Thursday, November 29, 2012

Based on a True Story

Saturday Afternoon, November 24, 1984

“I see you found my lighter,” Janer said.

“Holy Jesus man! Stop doing that.  Where the hell have you been anyway,” Boomer asked The Good Med Student Johnson.

Herman Johnson had a way of sneaking up on you.  Until today, Boomer and cube just assumed it was his buttery smooth gait.  In any event, it was pretty much impossible to get used to.  Janer had been missing for several months.  They had been last seen at the 6 West movie theater at Westroads mall in Omaha.  Janer was 2 people always seen together.  Herman Johnson and Burt Rasson. 

“Hey Burt,” Cube said as Rasson sidled up next to Johnson.  They did that.

“May I have my lighter back, please?”  Johnson persisted.  He was looking at the Zippo sitting atop Boomer’s new soft pack of Salem Lights. 

“Your lighter?  This is mine.  I found it fair and square.  Besides, if it’s yours, why does it say ‘Burt’ on … oh,” Boomer and cube finally realized who ‘Burt’ was.  But why was Johnson calling it his lighter?

“So why are you calling it your lighter, Johnson,” Cube asked.

“Have you ever thought about your future boys?  What you’ll be doing in 30 years?”  Johnson said all mysterious like.

“Hell no.  Jinx.”  Said Boomer and Cube.  Then Cube continued, “I suppose we’ll be sitting around, drinking some frosty cold beers.  High five, my man!”   And yeah, Boomer didn’t leave Cube hangin’.

Johnson was getting serious in a really creepy way, “Yeah, pretty good guess,” He said.  “But let me show you something.”

Then Rasson got all wide eyed with what looked something like terror, “Huh – uh.  No no no.”

“Don’t worry Burt.  This is one of the best lighters.  The January 8th” 

“I’m going to show you guys something for taking such good care of my lighter, but first of all, do either of you golf?”

“Hell no. Jinx.” Said Boomer and Cube, “That’s for old fat guys.”

“What do you think you’re going to be in 30 years,” Johnson shot back, clearly losing some patience.

“Whoa there, slow down Herman.  I don’t think you should …” Burt began.

“You’re not paid to think,” Johnson glared at Burt.  Boomer and Cube didn’t want any part of a Janer fight.    Janer always got along.  Except when they didn’t.  Nobody had ever seen them fight.  At least nobody who’s still alive. 

So when Boomer and Cube wisely got up to leave, Johnson stopped them.  “Boys.  Why don’t you go back to the Card room?  I’ll see you in 5 minutes.”  They immediately obeyed.  What choice did they have?

Friday evening, November 23, 2012

“Are you sure you want another one Greg?  You appear to have had enough.  Besides, don’t you have to work tomorrow?”  Greg’s brother John (no relation) owned the little neighborhood bar in the Ak-sar-ben area of Omaha, called “Dino’s”  Greg was the golf pro at Elmwood Muni and had to be there from sunrise to sunset on Saturday.

“Stop worrying big brother.  Ain’t nobody coming in to golf tomorrow.  Cloudy.  High of 40.  Wind gusts out of the north up to 30.  Stunning college football matchups all day long.  You know how many tee times are reserved for tomorrow?  None.  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.  Auf wiedersehen.”

Greg’s breath knocked John back and slightly off balance.  Nonetheless, his brother wanted a drink.  “Last one bro.  You know you could get some walkins.”
“Walkins, schmalkins,” Greg said as his head went freefall onto the marble bar top of Dino’s

“Good night brother,” John said, bringing a blanky from the back room and draping it over his unconscious brother’s broad shoulders as he once again slept at the bar.  “I don’t envy you the headache you will have when you awake,” John said sweetly, referencing Greg’s favorite movie of all time.

Greg was wrong about no golfers though.  There would be exactly 4 people on the golf course the next day.  2 twosomes.  Both groups contending for the exact same tee-time.  It was weird.

Saturday Afternoon November 24, 1984

Boomer and Cube were sitting at the card table waiting for Johnson to sneak up on them.  Sitting on top of the table was a can of paint.  The boys thought maybe Chico was remodeling or something but still, it seemed weird that the paint would be sitting on the table.  There was a plain label on the can that said only “A Can of Paint,” which also seemed a little strange.  But these were ‘plain label’ days, so it seemed sort of reasonable, they guessed.

“Sorry about that, boys,” Johnson just appeared.

“Holy shit sandwiches!  Stop doing that!”  Cube pleaded.

 Ignoring Cube, Johnson asked the boys if they’d like to see what they’d be doing in the future.  Then there was this big long scene where they didn’t believe in time travel and Johnson talked at them and got them to partially concede that if they were correct, then there was no harm in humoring him, am I right?  Then they argued that there very well could be harm in humoring a crazy person.  Then Johnson talked about all the weird stuff that happened. Disappearances.  Marilyn leaving the scene of a Robert Duvall sighting.  Robert Duvall.  Renaud and the Zombies – which was in no way related, but it was still weird.

