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Phil at the Alamo and Starbucks on the Moon. Really.

20 Jun

by Roger White

 

So have you been reading lately about the papyrus scroll uncovered by some Harvard professor a few years back? The prof claimed this scroll proved that Jesus had a wife. Yeah. There was supposedly a Mrs. Christ. She apparently didn’t say much, according to the scroll, but she dutifully followed Hubby and the gang around, making sure the Lord washed his Hands after healing lepers and imploring Him to go easy on the water-into-wine business on weeknights. I do believe Mrs. C would be the only person on the planet who could exclaim “Jesus Christ!” and not be accused of blaspheming. She could merely be telling the Almighty to get his Big Feet off the coffee table. (Caps for reverence, of course.)

Jesus' Old Lady

Well, come to find out the scroll was a fake. Some hustler in Florida somehow convinced the Harvard academic that it was the real deal. The tipoff was probably the college-rule blue lines and the three-hole punches found on the papyrus. I guess Ivy League standards aren’t what they used to be.

 

Even though The Gospel According to Mrs. C was proven to be a hoax, it did stir up my dandruff a bit. So I conducted some keen investigative snooping around on my own. And wow. You would scarcely believe what sorts of little-known truths are out there on the interwebs. Herewith, then, are just a few of the Spouseman’s Little-Known Historical Truths Found on the Interwebs (SLKHTFOTI):

  1. John the Baptist was really a Methodist. John, whose middle name was Wesley, actually used the “sprinkling method” with Jesus, and later they had covered dishes and cake. They took a dip in the Jordan simply because it was really hot out that day. (This was the Middle East, you know.) –from http://www.cletusbiblesalesandtractorparts.com
  2. Former Genesis drummer Phil Collins was indeed at the Battle of the Alamo, as he has insisted. Two sketchings—from two different witnesses of the famous siege—have come to light, both of which show a bald man with rimless spectacles and a baseball cap peering over the The Philimofront wall of the old mission. In one sketch, he appears to be holding a flintlock rifle, but in the other he’s holding what look to be nylon-tipped drumsticks. Additionally, as Santa Anna began his assault and the Mexican buglers played “El Degüello,” which signaled that no quarter was to be given to the Alamo defenders, Texican defenders responded with a rousing chorus of “In the Air Tonight.” –from http://www.larrythemystic.com
  3. When astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon in 1969, they discovered several alien artifacts—all evidence of which has been kept secret by NASA ever since. A deep-net website run by an anonymous former NASA restroom cleaning technician contains a grainy image of what appears to be an alien drinking vessel held in Aldrin’s hand. On the vessel is a bizarre inscription—ΔÇ ξ  ⊗⊇⇔  ∂♥♦∧∧—which has been translated by cryptographers as the Martian equivalent of “Starbucks.” –from http://www.interstellarjanitor.com

moonbucks

There’s more, but I have a home and a family.

 

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we had a couple of winners from the previous edition’s Quizzical Quotes Contest #16A: Mr. Leonard Baumel, who opted not to share his mailing address with me (and can you blame him), so he forfeited his rights to a goody package; and one Kathy Berry, who did share her mailing address, so Kathy will be receiving some terrific oldspouse parting gifts, an old jury summons, some overdue parking tickets, and whatever else I can scrounge from the junk drawer.

 

I could take up a lot of space and give you the answers to the QQ quiz, but if you didn’t happen to read the contest questions from the last edition or you don’t care a quarter of a whit, then who gives a rat’s patoot. If you do give a rat’s patoot and are burning for the answers, you can e-mail me at roger.white@tasb.org. Put the words “Rat’s Patoot” in the subject line so the Spouseman will know it’s not spam or more naughty photos from that scary lady in Vermont.

 

Until next time, kids. Keep the freak flags flying and don’t cut your hair unless absolutely necessary.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Just Chill: Most News You Can’t Use

29 Oct

by Roger White

You’re familiar with the old saying, “Don’t shoot me. I’m only the messenger.” To this I say pish and posh. This old adage doesn’t apply anymore. The messenger today IS the problem. The messenger—this insincerely smiling, hair-weaved, plastic-faced talking head—needs to be shot in the behind with a paintball gun, and his message needs to be torn up, stomped on, and burned to ash. Pish and posh, I say.

