Archive | Austin RSS feed for this section

That’s Right, I Invented Tokémon Woah.

1 Aug

by Roger White

 

It hit me—almost literally—the other day just how pervasive this Pokémon Go craze is when my daughter yelled at me to stop the car (in the middle of the road, mind you) as I was driving in our neighborhood. Panicked, I slammed on the brakes, fearing I’d unknowingly plowed over a squirrel or baby deer or a neighbor kid or two.

 

“Wait! Wait, I almost got him,” Lindsey ordered. She had her cell phone aimed at a stand of trees beyond the curb.

 

“What? What is it?” I cried, scanning the area for a gray fox or some rare albino ocelot or something.

 

uh, Magmar“It’s Magmar. There, I got him!”

 

I kept eyeing the trees to our right, hoping for a glimpse of the magmar, whatever the heck a magmar was, until the driver behind me honked at me to get my butt in gear.

 

“Magmar?” I asked, waving apologetically at the driver’s one-finger salute to my traffic faux pas. “What is that? Like a roadrunner or something?”

 

My daughter scoffed at my ignorance. “Magmar, Dad. He’s a Pokémon dude. Looks kinda like an angry duck on fire.”

 

Lord. “You mean I almost got us rear-ended for that silly game?”

 

“Not silly, Dad. Magmar’s very important. He could help me take over a gym.”

 

I shook my head in amazement. I wondered what the most horrifying development of the year was: the prospect of the lunatic Donald Trump becoming the leader of the free world or our country’s absurd obsession with risking life and limb to capture imaginary cartoon characters. I’d heard the stories of people getting hit by trains and walking off sheer cliffs in blind pursuit of these Pokémon creatures, but I presumed they were cautionary myths. Not so, apparently.

 

Lindsey gave me a layman’s tutorial—Pokémon Go for Dummies—whereby she explained that there are three teams of different colors: Team Mystic, Team Valor, and Team Instinct. Players join a team based on whether they think they’re brainy, strong, or intuitive. The object of the game is to capture creatures that pop up on one’s cell phone while one is out and about in the real world, then battle each other at places called Pokémon gyms. I asked Linz if they had a Team Dad, wherein players could capture beers throughout one’s house and battle to take charge of the couch. No response.

whatever

This got me thinking, however. What if we came up with a local version of Pokémon Go? Ya know, Austin being Austin, how ’bout something like Tokémon Woah? Think about it. You could have Tribe Willie, otherwise known as Acapulco Gold. Members of Tribe Willie would be guided by music, a somewhat relaxed attitude toward paying one’s taxes, and simple pleasures—like sittin’ ’round in their underwear. Then there’d be Clan Kinky, or the Grandaddy Purple Tribe. Folks drawn to Clan Kinky would be inspired by satire, matzah ball soup, and delusions of living in the governor’s mansion. And then, of course, you’d have Clique McConaughey, or Tribe Redbud. Redbud Tribe members would be moved by such things as UT football and nude bongo-playing. Alright, alright, alright.

 

Now, the object of Tokémon Woah would be to venture about the capital city in search of various Tokémon creatures, such as Budzilla, Panama Red, Buzz Lighthead, Bong Bong, Roachymon, Spliffowak, Ganjasnorf, and the like. Once you capture a Tokémon, you pluck out any wayward seeds and take your Tokémon to the nearest Tokémon CrashPad, where you compare your Tribe Willieparticular Tokémon with those from other tribes. Once it’s established which tribe has the smoothest Tokémon Woah, that tribe enjoys dominion over the album selection for that CrashPad. No Stairway or Free Bird, however. Any playing of Stairway, Free Bird, or any and all Styx selections is grounds for immediate CrashPad banishment.

 

I got really stoked about this. I went so far as to fax my game proposal to the offices of Mr. Nelson, Mr. Friedman, and Mr. McConaughey. I got two “Cease and Desist” orders and a handwritten response that simply stated, “It’d be a lot cooler if you’d leave me the hell alone.” Hmm.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

We Can Make Austin Great Again – By Winning!

14 Mar

 

 

by Adolph Felcher

felcher mug

Editor’s note: Keeping in the spirit of this year’s extraordinarily robust political climate, “This Old Spouse” columnist Roger White has graciously stepped aside to offer readers valuable insight into the ideology and platform viewpoints of the major candidates in the 2016 presidential race. In this edition, we welcome guest columnist Adolph Felcher, chairman of the Central Texas Chapter of the Donald Trump for President Campaign, for a candid look at Mr. Trump’s vision on the local level.

