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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



Deposit slip with no meaning flutters

In brown surge of empty day. I find Julia at

Home making love to the Buick


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





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



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


Dear Julia. I’m trading it



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


Of Hot Tubs & Casinos — and TV, Of Course

5 Aug

by Roger White

Well, we finally got our dinky little first-generation hot tub working again. Hot dog! And I do mean hot dog. Sitting in a hot tub in August is a bit peculiar. And embarrassing. OK, it’s downright dumb. It’s been over a year since the wheezing old water-swirler showed any signs of life, and I must tell you, if you own a hot tub and you let it go stagnant and broken for, oh, about a year—for God’s sake, DON’T LOOK UNDER THE COVER!

It took five and a half days, but the county folks in hazmat suits got the tub and surrounding area cleaned up quite adequately. Some of the aquatic life the nice gentlemen pulled from the tub they shipped to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts for further study. The whole back yard smelled like old bananas and dead carp all weekend.

Anyway, the fine/jail time from the county was pretty reasonable! I didn’t know they had any ordinances on residential outdoor bathing facility sanitation. We can’t have guests or small children in the tub for six months, and then only after what they call “day-of” inspections. These guys are strict.

Note to self: Next time the hot tub goes on the fritz and you don’t plan on fixing it right away, kindly drain it. Sheesh.

I kid. The county folks didn’t come out in hazmat suits. My wife and I wore the hazmat suits.

Seriously, after all the cash and time and more cash getting the watery money pit working again, the wife and I eyed each other and wondered why we did this in the dead of summer. I suspect this winter we’ll fix our homemade ice cream churn.

But, all in all, last weekend was not bad. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 7 3/8ths, which is pretty darn exemplary in my book. You see, with the wife and girls out shopping, as I lay fallow on the couch praying for anything better than “World’s Most Daring” on TV, there it was, opening credits rolling: Casino.

Oh, yes. Casino. If that’s not one of your top 10 all-time action/gangster/ Vegas movies, then I’m sorry, you are stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT anti-stupid. Some of my best friends are the stupidest people I’ve ever met. And ugly! Wait a minute. My point was, ooooh, Casino. DeNiro, and Pesci, and Stone, and the dumb cowboy hick columnist who played the dumb cowboy hick slot machine boss. Don Rickles, even! Casino is probably the best movie in the world for movies that say f*#! more than 100 times. I would lay money on that.

This got me thinking. I started pondering what a killer concept it would be to have Casino versions of other shows. Let’s see, for example, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”:

“Oh, Rob!”

“Shut the f*#! up, you capri-pant-wearing muthah…”

Or “Gilligan’s Island”:

“Wait a minute, little buddy. What’s the gun for?”

“What do you mean, what’s the gun for, you fat f*#!. Now I know why you wanted bottom bunk, you mutha….”

“But little buddy—”

“Put the stone-carved bowling ball down, Skipper. I got the gun. You be nice. Don’t f*#! up in here.”

OK, maybe not. But I must say that just when I became utterly convinced that we now live in the most pathetic, tripe-ridden era of “television entertainment” (oxymoron!), my daughters showed me how to get Netflix through our video gaming system. I have absolutely no idea how this works, but it works. Now I can watch “Twilight Zone” or “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”—two of the best shows ever produced—any old time I want. I can even pick the episode! Like the one where Telly Savalas is the mean stepdad, and the new doll his stepdaughter buys tells him she’s going to kill him. Classic. Or the one… oh, never mind.

(The previous paragraph brought to you by Netflix. Writer of the previous paragraph is not a columnist but plays one on TV and has been duly compensated. Previous paragraph was performed on a closed course with professional stunt writers. Do not attempt at home.)

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


Grandma’s Toes, Max the Cat, and Words that Don’t Get Along

22 May

by Roger White

We’re pretty sure my paternal grandmother had six toes on her right foot, just so you’ll know. I never saw my grandmother’s feet; in fact, she died before I was born, but I heard the stories. She could swim like crazy. Six-toed grandma, we called her.

