Showing posts from 2009

Humor Me: One light goes out, they all go out


A couple of years ago, I watched Frisco resident Jeff Trykoski stretch Christmas lights across his lawn, drape them over trees, tack them around windows and arrange them in giant snowflakes on his roof. Fifty thousand lights in all, which led me to this thought:

"So, if one light goes out, do they all go out?"

I decided not to ask because Trykoski was working hard and probably not in a joking mood. Also, he was holding a staple gun.

But anyone who put up Christmas lights in the '70s or '80s remembers when lights strings were plagued by "one light goes out, they all go out."

I actually saw my dad yelling at strings of lights several times. Sometimes he combined that with shaking the lights violently, and I think he intimidated a few sets into working.

The world was simpler back then and so were Christmas displays. Today, inspired homeowners can turn dozens of extension cords and thousands of lights into a dazzling holiday moment that is forever burn…

Humor Me: 20-year high school reunion


Last month was my high school reunion. My 20-year high school reunion. Yeah, that’s a little sobering.

It’s hard to believe that two decades have passed since I graduated from Apollo High School, home of the fightin’ Hawks, disappointing test scores and smoke-filled teachers’ lounge. I mean, wasn’t it just yesterday when I could walk through the parking lot and see the school motto of “Pride, Class, Dignity” while avoiding the sharp edges of broken beer bottles? No, it wasn’t yesterday. You have three kids and like two hairs left on the top of your head. Thanks for that slap in the face, wise inner voice. I wish you had been around in 1991, when I ate that macaroni and cheese that had been in the refrigerator for more than a week. The only time I felt sicker that year was after I spent six bucks to see Hudson Hawk.

So it’s been 20 years, but is that really a long time?

Oh yes. When I graduated in ’89, the Berlin Wall had not yet come down, Whitney Houston was both talented a…

Humor Me: Neiman Marcus' Christmas Book


The 2009 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book was unveiled a few days ago, and just in time. I mean, it's just three weeks until Halloween. And then we'll only have -- try not to panic -- less than two months to race from store to store, look for gifts and beg store owners to stop playing "Last Christmas" by Wham!

So what's in this year's book?

Well, keeping in mind the state of the economy, Neiman Marcus said it made an effort to offer more affordable options this year. That's why you'll find an electric motorcycle that goes 150 mph and costs $73,000.

I believe there's one out there with a little more power, but it would've been in the $90,000 to $100,000 range. That's just too pricey.

Anyway, the book is out there for you to check out. But I don't think most of the items compare to the 2007 book, which I "reviewed" for The Dallas Morning News. Here it is ...

OK everyone, let's get busy. We need to raise $1.59 million to…

Videos: Ryan's birthday and Nathan on the go

Ryan's 7th birthday. Video quality is much better on the TV!

Nathan on the go

Humor Me: Warning, this is a commercial


My favorite commercial right now starts with an old, beat-up truck pulling up to a drive-thru. The truck stops, and suddenly a large metal claw emerges, picks up the truck and appears to peel its trashed exterior to reveal a brand-new Toyota truck. The new truck is set on the ground as this appears on the bottom of the screen:

Warning: Do not attempt.

Silly warning, you’d say, but I just think it needs some clarification. If I am able to commandeer a giant wrecking claw from some junkyard, or perhaps find a Home Depot with a really big rental operation, does the warning refer to the dangers of using the claw in such a manner? Or does “do not attempt” refer to thoughts of invoking some kind of David Copperfield magic, or perhaps evil spirits, to turn my clunker into a sweet new ride?

Car ads are the greatest for nonsensical warnings. You’ll see cars doing slalom courses on snow-packed roads, performing 90-degree slide turns, skidding on all four wheels and racing across stret…

Humor Me: Public speaking nightmares


In a recent letter to the editor in The Dallas Morning News, a 14-year-old pointed out that his high school's requirement of one semester of speech should be eliminated.

"High school is supposed to help get you ready to go into college and the business world," he wrote. "If someone's career will involve speech, then he or she can take it."

The letter was well-written, especially for a 14-year-old. But I think the requirement of a speech class should remain, and here are two reasons why:

First, no matter what you do in life, the skill of public speaking is useful if not essential. If you can look someone in the eye and deliver your thoughts with confidence, or at least without throwing up, you'll have a key ingredient to success.