 

Hello, and you’re welcome, Central Texas. If you have been paying attention to the exciting and dynamic rallies being held across the country, then you understand how much greater our nation is going to be when the great winner of all winners, Mr. Donald Trump, leads us back onto the path of greatness and winning. My name is Adolph Felcher, and I’m here to share with you what this return to winning and greatness will look like here in Texas.

Let me tell you, when the Great Donald, who is worth many billions of dollars, becomes the nation’s CEO, this country—and particularly, this Central Texas region—will know what it’s like to be winners again. Great winners who win through the power of their greatness and their vast amounts of money know that winning is what is important, not trivial details such as coherent foreign policy, thoughtful economic programs, or niggling, meaningless things like education reform.

For example, the city of Austin will be a winner again, unified in purpose and skin tone, when we build a wall—a huge, huge wall—just east of gentrified downtown, right around Comal Street or so, to keep out the losers and the lightweights. So das wallmany of the people who live on that has-been side of town are the types we don’t need: illegals, rapists, criminals, minorities, poor people. You know, those who aren’t like us. We’ll build a wall so these losers can’t affect our winning way of life.

The wall will be paid for, of course, by the layabouts and illegals in the outlying areas of say, Del Valle, the Montopolis area, and the eastside ghettos where the less desirables hang out. The Circuit of the Americas race track will be exempted from any financial obligation through a special elite business exemption program we’ll call the Korporate Kommunity Kickback, or KKK.

The Austin City Council will be replaced by a corporate board of very rich people called the One Percent Commission (OPC). We all know that the best way to revitalize a community is to put the winners of the city in charge. The highly successful people who will comprise the commission—business executives, celebrities, lottery winners, independently wealthy Republicans who inherited trump 2their family fortunes, Lance Armstrong—will run the town with the assistance and visionary guidance of Special Secretary (SS) Chris Christie. SS Christie, personally appointed by Mr. Trump himself to inspire OPCs nationwide, will be in charge of party morale by leading them in weekly rallies, to be called SS Rallies. Rallies will include singing odes to the Great One (with favorites such as “How Great Trump Art” and “Trumpland das Trumpland”), staring lovingly at the Official Trump Portrait, and practicing self-defense techniques against Muslims and Mexican rapists.

On a personal note, I’m beyond delighted to share with you that I, Adolph Felcher, will be in charge of the local arm of the new youth exercise and indoctrination program, called Trump Youth. My assistant, Mina Kampf, and I have so many wonderful things in store for the guidance, direction, and discipline of all Central Texas youth ages 6-16. Mmm, discipline. Mandatory signup centers will be located at area commercial real estate offices and private country clubs.

A quick reminder: The next Austin area rally will be held at the America’s Academy of Pro Wrestling in Westlake. Local metal band Orange Combover will provide music, and there will be a $500,000-a-plate dinner afterword.

A supporter of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump scuffles with a protestor during a rally in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)Entertainment includes a mini-Trump Casino and 3-D Whack-an-Immigrant family fun game. Legal fee expense reimbursement forms will be available for those enthusiastic supporters who wish to forcibly expel any loser liberal protesters. Onward, Trump Troops!

 

Adolph Felcher is chairman of the Central Texas Chapter of the Donald Trump for President Campaign and owner of Felcher Films, currently in bankruptcy court.

 

For the Sake of All Things Austin, Stop Operation Shade Elm!

12 May

by Roger White

 

Now, ye who know me understand that I’m not of the alarmist ilk; neither am I a hardline skeptic, a delusional “truther,” nor a conspiracy buff who spies shadowy figures behind every knoll, grassy or otherwise. But I have to admit, after observing all the brouhaha stirred up by our dear governor over the U.S. military’s lurking around our sovereign Lone Star lands (see Operation Jade Helm), my suddenly sensitive radar picked up on some very peculiar activities ’round these parts lately.

So I did some investigating, and I found that what’s taking place as we live and breathe is much more peculiar—and dastardly—than you could ever imagine.