“What the hell?  There’s nothing to do around here anyway.  Why not,” Boomer said, exasperated as they finally agreed.

Johnson told them they were going to visit the future – exactly 28 years from today.  It’s easier in whole years, and when the calendars line up, he explained.  If you want to go to a different time or date, there’s more math because of something to do with the position of the earth, blah blah blah.  Boomer and cube weren’t really listening.  They were taking turns swinging the golf clubs Johnson had brought in.

“ … to keep the unit small enough so it could be concealed in a lighter,”  Johnson finished as Boomer put a gash in the ceiling with the 6 iron he was swinging.

“Hand me that can of paint, would you Cube,” Johnson pointed over to the table.

“You gonna paint a time machine, J?” Cube asked, handing the can over.

Both boys stepped back in response to the smell coming from the opened paint can.  It wasn’t paint inside.  It was whale fat.  “Have a nice round, boys!” Johnson encouraged as the scene shifted.

Saturday afternoon November 24 2012

“So what’s with the whale fat,” Boomer asked as he and cube unwittingly landed in the Elmwood municipal 18-hole golf course clubhouse, 28 years in the future!  Behind the counter, groggy, dehydrated and barely alive, was Greg the golf pro.  He thought Boomer was addressing him. And unfortunately, he was a little sensitive about his weight (because he was a big huge fatass).

“What did you say, you little punk,” Greg wearily challenged, raising a tired fist.

“Pipe down boss,” Cube’s cocky manner wasn’t going to help the situation.  Luckily for both boys, Greg got control of his temper and they once again narrowly averted a huge ass whoopin’, “He wasn’t talking about you.  Although … Ow,” Continued Cube as Boomer elbowed him to shut him the hell up.

In a robotic monotone, Cube said, "Take us to your leader."

"C'mon boys, whaddya need?" Greg just wanted to lay back down in the office.

“We’re here to do the golfing,” Boomer said.

Greg looked at the 2, doubtful, “You boys know how cold it is outside?” they didn’t.  But they suddenly realized how it was that Janer always managed to sneak up on people.   Time Travel.  Duh.

“Realize how cold it is,” is my middle name said Boomer to the satisfying bloodshot eyeroll of The Golf Pro.

Sighing heavily, Greg finally said, "Well, you'll have the whole course to yourself today."

Boomer said, "That's not what I heard.  Ow,"  This time he got elbowed.  

Meanwhile, across town …

Boomer arrived at Cube’s house at about 2 in the afternoon.  It was the Thanksgiving weekend and Boomer was in town for the holiday.  “So what’s there to do around here,” he asked Cube.

“Well it’s too cold to golf, so that leaves television and/or beer,” Cube explained.

“Hmm.  Too cold to golf.  Interesting.  I don’t think it's too bad.  In California, we have image of the rugged Midwesterner.  I’ll just have to go back and explain …”

“Hold up there, Boomer.  What I meant was – you’ve been in California for a long time.  I didn’t really think you’d be up for it.  Last thing I want is for you to go back home with chapped lips or something.  We Midwesterners have an image of Californians as well.”

“Hey – it’s me.  Let’s get to the links,” Boomer said.

“I’ll get the sunscreen,” Cube said, sensing with great relief they were about to do something uncomfortable, just because it was funny.  Oh and there really was nothing to do.  Some things don’t change.
Photo, Courtesy "Boomer from the past"

On the way to the Elmwood Municipal 18 hole golf course, Cube was worrying about something.  “What’s up, pussy?”  Boomer asked.

“Well, I mean, you think they’ll let us walk on?  It such a beautiful cold blustery grey day.  What if there’s a tournament or something?”

“We can at least check.  Somebody always backs out of tournaments last minute.  We can surely hop in there if we have to.”

As old Boomer and Cube opened the clubhouse door, they had to wait for a couple of kids just inside the door who were looking around like out-of-towners.  The kids just stared at Boomer and Cube for a minute until Boomer said, “You kids mind?  We’re going in.”

Snapping out of some hypnotic state, the boys blocking the entrance said “Oh sorry.  I guess we’re our own worst enemies,” as they chuckled and lugged their golf clubs to the first Tee-box.

“Couple of smartasses,” Cube observed, “I hope we weren’t like that,” he lied, admiring whatever mischief those boys were up to.  "I mean who golfs on a day like this?"

“I know, right!”  Greg the golf pro chimed in.  Boomer and Cube let that one go.  Greg was a little too old to be saying “I know, right!” -  He looked like more of a “To the Max” guy, but whatever (‘whatever’ never goes out of style).

“What happened to your forehead,” Cube asked Greg, looking at the bruise from when Greg knocked himself out on his brother’s bar.

