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My Plea: A Moratorium on Facebook ‘Thoughts & Prayers’

9 Oct

by Roger White 

 

Those of you who’ve quasi-followed my mental droolings over the years understand that sometimes I’ll touch on a subject that’s a tad touchy. And because you know I’m not one to shy away from touching on a tad touchy subject now and again even though the touching of such can make for some uneasy touchy-feely feelings, you tolerate the touchings for the sake of a chortle or two. Maybe even a guffaw, if we’re lucky.

 

This, as you can surmise by now, is one of those touchy times.

 

It’s about thoughts and prayers. I’m sick to death of them. Not actual thoughts and prayers, if anyone truly engages in them. No, I’m referring to social media “Thoughts & Prayers.” And yes, they usually involve capital letters and an ampersand. Jee-iminy Bob Christmas, every time a disaster/mass shooting/hurricane/Trump twitter war/Harvey Weinstein allegation happens (and these have become a daily occurrence here in good ol’ ’Murka), people race to Facebook or their social media avenue of choice to be the first to gush forth: “Thoughts & Prayers” blah, blah, etc., etc.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong. If in one’s heart of hearts, a terrible event such as the Las Vegas shooting causes deep reflection and pause—and one truly takes the time to put these victims and their families foremost in their mind for a time, including offering a heartfelt mental telegram to their deity of choice—then that is wonderful.

 

But come on, simply banging out “Thoughts & Prayers” on the keyboard, and maybe even including a warm, fuzzy emoji or two, is doing nothing more than attempting to show everyone what a great and compassionate person you are. “Look at me! See how much I care! And I keyed it in faster than you did!” If you really believe you are helping a situation by calling upon higher powers to ease someone’s suffering, then just do it. And feel good that you did it. Why broadcast it? I’d much rather read about your endless spaghetti dinner at Olive Garden or watch your cat playing the piano than suffer through another maudlin, sickly sweet “Thought & Prayers.”

 

To quote the Big Guy himself, I do believe Jesus touched on the pompous show of piety in the Book of Matthew, did he not? “Take care not to practice your righteousness in front of men to be noticed by them, otherwise you will have no reward with your Father who is in the heavens. So when you make gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be glorified by men.”

 

Then again, we are living in the New Age of Narcissism. One of today’s greatest narcissists spends much of his day tweeting out his personal views on everything from pro football to “Puerto Rican whiners”—and we have come to see this as normal behavior.

 

It could simply be that I’ve OD’d on social media. Other than the pious proliferation of “Thoughts & Prayers,” about the only thing more frustrating to me about sites such as Facebook is political rants. A completely non-scientific poll of FB shows approximately 32 billion 678 million political rants per day. And you know how many minds these rants have changed? To quote Dean Vernon Wormer of illustrious Faber College: “Zero point zero.”

 

I suppose we can’t turn the clock back to the good ol’ days, when Facebook was used primarily to share uplifting things such as videos of dogs eating peanut butter or guys getting socked in the crotch by various means.

 

Here’s offering my “Thoughts & Prayers” that we can return to simpler times. Simpler Times for Simpler Minds. That’s my new slogan. And “T&P,” of course. Did I touch a nerve?

 

Roger White is a thoughtful freelance human living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spousal human, two precocious offspring humans, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not. 

 

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.

 

Ya Wanted More Fernie, Ya Got More Fernie

24 Apr

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Well, gang, it seems that the literary stylings of my old compadre Dr. Archie Ferndoodle have truly struck a chord with many of you. Since the appearance of Sir Archie’s poetic elucidations in a recent episode of “This Old Mouse,” the Oldblouse offices have been inundated with a letter heaping praise on the feckless Fernman and further beseeching the master muse for more obtuse observations. Well, who am I to deny my faithful the mental goosefeather that so tickles their collective ulnas?

