Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Overpopulation's upside

 You knew eventually once the market was glutted they'd just start giving them away.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Goat Yoga: Yuppie fad or sign of the apocalypse?

Sometimes civilizations at their peak show warning signs of their impending fall, and I can sum up America’s top warning sign in two words: goat yoga. No, that it is not the name of a death metal band, although I just trademarked the name and if you are a drummer we should talk. 

Goat yoga is just that—yoga with goats. Yoga in the midst of goats. So as to be climbed upon by goats, while striking yoga poses. Why? Because, let’s face it, yoga has always lacked that certain something which I like to call goat poop.

Best anyone can tell, this inviting of Nigerian dwarf goats to climb on you while doing yoga began last summer in…Oregon (you gasp!) It got such publicity that at one point there were more than a thousand people on the waiting list, which raises the obvious question—are these goats from the cast of “Hamilton”? 

They were charging $30 an hour or, (and I am not joking) if paired with a wine tasting, $75. Who needs to actually see the Four Horseman, people? It’s over. 

The news coverage spawned imitators in Arizona, Massachusetts, Texas, New Hampshire. All across the country, anyone with access to lovably cute dwarf goats put up a yoga shingle. 

There have been goat yoga pajama parties. In Houston they dress the goats in cute clothes and diapers, which eliminates the mess but ratchets up the adorable factor to a degree not seen since that “Mister Ed” drag episode.

Many goat yoga Web sites have a “frequently asked questions” page. Below I have mixed actual questions and answers found online with some of my own. See if you can tell the difference.

Q: Do I have to participate in the yoga portion of the class?
A: No. Some people like to just sit on their mat and snuggle goats.

Q: Can men participate in goat yoga?
A: Sure! But why?

Q: How long is the session?
A: The Goat Yoga class is 30 minutes, and that is followed by Goat Happy Hour.

Q: Have we finally answered the age-old question, “Could you, would you, with a goat?”
A: Yes.

I only made up two of those.

I expect the next news I will hear is that the goats have unionized and now insist on being called little goats instead of dwarf goats. And, of course, goat yoga should provide a nice bump in the nation’s employment statistics, if you count goats as service workers. So at least we will face the Apocalypse on top. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Dude, who stole my hygiene?

 Because for dudes too lazy to apply deodorant, biodegradability is a key selling point.

 . . .

Guest Wa pic courtesy of Elana & Emily. 

"When we see things like this, we think of you..." Yeah, a lot of people do. 

Thank you!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

All-female cast of ‘Lord of the Flies’ stirs controversy

There is a lot of controversy over the announcement of an all-female film of “Lord of the Flies,” but I could have sworn they already made that movie. Wasn’t it called “Sex And The City”? 

O.K., that was not fair, I did not see even see it, but the Rotten Tomatoes review site gives it a 5 out of 10 (in tomato terms, a green splat), and I have found you can generally trust fruit-based critiques. 

(The fact that a tomato is a fruit is yet another reason, along with aardvarks, to distrust nature.)

“Lord of the Flies” is the story of a group of boys who survive a plane crash on an island and, because of their immaturity and innate human failings, devolve into a violent dystopian society of their own making. Then they all grow up to be lobbyists. 

I am joking. Some of them go into timeshare sales. [Spoiler alert] The Lord of the Flies is a decapitated pig’s head, abuzz with tiny winged followers. Lord of the Flies is not a title most people seek, and even fewer pigs.

Nobody seems to know what the two male writer-directors intend with this project, other than it will be set in modern day. Will it be a straight-up remake, with murderous young girls being horrible to each other? Or a twist on the story which takes into account the ways in which girls would react differently to their dire situation? (A hilarious teen novel, “Beauty Queens,” was already written along these lines.) 

Critics say that men cannot possibly write pubescent girls right for the screen. Critics have apparently never seen “Heathers.”

Plays like “The Odd Couple” and movies like “Ghostbusters” have been remade with female casts, with relative success. If “Flies” makes a ton of money, can a female “Catcher in the Rye” be far behind? Perhaps with the main character, Holly Caulfield, turning heads in short prep school skirts? 

And don’t try to tell me you would not pay money to see the movie “Kate Gatsby.” Or “Of Mice and Mavens.” “The Three Musketettes”? “Daisy Copperfield”? 

Tweaking a beloved classic always riles people up. If it turns out to be horrible, it will quickly disappear or become a cult classic. If it’s good, producers will start looking for even more cinema classics to flip female. 

Let’s hope it’s good, because I have two words for you: “Captains Bodacious.”

. . .

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - The fix is in. But it doesn't have to be...