The messenger I’m pishing and poshing on, of course, is the media—namely, the national outlets: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. Do you ever stop to wonder why your stomach is nervous and sour all the time now, why your heart beats out the bossa nova, why you fret and bite your lip bloody just sending the kids to the school bus stop? The media, I tell you. It’s the media. stop the pressesBecause of our nonstop over-exposure to the national news organizations’ sensationalistic babble, we have all come to believe, consciously or not, that our world has become a living hell. As each of us workaday folks tries so hard just to crawl out of bed each morning to keep food on the table, the electricity on, and our children on the straight and narrow, we have to combat that nagging, pecking sense of doom—that we’re only a mere happenstance away from grisly death, violent criminal mayhem, or worse, a government-led socialist agenda.

Two real, recent examples of headlines from CNN: “Weatherman Eats Cat Vomit” and “Teens Attack Mom; Plan to Eat Her Liver.” No lie. Did we truly need to know this? And did these teens plan this liver feast after watching the weatherman scarf cat puke? These kinds of “news items” are not merely useless—they’re harmful.

Every single cotton-picking day you have to digest (no pun intended) BREAKING NEWS of the latest multiple homicide, the most shocking tale of kidnap, abuse, and mistreatment, the most recent sordid instance of demented behavior (and sometimes this doesn’t even involve Congress) such as the headlines above. The thing of it is—and here is where you have to stop yourself and understand motives—the world really isn’t all that bad. Really, it isn’t. It’s the media’s job, however, to make you feel that way. It’s not CNN’s goal per se to give every man, moidahwoman, and child in America a massive case of peptic ulcers, but it is their job to make money. And gruesome, terrible, apocalyptic headlines mean more views, which mean more advertisers, which mean more money. With news on a 24-hours-a-day-eight-days-a-week cycle now, every second of the day we are fed the most grisly, horrific stories that these “news gatherers” can find—because that’s what they think we want to see.

But here’s the deal. We’re not going to hell in a handbasket; it just feels like it. Did you know, for example, that since the early 1990s, crime has actually declined in the United States and that current crime rates are no worse than they were in the 1960s? True, these stats come from the U.S. Bureau of Justice. The homicide rate in America has declined substantially since 1992 from a rate of 9.8 per 100,000 persons to 4.8 in 2010, according to latest figures. That’s still high, as far as the rest of the industrialized world goes, but, hey, in Russia it’s 13 per 100,000, and in Venezuela it’s 48 per. And nobody here commutes to Honduras, right? There, the homicide rate is 78 per. We’re practically a Buddhist monastery by comparison.

Here’s more: A research think tank known as the Millennium Project produced these eye-opening numbers in 2011:

• The average life expectancy worldwide rose from 64 years in the mid-1980s to 68 years today.
• Infant mortality worldwide has fallen from nearly 70 deaths per 100,000 people to 40 deaths today.
• Poverty, defined by the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day, fell from 43 percent of the world population in the mid-1980s to 23 percent now.
• The percentage of the world population with access to water rose from 75 percent to more than 86 percent.
• Secondary school enrollment rose from 45 percent in the mid-1980s to nearly 70 percent today.
• The number of major armed conflicts declined from 37 in the mid-1980s to 26 today.


Unfortunately, these kinds of numbers aren’t found on your average national news site now. In yukkkfact, if you ask me, the best, most useful news you can find these days is in your local, community newspaper. The little weeklies and bi-weeklies that actually cover neighborhood news, civic involvement stories, and human interest items that have nothing at all do with cats in microwave ovens are where you’ll discover “news you can use.” As far as Fox and CNN and all the rest are concerned, pish and posh, I say.

 

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.

The Curmudgeon Showeth His Crust. Again.

23 Jul

by Roger White

It has been brought to my attention recently by more than one loyal reader of TOS that yours truly is nothing more than a crust-covered curmudgeon completely lacking in human compassion and with all the warmth and fuzziness of a diarrhetic barracuda. And that was one of the more genteel comments. Let me just say in my defense that this is not crust. It’s a fine patina of earthbound experience. Tip: baby oil keeps it soft and supple.

Honestly, I have no problem with humanity; it’s the people I can’t stand. People are the worst. Don’t you just hate them?

As long as we’re on topic, and my curmudgeonly cockles have been stimulated, I figured you’d be tickled to be privy to my latest list of grouses and gripes. Yes, these are the things that brown my lettuce, the things that really grind my crankshaft. Curdle my half & half. Chap my — you get the idea.

Athletes and coaches who thank God for their victory.

It’s not so bad, I guess, when pious jocks praise the Almighty for their health and well-being, but seriously, do you really think The Omnipotent One, tasked with thankya Lordwatching over the vast infinity of the cosmos, gives a greasy rat’s behind whether your squad of performance-enhanced mutants scores more points than the other squad of gargantuan goons? If God gave the nod to your team, what does that say about the other guys? And what about when you lose? Is God a waffler? Did He miss that game?

Bicyclists who don those ridiculous faux-competition outfits and aerodynamic helmets.

Pleeeeeze. You’re not in the Tour; the little logos and patches all over your form-fitting body suit are fake and we all know it; and your $750 racing helmet makes you look like a special-needs case. Ya know what I wear when I ride my bike? Shorts and a t-shirt. Works great! Fortunately, with the fall from grace of our own Lancy Pants, some of these pretentious pedalers have ridden into the sunset. Just some of them, mind you.

Republicans AND Democrats.

I hate all politicians, truly. Our whole political system has devolved into entrenched, grandstanding ideologues determined only to curry favor with their followers so they can keep their posh digs and beltway “escorts.” They all preach to the lowest common denominator—mainly fear. Whatever happened to working together—to thoughtfully searching for the most workable compromise? Yes, compromise. Just how and when did that become a dirty word? Look up the definition. Compromise—especially today—is a good thing. It’s how we get along. Someone should read Webster’s definition of the word to members of Congress every day. And then start throwing pies.

Nancy Grace.

I am utterly sick of her fat face. Every time I see her on the tube, I want to slap the Nancethat self-righteous, smug smirk of hers right into next week. Nancy Grace is the reason I still have my foam brick handy to throw at the TV set. Well, her and the Cowboys.

Bureaucracy and all of its attendant inanities.

Here’s an example: Why do we have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms? Who in their right mind thought of lumping these concerns together under one roof? I called up the ATF the other day to ask that very question, but the person who answered the phone referred me to the Department of Frontage Roads, ATF Inquiries and Dairy Products. And why does the Texas Railroad Commissioner oversee the state’s gas and oil concerns? I be befuddled.

Twitter.

I don’t care what’s “trending,” I have absolutely no interest in what Kanye West had for lunch; and I have no need to be apprised of every one of my old college chums’ whereabouts 24/7. Plus I’ve lost all human contact with my two teenage daughters, Lindsey and whatshername.

The Sunday comics.

Calvin and Hobbes is gone; so is Blondie, The Far Side, etc. I used to look forward to Sunday mainly for the funny pages. The words “funny” and “pages” don’t go uh yeahtogether when describing the drek being produced today. Alongside the dull-witted Ziggy and the predictably foul-tempered fat feline Garfield, we have Luann, Get Fuzzy, Candorville, Buckles, and a motley collection of amateur drivel that makes the comic strip that appeared in my college newspaper (whose main character was a cow patty) seem hilarious and incisive by comparison.

OK, that’s about it for now. I feel better. You?

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.

Football Tonight: Ursine Mammals vs. Midpriced Sedans!

2 Apr

by Roger White

 

This here story, which you may have heard about already, falls squarely under the “you gotta be kiddin’ me” category, because when I read it, I said, “What the f— … er, you gotta be kiddin’ me.” Yeah, that’s what I said.

Here ’tis, and I quote:

“A Utah school district has decided against using Cougars as a mascot for a new high school in part because of the negative connotation of the word in popular culture. Canyons School District Superintendent David S. Doty said the selection of Chargers as the school’s mascot was driven by the desire for originality, despite a poll of some future students that showed 26 percent in favor of using the Cougar mascot.

“Doty said that although Brigham Young University, as well as several Utah high schools (including one in a nearby district), use Cougars as a mascot, public comments they received reflect a desire to be different—and he noted that some see the word ‘cougar’ as carrying a ‘negative double entendre.’ Spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook said the power of social media has brought the district more attention than desired, referring to articles like this Huffington Post story, ‘Cougar Mascot Vetoed for Corner Canyon High School for Being Offensive toward Women,’ or this Yahoo sports story, ‘New School Can’t Be Cougars Because Middle-Aged Women Might Be Offended.'” Or this here social media story that I’m about to write. Har. Woah, hey, I’m actually writing it right now. AAH! One of those space-time continuum moments. How can I be writing it now if you’re already reading it? Hello! hello! Echo! echo! Scary.

