Thursday, September 27, 2012

You Might Be From Mesquite If…

If you’ve lived in Mesquite for any length of time, you know that there are certain phrases and statements that are unique to our small city.
Below, I’ve included a few that you might recognize, or have perhaps even said during your time here.
For example, You Might Be From Mesquite If…

…you’ve ever caught yourself saying “It’s ONLY 104 degrees today” in the middle of September.
…you know which casino used to be called the Peppermill, and which one used to be called Player’s Island.
…you’ve not only SEEN a desert tortoise, but have actually helped erect something called “tortoise fencing” as a fund-raiser for your favorite local group.
…you know that “Sy Redd” isn’t a breathing disorder.
…you’ve never been able to say the letters “B…L…M…” in that order without getting mad enough to kick something.
…you’ve ever referred to Las Vegas as “West Mesquite.”
…you can keep a straight face while explaining to someone from “back East” that the Virgin River really is a river.
…you can’t explain what an HOA is without involving words that start with F, D, S, H, or A.
…you know why there is a creek but no bunkers in Bunkerville, and bunkers but no creek at Wolf Creek.
…you believe that the only thing wrong with The Gorge, which separates Mesquite from St. George, is that it isn’t big enough.
…you know why many of the whites and Hispanics in this community wish they were Blacks.
…you understand that the 19th Hole has nothing to do with a golf course.
…you used to know more cattle by their first name than people.
…you realize that the logo on the side of the Grapevine Villas overpass crossing I-15 isn’t really Pac Man.
…you can find your way from West First North to East First South without a map and a GPS.
…you can explain why the CasaBlanca hotel has a golf course called “CasaBlanca,” but the Oasis golf course has nothing to do with the Oasis hotel.
…you know that there are no cows on Dairy Lane.
…you remember Mesquite Heights by it’s maiden name, the Old Dump Road.
…you know that when you mix the colors Sy Redd, Allen Green, and Randy Black, you create the color of money.
...your city government doesn't have wards but your town's biggest church does. know what that big empty grocery store across the street from the Stateline Casino used to be called. can name at least three different restaurants that have existed in that little building next to the big empty grocery store across the street from the Stateline Casino. have paw prints painted on the road at Hillside Drive, and know why. know which resort casino was built by Merv Griffin
…you can explain where to find Pirates in the middle of a barren desert, and why they’re worse than anything that’s ever sailed the seven seas.
…you know exactly how long an egg can sit on a local city street in July before it’s ready to be served up with bacon and hash browns.
…you can say you’re going to the Dam Bar, and you’re not cursing.
…you’ve come to the conclusion that, after visiting Virgin Valley and Scenic, Arizona, the federal “truth in advertising” laws simply don’t apply out West.
…not only do you know nice families named Hafen, Hughes, Jensen and Leavitt, you’re related to all four of them.

To those who have heard, said, or know all of the above, congratulations.
You are now officially a native of Mesquite.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Get Naked Like A Royal

Once upon a time, in a land about eight time zones away, there lived a handsome prince and a lovely duchess.  A century ago, she would have been considered a princess, but there's some technicality nobody can figure out involving bloodlines and a wicked old queen, so we're going with "duchess" for this tale.
The prince was a studly guy who enjoyed a good time, especially those involving Mead Light.
It came to pass that the studly prince engaged in some friendly games of chance involving cue sticks in a place called Ye Olde Sinneth City. 
Being somewhat vain, and a smidge intoxicated, the prince appeared before some people (not his people, mind you, but they were probably somebody's people) and proclaimed himself to be the greatest Beer Pong player in the world.  As is the habit of people who go around referring to themselves as the greatest, he insisted that he be clothed in only the most exquisite garments.  In fact, he claimed that his royal togs were so magnificent, they could only be seen by those equipped with magic spectacles, called "Beer Goggles."
None among his entourage wanted to appear ill-equipped in his presence, and all agreed that the prince's outfit was the most wondrous they had ever seen.
However, after an unsuccessful game of Strip Polo, the prince was beheld by one honest woman who was Beer Goggle-challenged. 
"Alas," she said, or maybe it was "egad" or "forsooth" or one of those other medieval interjections peasants toss around while in the company of royalty, "I am bereft of Beer Goggles, and therefore cannot partake of your splendor."
"Fear not," the studly prince replied.  "Have you not a Telecommunication Device of Wisdom?"
"Yes, m'lord," the wench replied.  "I have a smart phone."
"Then simply engage thy iPhoto app and capture my haberdashery in all its royal wonderment."
The hand maiden, or maybe ankle maiden, or upper left incisor maiden (when your family owns an entire country and dresses up in crowns without the intervention of a mental health specialist, you can basically get away with having maidens for every anatomical part) complied and captured several images of the Ginger-bred man in all his glory.
"I don't see it," the maiden said once she had examined a few snapshots.
"It's right there," the prince counseled her.  "Behind the philodendron."
"No, that's a tube of ChapStick," she replied.
"I meant my fine new clothes," the prince said.  "Can't you see them?"
"No, m'lord, I see no threaded finery.  I did, however, notice that you really are a natural redhead."
The prince gathered his peers around the device, each in turn offering compliments regarding his couture. 
(Censor's note: "peers" is a disgusting, obscene term that has no place in a family newspaper, particularly after the line a few sentences back about having servants for every body part.)
(Author's note: It would only be distasteful if the scene involved his compatriots standing at a trough in a men's bathroom.)
"Sire," the woman finally said.  "Methinks thou art nekkid."
"Nonsense," the crowned royal said after downing another shot of Crown Royal.  "Fire up thy Facethbook and let's get a few million other opinions."
And that's how the studly prince's crown jewels wound up on TMZ.
The moral of the story: Never show off your German bratwurst when it's obvious you're from Vienna.
As for the lovely duchess?
She got caught with her top off while hanging out in some French guy's back yard.
(When you're only a duchess, you're not afforded the privilege of having your folly spun into a fable by Hans Christian Andersen.  Just ask Sarah Ferguson.)
Scientists are continuing their tests of Ye Olde Royal Water Fountain in search of an explanation for why British Royals continue to have so much trouble keeping their clothes on (above-normal levels of tequila content are currently suspected), and whether there's any truth to the concern that there may be Kardashian blood running through some of their veins.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Loving My Dentist

