysian plane and wild theories about its fate. Silly me. The talkers were still at full throttle, ranting about, The plane! The plane! Steve Sack / Minneapolis Star-Tribune…

Pay Attention to This

HENDERSON, Nev. — I happened to be doing a 20-hour road trip in a rented car when Apple announced CarPlay, a system that will soon allow motorists to text, check email and be entertained via their mobile devices, while roaring down the highway. Jeff Parker / PoliticalCartoons.com The same week it was reported that Google…

2016 Crystal Ball

It says here that Jeb Bush has the best shot at the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, while Hillary Clinton might not be the Democrats’ candidate — and if she is, she’s no sure thing. Jeff Parker / PoliticalCartoons.com Picking a president has become a tedious and expensive non-stop exercise. Those of us who dwell…

TV’s New Golden Era

The passing of Sid Caesar, a comedic genius if ever such a term could be used without fear of hyperbole, reminds us that television once had what its fans considered a Golden Age. David Fitzsommons / Arizona Daily Star The very name of Caesar’s early-fifties landmark, “Your Show of Shows,” exemplified a time when the…

Looking at the Law

In one courtroom were poorly prepared attorneys, shackled defendants and assembly-line justice. In another, things were all spit and polish: “yes, sir” and “thank you, ma’am.” My son Danny and I spent the better part of a recent day observing our legal system from vantage points 3,000 miles apart. My conclusions were encouraging, while his…

Water Woes Out West

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. — “My cat knows how to turn the faucet in the upstairs bathroom and I believe she ran the water for nine hours while I was out.” I’ve been hearing stuff like that almost every day since renting an office in a building that houses the local water company. Customers line up…

They Too Will Be Missed

Humanitarian Nelson Mandela. Actor Peter O’Toole. Novelist Tom Clancy. Interviewer David Frost. Actress Julie Harris. Senator Harry Byrd Jr. They are among the very famous who left us in 2013. But we also owe goodbyes to many others whose passing might have escaped our attention. Patrick Chappatte / International New York Times Sam Barshop had…

Do You Hear What I Hear?

LOS ANGELES — It was 73 and sunny, still two weeks before Thanksgiving, and I was stuck in traffic on the 405. Over the car radio a DJ on KOST-FM was extolling the “holiday spirit.” Then he played “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry — a song so old that it doesn’t rouse…

Through The Looking Glass

What compromises must we make when it comes to our security on the one hand, and our privacy on the other? Personally, I’m far less concerned about being tracked by the National Security Agency than I am about being monitored by, say, Google. Adam Zyglis / Buffalo Bills According to the latest headlines, the NSA…

Jimmy Kimmel Trips and Viewers Fall

  In the week following Halloween, Jimmy Kimmel’s stunt involving kids and their candy climbed to over 20 million views on YouTube. But public fascination with the gag doesn’t change the fact that it is cruel and sadistic. It underscores the worst elements of mass media and social media, and the incendiary possibilities of combining…

A Game Of And For The Ages

  TEMPE, Ariz. — Roughly 15 million people watched each of the six games between Boston and St. Louis on TV last month, while here in the Phoenix metroplex a concurrent amateur World Series sparked every bit as much passion, maybe even more, among 324 adult baseball teams. Dave Granlund / PoliticalCartoons.com So, is baseball…

A Royal Scam

  SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Music Man showed up here the other day, hoping to separate school kids from their money. Like the fictional Prof. Harold Hill, whose fast talking convinced residents of River City, Iowa, to invest in a boys’ band, this Music Man raises hopes, makes promises and leaves town with the loot.…

Siri Tells All

Susan Bennett, a veteran voice-over artist from Georgia, was recently outed by CNN as the voice of Siri, Apple’s often admired, sometimes hated and frequently mocked digital know-it-all. Adding to the intrigue, Bennett says she spent over 100 hours back in 2005 recording voice tracks for Apple but didn’t realize until years later that the…