So anyway, yeah, all ol’ Superintendent Doty had to say was that the school wanted to be different. By bringing up the negative double entendre thing, he opened himself up a big ol’ can o’ media worms. I like that. Media worms. Kinda fits.

This, of course, got me thinking about what other teams might have to re-ponder their mascot choices, given today’s milieu of ultra-hyper-crikey-sensitivity. Let us ponder. And re-ponder. Take the NFL (please):

Chicago Bears. Sorry, gay connotation. If you are unaware, a “bear” in the gay world, and I quote from a popular social media source, refers to male individuals who possess physical attributes much like a bear, such as a heavy build, abundant body hair, and often facial hair. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But, lest we offend our hairy homosexual brethren, let’s change it to the Chicago Ursine Mammals.

Buffalo Bills. Mmm, negative emotional impact on the financially strapped in our society. Bills, bills, bills. We can’t have that. This needs to be something gentler, something along the lines of Buffalo Payment Restructuring Reminders.

New York Jets. Nope; this offends those of us who can’t afford to fly. From now on, you are the New York Midpriced Sedans.

New England Patriots. This is borderline, but I see possible political overtones here. Just to be on the safe side, let’s go with the New England Citizens of No Political Affiliation.

Washington Redskins. This one’s obvious. New name – Washington Human Race Members. (Same with the Kansas City Chiefs. Come on, fellahs, that’s just rude. From here on out, the Kansas City Regular Decent People of Vague Ethnic Persuasion.)

Tennessee Titans. Sorry, too reflective of the Titan Missiles, the Space Race, the Cold War, Kruschchev, shoe-pounding and all that. Your new name is the Tennessee World Peace Initiative.

 

Oakland Raiders. Please, this conjures up images of thieves and thugs and other ne’er-do-wells. Try on the Bay Area Working-Class Magnanimous Helper Types.

Cleveland Browns. This is downright color elitist. You will from here on take the field as the Cleveland All-Inclusive Hues. The helmet, of course, will be white but will change color depending on ambient temperature.

Philadelphia Eagles. Mmmm, too nationalistic. I like the Philadelphia Countries in Harmony.

New York Giants. Honestly, this is simply humiliating to short people. The Big Apple’s team should now and forever be the New York Average-Height Folks. And scratch the Big in front of Apple, while you’re at it. Let’s just say The Apple. Well, now, wait—that also discriminates, doesn’t it? The Fruit. There you go. New York the city its own self is now known as The Fruit.

New Orleans Saints. Really, way too pious and religiously selective. See if this fits: The New Orleans Non-Proselytizing Spiritually Uplifted Cadre.

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

Lenticular Haiku, by Sir Archie Ferndoodle

9 Jan

by Roger White

Fellow time/space voyagers and other occasional devotees of “This Old Blouse,” I am more tickled than a duffel bag full of marsupials to announce the return of my dear friend, front porch sartorial mentor, and fellow breakfast-nook philologist, Sir Archie Ferndoodle (applause, applause, applause).

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 been gently coaxed out of quasi-retirement to once again bless us with phrasings, words, syllables, parts of syllables, and renderings of nocturnal animal sounds from the Ulan Bator region as only Sir Archie can. (And remember, if you mention this column at Sue’s Salon, you get 10 percent off a five-ounce jar of Sue’s Coconut Heel Scrub with the purchase of at least $20, not including her patented Tomato-Lye Jamboree Hair Tonic.)     

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, “A Stitch, a Horse, and a Can of Pearl,” which was the inside-cover poem in the most recent edition of the Cement Area Greensheet.

The more astute of you may have seen Fernie’s hand in the Christmas edition of “This Old Mouse.” Raise your hand if you had the notion that Sir Archie was the ghostpen behind“The Nitrous Before Christmas.” Well, you’re dead wrong; I wrote that while flying low in my dentist’s office, but I did have ol’ Fernie in mind. In fact, he may have actually inhabited my body during that whole experience, but we digress again.

So anyway, without further magoo, I give you Sir Archie Ferndoodle, who has just returned from a five-month sojourn at the Tao Sendaha Haiku Sweat Lodge, just north of Pittsburgh.

 

Lenticular Haiku

by Archie Ferndoodle

 

Hand old, withered

Extended to young happy boy who

Smiles and

Coughs up a small border town near

Flagstaff.

 

Deposit slip with no meaning flutters

In brown surge of empty day. I find Julia at

Home making love to the Buick

Again.

Better judgment whispered

Toyota, Toyota.

Toyota. Smash hindsight with

Bitter hammer of stoli rocks. Ah.

 

Three grateful invertebrates argue

On who passed

Wind while each ascends

The assistant professor’s

Mortgage.

 

 

 

Trees and earth know much more

Than they sing

To man accused of listening of listening

Of listening to Alex

Trebek and his minions. Only refuse

And then hear again, the daily

Double. Oh! Bodies of

Water for Four

Hundred.

 

Heat. No heat. Heat. No heat.

Damn toaster. Fling the

Shiny monster down the hillock to

CRASH waves of filament element

Parchment and wire. No heat toast is mere

bread and

Sorrow.

Dear Julia. I’m trading it

In.

 

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.

Ever Wonder What’s in Your Belly Button?

10 Jul

by Roger White

Writers spend a lot of their time sitting around trying to figure out ways to make money without really working at it. This is why they are writers in the first place. I’m not implying that writing isn’t work, but let’s just say that one doesn’t develop a chiseled physique by pounding a keyboard nine to five. An office full of women that goes quietly bananas when a fire truck crammed with firemen pulls up (I have witnessed this on more than one occasion) would certainly not react in the same schoolgirl fashion if a fire truck full of writers stopped in.

“Oooh, just look at that Norman Mailer. He composes the sexiest similes.”

“That’s nothing compared to Ginsberg’s hunky hyperbole. Is it hot in here?”

I can’t actually think of a circumstance in which any fire truck anywhere would be manned by writers, but just go with it. Imagine Truman Capote desperately steering the back end of a hook-and-ladder, and you’ll see my point, whatever that may be.

Ah, yes, my point. The reason I bring this somewhat unsettling vision to mind is that as I was wrangling with the notion of writers possibly being the laziest creatures on earth, I wondered what other professions go to absurd lengths to put hamburger helper on the table without actually doing any useful labor.

You know what I came up with? No, not politicians. Researchers. Let me qualify this conclusion by noting I’m not referring to real researchers, like those earnestly looking for cures for cancer, heart disease, and other true menaces to mankind (such as Glenn Beck). No, I’m aiming at the fringe element here.

And I do mean fringe. Are you aware of some of the “research projects” out there that are receiving perfectly good grant money? For example, serious cash is being spent as we breathe on an investigation into what is in the average person’s belly button. You read it right. There is a whole team of navel nabobs working on the Belly Button Biodiversity project, in which about 100 suckers, er, volunteers agreed to have their belly buttons swabbed. I’m serious here. Being paid to contemplate one’s navel.

“We’re probably the only ones studying human belly buttons on such a large scale,” Jiri Hulcr, the head navel guy, told msnbc recently.

I would wager they’re the only ones studying human belly buttons on any scale—except maybe a few creepy old men in North Dakota basements. Hulcr, a post-doctoral candidate at North Carolina State University, reported at least 1,400 different bacterial strains in the human navel so far. I’m sure the military will get hold of this and use it somehow. “Look out! He’s got a belly button!” Rumor has it this crack team will next focus its efforts on ear wax uses, toe jam flavors, and dandruff flake tensile strength.

You think that’s bad? Take a gander at these studies (say it with me now, I’m not making this up!):

Professor Bonnie Nardi of the University of California Irvine got a fat $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the difference between how Americans and Chinese play the World of Warcraft. I’m not even sure what the World of Warcraft is—surely a video game of some sort—but according to Nardi, the Chinese are more interested in the aesthetics of the game, such as background colors and schemes, while Americans are more concerned with body count and kill ratio. Sounds about right.