It was good to get that out of the way. I feel better, don’t you? Ya know, I don’t understand why anyone wants to poke, or be poked by, another person on this Facenook network. There should be other buttons, like thump, prod, sniff, eviscerate, wedgie, scoot, bump, smack, query, shine, tease, smear, annihilate, fondle, inebriate, push, fluff, excoriate, grope, lick, claw, hack, weatherproof, annoy, rub, polish, whittle, and, of course, probe. And perhaps shower. I have written the Faceplant people, but there has been no reply so far.

So while we wait, I thought I might entertain you with some words that probably haven’t been this close together before:

• Annuitized shoehorn

• Marsupial term life plan

• Heartwarming guillotine

• Variable rate crayon

• Chocolate-covered plutonium

• Endoscopic clambake

• Semi-automatic pudding

While we’re on the subject, I was on the back porch with my cat, Max, the other day, and I noticed this bizarre tic he has. Max is a gorgeous tortoise-shell tabby, gray and black swirled with a burl undertone. He looks like a raccoon without the bandit eyes, and he pets like a chinchilla. He’s very luxurious, and he knows it. He preens a lot. He’s overweight but quite athletic, as all cats are. Whenever Max spies potential prey, be it a swooping silver hawk, a chittering squirrel, or a wind-blown piece of yard lint, he starts issuing these short, choppy meow bits, bouncing his jaw up and down like he’s having a conniption fit. (Please note that some dictionaries make a clear distinction between a conniption fit and a hissy fit. A conniption fit involves many more overt physical movements and gyrations. Apparently, a hissy fit entails merely verbal gymnastics. My sisters, then, were hissy fit queens.)

Max maintains this behavior until he either starts wiggling his butt to go into attack mode or gets bored and falls asleep. Usually, he chooses sleep. Sometimes he attacks. Other times, he falls asleep in the midst of an attack. It’s all rather embarrassing, but he’s our cat, and we love him. I mention Max because it is he who basically runs the household. Max determines whether Ralph, our long-haired dachshund, may pass him in the hallway without assault. It is Max who wakes my wife and me up in the morning by kneading our respective chests until we either throw him to the wall or get up and greet the day, and it’s almost always the latter. It is Max who informs each family member when it is mealtime, and it is Max who keeps the family on our collective toes by zipping at light speed out any door opened at any place in the house at any time. How he does this I do not know. I think Max has a GPS map of our house and all its access points linked to his kitty box or something. I have heard electronic beeps and boops coming from that box when I know Max isn’t in there. Get this, Max can be at the far end of the house, snoozing away with his back feet in the air, but as soon as I crack the garage door just the tiniest bit—PHOOOM!! He’s gone.

The good thing about Max is that he doesn’t roam. When he makes his escape, he just stands there in the yard, eating grass blades and taking the occasional dirt bath. I think he’s just proving a point. “Yep, I can blow this popsicle stand any ol’ time I want. Mm hm.”

For some reason, Max stalks our youngest daughter, Jamie, like she’s wild jungle prey. With the rest of us, he meows and purrs and exhibits the standard cat protocol, but every time he spies our young one he flashes to Arnold Schwarzenegger in that movie with the invisible alien hunter dude. “Get the choppah. RRROOWWRRR.” He gets all puffed and muscly and meows with an Austrian accent. Max and Jamie fight like, well, like cats. I think Max is under the impression that Jamie is another cat. I guess I can see that. I do keep trying to tell Max that Jamie is a human being, but he always looks at me like I’m a used car salesman.

So, OK, why don’t we end this episode with more words that have never shared a sleeping bag:

• Terrycloth opinion

• Inspirational vivisection

• Polyunsaturated mortgage

• Lavender crankshaft

• Lightly salted evolution.

Mmm, yeah.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Oak Hill with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit