Tag Archives: Sports

…Only to Find Gideons’ Flatscreen

23 Jul

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Well, I’m back, my fellow existential exam-takers. Just flew in from the far reaches of my psyche, and, boy, are my neural dendrites tired. Actually, I’ve been in Baltimore, but it’s about the same.

 

Although I was encamped in the city’s trendy Inner Harbor for bidness purposes, I did partake of some of the local tourist fare, which involved, in various proportions, many images of Fort Wipken WayMcHenry, the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, mounds of Maryland blue crabs (and all the accompanying crab hammers and pliers and crab-innard removers and bibs and things), and thousands upon thousands of orange-clad Orioles fans. Note: Every third street, boulevard, and/or quasi-large building in Baltimore proper is named for Cal Ripken, Jr. There’s Cal Ripken Road, Cal Ripken Way, Cal Ripken Hair Restoration Clinic, you name it.

 

For those of you non-baseballites, Ripken, nicknamed the “Iron Man,” played for the O’s for something like 173 years, and he holds the major league record for consecutive games played. He Call Calsuited up and took the field for—seriously, now—2,632 games without so much as a potty break, or something like that. Anyway, the folks of Baltimore worship the guy. There’s even an Our Lady of the Shortstop Catholic Church near Camden Yard, where parishioners bless themselves with the sign of the 8 and refer to themselves as Cal-tholics. OK, not really. I kid.

 

Anyhow, the city its own self wasn’t nearly as crime-infested as I had pictured it. For many years, Baltimore carried a not-so-savory reputation with regard to one’s personal safety. The pro basketball team wasn’t called the Baltimore Bullets for nothing. They were going to be called the Baltimore Brick Upside the Heads, but they couldn’t fit it all on the team jerseys. However, I must say that during my brief stay near the Chesapeake, I was accosted not once—unless you count the very large, very moist man with the Phil Spector hair and leopard-print thong singing Paul Anka’s “Having My Baby” at the top of his lungs. I wasn’t sure if he was panhandling, making some sort of pro-life statement, or on the run from the Cal Ripken Clinic for Mood Disorders, but I ponied up a fast fiver and got the hell out of there.

 

A bit off topic from Baltimore per se, but I have to report—the Spouseman not having lodged at the finer inns on my own dime for a good while—that I was thoroughly gobsmacked with regard to one particular aspect of my accommodations. Hotels, I have come to conclude, are absolutely convinced that their guests cannot go one fraction of a second without access to a television. Gads, man. There was a TV in the bathroom—built into the mirror, mind you—a TV in the elevator, a tiny telly on each treadmill in the fitness room, a TV on every wall of the lobby, several in the bar, TVs in the restaurant, etc., etc., etc. CNN, Fox News, and General Hospital were everywhere. Live with Kelly and Michael was practically ubiquitous. I didn’t really need that last sentence to make my point, but I enjoy using the word “ubiquitous” whenever possible. I can be obsequious, dare I say insouciant, like that sometimes.

gotta have

With the preponderance of boob tubes, I found it a tad ironic when I read the little sign in the john that instructed me to please reuse my towels. The hotel explained on its quaint recycled-paper missive that it was trying to help the planet and save money—which would, of course, keep their rates lower—by asking that visitors gently reuse their towels during their stay. I kinda figured they could save a bit more if they gently stopped cramming high-dollar television sets into every conceivable space they could find. I, for one, do not require a flatscreen, high-definition TV built into my toilet paper dispenser.

 

On the plane ride home, I actually considered writing to the hotel manager about my concerns, but the tiny little TV in the seatback in front of me was gently playing an Andy Griffith Show rerun. So I got sidetracked. It was a really good one, though. The one where Aunt Bee enters her kerosene-flavored pickles in the county fair…

 

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.

 

 

 

Excitement Is ‘High’ for This Year’s Big Game

27 Jan

by Roger White

Excitement is building to a fever pitch as sporting enthusiasts everywhere gear themselves up for the biggest event of the season—I’m talking, of course, about National Read in the Bathtub Day set for February 9. Seriously, there is a National Read in the Bathtub Day; you can check it out on Facebook. According to the event’s NRIBDonline site, as many as 66 people all across our fair land are planning to attend NRIBD festivities. Mind you, I’m not at all certain whether all 66 of them are going to read in the same bathtub. If so, however, I want photos.

