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A Mighty Wind Cometh (from an Empty Caveth)

15 Aug

almanack schmalmanackaesop schmaesopby Roger White

Never let it be said that the Spouseman ignores his readers. I recently checked my inbox and found myself inundated with an e-mail, which lamented the fact that I haven’t tested you guys with a Quizzical Quotes contest in ages. I figured we’d seen the end of QQ, seeing as how the last time we did this, three of you wrote in threatening physical violence (I won’t name full names, Ronnie, Margene, and Achmed) and I ended up in protracted litigation with the estate of Aesop’s Fables claiming copyright infringement.

But.

Ye have spoken, and thee has listened. Besides, the nifty column I had drafted about the quirky personalities in my neighborhood didn’t make it past my copy editor (that being my lovely wife)—so you’re safe for now, Ronnie, Margene, and Achmed.

The object of QQ is simple: give me the more popular version of the quotes, sayings, poems, tidbits, cereal boxtops, song titles, book titles, phrases, expressions, adages, aphorisms, platitudes and proverbs you see below. For example, the more well-known version of “I’ll take freedom or croaking” is … anyone? Bueller? Come on, it’s “Give me liberty or give me death.” Dig? Dug.

First 10 of you who e-mail me at rogdude@mail.com with anything close to the correct answers win a nifty “Jesus Is Coming, Hide the Bong” bumper sticker. First 10 of you who e-mail me your PayPal account information and anything close to the correct answers win two bumper stickers and a VIP seat at my book-signing party (to be announced as soon as I hear back from my guy Larry at Self-Publish America).

So here goes. I was going to go with 50 of them, but I got tired. Sue me.

1. “You are not just puckering your lips and melodiously blowing a tune popular in the Old South.”
2. “Rap on oak.”
3. “Treading on chicken-embryo casings.”
4. “Don’t inspect a free large, solid-hoofed herbivorous quadruped in its oral cavity.”
5. “Each canine possesses its 24-hour period.”
6. “Existence in the Driving Corridor Designated for Speedier Vehicles.”
7. “What’s the latest information, feline?”
8. “Don’t mooch things off other people and don’t loan out your stuff, either.”
9. “The clock doesn’t hang around for anybody.”
10. “In what manners do I really, really like you? Where’s the calculator?”
11. “The puny, soft-spoken guys will get the third planet from the sun.”
12. “A threaded knot at the appropriate interval precludes the necessity for three squared.”
13. “Amalgamated, our posture is upright; split apart, we hit the floor.”
14. “The precipitation in the northern Iberian peninsula comes down principally on the flatlands.”
15. “A snapshot equals a lot of talking.”
16. “Devotion has no eyesight.”
17. “Consume, imbibe, and laugh it up, because two days after yesterday we could kick the bucket.”
18. “An egg-laying winged vertebrate within the extremity has the same value as five minus three in the shrubbery.”
19. “As a pair of ocean-going vessels that came within close proximity of the other after the sun went down.”
20. “Only a couple of items are sure things: pushing up daisies and governmental levies on personal income.”
21. “Confection is nice; however, alcohol has a more rapid effect.”
22. “Being really smug and happy with yourself precedes a sudden drop.”
23. “The neatest items of existence don’t necessitate a trip to the bank.”
24. “My mind processes information, so I gotta be here.”
25. “Grasp this career occupation and push it.”
26. “This is a canine-consume-canine planetary sphere.”
27. “Twelve divided by four bed linens facing the breeze.”
28. “As comfortable as an insect within a floor covering.”
29. “Getting even is sugary.”
30. “Glimmer, Glimmer, Diminutive Gaseous Orb.”
31. “The guy who is the final guy to snicker has the highest-quality snicker.”
32. “Need is the mom of contraption.”
33. “The only item we should be scared of is being scared.”
34. “OK, let’s have the guy who’s done nothing wrong hurl the initial rock.”
35. “To Assassinate the State Bird of Texas.”
36. “Clear liquid’s all around, but we can’t imbibe any of it.”
37. “Every one of the monarch’s large, solid-hoofed herbivorous quadrupeds and every one of the monarch’s male homosapiens failed in their efforts to reconstruct the egg man.”
38. “Bluntly, Red, I do not care.”
39. “I detect spoilage in the Copenhagen area.”
40. “See ya, mean globe.”
41. “Inactive appendages equal Satan’s studio.”

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.

Hey, Fitz! Take This Footlong Hoagie and . . .

26 Oct

by Roger White

Ladies (and you sleekly camouflaged metrosexuals), you must pardon me if I wax sportsetic once again, but my hackles have been raised. Mind you, I had a pretty cool topic this time around, too. About that Harold Camping guy—ya know, the old geezer who keeps moving his predictions for the end of the world back a few months because his Bible math was somehow flawed? Apparently, when May 21, 2011, came and went and all his followers had to repaint their vans and try to buy some of their stuff back, he then corrected himself by saying May 21 was a “spiritual” judgment and that what God meant to say was that we will all burn on October 16, 2011. Oops. Well, when October 17 dawned on a non-fractured, unscorched earth, Harold was in full backtrack again. “Oh, well, here in Leviticus, you see, I neglected to carry the three and divide by Moses.”