“Oh I passed out drunk and hit a marble top bar,” Greg was way more honest than most people expected, “but hey, you should see the other guy.”

Boomer’s turn, “And by ‘other guy’ do you mean ‘your liver’?”

Greg suddenly got all pensive and shit, “Um.  Are those your kids out there on the first tee?”
The three of them looked out the clubhouse picture window at the 2 jackasses on the tee box.  One was doing jumping jacks.  The other, deep knee bends.

“At least not that we know about, hardy har har,” Cube said, mocking people who always make that joke.  Greg laughed way too much at that one.

“Can we get some cold ones from you?  I’m not going out there without some icy cold refreshment,” Cube declared, “2 Heinekens.  Boomer?  Ok, 4 Heinekens”

“If you get 5, the 6th is free,” Greg said.

“Better make it 10 then,” Boomer upped the ante, “And lots of ice to keep it cold, please.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Listen, if you can't scrape your windows, just get a garage. But until then, scrape your fucking windows

Ahh, late autumn/early winter.   A special time in the best city in the world.  Before I was out of High School, I rarely scraped my car windows.  To my defense, it was completely unnecessary for most of the year.  But as the weather got colder and the frost (or ice and snow) formed, visibility dropped all the way down to just in front of my steering wheel.  Sometimes I would just turn the heater on and wait for the windows to clear from that.  As soon as there was about a 2 inch clear spot at the bottom of the windshield, I was good to go.  I’d just hunch over, forehead against the steering wheel, wipers going full blast, peering through the growing clean spot.  By the time I reached my destination, I was sitting back in comfort, wipers off, driving like a pro.

Usually, I didn’t have any sort of ice scraper either.  I do remember that at one time I had an old metal light switch plate that I used to scrape my windows.   Yeah, that left permanent deep gouges in the glass.  Also, I had no gloves. 

If it snowed, I had no brush or anything, so I’d clutch the end of my coat sleeve and wipe off what I considered the minimum for reasonable travel.  The first few times I just cleared a spot about 4 inches by 6 inches in the middle of the driver’s side windshield.  That’s when I learned how important side windows were in driving.  So I wisely started clearing a similar sized patch on either side window.  That’s when I learned about how that works not at all on the passenger side.  Of course, to see out of these arrow slits, it was necessary to press my face close to the window, thus fogging it up and rendering the window once again useless.  I actually (erroneously) thought since I knew the route pretty well, visibility was nice, not absolutely essential.   Each day of these scary morning commutes, I’d promise to get myself some gloves and an Ice scraper.  No way I was getting one of those stupid brushes. 

If it was just frost, I’d try to use the window cleaner to melt it off.  Well this works really well if 1) You have excellent wiper blades, and 2) Your car is already warm.  Admittedly, the crystallizing blue wiper fluid as it freezes is a thing of beauty, but unfortunately, it eventually makes matters worse.

I think I was about 30 years old when I was finally completely prepared for any snow and ice windshield maintenance.  I always have gloves in the car.  I always have a scraper.  I always have a brush.  If the world is still here in 2013 (fat chance), it will surely be a very different one.  One that could not even be predicted by the Mayans.  That means, I wouldn’t be surprised at all (or unprepared) if some freezing rain began to fall on the 4th of July.   I’d be ready.  My scraper is always in my car.

Here’s the sweet irony.  The time of my preparedness for inclement windshield weather coincides almost exactly with the time my car was usually garaged overnight. 

One of my favorite commutes is the one where my completely shiny, clean dry car plows through the overnight snow as I wave to others in clearly garaged cars, knowing they can see me like it’s a fine summer day (pre 2013, of course).  I have respect for the person whose car was obviously out in the elements, but who took the time to not only clear off every inch of window (including mirrors), but wipe the snow off the top of the car.  I don’t envy you, but I respect you. 

The people I absolutely cannot stand are the ones who do exactly what I used to do.  When I see these cars, covered in frost or snow, with a shivering, hunched over driver, cigarette trembling from purple lips, I think out loud, “what a complete and total fucking moron.”  I then unbutton the top button of my shirt because, whew, it’s a little warm in my nice big clean new dry sedan.  Must be the complete absence of holes in the floorboard.  

So this morning as I settled in for a nice comfy cozy warm drive in, I was momentarily blocked by a very smart young girl.  Actually, I don’t have any idea how smart she is. I just know she’s smarter than I was at that age.  She had backed out of her driveway and into the street.  Much like all of her car windows, she just sat there frozen.  There was just enough room for me to get by between the front of her car and her driveway.  I could see that her windows were all frosty, but I didn’t understand why she was just sitting there.  Is she picking up a friend, I wondered.  Then it hit me.  Her not being able to see is stopping her from continuing.  That’s how I know she is smarter than I was.  “What a complete and total fucking moron,” I said as I drove in front of her, offering up a completely unseen friendly wave.