You surely know this by now, but the Doodle Doctor insists I preface his epistles with the following: The esteemed Dr. Ferndoodle holds an associate’s degree in postmodern comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspon — oh, to hell with it. If you really want to view the good doctor’s curriculum vitalis, write me, and I’ll send you a mimeographed copy.

Sir Archie, in his own peculiar patois, has taken several classic tunes from the songbook of popular culture and rendered them as his own, with his edgy, pointy-like lyrics so pertinent to today’s roiling rambunctious rutabaga world.

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 creature, and we bear no responsibility or legal burden for his verbal effluence.

Taking that into account, I give you Archie’s first offering, called “Healthcare for Millennials.” Keep in mind, you have to know the popular tune to latch these lyrics onto or none of this makes any sense whateverso. But if you’ve made it this far, sense is something you know is a rare commodity in this time/space.

 

Healthcare for Millennials

(to the tune of “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young)

(verse 1)

“You under twenty-one,

Will be under the gun to pay for healthcare,

By the time you reach my age,

You’ll spend a year’s wage just to rent a wheelchair.”

 

(chorus)

“So keep your bodies well,

’Cause you’ll pay like hell to see the surgeon,

Think hard about having kids,

You’ll be on the skids, better stay a virgin.”

 

“No use in asking why, it’ll cost less to simply die,

Better yet you just might tryyyyyyy….

To move to Canada.”

 

Huzzah, Archster, well done. For his second favoring, the Fernman has rendered a little ditty he calls “Little Trumpy,” regarding the precarious existence of PBS and shows such as “Sesame Street” under the current regime:

 

Little Trumpy

(to the tune of Sesame Street’s “Rubber Ducky” )

 

(verse 1)

“Little Trumpy, you’re the dude

Who sent PBS down the tubes,

Because of Trumpy we are all royally screwed.”

 

(verse 2)

“Oscar lost the lease to his can,

Elmo’s turning tricks in Japan,

Little Trumpy, I’m not very fond of you.”

 

(chorus/bridge)

“Oh, every day when I see Big Bird in the gutter,

And I think about Kermit’s suicide I mutter,

What a motherlubber.”

 

(verse 3)

“Cookie Monster OD’d on crack,

Miss Piggy’s somewhere dealing blackjack,

Oh, Little Trumpy, life’s really the pits now,

Oh, Little Trumpy, me and Bert called it quits, and how,

Little Trumpy, it looks like I’m shackin’ with you.”

 

Bray-vo, bray-vo. And lastly, Ferndude gives us his take on the ramifications of oilman Rex Tillerson taking over as top guy at the US State Department:

 

Rex Will Survive

(to the tune of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”)

 

“At first I was afraid, I was petrified,

Kept thinkin’ my ties to Russian oil I could never hide,

Friends said, Rex, why take this job, it’s a massive pay cut,

To be Trump’s head of state, you must be some kind of nut,”

 

“But here I am, from Wichita Falls,

Make way for ol’ Tillerson, ’cause I got some big ol’ b*lls,

I’ll go easy on the Reds,

But North Koreans I will kill,

I got a tiger in my tank, my Exxon stock’s worth 100 mill,”

 

“Yes, Putin and I, we will survive,

Just don’t look too darn deep in KGB archives,

We’ve got such friendly ties, so don’t you be surprised,

When Moscow becomes home to the next Exxon franchise,

Hey, hey!”

 

Sir Archie Ferndoodle’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,” Roger White is a Ferndoodle protégé or else owes him big time. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

When the Bra Comes Off, the Day Is Done

10 Apr

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So I saw something on Facebook the other day posted by a friend of a Facebook friend’s mother, who is the friend of a friend-in-law’s friend, and it made sense, so I “liked” it even though this friend of a friend-in-law’s friend isn’t really that friendly to me at all. In fact, he’s a bit of a jerk. Anyway, the post went something like this: “In my house, when the wife’s bra comes off, that means it’s the end of the day.”

