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And Now, United Airlines’ New Theme Song!

12 Apr

Announcer voice-over

“In light of United Airlines, shall we say, unique passenger accommodation policies, here with the company’s new theme, is United CEO Oscar Munoz:”

 

Munoz (with bat in hand)

(to the tune of “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller)

 

(verse 1)

“You’re leavin’ home, tickets in hand

But the plane is full,

We got the right to throw you out on yer can,

And we just might crack yer skull.”

 

(verse 2)

“Your home might seem so far away,

And you feel like a wrong has been done,

But you silly customers have to make way

Because United staff is number one.”

 

(chorus)

“Ohh, on United jet airliners,

Be careful which seat you buy,

You may end up with quite a shiner,

But be sure to fly the friendly skies.”

 

Call Me a Goober. I Don’t Get Uber.

2 Mar

by Roger White

 

OK, my fellow aficionados of the absurd, before we slice into the juicy prime rib of this here column, let’s settle the squabbling once and for all: What color are these words? Do you see blue type on a black background or gold type on a white background? I’ll give you a minute. No, Leonard, fuchsia on lime is not a choice.

who gives a

Apparently, because of one silly photo of a dress that was e-passed around the globe in about, oh, twelve seconds, everything we knew and believed about how we human types perceive color is right out the window. I heard tell that there were acts of gun violence in many cities and more than a few divorce proceedings initiated because of this stupid dress.

Fox News even reported that Turkneckistan declared war on neighboring Rosannadannastan over this garment argument. Citing an anonymous source, Fox claimed that the dress was to be worn at a Democratic fundraiser and that the current White House Administration is to blame for all the hubbub. As the Fox anchor concluded, “Thanks, Obama.”

Anyway. That’s not my rant for this episode. (It’s blue on black, by the way.) No, the rusted bobby pin stuck in my lower craw this time out is this Uber phenomenon. If you haven’t heard of Uber, it’s an app—started in California, of course—that magically transforms any Tom, Dick, and Hot Rod Harry with a set of wheels into a taxi cab driver. Here’s actual wording from the Uber site: “Got a car? Turn it into a money machine. The city is buzzing, and Uber makes it easy for you to cash in on the action. Plus, you’ve already got everything you need to get started.”

So, if I may extrapolate, I need nothing more than my derelict little Ford Pinto, some free time, and a desperate desire to make some cash without really working in order to chauffeur my way to riches? What a fantastic concept! What could possibly go wrong?

ruh roh ruber

Hmmm, let’s see. If you’re the guy behind the wheel—we’ll call you the Uber-er—it’s all easy money—until you get summoned to the lower east side of town to pick up a half-dozen Hell’s Angels, whose request is something like, “Just drive us around town for a while, lights off, and DON’T look in the back seat! Got it?” Or, say you’re the one looking for a ride—you’re the Uber-ee—and you get picked up in a two-tone primer and day-glo yellow ’63 Impala by a dude with a patch over one eye and a tattoo of Jeffrey Dahmer on his bicep. “Um, Sixth Street, please. Wait, um, downtown’s that way. No, wait!”

waitYou see my concerns. The threat of death and dismemberment aside, did you know that if you—the Uber-ee— opt for the Uber route during a time that is considered “high demand,” you will be charged what the smiling Uber people (Uberites? Ubereeenos?) euphemistically term “surge pricing”? Yeah. So, say you’re having little luck getting an honest-to-gosh taxi at 3 a.m. on New Year’s, and you punch up Uber on your phone thingy. It’s only a five-minute ride from the bar to your house, but you’re a little tipsy—and besides, your neighbor used Uber for the same trip only a few weeks ago, and it was only $25. Uber to the rescue! Your Uber driver is a tad odd and smells like onions and cat litter, but he gets you home in one piece. You whip out two twenties, feeling generous, and your cat-litter-smelling-cabby laughs. “That’s $675, lady.” Yep, surge pricing.

You see her concerns.

If I may extrapolate further, where will this lead? Will we have Uberfied air travel soon? I can see the Uber site now: “Got an airplane? Got at least a student’s license? Turn your Cessna into a money machine. The nation is buzzing, and many people—especially those on cartel payrolls—need transportation fast! Uber makes it easy for you to cash in on the action. Plus, you’ve already got everything you need to get started….”

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

…Only to Find Gideons’ Flatscreen

23 Jul

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Well, I’m back, my fellow existential exam-takers. Just flew in from the far reaches of my psyche, and, boy, are my neural dendrites tired. Actually, I’ve been in Baltimore, but it’s about the same.