Yeah – getting old is a bitch.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

... Or Sunday. Definitely Sunday.

Warning:  Not only is this post late.  Nothing happens in it.  I was just goofing around with fake drama and suspense for a while stringing words together for no particular reason. You're welcome.

October 1969

“5 minutes Mr. Bergen,” came the announcement from the other side of the dressing room door.  Bergen stopped adjusting his bow tie, turning his hands in front of him to inspect them through the dressing room mirror.  Glaring at his useless right hand, unable to fathom how he had kept his secret for so long.  None of that mattered now.  The end had finally come.  One more show and the debt to Duvall is paid in full.  If there are no surprises, Bergen thought to himself, you might just make it through alive. 

Bergen looked over at the real stars of his show.  The blank gaping grins of Snerd and McCarthy stared back at him.  Mocking.  “You ready, gentlemen,” Bergen asked with a heavy sigh.  Rhetorical, really.  They’re ready. They’re always ready.  For Horror!  Or comedy.  Yeah – mostly comedy.  But sometimes … Horror!

Snerd wore a black and white checked suit and red vest.  He had lost a front tooth in a back room brawl during a poker game and had never bothered to get it fixed.  When Snerd talked about it, he’d always say, “I lost the battle, but won the war.”  The body of the man who’d knocked out The Snerd’s tooth had been found 3 days later, bloated beyond recognition, strangled with piano wire and stuffed into an old oil drum down at the docks.  Snerd’s defense was that he was just an inanimate dummy who couldn’t possibly have been involved.  Investigators allowed Bergen into the room while the Snerd was being questioned on the condition the he not move his lips during the interview.   Bergen agreed and politely asked for a glass of water.  He could not explain it, but he was sure The Snerd was somehow behind the murder.

The Snerd’s remaining front tooth jutted over his lower lip adding to his comical appearance.  A close look into The Snerd’s eyes however, revealed a cold dead disturbing presence.  Occasionally a fan would encounter The Snerd and sense the evil within.  “It’s a hunk of wood,” Bergen would always come to the Snerd’s defense, if only to protect the suspicious innocents who got the cold chill as they passed by the Snerd.    

Charlie McCarthy usually dressed about the same as Bergen.  Black tails and top hat.  He often wore a monocle or occasionally a pince-nez as fashion dictated.  All and all, Charlie was just along for the ride.  The more famous of the 2 “dummies,” he had no taste for unpleasantness or blood.  He was not good or evil.  Most of the time he was too busy pondering the meaning of his existence to care about getting into any kind of mischief with his cousin Mortimer.

Exiting his humble room for the stage, Bergen placed a small letter in the box for outgoing posts.   Would Marilyn see the letter in time? He could only hope.

Under his arm, Bergen hefted a large trunk that carried his companions.  After tonight, with the exception of his haunted dreams and visions, he would be free of them forever.  The Snerd said he was going to go to France.  Charlie said he had a plan, but he wouldn’t say what it was. 

Bergen waited just off stage for the warm up act to finish.  His mind wandered back to a simpler time.   

May 1927

Sitting at a sidewalk cafĂ© in a Chicago suburb, young Bergen practiced his act.  He would make sloppy notes with his left hand as he argued with a poorly dressed McCarthy.  In fact, they were both poorly dressed.  Bergen hadn’t had a thing to eat in 2 days and didn’t know where his next meal was going to come from.  But he was happy.  He had his whole future ahead of him and he believed in himself and his dummy.  He had been at the table for about 2 hours, nursing his coffee when the waiter sat a club sandwich in front of him.  He and Charlie looked at each other in confusion.  “I believe this is a mistake,”  Charlie started as the waiter walked away, shrugging and nodding off to the left.  His left.  Charlie and Bergen slowly and in sync, turned their heads together comically, eyebrows high, in the direction indicated by the waiter.  There a man sat obscured by the copy of the Daily Edition he held up in front of his face.  As the ventriloquist team watched, the man folded the paper flat on his table, finished his coffee and approached Bergen and Friend.  He was tall, young and athletic with light wavy hair.  He wore dark sunglasses, a sharkskin suit and no hat.

Holding up a hand to signal there was no need to get up to greet him, the man said, “Name’s Duvall.  I can help.”

Bergen and Charlie looked at each other and then back at Duvall.  Charlie’s monocle dropped to his side.

Duvall said, “You look hungry.  I took the liberty of ordering you a turkey sandwich.”

It was Charlie who spoke up, “I’ll have you know, my good man, we’re in no need of charity …”

Duvall was ready for this, “But you could use some work I take it.  Not so easy to find these days, is it?

Now it was Bergen’s turn, “This is highly irregular …”

Duvall was quick, “Give me five minutes to explain while you and Charlie – Yes, I know your names – while you and Charlie enjoy your lunch.”

