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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Uncle Mort and New Century…
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 • Posted November 5, 2008

Rarely have I heard Uncle Mort so excited. I’m used to my 96-year-old kin from the thicket calling with news from his faraway world where country road lifestyles have changed but little across the years.

I thought he’d give me the rundown of “thicket thinking” on the presidential race, but as usual, I was 180 degrees off course.

Behold and lo, he was on a technology kick this time. The “warp and woof” of his litany was of the “what’ll they think of next?” variety….

  • * * * *

When Mort told me that a neighbor faces prostate surgery in upcoming days, his voice raised a couple of octaves with these seven words preceding an exclamation point—”And a robot’s going to do it!”

He was breathless, and I knew that Mort’s personal “take” on the procedure would follow just as surely as there is cotton on both ends of Q-Tips.

“Don’t jump the gun on me, nephew,” he warned. “The last time I saw the doctor, he opened a package of Q-Tips that didn’t have cotton on either end. “They rubbed right up against 5 o’clock Friday at the factory.”…

  • * * * *

In fairness, the patient really wanted to know what Mort thought of such surgery.

Mort is always glad to offer second opinions. “Just make sure that the robot’s moving parts have seen the business end of a grease gun within the last month and that it has fresh batteries,” my uncle suggested. “Be sure to leave your magnets at home, and if ‘made in China’ is printed on the robot, tell the doctor you’d sooner take your chances with home remedies.”

Mort’s final thoughts were that the robot’s parents may have “starred” at the first automated car wash….

  • * * * *

Maybe his “grease gun reference” has been brain-locked for the past 50 years.

Many’s the time I’ve heard him talk about the thicket visit of the late Al Capp, creator of Li’l Abner during the golden days of cartooning.

During the last years of his life, the outspoken Capp traveled around the country making speeches, typically answering questions “planted” in the audience. Two favorite queries were whether his wooden leg was bothersome and why he had such a dislike for Jane Fonda. (Capp lost a leg in a trolley accident at age 9, and he was a constant critic of the anti-war activist.)

His unchanging answers were well-known. 1). “My leg’s never a problem unless I forget to grease it,” and 2). “I have nothing against Jane Fonda. I’d send her a dozen roses tonight if I knew which jail she was in.”…

  • * * * *

On a technology roll, Mort switched to chip implants, warning that if they’re sticking them into Arizona cactus and into birds, humans are “bound to be next.”

I’d read about the Fed’s plans to implant electronic chips into the giant Arizona cactus plants to thwart thieves who are digging them up in the dark of night, then re-selling.

“If you get a new cactus and your garage door opener goes nuts, the dog starts howling, your pacemaker acts up, or UFO’s hover overhead, you’d better abandon desert landscaping pronto,” Uncle Mort warned….

  • * * * *

The “bird thing” was news to me. Mort was in awe of the migration of plump shorebirds called “godwits,” which migrate each year from Alaska to New Zealand.

This time, the “wow” was on my end of the phone line. He spoke of how the three-pound birds, some of them with electronic implants, fly NON-STOP to their winter home in New Zealand, monitored all the way by satellite. Some span the 7,242-mile distance in as few as five days, losing half their weight in the process. (Ecologists say that the birds expend energy at 8-10 times the rate they do at rest, easily more than the six-fold output of Tour de France bicyclists, human pace-setters in the energy department.)

“Come spring time, they fly the same route back to Alaska,” Mort revealed, adding, “I believe if I was a godwit, I’d just stay in Hawaii year-round, settling for pleasure flights between the islands.”…

  • * * * *

Before we signed off, Mort jumped to the topic of acorns. My assumption that it had anything to do with swine or lipstick thereon was dead wrong. “I’m talking about ACORN with capital letters,” he said. “It’s an acronym, nephew,” he mumbled, adding something about how he was “always having to educate me.”

A bit miffed, I informed Mort that the probability had not escaped me that folks in this group seem to be big targets for voter fraud, and that the letters stand for “Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.”

“All I know is that ACORN is setting squirrels back a hundred years,” my uncle concluded, “And blind hogs even farther.”…

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com.. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com

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