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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.

 

Faith and Begorrah, They Have Old Dog Homes!

5 Jun

 

by Roger White

 

Well, Faith and Begorrah, you can learn something new every day. Sometimes that—and little chocolate donuts—is the only thing that spurs me to drag my sagging carcass out of the sack most mornings.

LCDAnd speaking of learning something new (and in the true spirit of the stream-of-consciousness rambling rhetoric this forum prides itself on), do you know where the term “Faith and Begorrah” comes from? Or from which it comes, to avoid a prepositionally ended sentence?

From what I’ve been able to gather, “F&B” is a traditional Irish epithet that roughly translates into “By Gosh!” The Irish, of course, being a true Almighty-fearing people, didn’t want to come right out and say “By God!” when exclaiming some revelation or sense of amazement, so “F&B” was used to avoid taking the Supreme Dude’s name in vain and thereby summoning the furious wrath of the All-Knowing One. Kind of like how we say “Jeez!” to show astonishment (or when we smack our thumb with the hammer) to be able to quasi-curse without perturbing the Head Cheese. I believe it was W.C. Fields who used to exclaim, “Well, Godfrey wcfDaniels!” to approximate the G-D swear words. It’s all a bit silly, if you ask me. I mean, do we really think that (a) we’re putting one over on the Omniscient One; and (b) they’re actually keeping a Heavenly Tally?

Me at Pearly Gates: “So, St. P, do I get in the club?”

St. Peter: “Well. You did say ‘Jeez and Crackers’ six-hundred-seventy-two-thousand times. And don’t think we don’t know what that’s about.”

Me: “Aw, Jeez.”

St. Peter: “Ya see? That’s what I’m talking about.”

Me: “Sorry.”

St. Peter: “Oh, go on in. But we’re watching you.”

Aaaaanyway. Original point coming. I opined “F&B” earlier because I received a very kindly response to my recent column about aging pets and comedian Louis C.K.’s “countdown to sorrow” routine about pet ownership. I pondered why we don’t have any old pooch’s homes. And by golly (oop), we do have them!

Reader Elaine Courtney sent me this:

“Hi, I read your column today, and as I do most weeks, enjoyed it. (Most weeks? Hey.) Dogs are my favorite subject, and I mostly rescue seniors. The reason for that is I don’t want a dog to outlive me. My oldest is Baby, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu. He is now snoring away beside me. I have three other ShihTzus, two Corgis, and one recent find, a 14-year-old Basset-Corgi, whose momma went to assisted living in March. I’ve had to say goodbye to two seniors in the past three years …. It is very difficult to let them go, but they all had several years of a great spoiled life that they might never have had.  It’s usually a circus around here, but I love my dogs, and I am lucky that I work from home.

dog-retirement“Two things: One, there are several senior doggie retirement centers around the country, and it is such a great service. I would love to do that myself. I once thought of opening a pet cemetery, but that ran out of steam.

“The other thing I wanted to mention is your Bubbie, I hope you find a good residence for her. Hopefully, that decision is much further down the road. I do older adult services, helping people with errands and chores so that they can remain in their homes or even just have company, someone to play Scrabble with.

“If you need that kind of assistance for her, if it would make her or your life easier, let me know…. Oh, and cute picture of the labradoodle puppy in your article!!”

Well, that photo was provided by Editor Will. Kudos, Will-man. And thank you, Elaine. You’re a sweetie. Payola’s in the mail.

 

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.

Of OCD and Toilet Paper and Rubber Donkeys. Nik Nik.

30 Jan

by Roger White

 

How does one know if one’s quirks and little idiosyncrasies are just mildly neurotic tendencies or behaviors that qualify as borderline OCD leanings—or perhaps even activities that could be viewed as sliding down the scale to full-blown dementia? Nik nik nik nik nik.

ocd me

I understand that we are all creatures of habit and that regular routines and daily patterns bring a sense of structure and comfort into our lives. Nik. But taking a half-hour every morning before I can begin work to make sure that my original redline Hot Wheels on my desk are all facing the same direction, at precisely the same angle, and in the same order (by date of manufacture, beginning with the earliest first—from my aqua Beatnik Bandit on down the line) may be a bit excessive, I’m beginning to think. Nik nik nik.