I just finished another round with my favorite dentist.
Ordinarily, "favorite dentist" is an oxymoron, like "military intelligence" or "Congressional action."
Not with my dentist.
I've written about the amazing Dr. Blazzard before.
For starters, he is a nice, clean-cut family man; but when it comes time to yank out one of my failing wisdom teeth, he's more "pro-drug" than Cheech or Chong.  His staff is extraordinarily generous with whatever the liquid substance is that turns my speech into one long vowel movement.  And I am deeply grateful. 
In all the years I've been going to him, the only time I can recall experiencing pain of any kind was once when the lady at the front desk announced that I had exhausted my insurance limit.
Like a lot of people my age, the first thing I think of when settling down into my dentist's pleather La-Z-Boy is Bill Cosby.  Back in the 1980's, Cosby released a comedy album that included a classic bit about visiting his dentist, a routine that is as true today as it was when the first western barber unwrapped his very first Black and Decker.
"Dentists tell you not to pick your teeth with any sharp, metal objects," Cosby's bit began.  "Then you sit in their chair, and the first thing they grab is an iron hook."
Not my incredible dental hygienist. 
The first thing she grabs is a couple of Q-tips. 
I suspect she's going to use it to plug her ears against the blood-curdling scream certain to follow as soon as I see the size of the needle she has hidden behind her back.
Instead, she puts some sort of numbing agent on them and strategically places them wherever she intends to soon inject.
That's right, she's going to numb the places she's about to numb.
My first question, asked as only a 51-year-old man who is terrified of needles can ask, is...why hasn't my family doctor heard about this?
If Obamacare added this one line, "no numbing with needles until you've numbed with Q-tips," I'd be on board quicker than a nurse could lie "this won't hurt a bit."
After 15 or 16 shots (following my devout religious belief that, when it comes to painkillers at the dentist, more is better), my dental hygienist then turns on some Beatles music, because she knows that people my age find it hard to act uncool while listening to John, Paul, George, and Ringo.  That is, of course, so long as you're not strapped into a chair when the songs "Help!" or "Helter Skelter" come out of the speakers.  Also, I can attest that "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" are much more profound after the 17th or 18th injection.
After she starts scraping my teeth with what I can only assume is a rat-tail file (remember, I'm up to 19 or 20 shots by now, so I don't care if she's using a belt sander in there), she finally gets around to the iron hook.  I'm told dental professionals call this a "pick."  In my head, all I can see is an image of a grizzled miner breaking gold out of stubborn rock with a similarly-named tool.  After 20 minutes, I'm hoping she'll give it up and opt for some dynamite on that stubborn tartar.  My hygienist is very skilled, and it doesn't hurt a bit, but the sound is like chipping old grout out of a concrete sidewalk with a balky jackhammer.  She's a sweet and dainty little thing, but with her hand strength, I'm pretty sure she could whip Arnold Schwarzenegger in an arm-wrestling contest.  Or at least a good thumb-war.
Once my extremely talented hygienist finishes her warm-up act (did I mention it didn't hurt a bit?), it's my dentist's turn.  Where she was a gold miner, he's an accomplished oil driller.
But after a few more Q-tips and a few more injections, I wouldn't care if he actually discovered Brent sweet crude in there.
First he drills out a couple of cavities and refills them with what I can only guess is some form of Spackle.  He does it faster than Denny Hamlin's pit crew can replace four tires and fill up with two cans of Sunoco racing fuel.
Then he extracts my stupid wisdom tooth without either a doorknob or a spool of fishing line (which is how it was always done in the Saturday morning cartoons of my youth).  He also does it without any pain.
So in less time than it takes to renew my driver's license, my dental care is done for another year.  And with less aggravation than is usually experienced at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Of course, if the DMV would simply start using those magic Q-tips and a few well-placed injections...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Those Annoying Flash Flood Warnings