At first, I began to notice an unusual proliferation of Williamson County Sheriff’s Department vehicles in and around Austin. Have you seen them, too? Then oneRepub Donuts day, I happened to be in the parking lot of one of our very own Austin Java coffee shops when I saw two rather rotund middle-aged white men in checkered polyester suits, white shoes, and black sunglasses, standing beside two nondescript black sedans. So what, you say? So this. They were munching on donuts—from a Round Rock Donuts box that was sitting on the hood of one of the mysterious sedans. Round Rock, mind you. Checkered polyester suits. White shoes. Middle-aged fat white guys. Don’t you see? They were not at all Austin-like. Blatantly so.

I sidled up, nonchalant, and overheard the following:

“Perfect spot, don’cha think?” said the more corpulent of the corpulent ones.

“Yup,” said the other, wiping his chin on a polyester coat sleeve. “Sheriff Wilson says the green light for Operation Shade Elm could come before the summer’s out.”

Operation Shade Elm? Sheriff Wilson? Round Rock Donuts? Polyester? Holy Conservative Coup!

On a hunch, I texted my hacker friend Eric and asked if he could do some digging—namely for anything named Shade Elm coming from Williamson County.

Eric called me two days later.

“You ready for this?” Eric said breathlessly. “I found one document, in a file folder marked for deletion. OSE. Operation Shade Elm. Williamson County is on the front line of something big. Something most of the rest of the state is on board with—especially Dallas and Lubbock.”

“What?!” I practically screamed into my phone.

“It’s a takeover. They’re gonna turn Austin red, little by little.”

“How? What? How can they do that?”

“Subtle things, man. First, they’re gonna close down all the Austin Java shops and reopen ’em as Round Rock Donuts. Then, get this, Magnolia Café…”

“No.”

Repub Barrel“Yeah, they’re gonna be Cracker Barrels.”

I shuddered.

“They’re gonna attack on the clothing front, too. Men’s shops first.”

“Not polyester.”

“Yup. All the name shops in Austin—Wally’s, Service Menswear, Stag. Gone. Gonna move in Dickies, Walmart Fashion Outlet, Porter Waggoner Line, that kinda stuff.”

“I’m gonna be sick.”

“That’s not the half of it,” Eric continued. “The Austin Car2Go program…”

“You mean all the little Smart Cars the city lets you use?”

“Yeah. They’ll be gone. Gonna replace ’em with Ford F-150 Super Cabs. With gun racks and naked lady mudflaps. And every month will be Truck Month.”

Repub Mudflap“O.M.G.”

“And Cesar Chavez. Once the takeover’s complete, they’ll rename it the Ronald Reagan Liberty Plus Freedom Memorial Drive.”

“We have to stop this,” I muttered.

“Yeah, I know. Look, you write a column. Get the word out, man.”

Sweet Ghost of Ann Richards, Eric’s right. We have to marshal resistance—before summer’s end. We MUST stop Operation Shade Elm. Mayor Adler, Councilman Renteria, City Manager Ott, Wastewater Commission Chair Gray, Sixth Street Dude Who Plays the Trash Cans—We Must Do Something! Call out the Travis County Guard! We must keep Austin weird. Or at least polyester-free. I see them coming! The brown Williamson County vehicles! Here they come! The white shoes! The Rush Limbaugh t-shirts!

Zzz. sssSSNORT. Whew. What a dream. That’s the last time I eat donuts before bed. ’specially Round Rock Donuts.

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, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

Of Asian Delicacies and the Idiom Tedium

16 Mar

by Roger White

My mother-in-law loves authentic Chinese food, so when we treat her to dinner, she almost invariably chooses First Chinese Barbecue, way up on North Lamar in far North Austin. It’s so far north you’re practically in Waco. You can’t get much more dead ducksauthentic than First Chinese Barbecue; as you walk in you’re greeted by rows of dead, naked ducks hanging like John Wilkes Booth’s gang at execution. The aroma of spices and meats is practically intoxicating, and the menu’s mostly in what I presume is Chinese, with some hints about what you’re ordering in English. I’m never quite sure if I’m ingesting a pig, a chicken, or some other roasted creature, but I must say it is all quite scrumptious.

No, First Chinese Barbecue did not cut some sort of free-meal deal with me to write this, but I will tell you that the dried fresh squid with black bean sauce is out of this world. (Is that good, Mr. Run?) Again, that’s First Chinese Barbecue. Far North Lamar. Ask for the Oldspouse Special.

