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Bigly, Bigly Shakeups in My Own Personal White House

1 Aug

by Roger White                                                                              

 

DATELINE—THE WHITE HOUSE(HOLD), AUSTIN, TEXAS

 

In another abrupt move that has apparently become the modus operandi of the White House (that being the house in which ersatz columnist/pseudo-blogger/psoriasis counselor Roger White and family reside), Second-String Dog and Assistant Canine Communications Director Boney Scarapoochy has resigned his position just days after being assigned to the post. Scarapoochy declined comment on the sudden departure; however, when asked about the situation within the White House, Scarapoochy said only, “Rough.”

 

This latest WH shakeup comes only days after White House Chief of Yardwork Staff Rieeince Amoebus and Kitchen Press Secretary Shawn Slicer resigned their positions under what some observers are calling “unsettled circumstances.” Several reports indicate that since his exit Slicer has been seen on occasion smoking cigarettes and talking to buildings on the grounds of Shoal Creek Clinic.

 

The White House comings and goings of late follow a familiar pattern that began in January, when Acting Family Attorney Allie Yates was fired when she made it clear that she would not defend the Whites’ sweeping insulation ban. White had called for a total ban on all attic insulation from particular countries and announced plans to construct an enormous wall along the home’s southern property line to keep out raccoons, possums, field mice, coyotes, and progressive liberals. On the heels of Yates’ departure came the swift exit of Domestic Security Adviser Michael Phlegm in February. Phlegm was ousted when it became clear he had misrepresented his dealings with ambassadors from the rival Circle C neighborhood.

 

The White House revolving door of staff shakeups continued in May with the firing of James Klomey, the home’s director of the FBI (Flatulence, Belching, & Incontinence) and in July with the resignation of Wally Shrub, director of the family’s Office of Neighborhood Ethics. Shrub left soon after stating that the family’s home and reputation are “close to a laughingstock” compared to other domiciles with similar personality-addled heads of household.

 

Despite the rash of firings, resignations, departures, and refusals to accept appointments to high-level positions within the WH, family adviser Smellyanne Blondeway insists that the home is being run like a well-oiled machine. “The home is being run like a well-oiled machine,” Blondeway said, unblinking and immobile while apparently reading from a script. When asked to elaborate, Blondeway added, “The home is being run like a well-oiled machine.”

 

First Lady Susan White did note that newly hired White House Handyman and Overall Fix-it Technician G. Gordon Tiddy was “doing a wonderful job maintaining the interweb connections and things.” She went on to comment that not only are the house’s computers running better than ever but that the “interwebs” connections are so finely tuned currently that all internet activity in homes within a two-block radius of the White House are available for viewing in the home, as well.

 

The White House’s Mr. White emphasized that there is absolutely no chaos within the home, as “the failing Oak Hill Gazette and other liberal rags claim in their fake news.” White went on to say, for no apparent reason, that “I know words. I have the best words.” He added that he does not attend family financial meetings because, “You know, I’m like a smart person.”

 

Roger White is without a doubt the most brilliant, most unbelievably fantastic person with the name of White in the history of everything. Bigly. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

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The Squirrel Who Came in from the Cold

24 May

by Roger White

 

My spidey sense tells me of late that the critters in our attic are not Rocky Raccoon and his pals this time around but creatures far more cunning and insidious: squirrels. Yes, those habitual loungers and loiterers of college campuses and street darters who run straight in front of your car and then suddenly become bewildered as to their destination. That’s right, those squirrels.

 

Three clues have led me to determine that these little bushy-bottomed, nut-chomping rodents have replaced the raccoons as our most recent non-rent-paying top-floor dwellers: (1) the scratching, nesting, wire-chewing, and squirrel squatterscurrying sounds are more lightweight and frenzied (but still as annoying as a Twisted Sister album); (2) that high-pitched chittering and jabbering can be coming only from squirrels—or my mother-in-law (I can’t tell whether the critters are having wild parties or heated family disagreements up there); and (3) they have a spy squirrel who sits on the roof, tipping off the squirrel squatters when it’s safe to come and go.

