I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of the newspaper is easily the letters to the editor. As I’ve pointed out several times before, I get a little bonus in my paycheck when my name is mentioned in any such letter, twice as much if it’s used negatively.
“Dunning’s on another planet,” said the headline over one recent letter from a disgruntled chap I’ll call “John.” That certainly counts as a mention, but we’ll have to read further to see whether the “planet” reference is negative.
“Well, well, well,” John begins cleverly, “looks like Dunning laid a goose egg in his prognostication of the Stanford/Oregon game.”
Fair enough. In my weekly football forecast a couple of weeks back I did indeed suggest that Oregon would pretty much fold, spindle and mutilate Stanford.
Interestingly, in the 44 years I’ve been issuing this weekly fearless forecast during the football season, I’ve received my fair share of good-natured ribbing for an errant pick, but never have I seen someone take his criticism to the level of a letter to the editor.
Maybe I should put a disclaimer on the picks that says “For entertainment purposes only.”
Then again, maybe John is a proud Stanford alum — aren’t they all? — who thinks it’s a mortal sin to pick against the Cardinal, which has that silly “Tree” as a mascot.
The problem here is that John has a way with words and he doesn’t mince any of them. Let’s just say it’s highly likely he has more initials behind his name than I do.
He goes on to accurately quote every word of my Oregon-Stanford forecast, which ended with “There have been only a handful of teams in college football history as deep and talented as these (Oregon) Ducks. Stanford is capable, but Oregon is on another planet.”
Picking up on the intergalactic theme without missing a beat, John notes: “Another planet is right, and that is where Dunning must have been when he made this boneheaded call.”
Okay, “boneheaded” is one of those words specified in my most recent contract that allows me to take a week off for psychological counseling on the Hawaiian island of my choice.
Other forbidden words articulated in the contract are dumbheaded, dunderheaded, cheddarheaded and headed for trouble. John, sadly, avoided all of those.
Looking backward with 20-20 vision, it was indeed boneheaded to pick Oregon (a 26-20 loss for the Ducks), but it’s interesting to note that I didn’t see anywhere in the paper where John picked Stanford before the game was played.
In contrast to John’s pointed remarks, let me share with you a private message I received from one Dan Wolk, yet another proud Stanford grad and ardent college football fan.
Nicely integrating Stanford’s win into a hot Davis issue, Dan wrote simply “As we know from the Cannery discussion, trees are powerful things. 26-20.”
Boom. Pow. Ouch. Much more effective words than “boneheaded.”
Dan did dig the knife a bit deeper with a P.S. that asked “Know of any nice hotels in Pasadena?”
You get the picture. This Wolk kid knows how to get his point across without drawing too much blood.
But speaking of boneheaded, if John is really worried about my forecasting prowess, I list my season record every week, and by my count I’ve been wrong 78 times already this fall, including the boneheaded Oregon pick. So have at it, John. I expect at least 77 more letters to the editor.
Truth be told, if I could accurately forecast every game, I’d be living in Reno, not Davis.
Fortunately for me, my bookie was out of town the night of the Stanford-Oregon debacle and I still have the rent money I would have bet on the Ducks.
Still, taking John’s criticism to heart, I demonstrated my fast-learner skills the next weekend by vowing never to pick against Stanford again. Yes, I took the Cardinal over USC. Somehow USC won, 20-17, tossing me back into the “boneheaded” category once again.
But wait, John isn’t through with me. Switching gears like a Maserati on a mountain road, John moves from football to fluoride as he claims “After you hear what I am going to tell you about what folks at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Boston this past week had to say about Dunning and his chatter on fluoride, you’ll know that Dunning has been inhabiting another planet!”
Wow, what a coincidence. My just-signed contract, which runs three pages longer than the Affordable Care Act, specifically mentions the substantial extra compensation I am to receive if my name is mentioned at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.
John’s letter to the editor has become a true bonanza for the Dunning household. Looks like we’ll have a merry Christmas after all.
— Reach Bob Dunning at firstname.lastname@example.org