Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Q&A: John Boehner's House of Romance

Jan. 9, 2013

(Editor's note: United States Speaker of the House and relationship expert John Boehner was kind enough to join us today to answer your questions on love and heartbreak ... and heartbreak, especially heartbreak. Thank you, John, and also to our readers for their tremendous questions. We apologize for any that may have gone unanswered.)

Speaker Boehner,
My husband obstructs me on everything. I obstruct him on everything. The brinksmanship frightens our children, but it is also the lifeblood that sustains us. Any advice?

Difficult in Dover

Dear Difficult,
Double down. The only way to get what you want is to be as unyielding as possible. Threaten to take the family to the brink of disaster, only to pull back at the very last moment when you both come to a resolution that could have been reached early on. The lasting distaste you will harbor toward each other will power you through to the next disagreement. Going through life with white knuckles, a red face and complete disdain for the ones you are supposed to love are all perfectly healthy. When necessary, cry for sympathy and then go for the knees.

John

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Speaker Boehner,
Eight years ago while on a business trip, I spoke to a woman on the bus for 15 minutes. They were the most amazing 15 minutes of my life. Over these past few years, I have managed to convince myself that had I asked her name, we would be married now, but I did not. Her stop came first and I have been punishing myself ever since. She said, "I'll see you later." Those are the only words I hear when I awake in the morning and go to bed at night. Should I forgive myself? How do I move on?

Arrrrrgh in Arlington

Dear Arrrrrgh,
Well, that's irrational. You screwed up, and it is your responsibility. Don't try to freeload joyful emotions off the rest of us. You had your chance. So how about this? The imagination is the most combustible instrument of emotional self-immolation available to human beings. Use it. Think of the birthdays, the anniversaries, the children, the dog, the cat, the happiness, the sadness, the trips to your favorite restaurant, the vacations. All of it. I recommend obsessing and obsessing some more. Do not think of anything or anyone other than the one you long to see just once more, just so you can get it right -- this time. Consider how that bus ride was the most significant lost moment of your life and how you will never, ever get it back. It will build moral fiber.

John

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Speaker Boehner,
I currently find myself in a rather atypical long-distance relationship. You see, I am time-traveler and I met Alice on a trip to 1868. She understands the situation, I understand the situation, but the expanses of time are much more difficult to overcome than a few states. I can't even Skype across the space-time continuum! It would be one thing if I lived in L.A. and she in Boston (which actually is the case), but I trudge through every day knowing Alice is not even alive in my time. I mean, my God, I looked it up in the dusty public records at the Boston Public Library (It's not like I could just go creep around her Facebook page and scroll through all her daguerreotypes for hours, while accidentally liking one from 1864, which would be incredibly awkward and demand an uncomfortable explanation, you know? Have I thought about this? Yes, I've thought about this.), and you know what I learned? She died of cholera in 1871! She has been dead for 142 years! I wish I did not know that. What do I do?

Longing in Los Angeles

Dear Longing,
Time machine, time machine. First of all, I am going to have my editor get you in contact with Arrrrrgh in Arlington. I'm feeling sympathetic all of a sudden. It's a strange sensation. But regarding your question, how about this: You. Have. A. Time. Machine. You have mastered the unmasterable and the fact you didn't advertise the hell out of this reality tells me all I need to know about you. Get in your little time machine and ask her to go with you to an age where cholera does not exist. Problem solved. Screw the butterfly effect. Time is a property imagined by humans anyway, and it's OK to be proactive once in a while. Half the time, I don't know why I put myself through this.

John

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Moving the clocks forward. Dateline: Indiana.

At 2 a.m. Sunday morning, Indiana is going to explode. You can already feel the tension as you walk by people on the street. "Oh man, the clocks are going to...MOVE FORWARD! Or is it backward? No, I'm pretty sure it's forward. What am I gonna do?" There will be mass chaos, all right. There is a certain hilarity in revelling in the shock and horror of Hoosiers who are utterly terrified of the clock moving ahead an hour. Afterall, they have been trying to avoid this moment since 1966. Whenever there is a small snowstorm approaching, the newscasts go on high alert warning of "WINTER BLAST, (insert year here)." In this case, all you have to do is replace that with, "APPROACHING CLOCK APOCALYPSE, 2006! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!"

Of course, this is all happening before the eyes of out-of-staters who are in town for the Final Four. Surely, it will be a hilarious episode for them to watch as frightened residents take to the streets in horror, turning cars, setting fires and looking to the sky for the Four Horsemen.

