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Ya Wanted More Fernie, Ya Got More Fernie

24 Apr

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Well, gang, it seems that the literary stylings of my old compadre Dr. Archie Ferndoodle have truly struck a chord with many of you. Since the appearance of Sir Archie’s poetic elucidations in a recent episode of “This Old Mouse,” the Oldblouse offices have been inundated with a letter heaping praise on the feckless Fernman and further beseeching the master muse for more obtuse observations. Well, who am I to deny my faithful the mental goosefeather that so tickles their collective ulnas?

You surely know this by now, but the Doodle Doctor insists I preface his epistles with the following: The esteemed Dr. Ferndoodle holds an associate’s degree in postmodern comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspon — oh, to hell with it. If you really want to view the good doctor’s curriculum vitalis, write me, and I’ll send you a mimeographed copy.

Sir Archie, in his own peculiar patois, has taken several classic tunes from the songbook of popular culture and rendered them as his own, with his edgy, pointy-like lyrics so pertinent to today’s roiling rambunctious rutabaga world.

Disclaimer: The Spouseman—and the newspaper/periodical/bathroom wall compendium in which this diatribe appears—doesn’t necessarily agree with the views and opinions of Sir Archie. He is his own creature, and we bear no responsibility or legal burden for his verbal effluence.

Taking that into account, I give you Archie’s first offering, called “Healthcare for Millennials.” Keep in mind, you have to know the popular tune to latch these lyrics onto or none of this makes any sense whateverso. But if you’ve made it this far, sense is something you know is a rare commodity in this time/space.

 

Healthcare for Millennials

(to the tune of “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young)

(verse 1)

“You under twenty-one,

Will be under the gun to pay for healthcare,

By the time you reach my age,

You’ll spend a year’s wage just to rent a wheelchair.”

 

(chorus)

“So keep your bodies well,

’Cause you’ll pay like hell to see the surgeon,

Think hard about having kids,

You’ll be on the skids, better stay a virgin.”

 

“No use in asking why, it’ll cost less to simply die,

Better yet you just might tryyyyyyy….

To move to Canada.”

 

Huzzah, Archster, well done. For his second favoring, the Fernman has rendered a little ditty he calls “Little Trumpy,” regarding the precarious existence of PBS and shows such as “Sesame Street” under the current regime:

 

Little Trumpy

(to the tune of Sesame Street’s “Rubber Ducky” )

 

(verse 1)

“Little Trumpy, you’re the dude

Who sent PBS down the tubes,

Because of Trumpy we are all royally screwed.”

 

(verse 2)

“Oscar lost the lease to his can,

Elmo’s turning tricks in Japan,

Little Trumpy, I’m not very fond of you.”

 

(chorus/bridge)

“Oh, every day when I see Big Bird in the gutter,

And I think about Kermit’s suicide I mutter,

What a motherlubber.”

 

(verse 3)

“Cookie Monster OD’d on crack,

Miss Piggy’s somewhere dealing blackjack,

Oh, Little Trumpy, life’s really the pits now,

Oh, Little Trumpy, me and Bert called it quits, and how,

Little Trumpy, it looks like I’m shackin’ with you.”

 

Bray-vo, bray-vo. And lastly, Ferndude gives us his take on the ramifications of oilman Rex Tillerson taking over as top guy at the US State Department:

 

Rex Will Survive

(to the tune of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”)

 

“At first I was afraid, I was petrified,

Kept thinkin’ my ties to Russian oil I could never hide,

Friends said, Rex, why take this job, it’s a massive pay cut,

To be Trump’s head of state, you must be some kind of nut,”

 

“But here I am, from Wichita Falls,

Make way for ol’ Tillerson, ’cause I got some big ol’ b*lls,

I’ll go easy on the Reds,

But North Koreans I will kill,

I got a tiger in my tank, my Exxon stock’s worth 100 mill,”

 

“Yes, Putin and I, we will survive,

Just don’t look too darn deep in KGB archives,

We’ve got such friendly ties, so don’t you be surprised,

When Moscow becomes home to the next Exxon franchise,

Hey, hey!”

