Oh To Be So Cool


Dear Virgin America Airlines (a.k.a. Movie Star or Movie Star Wannabe Airlines):


I absolutely enjoyed this.  And thanks to your creativity, my daughter now wants to be a flight attendant.  My son wants to be a robot rapper.  We’re not going backwards in life goals here, are we?

Looking forward to your announcing your Salt Lake City to Pocatello to Great Falls route,

A. Olson


In Case You’re Keeping Track . . . .


Dear Chris Morgan (writer, films 3-7), Justin Lin (director, films 3-6), and Neal H. Moritz (producer, films 1-7):

I hadn’t realized that we’re up to film #6 in The Fast and the Furious saga, with #7 coming next year.  Wow.  And I also read that it is Universal Studios’ biggest franchise of all time.  Look at this collection of greatness.  Way to go.

Just wondering a few things:

1.  Mr. Morgan, how have all the characters not died yet in all their dangerous and illegal street racing situations?

2.  Mr. Lin, how does one direct a series of films whose action is largely computer generated?  Do you work weekends?

3.  Mr. Moritz, how rich are you?

4.  How were films #1-5 insufficient enough to warrant the 2.4 billion dollar chain of cinematic splendor we have today?

I’ve never seen a film go up to #7, so congrats on this.  (Well, I’m guessing there are some Mary Kate and Ashley Olson movies, but nobody counts those direct-to-VHS ones, do they?)

Please keep up the good work of unnecessary violence and sexism; and no, Vin Diesel didn’t ask me to write this note,

A. Olson

It Seems You’ve Had an Evolution

Dear Mr. Shane Victorino:

In case you (or anybody) needed proof that the Red Sox are poisonous, let’s take a brief look at your MLB evolution.

At the Padres, 2003-2005:


So clean cut. Likely the team bus monitor.

At the Phillies, 2005-2012:

Shane Victorino

Committed, engaged, but still appearing respectable and respectful.

At the Dodgers, for like ten minutes:


Nice smile, clean teeth, friendly.

And now to Boston, just this season:

Shane Victorino red sox 2 ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Nothing too weird here, right?  Just the requisite facial hair and punk attitude and overall disheveledness.  With a dash of bugging eyes and some borderline crazy.  I’m all about reinventing oneself.  You bet.  And maybe all that cold in Boston’s frozen your Hawaiian brain.  It happens.  But I think it’d be worth it—and wouldn’t jeopardize any superstitions or streaks or World Series whateverness—if you could take the white supremacist/meth addict persona down a couple of marks and keep things mentally healthy for the last few games.  I know Boston likes to think it’s scrappy, but there’s plenty of high brow hiding underneath the right-angled accent, no matter what those drunken fans are leading you to believe.

Can’t wait to see you all cleaned up in the off season (and I bet your wife and kids agree with me on this one),

A. Olson

The Real Hazard


Dear Brown Nissan Sentra Sharing Adelphi Road With Me on Saturday Afternoon:

When you are operating your vehicle with your hazards flashing, what does this mean?

You are driving down the street like a regular part of traffic (albeit much slower), with your hazards a-flashing.  You stop at the red lights; you merge where necessary; you proceed through intersections–all with no indication of when (or if) you will be pulling over to change your baby’s dirty diaper, or your flat tire, or your shoes.

I don’t know how to proceed with this.

When I took driver’s ed, I was taught that hazards were for emergency situations.  It turns out AAA agrees with me, and in the state of Maryland, the law states that “hazard light use is not permitted except in emergency situations.”  Okay.  So where was your emergency situation?  As I indicated previously, perhaps the rest of us couldn’t see your emergency situation?  You were planning to turn right at some point?  You were awaiting a sneeze?  They were playing Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” on the radio?  Yet you continued to proceed as if you were out for a Sunday drive (except it was Saturday which means Weekend Traffic of Doom), indicating nothing hazardous.  Except you.

Your Nissan Sentra is not an 18-wheeler climbing a mountain.  There was no fog on the afternoon we were driving together.  Adelphi Road is not the New York Thruway (thank goodness) where signs tell drivers going slower than 45MPH to use their hazards to alert their fellow commuters.  And I needed to get my mom to the airport.

So perhaps you might trade in that dreamy vehicle for a Jazzy scooter, which seems to be just about right for you and your needs.  George Kastanza proved they are certainly good in an urban sidewalk setting like Adelphi Road.  Seems like a win win.

