Bugles and Americana

With each passing year the tides change, the leaves turn, the snow melts and the fingertips of America’s youth remain adorned with Bugles.

As one calendar year gives way to another the climate of our globe warms as glaciers melt, artic polar bears starve off extinction in search for environments that permit survival and you look sort of like a witch until you bite off each witch finger because witches can switch back to normal-looking people whenever they want, plus you have more Bugles, anyway.

 From the millions who died in Vietnam fighting a war they could hardly comprehend to the questionable half-truths we’ve accepted as motives for entering Iraq and Afghanistan, America continues to showcase its superiority and powerful intimidation upon the rest of the world while operating in a blurred gray area of what is ethically acceptable and the salt from the Bugles has entered the cut on the cuticle of your index finger and your eyes begin to water.

While the family road-trip to American landmarks such as the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Statue of Liberty remains an outlet for domesticated life, what once occupied that travel time with spoken games while gazing out the window as Americana flies by has since been replaced with apps and vain expression through social media. Unchanged is the country gas station where your parents allow one snack each and finding the Bugles never takes more than a minute. Of course, your younger sister, Sally’s dumbass got Sourpatch Kids instead. It’s only a matter of time until she is complaining about her tongue being numb and you’ll probably just stab her in the eye with one of your Bugle fingers.

 It was 1966, as the country was growing weary of the status quo and evolving into a new era of acceptance and expression, that the Bugle was invented. Its early adopters were sitting on their back porches listening to Creedence. They were replaced by the generation sedating themselves with Bugles and the Ramones only to be cast aside by the next era of youth. But no one stopped believing in Bugles when arena rock came around. The Bugle was a place of comfort for those experiencing teen angst during the grunge era. While the music cherished so deeply by each generation became ridiculed by the next, the commonality remained that whether it was a flower dress, a leather jacket, big hair or a flannel shirt, the tiny crumbs of Bugles would eventually rain down on all of them.

 With political scandal inevitably finding prominence in the newspapers and the self-serving motives of politicians becoming only more discernible, we bicker and disagree over the merits of republicans and democrats, of liberals and conservatives. All the while social compromise becomes a sign of weakness rather than the strength needed for a country to thrive. You look down into the bottom of your bag and realize that the last of your Bugles are simply crumbles, no longer in the shape of a cone and you think to yourself, “Do these things even taste good?”

-Jonny Auping

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The Rice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge is sweeping the inter-webs faster than cats with hats. In a matter of weeks it will likely go the way of Harlem Shake videos, but unlike Harlem Shake videos the Ice Bucket Challenge was created for a good cause. The purpose of the videos, in which a participant dumps a bucket of ice water on his or her head and then challenges three friends to do the same thing, is all with the aim of promoting ALS awareness. 

While I doubt this goofy trend will save the world, it seems like we all can agree it’s a generally nice and productive idea, right? 

Apparently not. See, the Ice Bucket Challenge takes place on the Internet and nothing on the Internet is allowed to escape ridicule, snark and cynicism. While the challenges are going viral, there is also a growing resistance of the trend. The common argument of these detractors is that people do the challenge only for attention and pouring ice water on your head won’t actually cure a disease

Sure, it might be easy to mock the Ice Water Challenge if you look at it through narrow eyes. That’s why I think it’s my job to broaden your perspective and tell everyone the previously unknown origin story of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Perhaps if you realize how ridiculous the original version of the challenge was then you’ll appreciate what it has become and the impact it could have.

About five years ago, a group of young activists held a meeting in hopes of determining what they could do to improve the world and make a difference. After hours of brainstorming and gallons of green tea one of them casually mentioned that they should try to raise awareness of SLA. The rest of the group looked at each other in confusion until one of them finally asked, “What’s SLA?”

“You know, SLA. Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” the young man responded. 

“Uhh, that’s not SLA, Dave. It’s actually ALS. I think you might be dyslexic.”

As though they all shared the same brain, there was a collective light bulb that went off. Just like that, it was settled: they would raise awareness for dyslexia.

Three hours and many Black Cherry Almond Cliff Bars later they had their plan. They came up with the Rice Bucket Challenge. It went like this: participants would cook enough bowls of white sticky rice to fill a large bucket. They would then film themselves dumping the bucket on their head while yelling “RAISE DYSLEXIA AWARENESS!” They would then challenge three friends to do the same thing. 

The experiment was a universal failure. Of all six members of the group who made videos, not a single person they challenged accepted the challenge or even acknowledged the video. In fact, an alarmingly high number of those challenged unfriended their challenger. They tried to remake the videos putting the rice down their pants, but the results remained the same.

