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Looking for Just an Ordinary, Average Scholarship

19 Mar

by Roger White

I am an average guy. I live in an average house, and I have an average family with an average dog and cat. Mind you, my wife and two girls are the finest specimens of human average guybeauty and goodness ever, and I love them more than even the ’71 Cowboys, but Herbert Finkbinder in accounting over at the U.S. Census Bureau would just call us average. Know what I mean?

It hit me just how average we are the other day as I started researching ways and means of getting our daughters through college. Lindsey, our oldest, will be a high school senior next year, and the mere thought of paying for four years of university lectures, dissertation programs, dorm keggers and such gave me a nice, average case of angina. Linz is a bright kid—intelligent, talented, creative—but she suffers the crushing disability of being a member of an underserved, underprivileged demographic: the average Wonderbread family.

In my quest for potential scholarships, I, Joe Wonderbread, have found that precious higher-ed hash can be had only if you are highly unique in some way. Say, for example, if you are tall. The Tall Clubs International Student Scholarship is available for women at least 5 feet 10 and for men 6 feet 2. Conversely, the Little People of America Scholarship paves the way for little people to attend college. Strikes one and two. Linz is average height. I also found that the Atheists for Human Rights Award (AHRA) offers university dough for outstanding members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community—not that there’s anything wrong with that—but there’s another strike, unless Linz has been dating that hyperactive guy for a year under false pretenses. Oh, and for the AHRA money, you have to be a Minnesota resident, so even if Linz decides to play for the other team—not that there’s anything etc.—she would have to move to St. Paul to get the funds.

The Chick & Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship, I discovered, is open to HEY YOU DUCKany high school senior in the United States who can call ducks. Compelled to know more, I found that each contestant must follow the rules ordained by the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest—and that each scholarship applicant has exactly 90 seconds to use the four standard duck calls: hail, feed, comeback and mating. Well, of course. I passed this one by Linz. Strike four.

Strikes five through eight included (these are real, understand) the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship, the Klingon Language Institute Kor Memorial Scholarship for Klingon Language Study, the National Candy Technologists Scholarship, and last but not least, the Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest Scholarship. What is the Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest Scholarship, you ask? Simple. Scholarship applicants must attend a high school prom wearing complete attire or accessories made from duct tape. The submission must include a color photograph of the couple together in said duct tape prom attire. Linz turned this down flat, even after I reminded her of Lady Gaga’s rise to stardom. I considered asking wifey to the spring fling—first place is a cool $2,500! I wonder if the Duck Calling Scholarship and the Duck Brand Duct Tape thing could merge somehow. Anyway, strike eight.

 Ummm no

So. Linz wants nothing to do with any of the above, she has little hope of getting a free ride as a college quarterback, and she happens to be the only color of the rainbow that doesn’t have some kind of scholarship fund set up for her advancement. Don’t get me wrong on this. I’m not bitter—any precious bucks that anyone can get based on anything about them—I say more power to them. But the average kid from the average Wonderbread family? Hmph. This got me thinking. We need an average scholarship, for students from typical, run-of-the-mill families with no distinct heritage. What do you say?

I’ll just throw this out there. Off the top of my head. Let’s call it the Average Wonderbread Kid With Average Relaxed Demeanor (AWKWARD) Scholarship for People Of Obscure Personal Ancestry, Genealogy, Etc. (POOPAGE). There you have it. If you’d like to donate, send a minimum of $25 to AWKWARD POOPAGE, P.O. Box 3, Cement, Texas 75555.

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

Sir Archie’s ‘Words for the Now’

10 Apr

by Roger White


All right, gang, I’m at a bit of a crossroads here. Don’t get me wrong. I’m as big a fan of poet Archie Ferndoodle as anyone, and I consider it an honor to present his unique musings in this forum. But ever since his mom passed away in February at the tender age of 109 (breast implant surgery complications, the poor dear), Sir Archie has taken it upon himself to live with me and my family. Mr. F has seven cats and a dyspeptic parrot that sings ’70s country songs in the dead middle of the night. If you’ve ever been awakened at 2 a.m. to the strangled strains of “Harper Valley PTA,” you may have an idea of the trauma. And that’s not the worst part. Apparently, Archie is on a strict diet consisting chiefly of pan-fried liver, steamed cabbage, large-curd cottage cheese, and Oreos (with double stuffing). The whole house smells like a marathon gastric bypass surgical procedure.

The wife and kids are calling for drastic action. But I can’t put the guy on the street, can I? He’s a living legend. In fact, just this morning as we were tidying up after Roscoe the Parrot’s . . . uh, indiscretions on my wife’s oriental rug, the Great One handed me his latest. Yes, the former poet laureate of the Greater Southwestern Scribes Society, which meets every third Thursday in the back of Sue’s Salon in Cement, Texas, has done it again. (And remember, if you mention this column at Sue’s Salon, you get a coupon for 7 percent off of her patented orange-mint hair removal paste. It really works, too. Sue’s upper lip looks fantastic!)    

As I’m sure you remember, the esteemed Fernie holds an associate’s degree in postmodern comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspondence College and has been featured five times in the American Anthology of Poetry. Just a few of his classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today,” and his latest, “Lenticular Haiku,” which was the inside-cover poem in the most recent edition of the Cement Area Greensheet.