 

Sir Archie Ferndoodle’s classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” and perhaps his greatest epic, “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today,” Roger White is a Ferndoodle protégé or else owes him big time. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

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Lit Lovers Rejoice! Sir Archie Ferndoodle Rides Again.

28 Mar

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Fellow time/space voyagers and other occasional devotees of “This Old Blouse,” I am more tickled than a coffee can full of dung beetles to announce the return of my dear friend, back-porch expectorational master, and legendary raconteur of the obsequious and purulent, Sir Archie Ferndoodle (applause, applause, applause).

As I’m sure you remember, the esteemed Dr. Ferndoodle 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?,” and possibly his greatest epic, “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today.”

Sir Archie has a rare treat for us in this installment. In his inimitable style, the Fernman has taken several classic tunes from the songbook of popular culture and rendered them as his own, with updated, shall we say, acerbic lyrics so pertinent to today’s manic milieu. Or something.

Disclaimer: The Spouseman—and the newspaper/periodical/bathroom wall compendium in which this diatribe appears—doesn’t necessarily agree with the views and opinions of Sir Archie. He is his own woman, and we bear no responsibility or legal burden for his espousings. So there.

With this heartfelt caveat (and sincere attempt to head off legal action), I give you Sir Archie’s renderings. By the way, it’s important to keep the tune of Archie’s specific song choice in your head for these to make any sense whatsoever. If that is, indeed, possible. So. Archie’s first offering is called “Ivanka in the White House”:

 

Ivanka in the White House

(to the tune of “Drive My Car” by The Beatles)

(verse 1)

“I asked my girl where she wanted to be,

In New York City or in D.C.,

She said Daddy, I wanna be near you,

In the White House with Jared the Jew.”

 

(chorus)

“Ivanka, you can have the West Wing,

We’ll set you up with all of your bling,

You can sell your furs and your rings,

And Dad will tweet for you.”

 

(verse 2)

“Barron’s got a floor to himself,

With a team of counselors for his mental health,

But Melania and I aren’t sharin’ a bed,

So you could move in with me instead.”

 

(chorus)

“Ivanka, you can have the West Wing,

Or you-know-where, I won’t say a thing,

Damn, it’s so good to be the king,

And Putin, I owe you.”

 

“Tweet, tweet n tweet, tweet, yeah!”

 

Um, ok. For his second favoring, the Fernman has rendered this ditty entitled “Perry in Charge”:

 

Perry in Charge

(to the tune of Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady”)

(verse 1)

“Well, I’m the Energy Top Dude,

And now solar power’s screwed ’cause oil’s my cash cow,

Yeah, I ran for president,

I told Donald to get bent, but that’s all past now.”

 

(chorus)

“I’m Rick Perry, woah, woah, woah,

I’m Rick Perry,

Those rumors are false, ’cause I’m no fairy,

And I’m towin’ the Trump line.”

 

(verse 2)

“Well, I’m not sure what I do,

But I think I make the rules on nukular weapons,

But this can’t be as hard

As Dancing with the Stars, man, I was steppin’,”

 

(chorus)

“I’m Rick Perry, woah, woah, woah,

I’m Rick Perry,

Renewable power’s our adversary,

Let’s build that pipeline.”

 

And last, and surely least, Ferndude gives us “Lysergic Wood,” which he says is his ode to psychedelic substances:

 

Lysergic Wood, An Ode to LSD

(to the tune of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”)

(verse 1)

“I once ate a squirrel,

Or should I say the squirrel ate me,

He showed me his brain,

We baked it into a nice quiche lorraine.”

 

(chorus)

“We smoked purple crayons,

As the walls melted into the sea,

Then Timothy Leary appeared

And said why’d you take three?”

 

(verse 2)

“I played canasta with Jesus,

His Holiness beat me two games out of threezus,

Then me and the squirrel flew to Mars,

But squirrel wasn’t squirrel, he was Pat Benatar.”

 

(chorus)

“We smoked purple crayons

As robots made love to the cow,

Then Hunter S. Thompson said man you’re in big trouble now.”

 

(verse 3)

“And when I awoke,

I was in a cell with a large man named Mel.

He kept pinching my ass,

Dear God from now on, I’m sticking with grass.”

