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Lit Lovers Rejoice! Sir Archie Ferndoodle Rides Again.

28 Mar

by Roger White                                                                              

 

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

As I’m sure you remember, the esteemed Dr. Ferndoodle holds an associate’s degree in postmodern comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspondence College and has been featured five times in the American Anthology of Poetry. Just a few of his classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” and possibly his greatest epic, “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today.”

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

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

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

 

Ivanka in the White House

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

(verse 1)

“I asked my girl where she wanted to be,

In New York City or in D.C.,

She said Daddy, I wanna be near you,

In the White House with Jared the Jew.”

 

(chorus)

“Ivanka, you can have the West Wing,

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

You can sell your furs and your rings,

And Dad will tweet for you.”

 

(verse 2)

“Barron’s got a floor to himself,

With a team of counselors for his mental health,

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

So you could move in with me instead.”

 

(chorus)

“Ivanka, you can have the West Wing,

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

Damn, it’s so good to be the king,

And Putin, I owe you.”

 

“Tweet, tweet n tweet, tweet, yeah!”

 

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

 

Perry in Charge

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

(verse 1)

“Well, I’m the Energy Top Dude,

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

Yeah, I ran for president,

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

 

(chorus)

“I’m Rick Perry, woah, woah, woah,

I’m Rick Perry,

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

And I’m towin’ the Trump line.”

 

(verse 2)

“Well, I’m not sure what I do,

But I think I make the rules on nukular weapons,

But this can’t be as hard

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

 

(chorus)

“I’m Rick Perry, woah, woah, woah,

I’m Rick Perry,

Renewable power’s our adversary,

Let’s build that pipeline.”

 

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

 

Lysergic Wood, An Ode to LSD

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

(verse 1)

“I once ate a squirrel,

Or should I say the squirrel ate me,

He showed me his brain,

We baked it into a nice quiche lorraine.”

 

(chorus)

“We smoked purple crayons,

As the walls melted into the sea,

Then Timothy Leary appeared

And said why’d you take three?”

 

(verse 2)

“I played canasta with Jesus,

His Holiness beat me two games out of threezus,

Then me and the squirrel flew to Mars,

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

 

(chorus)

“We smoked purple crayons

As robots made love to the cow,

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

 

(verse 3)

“And when I awoke,

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

He kept pinching my ass,

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

 

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

 

 

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.

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.

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.

Just Chill: Most News You Can’t Use

29 Oct

by Roger White

You’re familiar with the old saying, “Don’t shoot me. I’m only the messenger.” To this I say pish and posh. This old adage doesn’t apply anymore. The messenger today IS the problem. The messenger—this insincerely smiling, hair-weaved, plastic-faced talking head—needs to be shot in the behind with a paintball gun, and his message needs to be torn up, stomped on, and burned to ash. Pish and posh, I say.

The messenger I’m pishing and poshing on, of course, is the media—namely, the national outlets: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. Do you ever stop to wonder why your stomach is nervous and sour all the time now, why your heart beats out the bossa nova, why you fret and bite your lip bloody just sending the kids to the school bus stop? The media, I tell you. It’s the media. stop the pressesBecause of our nonstop over-exposure to the national news organizations’ sensationalistic babble, we have all come to believe, consciously or not, that our world has become a living hell. As each of us workaday folks tries so hard just to crawl out of bed each morning to keep food on the table, the electricity on, and our children on the straight and narrow, we have to combat that nagging, pecking sense of doom—that we’re only a mere happenstance away from grisly death, violent criminal mayhem, or worse, a government-led socialist agenda.

Two real, recent examples of headlines from CNN: “Weatherman Eats Cat Vomit” and “Teens Attack Mom; Plan to Eat Her Liver.” No lie. Did we truly need to know this? And did these teens plan this liver feast after watching the weatherman scarf cat puke? These kinds of “news items” are not merely useless—they’re harmful.

Every single cotton-picking day you have to digest (no pun intended) BREAKING NEWS of the latest multiple homicide, the most shocking tale of kidnap, abuse, and mistreatment, the most recent sordid instance of demented behavior (and sometimes this doesn’t even involve Congress) such as the headlines above. The thing of it is—and here is where you have to stop yourself and understand motives—the world really isn’t all that bad. Really, it isn’t. It’s the media’s job, however, to make you feel that way. It’s not CNN’s goal per se to give every man, moidahwoman, and child in America a massive case of peptic ulcers, but it is their job to make money. And gruesome, terrible, apocalyptic headlines mean more views, which mean more advertisers, which mean more money. With news on a 24-hours-a-day-eight-days-a-week cycle now, every second of the day we are fed the most grisly, horrific stories that these “news gatherers” can find—because that’s what they think we want to see.

