Friday, April 30, 2010

The V.P.L. Offense

Heather and I, strangers to western North Carolina, were merrily proceeding in an easterly direction when police lights appeared in our rear-view mirror and we heard a siren.

Heather said, "Oh oh, he got me speeding! [Expletives sadly deleted!]"

So, after we stopped and were approached by the minion of Law and Order, she turned on her charm, and hyperaccentuated her Southern accent. The sheriff's deputy seemed to be mollified by such a charming lady, and was about to let us off with a just warning, but then he noticed resting on the back seat the two six-packs of really good beer we had purchased in Asheville before we left.

Our deputy said, rather apologetically, "I'm sorry, Misses, but I'll have to cite you both for V.P.L. offenses!"

A V.P.L. offense? Now what was that? Being strangers from states used to alcohol, we had not been informed as to the phenomenon of dry counties, where you cannot possess alcoholic beverages, and he had us dead to rights. A V.P.L. offense refers to "Violation of Prohibition Law."

But we got off, because in our naiviety, one of us said, "That's impossible, officer. I'm wearing a thong."

The officer walked away, quite amused. As a matter of fact, he was laughing! It was a while before we learned that we were not about to be cited for a fashion misdemeanor!

We're both blondes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Fairy Tale

Yeah, peeps, fairies exist; and you better do your "I believe in fairies" or more is going to come down beside Tinker Bell dying. I never could stand her back in Fairy School anyway. She had too much of a 'tude, like, you know?

Oh, you didn't know? We have a school. It looks like any nondescript girls' academy, except we really earn our wings there, y'know? Anyway, we wear those long gray skirts, white blouses, and dorky two-toned saddle oxfords. We spend our time studying Fairy Science and other good things. Occasionally a parent comes to enroll her daughter, and we get a new recruit that way. You better believe it! What normal girl is going to blow the whistle on the place when she gets to learn the neat fairy stuff which doesn't include algebra; and spend the afternoons watching Tom Cruise movies?

Ultimately, the graduates get their Fairy Licenses, and are assigned to be a particular type of fairy. Simple enough?

Back to my story. It seemed that one fairy was assigned to be a Cherry Blossom Fairy. Now, the Cherry Blossom Fairies have the task of mixing and serving the spring fever potion to mortals, so that they would drowse away the spring. Alas, one of them was remiss. She was called into the Chief Executive Fairy Office:

"Sakura-chan, you have been derelict in your mixing of the sleeping potion that brings drowsiness to humans. Unfortunately, they are now too active for their own good. Also, instead of wearing a flowered kimono, you run around in a bathrobe with your hair in curlers. You are not complying with the dress code for Cherry Blossom Fairies."

"Yes, Ma'am." I am sorry. But I was mixing the potion, only I tried a taste to see if it was nicely flavored. I became drowsy, myself. I guess I overdid it."

"Idiot. Never, never, never self-test the potions. It's obvious that you should be reassigned. Let's see, we have an opening for a Tooth Fairy because one of them was discovered to be an embezzler who spent the money she siphoned off at a casino on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. No, that's not for you. No math proficiency. Hmmmm . . . . Could you manage to be a Sock Fairy?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I'll try."

Four months later, Sakura was again summoned into the CEO Fairy's office and this exchange occurred:

"Sakura, your performance as a Sock Fairy was extraordinary. While we do encourage a small degree of fairy creativity, the primary task of Sock Fairies is to cause single socks or stockings or anklets to become missing. Changing colors is not an option. Your changing all of the Enron executives' socks to bright orange was beyond the pale and generated more unnecessary publicity. Besides, some of them are members of the same business club as I belong. I will have to do some major fence-mending."

"Oh, [fairy expletive deleted]!

"You will need to be reassigned. Let's see: Rain Fairy . . . . too much chance for things to go wrong there. Panty Fairy . . . . I won't even comprehend what damage you might do there. Apple Blossom Fairy . . . . we need one. Your task will be to ensure that the wine will turn to vinegar if it's been aged too long."

But Sakura went on the job as one of the Apple Blossom Fairies. She loved the costume, and the interactions with the unsuspecting humans. One day she tried the wine that pleased the humans. And she became an expert wine fairy, especially relishing a fine pinot grigio or a médoc or a merlot. You might say that she became a Party Girl with wings. That year, and the next, the wine kept, and great hilarity ensued. Life was good for the humans, other than the minor inconvenience of the vinegar shortage..

Finally, the CEO Fairy discovered Sakura was drinking on the job instead of making the wine into vinegar. She recalled her, and gave her one last chance.

