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An Apology to Central Texas from Ol’ Juniper Jones

16 Jan

by Ol’ Juniper Jones

 

Dear Central Texas Humans,

 

Ol’ Juniper Jones here. First off, let me say that this here letter has been a long time coming. I first pondered on writin’ you folks back in 1958, but I was just a shrub then. Didn’t even have my berries yet. If yer old enough to recollect, you might remember that the rains in ’57 in and around Austin were heavier than a dead preacher. I’m not 134a. Ol' Juniper Jonesrightly sure what that means, but I heard my daddy say it many a time, and he was a wise old tree. Anyhow, if you’ve lived ’round these parts long enough, you know that a soggy, mild fall means that come winter you git great, big clouds of juniper dust—you might know it better as cedar pollen (even though we ain’t cedars, dagnab it). And as I understand it, you human types don’t take too kindly to our reproductive spores. Apparently, what gits our juices a-flowin’ gets yer noses to blowin’. That rhymed, I’ll be dogged.

 

Yep, the rains in ’57 made the pollen count of 1957-58 a real humdinger, but it looks like it ain’t got nothing on this here season. So I decided to take pen in branch and reach out to you humans, seeing as how with regard to my fellow feathery foliage, hiccuppery2014’s been thicker than George W. Bush after three double vodkas. As an elder statesman of the Central Texas Juniperus family tree, I’m here to tell ya outright that I’m plum sorry. I really am. There ain’t no good reason for all the procreative powder all over yer cars and houses and clothes this winter. Sure, it’s been wet recently, but not like ’57 and ’58.

 

Nope, I’ll tell ya what the real dadblame reason is. All these young, oversexed trees of pollen-bearing age have just run amok. Saplings these days wear their tight little bark and throw random spores in the air like it’s a dang California orgy. I just don’t know what it is with the kids nowadays—twerking to Miley Cypress, listening to bad mileycypressinfluences like Amy Pinehouse and Justin Beecher. Some of the things I see the young’uns doing I can’t even understand, like planking, and tweeting, and going treemo. I had to ask my granddaughter, Ashley, about that one. Apparently, the saplings who wear heavy makeup, paint their branches in dark colors and cry and holler a lot are known as treemo. I don’t get it. Hell, everbody’s showin’ off their berries and seed cones like they’re Heather Oaklear or Linda Larchlace or somethin’.

 

Why, in my day, if a male juniper wanted to court a young lady tree, we waited for a nice, quiet evening, put on some respectable music, like Ray Conifer or Birch Bacharach, or Spruce Springsteen even—not this rap trash they listen to today from these no-talent whippersnappers like Shrub Dogg and Spriggie Smalls. Then, after some soft music, if nature took its course, we’d discreetly send a little pollen her way. Not like today, good gosh a mighty. It’s a regular tree for all out there.

 

dontbeatmeSo I reckon you can consider this an apology on behalf of the more mature of us evergreen earthlings. We don’t have nothin’ against you humans, really. Except fer when you beat us with poles and sticks just to watch our spores go a-flyin’. That just ain’t right. Oh, and we do take exception to the whole “cedar fever” thing. We ain’t cedars. We’re junipers. We really hate that.

 

Ol’ Juniper Jones is a 62-year-old member of the juniperus ashei family, otherwise known as the ashe juniper or mountain cedar tree (although you shouldn’t call him a mountain cedar to his face—he really hates that). For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

A Mighty Wind Cometh (from an Empty Caveth)

15 Aug

almanack schmalmanackaesop schmaesopby Roger White

Never let it be said that the Spouseman ignores his readers. I recently checked my inbox and found myself inundated with an e-mail, which lamented the fact that I haven’t tested you guys with a Quizzical Quotes contest in ages. I figured we’d seen the end of QQ, seeing as how the last time we did this, three of you wrote in threatening physical violence (I won’t name full names, Ronnie, Margene, and Achmed) and I ended up in protracted litigation with the estate of Aesop’s Fables claiming copyright infringement.