Many thanks,

A. Olson

A Smarty Pants Gets It Right



Dear Mr. Chomsky:


I read this article (rather than watching the clip–I figure you’d approve), and I wholeheartedly agree.  You are known as a brilliant crab, and I cannot think of a higher compliment one could be paid.  I say this truthfully with no tongue in cheek, no sarcasm wafting.  Because you have said what I have been feeling for a while now, and if I could stop my online shopping habit, maybe I could go totally retro, like you.

Plus, you are at MIT, so all my years of pent-up nerdiness respect you all the more.

I am too committed to grammar and general formality to participate in social media, but this is not my point.  Your comments have made me realize why my frustration with holiday cards has become so great in the past decade.  Nobody bothers to hand sign or hand address the piece of “correspondence” they send to my home.  And really, it has to be my home–rather than to me–they’re sending it because surely one human would want write a personal note to another human, right?  Surely the need for actual, not virtual, connection trumps the need for bragging or empty glibness?

It looks like the answer is no.  Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

Best regards,

A. Olson



Dear Austin:

I’m trying to write a piece about you, and I’m remembering all my moments surrounded by your confluence of the downhome and the bombastic, and it’s making my heart race.  With anxiety.

I enjoyed the summer I spent in the live music capital:  shopping at Central Market, taking classes with a great friend at UT, dreaming of having a pool.  But beyond that, I’m remembering, it just plain wasn’t fun to live in Austin, the town that’s supposed to be the best time of all.  It was stressful being priced out of the hip (not hippie) neighborhoods.  It was frustrating having such crappy public transportation.  It was lonely being a transplant to a place of long-timers.

I salute you, but I am officially too scared to visit.  Maybe ever.


A. Olson

Dressed for Success



Dear Mr. Kalaf:

I’m writing to thank you for your article, as I was just asking my husband the same question this weekend (only using different language).

Also, maybe if the Cardinals got a newly designed logo?  As it stands, it’s hard for me to get behind their we’re-a-baseball-town image because their uniforms reveal that they never got the retro overhaul the rest of Major League Baseball did in the past decade.  I know a logo issue is trite, but I feel like storied teams should wear their heritage a bit more proudly.  Otherwise two things happen:  1) you’re the Florida Marlins, and 2) you look preeeety upstart-y against the kings of nostalgia-nearly-to-a-fault Red Sox.  And if there’s anything baseball hates, frankly, it’s upstarts.

Here’s hoping you can encourage the Cardinals on your end of things,

A. Olson

Not Helping One’s Cause



Dear Anyone Who Makes Giant Signs and Holds Them At the Roadside:

I want very much for you to go back to work.  Very much.  Your sign, however, suggests that you might need to go back to school.  And in the case of a government shutdown, well, what else do you have going on . . . ?

Here’s hoping everything gets corrected quickly for you,

A. Olson

Not Getting It


Dear Highly Respectable Members of Congress:

I’d like it if a government shutdown meant that telemarketers stopped working, too.  You all are good at taking on and running, running, running with meaningless projects, so it seems like absorbing the people who call my house asking for donations or trying to sell me some sort of gutter repair / energy consolidation plan / new windows is a good idea.  You should look into it.  Put Mike Lee or Ted Cruz on it.  It can be part of their dunce-hat-wearing detention sentence for all their unforgivable pot stirring over the past few weeks.

Also, I think my mail lady takes a personal furlough on Saturdays.  And when it’s raining (unless my magazines aren’t covered–then she’s out in full force).  I’m not tattling, I’m just hoping to know when her shutdown will end.

Thumbs up for all your good work,

A. Olson

That’s Reparations?



Dear Dan Snyder:

I don’t know what would possess one to purchase an NFL team when there are so many scholarships to give and developing nations to foster.  But you have–congratulations–and you’ve even written an open letter to fans about the controversy surrounding the name of your very own Washington Redskins.  Since I’m not a fan of the Washington Redskins, or of American football in general and specific, I am not the target audience of your letter.  However,  Mr. Snyder, you wrote an open letter.  So it looks like I get to write back to your open letter with my own.  I love to write back.

There are so many terrible places I could begin, but I’ve decided to contain my response to just your concluding sentence:

We are Redskins Nation and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage.

You’re right.  We are the Redskins’ nation.  And what better way to honor the heritage we gave the Redskins when we killed, stole, rounded up, displaced, and disenfranchised them than to preserve them with a gross and violent pageant of excess?  Excellent work.  Insert pat on back.

Please, please do not patronize an entire people and culture by using the word “heritage.”  Let’s call things by their proper names:  appropriation.  Very, very uncool appropriation.  “[W]e owe it to our fans and coaches and players . . . to preserve that appropriation.”

Here’s hoping you get a chance to do some soul searching after adding this to the NFL’s already-rough week,

A. Olson