Just joshing. As pumped as I am about NRIBD, I’m referring to the big daddy—ye olde Super Bowl. Or as it’s officially called these days: the Super Nokia AT&T Citibank Anheuser Busch Cadillac Dorito’s Coca-Cola GoDaddy Bowl®TM©(all rights reserved, patent pending). Best I can determine, televised pre-game activities begin at 6:30 a.m. February 2, but actual kickoff of the actual game is actually about 8:30 that night. Or maybe the next night, who knows?

The most fascinating aspect of this year’s big game is the intrigue surrounding the teams involved—the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. Sure, it’s a matchup of the league’s Number 1 offense versus the Number 1 defense; and, yeah, it’s seasoned veteran Peyton Manning versus young sensation Russell Wilson. But that ain’t what I’m harping about. It’s Denver and Seattle, man. Think about it—teams from two of the vanguard states pushing the envelope for the legalization of marijuana. Talk about a hawks hookahSuper “Bowl.” See what I did there?

Although fans will surely be as high as so many kites for this clash of titans, I would imagine the stadium will be only partially filled—not because some lamebrain decided they should play outdoors in New Jersey in the dead of winter. No, I’m thinking many of the Colorado and Washington faithful will forget where they put their tickets. Or they’ll get lost between their hotels and MetLife Stadium. Here’s hoping they have a crowd cam constantly surveying the stands. I predict many spontaneous Bob Marley sing-alongs, beachball-tossing contests involving bikini-clad girls riding on the shoulders of thin bearded men, and impromptu tantric yoga sessions. Fans will likely attempt “the wave” at some point, but they will get confused when they stand up, and many will simply leave, trying to remember why they stood up in the first place.

I would also lay money on the prospect of hot dog, nacho, and candy bar concessions running dry before halftime. Pizza delivery shops and Chinese takeout places throughout the greater East Rutherford metropolitan area will all be on call for emergency delivery to the stadium.

Rumor has it that the originally scheduled halftime show, which was set to feature Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, has been scrapped to cater more to the cherrygarciatastes of these unique fan bases. That’s right, halftime will consist of the Grateful Dead, Puff Daddy, and a reading of Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, as performed by Cheech Marin.

In a related development, a whole host of companies went into a mad scramble to buy television advertising spots when they realized this unprecedented opportunity. Yep, you’ll be seeing ads for Lay’s Baked Dorito’s, Mr. Natural Toasted English Muffins, Billabong Surfwear, the new Chevy Blazer, and, of course, Stoned Wheat Thins.

I’ve heard that the governors of the respective states even lobbied the NFL to have the timing of the kickoff moved to precisely 4:20. If you have to look that one up, then you’re just real square, daddy-o.

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.

Austin, I Love Ya–But Enough with the Festivals Already

12 Mar

by Roger White

 

Enough. I’m festivaled out. I can’t muster the strength to attach one more day-glo wristband to my tired, old wrist.

 

Don’t get me wrong—I love Austin. I really do. I love the laid-back jeans-and-sneakers milieu; I love the true Tex-Mex food and killer margaritas; I love the endless live-music yummmselections; I love the weather (except for the kiln-like days of July and August); and I do relish the fact that li’l ol’ Austin is the one blue-tinted bastion of rational thought and human compassion amid a red sea of fear mongering and “I got mine—git yers, dammit” mentality.

 

But Austin, enough with the festivals already. As I write this, we’re deep in the throes of South by Southwest (SXSW to you hipsters), an extended music party that runs pretty much all of March. It used to be mainly a music thing, but now SXSW includes films, speeches, hipster nerd gatherings, and all sorts of interactive events, whatever that really means. Seriously, what constitutes an “interactive event”? If I get up from my desk to get coffee, and I bump into Larry at the coffee machine, and Larry says “Hi, Rog, how ’bout them Cowboys? Ha, ha, ha,” and I tell Larry to clam up, doesn’t that qualify as an interactive event? Didn’t we just interact back there? I hate Larry.