That's how Sakura came to be the Fruit Cake Fairy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Modest Proposal for Weddings

Let's be honest. Weddings are a chick/woman thing. After all, it calls for new clothing, ceremony, being the center of attention, and global participation by many interested females. Besides, it gives something for us to talk about! Ahhh . . . . the shadowy mists of silence are dispelled.

But, there are two major Platonic categories of weddings: (a) The Perfect Wedding, to be conducted in a candle-lit church. The bride is decked out in virginal white, with demure veil and is escorted down the aisle by her impeccably-dressed father to her impeccably tux-dressed fiancé and to a priest or minister who is completely sober and capable of performing his/her office with sincerity and aplomb. The ceremony is beautiful and meaningful: and is performed without a hitch. Everyone behaves well afterwards, even mothers and mothers-in-laws; and the mild shedding of tears are those of joy. Smutty thoughts do not enter anyone's mind, must less be blurted out at the reception afterward (where champagne is politely drunk). This is the bride's apotheosis: it calls for perfection!

However, we must also recognize that many people have a place in their hearts and memories for the (b) Tacky Wedding. After all, what is this passion for the Wedding Chapels, being married by singing Elvises as ministers, and in such unromantic places as Las Vegas? This kind of wedding almost requires raucous bachelor or bachelorette parties, complete with coarse entertainment and presents. It should desirably begin with mutual intoxication on the part of the couple in question, coupled with a trip to a state that requires no blood test or waiting period. Naturally, alcohol must be copiously consumed by all; and how many cousins or aunts or uncles get rendered hors de combat makes for part of the legend. Someone should object to the nuptials vociferously, and this should lead to a general brawl that eventually makes an appearance on Cops. In short, it should give the family and friends something to talk about forever.

It's even better if the bride or groom pulls the plug on it after 55 hours!

Therefore, I propose the following: the State of Louisiana shall issue, upon a woman attaining the age of eighteen, two coupons: one for a perfect wedding, and one for a tacky wedding. These may be used by her at any time in her life. Her choice would dictate the setting and decorum of all in attendance. For example, if she played the Perfect Wedding one, everybody would have to behave well, even teenaged nephews dragooned into wearing tuxedoes. (And said person is furthermore forbidden to call it a monkey suit under pain of being forever banished from polite or even impolite female company.)

Louisiana did break ground years ago with its introduction of the Covenant Marriage. Now all we need is to get the Catholic and Baptist Churches to sign off on this two wedding idea . . . .

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Scientific Test of Two Male Attractants

In the unending quest for women to find appropriate matches while still in their 20's, several new weapons in the arsenal of allure have emerged: (a) enhanced cleavage through the use of implants or inserts, and (b) chemical attractants such as pheromones. However, the relative merits of these possible assets have not been conclusively demonstrated at the present time. Three of us, all in our twenties, tried a classical experimental design approach to test the relative merits of these, uh, presentation enhancers.

In the past thirty years, the "dating" or "hooking up" opportunities have expanded, with such possibilities as singles' bars, singles' encounters, and speed-dating. Speed dating seemed to constitute an interesting and appropriate setting to test the merits of these enhancements since it had the desirable traits of high numbers, speed, and safety. Also, it was implied to be glamorous on programs like Sex and the City and therefore we know that it is so.

The way that speed dating works is quite simple. You're one of a group of singles who gather in the setting for the brief encounters. You wear a nametag with your first name (first name and initial if there are more than one with your first name), a scorecard and your sparkling personality or something that passes for it. Couples are paired up to begin their first 'date' -- lasting five minutes. They are allowed to discuss anything, except their careers, or where the live.

Following those five minutes of interaction, a bell is rung, and the guys move on to meet their next date. This goes on for a total of 12 five-minute pariings.

After each 'date,' you mark whether they would desire that person again. If both wish to do so, the speed-dating organizers provide each with the other persons phone number.
Each of us participated in eight separate speed dating encounters entailing 12 five-minute encounters; on each occasion we did so under each possible combination of cleavage enhancement (C+ or C-) and phromone usage (P+ or P-) occurring twice; thus, a classical experimental design was employed. The inserts that we used increased each participant by one size. (I refrain from any further details.) After bathing with unscented soap, each user applied either the unscented pheromone or an unscented witch hazel lightly to her neck and face. Knowledge of whether the pheromone or the witch hazel was used was not known at the time of use, due to the bottles being neutrally labeled and identifiable only by a fourth party (a co-conspirator?). Obviously, the cleavage enhancement condition could not be done "blind" in this experimental design! We deliberately kept it modest, by limiting the enhancement to only one cup size and not wearing nipple enhancers (are you sure you want to know about them?). Each of us pledged to act friendly and receptive when encountering male participants, but not to initiate any further encounter on our own. We agreed to, and followed the rules of the speed dating encounters, and met several (12) participants during each session. At the end, each participant received feedback as to whether the male participants desired further encounters.