 When you have had it up to HERE with repairs. Join the resistance.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Skipper-dog's vertical leap is not what it was

I bought a little set of stairs to help our aging dog get up on his favorite chair, but he just stared at it like it was a cat. He likes cats, actually, but he is not about to climb up one. 

So his favorite route, floor to chair to windowsill to bark at the mail man, now looms like Everest. The couch is suddenly too high for him to jump onto, so I laid one of its back cushions on the floor to use as a step up. He snuggled onto it as a bed. 

The dogs of my youth—Flirty, Brownie, Snoopy, Tiffy (do you sense a certain naming convention?)—have glowing places in my memory. Woofer not so much. Woofer was small, shaggy, black and white, low to the ground. You never wondered what Woofer was thinking about because you knew he wasn’t. Post-Woofer, I was dogless for 20 years. I am not proud of it. 

Skipper, best anyone can tell, is a terrier/Chihuahua mix, roughly 12 years old. He arrived from the shelter with the pretentious French name, Bon Garçon. Which either means “good boy” or “excellent waiter,” depending on the high school you went to. 

He got his new name because he skips when he walks, his back legs doing such a jig that more than one well-meaning passerby has warned us he must have stepped on a thorn. No. It comes from inside, we’d say. He is a Skipper. 

Last week he must have jumped off his chair funny because one loud yelp and one x-ray later, he seems to have a compressed pair of vertebrae. Instead of the confident three-foot leap he has  made onto the bed for a decade, he now paces below, posing, readying, then reconsidering. Like Kobe at the end, he just doesn’t have the legs. Ten minutes into his daily walk, he has slowed to the pace of a bipartisan bill.

His tail wags as always, though. He does not know he is mortal. He thinks he will wake up every morning in his plush bed, now set on the floor for easy access, forever. He thinks one day, if he just sniffs the crack under the front door powerfully enough, the mail man will be sucked indoors for gleeful devouring. And whoever they hire to replace him. Forever. 

It is not true. But for now, at least, to borrow from “Omar Khayyam,” Skipper skips, and having skipped, skips on. 

. . .

The excellent waiter in more sprightly days

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Viewing total eclipse in Wyoming a profound experience

In Wyoming last Monday morning I stood amongst sweet-smelling sagebrush on a high promontory and watched the sun totally get its hiney handed to it. 

The moon just floated up in there at exactly the right angle and, shoomp, the world around me became dark, cool and so quiet you could almost hear my friend Bob refilling his cup from the boxed wine. 

I am joking, of course. There was whooping. Near-religious spectacles call for whooping. 

I filmed myself, just in case I wept, which I hear people do at a total eclipse, or fell to my knees, or was converted on the spot to the Republican party. It turns out that in the face of once-in-a-lifetime, awe-inspiring views, I tend to look like I am watching a really high altitude documentary about adjustable rate mortgages. 

I did choke up a bit, then became aware I was choking up, then thought “why are you choking up?” Right there is the history of my people. 

Apparently, any given spot on Earth will have a total solar eclipse every 350 years or so. Not patient enough for that kind of wait, my other friend Greg is an eclipse chaser. This was his fifth. A professor of physics, he brought two big telescopes and filmed the thing. 

In contrast, the other two dozen of us mostly sat in camp chairs drinking Arnold Palmers and munching banana bread. Each of us channels his inner scientist in his own way. 

I will never forget the perfect black sphere of the moon silhouetted by the wispy white corona of the sun, but mainly I will remember the way the dark fell. In a span of five seconds day became night, and the primal fear which each of us has inside, going all the way back, was triggered and just as quickly countered. Some whooped, some wowed, some sat slack-jawed, but all, I am sure, felt the same thing—we are tiny. We…are…tiny.

The drive back to the airport, hundreds of miles from the viewing, was a traffic jam of L.A.-on-Thanksgiving-morning proportions, extended the entire day. One little girl in a small town, trying to capitalize on the massive flow of potential customers, paced the sidewalk holding up a sign: “Shave Ice.” 

I wanted to get home, everybody did, but if she had just flipped the sign around, revealing the words, “See you in 350 years,” I would have been her first customer. 

. . .

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Guess they were ready for their closeup

That feeling when they steal your security camera. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A road trip to the Great American Eclipse

Not since the Civil War has the country been so completely split, so upheaved, so divided into two camps—going to the eclipse, and not going. 

Going to the totality, I mean, the total eclipse experience in which half the U.S. population tries to cram itself into a 75-mile wide swath of land 2800 miles long. It is deeply appropriate that this rare spectacle on the American continent will result in the most American of pastimes—massive traffic jams and novelty t-shirt sales. 