Wow. That’s one of those statements that is so right on the money that you thought it was always out there but it took someone to verbalize it for you to realize the profundity. Kind of like how when you first heard the song “Yesterday” by The Beatles, it instantly sounded as if it had always been there, since time immemorial. Those occasions are singular and exceptional. When Paul McCartney reached up into the ether and pulled down the notes and lyrics to “Yesterday,” he was delving into that rarified eternal stream of thought that few have access to yet all mankind knows it’s been tapped into when they hear it. You can just picture cave men and cave women sitting around the tribal fire nibbling at the last remnants of roasted yak meat, and they’re softly singing:

“Yester-ugh…

All my ugh-ugh seemed so far away,

Now it looks as ugh they’re ugh to stay…

Oh, I bel-ugh in yester-ugh…”

 

Or something. You get the picture. Well, it’s the same in my mind with this guy’s epiphany regarding his wife’s intimate apparel. I’ve been cohabitating with female types since I was born—first with a mom and two older sisters, and now with a wife and two daughter units—and I’ve known almost instinctively since I was a toddler dodging discarded support garments that bra removal means, as far as a woman is concerned, the day is officially over and it’s time to kick back.

Now, I can’t claim to know just exactly what goes on inside the female cranium, but, like I said, I’ve been around this species my whole born days, so I have a bit of a notion. Ya know, like how a ranch hand who has been around horses his whole life knows pretty much what a horse is thinking. Hmm, maybe I should rephrase.

You see, I had to wear a tie at a couple of jobs in my sordid past, and I absolutely hated it. Even the clip-ons. It was so restraining, so binding, so…corporate. My thinking has always been that ties are a man’s bra. They’re just there for show and to keep your neck from sagging.

Well, like I mentioned earlier, I can’t claim to precisely comprehend the complex workings of the fairer brain, and, indeed, this was confirmed when I related recently my theorem about men’s neckwear being the equivalent of women’s chestwear. Upon hearing this hypothesis, my dear spouse choked on her mist green chai tea latte and gave me one of those looks like I have cat poo on my head.

So, recently, being the quasi-curious home scientist that I am, I put my theorem to the test. That’s right, I did something I haven’t done since I was eleven and was going through a very short, confusing phase that involved my mom’s sparkly lip gloss and listening to a lot of Wayne Newton. I put on a bra.

I must say, at first it felt reassuringly snug and comforting—like a hug from an old friend. An old, peculiar and sometimes inappropriate friend. Yet after walking around the house and stretching a bit, I began to get it. To be blunt: Bras suck. They pinch, they poke, and this one in particular did nothing for me. It revealed way too much side/chest flab, and I won’t even begin to go into the horrifying man-cleavage difficulty.

So. To wifey and all you female species types out there, I get it. And ties are not a man’s bra. Only a bra could be as uncomfortable and restraining as a bra. So I say to you ladies, “Danke schoen, darlings, danke schoen…”

 

Roger White is a, uh, a human living in Austin, with his recently bewildered spouse, two horror-struck daughters, an obese and gas-addled dachshund, and a cat recovering from Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or don’t.

One Flew Over the Dentist’s Chair, or Butch Cavity & the Periodontal Kid

27 Sep

by Roger White

 

Having been raised in front of our family’s trusty old TV set and in the darkened imitation-butter-smelling theaters of suburban Anytown USA, I often find myself comparing personal life situations to those on the screen. And yes, there really is a “Seinfeld” skit for approximately seven-tenths of the events of my life, big or small. Serenity now!

Recently, however, I found myself mired in a swirling mélange of three movies at once. And it all started at the dentist’s office. I had broken a tooth, you see. It fell apart while I was flossing, of all things. You know you have serious doubts about the strength and durability of your pearly yellows when you crack a tooth by flossing. I imagine that pretty soon my molars may start nice-teefusescrumbling while eating pudding. In that event, I’m just gonna pack it in and head off to the old gummers’ home.