Researchers Steven Stack and Jim Gundlach collaborated on the following groundbreaking and crucial report: The Effect of Country Music on Suicide. Actually, I don’t see this one as that absurd. A bit on the obvious side, perhaps, but not absurd. Stack, by the way, who has authored 219 articles on suicide, said in an interview with the medical journal The Lancet that his biggest fear is death. His second biggest fear is Johnny Paycheck. Okay, I made up that part.

How about this one? Three French types spent much time and treasure comparing the jumping performances of dog fleas versus cat fleas. Yes, flea vaulting. For those sitting on the edge of their seats, the dog flea significantly outjumped the cat flea, in both length and height of said leap. I had my money on the cat fleas, all the way. I’ve been avoiding my bookie for weeks.

I’ve saved the best, however, for last. Three intrepid psychology fellows at the University of New Mexico traded in their lab coats for low-cut polyester shirts and gold chains, filled their pockets with dollar bills, and set out to determine the effects of lap dancers’ ovulatory cycles on their tip-earning ability.

Ready for this? And I quote: “A mixed-model analysis of 296 work shifts (representing about 5,300 lap dances) showed an interaction between cycle phase and hormonal contraception use. Normally cycling participants earned about $335 per five-hour shift during estrus, $260 per shift during the luteal phase, and $185 per shift during menstruation. By contrast, participants using contraceptive pills showed no estrus earnings peak.”

Now that, my friends, is putting your tax dollars to work. I hear an intensive, exhaustive follow-up study is in the works. I’ve written UNM for a press pass to cover this next key phase of research personally, but, alas, no response so far.

Ah, well, it would probably involve a lot of work.

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.

My Confession: Who Is This Woman and Why?

4 Jul

by Roger White

I have a confession to make, and I don’t know if I should be sorely ashamed or downright proud to admit it. My gut tells me “proud,” but every media outlet from Maine to Matamoros screams otherwise. Here ’tis: I have absolutely no idea who Casey Anthony is, what she allegedly did, or why. Furthermore, I do not care a whit. Not even a quarter whit. In fact, if you could shave off a tiny sliver of a whit, place it under a microscope, and observe infinitesimally miniature specks of whit, you would find zero traces of my caring in any of it. So there.

I understand that there are lurid and despicable overtones here; I know something terrifically appalling transpired—otherwise the media wouldn’t be climbing all over themselves to keep the “story” in banner headlines every minute of the day. But I also understand, human nature being what it is, that lurid and despicable things happen all the time. Why, oh why, then, are we being spoon-fed every niggling detail of the sad case of Case—let’s call her CA so I don’t have to mention the name over and over, OK?

Who is—CA—and why should we care?! Has the media gone completely bananas? Do up-and-coming journalists and news types attend the National Enquirer School of Rancid Reporting these days? I do believe that if a national poll was conducted regarding how many ordinary folks were breathlessly following this sensational “story”—and I pray I’m right on this—that 92.1 percent of the good people of this country would respond with a choice expletive beginning with the letter “F” and the word “no” immediately following that choice expletive. If my public opinion antennae are vibrating correctly, I would also predict that 4.7 percent who didn’t respond with the vast majority were in the shower, thus unavailable for comment, and that the remaining 3.2 percent would be either media types themselves, relatives of CA, or utter morons (such as TV executives, politicians, media types, and Glenn Beck).

I don’t have to tell you how bad it is, but I will, anyway. CNN’s web site announced the other day as BREAKING NEWS in that day-glo yellow banner they use that CA had shed tears—no joke!—during defense testimony. Dear Lord. Stop the presses. I didn’t follow the link, but I imagine they had a six-minute close-up video of a tear, meandering from eyelid to chin. Oh, the pathos.

This is all quite tragic and traumatic to me on a personal level, understand, because I am in possession, somewhere, of a (shameful whisper here) degree in journalism. Sigh. I was once extremely proud of this particular piece of paper. Nowadays, I think I’ll roll it up and smoke something in it. Somebody kinda famous once said that journalists have gone from being lapdogs (the time when government press releases were run verbatim, and little was questioned) to watchdogs (the Watergate era and the advent of hard, investigative reporting) to attack dogs (the modern era of mudslinging, innuendo, and very little fact-checking).

