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For the Sake of All Things Austin, Stop Operation Shade Elm!

12 May

by Roger White

 

Now, ye who know me understand that I’m not of the alarmist ilk; neither am I a hardline skeptic, a delusional “truther,” nor a conspiracy buff who spies shadowy figures behind every knoll, grassy or otherwise. But I have to admit, after observing all the brouhaha stirred up by our dear governor over the U.S. military’s lurking around our sovereign Lone Star lands (see Operation Jade Helm), my suddenly sensitive radar picked up on some very peculiar activities ’round these parts lately.

So I did some investigating, and I found that what’s taking place as we live and breathe is much more peculiar—and dastardly—than you could ever imagine.

At first, I began to notice an unusual proliferation of Williamson County Sheriff’s Department vehicles in and around Austin. Have you seen them, too? Then oneRepub Donuts day, I happened to be in the parking lot of one of our very own Austin Java coffee shops when I saw two rather rotund middle-aged white men in checkered polyester suits, white shoes, and black sunglasses, standing beside two nondescript black sedans. So what, you say? So this. They were munching on donuts—from a Round Rock Donuts box that was sitting on the hood of one of the mysterious sedans. Round Rock, mind you. Checkered polyester suits. White shoes. Middle-aged fat white guys. Don’t you see? They were not at all Austin-like. Blatantly so.

I sidled up, nonchalant, and overheard the following:

“Perfect spot, don’cha think?” said the more corpulent of the corpulent ones.

“Yup,” said the other, wiping his chin on a polyester coat sleeve. “Sheriff Wilson says the green light for Operation Shade Elm could come before the summer’s out.”

Operation Shade Elm? Sheriff Wilson? Round Rock Donuts? Polyester? Holy Conservative Coup!

On a hunch, I texted my hacker friend Eric and asked if he could do some digging—namely for anything named Shade Elm coming from Williamson County.

Eric called me two days later.

“You ready for this?” Eric said breathlessly. “I found one document, in a file folder marked for deletion. OSE. Operation Shade Elm. Williamson County is on the front line of something big. Something most of the rest of the state is on board with—especially Dallas and Lubbock.”

“What?!” I practically screamed into my phone.

“It’s a takeover. They’re gonna turn Austin red, little by little.”

“How? What? How can they do that?”

“Subtle things, man. First, they’re gonna close down all the Austin Java shops and reopen ’em as Round Rock Donuts. Then, get this, Magnolia Café…”

“No.”

Repub Barrel“Yeah, they’re gonna be Cracker Barrels.”

I shuddered.

“They’re gonna attack on the clothing front, too. Men’s shops first.”

“Not polyester.”

“Yup. All the name shops in Austin—Wally’s, Service Menswear, Stag. Gone. Gonna move in Dickies, Walmart Fashion Outlet, Porter Waggoner Line, that kinda stuff.”

“I’m gonna be sick.”

“That’s not the half of it,” Eric continued. “The Austin Car2Go program…”

“You mean all the little Smart Cars the city lets you use?”

“Yeah. They’ll be gone. Gonna replace ’em with Ford F-150 Super Cabs. With gun racks and naked lady mudflaps. And every month will be Truck Month.”

Repub Mudflap“O.M.G.”

“And Cesar Chavez. Once the takeover’s complete, they’ll rename it the Ronald Reagan Liberty Plus Freedom Memorial Drive.”

“We have to stop this,” I muttered.

“Yeah, I know. Look, you write a column. Get the word out, man.”

Sweet Ghost of Ann Richards, Eric’s right. We have to marshal resistance—before summer’s end. We MUST stop Operation Shade Elm. Mayor Adler, Councilman Renteria, City Manager Ott, Wastewater Commission Chair Gray, Sixth Street Dude Who Plays the Trash Cans—We Must Do Something! Call out the Travis County Guard! We must keep Austin weird. Or at least polyester-free. I see them coming! The brown Williamson County vehicles! Here they come! The white shoes! The Rush Limbaugh t-shirts!

Zzz. sssSSNORT. Whew. What a dream. That’s the last time I eat donuts before bed. ’specially Round Rock Donuts.

