Column Ideas That Never Made It

(Originally published in Main Line Life 7/1/08.)

During my decades-long career as a newspaper columnist, it has always been my habit to keep notebooks where I write down brief comments and observations. These are often just a line or two that capture a first impression of something I might want to write about later. All writers I know have these notebooks – you simply cannot rely on memory to re-create an idea or image that you may have had twelve hours ago, even if it seemed unforgettable at the time.

Sadly, many of these impressions and comments do not provide enough fodder for an entire essay. (And believe me, I can write 750 words on just about any topic you give me.) They do, however, deserve life as brief, pithy zingers. A couple of times a year, I like to put some of these together as column ideas that never quite made it to the big time.

…When I look at the list of top-selling music CDs and artists for each week, I have rarely heard of a single one.
…The words “restaurant-inspired food for cats” should never appear together. Likewise for the phrase “doggie spa.”


…Does anyone else find Bindi Irwin (child of deceased animal trainer and television personality Steve Irwin) to be spooky?
…I wish I had invested in Google at one hundred dollars a share. I wish I had invested in Google at two hundred dollars a share. I wish…
…I have lived my entire life without ever once checking the air pressure in my tires.
…Every time I go to the bookstore and see all those dummy and idiot books, I wonder, is it better to be a dummy or an idiot?
…When I heard that Neiman Marcus had a bad quarter because of the economy, I immediately headed over to the store at King of Prussia to help them get back on track. I think of it as my duty as an American.
…It kind of scares me that a candidate for president has a health record that is 1,100 pages long.
…Please someone, promise me that they won’t make another Indiana Jones movie in twenty years. I know this is ageism, but I don’t want to see Harrison Ford running away from explosions when he’s in his eighties.
…One of my favorite things in this political campaign has been watching the people in the crowd directly behind the candidates when the candidates are giving a speech. There are either a lot of really goofy people in our country, or by random chance they all end up together at these speeches.
…Does America really need another strip mall full of boxy beige or orange-colored stucco buildings?
…Worst songs to find yourself humming as you go about your day: The Saints Go Marching In, the Oompah Loompah Song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, It’s A Small World.
…I don’t understand why there are television shows like “Ice Road Truckers” or channels like the Poker Channel.
…How come if I have over one hundred cable channels I can never find anything I want to watch?
…One of the best things about getting older is that you feel free to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and in any combination. And no one can tell you not to.
…I get very agitated when I think I might have to be away from my laptop for any more than two days.
…Didn’t Eliot Spitzer’s wife ever think to say, “Honey, what’s this $10,000 cash withdrawal from our checking account?”
…Why are celebrities so compelled to open restaurants?
…There is a new law being proposed where the caloric content of each food item on a menu would have to be listed. Like if it says on the menu that a hot fudge sundae is one thousand calories, a person is going to say, “Gee, I never knew ice cream was so fattening! I’d better get a scoop of cottage cheese instead.”
…I can’t imagine a worse fate than being trapped on a theme cruise ship with life-size cartoon characters and no alcohol.
…“You’ve seen the film, now read the book.” Didn’t it used to be the other way around?
…When I see a misspelled word on a restaurant or store sign, as difficult as it is to do, I take a deep breath and move on. I have this compelling urge to turn into the spelling police.
…My two big ideas for reality shows: Husband and wife the first month after he retires. Teenage daughter and menopausal mom go shopping for prom dresses.

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