 

Although I was encamped in the city’s trendy Inner Harbor for bidness purposes, I did partake of some of the local tourist fare, which involved, in various proportions, many images of Fort Wipken WayMcHenry, the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, mounds of Maryland blue crabs (and all the accompanying crab hammers and pliers and crab-innard removers and bibs and things), and thousands upon thousands of orange-clad Orioles fans. Note: Every third street, boulevard, and/or quasi-large building in Baltimore proper is named for Cal Ripken, Jr. There’s Cal Ripken Road, Cal Ripken Way, Cal Ripken Hair Restoration Clinic, you name it.

 

For those of you non-baseballites, Ripken, nicknamed the “Iron Man,” played for the O’s for something like 173 years, and he holds the major league record for consecutive games played. He Call Calsuited up and took the field for—seriously, now—2,632 games without so much as a potty break, or something like that. Anyway, the folks of Baltimore worship the guy. There’s even an Our Lady of the Shortstop Catholic Church near Camden Yard, where parishioners bless themselves with the sign of the 8 and refer to themselves as Cal-tholics. OK, not really. I kid.

 

Anyhow, the city its own self wasn’t nearly as crime-infested as I had pictured it. For many years, Baltimore carried a not-so-savory reputation with regard to one’s personal safety. The pro basketball team wasn’t called the Baltimore Bullets for nothing. They were going to be called the Baltimore Brick Upside the Heads, but they couldn’t fit it all on the team jerseys. However, I must say that during my brief stay near the Chesapeake, I was accosted not once—unless you count the very large, very moist man with the Phil Spector hair and leopard-print thong singing Paul Anka’s “Having My Baby” at the top of his lungs. I wasn’t sure if he was panhandling, making some sort of pro-life statement, or on the run from the Cal Ripken Clinic for Mood Disorders, but I ponied up a fast fiver and got the hell out of there.

 

A bit off topic from Baltimore per se, but I have to report—the Spouseman not having lodged at the finer inns on my own dime for a good while—that I was thoroughly gobsmacked with regard to one particular aspect of my accommodations. Hotels, I have come to conclude, are absolutely convinced that their guests cannot go one fraction of a second without access to a television. Gads, man. There was a TV in the bathroom—built into the mirror, mind you—a TV in the elevator, a tiny telly on each treadmill in the fitness room, a TV on every wall of the lobby, several in the bar, TVs in the restaurant, etc., etc., etc. CNN, Fox News, and General Hospital were everywhere. Live with Kelly and Michael was practically ubiquitous. I didn’t really need that last sentence to make my point, but I enjoy using the word “ubiquitous” whenever possible. I can be obsequious, dare I say insouciant, like that sometimes.

gotta have

With the preponderance of boob tubes, I found it a tad ironic when I read the little sign in the john that instructed me to please reuse my towels. The hotel explained on its quaint recycled-paper missive that it was trying to help the planet and save money—which would, of course, keep their rates lower—by asking that visitors gently reuse their towels during their stay. I kinda figured they could save a bit more if they gently stopped cramming high-dollar television sets into every conceivable space they could find. I, for one, do not require a flatscreen, high-definition TV built into my toilet paper dispenser.

 

On the plane ride home, I actually considered writing to the hotel manager about my concerns, but the tiny little TV in the seatback in front of me was gently playing an Andy Griffith Show rerun. So I got sidetracked. It was a really good one, though. The one where Aunt Bee enters her kerosene-flavored pickles in the county fair…

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

Reconnaissance Specialist Zorbum 9Smith Reports

29 Feb

by Roger White

 

“Oh, I used to be disgusted,

And now I try to be amused…”

—Elvis Costello

 

“Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.”

—Commander Buck Murdock, Airplane II, The Sequel

 

Floating far above the clouds somewhere over the Great Plains, a gargantuan monolithic door composed of a mysterious synthetic skin slides silently up, and the great silver mothership swallows a lozenge-shaped shuttlecraft.

Reconnaissance Specialist Zorbum 9Smith exits the shuttlecraft and immediately reports to Captain Vnnn-pu. After the traditional Andromedan earlobe-sniffing ceremony of greeting, Specialist 9Smith readies for the debriefing.

“9Smith,” Captain Vnnn-pu mindmelds, “your mission was to observe this planet’s most advanced, most powerful nation and report on your impressions of its culture. What are your findings?”

“Honored Captain, if you would open your mind to Subchannel Y, I have prepared a Mental PowerPoint presentation,” 9Smith melds. “I believe you will be most intrigued, as was I. Please disregard those first two slides. That is me at a ritualistic labor ceremony of the Western world.”

“What is this ritualistic labor ceremony called?”

