Going Flat


Dear Congress:

As a general rule, I think you all are the worst.  Which really doesn’t matter much.  However, I was just informed of a global helium shortage.  A helium shortage.  And after reading this article (http://www.rollcall.com/news/dont_take_helium_shortage_lightly_commentary-226120-1.html), I’m discovering that you really might add manufacturing, research, and my child’s birthday party to your list of bipartisan negotiating clout.


My point is that I had not realized you all really are in charge of everything.  I thought my personal celebrations were exempt from your being-the-boss-of-me-ness, but it looks like I was wrong. Again.

Also, now I feel guilty every time I see, or am responsible for, inflated balloons (with or without hi-float).  And I like balloons. Should I write my congressperson about this?

I really am going to have to move to Canada,

A. Olson


Everything to Everybody


Dear Zurchers Discount Party and Wedding Store:

Not only had I not realized that you are my discount party and wedding store (I thoroughly appreciate the clarification because I like to know when things belong to me), I also failed to understand that you rent tuxedos.

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So in addition to an incredible assortment of jordan almonds, taffy, plastic plates, and vuvuzelas (which I also didn’t know were a thing, but I did not grow up attending international futbol events), I can also pick up the gentlemen’s finery for my big day.  This is a model of efficiency to be proud of.

In an attempt to improve said efficiency, I’d like to offer the following suggestions for you to add to your repertoire:  bolts of fabric, children’s school shoes, decent reading material, a grocery section (including frozen foods), laundry detergent, some Lego Hero Factory items, and that G. H. Cretors’ Chicago Mix popcorn they sell at Costco.  By offering me all the things I have to purchase regularly in one convenient (and might I add enormous) location, just imagine the number of discount parties and weddings I could have in my free time.  Incredible.  Eventually we’d become our own little Zurchers nation with an impressive GDP and an enviable approach to health insurance.

You can do this Zurchers.  You’re so close.


A. Olson

Putting Me In My Place


Dear New York Times:

In any minutes where I might start feeling a bit big for my britches, I always have you to remind me I’m basically lame.

Case in point:

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You have a Chess Column and a Bridge Column.

I play mediocre chess at best and have a fear of most things “bridge” (both the game and the thing that spans physical obstacles).  And the current local paper I’m reading, the Davis County Clipper, offers a “Marriage Wars” column and a “Value Speak” column.  (Maybe their chess and bridge column writer is on vacation in Fillmore—the Hamptons of Utah—for a while?)

Regardless, I’m not sure if I should be trying harder or just plain give up now.  My guess is that like most NY-centric things, I should probably retreat since that city wins every time, even when it smells bad.

Thanking you for the reality check—as always,

A. Olson

A Slam Dunk


Dear Ryan Carreon and Whitney O’Bannon:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this gem of an article:  http://m.deseretnews.com/top/1553/43/Karl-Malone-say-what-Karl-Malone-gotta-say-25-memorable-quotes-from-the-Mailman.html

I completely forgot about Karl Malone.  And what a shame, because there’s so much about him to remember:  the professional wrestling, the ranching, the car dealerships, the referring to himself in the third person.

While I am glad to know that he’s now working with the Jazz again, so the opportunities for soundbites will be plentiful, I am still hoping Mr. Malone will somehow partner with the Duck Dynasty guys and make some down home reality television filled with innumerable gaffes and hunting scenarios.

Maybe you could pitch this idea to him, considering your position in the media and Mr. Malone’s love-love relationship with that venue?

Thanks again,

A. Olson

If This Is It, Please Let Me Know


Dear Mr. Huey Lewis:

As a precocious child of the 1980s, I am not ashamed to admit that I am an absolute fan of yours.  And The News.  (Or should that be The News’s?)

I am writing to apologize for being unable to attend your concert this evening at the Davis Arts Center.  Had I planned better (and, frankly, not had children), I would have been there singing right along, remembering the joy that was Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future” or getting a new basket for my bike.  And while I have heard that you have not aged well, I just wanted to let you know that I still mean to download your Sports album from iTunes.  I just keep getting sidetracked by all these crafty moms and their DIY design blogs whenever I’m online and forget to do it.

