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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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Call Me a Goober. I Don’t Get Uber.

2 Mar

by Roger White

 

OK, my fellow aficionados of the absurd, before we slice into the juicy prime rib of this here column, let’s settle the squabbling once and for all: What color are these words? Do you see blue type on a black background or gold type on a white background? I’ll give you a minute. No, Leonard, fuchsia on lime is not a choice.

who gives a

Apparently, because of one silly photo of a dress that was e-passed around the globe in about, oh, twelve seconds, everything we knew and believed about how we human types perceive color is right out the window. I heard tell that there were acts of gun violence in many cities and more than a few divorce proceedings initiated because of this stupid dress.

Fox News even reported that Turkneckistan declared war on neighboring Rosannadannastan over this garment argument. Citing an anonymous source, Fox claimed that the dress was to be worn at a Democratic fundraiser and that the current White House Administration is to blame for all the hubbub. As the Fox anchor concluded, “Thanks, Obama.”

Anyway. That’s not my rant for this episode. (It’s blue on black, by the way.) No, the rusted bobby pin stuck in my lower craw this time out is this Uber phenomenon. If you haven’t heard of Uber, it’s an app—started in California, of course—that magically transforms any Tom, Dick, and Hot Rod Harry with a set of wheels into a taxi cab driver. Here’s actual wording from the Uber site: “Got a car? Turn it into a money machine. The city is buzzing, and Uber makes it easy for you to cash in on the action. Plus, you’ve already got everything you need to get started.”

So, if I may extrapolate, I need nothing more than my derelict little Ford Pinto, some free time, and a desperate desire to make some cash without really working in order to chauffeur my way to riches? What a fantastic concept! What could possibly go wrong?

ruh roh ruber

Hmmm, let’s see. If you’re the guy behind the wheel—we’ll call you the Uber-er—it’s all easy money—until you get summoned to the lower east side of town to pick up a half-dozen Hell’s Angels, whose request is something like, “Just drive us around town for a while, lights off, and DON’T look in the back seat! Got it?” Or, say you’re the one looking for a ride—you’re the Uber-ee—and you get picked up in a two-tone primer and day-glo yellow ’63 Impala by a dude with a patch over one eye and a tattoo of Jeffrey Dahmer on his bicep. “Um, Sixth Street, please. Wait, um, downtown’s that way. No, wait!”

waitYou see my concerns. The threat of death and dismemberment aside, did you know that if you—the Uber-ee— opt for the Uber route during a time that is considered “high demand,” you will be charged what the smiling Uber people (Uberites? Ubereeenos?) euphemistically term “surge pricing”? Yeah. So, say you’re having little luck getting an honest-to-gosh taxi at 3 a.m. on New Year’s, and you punch up Uber on your phone thingy. It’s only a five-minute ride from the bar to your house, but you’re a little tipsy—and besides, your neighbor used Uber for the same trip only a few weeks ago, and it was only $25. Uber to the rescue! Your Uber driver is a tad odd and smells like onions and cat litter, but he gets you home in one piece. You whip out two twenties, feeling generous, and your cat-litter-smelling-cabby laughs. “That’s $675, lady.” Yep, surge pricing.

You see her concerns.

If I may extrapolate further, where will this lead? Will we have Uberfied air travel soon? I can see the Uber site now: “Got an airplane? Got at least a student’s license? Turn your Cessna into a money machine. The nation is buzzing, and many people—especially those on cartel payrolls—need transportation fast! Uber makes it easy for you to cash in on the action. Plus, you’ve already got everything you need to get started….”

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, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

This Installment Should Wet Your Appetite. Literally.

7 Oct

by Roger White

“It’s only words…”

True, Messrs. Gibb. But then words are all we have, in a sense.

I can understand when my daughter bursts in the front door, famished from her school day, and exclaims, “I could literally eat a horse.” I get it when an irate Facebook poster pronounces that the myriad evil-doings of the Obama Administration should be “nipped in eaty horsythe butt.” I realize that my kiddo could not sit at the table and consume an entire equine, and I know that the angry online Limbaugh actually wants to nip our dear POTUS in the bud, not in the posterior. I’m hoping on this one.

But when I read in a local newspaper’s restaurant review how the delightful menu of a new downtown eatery will “certainly wet my appetite,” then I start to lose hope. I do enjoy having my appetite whetted, but I’ve never savored the notion of having my appetite drowned.

This wasn’t in the Gazette, Will, so worry not.

Weekly, it seems, adherence to standards of correct grammar slips and slides down the well-greased slope of sloppy English employed by not only everyday people, ersatz authors, cashiers and bosses, and television snake-oil salesmen, but also civic leaders, teachers, and professional journalists—the very enlightened ones who should know better. Surely it’s not coincidence that the graph of language correctness falls in direct proportion to the rise of communications technology. In the days of instant messaging, pondering the spelling of a possessive proper noun just seems old-fashioned, I guess.

For that matter, who’s to say that this migration away from hard and fast rules is necessarily wrong? It may well be simply the natural order—a Darwinistic evolution of our native tongue, hastened by smartphones and Youtube. Rules of punctuation, letter-writing etiquette, cursive penmanship may all be truly obsolete. “I before e except after c” may go the way of the dodo.

