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Of Hot Tubs & Casinos — and TV, Of Course

5 Aug

by Roger White

Well, we finally got our dinky little first-generation hot tub working again. Hot dog! And I do mean hot dog. Sitting in a hot tub in August is a bit peculiar. And embarrassing. OK, it’s downright dumb. It’s been over a year since the wheezing old water-swirler showed any signs of life, and I must tell you, if you own a hot tub and you let it go stagnant and broken for, oh, about a year—for God’s sake, DON’T LOOK UNDER THE COVER!

It took five and a half days, but the county folks in hazmat suits got the tub and surrounding area cleaned up quite adequately. Some of the aquatic life the nice gentlemen pulled from the tub they shipped to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts for further study. The whole back yard smelled like old bananas and dead carp all weekend.

Anyway, the fine/jail time from the county was pretty reasonable! I didn’t know they had any ordinances on residential outdoor bathing facility sanitation. We can’t have guests or small children in the tub for six months, and then only after what they call “day-of” inspections. These guys are strict.

Note to self: Next time the hot tub goes on the fritz and you don’t plan on fixing it right away, kindly drain it. Sheesh.

I kid. The county folks didn’t come out in hazmat suits. My wife and I wore the hazmat suits.

Seriously, after all the cash and time and more cash getting the watery money pit working again, the wife and I eyed each other and wondered why we did this in the dead of summer. I suspect this winter we’ll fix our homemade ice cream churn.

But, all in all, last weekend was not bad. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 7 3/8ths, which is pretty darn exemplary in my book. You see, with the wife and girls out shopping, as I lay fallow on the couch praying for anything better than “World’s Most Daring” on TV, there it was, opening credits rolling: Casino.

Oh, yes. Casino. If that’s not one of your top 10 all-time action/gangster/ Vegas movies, then I’m sorry, you are stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT anti-stupid. Some of my best friends are the stupidest people I’ve ever met. And ugly! Wait a minute. My point was, ooooh, Casino. DeNiro, and Pesci, and Stone, and the dumb cowboy hick columnist who played the dumb cowboy hick slot machine boss. Don Rickles, even! Casino is probably the best movie in the world for movies that say f*#! more than 100 times. I would lay money on that.

This got me thinking. I started pondering what a killer concept it would be to have Casino versions of other shows. Let’s see, for example, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”:

“Oh, Rob!”

“Shut the f*#! up, you capri-pant-wearing muthah…”

Or “Gilligan’s Island”:

“Wait a minute, little buddy. What’s the gun for?”

“What do you mean, what’s the gun for, you fat f*#!. Now I know why you wanted bottom bunk, you mutha….”

“But little buddy—”

“Put the stone-carved bowling ball down, Skipper. I got the gun. You be nice. Don’t f*#! up in here.”

OK, maybe not. But I must say that just when I became utterly convinced that we now live in the most pathetic, tripe-ridden era of “television entertainment” (oxymoron!), my daughters showed me how to get Netflix through our video gaming system. I have absolutely no idea how this works, but it works. Now I can watch “Twilight Zone” or “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”—two of the best shows ever produced—any old time I want. I can even pick the episode! Like the one where Telly Savalas is the mean stepdad, and the new doll his stepdaughter buys tells him she’s going to kill him. Classic. Or the one… oh, never mind.

(The previous paragraph brought to you by Netflix. Writer of the previous paragraph is not a columnist but plays one on TV and has been duly compensated. Previous paragraph was performed on a closed course with professional stunt writers. Do not attempt at home.)

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


All Aboard the E-Train!

31 May

by Roger White


I give. Uncle. Consider the amalgam of these words on this here page a verbal white flag. The great, crashing wave of technology, ultra-instant everything, modern living, and seven days a week of genius minds such as Glenn Beck has washed over me like a great, uh, a great crashing wave washing over me. That’s called a 360 metaphor—or redundaphor. I invented it, so if you use the redundaphor, you must write me for my permission. And put $1.55 in quarters in the envelope.

Anyway, I have ceased, as of this writing, digging my heels in against the onslaught. Everything and everything’s brother is electronic now, so survival actually depends on accepting the e-world, doesn’t it? Besides, my heels hurt.

