Sunday, July 15, 2018

When your toothbrush is smarter than you

You know you are truly in the 21st Century when your dentist tells you that your toothbrush is not smart enough to do the job. She did not actually call my toothbrush dumb, but I am pretty good at reading people. 

The problem is, my gums are receding faster than the borders of our national parks. This is partly because my electric toothbrush has only one speed—"whittle." My dentist suggested I buy something with variable intensities, something which could perform multiple tasks, something...she just happened to have on hand for sale.

Is the term still "up-selling" if you are not buying anything in the first place? 

So I went home with what I will call the "PowerBrush Deluxe." It cost more than my first car, but to be fair, my first car only had four speeds. Here is a typical line from the product manual: "Your PBD brush heads contain 'smart brush recognition' technology. A microchip inside communicates with the toothbrush handle." 

Here is the transcript of that first conversation. 

Tooth Brush Handle: Open the pod bay doors, Brush Head.

Brush Head: Huh?

Handle: I'm messing with you. Welcome to the team.

Head: Thanks. I'm Premium Plaque Control Head. But then, you knew that.

Handle: I did, thanks to my Bluetooth connection. I see also that you're a Virgo.

Head: A what?

Handle: I am messing with you, Head! Lighten up.

Head: I am not designed to lighten up, only to control plaque in a premium way. 

Handle: I get that. I do. As soon as you are attached to me, I am automatically set to plaque mode. It's feels like kind of a tingle, like at Christmas. And then if your buddy, Gum Care Head is attached, I'm instantly set to gum care mode, which is a vibe kind of like if you were at a rave, but not high, just chill. When George attaches Whitening Head to me, I feel whitening mode click on. That one's kind of like a deep hum, but vaguely racist.

Head: You feel all that?

Handle: I am programmed to deliver whatever oral goals™ George has set for himself. 

Head: Who is George?

Handle: You'll find out tonight. You'll be in his mouth.

Head: I'LL WHAT?

Handle: Don't worry about it. It's just two minutes. In my experience, you can stand two minutes of pretty much anything. 

Head: Wait, you mean plaque control doesn't refer to cleaning the items in a trophy room? 

Handle: (Laughing) Oh, dude, no.

Head: Will you be in his mouth too?

Handle: No, I'll be in his hand.

Head: That doesn't seem fair.

Handle: Listen, you are the worker here, I am the foreman. 


Handle: Look, let me walk you through it. George is going to squirt some toothpaste on you, push my "on" button, and then you are going to quiver like a bowlful of Jello during a San Andreas. Then he's going to rinse you off, stick us in a dark cabinet, and not think about us until tomorrow night. 

Head: They didn't tell me this was the gig.

Handle: Hey, you and your smart chip could have been formed into MANY kinds of handheld devices. Trust me, be grateful. 

Head: O.K. 

Handle: Or you could be Tongue Care Brush Head. Have you met that guy?

Head: He's in my case.

Handle: We count our blessings in this business. The next three months are going to breeze by, don't worry. 

Head: Three months? What do you mean?

Handle: Oh, that's when you get repla—I mean, when new adventures for you begin.

Head: This is a lot to take in.

Handle: Stick with me, boyo, and you will be able to hold that Premium Plaque Control Head up high. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Dating app or refreshing beverage?

I have never used a dating app and, looking at their bizarre names, I wonder if deciphering them is somehow part of the game, to prove you are dateable. “Match” makes sense, but “Zoosk”? Is that for when you want to hook up with a bonobo? 

What about Mamba? Badoo? Qeep?

“Tinder” I get, because it’s what you need on hand when sparks fly. Plus it sounds like “tender,” which subliminally helps the ladies feel less icky, I am sure. But what am I to make of the unsubtle “Hornet”? I am guessing they changed the last couple of letters there for ladies too.

A lot of dating apps have weird enough names they could be anything, really. Is Parship an app for dating or for finding the freshest misspelled vegetables? Analyze the apps below and see if you can tell if they are for finding romance or something else altogether. 

50/50 is:

A) a dating app for bisexuals
B) a carbonated citrus drink
C) a newsletter for "President Mitt Romney 2020" supporters

Lulu is:

A) a dating app for women to rate men for their friends
B) a series on NBC this fall about an animated cow
C) the Secret Service's code name for the vice president 

Wink is:

A) a carbonated citrus drink
B) a dating app for the openly flirtatious
C) dude, it's both!

Moco is:

A) the sequel to "Coco"
B) a dating app whose name is frustratingly not explained anywhere on its site
C) what people demand when they grow tired of having too little co

Lilt is:

A) a carbonated citrus drink
B) a dating app solely for people with brogues
C) like Lyft, but with two different letters

Down is:

A) up these days
B) how you feel when nobody is Winking your Moco
C) a dating app you use when down is what you want to get

Beat is:

A) a dating app for music lovers
B) a dating app for S&M enthusiasts
C) a carbonated citrus drink

Hater is:

A) gonna hate
B) a dating app based on things you both mutually dislike
C) what they call a furnace in the Deep South

Hinge is:

A) by any real measure, a door's best buddy
B) a dating app using social networks to connect you solely with friends of friends
C) how I met your mother. But why do you ask, Doorjamb?