 

Around the house, I find that the needle on my anxiety meter begins to bounce if I don’t adhere stringently to certain customs, such as the following:

 

  • Folding the dishtowel that hangs on the oven handle just right so that one side of the towel hangs precisely even with the other.
  • sil vous plaitTurning the little ceramic French waiter who stands on our stove to the wall so he can’t beseech me with his little ceramic eyes to glue his lost, broken hand back on.
  • Religiously rescrewing the cap on the toothpaste tube in my daughter’s bathroom every time I’m in there. Little slob.
  • Making sure when I refill the TP rollers throughout the casa that the paper flows under the roll and not over. It’s an aesthetic thing. I’ve always been an under man, even though I know that hotels prefer the over position so they can make those fanciful folds in the paper. Pshaw. That’s just pretentious snobbery. It’s gotta be under. Nik.
  • Or zealously remembering every time that I pet either Ralph the dog or Max the cat to immediately seek out the other, un-petted pet if he’s in the room to give him the exact same amount of strokes so that neither of them feel inferior or somehow less loved.

 

Is this behavior normal, a tad askew, or downright wack?

 

There’s a little green, guitar-playing rubber turtle I keep next to my computer, the turtlesand he tells me, in his sing-song voice, that this is all quite ordinary and that I should remain calm. This turtle, Larry, is the sole surviving member of The Animals. This may be changing subjects in the middle of a column—or it may not, considering the topic at hand—but here is the story of Larry the turtle:

 

When I was a kid, I created a tiny rock and roll band out of my gumball-toy animals. I called them The Animals. I fashioned tiny, little instruments—guitars, a standup bass, a full drum kit, piano, and amplifiers—out of index card paper for them to play. I even made tiny, little cardstock albums with sleeves. Their manager, Irving, was a tiny gray plastic gorilla, and he drove them all around to their gigs in a little blue plastic VW bus. Nik nik. Their opening song for every gig was “Get Ready” by Rare Earth because that was my favorite 45-rpm record at the time. My friend Gary and I would set them on their shoebox stage, I’d put on the Rare Earth record and hit the black light, and the crowd (my stuffed animals and other toy creatures) would go wild. The Animals were big. They even had a yacht—a red plastic boat I’d float them around in during my nightly bath.

 

Now, at the time our family had an actual boat—a small, used four-seat outboard we would take to Lake Benbrook on the weekends. On one outing I decided to take The Animals to the lake for a high-seas adventure. For the trip home, I left them in their little craft in a seat of our family boat. When we got back home, they were gone. Somewhere along the way, they’d blown out—a tiny, little gumball-animal version of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was inconsolable. So distraught was I that my dad actually drove me all the way to the lake, and we slowly retraced our path from the water onto the road back home. Can you believe we the survivorsactually found their little red boat in the grass on the side of the road? Nik. I recovered a few of the boys, but the rest were hopelessly lost. The band gamely tried to go on, but it was never the same. Some retired or went on to everyday gumball-animal life with the other toys. Some descended into a downward spiral of alcohol and drug abuse. The little rubber donkeys were the worst. Little rubber donkeys cannot handle their toy liquor.

 

My counselor says I have to stop now. I feel better. Thanks for listening. Wait, where is everybody? Nik. Nik nik.

 

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

Get Pa Out of the Fruit Cellar–It’s Mashup Time Again

24 Jun

by Roger White

 

Simmer down. Simmer down, people. I know very well that it’s been months since I’ve indulged you with a Movie Mashup contest. And I know that you know, based on the influx of cards and letters and e-mails and texts and pokes and tweets and twits and skypes and likes and tags and yelps and yips and things. And you know that I know that you know, because here we are, revving our engines for another go. So you see, I know you know that I know that you know. You know? And furthermore…

Let’s start this again.

If you recall, what we have here, my fellow intergalactic itinerants, is a collection of famous lines from movies. However, quotes from two different movies have been smushed together to make one confused line. Here’s a for instance: “It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with Poor LucaMcFly.” That there, you see, is a conglomeration of quotes from “The Godfather” and “Back to the Future.” I suppose, then, that the mashed-up movie would be called “Back to the Godfather.” Or something. But that’s irrelevant.