 

I’ve gone over every square, round, and triangular inch of our humble abode’s perimeter, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how these tiny little tramps are getting in. I do know, however, that they employ that scout squirrel on our roof. Not unlike a tower guard, scout squirrel sits there keeping an eye on the human enemy. He chatters out signals decipherable only by other squirrels as to our whereabouts.

 

“Chich-chip-chich-chipchip-cheech!” scout squirrel screams when I near our bedroom window. Two pack members in the grass nod. One of them gives the “OK” sign, and they dart off giggling into the woods.

scout squirrel

“Get lost, ya little snitch!” I yell, banging on the window.

 

Scout squirrel sneers and runs away, chattering. “CHIP-CHICH-CHEEP-CHIP!!” Which sounds much to me like the squirrel version of “Your mother!”

 

And if you don’t think squirrels and other animals are smart enough to act as spies, think again. I read in the news not too long ago about a vulture that flew into Lebanon from an Israeli nature preserve and was captured on suspicion of spying. No kidding. An Israeli game warden who kept tabs on the bird tracked it to a southern Lebanese village. Then the Israelis started getting reports that the bird was being held by locals who suspected it was a spy because it had Israeli tags and devices. Turns out the vulture was part of a conservation project to restore the raptors in the Middle East and had a GPS transmitter attached to its tail. The poor bird was finally released when the locals were assured it was “not carrying any hostile equipment.”

 

OK, not a spy but it could have been. Just like the time last year when the Palestinian group Hamas claimed to have captured an Israeli dolphin equipped with spying devices. They knew it was an Israeli dolphin because of dolphin spythe waterproof yarmulke on its head. All right, I made up that part. The Israelis denied that the animal was sniffing around Palestinian waters on porpoise. (Insert groan here, if you will.)

 

But get this, declassified documents from the 1960s revealed the CIA’s attempt to wire a cat as a listening device, using its tail as the antenna. True story! The project, dubbed “Acoustic Kitty,” was abandoned after the cat was sent into a park to eavesdrop on purported bad guys but was run over by a taxi before it could get into position.

 

And then there’s this: In 2007, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported that they had broken up a British squirrel spying ring. Fourteen squirrels were reportedly captured by intelligence officers in the border region of Iran, each allegedly sporbrit squirrelting listening devices. The British Foreign Office reacted characteristically, stating “The story is nuts.”

 

Aha! I would bet good money that our home’s scout squirrel is a surviving member of that British squirrel spying ring! Now that I think about it, his chattering has a certain accent to it, and his teeth, ooh….

 

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.

 

 

Maybe Stevie Should Be Wearing Waders

4 Nov

by Roger White

 

If you ain’t from around these parts, pardner, let me tell ya something about the statue of the late rock/blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan that stands near the shore of Austin’s Town Lake (or Lady Bird Lake or Vince Young Lake or whatever lake they currently call the river that runs through town): Stevie’s clad in poncho and boots not for protection from the elements. No. That was just his style.

 

But given the weather around here lately, SRV’s garb is more than appropriate. In fact, city officials are mulling over the notion of retooling Stevie’s boots into hip-length waders.

 

Translation: Enough with the dang rain already.

 poorstevie

Photographic proof of the Noah-like blessings we’ve been receiving recently showed poor Stevie up to mid-poncho in floodwater. Down here in the southwest part of town, it was even worse. Our community statue of Junior Samples was inundated up past his belly—and it’s a big belly, people. You couldn’t even read the BR-549 sign for days because of all the dang rain. OK, I’m kidding. We don’t have a statue of Junior Samples. I think. Anyway, it’s been bad. You know it’s bad when you sit on your back porch and watch your neighbors waving back at you—as they float by on their back porches. The tiny whisper of a creek that runs behind our home, normally coyote-bone dry, has resembled something flowing through the Amazon Basin of late. Critters of both the hairy and slimy phylum have skittered and slithered in and out of our little domicile seeking refuge. The cat’s about to have a coronary.

 juniorsamples

And sadly, one of the casualties of all this weather has been our community garden. It seems the small sewage facility that butts up (no pun intended) against our neighborhood garden got so swamped from the deluge that it befouled all of our lovingly tended plots of lettuces and kale and tomatoes and arugula with human waste. That’s right. Soylent Green is people poo! This got me thinking: How nasty must the human body be if we can freely fertilize our cabbages and kumquats with cow patties but we run the risk of plague-like death if we use our own, uh, by-products? Regardless, the warning has been issued by the community braintrust: harvest at your own risk! Poo may be present.