But.

Ye have spoken, and thee has listened. Besides, the nifty column I had drafted about the quirky personalities in my neighborhood didn’t make it past my copy editor (that being my lovely wife)—so you’re safe for now, Ronnie, Margene, and Achmed.

The object of QQ is simple: give me the more popular version of the quotes, sayings, poems, tidbits, cereal boxtops, song titles, book titles, phrases, expressions, adages, aphorisms, platitudes and proverbs you see below. For example, the more well-known version of “I’ll take freedom or croaking” is … anyone? Bueller? Come on, it’s “Give me liberty or give me death.” Dig? Dug.

First 10 of you who e-mail me at rogdude@mail.com with anything close to the correct answers win a nifty “Jesus Is Coming, Hide the Bong” bumper sticker. First 10 of you who e-mail me your PayPal account information and anything close to the correct answers win two bumper stickers and a VIP seat at my book-signing party (to be announced as soon as I hear back from my guy Larry at Self-Publish America).

So here goes. I was going to go with 50 of them, but I got tired. Sue me.

1. “You are not just puckering your lips and melodiously blowing a tune popular in the Old South.”
2. “Rap on oak.”
3. “Treading on chicken-embryo casings.”
4. “Don’t inspect a free large, solid-hoofed herbivorous quadruped in its oral cavity.”
5. “Each canine possesses its 24-hour period.”
6. “Existence in the Driving Corridor Designated for Speedier Vehicles.”
7. “What’s the latest information, feline?”
8. “Don’t mooch things off other people and don’t loan out your stuff, either.”
9. “The clock doesn’t hang around for anybody.”
10. “In what manners do I really, really like you? Where’s the calculator?”
11. “The puny, soft-spoken guys will get the third planet from the sun.”
12. “A threaded knot at the appropriate interval precludes the necessity for three squared.”
13. “Amalgamated, our posture is upright; split apart, we hit the floor.”
14. “The precipitation in the northern Iberian peninsula comes down principally on the flatlands.”
15. “A snapshot equals a lot of talking.”
16. “Devotion has no eyesight.”
17. “Consume, imbibe, and laugh it up, because two days after yesterday we could kick the bucket.”
18. “An egg-laying winged vertebrate within the extremity has the same value as five minus three in the shrubbery.”
19. “As a pair of ocean-going vessels that came within close proximity of the other after the sun went down.”
20. “Only a couple of items are sure things: pushing up daisies and governmental levies on personal income.”
21. “Confection is nice; however, alcohol has a more rapid effect.”
22. “Being really smug and happy with yourself precedes a sudden drop.”
23. “The neatest items of existence don’t necessitate a trip to the bank.”
24. “My mind processes information, so I gotta be here.”
25. “Grasp this career occupation and push it.”
26. “This is a canine-consume-canine planetary sphere.”
27. “Twelve divided by four bed linens facing the breeze.”
28. “As comfortable as an insect within a floor covering.”
29. “Getting even is sugary.”
30. “Glimmer, Glimmer, Diminutive Gaseous Orb.”
31. “The guy who is the final guy to snicker has the highest-quality snicker.”
32. “Need is the mom of contraption.”
33. “The only item we should be scared of is being scared.”
34. “OK, let’s have the guy who’s done nothing wrong hurl the initial rock.”
35. “To Assassinate the State Bird of Texas.”
36. “Clear liquid’s all around, but we can’t imbibe any of it.”
37. “Every one of the monarch’s large, solid-hoofed herbivorous quadrupeds and every one of the monarch’s male homosapiens failed in their efforts to reconstruct the egg man.”
38. “Bluntly, Red, I do not care.”
39. “I detect spoilage in the Copenhagen area.”
40. “See ya, mean globe.”
41. “Inactive appendages equal Satan’s studio.”

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.

