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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.

 

Think You’ve Seen It All? Well, You Haven’t.

19 Jan

by Roger White

 

Boy, it happens every time. Without fail, every time I throw my arms up in disgust and utter an exasperated “I’ve seen it all now,” something worse comes along to heave a brick upside the noggin of my jaded sensibilities and inform me that, no, I have not seen it all. Not. Even. Close.

 

Despite how ridiculously vile and frighteningly xenophobic as the foul-smelling arena of politics has become, no, I’m not talking about that. Politics parodies its own self so well these days that no comment is required. Except God help us all. No, what sparked yet another ISIAN (I’ve Seen It All Now) self-rebuke of late came from the one field of human endeavor that manages to run a close second to politics in its ability to horrify and nauseate: advertising.

 

Let me take you back. It wasn’t long ago, a matter of weeks perhaps, and the weather was rotten. So was my health. I had a stubborn chest cold. I’d settled myself down in front of the TV with a meal of my favorite comfort food: a hot bowl of split-pea soup, saltines, and iced tea. With a side of crispy baby gherkins. Awaiting me was an afternoon of recuperation with nourishing reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Twilight Zone.” It was just the therapeutic Mukyprescription I needed. Suddenly, there on the screen, rudely interrupting my sick-day fare of Opie, Aunt Bee, Thelma Lou and Rod Serling, was a commercial for some cough medicine featuring an anthropomorphic glob of mucus. That’s right. A walking, talking sickly-green lump of phlegm with stumpy, phlegmy arms and legs.

 

I don’t have to tell you that half of my bowl of hot split-pea soup with saltines went cold and uneaten. The gherkins didn’t go down so well, either.

 

If you watch any television, you, too, have probably seen this chubby little humanoid snotball (no, not Trump—this is about advertising, remember?). Are they serious? These cough medicine moguls are hawking their health-restoring elixir with a revolting ball of human effluence, presumably nicknamed Muky the Mucus Man?

 

Can you just picture these marketing geniuses at deadline time?

“Joe, you got anything?”

“No. I’m empty.”

“Bob? Anything?”

“I dunno. How ’bout a talking loogie?”

“Okay, that’s good. We’re just about out of time. Let’s go with it.”

 

And yeah, when I saw this slimy, gloppy bit of Madison Avenue creativity, my arms reached skyward, and I uttered forth: “I’ve seen it all now.”

 

And yet again, it wasn’t long after that that my latest ISIAN declaration was roundly rejected. Just when I thought that advertising types could sink no lower, the next week I was introduced to a pink little anthropomorphic bladder. It was gotta peean ad for bladder control medicine, and in it this adorable roundish little bladder walks along holding hands with its owner, constantly reminding her that she has to pee. Wait, there’s more. On the same day, on the same channel, came an ad featuring an adorable pink little walking knot of intestines. Really. This creepy duodenum dude, who I can only guess is called Barry Bowels or something, is the mascot for an Irritable Bowel Syndrome medication. Yes, Intestine Man is the best they could conjure.

 

Never in my most delirious fever dreams have I ever envisioned my bowels as a funny-faced little pink dude—and in all candor, I shudder to imagine what my lower innards would look like with a face and limbs. Especially my innards.

Inty

Gak. What’s next? A cutesy brown cartoon poop named Danny Doody concocted as a stool softener mascot? A cuddly little mouth ulcer called Herpey Harry designed to sell cold sore cream? An anthropomorphic little mascot called Limpy the Member used to sell erectile dysfunction pills?

 

Boy, I’ve seen it all. No, wait. I’m quite certain that I haven’t.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spouse, two precocious offspring units, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. 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.

 

January in Austin S’not What It Ought to Be

14 Jan

by Roger White

 

I hate this time of year. Absolutely despise it. Might even throw in the word “loathe.”

 

It’s not just because half the trees and plants across the landscape are now dead and brown, looking more like bare nerve endings protruding from the ground than blossoming flora. It’s not just because Christmas has come and gone and yet again Merry Xmas to MeSanta did not see fit to deliver my red Carrera 911. And it’s not just because the Dallas Cowboys again found new and innovative ways to underperform their way right out of the playoff picture for another season. 

 

No, the principal reason I hate this time of year is because of the frenetic over-pollinating behavior of the Central Texas area’s most evil living thing—the lovely juniper bush, or Juniperus ashei, as the ancient Latin allergy sufferers called it. As afflictions go, cedar fever ranks somewhere near the bubonic plague or the Devil Dustheartbreak of psoriasis in my book. It’s not even labeled correctly; it should be called juniper fever, but I guess that doesn’t have the right ring to it. I used to wonder why I never really took to gin as a cocktail ingredient—now I suppose I know. Gin’s chief ingredient—juniper juice—is my arch enemy.

 

Every January, like clockwork, 93.7 percent of my days are filled with sneezing, itching, running, snorting, wiping, weeping, draining misery. My eyes mutate into puffy, sightless slits. My nose becomes a fleshy faucet. Until I receive my annual double-shot in the posterior, by which I am pumped full of enough steroids to win at least a couple Tours de France, I have the unhappy choice of either sequestering myself indoors like a hanky-clutching bubble boy or ingesting enough decongestants to tranquilize a sperm whale. Snotty or sleepy—those are my alternatives.