 

soylentschmoylentSo the wife and I, who have a plot in the neighborhood garden about the size of a car battery, now watch wistfully as our little squashes and lettuces and tomatoes and strawberries grow and blossom. Do we dare eat them? What if we soaked our harvest in bleach and then ran it all through the washer and dryer? Who exactly in the neighborhood lives upstream of the sewage plant, anyway? Everybody’s a suspect now. Ya smell that? Smells like the family at the end of Canyon Oaks, doesn’t it? And what is that on our Chinese cabbage plant?! Oh, wait, it’s only dirt. Just forget it, I can’t eat any of this now.

 

Oh, well, on the bright side, I was getting a little tired of homegrown cherry tomatoes and squash. That’s the thing about growing your own that nobody tells you about: When the harvest comes in, boy, does it come in. We had so many cherry tomatoes there for a while, I was eating them with lunch, breakfast, midnight snacks, on my corn flakes. I love cherry tomatoes, but please. Kindly remove those cherry tomatoes from my rocky road ice cream.

 

flooooodAnd now. Well, they’re tainted. It’s all tainted. In fact, when next I visit our little garden, I’m thinking I’ll wear gloves—and a poncho and hip-length waders. I’m with ya, Stevie. Dang rain.

 

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 Raucous Return of Rocky Raccoon, Revised

11 Sep

by Roger White  

 

Rocky Raccoon climbed back in his room

Looking for means of survival.

 

The return of Rocky Raccoon to the attic of our little domicile has signaled several things: the advent of somewhat cooler weather; the onset of sleeping in fits and starts as this nocturnal nuisance incessantly scratches and breakdances and jogs and does whatever the hell he does up there all night; and an unsettling revisit of what I can only term my “less-than-manly guilt” (LTMG).

For years now, I have tried in vain to drive Rocky and his pals from their seasonal crash pad, only to hear the party noises wafting from the attic vents come every September. (Raccoon rap is the worst, by the way: “Pawin’ thru the gobbage is so wack that’s fo rizzle, A tub o’ kitty grub get ya crunk make ya fizzle…”)

You name it, I’ve used it: fox urine, wolf urine, Lady Gaga urine, traps, baits, snares, all-night talk radio, strobe lights, Ouija sessions. Nothing works. I even had a couple of “experts” come out and climb all over and under the house—on a paid basis, mind you—only to tell me it’s a complete mystery to them how the oversized rodents are getting in.

The experts came in, saw where Rocky had been,

And gave Rodge the bill for their “assistance.”

They said, Roger, you met your match,

And I said, nope, this little devil I’ll catch,

If I can only find his path of least resistance, yeeahhh!

 

Anyway. I’ve actually toyed with the notion of buying a pellet gun and staying up in the attic all night covered in camo, a la Caddyshack. Except this would be Rockyshack. “License to kill raccoons.” Lack of sleep will do that to you. At 3:12 a.m., you find yourself subconsciously bopping to the raccoon rap and you picture having Rocky in your crosshairs.

A tumbleweed rolls across the attic floor, and the piano player stops playing. “Draw, Rocky.”

Nah. I could never own a firearm, not even just a baby one. This is not so much that I’m all anti-firearm; it’s that I know for certain that somehow I would be the first and only thing I would shoot by some ridiculous accident. I don’t like handling scissors even. Besides, raccoons are cute. Admit it. If possums or bats or maybe gila monsters infested our attic, I am certain I would take more decisive measures. Possums are not cute. Gila monsters’ faces aren’t decorated with adorable little bandit masks.

And this is where a creeping case of LTMG comes in. With every failed attempt to drive this cunning camper from our home, I feel a bit of erosion sanding down my domestic status as alpha male. I feel guilty—and a bit stupid, being outsmarted by a guy with a brain the size of a shriveled peach. As the dad and only male in a house full of females, it’s my job to (1) take out the trash and (2) rid the place of pests. Roaches, spiders, crickets, wasps, all that, I’m your man. But Rocky has me stumped. When he starts up his nightly rave, even the cat and dog look at me like, “Are you on this or what? Jeez, grow a pair.”