Much to Bergen’s surprise, Charlie piped in, “I say we give him a listen.”

Bergen’s face turned white. His hand dropped, sending his “Dummy” hanging upside down at the end of his right arm.   Bergen felt an icy cold fear grip his heart, “Did you,” was all he could breathlessly choke out.  He hadn’t made the dummy talk, yet it was the same voice.  What sorcery was this?

“Now that’s what I call ‘not moving your lips’,” Duvall marveled as he casually pulled out a cigarette and his trusty old Zippo lighter, dated 2/16/2362.


Bergen came awake alone and on his back.  The room was total darkness except for a faint streetlight that shone through the dingy single window of the room.  Off to his right, he saw the horizontal strip of light coming in through the bottom of the bedroom door.  He had no idea where he was, except that he was still in Chicago.  The sound of distant freight trains unmistakable to a native of the city.  Rolling on his side, he remembered the strange man who had somehow thrown his voice to Charlie.  What was the man’s name.  French or something.  Outside the bedroom door he heard yelling.  An argument, but only one voice.  Another voice was arguing, Bergen realized from inside his head.  It was Duvall, that was the name, in a shouting match with Bergen’s alter ego.  “I think you might be losing your mind, Teddy,”  Bergen’s nickname for himself.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I call thanksgiving

I have part of a post finished.  But it is the holiday, so.  Since the agreement with Barry is to post anything by Friday morning -- this counts.   However.  I will have the real post up some time Saturday at the latest.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh that’s what Twitter is

Note:  We had a family emergency this evening.  My son Jack is 9 years old.  The dog ate Jack’s homework that he’d been working on for 3 weeks.  You may say “What dog?” and that would be a good question.  To that I say “What homework?”  This pushed back the start of my blog composing by over 3 hours.  We really need to get another computer.  So if you are reading this and say, “Where the hell’s the post that is due?”

There is a perfectly good explanation.  The dog ate it.

Since I’m short on time, I’m going to just talk about something I know well.  Old people.  I might just have to change the name of this blog to oldcube or something. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with my daughter, age 22.  Girls are better than boys.  No dogs ever ate Jolene’s homework.  She was saying I should get on Twitter.  Honestly, I just don’t get it with twitter.  I have tried to understand the allure.  To me, it has seemed strange that I would be interested in anyone’s spontaneous thoughts.  Jolene said that because I’m funny, a lot of her friends would follow me if I got on twitter.  I told her I’ve had an account for years (this is true).  She said she couldn’t find me (she had looked).  Then I remembered that it wasn’t actually me who had the Twitter account, but one of my alter egos.  Nate Keeler.  That stupid sonofabitch never ever tweets anything on it either.  Holy Crap.  I just logged into Nathan Keeler’s gmail account.  He’s got 1200 unopened emails.  Mostly from facebook, asking if he knows various friends of Brady or people that went to the school that I said he went to that I didn’t know was a real school when I put it in there.  And breathe.  So now what I’ll do is see if I can resurrect his Twitter account.  Ok that’s done.  I don’t really know how to tweet, but I just put one in there to try out this crazy new hashtag idea.  I used the most common hashtag ever.  #rachelandfinnarewaymoregaythankurt  and guess what.  Mine is THE TOP tweet for that tag!  Sweet.  It reminds me of the time I did a web search for “gin soaked vagina” and my reference on my blog called "gin soaked vagina" was the only thing that came up, proving I invented the now commonly used term “Gin soaked vagina.”  These days it’s difficult to utter a sentence without saying GSV at least 3 times. 

Ok I just logged old NotFredCube into his Facebook account.  Guess what?  He’s still using the old format.  Lucky bitch.  

The title of this post (above) might be overstating it.  It’s not that I suddenly understand what Twitter is.  It’s just that I had a little bit of a revelation the other day on why it actually might be kind of fun if used a certain way.  Certainly this is not news to anyone except old people. 

Sit down and let me explain how it all began …

Sometime about a year or so ago, Jill and I were minding our own business, watching an all new episode of the hit TV Series “glee!”, when we saw something that made us do this (Old people, click the photo):

It wasn’t the thrilling story line or the cutting edge drama or even the beautiful glee! singing that had us so deeply flummoxed.  Nor was it the word “flummox”.  It was the occasional hashtag thingy during the episode of glee!  It would say something like #kurtsevenmoregaythisseason or #rachelandfinnareevenmoregaythisseason.   Jill asked me, “What the hell is that dang deal?” and I would say “Oh, I know what that is,” thinking I’d be able to work it out by the time Kurt’s boyfriend got done crying. But no.

We gave up on it.  Sure we were missing out on some television something or other, but then again not really caring.  I figured if I wanted to know what it was, I’d have to get off the couch, power up the home personal computing device, instruct the modem to dial up my internet service provider, etc.  It just didn’t seem worth the trouble.  

Old people don’t know how to watch modern television.  Even if they knew how (they don’t) they would be too tired to do it right.  Hey old people, it might help if you didn’t get up before bed time.  When old people watch tv, they just stare, mouth agape (not god’s love, but the other agape) not even texting anyone at all through the whole show.

Young people watch tv the way it was meant to be watched.  Young people stare at the tv, mouth agape, furiously working the texting device at the end of their lifeless arm.  Old people have the texting devices, but they just talk to them.  Yeah, like that works.

The first thing old people have to do to watch TV is to find the remote.  If the remote is not found, there will be no television watching.  Old people are always mad about not being able to find the remote for 2 reasons.  1) Old people always leave the remote in the same place “where it goes”, and 2) the remote is never in that place because some young person has left it in the cushions or under the couch or in the refrigerator.  Young people don’t have this problem.  They can always find the remote because it’s always where the old people left it.  Oh old people!  You’re so predictable. 

Once the remote is found, all inspiration to invent some sort of “remote locating device” fades as the old person can now settle in for an evening of confusion, known as “Television programming”

Old People used to watch a television show called M*A*S*H.  They loved this show.   It rarely confused them at all.  The theme song for M*A*S*H was a morose little ditty called “Suicide is Painless” One of (if not) the first episode(s) of M*A*S*H had a guy singing the song’s words (AKA lyrics).  The words freaked the old people out so much, that without taking their eyes from the screen, the old people sat at their typewriters and wrote several letters to their friends about how fucking crazy the words to the M*A*S*H theme song were.  Still looking at the screen, they expertly pulled the hand typed letters from the machine, folded them into envelopes and started licking stamps.  By the time M*A*S*H was over 30 minutes later, the old people had a stack of envelopes about 8 inches high to go out in the morning mail. 

That’s right.  If old people wanted to send you a message, they would write it down on a piece of paper and pay a company to deliver it for you.  Now all you have to do if you want to say hello to someone is navigate your cell phone to the correct screen, select the contact and press 4433555->555666 and pay a company to electronically deliver it.  If old people try to say hello to you this way, they have to press 4(back because they didn’t press the second 4 fast enough)44335555555(because they were trying to do 2 “L”s and went past the first “L” to the “5” then had to go around the first “L” again) then they have to wait for the cursor to move to the spot for the second “L” so they can continue. 555666.  

Don’t even get old people started on apostrophes.

So anyway - I thought the glee hashtag thing was some sort of signal for young people to do something and get some sort of enhanced viewing experience.  I didn't have a clue and most importantly, didn't care.

I was watching SNL the other day (Old people watch it on Sunday afternoon after they find someone to help them program their VCR) and saw the short film "Mokiki Does the sloppy swish"  I thought it was so funny, I googled it to see if I could watch it some more on my personal home computing device.  That's when I understood the hashtag thing (I think).  There were all kinds of comments about the short film grouped by various hashtag names.  Oh.

Thursday, November 08, 2012


If you want to make an omelette, you’re going to have to break some eggs*.  We all believe this, but it doesn’t really tell us anything.  For instance, we are pretty sure there is more to it than that.  You can’t just throw some eggs on the floor and yell “Omelette!”

And “some” eggs?  How many is “some”?  People like to answer this question with another question.  Some smartass comment like “Well duh, how big an omelette do you want?”  All mocking and everything.  To that I say, “Don’t throw it back on me.  You always do that.  No wonder you can’t get along with your coworkers at the bank.”

It turns out, when people say that you have to break some eggs to make an omelette, they are usually not even talking about cooking an omelette.  And that’s too bad, because omelettes are delicious.  Also, even though it might seem like they’re changing the subject to breakfast food, many times, they are trying to convince you to make the hard choice after you’ve stated your reservations about some looming decision.  Either that, or they are cleverly defending some reprehensible act of their own.

Here’s an example:

Say you are running a quaint little bed and breakfast up in the northeast or whatever.  Your Bed and Breakfast is not known for any special amenities, but is able to succeed against the stiff competition on the strength of your world famous omelettes.  For years you’ve understood the literal meaning of the saying.  In fact, you cannot think of a time you made an omelette without breaking “some” eggs.

One fine Saturday afternoon, you’re trying to work out the menu for the next morning.  You know you’re going to make omelettes because it’s your specialty.  You have several guests who’ve traveled many miles just to get a taste.  Everything will be perfect.  Then one of your stupid little kids reminds you that tomorrow is Easter and you promised to let them color eggs.  You don’t have enough eggs for both.  You could run to the store and buy some eggs, but you’ve always used the eggs from your henhouse out back.  If word got out that your bed and breakfast used corporate eggs, you’d be finished.  For a moment you think you’re saved when you realize that you could use the store eggs for coloring, until you remember that the bible expressly forbids using store bought eggs as decorations for Easter.   Even though your children will be devastated, you choose to save the business.  You explain to your children that God cancelled Easter this year, and besides, you must make omelettes for your guests.  Then you tell them about how you have to break eggs to make omelettes.  Through ear popping wailing and a river of tears, they plead with you to stop speaking in riddles.  You agree and send them to bed, using the words “Go to bed.  No Riddle there, eh?”