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, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

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.

 

I Would Shake Your Hand, But . . . Ebola, You Understand

21 Oct

by Roger White

Dear Diary: Day 37 of my quarantine finds me gazing out at the swath of graceful oaks and maples that crowd the greenbelt beyond my back yard. Two slender brown squirrels skitter and climb among the lower branches of the trees with effortless agility. They chatter excitedly as they chase each other and run from the marauding blue jays. The jays can’t stand the squirrels. They see them as interlopers who invade their got itfeeders and scavenge the seeds and nuts on the ground before they can harvest them. Jays are natural bullies, and the squirrels are their foils, carefree clowns both aloof and contemptuous of the great birds’ status as authority figures of the suburban greenery. You can see in his eye as the large male jay tracks the movement of the squirrels bounding below him: “Why, I oughta…”

I wonder if the jays and squirrels worry about ebola.

And there it is. I realize now I can’t do one thing, engage in one activity, carry one thought in my mind, for more than three minutes without being drawn magnetically back to the dreaded “e” word. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeebola. (Picture here the Swiss dude in lederhosen and Swiss hat blowing on an outrageously long alphorn in that cough drop commercial.) Out of an abundance of caution, I’ve been sentenced to weeks of isolation because of my tangential exposure to the deadly virus du jour. You see, I was in the nuff saidDallas area recently to visit my mom, and I happened to stop in for a soft drink at a south Fort Worth gas station. Come to find out that the cashier at this gas station had recently been in the same movie theater as a guy whose son played on the same soccer team as another kid whose mother had been in the same Walmart as a woman who’d washed her car at the same car wash as a man who had been on the same airplane as the father of a girl who attended the same high school as a kid whose grandmother’s hairdresser rode on the same bus as the accountant of a guy who had changed a tire for a woman who’d played canasta with the aunt of a guy whose sister drove past the hospital where the whole ebola thing started here in Texas. So, yike. I’m practically at death’s door here.

Har. Don’t get me wrong. Ebola be bad. Lord knows we have to panic about something, so it might as well be a nasty virus from across the Big Pond. Better than the usual hyped tripe from the cesspool of politics. HOWDY, coughBut I do believe we’re taking it just a tad too seriously, no? I saw a Facebook post that summed it up nicely: More people in the United States have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from ebola.

And yes, I kid on the quarantine. In actuality, I was gazing out my rear window watching the squirrels tease the jays in a conscious effort to avoid my TV. I’m a television junkie, I freely admit, which creates a twisting cognitive dissonance in me wee cranium due to the fact that I truly and completely loathe the media. If today’s media aren’t the cause of all things evil, then they’re most definitely exacerbators of it. Members of the media foment more distress, disharmony, and dyspepsia than any other group of humans on the planet other than politicians.

Case in point: ebola. As a test, the other night I got out a lovely, unopened bottle of Jack black and decided to play an updated version of an old fraternity game. I sat in front of the tube with a shot glass, the bottle of Jack, and the remote. The game: Roam among the cable news channels, stopping for just a few minutes at a time on each channel, and guzzle down a shot at each utterance of the word ebola. I started the game at approximately 7:15 p.m. By 7:41, I was schnockered. I was so hammered that I somehow found myself standing inches from the TV, watching the halftime of a football game, though I wasn’t sure how I got to that channel. Vision was fuzzy, so I can’t be sure, but I swear the halftime band marching around the field had formed itself into a giant ebola virus. There’s no escaping.

Ah, for the good ol’ days, when all we had to worry about was ISIS and gun control and the president’s secret socialist agenda. Sigh.

 

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.

Reparative Therapy Is Just the Tip o’ the Platform

9 Jun

by Roger White

 

This week on Lone Star Myth Bashers, we take a hard look at the common perception that the conservative movement in Texas makes our fair state the target of national and international ridicule with its outlandish statements and backward beliefs.

Quite the contrary. LSMB has found ample evidence that the state’s GOP base, for example, uses hard science as a foundation for its advocacy agenda. At its recent convention in Fort Worth, the Republican braintrust offered this scientific gem as a tenet of its party platform: “We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle.”