The following results were observed:

Participant...........C+P+........ C+P-........C-P+........ C-P-
A......................... 14...........12.......... 10............. 7
B......................... 16...........13...........12............. 8
C......................... 12.......... 10.......... 11............. 6
D......................... 13.......... 10...........12............. 7

Total................... 55........... 45........... 45............ 28

The evidence suggests that both enhancing one's cleavage and wearing a pheromone enhances one's attraction value, as opposed to cleavage enhancement alone or pheromone usage alone. Doing either of those is more effective than doing neither. More specifically, using the pheromones and the inserts effectively doubled one's chances of being selected! Since the sample both of female participants wearing the enhancers and the pheromones was small, and the number of male respondents was likewise, it is premature to make any solid conclusions at this time. However, it tenatively seems that a safe strategy is to do both, if possible. (Some of the guys were really cute.)

A possible additional limitation to generalization of results is that they are based on a particular southern urban subset of males, and ones who might participate in innovations such as "speed dating." Further research is needed to determine whether these wiles are effective with other males.

We plan to explore funding for future research through either a NSF or a NEA grant.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Bra Model of Boyfriend Selection

The theoretical models of boy friend selection merit some discussion and analysis. It seems to me that this would be very profitable in the appropriate selection of such useful companions, and to reduce the likelihood of any understandings later on. It is my feeling that women implicitly operate on the selection and maintenance process by having adopted one of several models:
One of these is the Good Crystal Selection Model. This model views boyfriends as selected usually with care, and maintained over long units of time. Doing this is labor-intensive in the selection process, and it has problems in that you cannot factor in depreciation or maintenance costs when this one is used. Also, the use of this model does not seem to be effective for those under age 25 or so.

Of course, you might have adopted the Unfortunate Wedding Gift Model. This model also assumes long-term or permanent status, but without the value and appeal of the Good Crystal Selection Model. In this case, you feel that are stuck with him and make the best of it. In a word, strenuously resist any aunt who wants to set you up with a "fine son of her friend."

There is something to be said for the Faucet Water Filter Model. When this one is adopted, you assume that he will be your boy friend for a limited, specified amount of time (say three months), and will then be replaced with a new one. I am told that this is commonly done by Hollywood actresses and pop music singers. As the song goes, "We'll sing in the sunshine." However, maybe those selected for a year or longer should come with a warranty.

Recent news has suggested that a Individualized Module Selection Model that is in the process of being developed by Microsoft may become available in a few years. This one allows you to have built in the specific features you want. On the face of it, it promises some big advantages. Let's see, you can get one who is sensitive, cultured, athletic, good-looking, loves animals, thinks you're wonderful, etc., etc. It will be at least a decade before this will be available, and it will likely have problems in initial costs, particularly for Version 1.0. Some additional things to be concerned with is that the program may tend to crash inopportunely and that the features likely to be offered are likely to be desired primarily by a Pacific Northwest clientele.

I propose, however, the Bra Model of boyfriend selection. Consider this: we have quite a bit more than one bra, why not have more than one boyfriend? Having three or four might be advantageous. Now, there's lots of ways that this could be implemented. One way is with each one having his own day, selected by lot. If this is done, then you have a boyfriend for Monday, another for Tuesday, etc. My needs are modest: I could be satisfied with four different ones, to be used in strict rotation (with a relief pitcher to come in from time to time when needed.) After all, I need some time en famille and to keep up with my studies.

Alternatively, you could have appropriate boyfriends to fit your moods. Now, again the lingerie metaphor is applicable here. In the old days, there were only two basic colors: white and black. These colors have their counterparts with the "good-boy" (white) -- "bad boy" (black) dichotomy. This was good in the old days: you have one to misbehave with, and one to show up with on Sundays at Maw-maw's. However, today, there are a variety of bra colors and types to fit your mood and clothing as well as your figure. On some days, cranberry is called for, and sometimes bamboo! Why not have boyfriends likewise? You could coordinate them to go with your lingerie moods. Or you could have different ones for different activities. Let's see . . . . you could have one for hanging out with in coffee houses, one to go to the races with, one who likes to dance, one who likes to fish, one to go to "show up and look formidable" occasions, one who likes chick flicks . . .

