Category Archives: Oddball

The Magic that is 70’s Television

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CC image courtesy of Ángel Raúl Ravelor on Flickr.

I grew up watching all manner of television shows. I think being born in the 70s has something to do with it. In all seriousness, I consumed Good Times, All in the Family, The Jeffersons, even Three’s Company. My mom used to cackle watching Jack Tripper and his misadventures posing as a homosexual man living with two women. And she really does cackle. If she had a pointy black hat, green skin, an enormous hairy mole on her nose, and rode a broomstick at night, you would swear that she was a witch with that laugh. Don’t get upset that I’m poking fun at my mom. The joke’s on me as this cackle is hereditary. I’m known as the cacklebeast.

When I watch those shows today I see that some of these shows were edgy with their subject matter. Today’s world is eclipsed by political correctness where everyone takes everything so seriously. What is funnier than George Jefferson calling a white man a honkey? Archie Bunker’s bigotry making him a fool? Were these shows propagating racism? These issues ranged from racism to alcoholism. I actually enjoy how the subject matter is clumsily worked into the script.

The formula is simple involving an informative–yet unrealistic dialogue. How many times have you had a conversation that included statistics? Try a segue into the percentage of Americans with flat feet. I’m working on that one. By the way, I have flat feet.

See how I executed that transition masterfully? I learned my techniques from 70’s tv.

The Electric Gulag

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CC image courtesy of Dan Perry on Flickr.

Ben’s great-grandparents met in the internment camp colony forty one years ago. They were only two in a sea of millions driven to the camps colonies because of the famine.

Generations lived their entire lives in these resorts. They must be resorts. Nobody works. They don’t have to. They spend their time on leisurely pursuits. Everything is provided by the government.

He watches the black smoke from the power plant dissipate as he considers tomorrow’s big day. His birthday.
Ben eyes the transmission lines from the plant as they fade into the horizon. He thought, “I wonder where they lead?” The propaganda drones say the outside world is a desolate wasteland.

As Ben reflects on his life, he realizes that he will finally see the inside of the plant tomorrow. The government provided Ben a comfortable life, and tomorrow will be a very special day.

He’s seen those olive drab government limousines scuttle about almost daily and he will finally have his turn to ride in one tomorrow. The government will honor him when the limousine delivers him to the plant. He will be incinerated.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/flash-fiction/

My Name Is…

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I eased up to the drive thru window in anticipation of my Route 44 Ocean Water. Nothing like an ocean of blue coconut syrupy Coppertone to quench your thirst. Have you ever tried the watermelon Ocean Water? Brace yourself for that delight.

The window flew open, and the friendly cashier (or beverage associate or whatever important sounding title Sonic uses for its employees) said, “Hello, my name is Tamequa…” I don’t remember what else she said as I was focused on her name tag.

I couldn’t reconcile Tamequa with what my eyes read. Written in the popular Sharpie font, the letters on the tag were J-U-D-Y. I sounded it out and it didn’t sound like Tamequa.

I had to inquire as I have never encountered this. She pointed out that Judy was kind of scribbled out and her name was scrawled across the bottom. I can’t recall, but I think it may have been a Pizza Hut name tag.

I’m going to pilfer a name tag that says Hieronymus. I’ll tell everyone I encounter that my name is Ted. Or, maybe I’ll throw a curveball and say my name is Ron.

It’s Not A Tumor!

Have you ever had an exceedingly embarrassing moment? One of those cringeworthy instants you wish you could erase? An ignominious occasion that burns in your mind and still makes you blush?

Four years ago we got a couple of ducklings for the girls. We only kept the ducks a few months, in large part because the girls lost interest in them after they lost their yellow fluff.

One bird was a big majestic white duck. It was Zoe’s, and I was going to bring it up to her school for show and tell. Just as I was about to pull the duck out of the cage by its wing, something on its back caught my attention.

There was a huge red growth on its back. It was a tumor. A big, veiny cyst. It was an angry throbbing monstrosity that horrified me. And I think I touched it.

Naturally, I couldn’t bring Zoe’s class near the cadaverous tumor riddled bird, so I had to grab the mallard. I reported my findings in detail to my wife, Heather. I could tell over the phone that she was uneasy.

When Heather came home from work, I released the duck to play in the yard for her to inspect. After all, she is a physical therapy assistant. She is a tumor expert.

The girls were gathered around this duck on borrowed time. I thought I would be digging a new hole soon.

Heather eyed the red abomination closely and determined it was a Jolly Rancher matted in its feathers.

To this day, all members of our household laugh at my misstep.

For future reference, we must consider that philosopher Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “It’s not a toomah.”

But Wait, There’s More!

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(CC image courtesy of Google Images).

 I don’t like pitchmen. I really don’t. These shills on tv (and in real life) are a step above the carnival barker convincing people they can’t live without a glimpse of KoKo, the Dog Faced Boy.

As I flip the channels, these guys are yelling at me to buy Snuggies and bogus lint rollers. They make hollow promises of a more fulfilling life for only $19.95. Is that a good deal? It will be after they pile on the schlock.

This sales tactic reminds me of my mother-in-law. She can’t just get a little gift card that my kids will actually use and appreciate, she will cash her monthly check and get forty-seven gifts for each of my three kids at Dollar Tree.

Everyone knows one crappy gift is only a crappy gift. If you can manipulate the laws of physics, a hundred crappy gifts equals love and admiration.

Same here with these devious bunco artists. “Are you a lonely retiree with bushy eyebrows? You need our laser hair removal system! If you order in the next three seconds, we will quintuple your order. That’s right! You will have five laser hair removal systems. If that didn’t get hook you, we will toss in a nifty keychain so you won’t lose those car keys! You lost your driver’s license for mistaking the brake pedal for the gas and plowed into a deli? No worries. That same keychain can be used for a paper weight.”

 

Who needs five of anything? It’s the classic method of making junk appear to be treasure. Do you really NEED five hair washing trays? Come on, you don’t even need one. Take a shower and be done with it.

Every time I see one of these commercials, I want to throw a brick through the TV. I just can’t do it because I’m in the middle of Sanford and Son.

The Severity of Time

Did you know that time could be distracted? When everyday is a Disneyland kind of day, tomorrow becomes next week.

If you are beset with pain, time loses its forward momentum. Time loiters. It’s as if time has an insatiable appetite for agony. It’s like riding a broken suicide machine.

 

This is in response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge.

The Mundane is the Spice of Life

Nobody ever puts off something exciting. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll climb Mount Rushmore in a bee costume and hit golfballs off Lincoln’s head.” You don’t hear that. Or how about, “I’m just not ready to cash in my thirty-eight million dollar lottery ticket.” If given the opportunity to catch Bigfoot with a butterfly net, you’ll certainly do that over washing laundry.

When you procrastinate, you are usually putting off something ordinary.

“The dishes can wait until tomorrow.”

“Forget the DMV. Who needs a license anyway?”

“I can’t bathe the kids now, the pizza guy just got here with my triple cheese pepperoni and anchovy pizza and ‘The Biggest Loser’ starts in five minutes.”

Sure, exciting moments in life add color to your tapestry, but it is the mundane that is the spice of life.

Standing in line at the grocery store, changing your oil, four long years of college. I know the toga parties were great, but it’s the hours of studying that shaped you. It’s a slow process like a rippling creek cutting a path in sandstone.

So buck up. Pay your electric bill. Go work at that job you hate. Watch that infomercial. The unremarkable moments define your life.

Rockets and Robots

Music seems to be center stage to fuel one’s moods.  Everyone seems to know the best music to shake the blues.  Johnny Cash tells us to throw our blues in the Gulf.  Johnny’s music generally frequents my CD player while I’m on the road.  Who needs the blues when you are cruising down the road with a belly full of Corn Nuts?

If you want to beat the blues with brute force, there are numerous bands to choose from, but I like Static-X complete with robot imagery.  Robots like to rock.  They don’t get depressed.  Besides, if you had hair like Wayne Static, could you possibly get depressed?  I think not.

Since we are talking about robots, we cannot ignore Powerman 5000.  Frontman Spider One, with his futuristic getup and wonky stares, must be used for taming robots.  Melancholy moods are obliterated with angry music.  It usually won’t make you David Banner angry, but be forewarned.  Some consumers of this music are those gangster wannabes with their mean face and their intimidating swagger like they have a tricycle wheel for a foot.  You can find them at Circle K wearing their discount leather jackets asking strangers to buy them a pack of smokes.

If you can’t chase the blues off with anger, maybe you can scare it off.  Spider One and his brother, Rob Zombie, grew up on a diet of horror movies.  If you aren’t scared by Rob Zombie, you’ve got to be one of those scary robots he hangs out with.

When I have an especially bad case of the blues, I have to find some music that makes me dance spontaneously.  Dave Matthews Band fits the bill.  Plus, Dave likes to make up words.  It’s like listening to Bill Cosby shill Pudding Pops.

It’s clear.  If you have the blues you need to find some robots.

You may have noticed all of this music is a bit dated.  I’ve been out of radio about five years and I’m not hip and relevant.  It’s been another lifetime since I was concerned with the latest tunes.

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/prompt-singing-the-blues/

Pack Your Bags

Names can be like baggage. For better or worse, you drag your name along for a lifetime. However, one occasionally can escape their given name only to get a worse one.

My last name is peculiar, but I like it as it is uncommon. I like to identify with it. It is especially vowel-y that intimidates strangers. It flows like cool water which is fitting as my grandpa told me it meant creek. Luoma. Loo-oh-muh. Just like it’s spelled.

My name was borrowed from my grandpa. It even soan old guy’s name. He went by Ted. That’s normal enough, but my parents insisted on calling me by my initials. TJ is the epitome of uncool. I have actually spent most of my adult life running from it.

I was a disc jockey for many years. It’s a beautiful profession. You can choose any name you want and that name is the key to becoming someone else. When I started work at an active rock station I needed a flashy name. I settled on Naked Jake.

I was around 23. I thought I needed a name that would be remembered. I chose a name that cannot be forgotten. I’m 38 with a wife and three daughters now, and it no longer feels cool. It feels like a name you would give to the creeper that hangs out at the bus stop. It can’t get much worse unless you ARE the creeper at the bus stop.

It now seems that I am saddled with a mélange of monikers. My family calls me TJ. Old radio pals know me as Naked Jake. Then there are the few who call me Theodore or Theo. I’ll answer to anything, but my favorite name is Daddy.

 

 

This post is response to the Weekly Writing Challenge on names.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/writing-challenge-names/

More Dead Trees

It seems I have a guy for everything. I have my plumber, I call Tommy when I need a mechanic, I even have my tree guy.

It’s easy to call your guy when there’s money in the bank, but when funds are low, I pull out my Hayne’s manual to repair my own car, and this is why I didn’t call my tree guy. I’m broke.

I had no idea I had a dead pine tree in my front yard. Seriously, who looks up if the stars aren’t out? I don’t.

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It was impressive watching this drop.

Last summer, my neighbor told me I had a dead pine tree in my backyard. I had no idea. I can’t see if the trees are dead when I’m trying to see the stars through this massive leaf cover. As soon as the neighbor pointed out my dead tree, I called my guy.

These guys at All Pro Tree Service do a phenomenal job and they are priced reasonably. This time, a different neighbor knocked on my door. He said, “Hey fella, that dead tree could fall on your house. By the way, I had worked for Asplundh for thirty years. My son, who is a professional tree cutter-er guy, can help me get that tree on the ground. Cheap.”

I could only understand every fourth word he uttered because he is from the South. I have always had trouble understanding Southerners.

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Tree guys are nuts.

I was born in Minnesota. My dad talks like a Yankee. I forgot to mention that I was raised in the South. As a matter of fact, I’ve spent 33 of my 38 years living in the South. I still have trouble understanding this language. It is much like trying to understand that British nanny on tv. They don’t speak English down here. They speak Southern.

So after determining that he wanted to cut some trees down and he wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness trying to sell me a set of encyclopedias, we agreed on a price and he came today.

It went smoothly today, so I decided to share this triumph on Facebook. Just like I share every meal I eat, the latest news on back boils, and everything else my friends don’t want to hear.

My guy, remember my tree guy? He read it and admonished me for hiring someone who isn’t insured. I really felt bad that I took my business to Mr. Shadetree tree guy, but I’m on beans and rice for the rest of the month. I figured I couldn’t afford my guy at this time.

He is right. My guy is just looking out for my best interests even when I tried out the new guy. From now on, I’ll be sure to use my guy. If you live in the Shreveport-Bossier area, maybe you could make him your guy.