All right, all right. Enough is enough. I’ve tried everything else—even to the point of contemplating murder. But I guess it’s come down to this. Having exercised all other options available to me, I’ve decided the time for drastic action has come. Tonight, just before we go to bed, before Rocky makes his moonlight visit, I’m climbing up in the attic and I’m leaving it there. Rocky will have to see it. I can only hope he understands I had no other choice.

I’m charging him rent.

 

And now Rocky Raccon fell back in his room

Only to find payment due.

So Rocky checked out and elected no doubt

To bid this good family adieu. Yeaah!!

Doo do do do do do do doo, doo….

 

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.

 

This Was Going to be Funny. Honest, It Was.

26 Aug

by Roger White

All right, you caught me. Put the flashlight and rubber-band guns down, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll talk. I tried. I really, truly tried to write this week’s column. Had my topic, had my three main points with some minor diversions, all with clever punchlines and cute little asides. There was even a comic twist and a reversal in there. We in the biz sometimes call this the counter-clockwise swirl, in deference to the great Jerry Seinfeld (played by Jerry Seinfeld). Jocular juxtaposition. Classic formula. I just couldn’t get motivated to finish the darn thing. It was going to be funny this time, too—not like usual. I was going to regale you with tales of my domestic do-it-yourself adventures gone wrong. You know, how clumsy and endearingly goofy I am at trying to fix things around the house. Oh, it was going to be a hoot. Like the time I went up in the attic to bait raccoon traps and fell through the attic floor/bedroom ceiling and caused a massive pink and avocado avalanche of insulation and raccoon droppings all over our master bedroom carpet. At least we had a Sears coupon for flashlights and duct tape–but where does one find rubber band guns anymore? Oh, lordy, it was to be hilarious, and most of it true, too, except for the part about the baby hippopotamus and the peanut butter.

But no. I just couldn’t do it. I am stalled, stagnated. Dulled into a slackjawed stupor by the Venutian heat of a summer from hell and heavy, unrelenting doses of CNN and reruns of “The Waltons” on TV Land. By the way, did you know that in the 1971 pilot for “The Waltons” – called “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” – that the part of Grandpa Walton (later played by Will Geer) was originally played by the famed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, father of Candice Bergen? Bet you didn’t know that.

And as we all know, Candice Bergen and then-boyfriend Terry Melcher (son of Doris Day) once lived in the very house that Sharon Tate was living in when that horrible Manson thing went down. In fact, it was Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson who introduced Manson to Melcher because Melcher was in the music business and Wilson had been impressed with some of Charlie’s songs. Creepy, huh? Yeah, I know.

You see, it’s developments like this that keep me from staying on task. I am supposed to be telling you about my uproariously amusing attempts at home repair and maintenance, like the time a friend was helping me move my mom’s heavy (and expensive) thick glass coffee table and we turned it upside-down not knowing that the glass table top wasn’t attached to the frame and the slab of beautiful smoked glass fell onto the sidewalk and smashed into a bazillion little smoked shards of dangerous, beautiful rubble. You would have laughed. The way I was going to tell it, oh, how you would have howled. And that yarn would have been factual, as well, if not for the bit about police intervention and the buxom neighbor down the street who was once Steve McQueen’s torrid lover. McQueen, by the way, starred in the 1966 film The Sand Pebbles, which also featured one miss Candice Bergen from earlier in this column. Is that fate or what?

Ah, well. Look, I’m sorry. Instead of just standing there staring, you could help me, you know. Think of something funny. How about this? DVD titles you’ll never see. Try this one: Me and My Vivisection. Right, it’s a bit on the morbid side. What’s that? Not bad, not bad. Great French Military Campaigns of WWII. Kinda obvious, though. Hmmmm. Yoko Ono Sings Perry Como. Talking with Your Teenager. No? A Wall Street Guide to Secure Investments. Good one. Now, that’s funny.

You see? If we work together, you and I, we can pull this off. We can create a new genre of participatory journalism. This, in turn, will help usher in the new era of peace and enlightenment that is to come as we near the bend to 2012 and the eventual end of the world as we know it. You see, I knew there was a reason I couldn’t finish this week’s column. It’s all about world peace. I’m glad I could help.

