How much do you hate it when some meddling boss is leaning way-too-close over your shoulder, micro-checking and second-guessing every bit of work you do?
It's the cup of brandy that no one wants to drink.
We were in touch two weeks ago; Roger Ebert was my friend for more than 40 years, and toward the end of March he took it upon himself to send out one of my CNN columns to his more than 800,000 Twitter followers, and I thanked him for his graciousness and generosity, which were constant.
If you're standing in the rain at the bus stop tomorrow morning, trying to get to work, and if, in the downpour, you should notice that waiting patiently for the bus with you is Bill Gates. . . .
Whether you're a three-pack-a-day smoker who doesn't like being lectured to about the health risks, or you're a person who doesn't touch cigarettes and wouldn't smoke one if you were offered a Ferrari in exchange, picture this:
While the rest of the world last week was fixating on the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, waiting to see whether the smoke would be black or white, it wasn't the smoke that intrigued me.
You could see it in his eyes.
In American professional sports, you can name a team almost anything.
What should most worry the leaders of the federal government -- the president, the top officials in Congress, Democrats, Republicans, everyone who failed to find a way to avoid the forced budget cuts?
Here's a question for you:
"I was owned by Johnson Bell and born in New Orleans, in Louisiana."
"To report the state of the union."
Memo to Carly Rae Jepsen, Frank Ocean, Hunter Hayes, Mumford & Sons, Miguel, the Alabama Shakes and all the other young singers and bands who are nominated for Sunday night's Grammy Awards:
Mr. Harvey would be so proud today.
By the end of the Super Bowl on Sunday night, one or more professional football players will be hailed for their valor, for their guts, for their devotion to their teammates.
As the buildup to next Sunday's Super Bowl intensifies, a simple question for your consideration:
There will be a good deal of public singing these next few days, during the parties, celebrations and services surrounding the inauguration, and at the inaugural ceremonies themselves.
Let's say that you're the Federal Aviation Administration.
This is the week, every year, when you come across special displays in bookstores.
At dinnertime the other evening I walked into a seafood restaurant in a small strip mall off U.S. 41 in southwestern Florida.
If, say, Justin Bieber were to offhandedly announce that he will never record another song; if Kristen Stewart were to proclaim that she is finished acting forever; if LeBron James were to declare that he has played his last game of basketball. ...
The debate over whether the hand-to-hand-combat excesses of Black Friday represent a grotesque over-commercialization of the holiday season has lost its meaning.
In a country as splintered as the United States has become, can there be any such thing as a national pastime?
They're not just constant characters on a television screen, these candidates who every four years seek the presidency. They're not present only to give us something to talk about for months on end.
How annoying and frustrating have calls from telemarketers, and robocalls pitching useless and sometimes fraudulent services, become?
Pat Nixon had taken Mamie Eisenhower out to lunch. This was in the summer of 1973; the wife of one president and the widow of another talked quietly in the dining room of the United States Senate.
Over the years, it seems that just about every format imaginable has been used for debates between presidential candidates.
When a group halfway around the world, without setting foot on American soil, can claim responsibility for preventing a man in Wichita, Kansas, or a woman in Shreveport, Louisiana, from gaining online access to his or her own money in the local bank, it would seem to be a pretty big deal. Something to worry about.
Who can ever forget the electrifying series of presidential debates in which Lyndon B. Johnson, outlining his Great Society program, went head-to-head in 1964 with Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, who boldly stood his ground on rock-solid, small-government ideals?
We just knew they were going to be huge stars, internationally famous, wealthy beyond imagining.
"Excuse me," the woman called. "Is the president still speaking?"
There is a phrase that has long been used in discussing nuclear warfare:
As rooms go, it's quite nice.
Have you been flying much this summer?
During the Olympic Games in London, which will end with Sunday's closing ceremony, there have been many memorable moments:
Outside, there was an old black dog next to a tree. The dog kept barking.
For all the cheers, roars and ovations in all the Olympic stadiums and arenas over all the years, perhaps the most significant Olympic sound heard in the last quarter-century was a yawn.
It is the implicit bargain every moviegoer makes.
What must it be like to step to the plate for your first appearance as a major-league baseball player and knock a grand-slam home run into the far reaches of the seats in Yankee Stadium?
The startling thing, in the long run, is not that the power went out and stayed out in so many parts of the United States during the week just ended.
If the furnace in your basement stopped working, and you hired a company to repair it, what would you do if several of the workers came upstairs, told you they couldn't figure out how to get the furnace started, and then began pointing fingers at each other and saying:
All eyes are on London this summer. The Olympic Games begin next month; earlier this month, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee provided glorious pictures and joyous sounds to the watching world.