Anyway, the dinner is only half of the evening for our Bubbie. Dear mom-in-law then likes to head next door to the MT Supermarket. This store, if you’ve never been, is the Asian version of a Walmart Supercenter. It’s a 100,000-square-foot bastion of the most amazing and unbelievable foodstuffs any Texan has ever seen. I presume these yummyitems are foodstuffs. In this era of PC politeness and easily hurt feelings, I’m trying to tread lightly here, OK, but not in my wildest imagination can I conjure a gastronomical use for, say, pork rectum, pork uterus, or fresh chicken feet.

And on just about every aisle you’ll find small armies of robotically waving ceramic cats. Quite unsure of what a robotically waving ceramic cat has to do with Asian groceries, I looked it up and found that these are actually a Japanese thing. Called maneki-neko (which sort of translates into “beckoning cat”) these oddly friendly felines are considered good luck talismans. I don’t know. I have a real cat, and whenever he starts to wave at me like that it usually indicates an impending ambush.

There are also rows upon rows of sweets, too, both prepackaged and freshly made. These aren’t your typical kitty hellocandies and cakes, mind you. You have chocolate and strawberry Pocky Sticks, Green Bean Ice Bars, Purple Mochi Balls, and all sorts of squishy treats with names like Lychee Jelly Cup and Poo Poo Variety. Keeping the freshly rendered pork rectum in mind, I opted to pass on the Poo Poo Variety.

With this less-than-appetizing terminology stuck in my cranium, I got to thinking. How many other marketing words and slogans—perfectly appropriate and appealing in their native tongue—somehow fail to translate? So I hopped on my google horse, and here’s what I found:

  • It seems that the Pepsi slogan of some years back—“Come Alive!”—actually translated in a certain Chinese dialect into “Make Your Ancestors Come Out of the Grave!” That Pepsi packs a punch.
  • Coors once used the motto “Turn It Loose!” to ramp up sales, but apparently this hip saying translated into “Suffer from Diarrhea!” in some Spanish markets.
  • Pee ColaWhen good ol’ Coke was introduced overseas, some Chinese dialects rendered “Ke-kou-ke-la,” which was about as close to Coca-Cola as they could get, into “Bite the Wax Tadpole.” Yum.
  • When Kentucky Fried Chicken made the leap across the big pond, their slogan “Finger-lickin’ Good” came through in Chinese as “Eat Your Fingers Off.” Ouch.
  • The American Dairy Association, pleased with the hugely popular “Got Milk?” campaign, was flabbergasted to find when it exported the saying to Mexico, its initial translation appeared as “Are You Lactating?”
  • If Green Giant brand foods wondered why their first forays into the Arab markets didn’t go as planned, it may have been that the Arabic terminology for naughty soup“In the Valley of the Jolly, ho ho ho, Green Giant!” came across as “This is the Land of the Intimidating, uh uh uh, Green Ogre!” No Ogre Brand Peas for me, thank you.
  • Ah, and here’s a classic, from the days of the Ford Pinto. Seems that the braintrust of the Henry Ford folks couldn’t understand why they failed to move any of their hot, new Pintos in Brazil when they first put them on the market. Only after the fact did they discover that the word “pinto” is Brazilian slang for “tiny male genitals.” Yoiks. The Ford guys quickly and as discreetly as possible switched the car’s moniker in their Brazilian dealerships to Corcel, which means “Horse.”

Knowing all this—and understanding that the term in question surely means something delectable in the Asian world—I still can’t picture myself biting into anything of the Poo Poo variety.

Fart BarRoger 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.

 

 

Huzzah for Hard Line on Hardheads with Handhelds! …Huh?

16 Sep

by Roger White

 

Normally, I’m not one to send out hearty huzzahs to governmental entities for actions they’ve taken, and this is likely because governmental entities these days rarely take any action at all (unless it involves evasive action from pursuing police cars, gaggles of reporters, or issues of real import). But I must say that I feel a robust huzzah coming on for the gallant move the Austin City Council made in August. The council types put their pointed noggins together and approved an ordinance banning cellphone use while driving within the Weird City Limits. So here goes. Let’s hear it: Huzzah!