 

Roger White Sir Archie Ferndoodle holds an associate’s degree in comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspondence College. Sir Archie’s classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” and perhaps his greatest epic, “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today,” For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

It Could Have Easily Been ‘The Old, Rugged Noose’

14 Dec

by Roger White

 

Leave it to the creative mind of Gene Roddenberry to send me into yet another mental wormhole. And I warn you from the outset, this particular “thought experiment” may be potentially upsetting to the less open-minded, strenuously dogmatic, sense-of-humor-challenged, and/or excessively pious of you. You’ve been warned.

Curled up on the comfy couch watching an episode of Roddenberry’s original “Star Trek” series recently, I was thrown quite unceremoniously into a fit of conceptual conniptions by a particular scene from the 1968 episode entitled “Bread and Circuses.” My TV-watching fare of Shiner, Fritos, and . . . er, certain aromatic herbal nourishment may have contributed significantly to the wormhole process, but I digress.

This Trek episode, in which Captain Kirk and crew are forced to fight in gladiatorial games on a planet where a modern-day Roman Empire rules the land, juxtaposes the culture, garb, and traditions of ancient Rome with Caesar Packing Heatcontemporary technology. Hence, you have emperors, senators, and proconsul types handing down edicts over loudspeakers and gladiator contests broadcast over network television.

However, the scene that shoved me down my own little space-time porthole of pontification was the one in which Kirk and company are captured by Roman guards wielding submachine guns. Woah. (And this episode came out in ’68, mind you—two years before Andrew Lloyd Webber armed his Romans with automatic weapons in Jesus Christ Superstar.)

Anyway. That’s when it hit me: What if the Romans—our ancient Romans—had possessed such technology? Of course, the mind reels with infinite possibilities (like what if Spartacus had had access to F-14 Tomcat air cover). But what I became fixated on was the impact on Christianity—not the religion as a whole, mind you, but merely the symbolism involved.

You see, the universally recognized metaphor for the Christian faith is, of course, the cross. Why? Because that’s how Jesus was put to death; the sign of the cross symbolizes His victory over death. But what if crucifixion hadn’t been the means of execution for the Roman Empire? What if, for example, electrocution had da chairbeen the execution method du jour? Think about it. Gold necklaces worn by faithful folks around the globe would have little electric chairs dangling at the end.

Or what if execution of criminals had been accomplished by hanging, for instance? Nuns far and wide, instead of making the symbol of the cross when they prayed, would arch their necks at severe angles and pull on imaginary nooses to display their piety.

Or consider lethal injection. Churches from Brownsville to Bozeman, instead of featuring outsized crosses on their steeples, would display great hypodermic needles to call the faithful to worship.

OK, wait! Hold it. Wait a minute. Put the pitchforks down. Douse the torches. I’m not demeaning Christianity by any means. I’m not poking fun. I was raised Southern Baptist, for crying out loud, by a God-fearing momma in the heart of the Lone Star State, here in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. All I’m doing is saying “what if.” In an alternate universe somewhere just east of Andromeda, who’s to say one of these scenarios isn’t playing out this very microsecond?

Who’s to say that on an alternate Earth right this minute Alternate-Earth Christians aren’t gathered in their houses of worship singing their praises thusly: the noose“At the chair, at the chair, where I first saw the light…” Or maybe country-and-western singers on Ganymede are paying homage this very moment to “The Old, Rugged Noose.”

And consider traditional sayings and adages. “It’s not my cross to bear” on Europa might be more along the lines of “It’s not my chair to sit in”— or “It’s not my chamber to enter.” Whatev.

No! No, please, put the garden tools down! I’m just saying “what if,” that’s all! It’s just a thought bubble!

I gotta quit doing Shiner and Fritos with “Star Trek” so late at night.

 

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.

 

OK, Cowpokes, Time for the Fifth Biennial OFPhC

16 Nov

by Roger White

 

I know what half of you are saying: You’re saying, “Well, there it is. He’s run out of material again. Despite the ridiculous wealth of silliness, brain-scrambling absurdities, and downright knuckle-dragging stupidity in today’s world, the Spouseman can’t think of one funny thing to say in this installment. He’s washed up, burned out, run dry, come up empty, on fumes, bit the dust, hit the wall, thrown in the towel, given up the ghost, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible—in other words, he’s kaput.”