Once the terror has ended, there are good things that will come out of this ordeal. Because we are the westernmost state on Eastern Time, there will be 10 p.m. sunsets in June. What this means for four-year olds who have to go to bed when there is still daylight and their parents who have to endure the screaming, who knows? But aside from small children and parents of small children, it is a good thing. Of course, by winter, we'll have 5 p.m. sunsets, which will bring forth a record number of people with seasonal affective disorder, but you take the good with the bad.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Death of a Racehorse" by W.C. Heinz, 1949

As in literature, in sports journalism there are masters who came before who a person can look to for inspiration in style and craft. W.C. Heinz is one such individual. During his newspaper career, Heinz worked for The New York Sun, The New York Daily News and later wrote for various magazines and authored several books. Heinz was a pioneer in sports journalism, as he was one of the first to move away from the flowery, overly dramatic prose that for decades before defined sports journalism. He proved that clean, simple writing could be powerful writing. His 1949 story that appeared in The Sun, Death of a Racehorse, is possibly the greatest deadline story ever to appear on the sportspages of a newspaper. When you read a story in the newspaper, all too often, the ending is weak. The writer is in a hurry or tires at the conclusion. One of the defining characteristics of Death of a Racehorse is the ending. It's haunting, in a way. While reading it, it is easy to imagine Heinz sitting in the press box and writing on his typewriter with rain pouring outside. A Google search showed the text is only available in a couple places, so I'll post the story here.

# # #

They were going to the post for the sixth race at Jamaica, two year olds, some making their first starts, to go five and a half furlongs for a purse of four thousand dollars. They were moving slowly down the backstretch toward the gate, some of them cantering, others walking, and in the press box they had stopped their working or their kidding to watch, most of them interested in one horse.

"Air Lift," Jim Roach said. "Full brother of Assault."

Assault, who won the triple crown ... making this one too, by Bold Venture, himself a Derby winner, out of Igual, herself by the great Equipoise. ... Great names in the breeding line ... and now the little guy making his first start, perhaps the start of another great career.

They were off well, although Air Lift was fifth. They were moving toward the first turn, and now Air Lift was fourth. They were going into the turn, and now Air Lift was starting to go, third perhaps, when suddenly he slowed, a horse stopping, and below in the stands you could hear a sudden cry, as the rest left him, still trying to run but limping, his jockey -- Dave Gorman -- half falling, half sliding off.

"He broke a leg!" somebody, holding a binoculars to his eyes, shouted in the press box. "He broke a leg!"

Down below they were roaring for the rest, coming down the stretch now, but in the infield men were running toward the turn, running toward the colt and the boy standing beside him, alone. There was a station wagon moving around the track toward them, and then, in a moment, the big green van they call the horse ambulance.

"Gorman was crying like a baby," one of them, coming out of the jockey room, said. "He said he must have stepped in a hole, but you should have seen him crying."

"It's his left front ankle," Dr. J.G. Catlett, the veterinarian, was saying. "It's a compound fracture, and I'm waiting for confirmation from Mr. Hirsch to destroy him."

He was standing outside one of the stables beyond the backstretch, and he had just put in a call to Kentucky where Max Hirsch, the trainer, and Robert Kleberg, the owner, were attending the yearling sales.

"When will you do it?" one of them said.

"Right as soon as I can," the doctor said. "As soon as I get confirmation. If it was an ordinary horse, I'd done it right there."

He walked across the road and around another barn to where they had the horse. The horse was still in the van, about twenty stable hands in dungarees and sweat-stained shirts, bare-headed or wearing old caps, standing around quietly and watching with Mr. M.A. Gilman, the assistant veterinarian.

"We might as well get him out of the van," Catlett said, "before we give him the novocaine. It'll be better out in the air."

The boy in the van with the colt led him out then, the colt limping, tossing his head a little, the blood running down and covering his left foreleg. When the say him, standing there outside the van now, the boy holding him, they started talking softly.

"Full brother of Assault." ... "It don't make no difference now. He's done." ... "But damn, what a grand little horse." ... "Ain't he a horse?"

"It's a funny thing," Catlett said. "All the cripples that go out, they never break a leg. It always happens to a good-legged horse."

A man, gray-haired and rather stout, wearing brown slacks and a blue shirt walked up.

"Then I better not send for the wagon yet?" the man said.

"No," Catlett said. "Of course, you might just as well. Max Hirsch may say no, but I doubt it."

"I don't know," the man said.

"There'd be time in the morning," Catlett said.

"But in this hot weather --" the man said.

They had sponged off the colt, after they had given him the shot to deaden the pain, and now he stood, feeding quietly from some hay they had placed at his feet. In the distance, you could hear the roar of the crowd in the grandstand, but beyond it and above it, you could hear thunder and see the occasional flash of lightning.

When Catlett came back the next time he was hurrying, nodding his head and waving his hands. Now the thunder was louder, the flashes of lightning brighter, and now rain was starting to fall.

"All right," he said, shouting to Gilman. "Max Hirsch talked to Mr. Kleberg. We've got confirmation."

They moved the curious back, the rain falling faster now, and they moved the colt over close to a pile of loose bricks. Gilman had the halter and Catlett had the gun, shaped like a bell with a handle at the top. This bell he placed, the crowd silent, on the colt's forehead, just between the eyes. The colt stood still and then Catlett, with the hammer in his other hand, struck the handle of the bell. There was a short, sharp sound and the colt toppled onto his left side, his eyes staring, his legs straight out, the free legs quivering.

