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Dreaming of Better Days–Or Reasonable Canadian Real Estate

24 Oct

by Roger White

 

Sometimes dreams are just dreams—simple brain-dumps of the day’s events, snippets of the recent odd encounter, short reels of hazy memories, a sweeping up of the mental flotsam bobbing betwixt the lobes, all stirred together, jumbled and spiced by the bit of bad pork tenderloin you had that day. So if you’re spending a great deal of your waking hours trying to affix deep meaning to the fact that in your dreamscape the night before you were a naked submarine commander delivering the eulogy at Edith a-dreamBunker’s funeral while stray dogs with marshmallow fur licked your bare feet, you may be wasting your time. Just a silly dream. A bit disturbing, but just silly, nonetheless.

 

But other times, I do lend credence to the notion that our dreams are really trying to tell us something. Case in point, the other night. I’d resigned myself to slumber after attempting to digest as much of the national news as I could stomach. As with 99.79 percent of Americans today, I went to bed somewhat emotionally dyspeptic. How did we get here? How has this country’s public discourse plummeted so far as to be steered by intellectual quayleknuckle-draggers and emotional toddlers? I drifted off utterly dismayed by the realization that today’s political arena makes the likes of Dan Quayle and George Dubya look like cerebral giants.

 

In my dream that night, I was walking up a hill, in an urban setting. Much of the cityscape was in the distance, and the pavement was steep and difficult. Suddenly, a disabled person whizzed by me, in a motorized wheelchair built for speed. The young man yelled at me to get on, so I climbed aboard and off we went. I could barely hang on; this guy was motoring. The next thing I knew, we were in a college classroom. Students were milling about, reading the campus newspaper, waiting for the professor to appear. The guy who’d given me the wild ride invited me to stay, so I did.

 

When the professor walked in, he immediately challenged the students reading the paper. “Do you think what you’re reading there is the truth?” he asked. “How would you know?” From there the conversation sparked, a lively discussion ranging from ethics, motives, and circumstantial morality to the varying definitions of truth and self-preservation to the power of mob mentality. The concept of meaningful compromise was entertained, and it was then that the discussion landed and remained on politics. “Compromise,” the professor said, “has become a dirty word among politicians now—and, sadly, it should be their most powerful, useful word.” Especially, he added, when in many cases we’re talking about means, not ends. For example, everyone wants to be safe, to live in a safe society, he pointed out, no matter what color your state is. Some see the proliferation of firearms as a threat to our safety, he noted, while others see those guns as the very protectors of life and liberty. The fact is, we want the same thing—we just don’t agree on how to get there. There are many real differences among political factions, but in so many cases, the professor said, if you climb past the rancor and attempt a horizon view of the issue at hand, you see that we’re aiming for an equivalent or surprisingly similar end result.

 

Students freely joined the conversation, and the debate, though at times heated, was thoughtful, the level of dialogue reaching higher, connections of reason and belief growing deeper. The classroom veritably glowed, I saw, with meaning. It was thoroughly inspirational to me, and refreshing. I awoke feeling uplifted, hopeful. By God, we can work together. We can reverse this course.

 

Then I turned on the TV.

lord

“You’re the puppet.”

 

“No, you’re the puppet.”

 

“Racist womanizer.”

 

“Wrong. Nasty woman.”

 

Hmmm. I hear time-shares in Vancouver are pretty reasonable, pre-election.

 

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

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Prine Was Right: Blow Up Your TV

4 Jan

by Roger White

 

“Blow up your TV, throw away your paper,

Go to the country, build you a home…”

—from “Spanish Pipedream,” by John Prine

 

I work for an education association, whose ebb and flow of timelines, lull seasons, and get-it-done-yesterday crunch times generally follows the public schools calendar. This does not mean I get the whole summer off or that I have to take some sort of final exams every semester. But it does mean I get a nice chunk of time off during the Christmas break. Or should I say Holiday Break, or Winter Break, to be properly PC. But if I say “Winter Break,” then I’m accused of waging war on Christmas—whatever that is—by the anti-war-on-Christmas people, whoever they are. Seems there are an inordinate number of highly sensitive, easily offended, extremely angry subgroups of people out there these days, and almost any topic—from eating a hamburger to wearing a headscarf to saying “bless you” when somebody sneezes—is now an emotional mine field of potential hurt feelings and mob-mentality retribution.

reallyFor example, overheard at a local Wal-Mart recently:

“Dammit, Zebulon, these friggin’ Moslems is takin’ over the place. Look over thar, in home improvement. Dang scarf-wearin’ terrurist jee-haddys…”

“Yeah, I here ya, Jebediah. Hey, Zeke! Lee Roy! We got us a … wait, that’s my mom in the scarf. She didn’t want nobody to see her curlers.”

“Oh. Well. That’s awright, I guess.”

But while we’re on the subject, wouldn’t the term “Winter Break” be considered offensive to those folks who deem autumn as their favorite season? We have Spring Break; we have Summer Break; and now with the newly christened “Winter Break” we are kicking poor, unloved autumn to the curb, aren’t we? We have no “Fall Break.” I’m pissed off! This is War on Fall! Anti-Autumn Armageddon! I’m organizing a protest! Where’s Fox News?

