Earth to Echo: Not the Movie

My wife presented me with an Amazon Echo for Christmas. The Echo is a black cylinder equipped with microphone, speakers, lights and a cloud-based persona, “Alexa” (only available alternate moniker, the slightly less personable “Amazon”). She is perpetually waiting to hear her name.

It would be an understatement to say we are still getting acquainted.

Alexa lights up at the sound of her name. If you’re fast enough, you can ask her a question or instruct her to perform a task. She quickly reverts to standby mode once she has responded. To continue the conversation, I must again “awaken” her by saying her name.

Alexa is so eager to serve, in fact, that she responds when she is being talked about as well as being directly addressed. Late one night, I was watching Second Chance when the Echo inexplicably started playing music. I solved that mystery when I realized a character on the television show named Alexa had been mentioned, and whatever had been said next sounded like a tune request.


Alexa has proven most useful, thus far, in assembling my weekly grocery shopping list, which automatically appears on my smartphone. Items can be checked or deleted as I put them in my cart. Handy.

Alexa has also been flawless in providing information on demand, like the current score of a football game, the latest news or the weather forecast. The Echo can act as timer within a 24-hour period. The variety of alarm sound options include several guaranteed to wake anyone from the soundest sleep.

Alexa can add a host of new talents by enabling “skills” in a companion smartphone app. She can now provide movie offerings and times, play Rock, Paper, Scissors, Spock, access music and tell jokes. She can also laugh and fart on demand. Yes, Alexa can be quite entertaining.

The height of Alexa’s entertainment value, however, comes in what she “thinks” she hears. The words are so random, they seem fraught with some type of deep, unfathomable meaning. Strung together, these misinterpretations of what I am certain were my perfectly enunciated requests seem almost poetic.

Hence, I present:

Ode to Alexa

Who is to the ocean hello?

What is due?

Get everything you do with you

Yeah, did you seconds?

Are you gonna call Volvo?

Kocher be mad at you?

Do you one?

Tell me five seconds

Next ball back to school

Tell me e-mail about what I wanted to do it my hours

Hello, damn

Seen inside of me

On plug you please

Yes the bones of the show

Don’t let me let me with do you have to pick up

Play a Doctor Wu song

Give me a boy you laugh

Do you know I’m talking midnight not even plugged in?

Then pause you have the notes from sailing

Knock, knock, knock. I want dancing

Add got pumpkin pie do you nine forty-two a.m. to my to do list

The cool down and you said that thing jackets

Adventures in Writing: Part 13 of 20?

Take 20 words chosen at random. Put them in a bowl. Draw one, and write something about it.
Simple? Maybe not.

Ah, this word was not one of mine, but I am quite ecstatic about the opportunity to share the many facts about “fart” that I have learned over the years.

Now, when I say “facts,” I am referring to the facts as I recall them. I’m old, curmudgeonly, and I never let actual “facts” get in the way of my memories.

Do not challenge any of the things you are about to be told. These are my memories, and no one will ever convince me that they are anything but completely accurate.

Let’s begin.

The chief component of the fart has been with us since the very beginnings of life. Methane, heated by the sun, bubbled freely in the primordial soup, churning and mixing the amino acids which eventually became us.

“Primordial,” by the way, is soon to become a new Campbell’s “Healthy Request(®) offering. Watch for it on your supermarket shelves.

Although the fart has always been with us, the modern word is derived from the German infinitive “furzenzimmer,” which freely translated means “to clear a room.” The noun is also rooted in the German word, “furzenraketetreibmittel,” which can be translated and condensed as “rocket propellant.

Is it any wonder this word has been shortened to four letters?

“Fart” has played many roles throughout human history, both standing alone and working with other syllables. The very first known instance goes back to the time of the Romans, the national group which became Italians in 1953.

The Romans found and trained the greatest barbarian fighter to ever perform in the Colosseum. I speak, needless to say, of  the most famous gladiator of all times, Fartacus.

Fartacus fought and defeated wave after wave of deadly Christian Ninjas for decades. This greatly amused Roman citizens who had become disenchanted with bread and circuses.

Fartacus was finally felled in 1851 by the divinely enhanced swordsmanship of St. Fartholomew. Fartholomew was honored for this deed by being named “Patron Saint of Cheesecutters.”

The next historical record of “fart” joining forces with other letters to become a famous name took place in what is now France with the man who conquered the world, Napoleon Bonafarte. Bonafarte is most renowned for his 1913 victory in the Battle of Waterloo, where he soundly trounced the troops of Russia.

Back then, for those who might be confused, Russia was known as the Soviet Union. That evil empire was destroyed just last year when Bolshevik leader Vlad “The Impaler” Putin toppled the czar.

To celebrate his triumph, Bonafarte wrote and performed “The 1812 Overture.” The French were so grateful to Bonafarte, they gave him a permanent, all-expense-paid vacation on the legendary resort island of Atlantis. He was never heard from again.

Beyond history, my richest vein of “fart” material, by far, is found in the various branches of the entertainment industry. My parents, for example, were immensely entertained by the TV program Kids Make the Darndest Smells, which was hosted by Fart Linkletter.

Little-known, fun fact: Linkletter emigrated to the United States from Canada as Gordon Arthur Kelley. His name was changed by Ellis Island immigration officials, who thought the new name would help him better fit into American society and give him a leg up on his comedic career aspirations. As an unexpected bonus to getting a good laugh at Linkletter’s expense, they were right.

Moving down the entertainment tree trunk to the music branch, who could forget the folksinging team of Fart Garfartel and old what’s-his-name? The hit parade was topped for several months by their biggest song, “That Smell.” Garfartel went on to enjoy a momentary career as an acclaimed actor.

Well, I’ve got a real treasure trove of additional fart-related memories I haven’t even mentioned stored in this old noggin, like the vast world of fine fart and the many famous fartists whose works hang on fart gallery walls throughout the world. I’ve got to save something for those conversational times around the 4 pm dinner table in my skilled care, independent living facility — after residents have loosened their belts, before they head back to their apartments with their containers of leftovers. The subject of farts is often breeched during these few happy reminiscing minutes.

I think I’ve made my point.

The next time you suddenly find a powerful, unmistakable aroma wafting into your nostrils, producing a barely controllable urge to wretch, remember the fart’s noble place in Humankind. Don’t start pointing fingers.

If you are the doer of the deed, don’t cower and shrink from attention. Step forward and proudly proclaim: “That was me! And you’re welcome.”