Another Example (this one, defending reprehensible act):

“Jeez Bob.  You egged that guy’s new car?  What the hell man?  That’s really messed up.”

“Hey Joe.  It’s like they say – ‘If you want to make an omelette …’”

“I don’t think they mean …”

“Yes they do.  Where’d you park again?”

“No.  It’s cool.  I get it”

But breaking eggs is one small part of the omelette making equation.  I wonder if one of the other steps would change the meaning much.  Eggs are the primary ingredient in the finished product.  But do the supporting omelette making actions play any less a role?  Perhaps any of the other things you could say about omelette making would work just as well with the saying.

“If you want to make an omelette, you have to heat up the pan.”

I could see where this might get a similar meaning across.  But is it as universally true?  I don’t think so.

“If you want to make an omelette, you have to use a spatula.”

Yeah, that’s probably true, but somehow, it doesn’t sound as ominous as “BREAKING EGGS.”  The apparent quandary is that you’ve got yourself a dozen unbroken metaphorical eggs and you’d like to keep it that way if at all possible. The problem is you need a metaphorical omelette.  Yes, you have to use a spatula, but when you’re done cleaning, much like the pan, you still have a spatula.  You still have a dozen eggs, but some are broken now and all the kings horses …

Wait.  Was Humpty Dumpty a metaphor or allegory?

“If you want to make an omelette, you may end up with scrambled eggs.”

Ok, I just threw that in there because it happens sometimes.  Which means it happens metaphorically too.  It is possible that you set out with every intention of making an omelette.  You go ahead and do what must be done (break eggs) but the end result isn’t what you wanted at all.  Now you’ve potentially damaged some important relationships for scrambled eggs.  Nice going, Hitler.

I’m going to work one of these altered omelette making tutorials into my next staff meeting to see what happens.  I think it will go like this:

“Yeah Cube, I’m not so sure we should release the ‘string filter fix’.  Some of the clients may have workarounds in place that could potentially skew the results,” someone will say.

“Huh, what?”  I’ll start, snapping gracefully out of my morning meeting nap, wiping the drool from my chin, “Oh yeah, well you know, the pan has to be heated up …”

Actually, I do this sort of thing a lot in meetings.  I try to start new nonsensical buzz phrases.  Meetings love buzz phrases.  I no longer ask people what they mean by certain phrases.   It was during the great morning status update meeting of 2010, when my innocent question about the meaning of “Long pole in the tent,” caused a huge debate. That’s when I realized these guys don’t know what they’re saying  either.  So I don’t ask anymore.

All companies insist that communication skills are vital for success, then their managers go around saying things like, “Yeah.  The long pole in the tent is gonna be getting the database tables created.”

“Oh yeah, ok.  So I’m going to go join the circus now and come back when I understand what the hell you’re talking about.  Thanks.”

When I asked what the “long pole” thing means, I was not surprised to learn there was no consensus. Group 1 believed it meant that no work could continue until the long pole task was finished.   The other group thought it meant the project could be released incomplete, but not without the “Long pole.”

For potential insight, I tried thinking back to my literal experience with tents.  I went on RAGBRAI a couple of times and had to set up a tent each night.  There were usually 2 long poles that were actually just several small sections of skinny pole held together by an internal elastic cord.  The sections slide into each other end-to-end to make a long bendy pole.  The pole slides into sleeves of the tent to frame the whole thing up all nice and everything, similar to how a set of database tables might hold information for use in some sort of intricate software project.  Not really.  Not at all, in fact. 

It wasn’t until someone said, “No stupid, circus tents,” that I was on the road to a more certain ambiguity.

I don’t know circus tents.  Can other work be done while the long pole is being put into place?  I can picture a pole majestically rising as a massive red and white striped canvas reaches ever skyward.  The air smells of caramel popcorn. Dozens of burly men in dirty white tank tops strain, sweat stinging their eyes as they pull ropes outward from the center securing the long pole.  Once in place, several “carnies” rush around staking the ropes and supporting the outer structure with 36 “short poles.”  A fat man in a tattered wool suit, red vest and a top hat, hook cane hanging from his crooked left arm shouts through a megaphone that the show must go on.   This is all great, but when I apply this to the required database table specs for our current project, I’m not sure what we need to do.  Where do we put the caramel popcorn, anyway?

When I was a kid and we went to the circus, it was usually at the Omaha Civic Auditorium, so there was no tent at all.  I brought this up at the meeting and said maybe there was an existing framework we could use instead of developing the tent ourselves.  “No, there isn’t,” said the project manager a little too quickly.  Because you know what the project manager’s job would be if we went the sensible route?  Looking for a job, that’s what.