What is elevant is that the name of the game is Movie Mashup. I should copyright this concept, so here you go. © 2014, by Me. All rights reserved by Me. Me Incorporated is a subsidiary of Me Enterprises, Norwalk, Connecticut.

So. Below (or to the left if you are perpendicular) are 20 Movie Mashups. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to tell moi what two movies flirted around and had relations to produce the mixed-up quote. The first 283 people to respond with any semblance of an answer win a genuine “Jesus is Coming, Hide the Bong” bumper sticker. Seriously. If you get pulled over by the cops for displaying said bumper sticker, I will not be held accountable. E-mail moi at roger.white@tasb.org with your best guesses. Void in Iowa, Algeria, and under that bridge where the dogs wear shoes. Good luck, players. And, go:

1. “Thank you for a memorable afternoon. Usually, one must go to a bowling alley to show me the money.”

2. “Milt, we’re gonna need to go ahead and move you downstairs to infinity and beyond. Mmmkay?”

butbutbut3. “Is it safe? I’m king of the world! Is it safe?”

4. “A boy’s best friend is his mother. I’ll have what she’s having.”

5. “Keep your friends close but the Barrow Gang closer.”

6. “Round up the usual suspects. They’re heeere!”

7. “Carpe diem. Seize the day, my dear Watson.”

8. “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily. May the Force be with you.”

9. “After all, tomorrow is going to be a bumpy night.”

10. “Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of hakuna matata and came out clean on the other side.”

11. “I like them french fried potaters. Is that…is that hair gel?”

12. “I am big. It’s the pictures that can’t handle the truth!”

13. “You buy a hat like this, I bet you get a free bowl of soup. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?”

Calpurnia14. “That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you’ll let him. It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”

15. “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. You guys made me ink.”

16. “That rug really tied the room together. I spared no expense.”

17. “Oh, dear. Mister Tibbs’ idea of foreplay was ‘Effie, brace yourself!’”

18. “This isn’t the real Caesar’s Palace, is it? Did Caesar really live here? We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”

19. “You know how to whistle, don’t you? Just put your lips together and dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.”

20. “What is your major malfunction, Molly? The love inside you, you take it with you.”

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.

Question for the Ages: Do Snails Get Mad?

31 Mar

by Roger White

 

So I’m sitting on my front porch on a gorgeously sunlit Sunday morning, while Ralph the dog slinks ever so farther into the fringes of the yard and out of my line of vision. He does this so he can stealthily nose through, roll around in, and snack on various dead bugs, worms, and other dogs’ indiscretions in our yard. And to think we let him sleep in our bed with us. Max the fat cat reasonable maxsimilelazes next to me, casually observing a snail making glacial progress across the sidewalk. I begin watching the snail, as well. The little guy is near the edge of the walk, mere inches from the luscious black earth of our garden. It must have taken this tiny gallant gastropod all of this morning and most of last night to ooze his way this far from the driveway, judging from his slimy trajectory, and I marvel at his determination. I figure there’s some greater life lesson here, presumably about fortitude and believing in oneself and putting your best foot forward and all that. Although technically, snails don’t have feet.

Well, to be scientifically correct, the word “gastropod” is derived from the ancient Greek term that literally means “stomach foot,” which would indicate that a snail does indeed have a foot formed from its stomach. However, this is an anthropomorphic misnomer, based on the fact that to humans it appears as if snails and slugs crawl on their bellies. In reality, as we all know, snails and slugs have their stomachs, the rest of their digestive systems, and all the rest of their molluscal viscera in a hump on the el gastropodoopposite, or dorsal, side of their bodies. In most gastropods, this visceral hump is covered by, and contained within, the shell. This will be on the test, and, no, Leonard, you can’t be excused, just hold it in.

So, technically, I’m still not sure if snails have feet.