They sat down and thought of the possible downfalls of the experiment. They were as follows:

  • It takes awhile to cook a large bucket’s worth of rice.
  • It is a huge waste of rice. Donating the rice to places and people with food shortages might be more productive.
  • Watching someone pour rice on themselves provides very little entertainment value. A few kernels might stick to the face, but the vast majority of it will fall to the ground.
  • Cleaning rice off the ground is a pain in the ass.
  • Dyslexia is not a life-threatening disease, nor is it even a disease. Rather, it’s a disorder that is often not very difficult to live with. Practice and exercises can curb the disorder and allow victims to read and write on a regular basis without much difficulty. 
  • Yelling “RAISE DYSLEXIA AWARENESS!” did nothing to help people who suffered from it.

The group realized that they had to get back to the drawing board. For the next five years they brainstormed idea after idea (we won’t get into the Mice Bucket Challenge) until they finally remembered Dave’s original suggestion about ALS.

The challenge that I just described to you is ridiculous and arbitrary. The Ice Bucket Challenge is less so. The rules of the contest state that if you do not meet the challenge than you are to donate to the cause. I would suggest that even if you do accept the challenge you should donate $5 for the simple reason that ALS really is a horrific disease, which is what the challenge is trying to make people aware of.

Are there people meeting this challenge without much concern for the disease, but more interested in garnering Facebook ‘likes?’ Most likely, yes, but that cynical viewpoint does not take away from the good that the contest might do. If one were to hold a bake sale that encourages, but doesn’t demand, customers to donate to a charity we could all agree that this is a positive act, correct? But, eating a brownie bought from that bake sale is not actually an unselfish, generous act. It is enjoyable and delicious and that could be the motivation for eating it, Some people might buy one without donating. That does not take away any merit from the bake sale itself. You wouldn’t call that bake sale a waste of time. 

The vast majority of social media and Internet trends are pointless, distracting and ridiculous. Don’t shoot down the good ones.

-Jonny Auping

The Existential Question of the Everything Bagel

I always thought it was an arrogant name choice. 

The “Everything” bagel. 

Was the inventor prone to exaggeration? Or was he or she just lazy? Maybe it was supposed to literally imply that it had a vast amount of ingredients or maybe it was just a play on the colloquialism, “this is everything,” you know, like “money is everything” or family is everything.” 

I took to the interwebs to find out. I found this informative article in the Washington Post about the origins of the Everything Bagel. Two separate men claim to have invented the bagel. One claims, “There is no doubt I invented the Everything Bagel.” The other says, ” No, I definitely invented the everything bagel. There’s no doubt. It’s undeniable truth. It’s one of those things that’s 100% true, 50% of the time.”

I’m not sure what that last quote means, but unfortunately for both these men, when two people argue over credit for something I tend to believe neither of them. 

No, the Everything Bagel is beyond anything either of these two men could comprehend. It’s everything. 

It likely has existed in this world longer than we humans. Perhaps not fully formed, but all of its ingredients. Sesame, garlic, caraway, salt, and poppy are not just things. They are everything. If they are everything, what does that make us? Nothing? Probably, yes. We are nothing. 

As I type this I am sitting in a Starbucks, taking a break from more important writing (or could it really be more important? I mean we’re talking about everything here) and I look around and see nothing masquerading as a busy everything. I see a woman who brought her In-N-Out burger and fries into the establishment to eat. I see an eight-year old consuming a drink that is approximately 71 percent whipped cream. I see a man conducting an interview for a job that is so exciting that it conducts its interviews at Starbucks. 

What are we really doing here? The answer’s somewhere in the bagel. It has to be. 

The next time you groan as you look down and notice poppy seeds and who knows what else on your lap after polishing off an Everything Bagel with cream cheese maybe you should show a little appreciation. Twenty minutes earlier you had nothing on your lap. Now you have everything. 

Sometimes I wonder if God really took seven days to put this beautiful world together. Why waste so much time? I’m not sure that He really did create light on day one. I think He created the Everything Bagel. Then He kicked back. There is a hole in it for reason. The light could shine through. 

Jonny Auping

Uber Ambulances: Bleed Out in Luxury

uber

Over the past five years the tech company Uber has made huge splashes all over the country. The trendy app/website, which allows you to order a ride through a mobile app and track the car’s progress as it approaches,  has completely revolutionized the world of transportation and the company is now valued at over 18 billion dollars.

