Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Training Horn...humor...honk if you've got a real horn

Training Horn

We have an absolutely adorable, possibly even sporty car which, other than a blind spot or two contributing to the maintenance of my zippy heart rate, is quite the enjoyable little number to drive.

I must say, though, there’s one smallish car feature and consequential largish issue that seems to have been overlooked by the overpolite manufacturer in creating a robust image of this automobile. The horn.

This Standard Issue item emits an embarrassing braying sound reminiscent of a malfunctioning bike horn in mid-squeak. The incongruous effect is not unlike a situation where, let’s say, one is appreciating the artistic value that is a stunning specimen of a man only to have him ruin the effect by opening his mouth and uttering a few words in a prepubescent voice register higher than any testosterone-fueled human being should possess. It’s off-putting and even unnatural.

Not only is our horn an auditory embarrassment, but the tone renders it ineffectual to the nth degree. Whenever I need to avoid someone backing into me, merging into my lane or getting ready to pull out in front of me, I, as the beeper, tap the horn, emitting a staccato blast that is not so much a warning as a come hither.

People commence to looking around for the Huffy bicycle that’s sure to be in the vicinity and they are aghast to see it’s really a car and not one of those scaled down electric models either. Meanwhile, whatever action the beepee was taking often just goes forward because they’re so thrown off by my incompatible delivery system for the horn.

Worse than that is the state of affairs when the errant driver doesn’t hear my inoffensive toot at all. Whether I invoke a sustained tap on the apparatus or a briefer Morse Code approach, the resultant aural effect leaves much to be desired in the usefulness category.

This has me practicing maneuvers identical to the ones I’ve witnessed on television automobile advertisements with the warning in ant dropping-sized font at the bottom of the screen, “Do not attempt. Professional driver on a closed course.”

In point of fact, I’ve had more luck waving my arms, buzzing down my window and screaming, “Stop!” in avoiding collisions.

I’m not saying when you purchase a car you should test out the horn…okay, you know what? Yes, I am. I don’t know if an awkward honk is a deal breaker, but it certainly is a shock deflector at the very least.

At the time of purchase, for some reason we tested out everything except the horn. We sat in all driver and passenger positions, we flicked on the windshield wipers, we activated the blinkers, regular and emergency, and we listened to the very fine sound system as we engaged every launch sequence the car offered.

Finally, we test drove the car, kicked those tires, toted that barge and at no time in our checking of lists twice did we think to determine if we might be adopting a baby horn or a horn that would be in need of a transplant some time in the near future.

I just assumed our car would come equipped with an adult-sized version of the blasted thing, so I never thought to confirm that fact and there is no upgrade. I asked.

As the polar opposite of an ooga horn our “klaxon,” which is the other moniker it goes by, is a blow of indignity to one of the most important of our five senses. That’s bad enough, but now I’m beginning to dread using it.

Off I go anyway, defensively driving my way safely around town, not so much to keep my suave ride from getting dented, that’s a given.

I’m more careful than the average motorist because I dread close calls when I have to hit the horn, lest people look around for a phlegmy roadrunner with a chest cold. Cough, cough! Beep, beep!

Honk if you’ve got a real horn.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

RE: Holiday Column...of sorts...Ode to the Spatula (Humor)

Ode to the Spatula

The holidays are upon us and, thus, I feel it only appropriate that I write a thematic column. Granted, this cannot exactly be classified as standard yuletide fare, but here ‘tis.

‘Tis also the season to eat our weight in carbohydrates which got me thinking about the topic of baking during this year's impending Noël. (Don't be confused, especially you peripatetic cookie eaters, because Noël is also the name of a Colombian cookie manufacturer.)

Though the topic is not about the goodwill of men, it does involve will; the will to bake rivaling my will to sleep past any time I need to get up for work, play or comet watching Here and now I will offer up discourse about my friend, the spatula, without which, in the baking world, there would be no reason to even pre-heat the oven. Don't bother grabbing that oven mitt with the holly-wearing deer on it, either, if you don't have one of these handy kitchen items in rotation.

My love of this miraculous culinary invention has led me to learn more about it and share my findings, free of charge. I'm doing this because we underestimate the happiness inanimate objects of convenience can provide and they're often no more than a drawer away. Also, I just love my nifty multi-colored spatulas and I'm goofy enough to admit that to you all.

Why is the spatula column-worthy, you ask?

In order to respond to this query we must embark upon a quest not unlike a pursuit of the Holy Grail, aptly named because it was a journey taken by the multitudes through the millennia to locate a dish, plate or cup from the Last Supper. In our case, we're looking for the Holy Spatula, as it were, and in present times our seeking looks a bit different. I Googled spatula.

Google is nothing if not a giving search engine, in line with the season, therefore, it assists you without asking by filling in blanks that you didn't know you had. For instance, I merely typed in “spatula” and a veritable feast of facts bubbled over.

The sheer volume of synonyms for this beautifully crafted, seemingly innocuous stick wearing a saucy-shaped rubberized headdress is rather remarkable. It seems every language has its own word for this treasure of a turner; an egg slice, a flipper if its nomenclature is Canadian English, a yiwen or danny in Fiji (, whereas Americans often call it a bowl scraper.

I did eventually determine that a spatula must have “a broad rounded apex and a narrow base” and is much different than a garden variety turner which I discovered simply possesses the purpose of turning food. That cleared things up dramatically for me. My life is all about gaining knowledge, if not wealth. The problem for me then became focus because I was provided with a bevy of choices that had me following leads on topics that were not REMOTELY related to kitchen utensils.

Here is a non-comprehensive list of items that sprung forward from tapping in “spatula” which turned out to be a root word of sorts; “Ultrasonic Skin Spatula” which touts the ability to put “new waves in your skin care treatment,” “Spatula City,” a parody that Weird Al Yankovic recorded for a fake store, a punk band about which not much is known that goes by the name of “Spatula,” Spatuletail hummingbirds, a species of endangered birds found only in Peru, and Spatulatta, an organization that teaches kids to cook, so there are cookbooks, shows and a juvenile product line of Pepto-Bismol jellybeans. Okay, I'm kidding about that last one, but that could be a product, couldn't it?

A spatula by any other name is just as sweet because it accomplishes everyday miracles, if not turning water into wine, then transforming a little batter into plenty of batter. Have you had this experience? There stand those last two cupcake reservoirs that you need to fill. You whip out your trusty spatula, aerobically work the sides of the bowl and, Wha-la! Then there were two. It's not just a holiday miracle, but an everyday miracle.

Now, granted, it's no “Mary's face on a tortilla,” but it does make for some cheap entertainment, as well as magic-filled baking days.

Diane Dean-Epps is a comedienne and writer. Contact her at www.diane Diane has written a new book, “I'll Always Be There For You … Unless I'm Somewhere Else?!” Meet the author during a booksigning on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2 to 3:30 p.m., at Tome's Bookstore (Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters), 671 Maltman Drive #3, Grass Valley.