 

Anyway, this here SXSIXWI thing sucks in about 18 million people from all over the planet, and it makes getting around town a royal pain in my interactive regions. There is no place to park; every downtown bar suddenly charges ten bucks for a beer; and there are some mighty weird-looking people roaming around. Lots of them. I’m talking weird for Austin. That, my friends, is nuclear weird.

 

The one thing I do enjoy about mega-fests such as XXSWXSIW is perusing the band names. Here are a few of the outfits performing this year, I kiddeth you not: The Airborne Death by Death or somethingToxic Event, BadBadNotGood, Bass Drum of Death, Bloody Knives, Bombay Show Pig, The Creepy Creeps, Diarrhea Planet, Flosstradamus, Gringo Star, Idiot Glee, Marijuana Deathsquads, Mutilation Rites, Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Two Cow Garage, Warm Soda, The Wet Nuns, and, of course, Zorch.

 

Somehow I envision Two Cow Garage and Diarrhea Planet on the same bill, don’t ask me why.

 

However, my gentle flock, I’m not here to rail merely against SXSKXIW, but the perplexing proliferation of all these pagan parties all over my picturesque place. Man, Austin is averaging almost a festival a week, I’m telling ya. In addition to SXSW, we have the Austin City Limits Festival, the Annual Kite Festival, Star of Texas Rodeo, Circuit of ACL Dudethe Americas Formula 1 Race, the Annual Bun Run, Austin Marathon, Eeyore’s Birthday Party, Pecan Street Festival, that X-rated Carnaval Skin Thing, the Fun Fun Fun Fest, Austin Film Festival, Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, and a ton of others I’m forgetting at the moment.

 

Call me old, call me fuddy, call me duddy even, but enough with the glow sticks and the turkey legs and roasted corn and too much cleavage all over the place and waiting in line for an hour to use a porta-potty that smells like a Two Cow Garage. Sheesh. Now, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “Well, if you don’t like the festivals, you don’t have to go, you old coot.” Right you are, but wifey and I have two teenage daughters—two teenage daughters who feel it is their duty to attend every single cotton-pickin’ happening that happens through town.

 

So guess who’s driving in the middle of all this mess, so these daughters don’t suffer the gobbler leglife-altering trauma of missing out on Diarrhea Planet or The Airborne Toxic Event, hmm? That’s right, my wife. Hey, honey, can you pick up a turkey leg while you’re there?

 

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.

 

So That’s Why They Call it the Poop Deck! OMG!!!

14 Feb

by Penelope Ashe

 

Editor’s note: While “This Old Spouse” columnist Roger White continues his recovery yowzaand convalescence from male breast-reduction surgery, guest columnist Penelope Ashe has agreed to offer her wacky, offbeat observations and unique comic stylings with her very own “From Penelope’s Pen.”

 

Hi, out there!!! Penelope Ashe here!!! First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Penelope Ashe, and I am an XX-year-old divorcee living in Bastrop, Texas, with my two adorable poodles and one snarky, mean old cat. You didn’t really think I was going to tell you how old I was, did you? Hahahahaha!!!

I have an online associate’s degree from Belford University, I was an actress and singer in Houston (actually, the suburb of Sealy!) for several years (Shakey’s Olde Time Dinner Theatre), and I have my own Pinterest following in the disciplines of scrapbooking and merkin weaving. My friends and family have always told me how funny and witty I am, so when I found out about this chance to write my very own funny column, I just couldn’t resist!!!

Well, anyway, enough about me, on to the humor!!! Are you ready???

Did you hear about that cruise ship that got stuck in the ocean without any power? OMG, it floated around in the Gulf of Mexico for days, while passengers had to wait in line for like ever for food—and they had to do their business in buckets!!! I guess that gives a new meaning to the word “poop deck,” huh? Hahaha!!!

And what’s up with that Charlie Sheen character? OMG x 2!!! What I don’t understand is that after all his misbehavior (do you really think he drank real tiger’s blood?), he gets another zillion-dollar contract to star in another TV show?!? Do you think if I acted up sheenlike that that I would get my very own TV show? Maybe something like “Here’s Penelope” or “A*S*H*E”—get it? (Like “M*A*S*H” except a little different.) By the way, did you know that they have a sitcom in the Philippines called “Ful Haus,” based on the all-time classic American show “Full House”? Isn’t there a law? Anyway, with Mr. Sheen being a total wackjob like he is, I don’t blame his brother, Emilio Estevez, for taking a stage name.

