1.)  When Apple Maps will be able to provide people with a reasonable route out of Syria.

2.)  If the credibility hit to the Mayas will unfairly denigrate the Incas’ reputation.

3.)  If Groupon’s decline in public value inversely forecasts an economic recovery by way of people no longer needing coupons, or if it means people just don’t want to go rollerskating.

4.)  If the plight of Groupon and the potential of a misguided credibility hit to the Incas will result in discounted trips to Machu Picchu.

5.)  If Apple Maps will tell me Machu Picchu is at the Four Corners of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.

Dear Mr. Brown,

First of all, congratulations. Your discovery of Eris in 2005 led directly to the reclassification of Pluto, profoundly altering our conception of the solar system. More importantly, in the process, you simultaneously broke the hearts of sentimental saps and/or third graders everywhere.

I should know: I used to be one of those saps. I have to admit, when Pluto was demoted in 2006, I was pretty depressed. Let me explain: I’ve always felt a certain kinship with Pluto. Like Pluto, I live in a far-flung, cold area that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight. It is called Minnesota. At 5’6” and one-hundred-and-something pounds, I am also pretty small. You could say that I was the Pluto of my high school football team. Everyone publicly admired me for my pluck, but in private, my teammates rolled their eyes at my feeble attempts to fit in where I so obviously did not belong.

The other day as I was driving my daughter to a doctor’s appointment, a woman pulled up alongside us, leaned over and held a book up to the passenger-side window. I gave her a friendly wave, because I’m always up for a good book recommendation. But she continued to hold it there, staring straight ahead, as we both edged forward in the traffic.

Gosh, I thought. She really likes this book. And seems to think that it’s just the book for me!

I took a closer look: the title was The Marketing of Evil, and on the cover was an apple being temptingly proffered. Later that day, I looked the book up online and read the description:

It’s pretty simple, really.

You know and I know there’s only a handful of possible ways to deal with any given issue we find ourselves vexed by.

Oh sure, we try to get creative, stay open-minded, think outside the box. But where does that get us?

I’ll tell you where. Frustrated, alone and afraid, in the midst of a seemingly endless morass of options, feeling buried in the vastness of it all.

Well, have no fear, I’ve done some calculating and found virtually any quandary can be solved with one of the following pieces of advice.

Have a look. Take your pick. You won’t be sorry.

 

Children of the world, don’t believe your parents, your shrinks, or your imaginary friends: worst nightmares sometimes do come true. Sure, many humans can get through their entire lives without falling out of an airplane, having a leg eaten off by a shark, being kidnapped by a tiny car full of saber-toothed circus clowns, or being awoken at 2 a.m. by a group of drug-crazed hippies wielding ice picks and chanting “Kill the pig, acid is groovy.” But some don’t. We all have these fears and they are perfectly rational, so watch out.

I used to have a infant who slept through the night. We’d put her down at 9:00pm or so, she’d sleep until 6:00am, and then I’d pull her into bed with me, feed her lying down, and we’d nap on and off until 10:00am. It was phenomenal. When other mothers told me that I looked/sounded/seemed great, I didn’t reveal my secret, because a.) I am always a little worried that someone is going to kidnap my baby, and this would only make her more attractive to potential kidnappers, and b.) it seemed a little naughty. No one else got to sleep in with a newborn, so it must be some form of illegal. In response to these women, I shrugged my well-rested shoulders and said, “Well, I really love being a mom.” Now, that part is still true, but the rest is not. Madeline doesn’t sleep anymore. She goes down at 9:00pm, and screams and screams. Then she falls asleep, and wakes up anywhere between two and eight times throughout the night. Last night was one of the really, really bad ones.

I stood on the side of a suburban swimming pool in a sweltering Texas backyard in a crowd of other parents, hefted my three-year-old daughter up on to my hip as she begged and wept, pried her tiny pleading fingers from my neck, and then threw her, forcefully, in a high, athletic arc, into the water.

Some of the other parents smiled approvingly, others clapped and cheered, and a few looked away with the strained-neutral expressions of people consciously deciding to ignore a present tragedy.

I received an email this morning from a current student at my alma mater. She was putting together a Where Are They Now? newsletter piece about some of the graduates who are continuing to work in their fields of study. Mine was creative writing. I wrote out the blurb she asked for, but I was pretty loose with the details. And with the definition of the word “working.” I write and edit, but I don’t actually get paid for most of it. And when I do, I take a picture of the check for posterity, which tells you exactly how rare those checks are. I told her about grad school and some of my publications, and that I’m juggling my writing life with my stay-at-home-mommy life, because writing with a five-month-old daughter in the picture is hard McFricken work. I didn’t actually use the word McFricken in my blurb. There are many things I didn’t tell her.

Okay, now that you’ve noticed, we might as well discuss this thing. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about; you looked right at it and cringed. My long pinky fingernail, that’s what! I was trying to keep it hidden, tucked into my palm, as I always do when I’m in the presence of people who cut all their nails to be the same length—“omni trimmers” as I call them—but, the more I think about it, I really shouldn’t have to hide. I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.

Hey Mom!

Paul.

Paul, your son.

I know, bad connection sometimes on the Bluetooth.

It’s a phone thing.

How are you?

I said, how are you. You good?

Good.

In 1959 William S. Burroughs released his classic novel Naked Lunch, developed the Cut-up Method that was to define his writing over the next decade, and discovered Scientology. By cutting up newspaper and magazine articles, liberally mixed with Scientology pamphlets and poems by Rimbaud, Burroughs and collaborator Brion Gysin were able to cut into the future and steal the technology requisite for the invention of the iPhone and Twitter. The result was a serious decline in the quality of Burroughs’ correspondence.

Land. Ho.

You awake to the command to sit upright. We’re going down.

You realize landing. Fine. But something’s not right. You’ve been dreaming. You were at home in bed, surrounded by hundreds of strangers in sleep masks snoring from various corners of your bedroom. You were comfortable with it.

The Walt Disney Company has announced a ban on a variety of junk foods that can advertise on the Disney Channel. Nutrition guidelines that will prevent ads include high sodium, sugar, and any food brands owned by Disney’s rivals.

Our detractors suggest this is a cynical gambit, that the company enters the nutrition business to license “Mickey-approved” foods, but this isn’t it at all. Studies show that children who eat healthy will end up living longer, and have more disposable income to spend on a variety of Disney products, such as Eldergarten, Disney’s fun-filled adult themepark and retirement community.

(781): Yes. The answer is no. Shoot, I’m gonna be hurting tomorrow.

(717): I explained that they couldn’t leave the town hall until someone told me how long I’d been unconscious.

(540): Last time I use the word affordable, I can assure you of that. Why is my mouth so dry?

(202): I was at that stage in the evening when I couldn’t tell whose non-connected committee was supporting me.

(910): I told him I felt like keeping my tie on until I was good and finished.

(based on The New York Times feature)

Sundays start early for Aristotle von Buckingham, the 32-year-old venture capitalist and professional yo-yo master.  He and his girlfriend, Madonna Luxembourg, live in the penthouse of an Upper West Side brownstone with their pet elephant, two and a half children, and a life-size statue of Zach Galifianakis.