 

And the other half, in a rejoicing and ebullient tone, are exclaiming, “Huzzah! The Great and Glorious Spousemaster has heard our pleas and decided to favor us with yet another of his brilliant contests! Another opportunity for mind-expanding fun, mirthful frivolity, and a chance for free stuff! What a kind, thoughtful, and oh-so-creative wordsmith we have in our midst!”

 

And yet the third half of you are still scratching your pants and wondering just what in the hell “run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible” really means. Well, that takes some doing, but here goes: The term to “join the choir invisible” is George Eliot sort ofin reference to the poem penned by George Eliot in 1867 entitled “O May I Join the Choir Invisible” in which the author longs for the afterlife in which he can spend eternity singing hymns “whose music is the gladness of the world.” To be precise, however, George Eliot was the nom de plume of poet Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880), who used a male pen name to ensure that her works would be taken seriously, seeing as how female authors of Evans’ time were stereotyped as writing only lighthearted romances.

 

Now, to be even more precise, this term “join the choir invisible” was referenced in a Monty Python skit entitled “Dead Parrot Sketch” (originally aired 7 December 1969) in which John Cleese wishes to return a Norwegian Blue parrot he purchased
Hello POLLYfrom Michael Palin because the unfortunate bird is “bleeding demised, passed on, no more, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker—a late parrot!” Despite Palin’s assurances that the poor parrot is merely “pining for the fjords,” it’s quite obvious this is an ex-parrot.

 

Anyway. For the second half of you, leaning forward in your La-Z-Boys with anticipation, be comforted, for here I bring you the Fifth Biennial Oldspouse Familiar Phrase Contest (OFPhC). For the first and third halves of you, feel free to skip over to Mike Jasper’s column. He usually has coupons for free beer at Boomerz for those who read to the end. And yes, I have received yet another supply of premium glossy bumper stickers as prizes. For those too young, old, sensible, or deciduous 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 the phrase “Croaking before disgrace!” You say, “Death before dishonor!” Get it? See how easy?

 

First three people (I will accept dogs and possums, too) to respond at roger.white@tasb.org with the correct answers each wins a premium glossy bumper sticker (sorry, the “Keep Oak Hill Obtuse” ones are all gone—you get “Jesus is Coming. Hide the Bong”). And you get your name in the newspaper! Pseudonyms are fine.

Exciting, huh?

 

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

  1. In my dad’s home, there are lots of ritzy estates.
  2. You’re not anything except a canine used primarily for tracking.
  3. Birthed Untamed.
  4. A brain is an awful item to throw away.
  5. If glares could commit homicide.
  6. Cease the printing machines!
  7. Blood-pumping muscle to blood-pumping muscle.
  8. Nancy!These cowboy shoes are manufactured for treading.
  9. Subsistence of those in the best physical shape.
  10. Escort me out to the baseball contest.
  11. The evidence is within the dessert.
  12. An opening in 748 divided by 748.
  13. Squatting on the summit of the earth.
  14. Existence is a female dog.
  15. The lively Irish dance is not down.
  16. Four letters after T denotes the location.
  17. I’m as satisfied as a liquid party refreshment.
  18. Here we circumnavigate the perimeter of the plant bearing mulberries.
  19. Twelve a.m. cowpoke.
  20. She spews expletives with as much proficiency as a member of the navy.

 

Roger White is a freelance cowpoke 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.

 

Radicals (like Jefferson) Have No Place in School Lessons

20 Jan

by Roger White

 

Editor’s note: The following is an explanatory letter to Texas public school students from the State Board of Education regarding recent changes the board wants to see made to textbooks that will be on the state-approved list of instructional materials used by school districts all across our fair state.

 

Dear Students:

 

As you may or may not know, there has been a bit of controversy regarding what should and should not be included in the educational primers you young’uns read in school. As of late, we have even noticed that some radical critics (mainly outside liberal elite agitators from the North and tree-hugging limpy wrists from California) have poked fun at the values we seek to impart in your lesson books.

 

For example, espresso-sippin’ instigators such as the National Center for Science Education claim that the global-warming lie is real and that the science textbooks we propose are not presenting fair evidence. We don’t care that 97 percent of climatologists (whatever they are) say that humans are responsible warming schmarmingfor global warming, we see no such facts to put in your books. Besides, you know who says that global warming is real, don’t you? Scientists. Commie, God-hating scientists—the same ones who say the Earth is billions of years old and that we descended from flea-ridden monkeys. All true Texans understand that the Earth is no older than 5,000 years because that’s when God made it. Evolution theories and global-warming conspiracy rumors come from the same dangerous secular humanists who planted those “dinosaur bones” all over the place just to confuse everyone.

 

And just because this so-called expert egghead group called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there is global warming, don’t you believe it. Our own panel, the Heartland Institute, has proven otherwise. You don’t need a Ph.D. to know that global warming isn’t real—just look at all the snowstorms and ice up north, like in Oklahoma.

 

Here are some other changes—corrections, we like to call them—you may notice in your lesson books:

 

* Students will learn the historical importance of such stalwart political and spirituajeffersonl forces for liberty and justice such as Barry Goldwater, Jerry Falwell, Newt Gingrich, and Phyllis Schlafly. Less emphasis will be placed on minor, more radical figures, such as left-leaning Thomas Jefferson.

 

* Knowing that this preoccupation with the separation of church and state is the handiwork of radicals and socialist activists, the State Board of Education has blocked a proposal that students learn why the Founding Fathers opposed the establishment of a state religion in the Bill of Rights. We feel the Founding Fathers may have had a bit to drink when they were working on that part of the Bill.

 

* The Board has required more emphasis in high school government class on the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. The Board also feels that this Amendment should be moved up a notch to become the First Amendment and that the term “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” be amended to read “A well-armed Texan, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

 

* Now that history has vindicated Joe McCarthy and his love of the American ol joeway, the Board insists that students learn of his patriotic efforts to cleanse the country of any communist infiltration and other dangerous thoughts. Also, any reference from here on to the term “McCarthyism” should be revised to “red-blooded American McCarthyism.”

 

* Understanding that slavery was really a long time ago and that the country should just move forward and get over it, the Board has decided to remove the word “slavery” from any mention of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and instead refer to it in textbooks as the “Atlantic triangular trade.”

 

These recommended corrections should guide textbook purchases and classroom instruction over the next decade, and not just in Texas. The State Board proudly understands that textbook publishers all across America usually bow to our wishes because, as we all know, Texas purchases almost 50 million textbooks every year, more than any other state. Yee haw!

 

Now, learn good, li’l pardners.

 

Sincerely,

The Texas State Board of Education

 

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.

 

Just What IS The Oklo Device?

13 Sep

Dear This Old Spouse Followers, Friends, and Faithful,

 

Join me on an adventure, if you would. Do you want to read something truly terrifying? I’m serious here—for once. I have a startling, unsettling story for you.

 

It’s called The Oklo Device.

 

The earth’s mysteries have always intrigued me. Despite all of our scientific and technological advances, there are still phenomena on this planet that remain unknown. Unexplainable. This one, in particular—the mystery of the Oklo mines—has fascinated and vexed me for so long that I finally sat down and wrote a book about it.

 

Oklo_Cover_hi-resThis much is fact—you can look it up. In the spring of 1972, nuclear scientists at a uranium enrichment plant in southeastern France made a shocking discovery. While studying samples from a uranium mine at a place called Oklo in the central African country of Gabon, French researchers found that the atomic energy was all but depleted from uranium mined at Oklo. Uranium can be altered in this way by only two means—through either an atomic explosion or in a nuclear reactor. These samples, mind you, were proven to be hundreds of millions of years old. It was clear from their evidence that these ancient uranium samples had undergone some type of nuclear reaction eons before man ever walked the earth. After considerable consternation and debate, researchers theorized that this must have been an absolutely unique but natural process. Although the Oklo site is the only known location on Earth where such a reaction has occurred, this sole explanation for a prehistoric nuclear event has been accepted as fact for more than 40 years. What is baffling to me is how this potentially shattering discovery has received such little notice in the media.

