From Russia With Love


Dear Russian Scientists:

One moment here.

You are hoping to clone a mammoth?

Didn’t mankind spend a long time trying to make the mammoth extinct because, well I don’t know, it was a giant predator?

I think your discovery of this mammoth carcass with liquid blood is pretty incredible.  Absolutely.  I would definitely watch a PBS special all about it.  But while I am not a scientist, I can confidently say that resurrecting it seems like a pretty bad idea.  Where are you going to keep it?  In somebody’s backyard with an electric fence?  And then what do you feed it?  What happens when some visitor to the prehistoric circus you end up creating feeds the mammoth its first Cheeto and it goes ballistic?

Maybe your brains froze out there in the tundra where you’ve been working, so let’s just think this all the way through.


A. Olson


That’s entertainment?


Dear WE TV:

What exactly is it you are mocking with this Bridezillas show? (Which is apparently in its 10th (!) and final season.)  Marriage?  Poor people?  Bossy women and can’t-stand-up-for-themselves men?  Functional alcoholics?  Because I’d never seen an episode before today when I turned on something for noise while I was doing my once-a-quarter ironing.  And noise I got:  mothers, daughters, and sisters screaming at each other (both in person and via a speaker phone / cell phone situation); a woman hollering at people to inform them they’re “off the guest list”; a bride-to-be taking her fiancee to get his eyebrows and neck waxed.  Wow, it was really loud and really awful.

It seems pretty low to exploit people who probably need the cash (and maybe want the pseudo fame) by paying them to exploit themselves and calling it “entertainment.”  Oh wait.  That’s reality television.  I liked it better when the people on tv were actual actors rather than the girl who works at the Hertz rental car place in the Dayton airport.

Maybe, since the “WE” in WETV stands for “Women’s Entertainment,” you could change your name to be more relevant to your intended audience and obvious values–something like “Lowest Common Denominator TV” or “Did It For the Money TV” or “This Network Will Make You Stupider TV”?

Just some thoughts.

Keep up the great work,

A. Olson

A little too close

I am absolutely not comfortable with lemurs.

Unlike you, Mr. Hanna, I am absolutely not comfortable with lemurs.

Dear Jack Hanna:

I’m not sure if you are aware, but your Wild Kingdom has relocated itself to outside my kitchen window. Yep, it’s a veritable biome out there. I’ve actually seen almost all the links of the food chain in action while washing my dishes (the lizard eats the bug; the bird eats the lizard; the snake eats the bird; the groundhog eats the snake; I’m sure I don’t want to know what eats the giant turtle I saw yesterday).

I’m just writing to let you know that I’d like you to have it all back. I like it better at the Columbus Zoo than I do at my house.

Please hurry,

A. Olson

The Japanese do everything better.


Dear Uniqlo:

I made my maiden voyage to your Herald Square store this weekend, and I was not disappointed.  So many neat piles of clothing.  Friendly sales associates making neat piles of clothing. Holiday specials.  Ultra stretch jeans that I watched a ballerina wearing while pirouetting and doing a front split.  Holy cow, that’s some great marketing right there.

Thank you, and probably all of Japan, for understanding good design and good prices.  And now when I discover that your clothing is made in sweatshops in Bangladesh, I will have to throw a tantrum.

Hooray for making me your target audience,

A. Olson

Mixed Signals


Dear Driver of the 1992 Honda Accord Heading West on Forest Road in Valley Stream, NY:

I noted that you had your hazards on yesterday.  While regularly driving down the street.

As one sharing the road with you, this is a confusing signal to me.  I’m just wondering if you can let me know what it means.  According to, a “leader in online drivers education,” one is supposed to “pull off the road as far as possible” and then turn on the hazards.  Since you were absolutely not doing this, I am hoping you can help me decipher what your decision actually represents.  Are you in distress?  Are you preparing to simultaneously turn both directions?  Am I supposed to go around you?  Ignore you?  Are you preparing to disappear?  Because that would be great.