Ah. Of course.

But no, as creepy as guys like Harold are, he’s not a hackle-raiser in my book. No, the alien in my belly of late is one Frank Fitzpatrick, columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Understand, kids, as I attempt to relax my hackles through third-eye meditation that I am a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan. And I am old. Which means I’ve been watching the Pokes since the days of Jethro Pugh and Chuck Howley and Howdy Doody and Mirabeau B. Lamar and all them there.

If you know just the teensiest bit about the Cowboys, you know that there are no two cities that enjoy hating them more than Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Well, ol’ Fitz of the Inquirer recently put to paper the myriad reasons he hates my beloved Cowboys, so I found myself utterly unable to resist rebuttal.

So herewith you’ll find Fitzpatrick’s reasons for loathing Dallas, followed, respectively, by my reasons for wanting to aim my southern end toward the City of Brotherly Shove. You may not get some of the references unless you own every single Cowboys yearbook and every edition of the weekly subscriber newsletter from August 1960 to the present, but here goes:

Fitz: Tom Landry’s hat. Did he think he was hiding his baldness? The Cowboys first coach wore fedoras right through the Age of Aquarius, shielding his head while the rest of us were expanding ours. I could maybe see the need for one on a December Sunday in Green Bay. But indoors in New Orleans? Or Miami? It was an affectation of the arrogant.

Me: Dick Vermeil’s lachrymal glands. Was there ever a whinier, more emotionally histrionic car salesman of a coach than Vermeil? He could break down sobbing reading a cereal box. Remember his tear-stained announcement of retirement because of “burnout”? Hey, can I do that? “Really, I’ve loved every one of you words and syllables, but it’s time to move on..waaahh!”

Fitz: Jimmy Johnson’s hair. Speaking of inappropriate headwear. The guy apparently missed wearing a helmet so much that he created one out of hair, mousse and his Arkansas sensibility.

Me: Rich Kotite. Need I say more? Okay, I will. Rich coached the Iggles about the same time Jimmy coached Dallas. The results speak for themselves. And when Rich said publicly he was going to look around for other coaching jobs midseason in 1994, Philly lost its next seven games. Richie was promptly canned. And he had absolutely no hair. Zip. Bupkiss.

Fitz: Jerry Jones’ face. It’s been lifted more frequently than Kyle Kendrick. The current owner’s narcissistic infatuation with Botox speaks volumes about his ego, his team and his disposable income.

Me: Christina Lurie’s hair. The wife of the Eagles’ owner looks like she was used as a ground wire at a General Electric power plant. Really, can’t anything be done? No wonder Jeff “accidentally” smacked her in the face when he was attempting a high-five (see Youtube).

Fitz: The old stadium. Who builds a football stadium in a place called Irving? Has there ever been a Texan whose first name was Irving? If so, I’m betting he didn’t wear spurs. Anyway, is the weather in Texas so bad and are the fans so delicate that they needed to cover the stands with a roof? Typically arrogant Cowboys fans liked to say the reason there was a hole in the roof was so God could watch his favorite team. If God’s really a Dallas fan, how do you explain Leon Lett?

Me: The Vet. Easily the worst playing surface in the history of the league. More careers likely ended prematurely at the Vet than in Vietnam. Seems fitting that both Paul Owens and Tug McGraw, who made appearances at the Vet on its final day in use, both croaked soon after. Was like playing on a field of ground glass and asbestos, many said.

Fitz: The new stadium. Aside from Rick Perry, is there a more ridiculous monument to Texas excess? A $1.5 billion shopping mall of a stadium in a state  where the governor seriously considered laying off 100,000 teachers.

Me: Lincoln Financial Field. Let me get this straight: When the stadium opened, the Eagles imposed a ban on hoagies and cheesesteaks being brought into the stadium, citing security concerns? Guess you can never tell when a lunatic fan’s going to smuggle in a loaded hoagie. The smart call would have been to ban snowballs.

Fitz: Michael Irvin.  Tough to like the man who still holds the NFL record for most felonies in a season.

Me: Donovan McNabb. Webster’s defines “loser” as a person who has failed at a particular activity. The photo accompanying this definition in the unabridged Webster’s is one of Donovan McNabb in the playoffs.

Fitz: Deion Sanders. Enough said.

Me: Kenny Jackson. Eleven TDs in eight years for a first-round pick. Nice payoff there, guys.

Fitz: Lee Roy Jordan. This 1960s Cowboys linebacker was obnoxious long before that trait was in vogue.

Me: Tim Rossovich. At least Lee Roy didn’t set himself on fire. And hey, Jordan was good.

Fitz: Tony Romo. Dallas’ maddeningly erratic QB once dated Jessica Simpson, perhaps the reason his quarterback rating that year was lower than her IQ.

Me: Michael Vick. This one’s almost too easy. At least Romo only dated a couple of dogs; he didn’t kill them.

Fitz: Barry Switzer. If there ever was a more oily football coach — not counting Johnson and his hair tonic — I can’t recall him. He’s his sport’s answer to John Calipari and Bobby Huggins.