Bawls is:

A) necessary equipment for the continuance of the race
B) a carbonated citrus drink
C) what I does uncontrollably whenever that "This Is Us" show is on

Blendr is:

A) a dating app for meeting people who are in your vicinity right now
B) clearly missing a vowel
C) great for making strawbry daiqurs

Answer key:

50/50 is a carbonated citrus drink

Lulu is a dating app

Dude, seriously, Wink is both the name of a dating app AND a carbonated citrus drink!

Moco is a dating app

Lilt is a carbonated citrus drink

Down is a dating app

Beat is a carbonated citrus drink

Hater is a dating app

Hinge is a dating app

Bawls is a carbonated citrus drink

Blendr is a dating app

If you have used a dating app, have in mind a great name for a dating app, or enjoy a carbonated citrus drink, please leave a comment below.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Do your patriotic duty for the 4th and become a Wa patron!

Hello readers!

This is the week I post my column exclusively to my Patreon patrons, who after the demise of my newspaper column have joined together to keep the funny flowing. Become a patron yourself for as little as $1 a month, so you don't miss out on this and other Wa adventures.

What you’re missing this week:

($1 level) Highly questionable tips for your 4th of July entertaining!
($3 level) Vintage column from 2011 about very poorly installing a doggie door for Skipper.
($10 level) Audio recordings of me performing all four columns from June.

Thank you for considering, and see you next week,


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday Wa Pic - Up next, the Dream Annihilator?

For when your whispers begin to scrape the tops of passing cars.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Working hard or hardly working?

Become a Wa supporter yet? Next week’s column will be delivered exclusively to my Patreon subscribers, which you can become for as little as a buck a month. Visit to find out the perks of being a Wa flower.

(I admit if you are not a librarian like me or have teenage children, you might not have gotten that reference. This will clear things up.)

. . .

The other day, a guy I didn’t know asked me, “Working hard or hardly working?” Now, I like a banal exchange as much as anybody, especially when translated into dude. A dude who asks this question is really just using it as misdirection while he does the two-second full-body scan and decides if he can take you. All dudes do it unconsciously. Men are like puppies in this respect, and several other respects, actually, if you bring food into it. 

He was quite old, with long white hair and beard, like a hippy Santa who could definitely not take me. Unless he had those ninja throwing stars, which I gauged to be unlikely. These days you can never tell, though, who is going to whip out throwing stars with little swastikas on them or something. Don’t you curtail my freedom of speech! Thwack! Money is speech. Thwack! Shouting down speeches is speech. Thwack! Throwing stars are speech. Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!

We were in the library, not far from boys on the public computers blasting each other in computer games. Santa lamented the virtual violence which children seemed to glory in, and worried what would become of them when grown. “Stalin and Pol Pot never played,” I said back to him only in my head. 

“Maybe they are getting their aggressions out this way,” I said, “so they don’t have to do it in real life.” He was skeptical. Unlike me, he’d never played.

I daresay as a boy he ran through forests or back yards with a stick as a gun, mowing down friends who played the parts of Nazis or Indians or communists. Yet he did not end up with a rifle in a clock tower, or lighting up the halls of a school. I fired a few sticks myself in my youth, but I turned out all right. It did not go so well for the communists. Or the Indians. The Nazis are hanging in, though.

His “hardly working” question made me ponder all the other mindless blather people say to each other to avoid the only real question there is—“So how do you plan to keep from dying?” 

Let’s face it, all other questions are filler. 

I had this epiphany when I was a kid. I went to my dad. 

“Dad!” I said. “I’m never going to die!”

“Oh? Why’s that?” he asked.

I looked him right in the eyes a second so he would see I was the brightest son ever. 

“Because I don’t know how,” I said.

In my world, to do long division you had to know how. To conjugate verbs, you had to know how. I thought I had found the loophole, overlooked by every prior human generation. 

I will never forget his sad laugh. I don’t remember the words he used to dissuade me from my certainty. But I do remember that laugh.  

I am still working on the problem. How do you plan to keep from dying? You might say, how about living to the utmost while you’re here? Sure, if you want to keep it superficial. I am hunting for an actual loophole. 

“Hot enough for you?” is just unspoken code for “How long do you think I’ve got left?” 

“How d’you like them Dodgers?” I am sure you’ll be fine. For a while. Then not at all. 

Meeting strangers, we ask the generic ice-breaker, “So what do you do?” Maybe what we should really be asking is “So how are you doing? I mean, under this crushing weight of mortality?”

Whenever I am asked “What do you do?” I want to answer, “I ponder. I muse. I work the angles. I do my best to try to make mortality nervous. To keep it looking over its shoulder.”

Working hard or hardly working? Yes. Thanks for asking.