But here’s the deal. We’re not going to hell in a handbasket; it just feels like it. Did you know, for example, that since the early 1990s, crime has actually declined in the United States and that current crime rates are no worse than they were in the 1960s? True, these stats come from the U.S. Bureau of Justice. The homicide rate in America has declined substantially since 1992 from a rate of 9.8 per 100,000 persons to 4.8 in 2010, according to latest figures. That’s still high, as far as the rest of the industrialized world goes, but, hey, in Russia it’s 13 per 100,000, and in Venezuela it’s 48 per. And nobody here commutes to Honduras, right? There, the homicide rate is 78 per. We’re practically a Buddhist monastery by comparison.

Here’s more: A research think tank known as the Millennium Project produced these eye-opening numbers in 2011:

• The average life expectancy worldwide rose from 64 years in the mid-1980s to 68 years today.
• Infant mortality worldwide has fallen from nearly 70 deaths per 100,000 people to 40 deaths today.
• Poverty, defined by the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day, fell from 43 percent of the world population in the mid-1980s to 23 percent now.
• The percentage of the world population with access to water rose from 75 percent to more than 86 percent.
• Secondary school enrollment rose from 45 percent in the mid-1980s to nearly 70 percent today.
• The number of major armed conflicts declined from 37 in the mid-1980s to 26 today.


Unfortunately, these kinds of numbers aren’t found on your average national news site now. In yukkkfact, if you ask me, the best, most useful news you can find these days is in your local, community newspaper. The little weeklies and bi-weeklies that actually cover neighborhood news, civic involvement stories, and human interest items that have nothing at all do with cats in microwave ovens are where you’ll discover “news you can use.” As far as Fox and CNN and all the rest are concerned, pish and posh, I say.

 

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.

A Milkweed by Any Other Name

23 Apr

by Roger White

 

In our somewhat slipshod efforts to maintain and beautify the old homestead, wifey and I recently marked off several great swaths of our mangy front yard, designating these areas for gardendom. We’d seen it done before. Stick a few flowers in the ground, throw in a porcelain frog, a garden gnome or two and some of those weird polished balls. How hard could it be?

ghomie zomb 

Hard, gentle readers. Very, very hard. For one thing, you can’t simply cordon off a patch of your yard and say “garden.” No. You have to chop this area to bits, dig every living thing out of it down to about Paleozoic level, lay down plastic and pebbles and poisons strong enough to kill large livestock, and then wait. I’m not sure what the waiting is for, but if it is to be spent in dutiful prayer to the garden gods, then that’s probably where we failed.

 

Well, we chopped, we dug, we laid down, we poisoned, and we waited—and then we diligently deposited our garden-plants-to-be. We watered and fertilized and pampered. We hauled enough rocks and mulch and potting soil in and out of our yard to create a neighborhood landfill. By the way, some awfully weird critters live about a foot down in your soil. And they don’t like you invading their territory. A bulbous, white, wormy-kinda like thistextured thing, which looked like a cross between an albino snake and the creature from “Alien,” hissed at me and slithered away during our digging process. This is why, I told myself, I work in an office building.

 

Anyway, after all the digging and planting and excess body fluid loss, we finally sat back and anticipated the burgeoning growth of nature’s beauty. The selfish part of me (that’s about 79% of the greater me) didn’t really care how much splendor our garden added; I was simply looking forward to mowing that much less of the yard. Yeah. Right. All the digging and chopping and poisoning did kill just about everything within the garden’s city limits—everything except the weeds. That damn garden is now home to more weeds than the rest of our front and back yards put together. What are weeds made of, anyway? Plutonium? Weeds, I have come to determine, are not of this earth. They are of the devil. Satan sits Down There and ponders not only the big ways to vex humankind—ya know, hurricanes, drought, wars, plagues, and all that—but he also has in his arsenal more subtle weapons, like wasps, bad breath, Rush Limbaugh, and weeds. Out, foul weeds! This is war.

 

Sure, we have some nice palm sagos now, and some cactus and pretty flowery orange and yellow things that I can’t remember the names of, but the vast majority of our yard maintenance time is now spent in hand-to-tendril combat with the weeds. I dare say that we have more weeds, and a greater variety of them, than before we began to “beautify” our yard. They somehow multiplied during the gardening process. It’s gotten to the point where I tell passing neighbors that we’re actually cultivating a weed-centric garden.

justlovely 

“Oh, yes, many of God’s more wondrous plants that some of the less-educated tend to think of as mere weeds are actually marvelous flora,” I say in an academic tone to the couple from down the street (whose garden is immaculate, of course) as they stroll by.

