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Clang the Clangers! It’s Contest Time Again!

23 Jun

by Roger White

 

Either I’m having a patella-buckling, spleen-expanding, koala-slapping case of déjà vu, or I’ve written all this before and am now simply too addled to recognize it, but here goes: You know how sometimes the gods smile upon you. Yah? True, sometnot sure what this isimes they do. This is when things somehow turn out OK despite your astounding lack of common sense. Sometimes, however, they just grin and chuckle, leaving you to fend for yourself. They are amused at your puny efforts.

And yet other times, the gods smirk or give you that blank stare like you really screwed things up.

My advice for these times is just to act like you truly intended the outcome, no matter how calamitous. This gives the gods pause, and that brief delay in the Great Spinning Wheel of Fate (GSWoF) often provides that slim window of time in GSWoFwhich you have a certain measure of self-determination. Like that time you were second string on the seventh-grade football team, and the coach was trying to decide whether to let you in the game just before halftime and in your excitement you simply ran out onto the field and got to play two whole plays before coach yelled at you to sit down and quit acting foolish.

Kinda like that.

This is to say that I believe the big guys are smiling at present, because just in time for the Third Biennial Oldspouse Familiar Phrase Contest (OFPhC) I have received another supply of premium glossy bumper stickers as prizes, you lucky ducks. That’s ducks, with a “d.”

For those too young, old, sensible, or hirsute to remember, the OFPhC involves a pile of phrases, quotes, movie lines, book titles, common sayings, utterances, and/or bodily function noises that I’ve rendered in a somewhat obscure manner. Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to come up with the more common version of said utterances. For example, say I give you “A Male Homosapiens For All Periods of the Year.” You say—… oh, come on. You say, “A Man For All Seasons.” Bingo! See how easy?

First three humans (I will accept cats, too) to respond at roger.white@tasb.org with the correct answers each wins a premium glossy bumper sticker (sorry, the “Ronald Reagan for Governor” ones are all gone—you get “Jesus is Coming. Hide the Bong”). And you get your name in the Gazette! Pseudonyms are fine.

Exciting, huh? OK, ready and. Go. What are the more well-known versions of these sayings:

  1. She steers me to imbibe.
  2. There is a lollipop spawned each 60-second interval.
  3. Expired males don’t do any storytelling.
  4. Feline Atop a Heated Metal Canopy.
  5. A Few Prefer It Scorching.
  6. Do not allow the insects in your bunk to munch on you.
  7. A countenance only one’s female parent would really like.
  8. Leave snoozing pups to recline.
  9. Chance, Manifest Yourself as a Woman This Evening.
  10. At the rear of each guy who’s accomplished something one will find a female.
  11. Idiot’s precious metal.
  12. Traversing the brook and through the forest, to my mother’s mother’s abode we travel.
  13. The Era of the Water-Bearer.
  14. A Story of a Couple of Towns.
  15. Mothers, do not allow your offspring to aspire to be ranch hands.
  16. Tammy WStay Upright Near Your Male.
  17. Lucifer persuaded me to act as I did.
  18. If I’ve informed you 16 divided by 16 times, I’ve informed you 250 times 4 times.
  19. This is the manner in which the small, rounded pastry disintegrates.
  20. The third planet from the sun is your bivalve mollusk.

 

Roger White is a freelance bivalve mollusk living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely female spouse, two precocious offspring units, a very obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

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Maybe Stevie Should Be Wearing Waders

4 Nov

by Roger White

 

If you ain’t from around these parts, pardner, let me tell ya something about the statue of the late rock/blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan that stands near the shore of Austin’s Town Lake (or Lady Bird Lake or Vince Young Lake or whatever lake they currently call the river that runs through town): Stevie’s clad in poncho and boots not for protection from the elements. No. That was just his style.

 

But given the weather around here lately, SRV’s garb is more than appropriate. In fact, city officials are mulling over the notion of retooling Stevie’s boots into hip-length waders.

 

Translation: Enough with the dang rain already.

 poorstevie

Photographic proof of the Noah-like blessings we’ve been receiving recently showed poor Stevie up to mid-poncho in floodwater. Down here in the southwest part of town, it was even worse. Our community statue of Junior Samples was inundated up past his belly—and it’s a big belly, people. You couldn’t even read the BR-549 sign for days because of all the dang rain. OK, I’m kidding. We don’t have a statue of Junior Samples. I think. Anyway, it’s been bad. You know it’s bad when you sit on your back porch and watch your neighbors waving back at you—as they float by on their back porches. The tiny whisper of a creek that runs behind our home, normally coyote-bone dry, has resembled something flowing through the Amazon Basin of late. Critters of both the hairy and slimy phylum have skittered and slithered in and out of our little domicile seeking refuge. The cat’s about to have a coronary.

 juniorsamples

And sadly, one of the casualties of all this weather has been our community garden. It seems the small sewage facility that butts up (no pun intended) against our neighborhood garden got so swamped from the deluge that it befouled all of our lovingly tended plots of lettuces and kale and tomatoes and arugula with human waste. That’s right. Soylent Green is people poo! This got me thinking: How nasty must the human body be if we can freely fertilize our cabbages and kumquats with cow patties but we run the risk of plague-like death if we use our own, uh, by-products? Regardless, the warning has been issued by the community braintrust: harvest at your own risk! Poo may be present.

 

soylentschmoylentSo the wife and I, who have a plot in the neighborhood garden about the size of a car battery, now watch wistfully as our little squashes and lettuces and tomatoes and strawberries grow and blossom. Do we dare eat them? What if we soaked our harvest in bleach and then ran it all through the washer and dryer? Who exactly in the neighborhood lives upstream of the sewage plant, anyway? Everybody’s a suspect now. Ya smell that? Smells like the family at the end of Canyon Oaks, doesn’t it? And what is that on our Chinese cabbage plant?! Oh, wait, it’s only dirt. Just forget it, I can’t eat any of this now.