Oh yeah, omelettes.

Optional parts of omelette making don’t work for the proverb at all.  They come across as wishy-washy in the context of your no compromise, egg-breaking, omelette making resolve.  As you forge ahead, you don’t want to say something like, “If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve got to whip the eggs thoroughly and sometimes it helps to add a little water or milk.”

The ass of a rat has very little value.  However, if people saved them up and stored them in some sort of Tupperware™ container, you shouldn’t expect them to open it up for letting them know about the variables of omelette making.  What I’m trying to say is nobody gives a rat’s ass about the variables of omelette making.  The one thing you absolutely need is broken eggs.  Everything else is optional.

* No egg breaking is required in the making of “vegan omelettes”.  This is because vegan omelettes are not omelettes.  They are an ungodly mixture of flour, tofu and spices, tricked into trying to impersonate real omelettes.  Seriously.  If you want to be vegan, just eat vegan food.  Don’t go around missing real food so much you have to try to make your tofu taste like animals.  It never works and you are stupid for thinking it does.  If I’ve offended any vegans, I am sorry, but if you want to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs.  No exceptions.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

You kids and your newfangled ...

For quite some time, I have had a suspicion that old people are "pulling a fast one".  That's old people speak for some sort of confidence scheme.  Which unfortunately is also old people speak for a sham.  Dadgummit, I seem unable to define old people terms using the parlance of modern America. See?

Ok, anyway, I often considered it possible that a typical old person's day consists of little more than dreaming up new ways of perpetrating a healthy dose of somewhat harmless skullduggery on  the young and innocent youth of today.

There’s no way people were that different 50 years ago.  That's just what they want you to believe.  And the made up crazy words they say?  I’m not buying it.

Ever since I was a little kid, we used to pretend to be old people like this:

"You little whipper snappers get off my lawn!"

I don't know what a whipper snapper is.  I guess it might be a person who snaps a whipper, but I don't know what a whipper is.  Perhaps it's someone who whips.

But no matter what it is, one thing's for certain. It doesn't make any sense.

Also, we never heard any old people say it.  We heard it from people impersonating old people.  My point is, I believe old people say the goofy shit they say because they can get away with it. We don't know any better.  How are we going to verify or disprove something an old person says about the past.  We'd have to ask another old person.   Who will most likely be in on the universal prank and expand the tale even farther from reality.

Once, my Grandma told me that during the depression, my grandfather found work cutting lawns with a pair of scissors.  Years later, when I asked her about that, she said something about how I must have misunderstood her.   Yeah right.

What I'm about to reveal is 100% true.  The only part I can't work out is how such a hilarious secret was kept for so long.  To some, this information may be a shock.  To most however, I think it will make everything old people do suddenly make sense. I have learned (and have the physical proof to back it up) that old people?  Yeah, they're just fuckin' with you (JFWY).

Rifling through today's mail I found a large packet of material.  There was no return address.  I opened it to find a huge information packet and the cover letter above.  There are literally dozens of ideas on little things you can do just because you're old, and completely get away with.

An excerpt from "Welcome Old Fart, a love story":

One of the few advantages of aging is that you can typically say whatever you feel like and people just blame it on your age.  If you are younger, you can’t get away with that.  You have to understand all the current sensitivities.  You are evolved.  Not like old people.  They were born before humans understood right and not-right (young people understand there is no ‘wrong’).
Since young people don’t know what was acceptable speech in the old days, you can make up any old  offensive stuff and attribute it to a ‘simpler time’.  Our group has been getting away with this for centuries.  So you can call somebody a ‘Bum’, The olde fashioned name for “The Homeless”,  just as naturally as you might call someone ‘racial slur here’.   and then innocently protest, explaining that when you were a kid, everybody, including those dirty [redacted], called those dirty [redacted] those dirty[redacted].  Of course, this is ridiculous, but young people believe it roughly 100% of the time.  

After looking through some of these materials, I realized I am ready.  I just need a little guidance to perfect my old person persona.  For example, whenever I'm asked the question "Paper or plastic,"  I'm thinking "Do you really think I give a shit?,"  So I kindly say, "Plastic please."  What I should do is say an old person thing like:  "I wish you kids would make up your mind," As the young grocery cashier people ponder what the hell I'm getting at, I should then forge ahead with, "First we had paper, but we were killing all the trees.  So we got plastic and started killing all the fish.  Now you make us decide weather we want to kill fish or trees or buy reusable canvas bags for our groceries.  Well no sir.  I don't like it.  I'm off to 'Bag and Save', where they don't ask me judgmental questions.  Harumph!"

"Harumph,"  by the way is a signal to other members of the "old people" to shout "Huzzah!"  There are a ton of rules to this thing, but I'm actually looking forward to it.