 

Carl, I didn’t see you huzzah-ing.

 

I imagine that this new law, which goes into effect January 1, 2015, will be called by some shorthand name like the DWP law. Driving While Phoning. Or maybe DWT—Driving While Texting. Or we could simply stick with the term DWI and call it Driving While Intexticated. distracted dudeRegardless, label me a cappy hamper. It’s about time we put these handheld monsters in their place. I mean, crikey, time was when you saw a car weaving all over the road and sideswiping lampposts it was usually 2:30 in the morning and the driver had a handful of cheap hooch. Now, any time of day or night you can easily spy a meandering motorist, but these days he’s got his head down, engrossed in his handful of high-tech hosannas. Holy high-speed highjinks!

 

Alas, too, in the olden days, the term “distracted driving” meant that a guy was accidentally steering onto the sidewalk on Guadalupe Street because he was ogling a crowd of college coeds walking down the drag. Nowadays, it usually means somebody put his Dodge in a ditch because he was watching a Vietnamese potbellied pig play the harpsichord on Youtube. It’s insanity, man.

 

So I not only applaud the council for standing up to the mobile madness, I say we take it a few steps further. I vote we enact stiff fines, public shaming rituals, and/or jail time for the following:

  • WWT: Walking While Texting
  • WMWT: Watching a Movie While Texting
  • IYPWT: Ignoring Your Parents While Texting

And, of course:

  • CWRLPWT: Conversing With a Real Live Person While Texting

 

WWTYou’ve surely seen the videos out there of those unfortunate saps who’ve strolled into mall fountains or off sheer cliffs because of their single-minded attention to their devices. And I suppose some of the yahoos in these videos were actually watching videos of other yahoos walking into fountains or off cliffs. Gads. It’s a glimpse of infinity—the fractal geometry of the absurd. Don’t you see? Where was I?

 

Oh. Get this. The Chinese, recognizing the inherent dangers of WWT, have actually devised an urban solution. The city of Chongqing has decided to parse its sidewalks into normal human walking lanes and cellphone user lanes. Apparently, the cellphone lanes have warnings painted onto the pavement about such things as the fact that the sidewalk is ending soon, there’s a naked lady walking right next to you, and your neck could stay permanently frozen in that position if you don’t stop gawking at your phone.

 

I would guess that such walking lanes might need rumble strips or warning buzzers for the hardcore cellphone addicts who refuse to tear themselves away. Such measures may have saved WWT2the tourist in Melbourne, Australia, who walked right off a pier into the frigid waters of Port Phillip Bay recently. According to news reports, the woman thrashed about in the sea for about 20 minutes before being rescued. “There will be no need for a lost property report as the woman kept hold of her mobile phone throughout the entire ordeal,” said a local police officer. The woman’s child and two dogs, unfortunately, were never found. OK, I made that part up.

 

So, anyhow, here’s to our intrepid city council for taking a swipe at all the app-addled addicts out there. I’m with ya, pointy-noggin council types. Is it so hard for people to PUT THE PHONE DOWN? My hope is that once we move into the second phase of our fair burg’s sanctions—the laws against WWT, WMWT, and the like—that eventually we’ll develop edicts against the more grievous mobile device offenses. Such as SWT. You know. Nudge, nudge.

SWT

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.

 

Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

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.

143a.

 

An Apology to Central Texas from Ol’ Juniper Jones

16 Jan

by Ol’ Juniper Jones

 

Dear Central Texas Humans,

 

Ol’ Juniper Jones here. First off, let me say that this here letter has been a long time coming. I first pondered on writin’ you folks back in 1958, but I was just a shrub then. Didn’t even have my berries yet. If yer old enough to recollect, you might remember that the rains in ’57 in and around Austin were heavier than a dead preacher. I’m not 134a. Ol' Juniper Jonesrightly sure what that means, but I heard my daddy say it many a time, and he was a wise old tree. Anyhow, if you’ve lived ’round these parts long enough, you know that a soggy, mild fall means that come winter you git great, big clouds of juniper dust—you might know it better as cedar pollen (even though we ain’t cedars, dagnab it). And as I understand it, you human types don’t take too kindly to our reproductive spores. Apparently, what gits our juices a-flowin’ gets yer noses to blowin’. That rhymed, I’ll be dogged.

