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Time for Old Rockers to Tinker with their Tunes

24 Aug

by Roger White

A friend recently posted on Facebook a snippet of herself at a Kansas concert, and it really got me thinking. No, it wasn’t a concert in Topeka—it was a show featuring that well-seasoned rock band Kansas. Yes, they’re actually still around, and yes, they’re actually still touring. My first thought upon viewing this short clip was to make a mental sticky-note to myself, which will read: “Note to self: Never post a clip on Facebook of you singing along with any band anywhere.” All you can hear in this video clip is our friend wailing out “Carry On My Wayward Son” at the top of her lungs, presumably as the guys on stage paid to sing the song are doing likewise. It weren’t pretty.

The second thought that swam across the shallow stream of consciousness that is my brain was “Aren’t the members of Kansas like, 87 years old now? Shouldn’t they be singing something like ‘Carry On My Wayward Grandson’?”

gads

Apparently, as Bob Seger opined long ago, rock and roll never forgets—as will attest many an aging rock outfit (they call them “legacy bands” now, which is code for “old fart rockers”). And these antique acts haven’t forgotten that we old fart fans will still pay good cash money to hear “Satisfaction” or “Born to Run” live just one more time before we all keel over. It’s amazing how many wrinkled ol—er, I mean, legacy bands are still at it. Just look at the lineup for Austin’s One World Theatre for any given month; nine out of ten acts playing there are card-carrying AARP members.

And this got me thinking further. I do believe it’s time for some of these long-in-the-tooth bands to tinker with their repertoire a bit to more properly reflect where they are in life. I mean, come on, Donny Osmond’s pushing 60. Can he still authentically pine about his “Puppy Love”? Instead of “Dust in the Wind,” Kansas should be singing something more along the lines of “Dust in Your Depends.”

double gads

So, herewith are some gentle oldspouse suggestions for revisions to many of our generation’s classic, albeit geriatric, gems, in no particular order:

  • The Rolling Stones: “I Can’t Hear You Knocking”; “Ruby Snoozeday”; “When the Hip Goes Out”; “You Always Forget What You Want”
  • Chicago: “Does Anybody Really Know What Day This Is?”; “If You Bathe Me Now”; “Questions 67 and, Uh”
  • The Eagles: “Hotel Neuralgia”; “Life with the Gas Pain”; “Glaucoma Sunrise”; “After the Pills Are Gone”
  • The Who: “Talkin’ ’Bout my Medication”; “Behind Bad Eyes”
  • Bad Company: “Feel Like Makin’ Fudge”; “Rockin’ Chair Fantasy”; “Can’t Get Enough of Your Prunes”
  • Black Sabbath: “Iron (Deficiency) Man”; “Hemorrhoid”; “Bark at the Nurse”
  • Beach Boys: “Be True to Your Stool”; “Catatonia Girls”; “Good Fibrillations”
  • Bruce Springsteen: “Vitamin E Street Shuffle”; “I’m Goin’ Down (And I Can’t Get Up)”; “Tenth Avenue Wheeze Out”
  • Crosby, Stills, & Nash: “Almost Grew Some Hair”; “Find the Cost of Lasik”; “Helplessly Scoping”fourple gads
  • Deep Purple: “Stroke on the Water”; “Face Tuckin’”
  • Doobie Brothers: “Long Vein Runnin’”; “Angina Grove”; “Takin’ It to the Sheets”
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Rest Home Alabama”
  • Foreigner: “Feels Like the Last Time”; “I Wanna Know What Today Is”
  • Steely Dan: “Rikki Don’t Lose Your Walker”; “My Old Stool”
  • Neil Young: “Down by My Liver”; “A Man Needs a Nurse”; “Enema Girl”
  • The Monkees: “Last Train to Restville”; “(I’ve Got Your) Kidney Stone”
  • Billy Joel: “Just the Way You Snore”; “Scenes From an Italian Rest Home”
  • Todd Rundgren: “I Saw the Nightlight”; “We Gotta Get You a Bypass”
  • Sly and the Family Stone: “You Can Wake Up If You Try”; “Thank You (Falletinme Feed Mice Elf Agin)”
  • KC & The Sunshine Band: “Get Sleep Tonight”; “Shake Your Footies”
  • The Kinks: “Dedicated Follower of Napping”; “You Really Got Gout”
  • Three Dog Night: “Try a Little Dulcolax”; “Just an Old-Fashioned Gallstone”
  • Jefferson Airplane: “Go Ask Cialis”

These are just suggestions, mind you. I had a few more in mind, but you get the picture. Besides, this compilation began to seriously eat into my nap time.