Anyway, um. Oh, yes, well, just as Eddie Escargot is about to reach the promised land, Max the cat jumps up and bats the unfortunate mollusk back across the sidewalk. The little guy sits there, stunned, back at square one. I swear I hear a tiny, little expletive. Another life lesson, I’m thinking. You know, if at first you don’t succeed, Rome wasn’t built in a day, cats are evil bastards. Stuff like that.

I shake my head at Max’s playful cruelty, wondering if he realizes what he’s done. “Was that necessary?” I lecture. “That is one pissed-off snail.”

Then it hits me. Is it? Is that snail mad as hell and not going to take it anymore? See, these are the things that I ponder. This, among many other reasons we won’t go into in this forum, is why I don’t own or manage a productive business, am not a best-selling author, and never made it to the professional tennis circuit. I am engrossed, wifey would say distracted, by matters such as this: Do snails get angry?

one pissed snailMy curiosity piqued, I dash to the computer and google the question, “Do snails get angry?” I’m not really expecting an answer, but you never know.

Sure enough, the query comes up word for word on the WikiAnswers site. Some bozo replied, “No, slugs and snails can’t get angry because they don’t have faces and therefore can’t frown, smile, or laugh.”

Wait a minute. Snails have faces. Don’t they? So I google “snail face,” only to find a host of sites about snail facials, a Japanese spa treatment in which they smother your head in live snails, which is apparently supposed to retard the aging process because of the incredible properties found in mollusk mucus. Tokyo spas are charging $250 to slather your mug in slugs–$300 if you want to eat them later.

But again, I digress. So I dash back outside to see for myself if our torpid little traveler has a face, only to find Ralph the dog rolling all over the poor thing in the driveway. Yes, Eddie Escargot is escargone. I pick the little guy up and place him gently in the garden, his final resting place. I swear I see a hint of a grin. Snail heaven. Gastropod Valhalla. Hey, there’s a name for our garage band.

 

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 Takes a Village to Save the Squirrels

18 Nov

by Roger White                                                                              

It dawned on me the other day, as I was returning yet another socket wrench and assorted metric sockets to my neighbor Jim, that regarding many things about life and the cosmos I’m mostly talking out of my, uh, hat.

This particular moment of clarity came to me as I realized, watching my long-suffering and patient neighbor reseat his tools into their precise positions in his immaculate garage workshop, that as vociferously as I rail against modern society and pine for the days of yore, I would have lasted maybe a week and a half in the a slow squirrelolden times. My family would have lived under one of those quaint covered bridges. We would have subsisted on wild turnips and slow squirrels. Oh, who am I kidding? I wouldn’t even know how to trap a squirrel, much less cook the thing and eat it.

You see, I have no skills. Zero. Nada. Bupkiss. Save helping you proofread your short story or guiding you through the distinctions between the possessive apostrophe and the contraction apostrophe, I’m about as useful and handy as excess nose hair. I don’t build things. My attempts at simple home repair often conclude at the minor emergency clinic. I don’t use a miter box. I’m not even sure what a miter box is.

woopusThe point is, I understand now that I should be thankful to the Large Kahuna that I live in a time and place where hammering nouns and verbs into place can actually put food on the table for me and mine. I’m sure the squirrels are thankful, too. Especially the slow ones. Life in the era of barter and wampum and manual dexterity would have been a tad severe for yours truly. As Quint said to Richard Dreyfuss’s character in Jaws, “You have city hands, Mr. Hooper.” City hands, indeed. And a city brain.

And thus, with this dawning, came the glow of appreciation for guys like Jim. This may also be a Large Kahuna type of thing, but is it mere happy circumstance that so many of my family’s friends and neighbors are people who can really do things? I mean, criminy, there’s Jim next door, who can fashion anything from an acoustic guitar to a backyard deck from a piece of tree bark; there’s Matt across the street, who’s fixed our computer so many times that when I call him now, instead of saying hello, he simply says, “I’m coming.” There’s our friend Rodney the homebuilder, who put our bedroom ceiling back together that time I fell through the attic. And there’s neighbor Glen, whose truck has saved us so many delivery fees through the years that we’ve been able to buy a new dryer. Oh, about that truck this weekend, Glen…

You get the picture. Sans our friends and neighbors, we’d be out several grand a month just keeping the place running. Ya ever try to bargain with a refrigerator repairman by offering to conjugate his verbs?