OK, wait. Once again, I digress. Anyway, yes, so this lovely fortnight of vacation I get every, uh, late December allows me the blessed opportunity to back away from the grind. To sit in the backyard with a fire in the fire pit, a warm drink in hand, and nothing on my mind but determining how to get the (insert your preferred holiday here) boxes down from the attic without upsetting the raccoon family that has taken up permanent residence up there.

I have found that during this heavenly lull I tend to watch less news on TV and scarcely come near the computer, which is where I usually receive my daily dose of terror, misery, innuendo, and fear-mongering via CNN and other websites.

And despite the season’s family dramas, gift-hunting mayhem, and traffic gridlock gnashing of teeth—not to mention the annual overdose of turkey, libations, and too much party silliness—I find that my anxiety level and blood pressure go way down. Two weeks without Trump, Cruz, Clinton, terrorist plots for world overthrow, Planned Parenthood bombings, Dow Jones doom and gloom, the affluenza teen, Bill Cosby revelations, and viral cat-in-the-microwave stories tend to hit me like a soft pillow in the face. The crap the media spews at us 24/7 isn’t our world.

And all you have to do is turn it off. You can blow it up, if you’ve a mind, but just hitting the “off” button will suffice. Aaah. That’s nice.

So why take only a (insert your preferred holiday here) break from the muck and the madness? I was never much on New Year’s resolutions, but I believe I have one for 2016: Less CNN, Trump, Hannity, msnbc, Fox, and all those “World’s Most Extreme Terrible Things” shows—and more backyard reflection. More walks, more friends, more board games. If you still have the old Aggravation board game gathering cobwebs in the closet, pull it out, dust it off, and get the kids around. It’s fun.

Don’t have Aggravation? OK, Monopoly then. Just try to ignore the fact that Monopoly is based on properties in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a town practically owned by…you know who. I’m tellin’ ya, if that candy-haired blowhard gets anywhere near the White House, I’m moving the family to…

Time out. Breathe. Forget Monopoly. Stick with Aggravation. Or the backyard fire pit. Aaah, there we go.

aggravation

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

 

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.

 

Should My Friends Keep the Dog or Find a New Pup?

2 Jan

by Roger White

Let me tell you a story. By sharing this story I know that I will feel much better. I’m not sure if you’ll feel better after reading it, but that’s not really my concern. I desperately need to tell it.

These good friends of mine, you see, have this dilemma. They own this scruffy, smiley dog, with the obligatory cute puppy dog eyes. For the most part, he’s well-behaved and has even learned to do some pretty good tricks. But this mutt is a bit of a problem pooch.

confounding canineThey’ve had this dog since about 2004, when they picked him up from eastern Illinois. The little guy showed lots of promise, and he was lively. He’s always been lively and entertaining, scrambling around, causing havoc and fun. But they trained him well—or so they thought. The pup began showing signs of misbehaving terribly, however, at the worst possible times. One cold January in 2007, for example, when my friends were visiting in Seattle, the little fellah did some very smelly business in a most public of places. My friends were mortified and went home in shame.

Back home in Irving, my friends seemed pleased with the pooch as time went by—until almost exactly a year later. It was another cold January, in 2008, as my friends were hosting a bunch of folks from New York, when the dizzy dog did it again. Another stinker. It was yet another humiliation for my good friends.

In 2009, my friends built a new place in Arlington—and this place included a fantastic area where this dog could play. It turns out that this is one of the fanciest places for a dog to play anywhere! They hoped this might improve his behavior. It didn’t. A discouraging pattern began to emerge: Whenever my friends needed this schizophrenic hound to be on confounding caninehis best behavior, he would almost certainly stink up the place. In December 2008 while visiting in Philadelphia, in January 2010 in Minnesota, in December 2011 visiting those same folks in New York—no matter where they took this maddening mutt, he always managed to do exactly the wrong thing at precisely the wrong time, turning what could have been an enjoyable time into a disaster.

A most recent incident may have been the backbreaker, however. While on a nice visit to Washington, D.C., this past December, my good friends were stunned when this confounding canine did it again—right there in the nation’s capital. More smelly awfulness.

Perhaps it has something to do with winter or cold weather. It could be something about public places, being with a lot of people. Who knows? The head-scratching part of this confounding caninewhole ordeal is that the little guy has generally been a good dog. In fact, my friends actually say that this particular pooch has more impressive tricks, statistically speaking, than any other dog they’ve owned. And they really like him; it’s just that his behavior at certain times sends them right up the wall.

And I must say, it’s done the very same to me, as well. I’ve watched this little guy’s antics over the years, and he’s just about given me an ulcer. You see, I’ve been close to these friends for a long, long time. You might even say I’m a fan of theirs. I’ve appreciated them ever since I can remember. They’re proud folks, but they have plenty to be proud of—with a history and tradition of great achievement. They have screwed up royally at times, and the current patriarch can be a bit goofy, but they’re old friends, so what can I say?

