Over Easy

Dan Mackie: When Supermarket Self-Service Goes Bad

As if there weren’t enough to be worried about, now there’s a new malady: Supermarket Self-Service Performance Anxiety. The onset was like this: On Tuesday night, my wife asked me what I wanted for dinner. “Let’s get a little steak,’’ I suggested, surprising myself that the default answer — “I dunno’’ — didn’t roll out of my mouth. Although consumption of red meat gives me bad dreams involving clowns and cardiologists, I occasionally like some steak. We buy a small one and share it, and

Dan Mackie: Newspapers for Sale!

The recent news that the Boston Globe and Washington Post sold for a billionaire’s chump change got me thinking. If those icons of mighty American cities sold for so little, I might be able to sell my 2000 Toyota Corolla and raise enough dough to buy something a little more down-market, such as the fabulously named Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.  Not that I’d ever want to answer the phone there, since I am of the age that once I say walla walla, my brain skips along right

Dan Mackie: It’s a Shame, Really

I grew up in the Golden Age of Shame, when disgrace was every child’s birthright. We were shamed by teachers, coaches, priests, parents, traffic cops, store clerks, old ladies on buses, even neighborhood dogs with their sad eyes. It was shameful to have poor penmanship, a dirty face, or to leave your fly unzipped. It was shameful to forget chores, or be inconsiderate, which left a lot of territory to explore, the Louisiana Purchase of shame. It was also the Golden Age of Guilt. I

Dan Mackie: Never Be Bored Again!

I recently heard a girl tell her mother, in the sing-song manner of childhood, “I’m bored.’’ The actual sound was more like, “I’m baw-oared.” Her manner suggested exasperation. Sometimes kids seem to assume that unattended boredom can be dangerous to your health, like suspicious spots on your skin, or rickets. I’m sure I said the same thing many years ago, but it wasn’t something I said often. I made peace with boredom early, accepted it as part of the human condition. Animals, too. If dogs

Dan Mackie: A Long Walk for Firecrackers

Looking back on it now, I am amazed at the audacity of our summer quest. We walked for hours to find a criminal enterprise in a shadowy part of town with which we were only vaguely familiar. We had no guides, no maps, only a notion that we should head west until we found it. The mission was part Lewis and Clark, part Three Stooges. Our grail: fireworks, the small firecrackers we called salutes, the larger ones that could rip open soup cans, and according

Dan Mackie: Luaus in Vermont; We Could Step Up Our Game In the Tourism Chase

By Dan Mackie Valley News Staff Writer Whenever I travel, I keep the Upper Valley in my heart, and my recent trip to Hawaii was no exception. We were there for my son’s law school graduation, but I was ever alert for ways to improve local tourism. Packs of bus-weary seniors staring into Quechee Gorge is all well and good, and the homecoming march of Dartmouth alums helps our business outlook. They need rooms, and meals, and maple sugar candies, and so forth. But in

Magazines for the Dan Mackie Demographic Could Be Wonderful — for Me

I recently saw a notice for a new magazine, Simply Glute n-Free, which initially didn’t interest me since I am very accepting of gluten, though I often forget exactly what it is. I’m on the sidelines in the food sensitivities epidemic, with a high tolerance for all foods, particularly sweet or tasty ones. Beans can make things interesting, but what is life without a certain je ne sais ... excusez-moi. But back to gluten, which I just learned from 30 seconds of actual research is

Mackie: A Boy’s Life in Scouting, With One More Good Deed to Do

I don’t have anything against gay people, except those who are Yankees fans. Their baseball orientation is anathema to me. All kidding aside, I was pleased recently to read in our own Valley News that a Norwich Boy Scout troop has declared itself “open and inclusive” and held a pancake breakfast to raise money for a national organization that gives suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Dare I say I felt proud of them? And hopeful that the national Scouts organization

Mackie: Casino Gambling in New Hampshire? You Bet Your Life

The fact that New Hampshire is cozying up to casino gambling seems peculiar to me, but what do I know? I’ve been waiting for decades for the Prize Patrol to ring the doorbell and make me a millionaire. In a way, the Granite State wants its own Prize Patrol to appear, because Lord knows we don’t want to pony up for state trooper pay or more tar for the highways. (Speaking only for myself, I am OK with paying for bridge repairs, because any Tea

Mackie: Resolved; Downton College

I was disappointed to see that our Vermont Town Meetings sidestepped one of the major issues of the day, namely, the conclusion of the third season of Downton Abbey. Downton Abbey, in case you were too busy watching the Let’s Laugh at Rednecks channel to check it out, is a hit PBS series about an aristocratic family and its servants. Why this show fascinates me so I am not sure, since our household staff in West Lebanon has grown woefully thin, and even a Romney