Their enormous success has not come without its share of opposition, however. Taxi and transportation commissions have strongly opposed Uber’s business tactics and accused them of operating as “unlicensed taxis.” Their shifting prices and fares are harder to regulate than most taxi cabs as Uber is its own separate business. There are still large cities around the country that have yet to allow Uber to operate legally within the city.

The people at Uber are clearly unafraid of opposition considering their newest venture is likely to upset people far beyond the Yellow Cab industry. This upcoming Fall, the company plans to launch Uber Ambulances, an efficient upscale medical service that will take you to the hospital through the Uber Ambulance app.

The process is simple. A customer suffers a serious injury and rather than calling 911 and waiting for an ambulance, which can be very expensive, they simply plug in their location to the Uber Ambulance. Within minutes they will receive a text telling them the name of their driver with a tracking device showing them how close the driver is to picking them up.

“It’s going to change the medical field forever,” claims company president John Uber. “When you get shot in the face do you really want to deal with a 911 operator? I mean who even talks on the phone anymore, anyway? Plus, paying for an ambulance is tricky, I think you have to use ObamaCare or something. With Uber Ambulances you can just pay upfront with your Uber account.”

So far test cases have shown mixed results.

Mike Leonard was hit by a bus and used Uber Ambulance to get to the hospital.

“I mean, I’m still alive, so I guess it worked. I typed in my location and my injury and within minutes it told me that ‘Phillip’ was on his way in a gray Range Rover. Then I got another text asking how bad I was bleeding and whether Phillip should put down sheets in his back seat to protect his leather seats. It also asked if I wanted to tag any friends in my ambulance experience. Most of my fingers were broken so I declined.”

Like the Uber taxi experience, one of the biggest factors that separates the Uber Ambulance is all the amenities that come with the ride. Creative leader John Goober elaborated on the experience.

“We can pretty much guarantee it will be more fun than any ambulance ride you’ve ever had. Each ambulance has a mini-fridge that carries Fiji water and Greek yogurt. While you wait for your ambulance’s arrival you can also create your own Spotify playlist to listen to on your way to the hospital. We’re even thinking about putting a First Aid kit under the driver’s seat with band-aids and stuff. Oh, and the Beats by Dre headphones! I almost forgot!”

No medical experience is required to be an Uber Ambulance driver, although most of the current drivers who are signed up failed out of nursing school at some point in their lives.

Uber plans to offer plenty of promotions to kick off the venture. If it’s your first broken bone using Uber Ambulance then you get $10 dollars credited to your account. If you refer a friend who needs to be taken to the ICU then your next ride will be free.

While the Uber Ambulances do not have the authority to turn on a siren and run red lights they do offer small talk from the driver about how long he has worked for Uber and what the gig is like.

At press time emergency room doctors were urging the public to not use Uber Ambulance and to instead rely on actual medical professionals.

-Jonny Auping

 

 

 

Two Turtles React To Donald Sterling and Justin Bieber

 

two turtles

Harold and Brian are two neighbor turtles that commute to work every day. Their job is about 150 feet away, making it a 45-minute commute. This was their conversation Thursday morning:

“Hey Brian.”

“Hey Harold.”

“How have you been?”

“Pretty good. I’ve just been catching up on Game of Thrones. It’s really confusing. I have 16 siblings and 104 cousins, but that’s still about half as many characters as are on GOT.”

“My son, Franklin, watches that. It’s too violent for me. I don’t care if “Winter is coming.” I’ve saved up like two and a half berries. I’m ready.”

“Anyway, you hear about this Donald Sterling stuff?”

“Uhh…Yeah, it’s not exactly breaking news. People have been talking about that for weeks.”

“Yeah, well what can I say? Your son delivers the newspaper in my neighborhood. No offense, but he takes forever.”

“Yeah, sorry about that. We probably should make him get a different job. So what do you think of this Sterling guy?”

“He seems like a pretty big A-hole. I don’t understand why he gets so much attention for owning a team of crabs.”

“Crabs? What? He owns a basketball team.”

“Oh. Really? Then why are they called the Clippers?”

“Well..because…actually I have no idea.”

“Either way, he’s a huge racist. He doesn’t want his mistress photographed with black people? Why would that bother him? My wife can take pictures with whoever she wants. She could be taking pictures with a bunch of sea turtles right now and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little extreme to ban him from the NBA for life and make him sell his team? What happened to freedom of speech?”