 

“Is that so?”

 

“Quite. The lovely Taraxacum officinale, or field dandelion, that you see here. The hearty Japanese Knotweed over there. Yellow nutsedge, the majestic ragweed, the distinctive milk thistle, which is a healthy antioxidant, of course.” I adjust my nonexistent glasses, nodding knowledgeably.

 

“Interesting. And very unusual. A weed garden.”

 

“Yes. See how the milk thistle matures to a stunning purple bloom? Well, ta-ta now. Oh, Lovey,” I say, turning to the wife, “is it tea time yet?”

 

“Honey,” she says as she pulls a long rope of dollar weed out of the ground. “Shut up. And dig up that stunning milkweed in front of you.”

 

“Yes, dear.”

 

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.

Why Civility Matters

9 Mar

Editor’s Note: I rarely if ever post other authors’ material here. The many interesting voices in my head provide enough material to keep me sending missives to you, my demented following, for many years to come.

However, I couldn’t resist on this one. This is a topic vitally important, in my humble opinion. It’s quite serious, and I couldn’t have said it better than one Sara Hacala, so I sought her permission and the permission of AARP Bulletin to reprint it here.

It’s about how we have lost all sense of civility in public discourse today. I wholeheartedly agree, and I hope you’ll help me spread the word. I don’t care if you’re Republican, Democrat, Independent, Marxist, Atheist, Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, Jewish, Pagan, Tree-Hugger Party, Ted Nugent Bow-and-Arrow Party–whatever. We need to stop shouting at each other. When, for example, did it become OK to scream out “You lie!” to the president during his address? And remember when the word “sucks” was not an acceptable catch-all for something that is less than par? My eighth-grade teacher sent us to the principal’s office whenever she heard that vulgar word. (This was 1972, mind you.) But you get the idea. Today’s social milieu sucks! oop… well, here’s Sara’s column:

by Sara Hacala

“Whatever happened to civility?” is an oft-heard lament, particularly among those of us over 50 who recognize civility’s increasing absence in a world changing at warp speed. Technology has forever altered the style, speed, and reach of our decidedly less personal communication. Escalating vulgarity, lax standards, sensational media, and polarized politics reign. Society today is far different than it was when we were young.

While rudeness is pervasive and rising (one recent report concluded that bad behavior may be the “new normal”), the societal and financial costs of incivility are astronomical–impacting our homes and relationships, schools, economy, health care, and government.

Civility is more than polite courtesies. Derived from the Old French and Latin term for “good citizen,” civility enables us to live respectfully in communities; it is the glue that binds our society. It can be the difference between life and death–as, for example, when health care professionals bully subordinates, cover mistakes, and create mistrust. It is an essential component of our human sustainability, enabling us not only to survive but thrive.

Reversing the current course of incivility is a challenge for our times. Until a rudeness vaccine is developed, we must dig into our civility tool kit. There are compelling reasons why we should. A life is not defined by a single act, and few of us will ever achieve national acclaim or perform deeds that change the course of history. However, there is a “greatness” in treating others with respect, compassion, kindness, and generosity. With this, we can make a difference in the lives of many.

Here are five tools:

1. Regardless of your age, make a habit of practicing kindness, generosity, and gratitude. Substantial research shows that people who regularly engage in those acts live longer, healthier, and happier lives. It’s never too late to start.

2. Nurture your social relationships, which, scientists say, have the capacity to generate our greatest happiness. Enrich your connections by balancing Internet contact with phone calls and face-to-face visits, which are more personal forms of communication.

3. Establish meaningful dialogue with medical providers, asserting your right to respectful and compassionate treatment. As a patient, you have the opportunity to evaluate hospital care; hospitals with extensive negative evaluations can lose Medicare subsidies.

4. Seize “teachable moments” with your children and grandchildren if you love them but not their behavior. Child development experts say we’re no longer teaching our kids manners–or respect and empathy for others. By contrast, a major study reported that social skills are a more accurate predictor of future success than test scores. So step up your game with your children and grandchildren. Enlighten your progeny about the importance of developing interpersonal skills and relationships by engaging them in conversations without small screens and buttons. That may be your enduring legacy.