Yes, despite opposition from such liberal elite establishments as the American Medical AssociaAMAtion, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association—and the fact that several states have banned this type of “therapy” outright—the Texas GOP has forged bravely ahead in its mission. The hard science the party is using, by the way, comes from an 1892 pamphlet entitled “Tingly Feelings are from the Devil.”

“One of the most fundamental tenets of our party’s focus on the family is the protection of the natural, wholesome man-woman relationship the way God intended it,” the Texas governor said in his address. “If a person seeking to rid himself of unnatural and unhealthy homosexual cravings wants to seek help through this reparatioh yeahve technique, he should be able to find this sort of assistance readily. And the therapy works. Believe me, I know. I mean, I’ve heard.”

Following similar scientific revelations, other planks of the Texas GOP Party Platform that you may not know about include the following:

  • Pigment restructuring therapy. This treatment bleaches skin to a more acceptable tone for those seeking escape from the non-Caucasian lifestyle. The skin treatment is accompanied by an intensive regimen of audio hypnosis sessions, which involve listening to such lifestyle-correcting standards as Rush Limbaugh, Jeff Foxworthy, and Lawrence Welk for several hours per day.
  • Income repression treatment. This achievement-aversion therapy offered to business owners provides mental reparative techniques that can be applied subliminally to those workers who continually whine about raising the minimum wage. Comes in colorless, odorless powder form or can be broadcast covertly over closed-circuit television in company break rooms.
  • Immigration control counseling. For those hardworking yet undocumented folks suffering from those pesky urges to seek a living wage, food for their families, and life free from the constant threat of decapitation, this treatment allows the would-be immigrant to understand that this country just isn’t for everybody and that we would all be better off if, as the great philosopher A. Bunker once opined, “the sames stayed with the sames, and the differents stayed with the differents.”
  • Tolerance-removal ointments. These creams and salves perfected in far East Texas, when applied to the scalp and back of the neck, turn the neck a bright crimson and rid the user of those uncomfortable notions that all religions and creeds deserve equality. Two of the more popular brands are the Muslim Mollifying Mask and Jew Away.
  • Fox disciple training. These intensive multi-media sessions indoctrinate the participant in thfoxe understanding and appreciation of the professional, unbiased reporting found only on Fox News.
  • Affordable healthcare interventions. When a party member who is out of work has strayed and actually found that affordable healthcare is available, trained interventionists swiftly correct the wayward soul, using such mantras as “A pre-existing condition is a pre-existing condition” and “better dead than socialist!”
  • Planned parenthood prevention pills. These handy and easy-to-use tablets keep members on the straight and narrow if they are having those unclean thoughts about seeking reproductive guidance from licensed professionals.
  • Handgun-acceptance sessions. If, after the never-ending onslaught of news reports on senseless handgun killings begins to make a member consider getting rid of his trusty sidearm, these refocusing sessions remind the member that guns are our friends—and that the only way to solve these lawless shootings is for every man, woman, and child in America to be packing heat at all times.

For more on the party platform, visit http://www.theylltakemygunwhentheypryitfrommycolddeadhands.com.

 

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.

Sours for Albert’s Mom

16 Apr

by Roger White

Day 1

Dr. Keys says I should keep a log about how I feel and react to the medications for the next fortnight, so here goes. You see, my gentle flock, living in Austin, as festive and cool and hipster casual as it may appear, comes with a price. I’m not referring specifically to the Venusian triple-digit summers or the wanna-be Stevie Rays hanging out smelly and rudely insistent on every corner—although that does get tiresome. All of south downtown carries a constant aroma of stale beer and lax hygiene these days.

But no, the harshest penalty for residing deep in the pancreas of Texas, for us of the hypeallergiesrvigilant immune system ilk, is allergies. Cedar fever, hay fever, molds, oak, elm, ash—you name it, we have it in spades. My suffering of late has grown beyond the reach of OTC meds and even my allergist’s happy hypodermic, so with doc’s cautious approval, I signed up for a 10-day medical trial of Lerjistan. Sounds like an outlaw country in the Caucasus region, I know, but it’s apparently the latest wave in histamine blockers and vascular inversion and other medico-technical jargon that I don’t even begin to understand except for the fact that Dr. Keys believes it may ease my slobbering, sneezing symptoms.