But I will.

Keep playing at non-casino venues, eh?  I think it says better things about how things are going for you (and The News) all around.


A. Olson

An “A-Ha Moment”

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Dear Mr. Jaffe:

I cannot get enough of your articles in The Atlantic.  They’re exactly right.  You’re researching all the interesting stuff; you’re saying things well;  you’re making and presenting charts that people care to review.  In addition:  you know how to use Twitter; you live in Morningside Heights; your headshot (I believe they call those thumbnails in tech speak) reveals that you look like the guy from that television show “Northern Exposure”; you’ve written a book; you went to Columbia Journalism School.


I am writing to inform you that I am currently thinking about you as the person I would have turned out to be if I hadn’t bailed on the Journalism degree I was strongly encouraged to get when I was an undergrad.  Since I picked the road of literary superiority that unfortunately dead ends in the land of adjunct faculty, I am choosing your career as the illustration of the road I did not take.

As a result of this decision, I have decided to overlook my beef about your approach to using block quotes without a proper introduction.  I figure since you went to the “only journalism school in the Ivy League,” I can assume the best about your writing acumen.  Perhaps you (and your editor) had a bad day.

Also, as a result of this decision, I have decided to avoid researching you further, because I really don’t want to discover anything disappointing in my other life of what might have been.

On to the Pulitzer,

A. Olson

Stormy Weather


Dear Coke:

Just read this article (http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/56604422-68/coca-cola-percent-soda.html.csp) and was sorry to learn that a cold, wet spring is rough for profits.  You must not spend much time amongst my mother’s group of friends, for whom a morning soda from the local burger joint is a daily ritual.  I’m pretty sure these ladies can carry you through any questionable temperatures.  (I believe I that your company refers to them as “heavy users.”)

I’d be careful not to upset them with your whole you-all-aren’t-consuming-fast-enough attitude because they can take their corn syrup or aspartame just plain straight—without your middle man cola—if you really want to play dirty . . . .

I believe this is called not biting the hand that feeds you—or maybe that’s not clamping down on the straw that sucks up your malarky,

A. Olson

I Really Mean It


Dear Friends at Google:

You can spy on me all you want.  (Who isn’t getting spied on these days?  I don’t want to be left out, so I’m fine with it.  Targeted ads?  Awesome.)

My problem, however, is as follows:  When I type “boys linen bow tie” into your search engine, I actually mean it.  I want to see images and links for boys linen bow ties.  Really.  I don’t want to see ties for humans who used to be boys and are now men.  I don’t want to see pet bow ties or women’s bow ties.  Because I am actually pretty smart, and if I’d wanted to see “mens linen bow tie,” I would have indicated so in the appropriate box.  My MA qualifies me considerably in that regard.

If you are working to read my mind, you are not being successful.  So you’re going to have to try harder to achieve accuracy for my requested searches, or I’m going to have to switch to Bing.  I’m also certain the NSA has a search engine that would give me “boys linen bow tie” with no runaround . . . .

Get it done (because I really do need that bow tie),

A. Olson

Off the Deep End


Dear Speedo:

Today I will purchase my child a fourth pair of goggles from your company in a period of time so short I cannot actually type it here without my head exploding.

I just wanted to inform you that I’m onto your racket—the one where you rely on little children “misplacing” your product multiple times during a two-week-swimming-lesson period and then crying a lot before the next lesson because he “cannot swim without my goggles, Mom.”

I do not like that you are forcing my hand in deciding whether I want to teach my son a lesson in responsibility or teach him how to swim.  I have to pick my battles on a daily basis, and you adding this into the mix has officially tipped the balance and launched me into Crazytown, a place from which I will not likely return.  Ever.

It seems that the very least you could do is include a tracking device in your product so my children don’t have to go into foster care.

Yours truly,

A. Olson