Christmas 2013 Talking Points

Afraid you’ll get stuck in a dead-end conversation this Christmas season? Just follow these Christmas 2013 Talking Points to avoid awkward pauses.


I’m going to be seeing friends and family members in Cleveland over the next few days, and there will be much talk about news, politics, weather and local sports. There is nothing I dread more than a lull in the conversation, so I’ve created these Christmas 2013 Talking Points to get me through the holiday party season with a minimum of awkward pauses. You are welcome to add your own.


“These Democrats—can you believe the nerve of these guys?”

“Republicans just don’t get it.”

“It’s all because of gridlock we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of gerrymandering we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of money in politics we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of lobbyists we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of the unions we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of low-information voters we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of ivory tower elites we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of the media we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of Congress we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of the Supreme Court we can’t get nothing done.”

“It’s all because of the president we can’t get nothing done.”

“And meanwhile the president is on vacation!”


What’s wrong with Miley Cyrus? That girl’s got a screw loose somewhere, I think. Can someone explain twerking to me? I don’t get it!


“The Browns stink.”

“The Cavs stink.”

“The Indians were good last year, but they’re gonna stink.”

“I’m looking forward to the draft.”


“I don’t like what this ‘Duck Dynasty’ guy said, but come on, you know?”

“Hey, how about this Obamacare?”

“Snowden broke the law, but is he a bad guy? Or is he a good guy? You could make a case.”

“I don’t know why the gays would want to get married, but hey, OK, go for it.”

“It’s all because of this frickin’ war on Christmas.”


“Shhh, quiet down. The NSA is listening.”


“I cannot believe how warm/cold it is for this time of year. It must be all that global warming.” (OPTIONAL LOL)

“The big blizzard was in ’78. Nine months later all your uncles and aunts were born. Ask your parents why.”

“Not a good night to drink and drive.”


“This is crazy. They deliver the packages as I’m typing the order on the keyboard.”


“Good, good. How about you?”

“Can’t complain.”

“Alright. Not as bad as the Browns/Cavs.” (WHOEVER LOST MOST RECENTLY)


“Man, that ‘Breaking Bad’ ending had everything I wanted.”

“Geez, Sandra Bullock was something else in that space movie.”

“If I have to hear that ‘Blurred Lines’ song one more time I’m gonna stick a fork on my ear, ya know?”

“We saw Robin Swoboda at Legacy Village. True story.”


“What’s up with all these mattress stores?


“Another day, another dollar.”

“They haven’t thrown me out of the building yet.”

“Be better if I didn’t have to take 480 every dang day, but whadda ya gonna do?”

“It’s because of my manager we can’t get nothing done.”

Joe Donatelli is the author of Full Griswold: Stories from a Honeymoon in Italy.

Photo by taylorsevens


Mattress Heights, Ohio

What’s up with all the mattress stores in Mayfield Heights, Ohio? Joe Donatelli examines this important question.


Last week my friend Sammy posted a tongue-in-cheek joke on his Facebook page: “I think we need another mattress store in Mayfield Heights.” So I had to laugh when my dad picked me up from the airport, and when we got off the freeway the first thing I saw was a new mattress store on Mayfield Road.

Today I took a drive down to the Buffet House (which I was disappointed to learn was closed, even though from Mayfield Road it looked like it was decorated for Christmas, which is strange, like, “Have a Merry Christmas…as if that’s even possible now without our ridiculously affordable Kung Pao chicken!”)

While I drove down Mayfield Road I spotted five more mattress stores, all within a quarter-mile stretch, bringing the grand total of mattress stores in Mayfield Heights (population 18,974) to six mattress stores that I know of, plus Walmart and Fish Furniture, which makes eight total stores in which you can buy a mattress in Mayfield Heights. (If anyone has a scientific study of Mayfield Road mattress store clusters they can send me to clarify these data points, I would appreciate it.)

While the sheer volume of mattress stores in Mayfield Heights no doubt guarantees great deals for customers, I fear that my hometown may be encroaching upon peak mattress, the point upon which the supply of mattresses arcs perilously upwards and then crashes back down to earth.

We’ve seen it before in Mayfield Heights.

In the 1980s Mayfield achieved peak hamburger before fading back to a more natural ratio of humans-to-meat-patties.

In the 1990s Mayfield experienced peak pizza. It was, I can tell you, a glorious time to be a fat teenager.

The 2000s have born witness to peak drug store, peak sub shop and now peak mattress.

If one were to drive through Mayfield Heights today without ever talking to the people, one might deduce, “Here is a group of suburbanites who really like eating meatball subs, taking Nyquil and hitting the sack.”

What does it all mean?