 Stickemup i mean achoo

Yes, when you see me wearing the facial covering primarily used by bird flu victims and bank robbers, you know it’s cedar fever season. I really hate this time of year.

 

The weather guys aren’t much help, either. They seem to take particular delight in pointing out every year how the insidious explosions of lime-colored pollen dust created by these evil evergreens can be seen from space. Every time I hear that snide meteorological tidbit, I wish I was in space, orbiting miles high over the terrible clouds of congestion. Yes, I’d be floating weightless, drinking Tang, and laughing at the zillions of juniper spores, trying vainly to reach me. And I suppose because I’m in space, I’d be an astronaut, which would be really cool. Hey, what’s this button do?

 

Wait, where were we?

 

Oh, yes. Cedar fever. It’s not any fun for those around me, either. The noises I make whilst suffering from this dastardly winter devil have been likened by family, friends, and coworkers to everything from a cow pulling its hoof out of the mud to a garbage disposal attempting to grind up peanut butter. It ain’t pretty.

 

It’s gotten so bad in recent years that I decided to petition the State Legislature for some sort of relief. As of yet, my dutiful lawmakers have failed to respond, so I have now turned to the governor’s office, looking for a proclamation outlawing juniper germination or perhaps the establishment of Planned Pollenhood or something. Unfortunately for me and those of my ilk, our governor is staunch in his right-to-rhinitis views. So I see little hope of a reprieve from the executive branch. Ooh, I said branch. Sniffle.

 

I suppose the only way for me to find shelter from this seasonal snot storm is to my winter homemove away for a couple of months out of the year. So how about this: I’m offering a trade—anyone living in Micronesia, Kaua’i, or the Sandals Resort in Negril, Jamaica, can reside rent-free for the months of January and February in my lovely Austin home if I can live in yours during the same time period. Amenities included, just please feed the dog and the kids.

 

I really, really hate this time of year.

 

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.

 

Rocky Mountain High, in…uh, in…uh, Woah

23 Oct

by Roger White

So I’m sitting, slightly askew, on the couch the other evening, wincing through the throbs of a pulled lower back, trying ever so hard to catch glimpses of “60 Minutes” in between intermittent stabs of electric pain. Note to self: It takes two people to move the wife’s giant potted sago palm.

Lo, mi amigos, there on my favorite TV news magazine was an investigative piece on the burgeoning business of cultivating and selling, shall we say, pungent herbs in states such as Colorado and California. For medicinal purposes only, mind you. According to Steve Kroft and crew, 17 states have now legalized the medical use of (cannabis…shhh) for treatment of ailments such as glaucoma, side effects of chemotherapy, nausea, and, aha, chronic pain. There are, get this, more than 200 medical marijuana (there, I said it) dispensaries in Denver alone! That means there are more corner Grass-n-Go markets than there are Starbucks in the Mile High City.

Talk about a budding industry. Rimshot. Applause, applause.

It’s interesting to note that although an air of legitimacy is lent to this state-sanctioned drugstore doobage—with barcodes on individual plants and white-coated THC technicians advising patients on characteristics and properties of each strain—that vestiges of the headshop hippie days still linger, specifically with the nicknames attached to different types of product. Some samples: Jack Frost, Blue Dream, Purple Haze, Skywalker Special, Accidental Tourist, Gracie Slick, Agent Orange—and yep, there is still Acapulco Gold.

Try as I might, I’m having a bit of difficulty envisioning an elderly glaucoma sufferer, say, an 85-year-old grandmother with a walker, toddling into her corner Hash-n-Dash. But here goes:

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother With Walker: “Hello, Doctor Stoner.”

White-coated THC Technician: “Please, Mrs. Baker, I’m not a doctor, just a technician. Call me Moon Skye. How’s the glaucoma this week?”

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother With Walker: “Not good, Dr. Moonpie. I ran out of the Lemon Skunkweed two days ago and couldn’t get in until today.”

White-coated THC Technician: “Tell you what. We’re out of Lemon right now, but we’re having a special on Night Train Nebula.”

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother yadda: “Oh, that Night Train makes me paranoid. Do you have any Blue Monkey Balls?”

White-coated THC blah etc.: “Sorry, Mrs. Baker.”

Eighty-yadda so on: “Oh, all right. Half-ounce Night Train then. And do you have any papers?”

White blah etc.: “Sure thing, Mrs. B.”

Eightyzzzz: “Groovy.”

Sounds hokey, yes, but this is big, big biz. As in the billions of dollars. It’s a green industry in more ways than one. And for those nonsmokers looking for relief, these pot practitioners make cannabis-infused cookies, candy, ice cream, sports drinks, pills, olive oil—you name it. If it can be ingested, it can get you toasted.