 Troy the Dog

I know it has to be difficult for little Tony the mutt. My friends keep comparing him to previous pooches, such as Troy the terrier and Roger the rottweiler, who were fine, fine animals.

The gist of the whole story, I guess, is that my good friends could very well be at a watershed moment here. Do they keep Tony the dog and pray he stops smelling up the place at the worst possible times—or do they find a new pup and hope he has a better pedigree? What would you do?

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.

Let’s Play the Blame Game

11 Dec

by Roger White  

 

Did you ever notice how a lot of bloggers and columnists these days start their blogs and columns with “Did you ever notice…”? Uh oh.

Actually, in all the 2,103 columns I’ve written over the past (censored) years, I don’t believe I’ve ever kicked off an installment with those four Seinfeldian words. So allow me this one:

Did you ever notice how there is always someone or something to blame for every cotton pickin’ thing these days? In this age of victims, nothing just happens by chance or circumstance anymore—someone must be blamed. Fault must be found. Perpetrators must be punished. And surely somewhere down the line, lawyers must be compensated.

I have resisted this mindset as long as I can, dragged my feet against the rushing tide of the times until my heels are raw. So I give in. I will now add my voice to the din; therefore, I give you my “blame” list for some of the odd quirks and tendencies that are endemic to li’l old me.

Scapegoat No. 1—Doorways. Ya know the age-old question of “what did I come in here for” that hits you when you walk into a room and then draw a complete blank? Well, at my age this happens just about every hour on the hour. I thought I was getting old and feeble-minded, but as it turns out, my door is to blame. Yep, psychologist types at the University duhhhhof Notre Dame have determined that walking through a doorway triggers something called an event boundary in your noggin. In other words, what you were thinking of in one room goes flying away when you go to another room, especially when the TV is on and the Cowboys have the ball. Okay, I made up that last part. But isn’t this great? I have a lawsuit in the works against Pella Doors and Windows. If you want to join me in a class action suit, dial 1-800-DUM-DOOR.

Scapegoat No. 2—Apple Maps. I get lost a lot; now, I’ve someone to blame. Did you hear about this? Seems that Apple Maps, in its rush to compete against Google and other major online map companies, goofed big time, putting many cities and landmarks in the wrong places.

In one grievous instance, Apple plopped some town called Mildura, Australia, more than 40 miles away from where it really is, and—believe it or not—some drivers actually ended up stuck in the rugged Australian outback and had to be rescued by police.

Can you picture this? The road sign reads “Mildura Straight Ahead” but the car’s Apple Map says “No, Ron, turn left.”

you are here, no here“Crikey!” says Ron and turns left against his better judgment. Ten hours later, as Ron scorches in the 110-degree heat of the outback, he decides to leave.

“NO!” orders Apple Map. “You are here. This is Mildura.”

“But…I’m thirsty.”

“I’m sorry, Ron, but I have shut off your motor.”

This is ripe for another juicy legal action, no?

“Uh, yeah, hello? Is this Apple Maps?”

“Yes.”

“Listen, I have Apple Maps on my iPhone, and it told me that to get to Dallas I had to drive straight ahead off the Galveston Sea Wall, and my car is now in 15 feet of water. Can I speak to your legal department?”

Scapegoat No. 3—Kitty litter. One of my duties around the homestead is waste management—and this includes changing that most toxic of entities, the kitty litter box. I have always thought that this lovely, touchy-feely euphemism—kitty litter—is one of the cruelest of domestic ironies. The term “kitty litter” sounds cute, harmless, even cuddly somehow. Have you ever changed a kitty litter box that hasn’t been touched by human hands in over a week? This is one of the foulest, nastiest, zombie apocalyptic-type things you’ll ever come in contact with. I honestly believe that you could arm the U.S. Marines meowuhohwith cats, turned back end toward the enemy, and you could send any opposing force running faster than Iraq’s elite Republican Guards.

Anyway, it turns out that, now stay with me here, some suicide attempts have actually been linked to kitty litter. I believe it. A study by a guy named Teodor Postolache (really, that’s his name) claims there’s a link between an infection called Toxoplasma gondii, which you get from handling kitty litter, and suicide attempts.

So there you have it, honey. I would change the box, but, man, I’m so down. What’s the use in living?

Side note to self: File suit against the Fresh Step company.

Now, this last part has nothing to do with anything, but I believe it carries a strong message for you and me. Seems that a Florida man remains in the hospital with severe injuries after the cops stopped him for DWHATSIYS.

What’s DWHATSIYS, you ask? That’s police lingo for Driving While Having A Traffic Sign In Your Skull. Duh. The Florida Highway Patrol pulled over one L.R. Newton after he smashed into a road sign and then kept on going. When they stopped the guy, they found that a big chunk of the traffic sign was sticking out of his headbone. Newton’s in stable condition, but the sign didn’t make it.

Stupid sign. I’d sue the sign makers.

 

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.