Day 3

Scary thing is that this trial involves sequestering myself away in this sanitarium-like dorm for the entire 10 days, while men and women in white antiseptic attire, under the watchful eye of the gangly and bookish Dr. Daniels, take my blood pressure and my blood and walk around smiling a little too sincerely. But heck, I actually get paid for my guinea pig services, so I figure I should relax, take the oblong red pills with my meals and catch up on my Andy Griffith shows.

There are five other men in the facility with me, five others desperate for relief or rent money. Regardless of the motive, we all receive the same regimen, and we’ve all been given the same caveat: though the expected efficacy of Lerjistan is high, initial side effects noted in earlier trials may necessitate tweaking of its chemical recipe. Mental side effects, The Friendly StaffDr. Daniels said. Hence the signing of copious waivers, generous compensation, and the carefully monitored quarantine. Everyone’s friendly and professional, but I keep expecting Nurse Ratched to come around any corner. Symptoms have already begun to ease, but I do feel oddly stimulated. Almost giddy at times.

Day 7

Albert, the guy rooming with me, is an odd duck. Heavy and covered with a permanent sheen of forehead perspiration, he hoards just about everything he gets his hands on: ketchup packets, creamer, sugar, napkins. They’re stashed in his bedside drawer like treasure. He buys packages of cherry sours from the vending machines in the cafeteria and stuffs them in his drawer. He never eats them. He has at least thirty packages of Sourscherry sours. They’re for his mom, he says. She loves them and can’t find them anywhere in town anymore. “Truth is,” Albert said today, “I don’t even have allergies. Lied about it. I need the dough, man. My mom’s kicking me out of the house if I don’t get a job soon.” I asked Albert if he feels strange at all when he takes his pills. “Yeah, a little,” he said. “Like I’m speeding my ass off.”

I have discovered, from information gleaned from four outstanding medical and pharmaceutical web sites, that Lerjistan contains a ketamine alkaloid derivative. Ketamine, in its pure form, produces an out-of-body-like experience and heightened brain wave patterns. Interesting. Allergy symptoms have all but disappeared, and I feel strangely powerful. Alive.

Day 9

Time has ceased, but what is time but a manmade construct? I can explain only by degrees, for only by the most minuscule of degrees is the veil lifted for me. I have immersed myself in the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, and I now know that the astronomers and scientists are mistaken. It is not by winds aloft that this magnificent vortex operates. This awesome spiral, as large as the Earth itself, manifests from below, spawned from a tumultuous whirlpool of the nitrogen-methane sludge that comprises the ocean-like surface of this titan planet. I’ve inspected the moons of Saturn, upon two of which Life thrives, unlike Life at all that meets our egotistical definition. Baby steps only, my friends. But I must start somewhere. The galaxy is rife with puzzle pieces that, in full context, fit in the answersuch spectacular perfection. Then, of course, the Universe itself. Pointless to explore, for it is one of a billion billion such constructs, all connected in a grand Mobius strip of creation that simply leads back to point of origin. To be correct, there is no point of origin – like holding a rubber ball and attempting to divine the beginning. There is no Universe; there are no sprawling oaks outside my window; there is no window. Albert has no cherry sours. Everything and everyone are but specters – thoughts in the great mind of That Which Is All. I don’t use God; it is inadequate. And the word conjures religion, and religion is useless. Crowd control only, means for power, gain, self-serving rationalization. Similarly, there is no death. Death of the human form, absolutely the same as a green leaf plucked from its living branch, merely moves the inhabitant life force on to that Mobius strip, where further experience, greater knowledge, takes us closer to That Which Is All. This that has been revealed to me is preface only. There is a vast store of which I’ve yet to comprehend. The great Truth I glimpse now I can scarcely recount, the enormous majority of which I know I lose when I return to my dormitory room. Unfathomable revelations are brought forth with every journey, yet for reasons beyond my grasp they are veiled from my consciousness. They are placed deep in my soul, as they surely are in everyone and everything, but they are curtained for this time.