"Aw, ----" someone said.

That was all they said. They worked quickly, the two vets removing the broken bones as evidence for the insurance company, the crowd silently watching. Then the heavens opened, the rain pouring down, the lightning flashing, and they rushed for cover of the stables, leaving alone on his side near a pile of bricks, the rain running off his hide, dead an hour and a quarter after his first start, Air Lift, son of Bold Venture, full brother of Assault.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A letter urging Vice President Dick Cheney that he eat Trader Joe's chicken noodle soup because I like it and I think he would, too

Dear Mr. Vice President,

You don't know me, but I know you. Well, I don't really know you, but I know you through the TV and the various articles I've read about you. You might say I'm quite the admirer. The scrapbook I made of your accolades would support that. Some say I'm obsessed, but no, no I'm not. You're my vice president, and my hero. I had sympathy pains when you shot that man. I mean, I, I really felt bad. For most lesser mortals, it might have ruined their careers, but you've managed to become untouchable. That's what I want to accomplish: to be untouchable in my quest for world domination. I'm sure you'd understand.

But my ambitions are not the point of this letter. Rather, I would like to suggest to you Trader Joe's chicken noodle soup. Not only does it have chunks of chicken, egg noodles, diced carrots, celery and onions mixed in a hearty chicken broth that is a meal in and of itself, Mr. Cheney, Trader Joe's chicken noodle soup has a full-bodied flavor that will leave you satisfied. I think you'd like it. Nay, I KNOW you'd love it. Dick, if I may be so informal, you've had some health problems that scare me everyday. I can't bare the thought of our country losing you. I can't bear the thought of me losing you. So if you would, try some of this soup. Not only is it good, but it is nutritious, unlike the regular grocery store brands like Campbell's that are full of salt. You have to watch those things at your age. But regardless, just try some of this soup. After you eat some of it, you'll be tempted to pull out a huge "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED...I HAVE FOUND AWESOME SOUP" banner to hang on the White House. But please try some. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Warmest regards,

Daniel Bradley

Monday, February 20, 2006

I always wanted my own baseball card

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Go away, George Washington. Go far, far away.

You know, I'm not entirely sure how, but over the course of the day Saturday, I collected 16 one-dollar bills. This came after I started the day with one. One of my quirks is that I never like having more than four one-dollar bills on my person at one time. They waste space, and make it uncomfortable to sit down. All they're good for is to buy poisonous food out of the Carousel of Death vending machines at work. I've been trying to figure out how this happened tonight because it's bothering me at this early morning hour. Maybe I can work it out if I time-lapse this sucker.

2:15: Buy two programs at the Purdue game. One for me, and one for a co-worker. They are $4 each, and I gave the seller a $20 bill. In change, I got a $10 and two $1's. (three total)

6:15: Give said program to said co-worker. He thought it would be $2. I say $4. He gives me four $1's. (seven total)

8:30: Here's where it gets fuzzy. I agree with two other guys to chip in $8 for a couple pizzas. When the pizzas arrive, I take out a $10 bill to give to The Pizza Leader. Worker #2 is holding a $20. I'm about to hand my $10 to the Pizza Leader, when Worker #2 takes it out of my hand, gives me his $20, says, "That should make it easier," gives my old $10 to the Pizza Leader, he gets two dollars back, while I stand there with a dumb, confused look on my face because I can't do math, so I hand this $20 to Pizza Leader, and he gives me eight $1's. I stand there with an even dumber and more confused look on my face before walking away to jot some numbers down that add up to the square root derivitive of the Pizza Leader is correct. (18 total)

8:32: I'm still not entirely sure what's going on. I can't fit all my one-dollar bills in my wallet without it looking like I have a tumor on my butt, so I take a few out. Silently, I stew. In my mind, I curse George Washington and cherry trees and my middle school history teachers and the new chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, whatever his name is. I consider approaching anyone who appears to have larger bills, but I remember that this is a newspaper and everyone here is poor.

8:35: I head upstairs, still confused, in search of a drink. One goes into the machine, and I have orange juice. I'm a little more contented, even if this orange juice is overly strong. I like orange juice out of a box, but out of these little bottles, it is way too ripe. Orange juice with pulp is gross, though. (17 total)

10:15: I'm bored and want to go for a walk. I buy a Pepsi, which I never drink. I feel my teeth rotting as I write this. (16 total)

So, I guess that explains it. I have 16 one-dollar bills. It would be a little more impressive if George Washington's dead face were replaced by Benjamin Franklin's dead face, but we deal with what we have. If anyone has change, please help. It's playing with my neuroses.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Don't mess with us

Greetings,
We are Daniel's cats. We have taken him hostage. If you would like for him to live, you must send $50 million dollars and seven bags of cat food. You have 24 hours.

Meow.