Da Dodo

However, for this installation, kids, I’m calling out the lazy operators of our lexicon. Relaxed rules and metamorphosed language aside, a blooper is still a blooper. Case in point: misused and mangled common sayings. And it’s not “case and point,” by the way. Here are some more colloquial clunkers:

  • Should of. As in, “I should of slowed down before the cop started shooting at my tires.” It may sound like should of, but no. It’s “should have.”

 

  • Free reign. I see this one a lot, and it’s easy to slip up here. But the saying doesn’t mean “free rule.” It comes from the days of horsemanship. To give your horse “free rein” was to loosen your hold on the reins to allow your steed more freedom of movement. Hopefully, your daughter didn’t come home afterward and literally eat your horse.
  • Hunger pains. That same daughter who wants to devour your herbivorous quadruped is suffering not from “hunger pains” but hunger pangs. Pangs, my friend, not pains. It pains me to have to point this out to you.
  • Peak your interest. This should actually be clumped together with “wet your appetite,” but I’m too lazy to box up this paragraph and move it. But anyway, it’s “pique your interest”—to stimulate, not unlike to whet or sharpen. I pique, you pique, she piques.
  • A mute point. Please. It’s not a point that lacks the ability to speak. It’s a moot point. Am I tilting at windmills here?
  • whatPour over. Librarians would really hate it if people poured over their documents. You pore over documents. Not unlike “wetting an appetite,” pouring over a document would get downright messy. Those poor documents.

 

  • Extract revenge. This could get ugly, too. If you’re looking to “extract revenge,” it likely involves pulling something out of your intended victim. Yuck. What you want to do, then, is exact revenge. No extractions, please.
  • He did a complete 360 and reversed course. No he didn’t. He did a 180. If the guy did a 360, he turned a silly circle and ended up facing the exact same way he started. Shee.

That’s all I can bring to mind now. We’ll revisit, perhaps with nice scones and tea next time. I know there are many more misused and abused terms in my language suppository; I’ll drudge them up soon. I’m sure your waiting with baited breath. Irregardless, I know many of you could care less. Literally.

 

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.

Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

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.

143a.

 

‘To Sir, With Desire’ or ‘A Streetcar Named Love’

4 Dec

by Roger White  

 

I can’t tell you how outrageously enthusiastic the response was from Spouseman’s latest reader contest. Actually, I can tell you, but I won’t. And you can’t make me. I will tell you, however, that Father John Connor won going away. That’s really his name. I’m not sure if Father John Connor is actually a man of the cloth of some kind or just a really proud papa, but Father John, if you’re out there, here’s to a job well done. If you had Help From Above, I don’t want to know about it.

 

Now, whether Father John enjoyed the bumper sticker I sent him for winning the contest is a whole other matter. The bumper sticker, a life-size replica of which will be awarded for this contest, reads as follows: “Jesus is Coming. Hide the Bong.”

 

Anyway. You guys seemed to get a kick out of the Movie Mashup Contest, so I figured (1) in the interest of satisfying my rabid readers and (2) since I can’t think of anything daggers daggers daggersremotely humorous this week other than poking fun at the comically menacing faces John Boehner makes at President Obama when Obama’s not looking, I will present to you Movie Mashup II 3/8ths!

 

What we have here, fellow catnip cosmonauts, is a collection of famous lines from movies—however, quotes from two different movies have been squished together to make one line. Here’s a for instance: “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in the Matrix anymore.” This is, quite obviously, a collision of “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Matrix.” Get it, man? No? Okay, here’s another one: “My precious goes all the way to eleven.” That’s a combo platter of “Lord of the Rings” and “This is Spinal Tap.” Or as I call it, “Lord of the Spinal Rings.”

 

So. Below (or above if you’re reading this upside down) are 20 Movie Mashups. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to tell moi what two movies got cozy and had relations to make the mixed-up quote. The first 18,427 people to respond with any semblance of an Honestly, Georgeanswer win a JICHTB bumper sticker. If you get pulled over by the cops for displaying said bumper sticker, I will not be held accountable. E-mail moi at rogdude@mail.com with your best guesses. And your PayPal account number. Void in Nebraska, Terre Haute, and in that little gin joint over by 5th Street.

 

Here goes:

1. “I’ll get you, my pretty. And your little dog, Gipper, too.”

2. “Hasta la vista, Adrian.”

3. “I feel the need—the need to put Baby in a corner.”

4. “Houston, we have a box of chocolates.”

5. “If you build it, he will phone home.”

6. “What we got here is failure to make my day.”

7. “You can’t handle the napalm!”

8. “They call me Mister Rosebud!”

9. “I’m going to make him fava beans and a nice Chianti he can’t refuse.”

coulda been a contendah10. “You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been Stella. Hey, Stella!”

11. “We’ll always have an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.”

12. “You’ve got to ask yourself one question. Do I see dead people? Well, do ya, punk?”

13. “Either get busy living or get busy trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”

14. “There’s no crying in hakuna matata.”

15. “Greed, for lack of a better word, is shaken, not stirred.”

16. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to need a bigger boat!”

17. “Dammit, Jim, I’m a country doctor, not on a mission from God.”

18. “Hoo-ah! Schwing!”

19. “Is it safe, Bueller?”

20. “What is your major malfunction, Scarlett?”

BONUS: “Earn this, McClane.”

 

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.

Public Notice: Now Seeking Repumocrat Party Supporters

26 Jun

by Roger White

            Enough! Enough, already. Attention, all dogma-driven talking heads, all self-serving politicos, all idiotically uncompromising ideologues—and, yes, all fallow-minded followers: shut up. Please, please, shut the hell up.

            In this high-wire act of a column, in a squeaky office chair some two and a half feet off the ground (without a net, mind you), I am going to attempt one of the most dangerous, possibly career-ending maneuvers ever risked by an aging, pot-bellied freelancer with two mortgages. I am going to ruminate on politics without straying one iota from the fence. I vow to roundly box the ears of both donkey and elephant alike.

            In fact, it is my goal to shred these stubborn creatures to the point that, when I am finished, there will be only pieces left to fashion one political animal: the donkephant. Could make an elekey, I suppose, but donkephant sounds better.

            Seriously, folks, the middle path is the only way out of this terrific mess we’re in today. Don’t you think? Never in my [mumble] years on this little planet have I witnessed the viciousness of partisan politics as it exists now. The oft-used cliché is “rancor.” Oh, the partisan rancor. Kids, this puny word falls far short in describing what’s transpiring in D.C., on the talk-and-shout shows, and in state capitol buildings of late. This is akin to calling World War II “a bit of rancor among the countries.” A more appropriate term for today’s political divide might be unlimited nuclear warfare.

            In the nasty climate du jour, compromise is a dirty word. Negotiation is a black mark on a Congressional resumé. Truth is an opinion, either red or blue. And progress is sacrificed. We have not only the politicians and money-grubbing media to blame; we have to hold ourselves accountable, too. But who am I kidding—it’s approximately 97 percent politicians and the media.

            You can basically lump your elected officials and the news hounds in the same group: They’re both out for No. 1; they’ll say just about anything to keep their ratings high; and they wouldn’t tell you a real truth even if they had an intelligent grasp of what it is.

            How’m I doing so far? I’m a little queasy from the view up here.

            Real people—Redcrests, Bluetails, Independents, and every other feather in between—are sick to death of nothing of real consequence ever being accomplished in Washington because the two major factions under the big dome are too busy bashing each other like Punch and Judy.

            And we follow along, don’t we? Brainwashed to the point of demonizing the party we oppose instead of trying to see the other side, even for a minute.

            Think about it. (Here’s where it’s going to get tough. My chair’s getting a tad wobbly.) Let’s look at guns. As I launch into this, understand that I’m painting with a broad, flat, over-generalizing brush, so bear with me. By and large, conservatives believe guns are necessary for self-protection; liberals think the proliferation of guns means more deadly violence. The real thing we’re after here is personal safety. In the larger picture, both sides would rather not have a criminal kick down their door and savage their family—it’s the means of achieving the same goal we’re debating. Mostly.

            Abortion? (Boy, it’s getting tougher. A crowd’s gathering below me. Helloooo down there!) Conservatives say this is taking a life; liberals say what about the desperate life of the unwanted child? Bigger picture—both sides, if they’re sincere, are wrestling with the issue of basic human rights.

            Government. Hmmm. Let’s pick just an aspect here; this is a big, steaming hunk of rancor. How about social welfare? Let me just say I believe in my little ol’ heart of hearts that both factions don’t want to see weathered stick figures on the roadside carrying “Will Work for Food” signs and old ladies dining on Alpo. Some see it as the government’s role to provide; some believe it is the purview of private enterprise and charities. Again, means, not end, is the rub.

            There must be room for, gulp, compromise. Hey, I said it! Felt good, actually. Look, if the Israelis and Palestinians can make noises about peace talks, maybe Republicans and Democrats can, too.

            Remember the big Congressional “prom” at President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address? When members of opposing parties sat together to show unison in the wake of Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ ghastly shooting? I think some wore corsages. As laughingly transparent as that move was, it made me think. We should form a new party—not independent, not extremist, but one that seeks common ground whenever possible.

            We’ll call it the Repumocrat Party. Our mascot, of course, will be the donkephant. Our color will be purple (red + blue, natch). We shall not use the words “staunch,” “never,” “always,” “left,” “right,” or any term including the words “wing,” “trending,” or “spin.” Our goal will be the greater truth always, our motto: “Ends matter, means are negotiable.” We’ll start a TV channel that features only good news. Station NAGS—News About Good Stuff.

            I’m thinking we’ll need a fundraiser to get us off the schneid. Hundred bucks a plate perhaps, payable to oldspouse.com. We’ll need a party chairman—that will be me, thank you very much. I’ll work away from the spotlight, in the wings, and I vow never to stray from our staunch principles. I promise that the Repumocrats will always seek what is right and that no one will be left behind. How are we trending thus far?

            OK, I’ll shut the hell up. The fall from my chair has me in a spin.

 

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.