Day 10

Whew. Strange dreams I’ve been having. They took us off the pills yesterday, and I feel shaky but back to normal. Dr. Daniels said they’ll likely play around with Lerjistan a bit more before deciding on its general release. Probably wise. Damn, my allergies are coming back. I bought a pack of sours for Albert’s mom, but doc told me he was gone.

“Gone? You don’t mean…”

“Yes. Gone. He checked out early. And swiped our coffee pot, the bastard.”

“Oh.”

So I ate the candy. My head hurts.

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.

So That’s Why They Call it the Poop Deck! OMG!!!

14 Feb

by Penelope Ashe

 

Editor’s note: While “This Old Spouse” columnist Roger White continues his recovery yowzaand convalescence from male breast-reduction surgery, guest columnist Penelope Ashe has agreed to offer her wacky, offbeat observations and unique comic stylings with her very own “From Penelope’s Pen.”

 

Hi, out there!!! Penelope Ashe here!!! First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Penelope Ashe, and I am an XX-year-old divorcee living in Bastrop, Texas, with my two adorable poodles and one snarky, mean old cat. You didn’t really think I was going to tell you how old I was, did you? Hahahahaha!!!

I have an online associate’s degree from Belford University, I was an actress and singer in Houston (actually, the suburb of Sealy!) for several years (Shakey’s Olde Time Dinner Theatre), and I have my own Pinterest following in the disciplines of scrapbooking and merkin weaving. My friends and family have always told me how funny and witty I am, so when I found out about this chance to write my very own funny column, I just couldn’t resist!!!

Well, anyway, enough about me, on to the humor!!! Are you ready???

Did you hear about that cruise ship that got stuck in the ocean without any power? OMG, it floated around in the Gulf of Mexico for days, while passengers had to wait in line for like ever for food—and they had to do their business in buckets!!! I guess that gives a new meaning to the word “poop deck,” huh? Hahaha!!!

And what’s up with that Charlie Sheen character? OMG x 2!!! What I don’t understand is that after all his misbehavior (do you really think he drank real tiger’s blood?), he gets another zillion-dollar contract to star in another TV show?!? Do you think if I acted up sheenlike that that I would get my very own TV show? Maybe something like “Here’s Penelope” or “A*S*H*E”—get it? (Like “M*A*S*H” except a little different.) By the way, did you know that they have a sitcom in the Philippines called “Ful Haus,” based on the all-time classic American show “Full House”? Isn’t there a law? Anyway, with Mr. Sheen being a total wackjob like he is, I don’t blame his brother, Emilio Estevez, for taking a stage name.

How about poor Lance Armstrong, huh? Everyone in this part of the world pretty much worshiped the ground he rode on until all the steroid accusations against him were proven to be true. We had a Lance Armstrong bike path, Lance Armstrong Avenue; everybody wore his little yellow wristbands, etc., etc. And now everybody in and around Austin rides their bikes wearing their aerodynamic helmets and faux Lancecompetition outfits, looking quite ridiculous if you ask me. I’m sure many of them would have given their left you-know-what to be Lance Armstrong—which is real funny if you know that Mr. Armstrong only has one you-know-what? Hahahahah!!! And now Lance has admitted that it’s all true—Lance was lanced with hypodermic needles more times than a drug addict. I guess you could say he was a drug pedaler. Get it???!!!

You know, for some reason, every time I try to actually say “hypodermic needles,” I end up saying “hypodeemic nerdles.” I always thought that would be a great name for a garage band. The Hypodeemic Nerdles!!! What do you think? Anyhoot,….

Can you believe the Pope is heading off to retirement? I didn’t know they could do that? Can you just picture him in a baggy bathing suit, long black socks and sandals, with his tall Pope hat on, scouring the beach with his metal detector. I guess now that he’s no longer on the job, they’ll call him Ex Benedict. Hee hee hee!!! Like the breakfast.