 

Yep, the rains in ’57 made the pollen count of 1957-58 a real humdinger, but it looks like it ain’t got nothing on this here season. So I decided to take pen in branch and reach out to you humans, seeing as how with regard to my fellow feathery foliage, hiccuppery2014’s been thicker than George W. Bush after three double vodkas. As an elder statesman of the Central Texas Juniperus family tree, I’m here to tell ya outright that I’m plum sorry. I really am. There ain’t no good reason for all the procreative powder all over yer cars and houses and clothes this winter. Sure, it’s been wet recently, but not like ’57 and ’58.

 

Nope, I’ll tell ya what the real dadblame reason is. All these young, oversexed trees of pollen-bearing age have just run amok. Saplings these days wear their tight little bark and throw random spores in the air like it’s a dang California orgy. I just don’t know what it is with the kids nowadays—twerking to Miley Cypress, listening to bad mileycypressinfluences like Amy Pinehouse and Justin Beecher. Some of the things I see the young’uns doing I can’t even understand, like planking, and tweeting, and going treemo. I had to ask my granddaughter, Ashley, about that one. Apparently, the saplings who wear heavy makeup, paint their branches in dark colors and cry and holler a lot are known as treemo. I don’t get it. Hell, everbody’s showin’ off their berries and seed cones like they’re Heather Oaklear or Linda Larchlace or somethin’.

 

Why, in my day, if a male juniper wanted to court a young lady tree, we waited for a nice, quiet evening, put on some respectable music, like Ray Conifer or Birch Bacharach, or Spruce Springsteen even—not this rap trash they listen to today from these no-talent whippersnappers like Shrub Dogg and Spriggie Smalls. Then, after some soft music, if nature took its course, we’d discreetly send a little pollen her way. Not like today, good gosh a mighty. It’s a regular tree for all out there.

 

dontbeatmeSo I reckon you can consider this an apology on behalf of the more mature of us evergreen earthlings. We don’t have nothin’ against you humans, really. Except fer when you beat us with poles and sticks just to watch our spores go a-flyin’. That just ain’t right. Oh, and we do take exception to the whole “cedar fever” thing. We ain’t cedars. We’re junipers. We really hate that.

 

Ol’ Juniper Jones is a 62-year-old member of the juniperus ashei family, otherwise known as the ashe juniper or mountain cedar tree (although you shouldn’t call him a mountain cedar to his face—he really hates that). For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

My New Year’s Gift to You: Lessons from a Lamebrain Life

3 Jan

 by Roger White

Ah, my dedicated and degenerate Old Spouser devotees, I get all fuzzy and tingly as we head into a fresh, new year. Then the pharms wear off, and the fuzzy-tingly goes away. Sigh. Anyway, among my new year’s resolutions I actually verbalized this time around are to be less curmudgeonly, to drink less and work out more, and to help out my fellow man when and where I can.

Several grueling days into the new year, I quickly realized that #1 and #2 are simply out of the question. Number 3, however—helping out my fellow man—I can take a shot at with this column. So if you get something out of these pearls of wisdom, please write me and let me know so I can scratch #3 off my list and go back to my beloved callous ways.

Seeing as how the new year is a time of reflection, I figured I could impart a bit of sage advice to you by reflecting on a few life lessons I learned—the hard way—through my years on this quaint little planet. You should be writing this down. Get a pencil; I’ll wait. … hmm mmm hmmm … la dee dah … ahem … yes, a pencil … okay.

Number One: Always smell unfamiliar milk before drinking. I was a high school sophomore. My mom and I had just moved into a small duplex, which had been previously rented by two young bachelor types. After a long, hot, tough day of carting boxes and bulky mom chairs and tables, I opened the fridge and spied a half-gallon mmm milkcarton of milk. Mmm, cold milk. I snatched the carton and immediately tipped it up, opening my mouth wide to receive my refreshing reward. Two large solid clumps of foul mush crashed into the back of my throat and crawled down my esophagus. It was a race to the bathroom. To this day, I shudder at the odor of milk going south. (Related lesson: Never trust anything in your duplex left behind by two young bachelor types.)