 

Roger White is a freelance old person 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.

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Faith and Begorrah, They Have Old Dog Homes!

5 Jun

 

by Roger White

 

Well, Faith and Begorrah, you can learn something new every day. Sometimes that—and little chocolate donuts—is the only thing that spurs me to drag my sagging carcass out of the sack most mornings.

LCDAnd speaking of learning something new (and in the true spirit of the stream-of-consciousness rambling rhetoric this forum prides itself on), do you know where the term “Faith and Begorrah” comes from? Or from which it comes, to avoid a prepositionally ended sentence?

From what I’ve been able to gather, “F&B” is a traditional Irish epithet that roughly translates into “By Gosh!” The Irish, of course, being a true Almighty-fearing people, didn’t want to come right out and say “By God!” when exclaiming some revelation or sense of amazement, so “F&B” was used to avoid taking the Supreme Dude’s name in vain and thereby summoning the furious wrath of the All-Knowing One. Kind of like how we say “Jeez!” to show astonishment (or when we smack our thumb with the hammer) to be able to quasi-curse without perturbing the Head Cheese. I believe it was W.C. Fields who used to exclaim, “Well, Godfrey wcfDaniels!” to approximate the G-D swear words. It’s all a bit silly, if you ask me. I mean, do we really think that (a) we’re putting one over on the Omniscient One; and (b) they’re actually keeping a Heavenly Tally?

Me at Pearly Gates: “So, St. P, do I get in the club?”

St. Peter: “Well. You did say ‘Jeez and Crackers’ six-hundred-seventy-two-thousand times. And don’t think we don’t know what that’s about.”

Me: “Aw, Jeez.”

St. Peter: “Ya see? That’s what I’m talking about.”

Me: “Sorry.”

St. Peter: “Oh, go on in. But we’re watching you.”

Aaaaanyway. Original point coming. I opined “F&B” earlier because I received a very kindly response to my recent column about aging pets and comedian Louis C.K.’s “countdown to sorrow” routine about pet ownership. I pondered why we don’t have any old pooch’s homes. And by golly (oop), we do have them!

Reader Elaine Courtney sent me this:

“Hi, I read your column today, and as I do most weeks, enjoyed it. (Most weeks? Hey.) Dogs are my favorite subject, and I mostly rescue seniors. The reason for that is I don’t want a dog to outlive me. My oldest is Baby, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu. He is now snoring away beside me. I have three other ShihTzus, two Corgis, and one recent find, a 14-year-old Basset-Corgi, whose momma went to assisted living in March. I’ve had to say goodbye to two seniors in the past three years …. It is very difficult to let them go, but they all had several years of a great spoiled life that they might never have had.  It’s usually a circus around here, but I love my dogs, and I am lucky that I work from home.

dog-retirement“Two things: One, there are several senior doggie retirement centers around the country, and it is such a great service. I would love to do that myself. I once thought of opening a pet cemetery, but that ran out of steam.

“The other thing I wanted to mention is your Bubbie, I hope you find a good residence for her. Hopefully, that decision is much further down the road. I do older adult services, helping people with errands and chores so that they can remain in their homes or even just have company, someone to play Scrabble with.

“If you need that kind of assistance for her, if it would make her or your life easier, let me know…. Oh, and cute picture of the labradoodle puppy in your article!!”

Well, that photo was provided by Editor Will. Kudos, Will-man. And thank you, Elaine. You’re a sweetie. Payola’s in the mail.

 

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.