Apparently, we just missed being hit by a giant asteroid, only by a few hundred miles or look outso. Did you hear that? Whew!!! That would have been a really rocky end, huh? It would lend a new meaning to getting really stoned, huh? Talk about getting stuck between a rock and a hard place!!! Hoohooooo!!!!

Well, I guess that’s all for now, readers!!! If you want to join my Pinterest site for scrapbooking, just tweet #penelopespals@283, and I’ll be sure to reply. Air kisses and e-hugs!!!

 

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. Penelope Ashe, author of “Naked Came the Stranger,” is a part-time cosmetologist at Sue’s Salon in Cement, Texas.

There’s Football, and There’s Life. But Mainly There’s Football.

4 Sep

by Roger White  

It hit me the other day, my genteel tribe, as I sat watching the glorious first football weekend of the holy month of September. The remote—it hit me square in the back of the head. The wife trying to get my attention again; something about dinner or a burglar or something. That woman’s got aim. Anyway, then it really hit me, as I listened to that specialized vocabulary that signals the start of a new season. That magical lexicon of the gridiron just so happens to have context—and in quite similar fashion, I might add—to the life of this middle-aged hubby, dad of two teenage girls (help me, Lord), owner of a thoroughly over-mortgaged house, and slumlord to two very ill-behaved pets (one fat, incontinent dog and one nasty, lethargic cat).

I began listing in my head these terms that carry dual meaning in my quaint little life, but the terms kept slipping out of my head where the wife konked me with the remote. The den started getting cluttered with all these words falling to my feet, so I figured I should sweep them up and list them.

So here they are, expressions o’ the gridiron and their “other” meanings, in alphabetical order for your convenient reference:

All-out Blitz. Usually run when Mom’s away, this is a designed play in which both daughters beseech Dad in unison to pleeeeeease take them to the corner store for basic life necessities (e.g., gum, ice cream, Pringles).

End Around. Another regular from the daughter playbook, this is a misdirection play used to call Mom’s or Dad’s attention to one daughter while the other one either (A) sneaks in or out of the house; (B) cleans up whatever she broke; or (C) dashes to the bathroom to attempt repairs to her purple hair dye job.

False Start. Called almost exclusively on Mom, this mix-up occurs whenever the family is set to go out, either to a restaurant, shopping, movie, etc., and Mom says “I’m ready.” Family members then wait in the car for another 25 minutes before realizing that “I’m ready” means “another half-hour” with regard to Mom.

Illegal Shift. This penalty is called on either one daughter or the other, depending on who stole the front passenger position in the car after the first daughter clearly called “shotgun” before the outing began.

Nickel Back. This term refers to the change Dad often gets back from mall excursions by Daughter #1, Daughter #2, or Mom—or, more often, all three of them running the same play. (See also End Around.)

Pass Interference. A tactic used almost exclusively by Dad, this is a time-honored anti-flirting measure employed by dads all over, usually achieved by physically stepping in between the line of sight of boys and young men trying to catch the eye of Daughter #1 or vice-versa. Recently, much to Dad’s dismay, this has begun to apply to Daughter #2, as well. (See also Shotgun Formation.)

Prevent Defense. This is a tactic often utilized by Dad to avoid manual labor, mostly on weekends, by pretending to be soundly asleep on the couch (or whatever furniture he happens to be lounging on) when called upon by Mom.

Shotgun Formation. Although an actual shotgun is optional here, this is the classic formation used by Dad by sitting on the front-porch swing when daughters are due home from dates.

Touchback. A nerve-wracking phenomenon occurring almost exclusively on family road trips, this is when daughters #1 and #2 vie for territorial rights in the back seat of the car. The constantly recurring touchback commotion almost inevitably ends with the command, “If I have to turn this car around!”

Two-minute Warning. This mad scramble by Dad is triggered by the appearance of the mother-in-law’s car in front of the house. It takes mom-in-law approximately two minutes to make it from her car to the house, by which time Dad must have himself hidden away in the den or the master bedroom. If not, he is often subjected to many Bombs and Cheap Shots regarding personal appearance, yard maintenance, career ambition, etc.

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.