How about poor Lance Armstrong, huh? Everyone in this part of the world pretty much worshiped the ground he rode on until all the steroid accusations against him were proven to be true. We had a Lance Armstrong bike path, Lance Armstrong Avenue; everybody wore his little yellow wristbands, etc., etc. And now everybody in and around Austin rides their bikes wearing their aerodynamic helmets and faux Lancecompetition outfits, looking quite ridiculous if you ask me. I’m sure many of them would have given their left you-know-what to be Lance Armstrong—which is real funny if you know that Mr. Armstrong only has one you-know-what? Hahahahah!!! And now Lance has admitted that it’s all true—Lance was lanced with hypodermic needles more times than a drug addict. I guess you could say he was a drug pedaler. Get it???!!!

You know, for some reason, every time I try to actually say “hypodermic needles,” I end up saying “hypodeemic nerdles.” I always thought that would be a great name for a garage band. The Hypodeemic Nerdles!!! What do you think? Anyhoot,….

Can you believe the Pope is heading off to retirement? I didn’t know they could do that? Can you just picture him in a baggy bathing suit, long black socks and sandals, with his tall Pope hat on, scouring the beach with his metal detector. I guess now that he’s no longer on the job, they’ll call him Ex Benedict. Hee hee hee!!! Like the breakfast.

Apparently, we just missed being hit by a giant asteroid, only by a few hundred miles or look outso. Did you hear that? Whew!!! That would have been a really rocky end, huh? It would lend a new meaning to getting really stoned, huh? Talk about getting stuck between a rock and a hard place!!! Hoohooooo!!!!

Well, I guess that’s all for now, readers!!! If you want to join my Pinterest site for scrapbooking, just tweet #penelopespals@283, and I’ll be sure to reply. Air kisses and e-hugs!!!

 

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. Penelope Ashe, author of “Naked Came the Stranger,” is a part-time cosmetologist at Sue’s Salon in Cement, Texas.

January in Austin S’not What It Ought to Be

14 Jan

by Roger White

 

I hate this time of year. Absolutely despise it. Might even throw in the word “loathe.”

 

It’s not just because half the trees and plants across the landscape are now dead and brown, looking more like bare nerve endings protruding from the ground than blossoming flora. It’s not just because Christmas has come and gone and yet again Merry Xmas to MeSanta did not see fit to deliver my red Carrera 911. And it’s not just because the Dallas Cowboys again found new and innovative ways to underperform their way right out of the playoff picture for another season. 

 

No, the principal reason I hate this time of year is because of the frenetic over-pollinating behavior of the Central Texas area’s most evil living thing—the lovely juniper bush, or Juniperus ashei, as the ancient Latin allergy sufferers called it. As afflictions go, cedar fever ranks somewhere near the bubonic plague or the Devil Dustheartbreak of psoriasis in my book. It’s not even labeled correctly; it should be called juniper fever, but I guess that doesn’t have the right ring to it. I used to wonder why I never really took to gin as a cocktail ingredient—now I suppose I know. Gin’s chief ingredient—juniper juice—is my arch enemy.

 

Every January, like clockwork, 93.7 percent of my days are filled with sneezing, itching, running, snorting, wiping, weeping, draining misery. My eyes mutate into puffy, sightless slits. My nose becomes a fleshy faucet. Until I receive my annual double-shot in the posterior, by which I am pumped full of enough steroids to win at least a couple Tours de France, I have the unhappy choice of either sequestering myself indoors like a hanky-clutching bubble boy or ingesting enough decongestants to tranquilize a sperm whale. Snotty or sleepy—those are my alternatives.

 Stickemup i mean achoo

Yes, when you see me wearing the facial covering primarily used by bird flu victims and bank robbers, you know it’s cedar fever season. I really hate this time of year.

 

The weather guys aren’t much help, either. They seem to take particular delight in pointing out every year how the insidious explosions of lime-colored pollen dust created by these evil evergreens can be seen from space. Every time I hear that snide meteorological tidbit, I wish I was in space, orbiting miles high over the terrible clouds of congestion. Yes, I’d be floating weightless, drinking Tang, and laughing at the zillions of juniper spores, trying vainly to reach me. And I suppose because I’m in space, I’d be an astronaut, which would be really cool. Hey, what’s this button do?