Mattress stores would not locate on Mayfield Road unless there was a demand. Residents in Mayfield Heights are older (42.9), on average, than Ohio residents (39.3). And almost half of the city’s residents are married, which is a key factor. If you’ve ever shared a bed with a spouse, you know that a large bed in which comfortable sleep can be had is the main key to avoiding divorce.

Also, most mattress stores deliver, so being near I-271 is no doubt a large advantage in the eyes of mattress sellers delivering mattresses to other communities. In fact, it’s probably the real reason there are so many mattress stores in Mayfield Heights—great freeway access to the eastside, and it’s not far from Lake and Geauga Counties.

What I’m saying is that Mayfield may be a sleepy community, but it’s not eight-mattress-stores sleepy.

It’s wonderful to be home for Christmas. Even though Mayfield Road is insane during the shopping season and the stores are often nuts and when it snows everything turns slushy gray, this city is still home, because unlike the boom-and-bust pizza and mattress industries, the supply of wonderful people in Mayfield remains constant.

It’s good to be back.

Merry Christmas, all.

UPDATE 1: My friend Andrew offers this theory: “Other fads come and go, but sleeping has remained popular for decades. I think I read somewhere that most people spend 95% of their lives either sleeping or dragging their old mattresses to their tree lawns. It’s the perfect business.  The other five percent is spent working and eating submarine sandwiches.” Strong take, Andrew.

And now Reddit is chiming in. Here are some of the responses, which are pretty great:

– Bedford has autos…we get the Mayfield Mattress Mile!

– Author writes about mattress shops… what about sub shops? There are sooo freaking many.
Jimmy Johns
5th Ave
Penn Station
Cafe 56

Author’s Note: I mention sub shops!

– I’ve noticed this ever since moving to Mayfield. If you expand a little more and just go for sandwiches you can also add the gyro place, 5 guys, McD’s and Burger King to the list. And there are 2 subways if you count the one in Walmart.

– It’s unreal. They just opened ANOTHER at the corner of Lander and Mayfield. I bet it’s money laundering for the Russian and Italian mobs. There can’t be enough people buying mattresses to make these all profitable ventures.

– Yeah WTF is with the Mattress Firm Opening up DOWN THE STREET from ANOTHER MATTRESS FIRM!? The one by the highway was a Remodel! And they are literally across the street AND Next to TWO other Mattress stores, its unreal.

– We live nearby and were just having this conversation on Wednesday. Couple that with the one near Piada on Cedar and we live in the middle of Mattress Universe. And they all look super shady, too. I like that they’re all basically named “A Really Awesome Mattress Store For Real Guys.”

– I think part of it is the combination of colleges, others in higher ed, and new staff at the Clinic and UH. They’ll buy new or a larger mattress more often than someone older who is more stable and move households less.

– But really? How many mattresses does the average person buy in a lifetime? Maybe three?

– Hank Scorpio: There’s Hammocks-R-Us, that’s on third too. You got Put-Your-Butt-There.
Homer: Mm-Hmm.
Hank Scorpio: That’s on third. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot… Matter of fact, they’re all in the same complex; it’s the hammock complex on third.
Homer: Oh, the hammock district!
Hank Scorpio: That’s right.

Anyone else have a theory?

UPDATE 2: I found some intel that could explain Mayfield’s mattress store explosion.

Joe Donatelli is the author of Full Griswold: Stories from a Honeymoon in Italy.


Comeback Victory: Ohio University football has come a long way. A really, really long way. Really.

Ohio University alumni Joe Donatelli recalls the dark days of the Ohio University football program from the mid-1990s.

Packed house at Peden Stadium

Note: This story originally appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Ohio Today.

To see just how far the Ohio football program has come, one must travel back in time to 1994. My freshman year the football team failed to win a game. It didn’t just lose. It invented new and exciting ways to lose. The first game I attended at Peden Stadium was a 5-0 loss to Utah State. For you non-football fans, 5-0 is an unusual football score. It’s like losing a baseball game .7 to 0.

I seem to recall the Utah State game being played under dark skies, but perhaps that’s because it felt like every game that season was played in a Tim Burton movie. It was always windy, always dark, always raining. If the field had split in half during the second quarter and 10,000 specters leapt into the gray sky, it would’ve surprised no one. It would have explained things. Ah, we would have said, the stadium’s haunted. That’s why we can’t get past the 50.

True story: I got my ticket by purchasing a hamburger at the Wendy’s on Court Street. Attendance was 5,940. Most fans left after the 110 performed at halftime, as was tradition at the time.

The rest of the season was a disaster. Ohio lost by an average of 16 points a game. Greg Graziano, who hosted the “Coach’s Corner” TV show, was forced to show highlights of short runs by running back Lakarlos Townsend. For you non-football fans, this would be like showing “American Idol” highlights of singers not falling off the stage.