He Won’t Ask, So I Will: Can You Help Out Ol’ Bob?

14 Aug

by Roger White 

Sometimes, my frenetic fellows, there are things more important than humor. Not often, but sometimes.

In the 93 years and four days that I’ve been penning this potpourri of philosophic punditry, I’ve been serious with you only three times: (1) upon the enactment of Prohibition; (2) when Roger Staubach retired; and, of course, (3) when Irene Ryan passed away.

 

It took me months just to dip my toes into a cement pond again after Granny was taken from us.

Alas, I come to you with a heavy stylus again, and your stylus, too, will droop when I share with you this woeful story of one family’s misfortune over this sullen summer season. I know this family well; they live in my neighborhood. The dad provides a modest living for his wife and two kids; however, he’s proud and would never ask for help. But let me tell you, friends, their situation is dire.

It all began in May, actually. The family patriarch—we’ll call him Bob—was trimming the front yard with his ancient but trusty weedeater. A sharp, brittle crack, like that of a rock breaking glass, sounded behind Bob. Upon investigation, Bob found that it was the sound of a rock, breaking glass—his car’s rear window, in fact, shattered to bits by a stone thrown from his trusty weedeater. Thus began Bob’s season of sorrow.

Just days later, Bob and his wife—we’ll call her Bobbie—decided that even though money was tight, it was high time to install rain gutters on their roof. Water had puddled in deep pools near their front door whenever it rained, and they worried about flooding and uneven settling of the house’s foundation. Less than a week after the gutters went up, during a sudden downpour, the family’s cat—we’ll call him Mr. Bobs—was seen eyeing the living room ceiling with peculiar intensity. Upon investigation, Bob found the ceiling leaking like a Watergate informant. Bob and Bobbie ran outside to witness all the rainwater from one roof funneled into one tiny spot on the roof below it. It was like Niagra! That’s what Bob said. When they came back inside, the shellshocked couple saw that a refrigerator-sized chunk of the ceiling had collapsed onto the living room floor, sending Mr. Bobs and the dog—we’ll call him Bobsy—scampering to safety. The living room was a quagmire of plaster, sheetrock, soaked insulation, raccoon droppings, and not-so-drywall chunks, all in a nice, fetid stew. The gutter guys blamed it on the house’s “bad flashing.” Bob began to develop an eyelid flutter.

It was about this time, during hostile negotiations with the gutter people, that Bobbie’s ancient but trusty vehicle began coughing and uttering noises not at all reassuring. Upon investigation, Bob’s mechanic diagnosed several near-terminal illnesses, maladies that could be cured only by a new timing belt, front-end alignment, major overhaul of the magna-gasket-crossover valves, complete johnson rod replacement, and other wallet-invasive procedures.

And, of course, all of this comes when the family’s oldest daughter—we’ll call her Bobette—has come of driving age and is steadily, maddeningly lobbying for a vehicle of her very own. Upon investigation, Bob and Bobbie have learned that insurance for young Bobette will come to a monthly sum that is approximately the equivalent of the family’s home mortgage.

Wait, that’s not all. Oh, no. As July melted into August for this ill-fated family, they noticed the ambient temperature in the house steadily creeping higher and higher, to the point where everyone began huddling near the freezer pretending to hunt for frozen burritos and ice cream. Upon investigation, Bob found the home’s A/C unit passed out in its little garage closet. No pulse, nothing. Dead from overexertion. Prescription: new units, inside and out—and, of course, new dinner menu: Ramen, beans, hamburger helper. As cousin Eddie says in “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Don’t know why they call this stuff hamburger helper, it does fine just by itself.”

Indeed. And if that wasn’t enough—for this family, I mean—they’ll be paying off the full set of braces for the youngest—we’ll call her Bobina—until the year 2106.

These are good, decent folks. Bob would never ask, so I will. Won’t you help out a neighbor in need? Just contribute what you can—five bucks, a buck, a Whataburger coupon, whatever. Just send it to me, and I’ll be sure that Bob and Bobbie get it. God knows what autumn has in store for us—uh, them.

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.