As it turns out, I think your friend was driving elsewhere in New York yesterday–on the hated Belt Parkway in fact.  How do I know he was your friend? You got it, hazards on.  In a three lane highway.  While driving.  In a DELUGE.  How helpful to say to the rest of us:  “Look out.  I’m unsure how to handle things here, so I’ve just let go of the wheel and my poodle is driving.  You’ll need to proceed near us with caution because his little legs don’t reach the pedals, so my toddler son is handling that part of the process.”

Thanks for helping me understand that hazards while driving most likely means “do not have any expectations for me at this time,” because I was thinking of it in completely opposite terms.  It’s hard to feel like those flashing lights aren’t your attempt to be the show stealer of the entire roadway.

Perhaps you might consider taking the bus,

A. Olson

Le Decoratur calls . . .


Dear Restoration Hardware:

Just writing to let you know that I received the over five pound catalog bundle you sent me in the mail yesterday.

Two things:  1) My mail carrier travels her route by foot and is badly need of a hip replacement.  (I know.  It’s a lot.  Which is why I only order stuff via UPS anymore.  Watching her deliver my mail gives me considerable guilt.  Good thing I missed her team lifting this thing into my letter box.)  And 2) I am poor.  As in a-combined-income-that-just-barely-disqualifies-my-kids-for-reduced-lunch poor.  Purchasing a $549 carved ibex head isn’t quite on my list of upcoming purchases.  (Although I’ll put it there.  Right after that set of fake plaster book facades you all seem to be enamored of as well–great gig, by the way, it makes us look smart and color coordinated with none of the bothersome content.)

So to be clear, I’m not your target audience.  My home has too many colors in it for me to be your target audience.  But man do I want to meet whomever is so I can ask them to start a scholarship fund for my children’s college education.

Carpe Diem to you too,

A. Olson

Every dog has its day . . . .


Dear Tumblr CEO David Karp and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer:

We don’t know each other–so I can make some sweeping generalizations here–but when did the fifteen year-olds start ruling the world?

Wait.  Ms. Mayer, I just Googled you.  You’re my age (even a few years older, ahem).  So I will thank you for showing me how close to adolescence I could appear if I could just afford cosmetic procedures.  Definitely a good job.

But you, Mr. Karp.  I don’t know that I want to Google you.  I’m pretty sure I can guess at your hipster story, your wunderkind background.  You and Mark Zuckerberg and that one programming kid from my class last semester all hang out together playing XBox and riffing on your guitars.  And when you aren’t doing that, you write code like crazy and try to remember to throw in some laundry so your hoodie can be clean when you wear it to the billion dollar sale of your company.

I am vowing to you specifically, Mr. Karp, that I will work on my ageism.  (Ms. Mayer, just make public your mode of combatting puffy eyes, because as it turns out, I don’t really care about running an internet search engine / news source / “global technology company focused on making the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining.”)  In return, Mr. Karp, I’m hoping you can recommit your little Converse-clad self to championing, oh I don’t know, accurate spelling?  Because correctness is actually the coolest game of all, and you’re making this truth a pretty tough sell for my eight year-old.

Much obliged and enjoy the early retirement (Oh.  Except I guess you haven’t really worked yet.),

A. Olson

Go to the Head of the Class


Dear Student who is enrolled in my Summer I course and emailed me four times in the past two weeks wanting to know “if [I] have an estimate on how many regular A’s on average [I] provide per semester given an average group of students” because you “aren’t a natural writer” but you sure do like the chance to “work hard”:


A. Olson

Greener Laundry


Dear Method:

Let the record show that you have won me over with your fabric softener dryer spray.  No more dryer sheets to throw into the landfill.  Hooray.  I can now transfer my environmental guilt onto my paper towel dependency and my noncommittal approach to composting.  (Oh right.  And to my car.)

Thank you for allowing me to check something off my “Handle It” life list.

Also, it is likely that when I am diagnosed with cancer as a result of thirty years of exposure to your product, I will need a reminder that I wrote you this note.

Here’s to proof that you can win them all,

A. Olson

White Flag


Dear Gods of Procrastination:

I have made my offerings to you this week, and they have been significant.

Now I need you to throw some lightning bolts my direction that will either burn some of my responsibilities to oblivion or illuminate the way in which I can get everything done.  And since I’ve always been partial to smokey smells, I’m leaning toward the former.

See what you can do because the end of this semester is killing me,

A. Olson