I’m astounded at the amazing people around me—not just because they can actually accomplish the things they do with their minds and hands, but because they have such generosity of spirit. I think sometimes if I were Jim, and the clod next door rang my bell yet again beseeching me to diagnose his ailing garbage disposal, I’d seriously consider feigning a communicable disease. Or keeping the lights off until my nettlesome neighbor went away. Not Jim. Not Matt or Glen or Rodney. They answer every time.

i build sentencesSo yeah. Color me humbly mindful that it takes a village. It takes a village of wonderful folks to keep me from having to wear “Will Edit for Food” signs on the streetcorner. I’m earnestly thankful. As are the squirrels, I’m sure.

 

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 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.

The Curmudgeon Showeth His Crust. Again.

23 Jul

by Roger White

It has been brought to my attention recently by more than one loyal reader of TOS that yours truly is nothing more than a crust-covered curmudgeon completely lacking in human compassion and with all the warmth and fuzziness of a diarrhetic barracuda. And that was one of the more genteel comments. Let me just say in my defense that this is not crust. It’s a fine patina of earthbound experience. Tip: baby oil keeps it soft and supple.

Honestly, I have no problem with humanity; it’s the people I can’t stand. People are the worst. Don’t you just hate them?

As long as we’re on topic, and my curmudgeonly cockles have been stimulated, I figured you’d be tickled to be privy to my latest list of grouses and gripes. Yes, these are the things that brown my lettuce, the things that really grind my crankshaft. Curdle my half & half. Chap my — you get the idea.

Athletes and coaches who thank God for their victory.

It’s not so bad, I guess, when pious jocks praise the Almighty for their health and well-being, but seriously, do you really think The Omnipotent One, tasked with thankya Lordwatching over the vast infinity of the cosmos, gives a greasy rat’s behind whether your squad of performance-enhanced mutants scores more points than the other squad of gargantuan goons? If God gave the nod to your team, what does that say about the other guys? And what about when you lose? Is God a waffler? Did He miss that game?

Bicyclists who don those ridiculous faux-competition outfits and aerodynamic helmets.

Pleeeeeze. You’re not in the Tour; the little logos and patches all over your form-fitting body suit are fake and we all know it; and your $750 racing helmet makes you look like a special-needs case. Ya know what I wear when I ride my bike? Shorts and a t-shirt. Works great! Fortunately, with the fall from grace of our own Lancy Pants, some of these pretentious pedalers have ridden into the sunset. Just some of them, mind you.

Republicans AND Democrats.

I hate all politicians, truly. Our whole political system has devolved into entrenched, grandstanding ideologues determined only to curry favor with their followers so they can keep their posh digs and beltway “escorts.” They all preach to the lowest common denominator—mainly fear. Whatever happened to working together—to thoughtfully searching for the most workable compromise? Yes, compromise. Just how and when did that become a dirty word? Look up the definition. Compromise—especially today—is a good thing. It’s how we get along. Someone should read Webster’s definition of the word to members of Congress every day. And then start throwing pies.

Nancy Grace.

I am utterly sick of her fat face. Every time I see her on the tube, I want to slap the Nancethat self-righteous, smug smirk of hers right into next week. Nancy Grace is the reason I still have my foam brick handy to throw at the TV set. Well, her and the Cowboys.

Bureaucracy and all of its attendant inanities.

Here’s an example: Why do we have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms? Who in their right mind thought of lumping these concerns together under one roof? I called up the ATF the other day to ask that very question, but the person who answered the phone referred me to the Department of Frontage Roads, ATF Inquiries and Dairy Products. And why does the Texas Railroad Commissioner oversee the state’s gas and oil concerns? I be befuddled.

Twitter.

I don’t care what’s “trending,” I have absolutely no interest in what Kanye West had for lunch; and I have no need to be apprised of every one of my old college chums’ whereabouts 24/7. Plus I’ve lost all human contact with my two teenage daughters, Lindsey and whatshername.

The Sunday comics.