In a bookstore, I saw a woman taking photograph after photograph of newly released titles that were arranged on a shelf. She was using her phone to take the pictures.
It is such a cruel disease, one that can sneak up on a person and catch him unawares.
So there he was, sitting on the queen's bed, wearing a soiled T-shirt and jeans, holding a broken ashtray and bleeding from a cut on his hand:
Memorial Day weekend has, over the years, turned in large part into something it was not originally intended to be:
A very nice married couple from Canada struck up a conversation in a restaurant where we were having dinner. At one point the husband said that, earlier in his life, he had played with some buddies in a rock band.
For well over a century the world has come to call on Garden City, Kansas, every day of the year.
When the White House, back in March, made the unexpected announcement that this month's G-8 summit, long planned to take place in Chicago, was being moved to Camp David, the reasons given were bland:
If you're watching the first round of the National Basketball Association playoffs this weekend, take a good look at the players' jerseys.
In a long line at an airport security checkpoint, the man in front of me wearily reached into his travel cases and began to unload his electronic gear into the gray plastic bin.
May we spend a few minutes discussing a major part of American life where there has been a shocking lack of diversity?
A few years ago a group of us were having dinner at a steakhouse, and among the people at the table were the terrific sports columnist Mike Downey and his wife, Gail Martin. The manager of the place came over to say hello; introductions were made.
For months now, platoons of politicians have been filling the air with words.
Here's a free idea that will make some businessperson millions of dollars.
"Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy.
"What # are you at?"
Remember those carefree days when a gallon of gas was only $5? And when you could cheerfully mail a letter for the rock-bottom price of 50 cents?
For half a century, the world has applauded John Glenn as a heart-stirring American hero. He lifted the nation's spirits when, as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was blasted alone into orbit around the Earth; the enduring affection for him is so powerful that even now people find themselves misting up at the sight of his face or the sound of his voice.
The cigarette companies -- and, boy, it's hard to say this -- may turn out to be right.
If Super Bowl Sunday is a day you look forward to with great anticipation each year, if it is a day that you equate with excitement and good times, there's something you should know:
We are now able to project a winner in the 2012 presidential race:
The good news is that news of the sign was shocking.
Winston Churchill, glaring, resolute, combative, left hand on hip, stares straight off the page -- a moment, and an image, like no other.
Maybe you know the phrase:
All around the world today, people are in the early hours of trying to keep their New Year's resolutions: Lose that 15 pounds, find that job that will make you happy, move to that city where you've always dreamed of living.
This is for those who stayed.
Who walks away from $10 million?
Elvis was singing in the men's room.
On Tuesday night, it will be time to meet the candidates.
Like two freight trains rumbling in opposite directions on parallel tracks, a pair of internationally famous U.S. companies sped past each other in the news in recent days.
As we head into a workweek that ends with a federal holiday on Friday, you can expect the usual:
"I won't even sleep in the same room with them."
What sports fan can ever forget it?
"Excuse me, sir. Are you Martin Luther King?"
On Wednesday night, on a small patch of lawn in central Ohio, generations of people bearing affection and gratitude will gather to say one last goodbye to Miss Barbara.
"I may have spoken too soon," Bob Orsa said the other afternoon, with a sardonic laugh that didn't carry much mirth.
One day there will be no one alive who remembers.
The United States Postal Service shutting down because it is so low on money?
This summer there hangs in the White House, in a hallway outside the Oval Office, one of the greatest American paintings by one of the greatest American artists.
You probably see it many times every day: at work, on the bus, in restaurants.
Are you a person who loves to read books? If so, you're set for life.
On a trip to New York this summer, I was in the newsstand/gift shop of a hotel, and a man in front of me in line was purchasing something. I heard the clerk say to him: "That will be $18.30."
How do dry economic numbers translate into real human pain?
There went July, for those of you keeping score at home.
They remember every moment.
Some people are so big during their lives, even death doesn't seem to entirely take them away.
In Las Vegas, they say, the house always wins. In professional sports -- at least in the long run -- so do the owners.
The answers are starting to emerge. It is hard to imagine them being any more heartbreaking.
"I'm 95 years old," Tom Griffin said. He smiled a gentle smile. "And some of those years were even good ones."
You know that great television commercial you saw from the peanut butter company that wants the world to know how much U.S. troops in Afghanistan love eating its product?
It is one of the most famous exchanges of dialogue in the history of movies.