Anyway. It took a few days to get an appointment, so I suffered through the interim by stuffing a tiny ball of chewed gum in my fractured fang. That way, I could keep from shredding my tongue on the ragged remnant of my poor tooth. The dentist said it was a clever temporary fix, but he feared I may have caused an infection. I would find out, he mentioned in passing, as he began to pump my gums full of anesthetic. Infections, he said, tend to render anesthetics and numbing agents ineffective.

There wasn’t much of anything left of the old tooth, so the decision was made to extract. Shouldn’t take too long, he said.

Thus began my descent into the Seventh Circle of Hades. Dente’s Inferno.

Brother, either I had a bad infection, or my tender pie hole is the most sensitive mouth this side of the Susquehanna. For a mindblowing, life-flashing-before-my-eyes, expletive-spewing one hour and thirty-five minutes, the poor Spouseman suffered through the worst pain I’ve experienced since Daughter Number Two nailed me square in the cajones with a sharply hit, line-drive softball. Why do they call them softballs, anyway? That thing felt pretty solid to me.

So through the pungent dental haze of grinding and cracking and tugging and groaning I found myself transported to the movie Marathon Man. I was Dustin Hoffman, supine and at the mercy of former Nazi prison camp dentist Laurence Olivier, who was drilling into my defenseless teeth all the while smiling is-it-safeand calmly asking me if it was safe.

“It’s safe! It’s safe!” I hollered, but the torture continued.

Eventually, finally, dentist man had his prize, and I had a mangled mouth and a prescription for some hefty pain meds. The pharmacy guy advised that I eat something with these pills, but eating something—anything—was out of the question. The inside of my mouth looked like a bad Picasso.

Thus, later that evening, in considerable agony, I weighed the nuclear-powered pills in my hand and found myself suddenly in the movie Catch-22. The catch, in my case, was the fact that I needed something substantial in my belly in order for the meds to bestow the blessed relief without terminal nausea; however, eating was impossible because of the very pain I needed relief from. See Heller, comma, Joseph. I scarfed down the pills and dispatched a quick prayer to the digestion gods.

The meds slowly eased the agony enough for me to fall asleep. But.

Sure enough, in the wee middle of the night, I woke up sick as my old tabby cat after a heavy catnip bender. Getting out of bed was no easy feat; the world was spinning worse than an old Iron Butterfly video. I felt my way to the bathroom, took a step toward the toilet, and promptly passed out. The next thing I remember was my dear wife screaming at the top of her lungs. I managed to peer open an eye, and suddenly I was in the movie Helter Skelter. From my vcarrieantage point sprawled on the floor, the bathroom looked like . . . , well, let’s just say it weren’t pretty. I hadn’t seen that much blood since the prom scene in Carrie. Or Helter Skelter, take yer pick. I had apparently konked my noggin on the sink on the way down. Sinks and foreheads don’t mix well.

I took the next day off work to rest, heal up, and catch up on Seinfeld reruns. Fittingly, it seems, the first one I tuned in to was the episode in which Jerry is accused of being a rabid anti-dentite because of his skittish reaction to dentists. Indeed. I was able to funnel some warm soup into me in order to prevent the pain meds from bursting forth violently from my bod again.

When I checked my e-mail later that morning, I found one of those robotically-dispatched surveys from the dentist office, asking me about my recent experience. Was I satisfied? Was the office clean? Etc., etc.

I typed four words: “No soup for you!” Not sure why, seemed to make sense at the time. Probably the pain meds. Not that there’s anything wrong with them.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

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.

 

 

A Cautionary Tale from the Planet Retha

27 Jul

by Regor White

 

Sit down, kids, and I’ll share a tale. Mikey, don’t sit so close to the fire. Your Keds are starting to melt. That’s it. OK, good.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (turn right at Andromeda, second star cluster on your left), there was a planet called Retha. The dominant species on the planet Retha were beings known as Nahums. Now, to energize their transport Planet Rethapods and to heat their dwelling units, for many years the Nahums of the good planet Retha used a substance known as ilo—a gooey byproduct of gigantic decayed creatures (called oarsiduns) that lived long before the Nahums.