 

Wait, where were we?

 

Oh, yes. Cedar fever. It’s not any fun for those around me, either. The noises I make whilst suffering from this dastardly winter devil have been likened by family, friends, and coworkers to everything from a cow pulling its hoof out of the mud to a garbage disposal attempting to grind up peanut butter. It ain’t pretty.

 

It’s gotten so bad in recent years that I decided to petition the State Legislature for some sort of relief. As of yet, my dutiful lawmakers have failed to respond, so I have now turned to the governor’s office, looking for a proclamation outlawing juniper germination or perhaps the establishment of Planned Pollenhood or something. Unfortunately for me and those of my ilk, our governor is staunch in his right-to-rhinitis views. So I see little hope of a reprieve from the executive branch. Ooh, I said branch. Sniffle.

 

I suppose the only way for me to find shelter from this seasonal snot storm is to my winter homemove away for a couple of months out of the year. So how about this: I’m offering a trade—anyone living in Micronesia, Kaua’i, or the Sandals Resort in Negril, Jamaica, can reside rent-free for the months of January and February in my lovely Austin home if I can live in yours during the same time period. Amenities included, just please feed the dog and the kids.

 

I really, really hate this time of year.

 

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.

 

Should My Friends Keep the Dog or Find a New Pup?

2 Jan

by Roger White

Let me tell you a story. By sharing this story I know that I will feel much better. I’m not sure if you’ll feel better after reading it, but that’s not really my concern. I desperately need to tell it.

These good friends of mine, you see, have this dilemma. They own this scruffy, smiley dog, with the obligatory cute puppy dog eyes. For the most part, he’s well-behaved and has even learned to do some pretty good tricks. But this mutt is a bit of a problem pooch.

confounding canineThey’ve had this dog since about 2004, when they picked him up from eastern Illinois. The little guy showed lots of promise, and he was lively. He’s always been lively and entertaining, scrambling around, causing havoc and fun. But they trained him well—or so they thought. The pup began showing signs of misbehaving terribly, however, at the worst possible times. One cold January in 2007, for example, when my friends were visiting in Seattle, the little fellah did some very smelly business in a most public of places. My friends were mortified and went home in shame.

Back home in Irving, my friends seemed pleased with the pooch as time went by—until almost exactly a year later. It was another cold January, in 2008, as my friends were hosting a bunch of folks from New York, when the dizzy dog did it again. Another stinker. It was yet another humiliation for my good friends.

In 2009, my friends built a new place in Arlington—and this place included a fantastic area where this dog could play. It turns out that this is one of the fanciest places for a dog to play anywhere! They hoped this might improve his behavior. It didn’t. A discouraging pattern began to emerge: Whenever my friends needed this schizophrenic hound to be on confounding caninehis best behavior, he would almost certainly stink up the place. In December 2008 while visiting in Philadelphia, in January 2010 in Minnesota, in December 2011 visiting those same folks in New York—no matter where they took this maddening mutt, he always managed to do exactly the wrong thing at precisely the wrong time, turning what could have been an enjoyable time into a disaster.

A most recent incident may have been the backbreaker, however. While on a nice visit to Washington, D.C., this past December, my good friends were stunned when this confounding canine did it again—right there in the nation’s capital. More smelly awfulness.

Perhaps it has something to do with winter or cold weather. It could be something about public places, being with a lot of people. Who knows? The head-scratching part of this confounding caninewhole ordeal is that the little guy has generally been a good dog. In fact, my friends actually say that this particular pooch has more impressive tricks, statistically speaking, than any other dog they’ve owned. And they really like him; it’s just that his behavior at certain times sends them right up the wall.

And I must say, it’s done the very same to me, as well. I’ve watched this little guy’s antics over the years, and he’s just about given me an ulcer. You see, I’ve been close to these friends for a long, long time. You might even say I’m a fan of theirs. I’ve appreciated them ever since I can remember. They’re proud folks, but they have plenty to be proud of—with a history and tradition of great achievement. They have screwed up royally at times, and the current patriarch can be a bit goofy, but they’re old friends, so what can I say?

 Troy the Dog

I know it has to be difficult for little Tony the mutt. My friends keep comparing him to previous pooches, such as Troy the terrier and Roger the rottweiler, who were fine, fine animals.

The gist of the whole story, I guess, is that my good friends could very well be at a watershed moment here. Do they keep Tony the dog and pray he stops smelling up the place at the worst possible times—or do they find a new pup and hope he has a better pedigree? What would you do?

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.

They’ll Take My Lawn Darts When They Pry Them from My Cold, Dead Hands

26 Nov

by Roger White

Every Christmas season, right on cue, under the guise of “the public interest,” some Grinch-worshiping cults masquerading as nonprofit research groups publish their annual lists of the most dangerous, evil, and malicious child-eating toys of the year. I have a toy bone to pick with these guys—not a large toy bone, just a small one. In fact, it’s small enough to lodge in the throat and necessitate a trip to the emergency room. But nevertheless…

Don’t misunderstand, I acknowledge the need for watchdogs in our society, especially when it comes to the safety and well-being of our tiniest community members. There is surely no call for manufacturing and marketing such items as Mister Mickey’s Mini-Molotov Cocktail Set or Captain Smiley’s Fun with Asbestos Removal. But some of the selections for the naughty toy list are a bit nitpicky, if you ask me.

Take this year’s U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety, for example. The PIRG Nerds spent all of their time from September through November hanging out in toy stores and malls playing with all the toys, games, and gadgets. (Side note: I want a job at PIRG.) According to the PIRG report, “Our investigation focused on toys that posed a potential toxic, choking, strangulation, or noise hazard.” The report mentioned nothing about all the obnoxious, overly-sexed, street-walker-dressed dolls aimed at the preteen set—but then, maybe I’m being a prude.

 

No, PIRG’s pet peeves involved amounts of lead, tiny magnets in toys, little toy pieces that kids could swallow, loud toys, and toys that contained something called phthalates. Not only do I not have the foggiest idea what phthalates are, I don’t even know how to pronounce them. Trying to pronounce phthalates produces enough spittle as to discourage me from even investigating them, and I recommend the same for you. This is the “if you can’t pronounce it, it can’t hurt you” school of consumer protection. I will note that the PIRG study reported that the state of Washington had the toughest phthalate protection laws on the books—they went as far as making toy manufacturers that used phthalates spell out the amount of phthalates on the toy. This, I’m sure, caused toy manufacturers in Washington to increase the size of their toys just so the word phthalates could appear on the toy.

As for the rest of the hazards on the list, come on. We’ve become a nation of coddlers. As far as lead goes, I found out after the fact that all of my beloved Hot Wheels cars of the late 1960s were slathered in lead paint. I never ate one of my Hot Wheels cars. I crashed them a lot, maybe even burned one or two to see how neat it would look, but I don’t recall ever licking or munching my toy cars. And I turned out fine. No, really, I did. The dangers of magnets, choking, poking, burning, toxins, all that? Let me just say that when I was a tyke, we had Creepy Crawlers (basically an open hot plate used to cook plastic goo); giant lawn darts, which my pals and I would use as WWII bombs on our toy tanks and soldiers (we wore makeshift helmets on the battlefield); BB guns, which we would fire at each other to reenact famous battles throughout history; stingray bikes with no safety helmets or silly pads; and junior chemistry sets complete with instructions on what to do if you caught fire. And we all somehow made it through to adulthood with nary a scratch.

Well, I wouldn’t say nary a scratch. There was that incident with Jimmy Peterson’s left eye. And, oh, yeah, Bobby Scoggins never could catch a ball again after that one time—and jeez, I forgot all about poor Stevie Blackwell. He was a fun guy, rest his soul. OK, OK, never mind. I suppose some of the old toys are best left in the old days. Who’s up for some Slip ’n’ Slide?!

 

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.