Learning about Love & Loss — from your Labradoodle

27 May

by Roger White

 

Here’s a quote from comedian Louis C.K. I’ve been pondering lately: “It’s true, everything that makes you happy is going to end at some point, and nothing good ends well. It’s like, if you buy a puppy, you’re bringing it home to your family saying, ‘Hey, look, everyone, we’re all gonna cry soon. Look at what I brought home. I brought home us crying in a few years.’ widdul puppyHere we go. Countdown to sorrow with a puppy.”

I’m not sure I completely agree with the “nothing good ends well” bit, but I do understand what Louis is saying about pet ownership. The animals we bring into our lives, the furry little family members we choose to share our homes and our years with, wriggle and wag and romp their way into our hearts—and then they leave us, as they must. Ralph the rotund long-haired dachshund has been a loving and much-loved part of our family going on 13 years now, and though I pray he isn’t leaving us anytime soon, we do see the youthfulness waning from our once-rambunctious puppy, little by little. Especially lately, Ralph’s step isn’t as spry and bouncing as it once was, trips to the vet have become more frequent as aches and pains and digestive upsets pop up more often, and we’re finding more indiscretions around the house—a sure indicator that old dachour usually well-behaved Ralphie can’t hold it and wait for his bathroom breaks like he used to. Basically, it’s a lot like what’s happening to me. In fact, I would guess the old boy is aging a lot better than me, considering in dog years Ralph is going on about 91 now. I’m not yet 60, and my trips to the vet—er, doc—are a heck of a lot more frequent than Ralph’s, for sure.

Another life event our little family is going through presently involves an aging parent. My dear wife’s mom is at that point where we’re having to seriously consider the assisted living option. At 89, Bubbie is still as sharp as ever—smarter and quicker still than I’ll ever be—but physically her life is becoming demanding, challenging, and increasingly more difficult. I can only imagine how hard that step has to be, contemplating giving up one’s independence for the safety of a care facility. But I must say that some of the places we’ve visited in trying to make our determination are actually quite pleasant. Heck, I could live at some of these places right now—good meals, regular card games, pool and hot tub privileges, awesome meds, no daily rush-hour hell. And you can watch TV all you want!

And this got me thinking. Why don’t we have assisted living for pets? You know, an old pooch’s home. It would be complete with miniature pet wheelchairs, senior dog chow in the dining hall, group physical therapy sessions on such things as rudimentary tail-wagging, cat avoidance pup in chairtechniques for the older canine, most effective facial expressions for begging, stuff like that. Ralph would surely dig those Jacuzzi jets on his aging backbone. I may look into starting something along these lines. Call it, oh, the Lazy Days Sunset Retirement Kennel. Or Sam’s Silver Years Senior Shih Tzu Spot. Elroy’s Elderly English Setter Center? I don’t know, I’ll work on it.

Anyway, I believe Louis C.K.is being a bit harsh, now that I think about it. I wouldn’t call owning a pet a “countdown to sorrow” so much as I would term it a valuable lesson for us owners. Caring for and then letting go of a dearly loved pet, to me, is more a lesson in love and loss. Our pets show us the true meaning of selfless love—and, maybe as importantly, they teach us how to cope with loss. What greater lessons are there?

 

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.

 

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.

And Now the Rest of the Story

16 Oct

by Roger White 

You know who I miss? Well, yes, I do still pine for Irene Ryan. Granny wielded a razor wit and a mean shotgun—or was it shotgun wit and a mean razor? Whatever. And you just couldn’t beat her possum stew.

But no, my point was that I miss Paul Harvey. If you’re not dilapidated enough to remember him, Paul Harvey was a radio broadcaster who for years and years mingled news, opinion, urban legend, and cleverly disguised product plugs in a quirky one-man show he called “The Rest of the Story.” I didn’t always agree with his politics, but Harvey was funny and sincere. He sounded like one of your slightly deranged uncles telling oddball stories by the campfire.

 

Harvey transitioned to that great studio in the sky in 2009, and in the years since I’ve come to realize he left a huge hole with his passing. News cycles today are so unrelentingly fleeting that no time is allowed for follow-up. You get a headline, a couple of paragraphs of story, and no more. Then it’s on to the next bath-salts-induced-face-eating story. I say it’s time we slowed things down a bit. I say it’s time for more in-depth coverage, for broader, more extensive, more thoughtful deliberation of the day’s events and trends. I say it’s time for another Paul Harvey.