Calvin and Hobbes is gone; so is Blondie, The Far Side, etc. I used to look forward to Sunday mainly for the funny pages. The words “funny” and “pages” don’t go uh yeahtogether when describing the drek being produced today. Alongside the dull-witted Ziggy and the predictably foul-tempered fat feline Garfield, we have Luann, Get Fuzzy, Candorville, Buckles, and a motley collection of amateur drivel that makes the comic strip that appeared in my college newspaper (whose main character was a cow patty) seem hilarious and incisive by comparison.

OK, that’s about it for now. I feel better. You?

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.

Are We Fiddling Around Like Nero?

25 Sep

by Roger White

“The decline . . . was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. . . .”

—Historian Edward Gibbon on the decay and fall of Rome

“Why Bieber’s mom won’t have sex”

—CNN web site headline dated September 19, 2012

At first blush it may appear that these two quotes have about as much to do with each other as atomic theory and bacon grease, but to the keen observer inhabiting the proper frame of mind and sipping the necessary amount of espresso, the connection is readily apparent. The former is an explanation of one of an interconnected tangle of reasons for the decline of a great civilization. The latter is a symptom of same.

Ancient Rome didn’t have the internet, but you can be sure that at the height of the empire’s power, with little to challenge Romans but their own idleness, the scuttlebutt among the average corpulent, indolent citizens lounging about their atriums had much to do with which senator’s wife had been seen with a certain centurion after hours near the Pantheon. Or perhaps who would be featured next weekend at the Colosseum in “Gladiating with the Stars.”

Throughout America’s rise to power, particularly after World War II and again with the fall of the Soviet Union, many casual historians likened the U.S. to ancient Rome, both as a comparative study and a cautionary tale. From many of these same armchair history buffs came the postulate-cum-warning that Rome fell from within. Both statements are greatly oversimplified—America is certainly not the Roman Empire; and the decline of Rome occurred for many complex reasons—however, the tantalizing prospect of a circumstantial connection between the two is too intriguing to ignore.

By the time the Huns and Vandals were threatening the very walls of Rome herself in the 5th century A.D., the empire had been degraded through years and years of decay, corruption, internal strife, and general malaise. The culture that had built the world’s mightiest civilization had stagnated. In other words, Rome had grown lazy and fat. Its armies were so far-flung across the known globe that the once invincible legions could not defend even the capital city.

I’m not holding forth that the descendants of Attila will come rampaging up Pennsylvania Avenue anytime soon, but you must admit that events and trends from within and without our great country give any thinking person pause. We, as a nation, are fat and lazy. Most Americans don’t do much physical labor on a daily basis anymore. We are at our most overweight and short of breath than we’ve ever been. We don’t save anymore; the average American family carries about $5,000 in credit card debt—at a time when job security is at its worst in decades. We used to buy only when we had the money. Our national economy, anchored by financial institutions with questionable lending practices and regulated by insiders with personal interests at stake, teeters like a house of cards. Our arts—literature, music, film and television—are in a state of upheaval as publishers, producers, and purveyors of entertainment chart confused courses in their attempts to grasp new media, often leading to drastic actions such bookstore and music outlet closings, the demise of longtime news and publishing houses, and frustration and despair for many promising artists and writers. With more channels to choose from than ever before, TV now offers arguably the worst product in its history. Ironically, the great many cable choices chopped up major advertising dollars, which has prompted producers to grind out lower- and lower-budget shows in a pathetic race to the bottom. And perhaps most telling, news isn’t news anymore. It’s gossip. With an unlimited number of outlets, through practically boundless media technology, the goal is not to inform anymore—the bottom line is to attract the most viewers with the most lurid headlines; thus, to nab the precious advertising dollars. Hence, you have an intrepid reporter telling you why Bieber’s mom won’t have sex.

Last but least, our self-seeking politicians have abandoned any semblance of civil discourse to rabidly defend their respective party lines to the complete detriment of any action toward the advance of our society. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, yet no one among them stands to say so. And nothing gets done.

There are those historians who argue that Rome never really fell. It simply degenerated into irrelevance. Sure sounds like a cautionary tale to me.

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.