Drinking Gold and Other Extravagances

20 Nov

by Roger White

 

Every columnist, blogger, reporter, broadcaster, tweeter, facebooker, and crackpot correspondent within 500 miles of Austin has had something to say about all the hoopla surrounding the brand-spanking-new F1 Circuit of the Americas auto race here recently, so I thought I’d do something different. I’m going to say something about all the hoopla surrounding the brand-spanking-new F1 Circuit of the Americas auto race here recently, but I’m going to DO IT IN ALL CAPS! FURTHERMORE, I’M GOING TO REPLACE ALL THE G’s IN MY STORY WITH K’s JUST FOR KRINS. HERE KOES:

 

FOR ONE THINK, I HONESTLY DON’T KET ALL THE EXCITEMENT CONCERNINK THIS KOSH DARN F1 RACE. IT’S A BUNCH OF RICH BRAZILIANS AND SOUTHERN EUROPEANS ZIPPINK AROUND IN OVERKROWN HOT WHEELS CARS…oh, forget it, I can’t keep this up.

 

But honestly. I really don’t get it. I watched news reports of what appeared to be sane-looking people standing in snaking lines for hours, just to board a shuttle to take them out to the track way east of town, where they’d stand in line for more hours just to get in to the place. The whole town was so crowded, even days before the big event, that my drive home from work took an extra hour and a half—and the F1 facility is nowhere near my workaday route!

 

I know, I know, local income, healthy economy, good vibes to the world, yadda. I still don’t get it. Plus, on race day, helicopters buzzed over our neighborhood all day and night, ferrying the ultra-rich from their rented villas to their VIP viewing boxes and back. I read in the paper that the champagne being served to these typhoons was on the order of several thousand dollars a pop—and get this, it’s infused with 24-karat gold. Yes, these lords and ladies are so disgustingly wealthy that they’re drinking gold. Some, I heard, were a trifle miffed that they couldn’t have their luxury yachts airlifted into Lady Bird Lake south of downtown.

 

Yep, these aren’t NASCAR fans. These are the crème de la crème de la crème. Crème x 3. I did a little studying up on this, and apparently F1 followers are the Donald Trumps of groupies. They travel the globe following their fave drivers, throwing money around like it’s Enron stock. You wanna know how rich these people are? My journalist pal, Carlos Carlos Moore, was able to tag along with one of these typhoons during race weekend. Carlos Carlos wouldn’t divulge the guy’s name, but he said something about oil, Dubai, and the patent on Styrofoam packing noodles.

 

Here’s some of the stuff this typhoon had:

• Cashmere toilet paper. That’s right. Cashmere TP. It’s all too real. A British company called Waitrose came out with TP that contains not only cashmere extracts but a mixture of jojoba and aloe vera. The science behind this way-over-the-top wipe, according to the developer, is “designed to deliver the most luxurious bathroom tissue yet. The infusion of jojoba and aloe carries the additional innovation of having a scented core, providing a refreshing aroma to the bathroom.”

• A Swarovski-crystal-studded toilet. Yup, this $75,000 can is entirely encrusted in Swarovski crystals. Well, if you’re gonna wipe with cashmere, you gotta have a crystal john. And besides, after imbibing all that liquid gold, it only stands to reason…

 

• The M55 Terminus E-Bike. This electric bicycle, which retails for about $35,000, is plated in gold and silver, adorned with crystals, and rests on a carbon fiber body. It even has disc brakes designed for sports cars. Carlos Carlos reported that the typhoon dude even hired a guy to ride it for him.

 

• A $2.4 million mobile phone. Made by jeweler Peter Aloisson, this handy little iPhone 3G is smothered in 6.6-carat diamonds and white gold. Carlos Carlos said this was the kid’s phone. He wasn’t allowed to see the expensive one.

 

• A bottle of 64-year-old Macallan Scotch, valued at $460,000. This hooch, apparently the oldest whisky ever bottled at Macallan, sold at a charity auction a couple of years ago for nearly half a million bucks. The typhoon told Carlos Carlos that guests have offered him $500 just to sniff the cork.

 

• On an end table in the typhoon’s villa, Carlos Carlos spied what he determined was none other than a slice of what is known as the Sultan’s Golden Cake. This delicacy hails from the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul. The dessert takes three days to make and has figs, quince, apricot, and pears marinated in rum for two years. Two years. It’s topped off with caramel, black truffles, and, yes, edible gold. And I don’t even know what quince is. Anyway, this goes for roughly $1,000 a mouthful.

 

By the way, a Brit named Lewis Hamilton won the actual race, but Carlos Carlos reported that his typhoon friend didn’t get to see the finish. Seems he overindulged and had to have his stomach pumped at a local hospital. ER physicians said that byproducts of the procedure more than covered the man’s bill. I just don’t get it.