And second, and nearly as important, I want other people to go through what I had to go through in high school. That's right, leaders of tomorrow, it's your turn to feel the terror of public speaking today! But …

Humor Me: Sleeping on the job


As your body calls out for its afternoon caffeine fix, the boss calls for a meeting. Moments later, you and your colleagues are in the conference room, daydreaming about 5 p.m. as the boss talks about the company’s new policy on Post-it notes.

Or maybe he’s talking about plans to stripe the parking lot with yellow paint instead of white. Or announcing that, after a six-month study, management has decided to change a comma to a semicolon in the company’s mission statement.

Whatever the topic, it’s one of those essential meetings. And that’s when it hits you. An elephant has landed on your eyelids and you are being pulled into the Darth Vader-like grip of sleep -– and perhaps unemployment, if the boss sees you.

You try to resist the dark side, staring hard at the boss and focusing on every word:

And furthermore, we feel we can improve our performance vector and overall synergy with the use of Helvetica 10-point bold in ALL office memos ...

You fight it, but it’s soooo difficult …

Humor Me: Vacationing with the kids


The check-in line at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine has a sign that says, “Start your adventure here.”

What kind of adventure?

Well, about 50 feet from the sign are two animatronic trees that will be harmonizing with a pretend raccoon before the day is done. It’s that kind of adventure.

It’s kind of like being immersed in a Disney movie about kids taking over a hotel and building an enormous water park inside. Unlike a movie, however, Great Wolf Lodge offers the added bonus of a chance to spend $25 on a magi wand or $50 on a stuffed animal with your child’s wish sealed inside.

Bring the whole family and your credit cards. It’s that kind of adventure.

But wait … this is actually a positive review of Great Wolf. The biggest reason is that the water park, which is huge, great for all ages and kept at 84 degrees year-round, has pretty much ruined every other water park for me.

Great slides for kids and adults. Very short lines. No sweltering heat or need for me to slather SPF 150 s…

Wixon Boys Dance Party 2009

Not the best resolution with YouTube, but good enough to see the amazing dance moves of the Wixon boys. OK, maybe not amazing, but definitely interesting. The amazing part was that nobody was injured during the filming and nobody had to sit in our house's "timeout" spot.

My High School Yearbook Video

Twenty years ago, I graduated from high school in Glendale, Ariz. My school was Apollo, home of the mighty Hawks, the motto of "pride, class, dignity" and at least 100 cars with bumper stickers that had been altered from "IN-N-OUT BURGER" to "IN-N-OUT URGE." Apollo also featured some sweet fender benders during lunch break, when half the senior class would tear out of the parking lot hoping to make it to Burger King and back in 30 minutes.

I was thinking about this because I recently received my 20-year reunion invitation. It reminded me of the goofy video I did a couple of years ago to accompany one of my humor columns. It features some highlights from my high school yearbook that are probably similar to many yearbooks.

Here's the video, presented by the person voted "most likely to be forgotten or confused for some guy named Mike, Mark or Max." Oh yeah, and Class of '89 RULES!

Humor Me: Spelling out success

Iwrote this column a couple years ago, but since the National Spelling Bee is back on national TV this week, I decided to repost it:

Humor Me: Spelling out success


Kids always get critized for not knowing much. And during this week of remembering our fallen soldiers, I bet someone asked, "How many American children can even locate Iraq on a map?"

Well, considering a recent survey showed that two-thirds of adults ages 18-24 couldn't find Iraq, I'm going to say not many. Unless an episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants" featured SpongeBob hanging out with Mr. Krabs on a sand dune near Baghdad.

But that's enough talk about the kids who can't find Iraq. Let's take a positive spin and talk about the kids who can spell Iraq — and nidifugous, obmutescence and docosahexaenoic acid.

Those kids take the stage this week at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which for the first time will be broadcast live in prime time. PRIME TIME! That means kids who…

Humor Me: Signing day at Barnes & Noble


So I was sitting there at the front of a Barnes & Noble, parked behind a table loaded up with my books. Lots of my books. More than I could ever imagine selling in one hour without appearing on Oprah or changing the title from The Great American Staycation to How to Achieve Financial Freedom and Have the Best Sex Ever.

(Although my book doesn’t directly address achieving financial freedom or having the best sex ever, those things could possibly be achieved by reading it. Reading the book might even help people solve their problem thighs. Please feel free to spread wild rumors about the book’s magical properties.)

Back to the signing day:

At Barnes & Noble, I was sitting directly in the line of sight of people walking into the store. That made sense, because it allowed everyone to see me, and when somebody was talking to me, it was great. But when I was finished talking with a potential staycationer, book-buyer, curious passerby or a lonely person looking for conversa…

My CNN interview on staycations

It started with an e-mail that had “CNN Interview Request” in the subject field. Sent to me by an associate producer for CNN, the e-mail started like this: “Hey Matt,

I’m writing to find out if you can join Fredricka Whitfield during CNN Newsroom Saturday at 3PM CT/4PM ET, to discuss your book The Great American Staycation.”I received this e-mail on April 1, so I was suspicious. But no fooling … none of my old college buddies were involved and it was not a prank. It was truly a golden opportunity to get some national publicity for my book -- or perhaps pass out or throw up on live television and became a YouTube legend.

Thinking about it now, maybe I should have done something outrageous during my interview. A million hits on YouTube would undoubtedly translate into some book sales, if only from people who felt sorry for someone who was humiliated in front of a national audience.

But the interview went pretty well, or so I’m told. I’m too embarrassed to watch myself on television so I st…

My staycation interview

I was on CNN on Saturday for an interview about staycations, and I should be able to upload that video in the next few days. But today I was on "Good Morning Texas" to talk about staycations, and it's much easier to get that video.

Good news: Although I was nervous, I didn't suffer an attack of flop sweat.

Bad news: Well, I'm not sure if there is any. But I don't like to watch myself on television, so I didn't look at the video too closely.

Here's the clip:

Humor Me: Yoga dropout


A few years ago, I tried yoga. I tried and failed.

Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, because you can't really succeed at something that you commit to for less than an hour. Certainly not something like yoga, which is defined as a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being.

Yep, that's yoga. A moving meditation that can unify the body, mind and spirit as it balances your energy centers -- also known as “chakras.” Sounds great, but that's not beginning yoga.

Beginning yoga is defined as a system of exercises for attaining humiliation as you nearly fall through a coffee table while trying to achieve the Extended Camel Posture (Purna Ushthra Asana in yoga terminology). Beginning yoga is what I do, or more accurately, did. My dedication lasted approximately 39 minutes — the running time of an instructional yoga video.

At first, I had high hopes because my wife loved the video and said that it improved flexibility and strength. I …

The Great American Staycation

"The Great American Staycation: How to Make a Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (and Your Wallet!)" is now available at and it will be in stores March 18. It has ideas, strategies, and tips from people who haven taken staycations for years, along with a few stories of the strange vacations my family took when I was a kid.

The description of the book is here. The story behind the book is below.


Twenty-five years before “staycation” became a buzzword, my parents packed their three kids into a rented van for an overnight “fake-cation.”

Yes, a fake-cation. As in fake vacation.

After all, the van wasn’t really rented. My parents got it at a reduced rate, or maybe even free, in exchange for listening to a sales pitch on conversion vans. When the sales pitch was over, the van was all ours for the next 24 hours.

And what a 24 hours it was.

To escape the summer heat in Phoenix, Ariz., we drove 75 miles north to higher elevation. We swam in a creek, ate dinner somewher…

Humor Me: Your kid won't be famous


I've stopped watching American Idol this season, as I always do after a few weeks. My only interest in the show is to watch the train-wreck auditions. The auditions where someone belts out a hideous rendition of "I Will Always Love You" or "Over the Rainbow" or tries to take a country song and give it the R&B treatment.

It's hilarious. But also kind of sad, especially after the judges give them blank stares of cut them down with some clever phrase they've been waiting to use. What the judges say, however, isn't the sad part. It's what the singers often say:
"I'm not going to quit. I know I can make it!"

Well, I applaud your doggedness. But I hope when the cameras are off, your parents come up with some better advice than, "That's right, honey. Don't quit. You are going to make it!"