Here’s to the Olympic Motto: Swifter, Higher, Stronger, Sneakier

7 Aug

by Roger White 

 

Ah, my cantankerous cohort, if you’re like me, you’ve been basking in all the reflected, tape-delayed glory of the London Olympics, no? And if you’re like me, you’ve been inspired by the relentless spirit and determination of Olympians such as South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who runs on specially made prosthetic springs. Yes? And if you’re like me, you’ve been absolutely flabbergasted by that water polo player from Belarus who was born with only a head. No? OK, wait a minute.

 

Seriously, in what has otherwise been a stultifying, sweltering summer, the XXXth Olympiad from jolly old England has supplied a refreshing sports fix. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “fix.” Because, alas, as with just about every other one of these world block parties, there has been juicy controversy. For example, did you catch the bantamweight boxing match where the Japanese guy knocked down his opponent six times—and lost? I’m not one to yell collusion in a crowded auditorium, but you be the judge. The referee for the match, Turkmenistan’s Ishanguly Meretnyyazov, ruled that Azerbaijan’s Magomed Abdulhamidov defeated Satoshi Shimizu, even though Abdulhamidov could scarcely stand up for the decision. Shimuzi was running around doing backflips. Sanity eventually settled in and the decision was overturned—and referee Meretnyyazov was booted out of the Olympics.

 

Meretnyyazov later admitted to being in cahoots with Abdulhamidov, apparently due to Turkmenistan’s longstanding desire to build a Wal-Mart on land owned by Abdulhamidov’s uncle, Spraodovlugyzatsonivyplakolov Urryupanpayemov.

 

But that wasn’t even the major hullabaloo. Four, count ’em, four women’s doubles teams were disqualified from the badminton competition for intentionally losing matches to gain a more favorable draw in the next round. Heavens to Murgatroyd! The BWF was shocked, shocked, I say. (That’s the Badminton World Federation to you and me—and yes, there is such a thing.) Let’s back up a minute here. I can see both sides. This is the Olympics, and fans paid plenty of precious pounds to see their favorite shuttlecock swatters play their very best. But. And it’s a big but. In many other sports, easing up on the gas and resting yourself when you’ve been assured a spot in the next round is done all the time. Look at the NFL (if you can). When a team has clinched a playoff spot, the coach often decides to rest his starters—and the team often loses a meaningless next game.

 

Both sides have a point, but there is a much bigger picture to consider. And that much bigger picture is this: Badminton? Seriously? Don’t get me wrong; I’m a staunch believer in anything that gets one off the couch and moving about. Yes, I am an athletic supporter. I’m just not so sure about awarding Olympic medals to folks who compete in what is essentially a backyard pastime while waiting for the burgers. I mean, criminy, we might as well have Olympic horseshoes or Olympic barbecueing. Hmmm. Come to think of it, Olympic barbecueing might be fun—until controversy rears its ugly head again. “U.S. Olympic Barebecueist Lee Roy Heinz was disqualified today when his charcoal tested positive for lighter fluid.”

 

Well, get this. Olympic barbecueing sounds positively mainstream compared to some other events that actually saw the light of day in Olympic games past. For example, solo synchronized swimming was a real Olympic event from 1984 to 1992. Think about that for a minute: Solo. Synchronized. Swimming. Other former events include tug of war, rope-climbing, and, of course, the plunge for distance. What was the plunge for distance, you ask? In this spine-tingling event, competitors dived into a pool and were required to remain motionless underwater for one minute or until their heads broke the surface. The plunger who recorded the longest distance won.

 

“Grandpa, how did you win your Olympic medal again?”

 

“I was a world-class plunger.”

 

This event, of course, gave rise to the short-lived Olympic Marco Polo competition.

 

Here’s another one: the one-handed weight lift. I’m serious. Each competitor had to perform lifts with each hand, with the winner determined from the combined score. Although this event was discontinued after only three Olympic games, it did lead to the one-handed pole vault, one-armed rowing competition, and one-legged mile run. The one-legged mile was held only once, however. Competitors had yet to finish two weeks after the closing ceremonies. Ah, well. See you in Rio.

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.