An Insider’s Peek at Hollywood, Part II

26 Mar

by Roger White

I suppose I had my one real insider’s look at how Hollywood works some years ago, when I attended a screenwriters’ session on how to “pitch ideas” to producers during an Austin Film Festival annual gathering of would-be writers.

A panel of so-called idea people (a Hollywood oxymoron if I ever heard one) sat at a table and critiqued writers’ script ideas, based on approximately 30 seconds of monologue. If writers didn’t have what the idea people called a high-concept proposal, if writers paused for a breath, if writers tried to explain a complex plot turn, they were toast.

The guy who won the pitch contest did so with the following idea, I kid you not:

“So you’re walking along the street, a nice sunny day, and suddenly everything goes blank. Then you’re like HOLY F@#K!! WHERE AM I?!”

“Ooh,” said the idea people. “Nice.”

Cursing and yelling seemed to be high on their list. “High concept,” to these folks, who I must say all looked to be about 25 to 28 years old, meant explosions, gruesome terror, betrayal, deadly animals, killer robots, slasher horror, or Brad Pitt. This particular pitch session occurred as the movie “Snakes on a Plane” was in production. One of the idea people could hardly contain himself as he explained what a fantastic high-concept film this was going to be—a classic in the making.

“Imagine it,” he gushed. “Snakes set loose on a plane! Don’t you see? There’s no way off of a plane. And all these snakes are slithering all over the place!”

I sat and wondered how this expert panel would have rated the opening scene to the 1951 epic “A Place in the Sun,” in which Montgomery Clift is quietly thumbing for a ride along a lonely stretch of road. It was then and there I realized I would never be a Hollywood screenwriter. No, not sour grapes. I’m just not young and stupid enough.

Am I alone here? With very few notable exceptions, this is the state of film-making today. If it bites, blows up, bleeds, beheads people, or is Brad, it’s got a green light. If we run out of ideas, we do it all over again as a sequel.

Even my kids, teenage movie buffs both of them, understand by now the banal, bottom-line instincts of your basic Hollywood producer. Both my daughters are big “Twilight Saga” fans, but even they balked at the notion of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Wind—Part II.”

Did I say “Wind”? I meant “Dawn,” of course. This latest gem, which opens in November, is a part two within a multi-part series of movies, mind you, all of which are looking more and more like the same vampire movie with simply fresh blood and longer fangs.

This got me thinking again. What if the great citizenry—that’s us—rose up and dictated to Hollywood: No More Sequels! I know, I know what you’re going to say, what about “Godfather II”? Simple, this is the exception that proves the rule. Just about every other sequel I can think of never should have seen the light of day. Here are just a few: “Basic Instinct 2,” “Caddyshack II,” “Grease 2,” “Jaws: The Revenge,” “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” “Dumb and Dumberer,” “Blues Brothers 2000.” The list is damn near eternal.

I shudder to think of the results if such movie-making titans as director Stuart Rosenberg (“Cool Hand Luke”) or Robert Mulligan (“To Kill a Mockingbird”) had been under similar pressure to squeeze out sequels. Oh, the horror.

Come to think of it, there’s no time limit on butchering classics. They have a new “Three Stooges” now, for crying out loud. So, as much as it strikes terror in my heart, you might look for these titles soon at a theater near you:

• “Cooler Hand Luke: Revenge of Them Damned Eggs”

• “To Sir With Even More Love”

• “Citizen Kane II: Rosebud Returns”

• “The Ten Commandments II: God’s Revisions”

• “Real Gone with the Wind”

• “Bonnie and Clyde Part 2: They Were Only Flesh Wounds”

• “The Post-Graduate: Revenge of the Robinsons”

• “Mockingbird II: Rise of Boo Radley”

• “Dueling Wizards of Oz: I’ll Witch-Slap 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.

It’s Bumper to Bumper in my Street of Consciousness

16 May

by Roger White

 

Note to self: For drive home from work, play Burt Bacharach CD, not Black Sabbath. Remember that vein in your forehead.