After one particularly bad outing, head coach Tom Lichtenberg went on the radio and said something along the lines of, “We played like Cliffy and the Clowns, and I’m Cliffy.” The quote made its way into sports reporter Rob Demovsky’s story in The Athens Messenger, and it summed up the season.

It should be noted that the players, many of whom were talented, took all this losing hard. I got to know a few of them when I covered the men’s track team for The Post. I asked why they played two sports, and their response was, “We want to win something.” To their credit, on the track, they usually did.

Lichtenberg was fired at the end of the season, and a new coach, Jim Grobe, was hired for the 1995 campaign.

In Grobe’s first home game, Ohio snapped its 12-game losing streak against Illinois State. A few hundred students stormed the field and tore down the goalpost, probably more out of irony than joy. Depending who you ask, the goalpost was either carried uptown to the bars or dumped in the Hocking. Or possibly both. The athletic department hilariously warned students not to tear down the goalposts again, which was not a problem, as Ohio wouldn’t win another home game for almost a year.

But the team had turned a corner. In 1996 and 1997 Ohio won more games than it lost, and what we now know as Ohio football was born. It was during the Grobe years that students started attending games again, and not just for the 110, which it should be noted has never had a bad season.

And that’s where I left things when I graduated. We were winless my freshman year. We were winners my senior year.

Last fall, my wife and I returned to Athens for a semester. (You can read all about that adventure here.) When we went to the New Mexico State game last season, it didn’t feel—what’s the word?—real.

Tailgreat Park

During the 1997 season, the tailgate section was wherever my friend Jim parked his Chevy Celebrity (actual photo above), plus whoever else then happened to park around us. There were no tents. No bouncy castles for the kids. No double-wide bathrooms. Or fancy alumni tents. Or bands. Or families. It was mainly people who bled green and white and who liked drinking in the morning, which are probably two sides of the same coin.

Back in the 1990s, the game-day experience was bare-bones. You had the band and the cheerleaders and the mascot, and tiny football promoting the local realty company and that was about it. Now, besides often being televised, the stadium has Victory Hill and a video scoreboard and contests and other fun things to distract fans during TV timeouts.

Probably the biggest change is that there are so many fans. My wife and I had no idea that by going to the New Mexico State game we’d be part of the largest crowd in school history (25,893). Demand is such that ticket cost is not based on price elasticity (meaning price rises with demand), which is a vast departure from the old burger-based pricing scheme.

It was an exciting season, which kicked off with the school and town still buzzing about Ohio’s appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Utah State. The Bobcats won 24-23, which is a fine football score.

Joe Donatelli ’98 was managing editor of The Post in 1997-98. He is the author of The Marching Band Refused to Yield: The True Story of the Time the Ohio University Alumni Band Fought the Miami of Ohio Football Team.


Mailing List for My Untitled Humor Book Set at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio

If you’d like to be notified when my Ohio University humor book is published, email me at contactjoed(at) with the subject line Book Mailing List.

Athens-Christmas-DaySo the thing with books these days is that you have to start marketing them before they’re finished, which is probably something that, say, Victor Hugo never had to deal with. Other things Hugo never had to deal with: getting reviewed on Goodreads, Twitter followers and teen book bloggers. (They can MAKE OR BREAK you.)

I’ve started a humorous mystery novel set at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. If you’d like to be notified when the book is published, please email me at contactjoed(at) with the subject line Book Mailing List, and I will add you to the mailing list.

If you like humorous novels or mysteries or hold a special place in your heart for OU and Athens, I think you will enjoy this book. The first chapter is finished, and the entire book is outlined. The goal is to finish it this summer and offer it for sale before the holidays.

Thanks for your support.

And for my Bobcats … Go ‘Cats!

Things I have written about OU:

Returning to Athens is for Brave, Foolish Alumni

11 Reasons Why Miami is the Worst

Some advice for President Obama on His Visit to Athens, Ohio

What a 2012 Ohio University football game looks like to someone who watched OU lose 5-0 to Utah State in 1994

The Worst College House Ever

The Junction: A Eulogy

Bobcat Fans Brave Tornado to Witness First Bowl Game Since 1968


Ohio Tumblr

Check out the hilarious Ohio Tumblr “I’m From Ohio,” which is loaded with funny Ohio GIFs.


This is for Ohio people–and anyone who likes making fun of Ohio, which is the rest of the country. My apologies if these Ohio GIFs are too Ohio. I’ll return to less geographically specific things like Morgan Freeman narrating himself tomorrow.

Tumblr: Hi, I’m From Ohio