As time went on, technology developed rapidly—as did the burgeoning population of Retha. The great thinkers and scientists of the planet began to wonder and worry about the safety and the continued availability of the resource ilo. They found, you see, that ilo gave off foul emissions when consumed for energy—and common sense told the thinkers that only so much ilo could be used before it was all gone. Furthermore, the thinkers had found wondrous ways to harness Retha’s natural, reusable energy—such as her great winds and the heat from her nearest star—to fulfill all of the planet’s power needs.

Alas, the influential and powerful Nahums who owned the ilo reserves resisted violently any consideration of these new energy discoveries. They intimidated the thinkers, employed their own so-called scientists to refute and discredit the thinkers, and they paid great sums to Retha’s lawgivers—an unscrupulous class Lopiticiansknown as Lopiticians—to ensure that laws and edicts quashed any and all acceptance of this upstart “renewable energy.”

Disaster followed disaster regarding use and transport of the volatile substance ilo—such as the great ilo spills in the waters of Oximec and Askala that killed all manner of creatures and fouled the once-healthy waters.

The strained rationalizations and twisted logic of the ilo elite reached the pinnacle of absurdity, however, when a process known as farcking became widespread in the Retha region known as North Aricema. Farcking was a procedure invented by the ilo industry to reach deep into Retha’s crust and force out pockets of ilo and its sister substance (called natural sag) by injecting great quantities of high-pressure liquid. This farcking process and the resultant injection of the mass quantities of farcking waste into Retha caused violent tremors—planet rumbles known as rethaquakes—where there had seldom ever been such tremors before.

In the North Aricema provinces of Sexta and Olkamoha, for example, where there had been an average of only one measurable rethaquake per year for decades, they began experiencing an average of 100 of these tremors per year since widespread farcking began there. Yet the pawns of the very wealthy ilo industry quakes!claimed there was no connection—no “concrete proof” of what was patently obvious.

Even after scientific journals all across Retha proved a definite link between the flurry of rethaquakes and the farcking procedures, the province of Sexta went so far as to forbid the governments of its very own villages to ban these rethaquake-inducing processes.

Under the guise of scholarship, ilo industry propagandists, such as the Institute for Policy Doublespeak in the village of Sallad (an ilo stronghold of the Sexta provincmr merrille) produced stories blaming geology itself for the uptick in rethaqakes. A Nahum named Merrill Swetmath, a “resident scholar” of the Doublespeak Institute, even wrote that the high-pressure injection of farcking wastes might be to blame, not the farcking itself. The ridiculous premise of this argument, of course, was that the waste-water injection WAS a basic component of the farcking process! Astounding, no?

Well, you probably know the outcome here, kids. The Lopiticians refused to listen to the scientists and true thinkers who were looking out for the future of Retha. The great and powerful ilo industry reigned supreme over the land—until, that is, swarms of rethaquakes ruined the landscape, and the ilo reserves eventually ran out, throwing an unprepared population into a new Dark Age. Poor Retha.

Thank goodness Earth is no Retha. Eh, kids?

 

Regor White is a freelance Nahum living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spousal Nahum, two precocious offspring units, a very obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

Pondering My Mortal Coil Options: Boxed or Broiled

16 Feb

by Roger White

 

I think it finally hit me how old I am this past weekend. Not so much that the wife and I packed it in and went to bed at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, and not even because we had both spent that whole day doing little more than picnicking in the sun (including a nap)—and were still exhausted before the prime time TV shows got rolling. No, I believe the realization of my impending decrepitude smacked me upside la cabeza when the wife and I began seriously debating burial versus cremation plans. For our own selves, that is.

Friendly Funeral Fellow

Yes, the big decision: the Perpetual Dirt Nap or the Oversized Oven.

It occurred to me as we pondered the possible fates of our earthbound carcasses that I’d never really given it much thought. But I figure since I’m not leasing out this anatomical apartment anymore by the time they put a twist-tie on my big toe they can pretty much do what they want with the ol’ hide. They can boil me down and pour me into so many jars of Nutella, for all I’m going to care. I may not be a top-selling flavor, but hey. It would be somehow comforting to know that I’m living on as a snack spread and that folks from Nantucket to Nacogdoches have jars of me in their pantry.

me as nutella

Anyway, as Sue and I delved deeper into the topic du terminàl, we came to a bit of a snag. A corpse conundrum. A deceased dilemma. A cadaver quand—OK, I’ll stop. Despite my self-professed indifference regarding the destiny of my mortal coil, I found myself leaning toward the traditional tacklebox treatment. I like the idea of me being gussied up, laid out in my Sunday best inside a cozy carton, and having everybody file by my formaldehyde-stuffed face to tell me what a great guy I was. Some may have to stretch the truth a bit, but what will they care? I’m dead.

Now, Sue, on the other hand, prefers the kiln. She sees herself in a nice vase on someone’s mantel, silently scolding a great granddaughter or two to dust the den for heaven’s sake.

Though I can’t envision the eternal me as a pile of cigar ash, the wife may have a point. Not to wax morbid, but have you laid a loved one to rest lately? Your standard funeral—with the rectangular real estate and the coffin and the headstone and the viewing and services and eulogy and graveside wailings and all—costs more than a brand-new jet ski, nicely equipped. I’m talking over $10k, thats all folksmy friends. Although I did notice that Sea-Doos were on sale the other day for a pretty good discount, but you have to join the credit union. Wait, funerals. Right.

Here’s another thing about the whole burial option: If you go that route, have a trusted compadre accompany you to the funeral home—because if you haven’t endured this before, beware, my pallbearing pal. Funeral parlor people are car salesmen incognito. They may speak softly and smile and nod more compassionately than the guys at Big Al’s Auto Emporium, but they are cut from the very same cloth. The things these people will try to sell you—at a time when they know you are at your most vulnerable—would make Great Aunt Eunice roll over in her “value-added” grave. They’ll insist that if you really loved ol’ Eunice you won’t settle for a run-of-the-mill pine box. You’ll of course want the Cadillac of coffins, lovingly handcrafted from the finest mahogany and appointed with cashmere pillows, tuck-and-roll upholstery, the sincerity-package extra legroom, ivory handles, and whitewalls. Get this, they’ll even tell you that you need to line the coffin with a protective seal that will keep your dearly departed from moisture, rot, or nasty invasive weevils and such. That’s correct, they’ll try to sell you a casket gasket. It’s the height (or depth, I guess) of absurdity. Isn’t the whole point of committing your bod into the ground so that you will be absorbed back into the bosom of Mother Earth?

There’s a host of accessories like this that the smiling mortuary man will gently present to you as a means to show Aunt Eunice how much you truly cared. My advice? Picture yourself at the car salesman’s desk at Big Al’s—that protective seal on your aunt’s casket is nothing more than the rustproof undercoating they want to put on your Buick. Forget it.

tasteful

It’s like Joe Pesci said in Casino just before they played baseball with his noggin—always the dollars, always the dollars. Shee, maybe the wife is onto something. I guess I wouldn’t mind being vacuum-packed into a beer stein perched over the fireplace. As long as I can face the TV.

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.