5. Promote decency and decorum among elected officials. Hold them accountable for behavior during campaigns and, more importantly, once they’re in office. Urge civil discourse and bipartisanship to avoid gridlock. You and your country’s livelihood are at stake.

Given our sheer numbers as older people, we can have an impact on transformation. At the very least, we can set an example. It may take a generation to create a positive cultural shift, but we have to start somewhere. These are the seeds we can all plant. One at a time.

Reprinted with permission from the March 2012 AARP Bulletin. Copyright (c) 2012 AARP. All rights reserved. For more information, visit www.savingcivility.com.

 

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

Flagstaff.

 

Deposit slip with no meaning flutters

In brown surge of empty day. I find Julia at

Home making love to the Buick

Again.

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

Mortgage.

 

 

 

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

Hundred.

 

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

Sorrow.

Dear Julia. I’m trading it

In.

 

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.

It’s Not Just Me, Is It? It’s Too D@%* HOT!

19 Jun

by Roger White

I made the painful mistake of walking to the mailbox at mid-afternoon the other day. It was only about fifty feet, but it was June, it was Texas, and I was barefoot. What was I thinking?

At approximately ten feet from the mailbox, the soles of my feet on the sidewalk’s glowing surface began to feel like warm, spongy marshmallows, left in the Kraft bag in the sun during an ill-conceived summer campout. I might mention that my feet are as white and delicate as warm, spongy marshmallows left in the Kraft bag in the sun, also, but that’s beside the point.

By the time I opened the mailbox (only to find the usual, of course: a couple of bills; an obnoxious flier peppered with exclamation points informing me that I, yes, I, Mrs. Whites, had been selected as a guaranteed winner of either a Mediterranean vacation cruise, a 52-inch high-definition TV, or a back-scratcher provided I booked a weekend “get acquainted” stay at Lake Yerdozegawn Casino of Shreveport, Louisiana; and an official-looking letter from a Nigerian prince), my precious tootsies had gone from melting marshmallows to outright blackened s’mores. I tried to persevere—neighbors were about—but two steps from the mailbox and I started hightailing it back into the house, alternating between a dead run and a crab-stepping gait that would surely qualify for a grant from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Sitting on the kitchen counter with my smoking dogs under the faucet, I pondered my predicament. This surely couldn’t be just a matter of advancing age and retreating tolerance, could it? Although I well remember running and biking and doing just about everything barefoot all summer long when I was a kid—and never really feeling that hot at all (jeez, did we even sweat then?)—I conclude that my burning bunions of late involve more than simple wrinkles-induced wimpiness.

It’s hot. Way. Too. Hot. I’m talking another planet hot. Though I noted at the beginning of this diatribe that it’s practically summer and I’m practically in Mexico, it’s never been this bad. When I look out my window and see the squirrels fighting the blue jays for bird bath privileges, I know something’s amiss. I never knew squirrels were such dead aims with acorns. I was also unaware that squirrels wore bathing suits. It’s just the cutest thing when they leave them to dry on the bird bath. And you should see their tiny little flip-flops.

Anyway, despite what noted scientists Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Ted Nugent (and their well-funded pals at Exxon and R.J. Reynolds) say, you can’t tell me our little globe is not heating up. As I write this, it’s still officially spring, but the thermometer on our back deck already passed away from heat exhaustion. Our front yard looks like beige shag from a ’70s bachelor pad, and our long-haired dachshund, Ralph, looks woefully at me and shakes his head when I tell him it’s time to go out and do his business. You ever try to make a dachshund wear a catheter? My wife gave him a serious summer haircut as incentive, but Ralph’s no dummy. He’s seen the squirrels.

Can’t you just envision the “deniers” in a few years, when the summer’s average daily high is 139 degrees? “Global warming’s a fraud. It’s been hot before. It’s been dry. I remember in 1977 during the ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ Tour, when mmmph…mlllmm” “Sorry, folks, that’s going to wrap up this press conference. Mr. Nugent’s microphone just melted.”

It’s bad, I’m telling ya. Unless there’s a swimming pool or slip ’n’ slide within arm’s reach, even the kids aren’t out. That right there should prove my theorem. If the kids aren’t playing, something’s really wrong. That’s the litmus test. Call it the kidmus test. It’s a deserted landscape out there. It looks like the Sahara Desert, or Mars, or even Cleveland.

Heck, if it weren’t for the invention of air-conditioned vehicles, we would all be stuck inside our homes and offices all day long, staring at computer screens and writing silly columns abou—. Never mind.

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.