Burton Cole column

How I spent my summer vacation — will there be cookies?

Remember those first essay assignments of the school year? Teachers tried to ease us kids back into the school year by assigning us to write how we spent our summer vacation. It was the very topic most of us jabbered about right up to the ringing of the class bell. We’d jammed and packed ...

Phone books had all the answers

I miss telephone books. They could level a chair with a short leg, help little kids sit tall enough to join the big people’s table at Thanksgiving, and they’d swat flies like nobody’s business. The coolest thing of all — they were chock-full of phone numbers. Or turn to the Yellow ...

Look before you leap without hesitation at dueling proverbs

Aesop was confused. The guy credited with cooking up a Crock-Pot full of fables packed with wisdom couldn’t make up his mind. The sages who followed did little to untangle the wacky webs he weaved. We’re left with dueling nuggets like these: Look before you leap, but he who hesitates is ...

Eat popcorn with chopsticks? Don’t tell mom

Researchers at The Ohio State University offered advice last week on how to turn old and boring into exciting and new. Get weird. They worded it a bit more scholarly than that, but weird is what they meant. For example, they suggest eating popcorn — a known and habitual hand food — with ...

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, what a wonderful shape

Walking, I suppose, is a wonderful workout. Also, I can’t afford to fill my gas tank. According to the annoying herd of health cranks, walking’s good for you. Really good. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, my-oh-my-what-a-wonderful-day good. I’d jump in the car and speed away from these exuberant ...

Keep whatever’s inside; I’ll take the box

Giddiness set in every time Mom bought a new box of Quaker oats. Not for the cereal. I was an Alpha-Bits kind of guy, myself. It was for the box. Back then, rolled oats came in a big cardboard tube. With strings, crayons and a wooden spoon, Quaker Oats boxes converted into great tom-toms. ...

We’re not leaving this house until the dishes are done

I don’t know why the dishes have to be washed first. Why can’t we leave home without them being out of the sink? It’s frustrating. Or maybe it’s just being a guy. We established days ahead of time that to make our appointment, we needed to leave the house by 8 a.m. The night before, ...

I don’t know why age is mistaken for wisdom

Lately, people have mistaken me for someone with wisdom. I don’t know why. I think it’s the beard. When one’s beard is snowy white, and his hair is well on its way to matching, people tend to think, “Now there’s a guy who’s been around for, like, a million years. He must have ...

Every day in June offers a (weird) holiday

The world has turned so bitter that I propose we institute a moratorium on meanness on holidays. Fortunately, every day is a holiday! So let’s stop calling each other names, break out the cake and ice cream, and celebrate. Here’s a sampling of actual events, oddities and strange doings — ...

Crafter chilled at use of refrigerator as scrapbook

“You should scrapbook your memories,” our enthusiastic crafter friend said. “We do.” I led her to the refrigerator. “Isn’t it a beaut?” She peered on either side of the fridge. Stood on tiptoes to peek at the top. Scratched her head. “All I see is the refrigerator.” “The ...

Roof goats and ant kitchen cleaners — pet brigade rocks

My friend Warner observed that we do ourselves a disservice by killing ants that crawl into the house. “It makes sense,” he said. “You drop crumbs. They take them away. If you kill the ants, you’re stuck cleaning up both insect carcasses and crumbs. Let the ants live and they clean the ...

It is what it is. Whatever. Watch out for that bus

I am literally annoyed. And so, the survey says, are you. The phrases we use daily create this whole synergy thing, in a ballpark kind of way, that give 110 percent when you stay in the loop but think outside the box. At the end of the day, it’s a win-win situation that is what it is. Yeah, ...

Chocolate is always the answer

I squinted at the small print and bellowed. “Who shrunk my book?” I focused on the usual suspect. “Terry, did you run my favorite book through the wash?” My wife rubbed her temples. She does that a lot, for some reason. “Why would you think I’d run a load of books through the ...

Of mice, grumpy men and cats looking for the maternity ward

All my life, I’ve had this distressing problem with animals. They like me. It’s nearly impossible to keep up my reputation as a grumpy old codger with a kitten curled up in my lap. What’s a grouch supposed to do? My childhood was filled with cats, dogs, cows, pigs, chickens, goldfish, ...

Curmudgeon club will pad your obituary

I need to start padding my obituary. Otherwise, it’s going to read, “Who?” I’ve taken to glancing at obituaries lately and noticed that every last one of them is for a wonderful person who was loved by all. I tried being wonderful once but it was exhausting. I gave it up after three ...

Marital ESP fades slowly into the sunset

Terry looked thoughtful. “Is there a side road that I can take to get there?” “Oh, sure,” I said. “Six or seven of them.” “Which one would you take?” “That depends. ... Where might you be going?” She had done it again. She had dropped me into the middle of her internal ...

Keep the high-tech away from my low-flow toilet

Enough! Not even our bathrooms serve as refuges from technology invasion anymore. I quivered and quaked enough when I read an article a couple weeks back about high-tech homes. No, I’m not opposed to carpets that vacuum themselves. That’s neighborly technology. I understand the ...

I’ve decided to bulk up on fitness for fat health

My doctor talks dirty. If words like “diet” and “exercise” aren’t profanity, then I don’t know what are. Trouble is, I’m beginning to suspect that she might be right. When I was in my teens, people shoved food at me out of fear that a mild gust would blow me away. I gobbled ...

Fountain of pens lies drying, dying

Editor’s note: Because of a family emergency, we present this Cole Classic, excerpted from April 2, 2000. Burt will be back with fresh adventures next week. I dug furiously through the desk drawer trying to find a working pen. One after another, I tossed dried out and chewed up pens back ...

‘Writer Boy Burt’ would make a boring action figure

Sgt. G.I. Joe crept through the weeds in his black scuba gear and rubber flippers. He ducked as the Hot Wheels car full of bad guys jumped the green sand bucket. With his perpetually frozen fingers, G.I. Joe signaled Chief Cherokee and Johnny West, who waited in shrubs on the other side of ...