Numero Dos: Remember when your office is closed for the holidays. I work for an education-related association, so our days off for winter break are pretty generous. I hadn’t worked for the association long; the Monday after the long Christmas weekend I rose early and battled the city traffic for the long drive to work. I was afraid I was running a bit late, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the office parking lot practically empty. Everyone was apparently moving slow following the holiday. I would first one herebe among the first to the coffee pot! When I found the front doors locked, I started wondering if I’d missed a time change or something. I called the main number and discovered—via prerecorded message—that the offices were closed until the following Wednesday. I folded my suddenly sprouted donkey ears down into my collar and battled the city traffic for the long drive back home.

Number Three: Always remember that a river runs only one way. For those of you blessed with actual common sense, this one may be a no-brainer. Alas, this is a true story, and if it helps just one obtuse soul out there, then my job is done. Years ago, in our exuberant youth, my wife and I decided to raft down a section of Barton Creek with another couple. The river was running swift, so we parked our cars near a convenient access point near Highway 360, grabbed our rubber rafts, and excitedly set off on our river adventure. The water was difficult to navigate, and my wife and I soon lost track of our friends in the other craft. We crashed into some thick brush about little help herehalfway down the river’s meandering way to Barton Springs, and our raft sprung a bad leak. I soon found myself treading water trying desperately to reach the wife now stranded on some rocks in the middle of the river. I somehow rescued wifey, and we hoofed it down the riverside to our pals at the end of our course. It was then, and only then, that it dawned upon us that we didn’t have any transportation back to our cars. Did I mention donkey ears? The topper: after we hitched a ride back to our vehicles, our friends realized they’d locked their keys in the car. mmyeah.

I hope we’ve learned something here today. I know I have. Don’t write a column unless you have really thick skin. Hee haw.

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.

Maybe Stevie Should Be Wearing Waders

4 Nov

by Roger White

 

If you ain’t from around these parts, pardner, let me tell ya something about the statue of the late rock/blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan that stands near the shore of Austin’s Town Lake (or Lady Bird Lake or Vince Young Lake or whatever lake they currently call the river that runs through town): Stevie’s clad in poncho and boots not for protection from the elements. No. That was just his style.

 

But given the weather around here lately, SRV’s garb is more than appropriate. In fact, city officials are mulling over the notion of retooling Stevie’s boots into hip-length waders.

 

Translation: Enough with the dang rain already.

 poorstevie

Photographic proof of the Noah-like blessings we’ve been receiving recently showed poor Stevie up to mid-poncho in floodwater. Down here in the southwest part of town, it was even worse. Our community statue of Junior Samples was inundated up past his belly—and it’s a big belly, people. You couldn’t even read the BR-549 sign for days because of all the dang rain. OK, I’m kidding. We don’t have a statue of Junior Samples. I think. Anyway, it’s been bad. You know it’s bad when you sit on your back porch and watch your neighbors waving back at you—as they float by on their back porches. The tiny whisper of a creek that runs behind our home, normally coyote-bone dry, has resembled something flowing through the Amazon Basin of late. Critters of both the hairy and slimy phylum have skittered and slithered in and out of our little domicile seeking refuge. The cat’s about to have a coronary.

 juniorsamples

And sadly, one of the casualties of all this weather has been our community garden. It seems the small sewage facility that butts up (no pun intended) against our neighborhood garden got so swamped from the deluge that it befouled all of our lovingly tended plots of lettuces and kale and tomatoes and arugula with human waste. That’s right. Soylent Green is people poo! This got me thinking: How nasty must the human body be if we can freely fertilize our cabbages and kumquats with cow patties but we run the risk of plague-like death if we use our own, uh, by-products? Regardless, the warning has been issued by the community braintrust: harvest at your own risk! Poo may be present.

 

soylentschmoylentSo the wife and I, who have a plot in the neighborhood garden about the size of a car battery, now watch wistfully as our little squashes and lettuces and tomatoes and strawberries grow and blossom. Do we dare eat them? What if we soaked our harvest in bleach and then ran it all through the washer and dryer? Who exactly in the neighborhood lives upstream of the sewage plant, anyway? Everybody’s a suspect now. Ya smell that? Smells like the family at the end of Canyon Oaks, doesn’t it? And what is that on our Chinese cabbage plant?! Oh, wait, it’s only dirt. Just forget it, I can’t eat any of this now.