I'm grateful that the National Weather Service provides emergency warnings on television.
For starters, it saves me all the trouble of getting up from the sofa, going to the nearest window, parting the curtains, peering outside, and looking skyward, which is how Meteorologist Morris would otherwise determine it's raining.
It also answers the question of whether that window-rattling noise I just heard from outside is the roll of thunder, or just my next-door neighbor bringing in his garbage cans.
The warnings are a throwback to the good old days, when the only real news was bad news.
Ever since school officials across the country decided that positive reinforcement was way more valuable in education than ruler-wielding nuns, paddle-equipped vice principals, and report cards that actually included "F's," there has been a decades-long rush to put a positive spin on everything.  It surprises me that the federal government's official cloudwatchers don't break into programming every few minutes and "positively reinforce" us with messages like "the sun is still shining, folks!" and "the economy is in the tank, unemployment continues to be out of control, and gas prices are about to go up again, but at least it's not snowing!"
Unfortunately, it's obvious that the NWS toners (the dweebs who decide when to issue that annoying warning sound on TV sets preceding an important message) either aren't watching today's episode of Maury, or are in the pockets of the broadcasters themselves.
I say this based on the timing of the warnings.
Did you ever notice that the tones and pre-recorded messages always come on at the most inopportune moments?
"Yeah, Murray, I had sex with the entire basketball team and two of the referees that night, so I'm not sure who my babydaddy is."
"Let's find out.  I have the results right here.  Point guard Joey Zitmaster -- you...are..."
"BEEEEEEEEPPPPP...the National Weather Service has issued an advisory for the area located about three states away.  We're not going to name the towns, but will admit that it's a county that starts with the letter R.  There will be no wind, no rain, no snow, and no precipitation, but a flash flood warning has been issued for every community that has nine-year-olds and an outdoor garden hose.  We've spent $8 million with a New York advertising agency to come up with catchy rhymes like 'don't drive through that river, unless your passenger is a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation giver,' and 'stop and turn around, as if that flood water was a scary clown,' so we're going to recite those high-priced gems about every 15 minutes whether there's weather or not.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled drivel."
(The message crawler at the bottom of the screen disappears just as the sound returns to the crying new mother racing off the Maury stage while six of the accused babydaddies demonstrate the triangle defense with the crumpled paternity test results.)
Why can't they wait until the commercials to give us the message?
In today’s cable TV world, where you will see almost 14 minutes of commercials per hour, there are plenty of opportunities to blast such a warning without disturbing the story.  In fact, it's probably a challenge these days for the station to find three consecutive minutes of uninterrupted programming for the announcement. 
If they waited for the commercial break, it would be a double public service: they would make an important announcement, and they’d put a temporary muzzle on Flo and her insurance ilk.
Commercials are, after all, supposed to be imparting important information, so it's where those weather warnings actually belong. 
Ditto for the occasional test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  You know, that long tone followed by a voice explaining that nothing has happened, nothing is happening, and nothing is going to happen, but if it was, the broadcasters in your area in cooperation with state and local officials would collectively wet their pants just before playing this annoying sound to announce the end of the world.
By the way, the Emergency Broadcast System was in place for more than 30 years.  Then in 1997, the federal government in their infinite wisdom commissioned a study, held hearings, debated alternatives, and finally compromised on a new name for this vital service.  The high-tech, sophisticated new name for the old Emergency Broadcast System?  The Emergency Alert System.  (Yes, your tax dollars at work.)
One last thing: we've lived for nearly 40 years with that annoying tone.  We've all heard it so often that now it's just background noise that we've learned to ignore, like the intermittent chirp of that smoke detector with the dead battery from 2007.  It's time we spice it up a little.  We need a shrill sound that will annoy dogs, one that will frighten small children, a sound grating enough to wake adults out of a dead sleep or college students out of a Jagermeister hangover. 
My suggestion?
Lady Gaga.
"Ra ra ah ah ah, ro ma, ro ma ma, ga ga oh la la..."
If that noise won't scare you into thinking the world is coming to an end, nothing will.