But please, be thinking of something for next week. I don’t want to have to do this again.

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.

Take Heed, Young Men, of California Queens & Layered Shams

20 Jan

by Roger White

I used to think life was pretty simple. Learn to ride a bike without killing yourself; dodge the bullies in school; find something you don’t mind doing every day for 40 years that keeps peanut butter in the pantry; buy a car that runs; get a home without raccoons.

A simple plan for a simple man—and except for one adolescent NDSE (Near Death Schwinn Experience) and the raccoons, I’ve been quite successful at following my life’s blueprint.

There has been one hitch, however, that has drastically altered my worldview along the way. I got married. (Get it? hitch, married…) Don’t get me wrong. As far as female types go, she’s a good one; this I’ve learned in our two decades together. This I’ve also learned: Life is complicated. Women know this, and it is their life’s mission to teach this to men. Men who have been married as long as I have know this, too.

Don’t believe me? I’ll give you an example. The bed. Yes, the humble domestic bed. Now, you (you being uneducated men) wouldn’t think there would be any measurable amount of pontification or undue stress involved in the purchase and upkeep of one’s sleeping spot, would you? Find comfy bed, buy comfy bed, change sheets once a season or so. Ha ha, I say.

Ah, innocent ones, I was once under this misapprehension. When I was a young man, unfettered by responsibilities such as family, home maintenance, regular hygiene, and any income to speak of, my bed was a mattress. I moved often then, and after several third-floor apartment experiences, I viewed such items as box springs, frame and headboard as unnecessary accoutrements. Extremely heavy, unnecessary accoutrements.

I mean, who needs box springs when you have a floor? And except for easy access for nightcrawlers, I found my simple mattress bed to be quite comfortable. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was also tres fashionable. I discovered years after my bachelorhood that I had been sleeping on a futon. Futons became all the rage about the time that hippies grew old, got jobs and realized they had disposable income. The futon wasn’t any different from the $5 mattress hippies were sleeping on in college, but by calling it a futon, retailers could jack up the price to, oh, $600. That’s called capitalism. The word “futon,” by the way, comes from the Japanese. Roughly translated, “futon” means “slob too lazy for real bed.”

Anyhow, my inauspicious, perhaps austere sleeping arrangements came to a screeching halt about three minutes after cohabitation (or marriage if this is a family publication). And this was when the bell rang for one of my first lessons in the complexities of life. Shopping for just the right bed, as problematic as that was, was only the beginning. Here are some words actually spoken in our myriad bed-hunting outings (many of these words I had never heard before, seriously): Is that headboard real teak? That’s not tanned ochre, that’s raw umber. (And I thought it was brown, silly me.) Do you prefer negative edge or iron scrolling? I think we have to go with a California Queen.

Although I got an immediate mental image of RuPaul, I was informed that California Queen had something to do with mattress size.

Once we finally found the perfect California teak ochre negative edge bed, I naively presumed that our quest was over. Ha ha, she said. Take out pencil and paper, ye men who are about to marry: There are approximately 3,102 accessories for a bed. I am not joking! Are you ready? There’s the duvet, there’s a duvet donut, a duvet cover, the coverlet, the dust ruffle, the mattress topper, mattress pad, mattress pad cover, bed skirt (you want scalloped, pintucked, tailored, or hemstitched?), heated throws, Sherpa throws, pleated shams, layered shams, bed blouse, fitted flats, flatted fits, the matelasse bedspread, the bamper skiffle, the skuffler layover, the Berkshire topper, the tiered voile eyelet perimeter skirting, box spring overlay, the husband, toss pillows, slouchback, sheet smoothers, and, of course, the oyster-brushed upholstered headboard façade.

I didn’t even know oysters could brush. And don’t get me started about thread count, sister.

Then there’s upkeep. Still have your pencils, men? Note: You’ll have to change the sheets at least once a week, whether they’re dirty or not. This includes pillowcases and the odd sock hiding in the covers. Also, the mattress will be flipped and turned every month; I think this is a feng shui thing.

I know it sounds grueling, guys, but you’ll get the hang of it. Heck, I think I even know the difference between umber and ochre now. One’s browner than the other. Now, if we can just do something about the raccoons.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.