“The happy hour,” 9Smith reports. “Work force representatives convene at small, local shrines to partake of what I can only presume are holy elixirs, plot overthrow of their labor overlords, and perform pre-mating functions with work force representatives of the opposite sex.”

“I see. The gyrations are quite peculiar. And what is that device on your subcranium?”

“That is termed a lamp shade,” 9Smith melds, referring to his notes. “Apparently, this is a sacred crown worn during the advanced stages of the happy hour ceremony.”

“Good.” Captain Vnnn-pu nods, mentally smiling. “You must have gained their trust to be honored so. And your report?”

“This is a land of many ironies, Captain. And I know how a good irony sets your drachio-chords to vibrating.”

“Yes, yes. Juicy irony.”

“Observe your mindscreen, Captain. These are just a few examples:

“In this culture, personal vehicles that would save the most currency for drivers—vehicles the earthlings have finally invented to run without using deceased dinosaur fluids—are priced out of reach for those drivers who would need the currency savings the most.”

“Most odd,” Captain Vnnn-pu notes.

“It becomes worse,” 9Smith melds. “Domestic energy alternatives, such as solar panels, energy-efficient windows and doors, and appliances that cost the least currency to operate—and even longer-lasting, currency-saving light-producing modules—are the very things the poor among this society cannot afford.”

Captain Vnnn-pu mentally sighs. “Continue.”

“It seems that humans who operate their personal vehicles the fastest on earth streets and highways are generally the humans least qualified to drive at any speed.

“Further, the media with the most power to influence humans in this culture—movies and television—and would therefore obviously hold themselves to the highest standards of storytelling, worthwhile entertainment, and adherence to the principle of doing the most good for the most people, instead regularly produce such products as ‘Booty Call,’ ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’, ‘Deuce Bigalow,’ ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians,’ and ‘The Jerry Springer Show,’ to name just a few.”

Captain Vnnn-pu shudders, his drachio-chords humming.

“Also, professions that have the potential to make the most positive impact on cultural progress—such as teaching—are consistently near the bottom of the human pay scale, while those who play children’s games for a living make millions of earth dollars per year.”

“Astounding.”

“What’s more, these fully grown children-men are idolized and revered by most everyone in the society—namely the males—despite the children-men’s propensity to disregard the society’s laws and morés, injure one another and themselves with firearms, ingest illegal performance-enhancing substances, and generally behave like preteen humans.”

“I must sit,” Captain Vnnn-pu admits. “My drachio-chords. Go on.”

“Those humans with the most varied and abundant life experiences, who would be revered and honored by any thinking society—the elderly—are by and large relegated to the shadows, often to die alone, in poverty, or in dormitory-like detention centers known as care facilities.

“Get this, the humans who vie for public office are most interesting. These humans claim to have ‘the average Joe’s values at heart,’ yet they are generally among the most very wealthy and privileged among them. From my observation, the average human citizen wouldn’t have anywhere near the financial means, the family pedigree, the television actor’s visage, or the innate ability to switch sentiments on a whim as do these humans. A most perplexing and frightening breed.”

“Who are these humans?”

“They call them politicians, Captain. A most untrustworthy type, yet the humans bestow upon them the most power of all, it seems.”

“And this ‘average Joe?’”

Specialist 9Smith mentally shakes his subcranium. “Apparently, not the brightest of creatures.”

“Please, the drachio-chords.”

“Lieutenant Kranki-5, please get the captain a container of neep juice.”

 “Is there more?”

“Oh, much, much more, Captain. I will relate only a few, however. This one possibly intrigues me the most. The very nature of accruing wealth is quite obviously tipped in the favor of the already-wealthy humans.”

“What is wealth again, 9Smith?”

“The accumulation of personal currency. Unlike Andromeda, sir, where every citizen is guaranteed equal access to life necessities, here one must earn and trade currency to ensure continued sustenance, care, and shelter.”

“Most curious.”

“It is a true subcranium-scratcher: The cycle of wealth begetting wealth and poverty begetting poverty appears solid and unshakeable. For the large part, it appears the wealthy human tribes will always be the wealthy, and the same with the poor humans. Any real attempt at wealth-sharing appears lacking.

“Also, human corporate leaders—bosses, they are called. In companies large or small, these are the very humans who have no need to park closest to the building because no one apparently cares if they are tardy. Yet, oddly, these are the humans with the most convenient vehicle parking spots.”

“Bosses, eh? Perhaps bosses cannot walk so well.”

“I do not know. But in a related observation, these bosses many times are given personal vehicles free of charge, when their ability to purchase such vehicles is many times greater than those humans who appear to work longer hours and park much farther away.

“Continuing, humans have more work-saving devices and more automated systems than ever in their history, yet this generation seems destined to work many more years of their lives than several generations previous.”