 

Oh, well, on the bright side, I was getting a little tired of homegrown cherry tomatoes and squash. That’s the thing about growing your own that nobody tells you about: When the harvest comes in, boy, does it come in. We had so many cherry tomatoes there for a while, I was eating them with lunch, breakfast, midnight snacks, on my corn flakes. I love cherry tomatoes, but please. Kindly remove those cherry tomatoes from my rocky road ice cream.

 

flooooodAnd now. Well, they’re tainted. It’s all tainted. In fact, when next I visit our little garden, I’m thinking I’ll wear gloves—and a poncho and hip-length waders. I’m with ya, Stevie. Dang rain.

 

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.

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.

Word to the Wise: Listen to the Gandalf of Groceries

9 May

by Roger White

Little by little, year by year, experience by experience, as time has whizzed past my noggin, and my ears have begun to sprout those old-man hairs that somehow generate from deep in the inner canal and hang gray and curly down the earlobe like so many tiny dried-up noodles, it has slowly started to dawn on me how stupid I am.

No, really. I don’t mean slackjaw stupid like Junior Samples of “Hee Haw.” It’s not like I can’t balance my checkbook or anything. Well, technically, I can’t balance my checkbook, but that’s not what I’m talking about. But while we’re on this, if you can freely round up and use imaginary numbers in advanced calculus (as I’ve learned from my high schooler offspring), why can’t the credit union let you do the same? Many of my beginning-of-the-month checkbook entries contain the addendum “give or take.”

No, I’m referring to life’s little lazy assumptions, usually made by husbands, I’m afraid. Here’s a good example: the grocery store. For years, when my lovely wife would come home from her semi-weekly food foray with her right eye twitching like a frog leg in a middle school science experiment and using language like my grandpa did in the throes of one of his periodic Battle of the Ardennes flashbacks, I would smile sweetly, offer moral support, and think to myself, “Come on, it’s putting milk and eggs and root beer in a shopping cart, get some coping skills, woman.”

However, as with the vast majority of my domestic dealings, I found I was oh, so mistaken. I volunteered to venture to the store for family foodstuffs recently—on my own, I must add—and I am here to report that setting foot into the hellish and mystifying jungle that is the local grocery store filled with single-minded shoppers is as terrifying and nerve-crumbling as stalking wild moose with a bow and arrow. In fact, if my family developed a taste for wild moose shanks, I would rather take my chances with the bow and arrow.

I felt smug and confident going in. I had my wife’s list; I had my cell phone. How hard could it be? I should have sensed that I was in for trouble when a sage-looking old gentleman, with a white Gandalfian beard and ice-blue eyes, met me going in as he was going out through the sliding doors. He looked at my list, then at me, and he issued a slow, mournful shake of the head. Beware.

The rest was a panicked blur. I will tell you that there is a definite current and flow to grocery shopping, and if you disturb this current by tarrying too long trying to decipher the difference between cans of diced, crushed, or chopped tomatoes, you will get caught in your own little shopping eddy and spend a dizzying half-hour fighting your way back into the mainstream. I swear I heard “Dueling Banjos” in the distance.

This may be an over-generalization, but, heck, there is always some truth at the heart of generalizations because that’s why they’re generalizations in the first place. Women are ruthless grocery shoppers. There, I said it. However politically incorrect it may be, I must tell you that in the grocery store you will be run over, sideswiped, given the royal stink-eye, and physically blocked from your desired Chips Ahoy or lean bacon strips by scores of snarling wimmen maneuvering their carts like Richard Petty on prescription amphetamines. My simple theory is that this is their domain, and no man is going to make his hairy presence felt in this, their habitat. I stood quietly behind a diminutive graying little woman for a solid seven minutes while she read every ingredient on a can of artichoke hearts. In any other setting, I would have thought, “what a sweet old lady,” but here, she eyed me with a chilling glance, with a look that dared me to utter a sound. I stood frozen, half-smiling until she moved on, and only then was I allowed my turn at the watering hole… I mean, the selection of extra virgin olive oil.

Mind you, I prefaced this column confessing my stupidity, so allow me this: How is it extra virgin olive oil? Virgin, yes. But extra virgin? These olives never even thought about going all the way?

Anyway, once I understood the shopping cart pecking order and began to fumble my way around the aisles with a modicum of competence, I found that the list my wife gave me, so simple in the beginning, began to read like hieroglyphics. Everything, and I mean everything, became exponentially more complicated than I ever imagined. For example, apples. The word “apples” was on the list. OK. I hack my way to the fresh fruit section. Sweet mother, I discover, there are 27 varieties, shapes, sizes, and colors of apples, laid out over two aisles of angry, glassy-eyed shoppers. I use my life line. Red delicious, she says. All right, bag ’em. Go, go go. Paddle, boy, paddle.

Same thing happened with the orange juice. Do we need Vitamin C-infused, low pulp, no pulp, extra pulp, mega-pulp, or family style? What in heaven’s name is family style orange juice? You pour it in glasses at the dinner table, and each glass of juice begins arguing and grousing about the food? Anyway, I’m at the juice aisle, and in the time it takes me to use the life line again, I incur the wrath of those in the flow behind me. I’ve created another eddy. The swirling starts again. Help me, Mr. Wizard!

By the time I muddle through the checkout and wander to the exit, I find my hair has become long, white, Gandalfian. I spy a naïve, cocky lad on his way in, his little list in hand. I shake my head at him, slow with just a hint of a wry grin. Beware.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.