“Well, he’s not getting thrown in jail. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want without personal consequence. If you tell your wife that her shell is looking tight then you won’t get thrown in jail, but you might have to find a new wife. Besides, the guy got two billion dollars. Do you have any idea how many berries you could buy with that kind of change? I don’t understand how human money works, but I’m thinking at least ten.”

“Oh shell yeah! I can only imagine. Dude’s probably swimming in berries. How about that mistress that recorded their conversation? She sounds like a real berry digger.”

“I don’t have a problem with her. She’s no hero, but I’m glad somebody exposed the old racist. He’s been discriminating for years, but only finally getting called out for it. There’s this one old tortoise that lives by me who always says the worst things to me about squirrels. I wish some good looking female would seduce him then expose his prejudice.”

“I bet that sexy little rabbit that comes around could do it. What’s her name? Lola? Not too bad on the eyes, am I right?”

“Keep it in your shell, Harold.”

“Speaking of racism, this Justin Bieber guy keeps doing the stupidest things. He’s like a snapping turtle, he just doesn’t know when to stop. That little baby man dropped the N-word and sang about being in the KKK.”

“I don’t think he’s racist like Donald Sterling. I think fame has just made him crazy. The kid has been totally shell-tered his entire life. He has no awareness.”

“Yeah, he always does something stupid then looks completely shell shocked when people get mad. He reminds me of that one guy, Yertle.”

“The turtle?”

“No, the other Yertle. Of course the turtle. Anyway, guy couldn’t handle the fame after that human doctor wrote a book about him. Totally lost it. I head he’s on that syrup now. Doesn’t know where he is half the time.”

“I’ve heard of syrup. What is it?”

“I don’t really know. I think humans put it on their pancakes.”

“Humans are weird.”

“I know. You wouldn’t catch me saying anything hurtful about any other type of turtle.”

I guess we’re here. What were you thinking about for lunch?”

“I was kind of craving a berry. You don’t happen to have any on you, do you?”

“Who do I look like, Donald Sterling?”

“LOL”

Jonny Auping

For Two Turtles reacting to Miley Cyrus at the VMAs click here.

For Two Turtles reacting to the Duck Dynasty  controversy click here.

For Two Turtles reacting to Katy Perry’s Geisha performance click here.

Oh the Places You’ll Go….With Groupon

 

junk mail

“Of Standard Mail, I’m just not a fan, 

I just don’t like all of the spam.

Call it junk mail or call them coupons, 

They are clunky and annoying, unlike Groupons.

Yesterday I bought their Daily Deal,

and today I used them for each and every meal.

I didn’t enjoy the chicken parm, 

but at 42% off, what’s the harm?

segway

“Oh the places you’ll go, 

Oh the places you’ll see,

If you never say no

To a Groupon spree.

You’ll get a Segway Tour

Of the Petting Zoo

Or spend a few bucks fewer

For some bowling shoes.

You don’t have a pet,

But you know someone who does,

So buy that Memory Foam Pet Bed,

Just because.

You’re really not sure if you can take off of work,

But there’s a Groupon Getaway for three nights in New York.

While you’re there, why not reserve an “archery outing,”

Or buy a half-off manicure so your girlfriend stops pouting. 

A giant trampoline or another water slide,

It’s all so cheap, how dare you imply,

That it’s excessive or unnecessary.

That’s simply a lie. 

Horseback riding through a haunted house,

Or what about pole dancing lessons just for your spouse. 

You already have two iPads,

Whats’s one more?

Better buy a 70% off case,

Just to be sure.

pet foam

My bank account’s low and just getting lower, 

But the Groupon offers are not coming slower, 

A couple offers a day,

For random stuff,

What can I say?

I can’t get enough.

groupon iphone

I know it’s just a silly discount

And for my debt, they might jail me, 

But if I delete my account,

Then who will e-mail me?”

Jonny Auping

 

 

 

Anteaters and Racism

 

ant eater

 

Daniel told people that his anteater loved marshmallows. One time it ate four marshmallows in a two-minute span. He never told them that he dropped the marshmallows in ant piles so they were literally covered in ants. 

One thing his anteater didn’t like: Japanese people. 

He often sat the 20-pound creature down and told him that World War II was a different time and that people should be judged by their individual actions instead of the transgressions of their country over six decades ago, but the anteater was stuck in its ways.

“I can’t have you offending people I’m close to. My girlfriend is Filipino and that’s close enough.”

 Eventually Christina left him. She was actually Mexican. 

The anteater didn’t apologize. It’s an anteater. It can’t talk. 

Jonny Auping