Me: Buddy Ryan. Choosing between lunch with Hannibal Lecter and Ryan—coin toss. At least Lecter would offer intelligent conversation.

Fitz: The star. I like most stars. The Christmas star, movie stars, Converse All-Stars, Ringo and Sally Starr. But the mere sight of one of the blue Cowboys variety is enough to make me physically ill.

Me: The whole blue-collar, world-against-Philly crapola.  Look, my wife’s sister lives up there. So I know. Give us a break with the attitude. It’s wearing thin. Ya need a new shtick. Loserville sounds good.

Fitz: Dallas. Don’t think I’ll ever be able to disassociate the city from the JFK assassination. Dallas stole my innocence. And where was Joe Bob Isbell on November 22, 1963?

Me: Low blow. You were really reaching on this one, Fitzy boy. I think it’s the whole five Super Bowl titles versus none that may be behind it. Oh, one more thing: How did the Phillies and Sixers do this year? Now, let’s compare…

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.

We’re Takin’ ‘Em Three at a Time This Season, Men

13 Aug

by Roger White

All right, men. It’s almost September, and the strike’s been settled. Weekend warriors from Seattle to Miami are strapping on the armor, dabbing on the eyeblack, and otherwise girding their loins for battle. And that’s just the fans. The wife caught me girding my loins just the other day, and there was much explaining to do. But she knew; football season cometh.

Admit it, men. As much as we complain about today’s pampered, overpaid, under-mannered athletes, when football season rolls around, we’re all a little quicker to greet the day, a tad more sprightly in the step. Football season, boo-yah!

And as if the games themselves aren’t thrilling enough—the intricate strategy, the brutal trench warfare, all the butt-slapping by the assistant coaches—oddsmakers in Vegas give us sporting types a veritable cornucopia of gridiron gambling opportunities on which to wager the old homestead. Sweet ghost of Crazy Legs Hirsch, you can stake a bundle on just about anything—from who scores next-to-last when it’s a foggy Saturday night in Tampa to which AFC East kicker will be the first to get athlete’s foot during the season. (I’ve got a solid C note on the Dolphins’ Dan Carpenter. It’s moist in Miami, and my sources tell me his sock-washing habits are pretty lax.)

I am, however, disappointed to see that none of the big wagering houses are offering odds on one of the most time-honored traditions in all of football (and every sport, for that matter): athlete-speak. I guarantee you that Vegas could whip up huge money on which coach will be the first of the season to say, for example, “We take ’em one game at a time.”

Really, coach? Only one at a time? Just once, I’d love to hear some cliché-spouting knucklehead coach say: “Well, Verne, you know we take ’em three games at a time.”

Or how about this? “It is what it is.”

Now, just what in the name of George S. Halas does that mean? What if, just once, you heard this on the sideline:

“How about that loss, Coach Butterbean? That was a tough one.”

“Well, Troy, it isn’t what it is. What you saw out there was nothing like what really happened. That wasn’t at all what it was.”

“Uh…?”

Timeless clichés are just part of the wonderful world of athlete-speak, however. Let’s not forget about athlete mis-speak. Do you remember these classics?

Bill Peterson, coach of the NFL’s Houston Oilers just long enough to get a paycheck or two in 1972, told the team this: “Men, I want you just thinking one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl.” Sidenote: The Oilers went 1-13 that season. Peterson was canned the next year when the Men of Oil went 1-13 again, still trying to determine if Super Bowl was one word or two.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, when asked about his team’s tactics, once opined: “We’re not attempting to circumcise the rules.”

Or how about Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, when asked to size up quarterback Cade McNown: “He’s the about the size of a lot of guys that size.”

One of my faves is from New York Jets running back Freeman McNeil, after the Jets thrashed the Cincinnati Bengals in a 1982 playoff game: “We showed the state of Cincinnati what we’re all about.” You sure did, Freeman.

Lest I be accused of picking on football types, here are some greats from other sports:

Chuck Lamar, general manager of major league baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, defended his team once by saying: “The only thing that keeps this organization from being recognized as one of the finest in baseball is wins and losses at the major league level.” Indeed.

LA Dodgers ace Pedro Guerrero got famously ticked off at sportswriters once because “Sometimes they write what I say and not what I mean.”

From the world of basketball, North Carolina State alum Charles Shackleford may have bounced around among a handful of NBA teams in his career, but he will always be an all-star with this thoughtful quote: “Left hand, right hand. It doesn’t matter. I’m amphibious.”

Boxing trainer Lou Duva gave us this gem, when commenting on the training regimen of Andrew Golota in 1996: “He’s a guy who gets up at six o’clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.” Neat trick, that.
           

Hold on, golfers. I know you thought you got away cleanly here. Not quite; check out this little ditty from former golf pro and TV analyst Johnny Miller: “I don’t think anywhere is there a symbiotic relationship between caddie and player like there is in golf.”

That’s a sure bet, Johnny. Now, come on, men. Let’s get this season rolling. I’m like a time bomb, ready to erupt.

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.