 

There have been alternative theories, but no one has seriously challenged this fantastic truth—until now. Go here, if you would:

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354657

 

At the bottom of this web site’s page, you’ll see a link labeled “View” under a headline that says available reading formats. Click on it, and you’ll have access to this astonishing chronicle.

 

If you remain intrigued after the first 50 pages, e-mail me at roger.white@tasb.org, and I’ll give you the rest of the story. Tell me what you think of it—what you think is true. Please share this story if it took hold of you. There is more out there than most of us know.

 

Are We Fiddling Around Like Nero?

25 Sep

by Roger White

“The decline . . . was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. . . .”

—Historian Edward Gibbon on the decay and fall of Rome

“Why Bieber’s mom won’t have sex”

—CNN web site headline dated September 19, 2012

At first blush it may appear that these two quotes have about as much to do with each other as atomic theory and bacon grease, but to the keen observer inhabiting the proper frame of mind and sipping the necessary amount of espresso, the connection is readily apparent. The former is an explanation of one of an interconnected tangle of reasons for the decline of a great civilization. The latter is a symptom of same.

Ancient Rome didn’t have the internet, but you can be sure that at the height of the empire’s power, with little to challenge Romans but their own idleness, the scuttlebutt among the average corpulent, indolent citizens lounging about their atriums had much to do with which senator’s wife had been seen with a certain centurion after hours near the Pantheon. Or perhaps who would be featured next weekend at the Colosseum in “Gladiating with the Stars.”

Throughout America’s rise to power, particularly after World War II and again with the fall of the Soviet Union, many casual historians likened the U.S. to ancient Rome, both as a comparative study and a cautionary tale. From many of these same armchair history buffs came the postulate-cum-warning that Rome fell from within. Both statements are greatly oversimplified—America is certainly not the Roman Empire; and the decline of Rome occurred for many complex reasons—however, the tantalizing prospect of a circumstantial connection between the two is too intriguing to ignore.

By the time the Huns and Vandals were threatening the very walls of Rome herself in the 5th century A.D., the empire had been degraded through years and years of decay, corruption, internal strife, and general malaise. The culture that had built the world’s mightiest civilization had stagnated. In other words, Rome had grown lazy and fat. Its armies were so far-flung across the known globe that the once invincible legions could not defend even the capital city.

I’m not holding forth that the descendants of Attila will come rampaging up Pennsylvania Avenue anytime soon, but you must admit that events and trends from within and without our great country give any thinking person pause. We, as a nation, are fat and lazy. Most Americans don’t do much physical labor on a daily basis anymore. We are at our most overweight and short of breath than we’ve ever been. We don’t save anymore; the average American family carries about $5,000 in credit card debt—at a time when job security is at its worst in decades. We used to buy only when we had the money. Our national economy, anchored by financial institutions with questionable lending practices and regulated by insiders with personal interests at stake, teeters like a house of cards. Our arts—literature, music, film and television—are in a state of upheaval as publishers, producers, and purveyors of entertainment chart confused courses in their attempts to grasp new media, often leading to drastic actions such bookstore and music outlet closings, the demise of longtime news and publishing houses, and frustration and despair for many promising artists and writers. With more channels to choose from than ever before, TV now offers arguably the worst product in its history. Ironically, the great many cable choices chopped up major advertising dollars, which has prompted producers to grind out lower- and lower-budget shows in a pathetic race to the bottom. And perhaps most telling, news isn’t news anymore. It’s gossip. With an unlimited number of outlets, through practically boundless media technology, the goal is not to inform anymore—the bottom line is to attract the most viewers with the most lurid headlines; thus, to nab the precious advertising dollars. Hence, you have an intrepid reporter telling you why Bieber’s mom won’t have sex.

Last but least, our self-seeking politicians have abandoned any semblance of civil discourse to rabidly defend their respective party lines to the complete detriment of any action toward the advance of our society. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, yet no one among them stands to say so. And nothing gets done.

There are those historians who argue that Rome never really fell. It simply degenerated into irrelevance. Sure sounds like a cautionary tale to me.

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.