Quick Takes.

Barking Up The Wrong Phone.

The other day when I came home my dogs were barking, but taking my shoes off would have to wait because our real dogs were barking and needed to go out. They usually bark when I come home; I like to think this is because they’re excited and happy I’m home. Several years ago my wife and I went to see a stage production of 101 Dalmatians that featured some real Dalmatians, and also some actors in Dalmatian costumes. Instead of barking the actors would yell “HEY! HEY! HEY!” and this is what I often think our dogs are saying when they’re barking, although they’re also quite capable of intelligent conversation, but that’s another story.

Anyway I had a dog on a leash in one hand and my phone in the other and decided to send my wife a text to let her know I was home safe and sound. And because I’m a little goofy, especially after a day at work, I asked my phone to send her the message, “I’m home with the barking bow wows.” And this is the preview message that popped up:

Obviously this was my fault. I’ve given my phone a British accent and occasionally this causes some confusion. For instance when I’m dictating a message I can’t end a sentence with “period” or it will spell out the word “period”. I have to say “full stop”. So I tried again.

Again, obviously my fault. I think I stumbled as I was talking. Third time’s a charm.

Powerhouse was a short-lived television show produced by PBS in 1982 about a plucky little community center and the diverse young people who frequent it. It also ran on Nickelodeon back in the network’s early days, and the cast included a very young pre-SNL Ana Gasteyer. ” I was not yet ready to give up.

No clue where this came from, although “Powerhouse” is also the name of an instrumental composition used in many Warner Brothers cartoons. None of this has anything to do with the message I was trying to send, but, hey, that was a nice little diversion. I was determined, though, that persistence would pay off.

It would have to do.

Fall Into Autumn.

Fall, the season of cooler weather, falling leaves, and shorter days is here at last. Some prefer to call the season “autumn” after the Latin autmnus, meaning both the season and the harvest. It’s the time to reap the fruits of spring and summer labor and prepare for the winter to come. Whatever you call the season here are some ideas to help you celebrate it.

Store Nuts For Winter

Go to a bank and get a safe deposit box. Specify that you want one low to the ground. Fill it with nuts to see you through the winter.

For extra authenticity do this while wearing a squirrel costume then forget which bank you stored your nuts in. As long as you avoid going back to the same bank you can do this repeatedly over several years. It’s not like it’s going to affect your credit rating.

Make Spider Webs

Spider webs are larger and, thanks to cool morning temperatures which causes dew to collect on them, more visible at this time of year. This makes them an ideal symbol for the season as well as a reminder of the circular rhythms of time. You can craft spider webs of your own out of string or pipe cleaners.

For extra authenticity knit an “egg sac”. Stuff several small children into it. Ce sac n’est pas un jouet. Release them in the spring.

Celebrate Seasonal Differences

Have someone in Australia write “Happy Spring!” on postcards and mail them to you. Notice how they change to “Happy Fall!” when they cross the equator.

Enjoy Seasonal Flavors

Pumpkin spice-flavored drinks have become a popular fall tradition. Try making your own pumpkin spice-flavored beverages at home.

For extra authenticity make a pumpkin spice-flavored latte with only ingredients that would have been available to the early European settlers. So, basically, mash pumpkin and milk together. Yeah, never mind. The result looks and tastes like orange-tinted plaster.

Add pumpkin spice to orange-tinted plaster. Serve it along with some real pumpkin spice-flavored lattes to your friends. See if they can tell the difference.

Do NOT make a rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb is at its peak in the late spring and early summer and is really just celery that’s possessed by demons.

Have a bonfire.

Ideally bonfires should be held in the country or in a large open field, but don’t let living in the city hold you back. Learn from my example, though, and point out to the authorities that technically construction hadn’t started on that site.

Go on a hay ride.

For added fun throw yourself in front of the tractor and get seriously injured, then become the tragic hero of a young adult novel about the rewards and risks of farm life.

Note: Discourage others from following your example. A bunch of injuries can bring down the mood of a fun, jaunty hay ride, and you also want that young adult novel to focus on you.

Have a leaf-raking party.

Raking the leaves that clutter the yard is an annual chore, although no one’s really quite sure why we do it, except that some people are just weird about their yards and have tricked the rest of us into being the same way. Why not make it fun? Everybody loves a party, so invite your friends to help rake leaves in your yard. If you can convince them to bring food, drinks, and their own rakes, well, you can pretty much sit back and rest. Suckers.

Name That Season

Have a debate with a friend over whether the season should be called “Fall” or “Autumn”.

Standard debate rules apply: participants will have their left hands bound together with a one-foot cord, but instead of right hands holding the traditional switchblades participants will try to scald each other with cups of hot cider. It’s educational and delicious!

 

Fableistic.

Aesop’s Fable:

A miser turned all his wealth into a single large lump of gold. He then buried it in a field. Each day he would go and dig it up and marvel at how much gold was his. A thief noticed this and followed him secretly. Then when the miser was gone the thief dug up the gold and took it.

The miser was greatly upset by this, but a farmer who had observed it all said, “Place a rock where your gold used to be and pretend that’s it. It will do you as much good.”

Discussion Questions

1. Is it always better to diversify your assets?

2. On whose property did the miser bury the gold? Was it his own or public land? Would this make a difference?

3. How should the thief declare the gold on his tax returns?

4. Was the thief a professional or a guy who just happened to notice the miser going to the same place every day? Spend some time on this question. Your teacher’s fixing a gin and tonic.

5. What kind of profession is “miser” anyway? Have you ever mised?

6. Is this story victim-blaming?

7. Like many of the fables attributed to Aesop this story has been retold in various versions for over 2500 years. How did the farmer basically manage to invent modern economics?

 

Summer Blockbuster.

Deleted scenes from Superman II (1980, directed by Richard Donner):

  1. EXT. DAY.

General Zod interrupts a bank robbery in progress and encourages the crooks to continue.

  1. INT. DAY.

General Zod insists that the White House Oval office be repainted a bluish-green color.

  1. EXT. DAY.

General Zod, visiting SeaWorld, takes a particular interest in the pinnipeds.

270. INT. NIGHT.

General Zod demands to be served the meat of a milk-fed calf raised in terrible conditions.

  1. INT. NIGHT.

General Zod accepts a delivery of satsumas and insists that everyone have some.

  1. INT. DAY.

General Zod acquires a dog and takes it to a training class.

  1. EXT. DAY.

General Zod conducts and outdoor group-therapy session for people with anhedonia.

306. INT. NIGHT.

General Zod orders Superman, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and Miss Teschmacher to perform a traditional Scottish dance.

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