Yet, as I squirm here on my couch, twinging with what feels like lower back labor pains, I must settle for a measly couple of ibuprofen, seeing as how Texas doesn’t square with Colorado’s views on pain-relieving plants and such. I know we’re the big, fat belt buckle of the Bible sash and all, but if cooler heads prevailed in the Legislature (get it? heads), we’d see the obvious benefits—namely, crazy stacks of Benjamins in state coffers. And don’t quote me on this, but I bet we’d see a reduction in violent crime and speeding offenses. In fact, I’d predict a spike in tickets and warnings issued for driving too far under the speed limit. And I imagine there’d be a quantum leap in late-night sales of Doritos and caramel corn.

Texas being Texas, of course, we could put our own brand on the business. The possibilities would be practically endless: Texas Tea, Lone Star Lids, Dallas Dimebag, Galveston Ganja, Houston Homegrown, Beaumont Buds…you get the idea.

Naah. I don’t see it happening. That sort of thing is viewed as just too dangerous here in the big state. Besides, there’d be no room for dispensaries amid the gun shops and liquor stores.

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.

I Feel Funny. No, Not Funny Ha Ha.

23 Jul

by Roger White

Gentle readers, you must pardon me if this installment of my periodic, oft-nonsensical missives unto you appears somewhat professorial, pedantic, and/or prosodic. I must warn you from the start that in my ever-vigilant endeavors to explore the bounds of subject matter for this whimsical journalistic discourse—with precious little regard for my personal safety and body fat content, mind you—I sometimes cross the line between investigative reporting and life-endangering folly. Not unlike intrepid chroniclers before me, such as George Plimpton, Terry Southern, and Henry Cabot Henhouse III, I must at times insert my very own self into the dark heart of the topic at hand.

Therefore, be advised, then, that I am penning these words with the assistance and/or interference, as the case may be, of 200 milligrams of the analeptic monoamine-releaser modafinil. In other words, I’m all hopped up on a tab of prescription Provigil, the latest “wakefulness aid” to come down the off-label pike. And I must say at the outset that moment by moment, my intramuscular energy levels are increasing at an astonishing rate, while my cognitive abilities appear to be coalescing, dare I say multiplying, as I type. Note that I am also scrubbing the kitchen floor grout with a toothbrush, learning Mandarin Chinese via iPod, and performing a mental audit of our family’s previous three years of Form 1040 Schedule A itemized deductions. Piece of cake, really.

Just as this generation of moms has discovered that dipping into their kids’ Ritalin stash has rendered running the household a veritable breeze, folks who were recently prescribed Provigil tablets for narcolepsy or other sleeping disorders have found that a daily off-label popping of one of these minuscule motivators transforms them into super-functioning cerebretrons. Now, we had our own forms of Ritalin and Provigil back in the day. We called it speed. Except if you consumed enough of this heart-squeezing substance, say, to stay up all week during college finals, you could very well end up speeding right into the emergency room.

However, according to a recent ABC News segment on the growing crowd of Provigil partisans, this new wonder drug has no adverse side effects they can detect so far. Let me underline the so far. So far. There. I’ll italicize it, also: So far. I mean, they’ve been studying this stuff how long, a year maybe? How tragic (or comic) would it be to witness a hefty portion of the population go running to their doctors claiming a sudden onset of narcolepsy so they can all leap onto the Provigil Express only to gradually mutate into half-stallion, half-cyclops people in five years’ time?

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have many of my neighbors and friends become half-stallion, half-cyclops people. This isn’t Arkansas.

The great dearth of longitudinal studies notwithstanding, Provigil sales have skyrocketed. Prescription sales have reportedly increased 73 percent in the last four years—to approximately $1.5 billion in 2011. That’s billion. With a buh.

One guy, a Mr. Dave Asprey, who runs a billion-dollar (with a buh) Internet security firm, told ABC News he starts his day at about 4 in the a.m. Get this, Asprey once bounced out of bed, worked out for a couple of hours, flew 20 hours to Australia with no sleep, and then delivered a series of speeches that were so inspiring they were featured in the local newspapers.

How are we supposed to compete in the workplace with a Provigil Pete? I believe that employers should screen for Provigil in the same fashion athletes are checked for steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. How on earth am I going to be able to justify my afternoon siesta when Pro-V Patty is in the next cubicle cross-referencing the company archives back to 1862? And what about all those Salesperson of the Month plaques that decorate your friendly car dealer’s walls? I say if they discover that any of those guys were on Provigil that an asterisk must be placed by their names. The asterisk of shame.

Anyway, back to Mr. Asprey. As an experiment, ABC took the guy off the drug for several days, and he did admit he felt a bit “off.” He even admitted his speech was altered! Hmm.

All I can report to you personally is that as I have been writing this column (and scrubbing the kitchen floor and learning Mandarin Chinese and self-auditing my tax returns) I have experienced a certain mental expansion. 官官話官話, 國語 官官? No?

I also believe this is in large part due to the locus of the monoamine action of modafinil, which has also been the target of studies identifying effects on dopamine in the striatum and nucleus accumbens, as opposed to the noradrenaline in the hypothalamus and ventrolateral preoptic nucleus, as well as serotonin in the amygdala and frontal cortex. But you knew that. Duh.

Otherwise, I feel no adversefafctcts shatsoevr, infact I hav neveer flt btetr in…  in.. 9 … 1…….1

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.