Well, to this I would append another canine tag to bring us completely up-to-date: We have entered the era of rabid-dog reporting. If you’ve ever had the sad misfortune of witnessing the effects of rabies on a poor animal, then you can easily see the parallel. Rabid dogs behave incoherently. They can’t be trusted; they’ve lost all their common sense; they’ll bite you if you get too close; they foam at the mouth; and they fall down a lot. I believe this describes today’s media people very accurately. The only difference, I suppose, is that even a miserable old dog suffering the terrible, terminal phases of rabies would not insist on running the Casey Anthony (oops, CA) trial as his lead story every single day and night on his network.

For the life of me, good readers, I simply cannot fathom why every national news outlet thinks that any of us really gives a rat’s—wait, shhhhh, the verdict’s coming in! Yiiiike!

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.

It’s Not Just Me, Is It? It’s Too D@%* HOT!

19 Jun

by Roger White

I made the painful mistake of walking to the mailbox at mid-afternoon the other day. It was only about fifty feet, but it was June, it was Texas, and I was barefoot. What was I thinking?

At approximately ten feet from the mailbox, the soles of my feet on the sidewalk’s glowing surface began to feel like warm, spongy marshmallows, left in the Kraft bag in the sun during an ill-conceived summer campout. I might mention that my feet are as white and delicate as warm, spongy marshmallows left in the Kraft bag in the sun, also, but that’s beside the point.

By the time I opened the mailbox (only to find the usual, of course: a couple of bills; an obnoxious flier peppered with exclamation points informing me that I, yes, I, Mrs. Whites, had been selected as a guaranteed winner of either a Mediterranean vacation cruise, a 52-inch high-definition TV, or a back-scratcher provided I booked a weekend “get acquainted” stay at Lake Yerdozegawn Casino of Shreveport, Louisiana; and an official-looking letter from a Nigerian prince), my precious tootsies had gone from melting marshmallows to outright blackened s’mores. I tried to persevere—neighbors were about—but two steps from the mailbox and I started hightailing it back into the house, alternating between a dead run and a crab-stepping gait that would surely qualify for a grant from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Sitting on the kitchen counter with my smoking dogs under the faucet, I pondered my predicament. This surely couldn’t be just a matter of advancing age and retreating tolerance, could it? Although I well remember running and biking and doing just about everything barefoot all summer long when I was a kid—and never really feeling that hot at all (jeez, did we even sweat then?)—I conclude that my burning bunions of late involve more than simple wrinkles-induced wimpiness.

It’s hot. Way. Too. Hot. I’m talking another planet hot. Though I noted at the beginning of this diatribe that it’s practically summer and I’m practically in Mexico, it’s never been this bad. When I look out my window and see the squirrels fighting the blue jays for bird bath privileges, I know something’s amiss. I never knew squirrels were such dead aims with acorns. I was also unaware that squirrels wore bathing suits. It’s just the cutest thing when they leave them to dry on the bird bath. And you should see their tiny little flip-flops.

Anyway, despite what noted scientists Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Ted Nugent (and their well-funded pals at Exxon and R.J. Reynolds) say, you can’t tell me our little globe is not heating up. As I write this, it’s still officially spring, but the thermometer on our back deck already passed away from heat exhaustion. Our front yard looks like beige shag from a ’70s bachelor pad, and our long-haired dachshund, Ralph, looks woefully at me and shakes his head when I tell him it’s time to go out and do his business. You ever try to make a dachshund wear a catheter? My wife gave him a serious summer haircut as incentive, but Ralph’s no dummy. He’s seen the squirrels.

Can’t you just envision the “deniers” in a few years, when the summer’s average daily high is 139 degrees? “Global warming’s a fraud. It’s been hot before. It’s been dry. I remember in 1977 during the ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ Tour, when mmmph…mlllmm” “Sorry, folks, that’s going to wrap up this press conference. Mr. Nugent’s microphone just melted.”

It’s bad, I’m telling ya. Unless there’s a swimming pool or slip ’n’ slide within arm’s reach, even the kids aren’t out. That right there should prove my theorem. If the kids aren’t playing, something’s really wrong. That’s the litmus test. Call it the kidmus test. It’s a deserted landscape out there. It looks like the Sahara Desert, or Mars, or even Cleveland.

Heck, if it weren’t for the invention of air-conditioned vehicles, we would all be stuck inside our homes and offices all day long, staring at computer screens and writing silly columns abou—. Never mind.

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.