 

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 Olympic Motto: Swifter, Higher, Stronger, Sneakier

7 Aug

by Roger White 

 

Ah, my cantankerous cohort, if you’re like me, you’ve been basking in all the reflected, tape-delayed glory of the London Olympics, no? And if you’re like me, you’ve been inspired by the relentless spirit and determination of Olympians such as South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who runs on specially made prosthetic springs. Yes? And if you’re like me, you’ve been absolutely flabbergasted by that water polo player from Belarus who was born with only a head. No? OK, wait a minute.

 

Seriously, in what has otherwise been a stultifying, sweltering summer, the XXXth Olympiad from jolly old England has supplied a refreshing sports fix. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “fix.” Because, alas, as with just about every other one of these world block parties, there has been juicy controversy. For example, did you catch the bantamweight boxing match where the Japanese guy knocked down his opponent six times—and lost? I’m not one to yell collusion in a crowded auditorium, but you be the judge. The referee for the match, Turkmenistan’s Ishanguly Meretnyyazov, ruled that Azerbaijan’s Magomed Abdulhamidov defeated Satoshi Shimizu, even though Abdulhamidov could scarcely stand up for the decision. Shimuzi was running around doing backflips. Sanity eventually settled in and the decision was overturned—and referee Meretnyyazov was booted out of the Olympics.

 

Meretnyyazov later admitted to being in cahoots with Abdulhamidov, apparently due to Turkmenistan’s longstanding desire to build a Wal-Mart on land owned by Abdulhamidov’s uncle, Spraodovlugyzatsonivyplakolov Urryupanpayemov.

 

But that wasn’t even the major hullabaloo. Four, count ’em, four women’s doubles teams were disqualified from the badminton competition for intentionally losing matches to gain a more favorable draw in the next round. Heavens to Murgatroyd! The BWF was shocked, shocked, I say. (That’s the Badminton World Federation to you and me—and yes, there is such a thing.) Let’s back up a minute here. I can see both sides. This is the Olympics, and fans paid plenty of precious pounds to see their favorite shuttlecock swatters play their very best. But. And it’s a big but. In many other sports, easing up on the gas and resting yourself when you’ve been assured a spot in the next round is done all the time. Look at the NFL (if you can). When a team has clinched a playoff spot, the coach often decides to rest his starters—and the team often loses a meaningless next game.

 

Both sides have a point, but there is a much bigger picture to consider. And that much bigger picture is this: Badminton? Seriously? Don’t get me wrong; I’m a staunch believer in anything that gets one off the couch and moving about. Yes, I am an athletic supporter. I’m just not so sure about awarding Olympic medals to folks who compete in what is essentially a backyard pastime while waiting for the burgers. I mean, criminy, we might as well have Olympic horseshoes or Olympic barbecueing. Hmmm. Come to think of it, Olympic barbecueing might be fun—until controversy rears its ugly head again. “U.S. Olympic Barebecueist Lee Roy Heinz was disqualified today when his charcoal tested positive for lighter fluid.”

 

Well, get this. Olympic barbecueing sounds positively mainstream compared to some other events that actually saw the light of day in Olympic games past. For example, solo synchronized swimming was a real Olympic event from 1984 to 1992. Think about that for a minute: Solo. Synchronized. Swimming. Other former events include tug of war, rope-climbing, and, of course, the plunge for distance. What was the plunge for distance, you ask? In this spine-tingling event, competitors dived into a pool and were required to remain motionless underwater for one minute or until their heads broke the surface. The plunger who recorded the longest distance won.

 

“Grandpa, how did you win your Olympic medal again?”

 

“I was a world-class plunger.”

 

This event, of course, gave rise to the short-lived Olympic Marco Polo competition.

 

Here’s another one: the one-handed weight lift. I’m serious. Each competitor had to perform lifts with each hand, with the winner determined from the combined score. Although this event was discontinued after only three Olympic games, it did lead to the one-handed pole vault, one-armed rowing competition, and one-legged mile run. The one-legged mile was held only once, however. Competitors had yet to finish two weeks after the closing ceremonies. Ah, well. See you in Rio.

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.