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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.

Here’s to the Royal Couple! Clink. Hic.

2 May

by Roger White

I simply cannot tell you what the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton meant to me. No, wait, actually I can. In four words.

Toad in the hole.

As most regular guys will attest, all the pomp and majesty and gowns and uniforms and beefeaters and archbishops and romance and cleavage do very little for us. Well, maybe the cleavage. Otherwise, to the average American Joe Blow—who comprises 92 percent of the U.S. male population (97.7 percent of Oak Hill men, huzzah!)—watching coverage of the royal hitching could be likened to sitting through a televised reading of the Congressional roll call.

Ho. Period. Hum. Exclamation point.

Highlights of the actual ceremony for us Joes?

• Posh Spice (aka Mrs. David Beckham, hubbah hubbah)

• Pippa Middleton (Kate’s sister, who followed the bride around carrying the dress’s caboose—again with the hubbahs)

• That gorgeous droptop Aston Martin the royal couple tooled down the road in. Now we’re talking. I did some research and found that this awesome ride, which Wills borrowed from his dad, is a 1969 DB6 Mk2. This car, sweeter than any bridal gown the House of Steve McQueen or whatever could produce, is fueled by a four-liter double-overhead cam six-cylinder powerplant, churning out over 280 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. Not a V6, mind you. No, this is an old-world inline six. Righteous. William cruised off to his mom’s palace using a five-speed manual transmission, by the way. So there was no playing handsies in the car; he was working a stick. How ’bout that for wedding reporting, guys?

So, anyway, about the toad in the hole. After watching the newly minted royal spouses speed away in a car likely worth more than double my lifetime earnings, I figured that was it for me—no more happy royal nuptial news, please.

Then I heard National Public Radio’s coverage of various “wedding watching” parties across the country. Apparently, many, many ladies throughout our fair land got up at three a.m. to bear personal witness to all the glitter and gowns and unicorns and such. But they didn’t simply crawl out of bed and turn on the tube. No, they gathered in brightly colored klatches, baked up all sorts of British fare, mixed up champagne and orange juice, champagne and cranberry juice, champagne and prune juice, champagne and more champagne, and made genuine little festivals out of the whole affair.

I’m thinking the female work force in the U.S. and U.K. was pretty sparse later that day.

Listening to the women carry on at these shindigs in NPR’s story made me a tad envious, I must admit—and hungry. Some of the properly British dishes served at these gala gatherings included chocolate scones, bubble and squeak, toad in the hole, egg in a basket, fruit bismarcks, smoked haddock, truffles, rashers, black pudding, and, of course, fish ’n’ chips with Guinness.

First off, bubble and squeak. Sounds like a bathtub cleaner, I know, but it’s really quite yummy. You take leftover roast and veggies, throw in some potatoes, cabbage, carrots, peas, and other odds and ends and fry it up in a pan. To be perfectly cheerio, you serve it with pickles.

Toad in the hole?  Sausages in pudding batter, slathered in onion gravy, and baked like a casserole. Sausages in anything, onions on anything, I’m there. The Pavlovian dog in me heard the bell quite plainly.

What else. Ah, yes, egg in a basket. Remember the movie Moonstruck? When Olympia Dukakis was frying up an egg in a piece of toast? Again, ding! Rashers—basically, that’s British bacon. Fruit bismarck? Easy, that’s essentially a big ol’ mixed fruit pie gobbed with powdered sugar and whipped cream. The rest of the royal rations you can probably guess.

And, of course, the whole lot is washed down with ample servings of champagne with (insert fruit here) juice and/or beer stout enough to walk on.

As I listened to the recipes pile up in this story, I realized the common denominator was booze of one sort or another. Aha! There, I determined, lay the ulterior motive for many of these stately soirées. These ladies only claimed interest in the House of Windsor’s succession rituals just to catch a buzz. Sheesh, some people.

Well, it’s all over and done with, anyway. Hand me a Miller Lite, will ya? The game is on in a few.

 

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

I’m Somebody Now!

10 Feb

by Roger White

OK, that does it. Even I have my limits. I received a Call for Contest Entries the other day from the National League of Associations. They’re wanting $75 a pop to enter publications or stories in their “internationally recongized competition of professional communicators.”

You read it right. Their competition is internationally recongized. And I are a professional communicator.

In the (censored) years I’ve been working at one of Austin’s 1,843 nonprofit associations (nine out of ten people in Austin work for Dell, a nonprofit, or the state, according to my non-scientific findings), the number of organizations that send me professional communications contests has tripled. Maybe even fourpled.

Granted, there are legitimate competitions out there in which our association competes in a number of communications categories. And these contests offer not only a shot at awards (and the corresponding banquets with free grub), but also valuable critiques and comparisons with peers in the business. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it helps us learn how to do our jobs better. But.

Some of these places that have been sending out the feelers lately, I don’t know. The National League of Associations? This begs the question, “Is there an International Association of National Association Leagues?”

On up the chain, you’ll have the Interplanetary League of International Association League Guilds. I think.

I get the image of putting two mirrors face to face, I’m not sure why.

There are other such dubious professional organizations. I do believe many of these exist only to engineer such contests, in which they:

(1)   Charge exorbitant entry fees

(2)   Offer genuine photocopied “Certificates of Recongition” (with no substantive critique) to everyone who enters, dead or alive

(3)   Tuck away a tidy sum

Everybody gets an award suitable for framing, and the contest company keeps rolling for another year.

Now, far be it from me to disparage an institution as venerable and respected as Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges, but this here National League of Associations sounds eerily similar to my experience with Who’s Who.

I must take you back. Waaay back, to my junior year in college. I won’t tell you how far back this is, but let’s just say that M*A*S*H was still on prime-time television, Toto was the hot new band, and Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC was one of the most respected NASDAQ firms in all of Wall Street. By the way, did you know that in order to reach the thirteenth level of a pyramid scheme, every living person in the world would have to be involved? Plus a few dead ones.

So. Ah, yes, I’m in college. I actually got my ducks in order that year, made good grades, got reinstated on my college newspaper staff (because they could not prove that I was driving or that any of that stuff was mine), and came in third playing drums in a campus talent show. By the end of that semester, I got an official-looking letter in the mail saying I qualified for Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges. Hot damn! Third place at the talent show probably clinched it.

Well, my folks got the same letter, and, sure enough, they ordered that year’s official Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges Compendium of Honorees. Oh, brother. It was a book as fat as the American Heritage Dictionary (unabridged), containing no less than 25,000 names and bios in tiny, little print. My mom still hasn’t found my name.

Remember the movie “The Jerk”? Steve Martin? Yeah, that scene. “The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here! I’m somebody now!”

Here’s another good example. Have you seen ads in the backs of magazines and newspapers for the National Poetry Contest? There is no entry fee, but each contestant gets a chance at not only prize money, but—staccato breath here—publication in the prestigious National Anthology of American Poems and Prose!

Aha. My gut tells me that although prize money is frugally doled (if at all), every would-be Walt Whitman gets published. The money-maker here is that 43,011 frustrated poets purchase this lovely leather-caressed Anthology of the American Spirit of Gullibility for only $69.99 to see their work hardbound. Voila! They’re published poets!

It’s a sure tipoff that a scam is brewing when one of the anthology’s featured poems begins thusly:

“There once was a young man from Nantucket . . .”

But, hey, I got a neat certificate of recongition.

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