So, friends, followers, and finagling philanderers, I give you Carlos Carlos Moore.

Carlos Carlos is an old pal from journalism school (North Lamar Street Continuing Adult Ed) who found his niche with a show he calls “Moore to the Story.” His hour-long format has been running on Matamoros’ K-PUTA radio for 22 years. I called up my old classmate to see if he’d be willing to put a bit of his talents down on paper, and he graciously obliged, so without further ado, here’s a sampling of “Moore to the Story.”

“From Santa Fe Springs, California, comes this disturbing item that’s made news around the world recently: A 62-year-old employee of the local Bumble Bee Tuna plant was found baked to death in the facility’s giant steamer oven. It remains unclear how the man got into the industrial cooker, but officials are tentatively ruling the death an accident…

…but there’s ‘Moore to the Story.’ Agreeing to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity, an assistant plant manager at the Bumble Bee facility said that due to declining tuna harvests in recent years, select Bumble Bee plants have been ‘retiring’ lesser known employees, particularly undocumented workers, in this manner to fill production quotas. Cans of tuna supplemented with these special ingredients are shipped mainly overseas. In a possibly related story, a spokeswoman for the New Delhi Board of Trade commented at a public hearing last week how her daughter texted her during school lunchtime to ask if tuna fish had fingernails.”

“From the French news organization BVA comes this bit of dirt. According to a new poll, one fifth of French citizens say they don’t wash on a daily basis, and almost 4 percent say they avoid soap and water more than once a week. The study also found that approximately 20 percent of French people don’t wash their hands before eating, and about 12 percent don’t wash their hands after using the toilet…

…but there’s ‘Moore to the Story.’ In a recent interview for his latest biography, actor Sean Connery, a self-confessed ‘germaphobe,’ said he had known since early childhood about the unsettling personal proclivities of the French and that he avoided close encounters with them whenever possible. Connery admitted that during the filming of the 1968 British western “Shalako,” he donned a full-body condom and antibiotic face shield in his scenes with French starlet Brigitte Bardot.”

“From ABC News’ ‘Good Morning America’ show comes this ‘passing’ fancy. As if the bizarre allure that the rare Indonesian gourmet coffee Kopi Luwak holds over some fanciers isn’t enough, Anantara Resorts in the Maldives Islands has introduced its select Black Ivory coffee. For those unfamiliar, Kopi Luwak is made from coffee berries eaten and excreted by small Asian critters called civets. At about $2,200 a pound, Black Ivory, passed through the digestive tracts of Thai elephants, has now one-upped—or should I say ‘sur-passed’—Kopi Luwak as the caca coffee du jour…

 

…but there’s ‘Moore to the Story.’ Our research team has spanned the globe searching for café concoctions even rarer and more exotic. So far, we found two blends on opposite sides of the world we believe are worth taste-testing: In south central New Jersey, a secretive underground cabal of coffee connoisseurs brews an aromatic, nutty-tasting cup made from an exacting process. First, a half-can of Folger’s red-label beans is marinated in automatic transmission fluid in that big puddle under the Fremont Avenue Bridge, near the Camden tracks. Then the beans are left to soak precisely an hour and a half in the urinal trough at Big John’s Bar up the block. The locals call it Jersey Joe. Insiders’ tip: Grind slowly with cinnamon and rosemary for that perfect touch. For a change of pace, coffee gourmands in the northern Ukraine offer this zesty java that literally leaves your tongue tingling. Called Oblast Blast, the recipe for this epicurean extravagance is quite interesting. A gross of beans is shipped to the lone remaining citizen of the ghost town of Pripyat. This man, named Vedislav, sucks on each bean individually for one minute then lays each bean out to dry in the street. There the beans cure for six months—in the shadow of the deserted Chernobyl nuclear plant. When the beans are a nice day-glo green, they’re mixed with asbestos and ground for consumption. Oblast Blast, by the way, has a remarkable shelf life.”

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.