“And why is this?”

“It all has something to do with some dreadful collision.”

“Collision?”

Specialist 9Smith refers to his notes. “Yes, a terrible crash on, let’s see here, Wall Street.”

“Strange. Proceed.”

“More is known now among humans about health and nutrition for young humans, and more affordable access to quality choices for human children is available to  more families than at any other time in human history, yet childhood obesity and diabetes appear to be at epidemic proportions—and human childhood hunger remains a problem.

“Additionally, with the advent of cable and satellite, humans now have thousands of television wavelengths available for viewing every night, yet when one mindmelds with the humans, it appears the choices of quality programs are nowhere near as desirable as, say, A.D. 1962—when one could choose from among “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Gunsmoke,” or “The Ed Sullivan Show” from among the three network channels the humans had then.”

“Andy Griffith. Was he a great leader?”

“On the local level, yes, Captain. Apparently an outstanding officer of the law.”

“Please, no more, 9Smith, no more. Anything positive to report?”

“Well, yes. One of the culture’s leaders here announced that humans may soon be able to keep their shoes on when they arrive at air travel centers.”

“Shoes?” Captain Vnnn-pu queries. “Why on Andromeda would the humans need to take off their shoes at air travel centers in the first place?”

“It’s a long story, Captain.”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body . . .

13 Oct

by Roger White 

I read in the newspaper the other day that Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will soon be one of only 30 or so airports in the country to be blessed with the latest and greatest version of the full-body security scanner.

Are we special or what?

Apparently responding to travelers’ complaints that the scanners currently in use are, now let me find the exact wording so I get this right—hang on a minute, here it is—“too invasive because TSA officials behind curtains could see contours of genitalia,” your friendly TSA folks have devised the so-called millimeter wave machine. Before I get to the new-fangled millimeter wave machine, why do you suppose the TSA people needed to be behind curtains to view our genitalia? Are they too embarrassed to view our genitalia right out in public? If I know that somebody is scanning the contours of my genitalia, by golly, I want that person out in the open. To think that someone is gawking at my boys behind a curtain is a bit too lurpy for me. In fact, in all fairness we should be able to view the contours of the TSA person’s genitalia at the same time they’re looking at ours. What do ya say? Tit for tat, so to speak.

Anyway, this new contraption, according to its handlers, will not show exacting details of your naughty bits, but instead will display a “generic form with arms and legs, similar to a gingerbread man with its arms raised.” And, as we all know, gingerbread men with their arms raised don’t have naughty bits, so this should quell all the hullaballoo and rhubarb about genitalia. And anytime I can use the words “rhubarb” and “genitalia” in the same sentence, I consider it a good day.

According to the article I was reading, if this millimeter wave machine thing sees what it thinks is a potential weapon, it will zero in on the part of the body involved. It will then proceed to destroy that part of the body with a death-ray gun. I’m kidding, of course. That area of the body is then subjected to a pat-down, according to the TSA. Or, as we called it in middle school, the feel-up.

Ya know, we pay darn good money to go to the airport to be leered at and fondled, so I say it’s high time the airport people pony up some perks for the privilege. For example, if these security scanners are so precise and techy, why don’t they employ them for double duty as mole detectors?

“Mr. Davis, step right through. You don’t seem to have any weapons or terrorist liquids on you, but you do seem to have a suspicious-looking freckle below your left nipple. You might want to have that checked out. Next.”

And the little conveyor belt scanner that looks over all your personal items? They could easily fashion that into a buffer and polisher, no? So while your shoes and belt are being irradiated to see if they are concealing a nuclear bomb, they could also be enjoying a nice wax job so that they come out on the other side fresh and supple.  

Last but least, the friendly TSA folks themselves. Now look, I’m as patriotic as the next guy; I know we have to sacrifice for freedom and security; I understand we all must compromise to keep the mighty eagle soaring and to maintain liberty and justice for all and to keep Hank Williams Jr. and Charlie Daniels selling gimmicky records and all that. But, honestly, the whole attitude, TSA folks. That’s gotta go. You’re not on the front lines in Afghanistan. You’re not guarding the president or maintaining a SWAT vigil outside a desperate criminal’s hideout. You’re a half-step up from driving around the Wal-Mart parking lot in the goofy blinking golf cart, okay?

So a little courtesy, please? In fact, why can’t TSA people do some double duty themselves? I mean, we’re in the airport, the alcohol is duty-free here (whatever that means), we’re in an hour-long line. I say we have the TSA folks take drink orders while we wait.

“Please have your identification ready and remove all jewelry. And we’re having a special on top-shelf margaritas for the next half-hour. Thank you.”

That might get me flying again.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.