Maybe so, but not as a singer. And that leads me to a message I want to send to kids. A message that could land me in det…

Humor Me: Lover, find your match


Another Valentine's Day approaches, and here you are, still looking for that special someone.

Maybe special isn't even a requirement anymore. You just need someone ordinary who can show you an extraordinary love -- or at least pose for a photo that you can send to your meddling friends and relatives.

I know it can be difficult. Especially this week, when lucky-in-love people get to show their special someone just how much the Valentine's Day Retailer Mafia can squeeze out of a bank account.

But don't give up hope, because there's still time to find love. In fact, there's still time to find a date for Valentine's Day. Just go to a chat room and identify yourself as a blonde named Candee or a wealthy entrepreneur named Harrison.

Unfortunately, that probably won't turn into a serious, long-term relationship. Compatibility is required for that. For example, although my wife doesn't like sports and I do, and although she likes to watch makeo…

Humor Me: Diary of a 1-year-old


Wow, the last year went by fast. It’s hard to believe, given my youthful looks, but I have now hit the big zero-one. It happened last week, in fact, as my family and I celebrated my first year of life. I’d like to say it was a great party, but I only got to watch everyone else eat pizza and cake while I was “treated” to things like spoonfuls of Stage 2 chicken-and-rice dinner, fruit medley and Cheerios.

Seriously, Dad ate like five pieces of pizza. Isn’t that ridiculous? Also, at the pizza place, Dad thought it would be fun for me to sit on the motorcycle video game to pretend that I was playing. He didn’t even put a coin in. I might still be young, but I know what’s going on when the screen is flashing “game over” and “insert coin.” I wasn’t born yesterday.

No, I was born a full year ago. And now that I’ve reached this milestone, I thought I would share some of my diary entries from the last year. That’s right, I keep a diary. I have a lot of free time these days, and it’s…

Humor Me: It's time for Girl Scout Cookies


As I reached for the doorbell with my arms full of delicious ways for
my neighbor to support my school, I glanced down at the fund-raising kit's suggested opening line:

"Hello, my name is (your name here) and I am selling delicious cheese-and-sausage products to raise money for (your school here)."

That opening line would work fine, but I knew it wouldn't make me the top cheese-and-sausage salesman at my school. I decided to add in how my school needed new playground equipment and that the top salesman would win a trip to Disneyland, where I had always dreamed of visiting (insert 10-year-old grin here).

Who could resist such a dramatic presentation?

As it turned out, just about everyone. But at least they offered legitimate-sounding excuses. Some couldn't find their wallet or purse. Others had already bought cheese and sausage from another student. A few were allergic to both cheese and sausage -- and talk about bad luck -- they were also allergic to the …

Kids unable to read, write, add properly

Schools are not doing the job, kids are not learning, and the country is going to a hell in a handbasket. Fortunately, this time, the news isn't about this country.

This time it's in England, where a headline reads "Half of teenagers leave school unable to read, write or add properly." Despite a rise on 2007, only 47.6 percent of pupils achieved the desired five A* to C-grade GCSEs including English and maths, leaving ministers struggling to hit a 53 percent Treasury target by 2011. Got it? If not, maybe you're a "maths" person.

Well, at least there's this bit of good news in the story: Statistics published today by the Department for Children, Schools and Families show that 440 schools are currently falling short of this benchmark - though that is an improvement on last year's dire figure of 631. So it seems to be getting more gooder than worser.

Humor Me: New Year's Resolutions


Welcome to 2009. A new year, a new start, a new opportunity to make your life everything you want it to be.

Starting tomorrow, of course. We’ll just forget about today, considering we're nearly a week into the new year and you’re lying in bed, trying to hit the snooze bar for the 10th time. You're probably still feeling that pain in your back that started when you woke up New Year's Day after a night of sleeping on your keys (while fully-dressed, with a bent-up party hat strapped to your head).

Did you ever find out what that red stain was on your shirt? Lipstick? Salsa? Blood?

OK, it doesn’t really matter. Today is the day to start self-improvement! Or tomorrow, or perhaps the next day, or maybe next week after you finish off the carton of cigarettes. Then it will be time to start your New Year’s Resolution.

Which, if you’re like most Americans, means deciding to get fit. In fact, it’s the No. 2 New Year’s Resolution, second only to resolving to make a resolution…