I’ve been inching my way along these city roads to and from the old salt mine for about 30 years now. Thirty. Long. Years. I wonder what people who really do work in salt mines call their place of employ? The old hell hole? And what about the folks under contract to hell holes? The old eternal damnation parlor, perhaps? Hmm. I don’t know.

But traffic’s only gotten worse, hasn’t it? You know it’s bad when you can look down from your vehicle and recognize the same cigarette butt and discarded lottery ticket at that same spot in the road you were at yesterday. Man, one more scratched-off cherry, and the guy would’ve been on easy street. Ah, well. Probably bumper to bumper there, too. Why does everything get worse? Even for me, a professed curmudge, pining for the good old days can be a tad depressing at times. Surely there’s light somewhere at the end of this tunnel we call today’s living. I know, I know, that light may be an oncoming train. But if life keeps going this way, will we be three deep in cars by the time our grandkids are geezers? Will it all really be a bleak Blade Runner landscape by the time Justin Bieber checks into the Hair Club for Men?

Nevertheless, the whole workaday driving ritual is unique theater, isn’t it? And it’s not just the fact that normal, mild-mannered people morph into heartless, seething jerks once they slip into their shiny metal boxes. It’s the whole dance, the instant alliances, the one-minute wars, the hand gestures, the traffic-light trysts, the old blind-spot head bobs (“I’m sorry! I didn’t see you!”), the split-second decisions to be either magnanimous or dictatorial. “You may enter. You, I do not care for. You will wait.”

It’s all so melodramatic, Wagnerian even.

Traffic is its own world, really. For me, there are three main components of living: home life, work life, and traffic life. Well, and in-law visit life (help me, God), so four. Oh, and weekend TV sports life, which sort of cancels out in-law visit life, so that makes five, unless you rule that they canceled each other out, in which case we’re back to three. That’s up to you. And then there’s vacation life. But my point is, the daily commute is such a pancreas-twisting hassle that you must emotionally gird yourself to face it every working morning and eve. I for one think we should be compensated for daily accepting the awful challenge. Yes! I say if our places of business won’t pony up, then we demand that the state give us our due for having to get up, get clean, and battle each other tooth and nail and fender every day just to eke out a living. Eh, what? Hear, hear! Or is that here, here? There, there. Pip, pip, cheerio. All that rot! Get the pitchforks and torches! To the castle!

Sorry. Scooter’s Coffeehouse again. Too. Muchhh. Espresssooo.

What were we talking about? Ah, yes, traffic. Let me tell you something, commuters. Have patience with the 21-year-old male driver in his uber-tuned Subaru XYZ-7 or whatever with the ridiculous silver tailpipe as big as a pregnant alligator and that stupid wing on the trunk that looks like something off of Mario Andretti’s Indy racer. The 21-year-old male driver cannot be blamed for thinking he won’t be late for work if he stays one point one millimeters from your back bumper screaming and snarling at you to die all the way from one end of town to the other. Because he is overflowing with hormones. Yes, I know, we have hormones, too—but they’re not like his hormones. Medical researchers at the Mayo Hopkins Ford Clinic have actually studied 21-year-old male hormones under a microscope, and they found that they’re all riding each other’s tiny little bumpers screaming and cursing all up and down the bloodstream. So it can’t be helped.

Just like old lady drivers can’t be blamed for doing the old lady thing. I know, believe me. I used to be a 21-year-old male driver, and now I’m pretty much an old lady driver. You see, eventually, 21-year-old men turn into old ladies. Kinda, at least when it comes to driving. This tends to happen with fatherhood, as dad realizes he’ll have kids out there, too, competing and merging and trysting and all. It’s tough.

Now, let’s talk about women drivers. Oh, hi, hon. Wait, don’t.., ow .. 2i3 4rakjx qbd[[[[[[[[[[

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.