Sorry, Kids: There Ain’t No Betty Crocker

2 Dec

by Roger White

So I was watching “Seinfeld” for the eleventy-millionth time the other night, mainly because there is absolutely nothing on TV worth watching these days other than reruns of “Seinfeld,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” and “The Twilight Zone.” I know, I know, you young whippersnappers will hold forth that there are some great new shows today, like “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Big Band Theorem” or whatever. I’ll stick with the classics, thank you very much. Don’t you love the word eleventy-million?

not that theresAnyway, I realized that the shtick Seinfeld was doing was aimed right at me. He was talking about pretentious, faux-authentic-sounding brand names, particularly cars. Names like the Integra or the Impreza. They’re made-up names that are meant to sound like other meaningful words, like integrity and impressive. The punch line: Seinfeld simply hoped he hadn’t bought a Lemona. It hit me that the last three cars I owned before my current little Korean vehicle were just that: an Integra, an Impreza, and a Lemona. All true, I previously owned a 1986 Acura Integra (a great car), a 2003 Subaru Impreza (a fast but frustrating car), and a 1979 Lemona (a VW bug—a true bomb I never should have purchased).  Don’t ask me what I was thinking, buying a 35-year-old POS as my daily commute. Besides, that’s another story. A very sad, long story.

Again, anyway. Things then got cosmic as I sat pondering Jerry’s sage words. It struck me as I lifted a spoonful of my Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter flavored ice cream to my mouth. My ice cream brand, too, was a made-up name meant to sound exotic and luxurious. Remember when Häagen-Dazs first hit the haagen whatmarket? Ooh, we thought, super rich frozen goodness from some strange Nordic country where they surely make ice cream from virgin glacial streams, from milk of cows that graze only on Alpine truffles, and from melted gold flakes from Icelandic lava flows. Or something. Turns out, Häagen-Dazs is a nonsense word concocted by one Reuben Mattus from the Bronx. The name, which is not Danish or Swedish or anything slightly lederhosen-ish, doesn’t really mean a thing—except that ol’ Reuben was a marketing genius.

Same with Löwenbräu beer. Back in 1975, just about the time I started my prolific and illustrious drinking career, Miller Brewing of the US of A acquired the North American rights to Löwenbräu, which was originally brewed in Munich. Ya know, the real Germany. Well, when Miller got hold of it, they “Americanized” the recipe, and the original German version of Löwenbräu was no longer imported to our fair shores. Basically, the Löwenbräu we got was Miller swill in an umlaut-sprinkled wrapper. Of course, we young and impressionable drinking types had Millerbrauabsolutely no knowledge of this. We just saw a new, mysterious foreign beer on the market—in a green bottle, even! The name was obviously German, and if anybody knew their brew, it was the Germans. We was hoodwinked.

Same holds true with so many other brands, like bottled water types. I really never understood the billion-dollar explosion of the bottled water industry. It’s water. In a plastic bottle. Water! H2O. This is where brand-name marketing gurus have a field day. There’s one out there called, get this, Glaceau Smartwater. I kid you not. And I not you kid. Both parts of that faux moniker evoke good feelings, don’t they? Aah, a pristine glacier. And intelligent liquid. What could be better? An intellectual body of glacial ice—you can’t get more new-age trendy than that. You know who produces Glaceau Smartwater? Coca-Cola. I picture guys in the back of these massive Coke plants running tap water into these oh-so-fashionable containers of Water de Glaceau. And they’re probably smoking, too. Unfiltered Camels. And laughing.

And don’t get me started on Evian. Look at your Evian bottle in a mirror. Yeah.

uh huh

So. Cogitating on this unsettling realization that so many of the products we consume are purchased under false pretenses, I jogged in a mild panic from the den to the kitchen, where my lovely esposa was making a batch of Betty Crocker pancakes. Paranoia was setting in, so I had to check it out. I ran to the computer and googled “Betty Crocker.” Gads, sure enough. There was no such lady!! Say it ain’t so! I quote from Wiki-whatsis: “The name Betty Crocker was created for the Washburn Crosby Company, later to merge with General Mills, as a way to personalize the company’s products and customer relations. The company picked the name because it sounded warm and friendly.”

I was aghast. Agog. I needed comfort food. “Ah, pancakes. Thanks, dear. Pass the Aunt Jemima.”

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.