Sir Archie has decided of late that many of our old standards—proverbs, parables, fables, and the like—are in desperate need of updating to more accurately reflect our life and times today. So the Great One has blessed us with his latest work: “Words for the Now.”

So without further ado, I give you Sir Archie Ferndoodle:


            “Words for the Now”

            by Archie Ferndoodle


            If at first you don’t succeed,

            Apply for a government bailout.


            Slow and steady never goes viral.


            One bad apple lands a reality television show.


            Two wrongs make a nifty presidential debate.


            Early to bed and early to rise requires Ambien and amphetamines.


            A Rolling Stone gathers retirement benefits by now, surely.


            Neither a borrower nor a lender be; now, regulatory agent, that’s where the safe money is.


            This above all: of thine own self promote like crazy.


            All that glitters isn’t gold, but all that’s gold can be sold 24 hours a day at Achmed’s Gold Emporium & Pawn.


            A penny saved is a colossal waste of time.


            What’s good for the goose probably doesn’t contain enough artificial growth hormone.


            A bird in the hand is worth a couple rounds of Avian Flu H5N1 vaccinations.


            It’s always darkest before the energy companies invest in their infrastructure.


            A friend in need is everybody not in the “5 percent.”


            A man’s home is his castle until it becomes the bank’s castle.


            Speak softly and carry a stun gun.


            Practice makes perfect, but it still can’t beat steroids.


            Laughter is the best medicine unless you can afford real medicine.


            Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and I’ll sue your butt for everything you’ve got, including mental distress and anguish.


            Sticks and stones may break my bones, but defriending me on Facebook? Now, that really hurts.


            Actions speak louder than words, but rumors are even louder.


            A stitch in time is not as easy as Velcro.


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



I’m Somebody Now!

10 Feb

by Roger White

OK, that does it. Even I have my limits. I received a Call for Contest Entries the other day from the National League of Associations. They’re wanting $75 a pop to enter publications or stories in their “internationally recongized competition of professional communicators.”

You read it right. Their competition is internationally recongized. And I are a professional communicator.

In the (censored) years I’ve been working at one of Austin’s 1,843 nonprofit associations (nine out of ten people in Austin work for Dell, a nonprofit, or the state, according to my non-scientific findings), the number of organizations that send me professional communications contests has tripled. Maybe even fourpled.

Granted, there are legitimate competitions out there in which our association competes in a number of communications categories. And these contests offer not only a shot at awards (and the corresponding banquets with free grub), but also valuable critiques and comparisons with peers in the business. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it helps us learn how to do our jobs better. But.

Some of these places that have been sending out the feelers lately, I don’t know. The National League of Associations? This begs the question, “Is there an International Association of National Association Leagues?”

On up the chain, you’ll have the Interplanetary League of International Association League Guilds. I think.

I get the image of putting two mirrors face to face, I’m not sure why.

There are other such dubious professional organizations. I do believe many of these exist only to engineer such contests, in which they:

(1)   Charge exorbitant entry fees

(2)   Offer genuine photocopied “Certificates of Recongition” (with no substantive critique) to everyone who enters, dead or alive

(3)   Tuck away a tidy sum

Everybody gets an award suitable for framing, and the contest company keeps rolling for another year.

Now, far be it from me to disparage an institution as venerable and respected as Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges, but this here National League of Associations sounds eerily similar to my experience with Who’s Who.

I must take you back. Waaay back, to my junior year in college. I won’t tell you how far back this is, but let’s just say that M*A*S*H was still on prime-time television, Toto was the hot new band, and Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC was one of the most respected NASDAQ firms in all of Wall Street. By the way, did you know that in order to reach the thirteenth level of a pyramid scheme, every living person in the world would have to be involved? Plus a few dead ones.

So. Ah, yes, I’m in college. I actually got my ducks in order that year, made good grades, got reinstated on my college newspaper staff (because they could not prove that I was driving or that any of that stuff was mine), and came in third playing drums in a campus talent show. By the end of that semester, I got an official-looking letter in the mail saying I qualified for Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges. Hot damn! Third place at the talent show probably clinched it.

Well, my folks got the same letter, and, sure enough, they ordered that year’s official Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges Compendium of Honorees. Oh, brother. It was a book as fat as the American Heritage Dictionary (unabridged), containing no less than 25,000 names and bios in tiny, little print. My mom still hasn’t found my name.

Remember the movie “The Jerk”? Steve Martin? Yeah, that scene. “The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here! I’m somebody now!”

Here’s another good example. Have you seen ads in the backs of magazines and newspapers for the National Poetry Contest? There is no entry fee, but each contestant gets a chance at not only prize money, but—staccato breath here—publication in the prestigious National Anthology of American Poems and Prose!

Aha. My gut tells me that although prize money is frugally doled (if at all), every would-be Walt Whitman gets published. The money-maker here is that 43,011 frustrated poets purchase this lovely leather-caressed Anthology of the American Spirit of Gullibility for only $69.99 to see their work hardbound. Voila! They’re published poets!

It’s a sure tipoff that a scam is brewing when one of the anthology’s featured poems begins thusly:

“There once was a young man from Nantucket . . .”

But, hey, I got a neat certificate of recongition.

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