My friends have been planning their trip to the totality zone for years, but I did not commit. I figured it would occur around the time school started back up for my wife and son, and I should be around for support. Then I caught eclipse fever, and support be damned. 

I caught it late, with less than three weeks to spare, and when I checked, lodgings for one night in the area I wanted to visit cost $1000. For that kind of money, I had better be seeing “Hamilton” get between me and the sun.

Luckily my long-planning friend said just come out and we’ll find a place for you, so as you read this, I am driving across Wyoming. To get in the mood, I wanted to get an audio book with a story set in the state, but “Brokeback Mountain” was not owned by any of my libraries. 

Others, like “Savage Thunder” and “Trailer Trash” were already checked out. I finally settled on “The Lost World” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There is no Wyoming connection, but it involves people being awed by an incredible spectacle, so close enough.

I have watched several videos online of people experiencing a total solar eclipse, so I can observe proper eclipse etiquette. Evidently, to fit in, I should do this:

As the moon starts to blot out the sun, say “Whoa, it’s getting darker.”

When the eclipse is in full effect, express my awe by whooping like I am at a football game, perhaps my first ever football game, after drinking my first ever beer.

That pretty much covers it.

Since we are spending the night outside the totality zone, then driving 80 or 90 miles into it on eclipse morning, a monster traffic jam is my greatest fear. That, and there is currently a 20% chance of rain. But whatever happens, the t-shirt is going to be epic. 

. . .

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Getting Faced

Half off this month for politicians looking to save.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How climate change is making my pants too tight

People are aware oceans will rise because of global warming, but what about the subtler issue of rising humidity, which has noticeably caused my leather belt to shrink uncomfortably in recent months? 

Humidity is the only culprit I can come up with. My friends report increased stress-eating since last fall’s election, but I have too much self-control for that. No. Rising humidity. It’s heck on leather; that’s a known thing. 

For the longest time, for decades, I had the same waist measurement, same belt hole. We have all seen the news reports that five of the hottest years in recorded history occurred in the last dozen years. They do not mention humidity much. You start to wonder if climate scientists have some sort of deal with the leather industry. Because, I’m telling you, in the last nine months, when I sit down I feel like I am wearing a girdle. 

Have you ever noticed how much better a bacon cheeseburger tastes when the weather is humid? Um, I mean, SOMEBODY needs to do that research, because I, for one, have not been on a quest to find the best bacon cheeseburger in L.A. since November 8th. Nooo. My doctor forbids it, no matter the relative humidity. 

I am starting to think maybe belts are old-fashioned, like coastal cities. Like bathroom scales. 

Belts are just another excuse to keep methane-producing cows around. It may be time to release my inner Mork, to go with suspenders of the rainbow variety, or at least orange. Orange is a conversation starter. As an introvert, I can use all the help I can get. 

They make leather suspenders, but with all this humidity, that’s an invitation to a wedgie by midday. (Imagine sending invitations to a wedgie. Main quandary: what font to use.) 

I have never even considered wearing Sansabelt slacks, because that is a slippery slope to white dress shoes and golf jokes. That is like trashing the Paris Accords using polyester and Spandex, the blending of which, as I recall, is expressly forbidden in the Bible. 

Strangely this rising humidity has not affected the tightness of my leather shoes. I guess it is just one of life’s mysteries, like the Electoral College and the current proliferation of Civil War beards. I hope a scientist will write and explain why my pants no longer fit. They fit perfectly fine when I was 30. 

Maybe Al Gore can weigh in. 

. . .

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Niche Market

Not only do they block UV rays, they live-stream C-SPAN. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fifteen culturally insensitive things we should offer North Korea not to nuke us

The United States has an official policy of not negotiating with terrorists or dictators, but we have fudged that quite often under the table. Under the table is also where I used to hide lima beans I didn’t want to eat at dinner, on a little ledge I found which was perfect for the task. Under the table, anything is possible. That is why I offer these…

Fifteen Possibly Inappropriate Things We Should Offer North Korea Not To Nuke Us

1. Hawaii. Hear me out. For vacation we would still have Florida. They could change Hawaii to “East Korea.” The fusion restaurants would be fantastic, and they could rename the Blue Hawaii the “Blue Jong-Un.” Pineapple juice, Curacao, vodka and medals. 

2. Bob Newhart. It could change everything.

3. Kimchi tacos. Ditto.

4. Lacrosse. Who would really miss it?

5. Dennis Rodman. Same.

6. Easy Cheese; squirtable liquid cheese in a can. As I think Chairman Mao said, once the people can squirt their own cheese, anything is possible.

7. Gerrymandering. Ooh, I could see this catching on big, right after democracy.

8. “The Sopranos.” Couldn’t hurt to plant a few seeds in a few noggins. 

9. Watermelons. Do they even have watermelons in North Korea? I would doubt it. I bet some minds could be blown. 

10. The Rule of Law. Sometimes the best gift is the one you didn’t know you needed until you got it.

11. Our country is a great tech innovator, so I do not think it would be too tough to rig up a jet that could just strafe Pyongyang 24/7 with Philly cheesesteaks. Hearts and minds, people. Somebody get to work on this. 

12. The Olympics. Nobody, NOBODY, does pageantry like the subjugated. 

13. The Rams. I know it’s controversial. The Rams are still building their stadium in anticipation of a triumphant return to L.A., but it’s not like we’ve grown attached yet. Maybe then the Raiders and Chargers could share the new stadium, which would be like Sid Vicious and Mr. Rogers being college roomies—endlessly entertaining. Win-win.

14. The 19th Amendment. The right of women to vote. This would confuse them so much!

15. In-N-Out Burger double-doubles. Because we are not animals. 

Experts say North Korea now has a missile which can probably reach U.S. soil. I have a Twitter account which can reach the president. Let’s hope Kim shows as much restraint as I do.

. . . 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

New music genres you haven't heard of because you're old

One advantage to having a teenager is they remind you how out of touch you are musically. This is important, because it deflects your attention away from obsessing about the new belt hole you have had to start using. 

If you are like me, you grew up in a time when a music genre explained its effect on you right there in its name. Rock made you rock. Swing made you swing. I defy anybody to tell me what action I should take while listening to a new genre called “vaporwave.” 

It sounds like a brand of public restroom hand dryer. It is, according to the Internet, a style which pays ironic homage to 1980s elevator music and smooth jazz, and employs a “satirical take on consumer capitalism.” 

It also brings in “cyberpunk tropes,” which is something I frankly thought we had eradicated worldwide back in the ‘60’s. Vaporwave is apparently a variant of “chillwave,” which is not to be confused with “coldwave,” itself a French variant of post-punk. 

Are we rocking yet? 

You have probably heard of “house” music, but now there is something called “witch house,” which is “occult-themed dark electronic music.” It takes hip hop riffs, then “chops” and “screws” them until you have something resembling the situation in Congress. 

Witch house also involves “ethereal, indiscernible vocals,” which has personally always been something I try to seek out in the music I don’t listen to. 

My college-aged daughter, home for a few days, wanted me to know about “pirate metal,” which until now I had always thought of as swords. But as she puts it, pirate metal music is like metal, but “way more jolly.” 

“Nerdcore” is a genre of hip hop which uses themes “considered to be of interest to nerds,” like “Star Wars,” role-playing games, science and so on. This then spun off into the less humble  “geeksta rap,” which like gangsta rap involves braggadocio about one’s prowess with computers. 

At this point you will think I am making all this up, because you are a normal human being. I am not.

Sadly, I do not even have time to get into “aquacrunk,” “trip hop” or “dubstazz.” All are actual music genres and not, as you might suspect, unfinished books by Dr. Seuss. 

My wife suggests a new genre herself, “geezerpop,” which I support. It would involve homages to early Donny and Marie overlaid with some Pink Floyd riffs. If I can just get the recording arm of the AARP behind it, we’re golden. 

. . .

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Tree advice

  Normally I don't listen to trees, but...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stop making such good TV already!

When I was growing up, there were only three TV networks and, to paraphrase the Bible, it was good. It took two or three years for a hit movie to arrive for viewing on TV, and even then it was constantly interrupted by ads, and it was good. 

As consumers, we knew our place. They gave us "The Love Boat" and we ate it up, just as a dog which has never known steak thinks hamburger is scrumptious. I would not put "The Love Boat" up there with hamburger, but you get my meaning.

Now there are also Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, streaming-providers of shows which have decided to become creators of shows, and if anyone from those companies is reading this, please pass this message on up the chain: STOP CREATING STUFF! 

Do you think I am made of time? Do you get some sadistic thrill from coming up with terrific, funny, heartbreaking shows I will never get around to seeing, because for every one I manage to watch, you pump out 20 more? 

I am calling for a moratorium on awesome, on gripping and on ground-breaking. If your show pushes boundaries or melds genres in never-before-seen ways, with writing which manages to be moving and funny at the same time, you can bite me. 

I only have time to reinvigorate my humanity maybe five hours a week. You know those hack shows some networks only put out in the summer? "Battle of the Network Stars," "The Gong Show," "Candy Crush"? Those networks possess something I never thought I'd see from a soulless corporation: mercy.

I implore you, content creators, in all humility, to spend the next, oh, five years, only green-lighting shows which suck. Give me a chance to catch up. I know camera operators and set dressers and writers need work, so I am not saying close up shop. Just produce things which make "Fantasy Island" look like "Gone With the Wind." 

Let inane be your watchword. There is an audience for inane. Here’s an idea: standup comedy shark-jumping. You can have that. Use it.

If Instagram becomes a movie studio too, I cannot be held responsible for my actions. I might have to become a TV critic just to make a dent in the backlog, something I promised my parents they would never have to see me do. 

Please, oh great and powerful NetAmaHulu, have a heart. 

. . .


© 2017 The New Yorker

Sunday, July 16, 2017

In defense of man spreading

"Manspreading" is a term invented in recent years for what men have traditionally called "sitting." Manspreading refers to the way some men spread their legs while riding on public transport, in what I like to call "airing lotus" pose. Cities have even created ad campaigns to admonish men not to take up too much space on buses and trains. 

This is like asking terrorists to only blow people up a little.

A man, at birth, is wired to spread. The taking of domain is a primary instinct, be it via land conquest by tank, yardage on the gridiron, or extra seats on the bus. An ad campaign cannot roll back the muscle memory of a million years of successful spread age. 

Experts say if you encounter a mountain lion on the trail while hiking, make yourself appear as big as possible. Men basically go through life as if they are practicing, at all times, how to fake out predators. It is an entirely unconscious activity, like when women bond.

Some men make the argument that it is uncomfortable to sit with their legs together, for "obvious reasons." This is a ploy to blame anatomy, for which we can blame a lot of things, don't get me started, but these things do not pertain to bus travel. 

The real reason is that sitting with your legs together looks feminine. The only thing men try to avoid more than looking feminine is kale; not so much because it is healthy, but because it is fashionable.

A man riding on the subway with nobody around him, and his legs held together deferentially, sends a signal to society that if you are hiking with him you are on your own. You are cougar bait. Society, like it or not, prefers an oaf to a cougar baiter. 

You may be irritated when wanting an open seat on a bus, but when the invaders come over the hilltop, you will want the manspreaders, legs planted almost comically far apart, to meet their charge. 

I am not a manspreader. Faced with a mountain lion, my enlargement tactics would probably induce a feline eye roll. On a sliding masculinity scale from “Hulk Hogan” to “Oscar Wilde,” I come down somewhere in the “David Niven” range. But I do not equate keeping my legs together with femininity. I grew up with an older sister, and I learned very early never to leave an open target. 

. . .

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A conversation with an invasive Asian carp

It was recently reported that a single “invasive” Asian carp got through river defenses near the Great Lakes, causing a media furor. I am fortunate to have that carp here with me today.

GW: Welcome, carp.

Carp: ‘Sup.

GW: I hear that because your particular type of carp eat up the plants that other types of fish need to survive, your species quickly becomes the only kind of fish in the rivers and lakes you inhabit. Scientists call you “invasive.” Would you agree with that characterization?

Carp: I prefer “ambitious,” but words are political. 

GW: Illinois officials set up a multi-stage underwater electrical barrier in the rivers just to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, yet you were found beyond the obstacle. Didn’t you get fried? How did you do that?

Carp: I grew up in Philly. You know what I’m saying?

GW: But that barrier puts out two volts per inch. That’s gotta hurt.

Carp: As G. Gordon Liddy said, the key is not minding it. 

GW: You were then snagged in a gill net put in the river by the state. What was that like?

Carp: Well, imagine you are driving down the freeway, and suddenly you run into a huge invisible gob of crazy glue and you can’t move. Then a giant hand comes out of the sky, opens your car door, shakes you out onto the shoulder, then picks you up, carries you through the air and makes you do a fake interview.

GW: That’s intense.

Carp: Tell me about it. I’m quoting G. Gordon Liddy over here and I’m a fish.

GW: The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (yes, there is one) put out a lot of details about you last week. They descried you as a silver carp, 28 inches long.

Carp: Yes, but I put 32 on my resume.


Carp: Yeah, my resume. You know, in case anybody ever wants to do, like, “Finding Nemo: American Style.”

GW: But you’re Asian. 

Carp: I’m Asian like you’re Irish. I was born and bred in a pet store right here in the U.S.A. When it cratered, some guy dumped me in the river. The rest is history. 

GW: So what’s next for you?

Carp: Well, I’m pretty sure the president is going to pardon me in a Rose Garden ceremony. Wait, what is that? Dude, is that tartar sauce?