Think about it. Just about every corner of life has an “e-” in front of it now. See here:

  • We have e-exercise. I actually sprained something playing Wii tennis the other day—and our den is now in need of a new sliding glass door. I swear I heard the little Wii guy snickering. It’s difficult and demeaning, in my opinion, to lose to a smiling computer opponent whose cartoon body is eerily reminiscent of the Weeble toys from the early ’70s. If you’re too young to remember Weebles (“they wobble, but they don’t fall down!”), then you’re too young to read this column anyhow. So go on. Git.
  • We have e-gambling. And just because your friendly e-gambling provider is based off shore south of Cuba somewhere, do not for one minute think they don’t have access to your home address, your work address, or guys named Rocco. This information comes from a friend of mine. Yeah.
  • There’s e-tax paying. All I’ll say here is that this organization has the same contacts as the establishment mentioned immediately above.
  • There’s e-school, e-friending, e-flirting, e-sex, e-marriage, e-affairs, e-divorce (note the rather chronological order here); heck, there’s even e-bankruptcy.
  • We also have e-cigarettes. Have you seen these? The e-cigarette looks just like your standard 20th-century Marlboro, but it’s basically a robot cigarette. Tiny electronic diodes and things give you a lungful of water vapor when you take a drag, but you still feel cool and hip because as far as anyone else knows, you’re still smoking and genuinely playing chicken with cancer like the good old days. The e-cigarette people have taken it a bit too far, though. You can fill your e-ciggy with any flavor imaginable, from strawberry and mocha coffee to grilled rhubarb and spring-scented Pine Sol. I guess you could use these unique aromas (odors?) to your advantage, however. Say you’re a female at a party being hit upon by that obnoxious paunchy guy who never takes the hint. Pop in the flavor cartridge labeled “Unwashed Southern European Cab Driver” and you’ll have the entire back deck of the party to yourself.


There are many more e-examples. And I’m saying to you here and now, I embrace them all. Bring ’em on. In fact, I’m writing this very column on what they call a “computer.” Yes, it was scary, but I put the pencil and paper away, I kissed my beloved Pink Pearl giant block eraser farewell, and began composing these words on a “keyboard.” Seriously!

And now that I’ve welcomed the new e-age, I say let’s explore the boundaries. Where can we go from here? What have our best and e-brightest minds not conjured yet? What about e-beer? Pretty much all of our other vices are available at the drop of a Caps Lock now, so why not brewski? There is an i-phone app that looks like a cold one being poured out; they just need to take it a step further. I envision that you touch your lips to your i-device while it’s in e-beer mode, and a wonderful pilsner flavor fills your mouth—accomplished via thousands of itty-bitty bionic creepy crawlers about the size of Glenn Beck’s brain. Oops, sorry. I promised myself I wouldn’t mention that guy more than once a column. No calories, just e-beer flavor.

You could have an e-burping option if you want the whole, true-to-life pilsner package.

How about e-travel? I guess we have that now with I-max theaters and multi-media travelogues. As with e-beer, however, this could be rendered more realistic with items such as a 3-D e-airport security app, complete with groping fingers, e-lost luggage, and, of course, e-stuck in a Turkish prison because the customs guys didn’t believe it was e-marijuana.

Let’s see. E-war? Remember that old Star Trek episode, where the two rival planets did away with all the messy fighting and bombs and things and simply pre-selected casualties (via computer, of course)? If your number was drawn—sorry, pal, you just became soylent green. I don’t know, that one might need more baking.

I guess this segues into e-death. I know, it’s a rather morbid way to end this installment. But there is a bit of logic here, in a what-goes-around-comes-around kind of fashion. For all our advances into e-this and i-that, we invented e-death a long time ago. Remember Old Sparky? Today, we’d call it the e-chair. Well, I guess for it to be truly electronic versus simply electric, the switch would need to be in Austin and the chair du char somewhere remote, like South Austin. Ew, that is a downer, indeed. You can see how I had to throw it in, though, right?

Suffice to say, I’m on board the e-train with all appendages. Life at the speed of electrons! By the way, if you want extra copies of this column for friends, neighbors, and enemies, send me a self-addressed stamped envelope and I’ll send you a genuine handwritten copy. Allow four to six weeks for delivery.


Roger White is a freelance writer living in Oak Hill with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit