Newish stuff

-I recently wore pheromones for a month to see if it would make me more attractive to members of the opposite sex? (I’m using a question mark there to connote deniability.)

How some of use our pets to conduct our relationships/disputes with/through.

-Congratulations to Julie Schumacher, the first woman to win the Thurber Prize (for her hilarious novel, “Dear Committee Members”). I got to host the awards ceremony, held at Caroline’s comedy club. Here’s an article from the Guardian.


The Aspirational R.S.V.P.

Saying “yes” when you really mean “no” has an ugly new (or not so new) iteration, as discussed in my column on the aspirational RSVP.

I got to talk about the article on the public radio shows The Colin McEnroe Show (I’m at 37:39) and Q.


Words o’ wisdom

I was hugely honored to give the commencement address at Simon’s Rock, which I attended as a wee lad.  Video here.



-I have a story in this week’s New Yorker for which I sat in the orchestra pit of the new Broadway production of “The King and I”

-My two most recent manners columns in the Times: the etiquette of asking someone if he’s gay, and the tyranny of being constantly reachable.



-I had lots of fun being a judge in the Piglet, the annual cookbook competition held by the website Food 52. I was asked to weigh in on–and cook from–Brooks Headley’s “Fancy Desserts” and Sean Brock’s “Harvest”. Here’s my judgment.

-In my monthly New York Times column about manners, I looked at the etiquette of being in therapy.

-When I hear that Apple’s new smart watch may have been inspired by cartoon character Dick Tracy’s two-way radio watch, I realized that lots of digital innovations had unexpected precursors.


“Alford to attend Alfordpalooza”

Oh, this is lovely: the Key City Public Theatre in Port Townsend, Wa. is having an evening whereat three of my stories will be read aloud. It’s tonight! And I will be one of the three readers—or, as the local paper put it, “Alford to attend Alfordpalooza.”



-I’m not exactly technophobic; I guess I’d be more accurately described as techno-churlish. So it was a surprise to me when I realized that having Scrabble on my iPhone has improved my life greatly. I decided to spend three weeks using apps to try to improve my life in other ways, too: here’s the story that ran in the New York Times.

-In light of the Sony phone hacks, People magazine asked me to weigh in on the topic of apologizing to someone you’ve offended.

-Thanks to the munificence of Travel and Leisure magazine, I got to ride, herd, and wash elephants in Laos: never has my day-job been so thrillingly adorable.


Kale Scrivenings Get Some Love

The New Yorker’s Emma Allen nicely mentioned my kale story in her round-up of “not-to-be missed” humor pieces from the magazine in 2014. Thank you, crucifer gods.


Tabular Splendor

Here’s the previously unavailable link for my Splendid Table appearance (it feels weird to call a radio gig an “appearance,” but I’m going with it.) I’m at 1:40:22. Thanks.


Recent excretions

-Like you, I have often wondered, How could a hostage negotiator help the average family get through Thanksgiving? So, for my New York Times column, I interviewed nine hostage negotiators–three of them formerly with the FBI–and asked them for holiday guidance. One of the former FBI men suggested that you apologize even if you know you aren’t in the wrong—a gambit that I think we’d ALL love to encounter more often. (Later, I got to talk about the article on public radio’s Colin McEnroe Show. And there were nice mentions of the article on the websites of the San Francisco Chronicle, Inc., and Real Clear Politics.)

-I also talked turkey etiquette (and, to a lesser degree, hostages) on The Splendid Table’s special, 2 hour-long Thanksgiving episode, Turkey Confidential, alongside culinary luminaries like Lidia Bastianich, Melissa Clark, Francis Lam, David Leite, and Carla Hall. Alas, I didn’t get to meet the divine Ms. Bastianich, as I conducted my interview by phone from my sister-in-law’s new home decor store, Off the Green, in Guilford, Ct. However I did once meet Melissa Clark, and ate leftovers from her handbag. (Long story.)

-Back in my Times column, I tackled the etiquette of becoming friends with your friends’ friends. And in Vanity Fair, I asked the question, What does your preferred greeting style say about you? (I’m an inappropriate hugger. Beware.)