 

Oh, well, on the bright side, I was getting a little tired of homegrown cherry tomatoes and squash. That’s the thing about growing your own that nobody tells you about: When the harvest comes in, boy, does it come in. We had so many cherry tomatoes there for a while, I was eating them with lunch, breakfast, midnight snacks, on my corn flakes. I love cherry tomatoes, but please. Kindly remove those cherry tomatoes from my rocky road ice cream.

 

flooooodAnd now. Well, they’re tainted. It’s all tainted. In fact, when next I visit our little garden, I’m thinking I’ll wear gloves—and a poncho and hip-length waders. I’m with ya, Stevie. Dang rain.

 

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.

 

Life in the Closed Lane, Part Deux

14 Oct

by Roger White

 

I’ve harped on the many traffic woes of this sardine-packed city before, but now with my youngest chomping at the automotive bit and with the wife and me renewing our primal fears of bodily injury to our kiddos (and yours if they’re not nimble enough to get out of the way), I figured it was time to revisit the demolition derby that is life on these Austin streets.

 Packed like sardines

There are those who put forth that a car is merely an extension of one’s personality, and I am not one to disagree. In fact, I believe placing a human being behind the wheel of a 2,000-pound mechanical contrivance actually amplifies one’s basic behavior to the extreme. If you’re a bully in your daily existence, then you become a truly monstrous a—hole in your behemoth pickup truck. If you’re the extra-careful, nervous type, this translates into that modest little Yaris attempting earnestly to stay six carlengths away from every other vehicle—even in the Target parking lot. If you’re the meditative, peaceful sort, you transmogrify into Gandhi in a ghia, waving and smiling serenely at those who curse and aim middle digits.

 

Add to this car-as-extension-of-self phenomenon the stifling overcrowding of our byways these days and you get what we are experiencing now: critical car mass. We’re not simply employing our autos to get from one point to another—no, sitting in the sedan, waiting for the light to change or the wreckage to clear, has become a way of life. We’re in our Toyotas and Hyundais so much of the time that we eat, sleep, communicate, transact business, recreate (and, yes, re-create), and conduct practically every other function of living in our cars as much as anywhere else. I hear that Honda is actually working on a driver-activated toilet for its higher-end models. No pun intended. Okay, I made that up.

 

Despite the notion of having a potty on the go, I have come to truly despise driving now. Sadly, I used to enjoy getting in the ol’ jalopy. I envied the guys who had the gleaming hot rods. Now I see these immaculately restored muscle cars, and the occasional collector on the goPorsches (usually driven by guys old enough to remember Ferdinand Porsche personally), and I puzzle over these machines with their massive motors grumbling against the walking pace of traffic. I mean, it’s a bit like owning a racehorse in Manhattan. What’s the point?

 

Anyway, from my daily stop-n-go grind I’ve concluded that there are five basic automotive personality types. And here they are, in no particular order: You’ve got your breakneck-speed, tailgating Reckless Kellys. These guys are always late for something, and you are always in their way, for heaven’s sake. Every lane that a Reckless Kelly is not in is the lane that he or she wants desperately to be in. Conversely, you have your Vehicular Vigilantes. These are the self-appointed regulators of the Reckless Kellys, and they can be just as annoying. VVs are the ones who speed up just enough to not let others in if they feel a traffic injustice has been done. Vigilantes enjoy wagging their fingers and shaking their heads correctively at other drivers. On the other end of the extreme, you have your Motorized Milquetoasts. More than three cars on the road at a time frightens MMs, and decision-making is tough for this mild-mannered sort. Keep your distance. MMs are often seen waiting for a stop sign to turn green. Clueless Cloggers used to be an obvious category; these were the very young and very old vehicular pilots. Currently, however, CCs have grown to include every one of these imbecilic drivers who insist on monitoring their mobile devices while they themselves are mobile! Lord help us. And last but least, you have thback off pleaseose temperamental types who think of themselves as Vigilantes but are in actuality a lethal and unpredictable combo of every known personality on the road. These are the most dangerous, maddeningly volatile drivers you can ever come across. They are convinced that their path and their mission are the most important, and they will compromise with no other automobile. If anyone gets in their way, these asphalt autocrats will do anything in their power to seek vengeance—to the point that they are willing to shut down the whole traffic system to get what they want.

 

These frightening folks are, of course, the Boehner Beamers. Steer clear of BBs; you’ve been warned.

 

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.