Oh, wait, I need to think on that one a while. Do I really want one who likes chick flicks?

Friday, April 23, 2010


I wonder if there's a relationship between how old you are and how much authority you can bring to bear. Some have it, and others don't Gravitas is what I don't have. Darn. I don't carry any weight. Nobody takes me seriously. Frankly, I'm a soufflé! Maybe it's age-related. Seriously, how old does a person have to be before people automatically take you seriously? Is it 30? Or 40? Are blondes less likely to be taken seriously? When was the last time you heard a brunette joke? Does dress confer a quality of being taken seriously? Maybe so. My Dad looks so much more with it, in charge when he puts on his officer's uniform for drills. Maybe men just look cool in uniform. Well, I will admit, being dressed in a halter and torn jeans doesn't help. [I don't do that now at school.] And no one looks capable when they wear a sombrero! Gravitas comes from the Latin, and it refers a quality of substance or depth of personality. The ancient Romans expected men to possess gravitas in the form of being serious, dignified, and duty-oriented. The others were justitia (justice), dignitas (dignity), and pietas (piety). Although they lived in a sexist society, a Roman matron could possess gravitas and really be taken seriously. Vestal Virgins were expected to have this gravitas in spades. Hey, that's what I can do. Is there any need for Vestal Virgins in North Carolina? And is there any possibility of obtaining retro status? Are they still serious about that 'bury 'em alive for misbehavior' thing? And, lastly, what is the salary and fringe benefits and is it a recession-proof job?

There's no way I can get this gravitas at Wal-Mart, is there?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to Smell Younger

Dr. Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell and Taste Treatment Research Foundation in Chicago, reported back in 2005 that a study showed that women wearing the scent of pink grapefruit were perceived by men to be six years younger than their age.

He tried several types of scents on male and female middle-aged models: broccoli, pumpkin pie, pink grapefruit, banana, cucumbers and spearmint leaves, and invited individuals of the same and the opposite sex to smell said subjects and subsequently estimate how old they were.

Hirsch, who is described as a board-certified neurologist and psychiatrist, reported that men tended to report middle-aged women wearing an essence of pink grapefruit were perceived as being, on an average, six years younger than their actual ages. The odor of spearamint leaves, bananas, broccoli, or cumumbers had no effect on men's perception of a woman's age. Furthermore, a woman's perception of a man's age, or of their perception of the age of another woman, was unaffected by any of these possible scents.

The researcher could not account for why grapefruit's scent has such an effect on men, but noted that perfumes don't have the same effect as grapefruit. Without any empirical gounds, Hirsch speculated that "Maybe it induced men to become sexually aroused" Other individuals suggested that the smell of pink grapefruit made people happy, and may have affected indirectly their age perceptual processes. Very clearly, these are mere speculations that can be resolved by subsequent research. [In short, this is a little bit of shooting from the hip in explaining things.]

Hirsch is also commercially marketing a product of this type called Timeless View Youth Perception Spray, and advises "Use it before work, a big date or a night on the town." In short, when you might want to appear younger. I can see there might be a market for this with some cougars.

I have a personal anecdote: once, instead of using my usual scent, I misted my self with a pear room spray before going out with friends. This was strictly on a whim that I adopted essence de poire.

Though I am an adult, I was carded repeatedly, despite my mature dress, style, and people I was with. One the doorman of one place accused me of having a fake driver's license!

My Guardian Angel

The concept of guardian angels is common to Greek philosophy, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite developed an extensive theology of these helping numinous beings.

Usually, they work subtly; and only rarely manifest themselves to humans. Maybe they're embarassed by our antics; maybe, as the angelic equivalents of buck privates, they consider their job as dirty, hopeless, and without the compensation of wearing spiffy angelic threads. [Guardian angels are considered theologically the lowest order of angels; Seraphim are the topmost; they're the angelic bon ton.]

Anyway, after a little merlot to help my digestion, I noticed this winged creature in my room, reading my copy of Vogue. I asked him matter-of-factly, "Who the hell are you?"
He answered, "I'm Steve. Your guardian angel." And he produced his credentials to prove it.
So I go, "But I'm a chick. Don't I rate a chick guardian angel?"

My angelic Steve said that there was a surplus of guy angels when my application was processed; and the priest screwed it up at my Baptism, and I didn't seem like much of a challenge. I chose not to pursue that matter; being that I probably would not have liked the answer. And he was cute and sincere and had a hopeful look; so I got my guy angel Steve.
And we really get along. We watch the Saints games together, when they're aired around here. He's learned that I cannot afford the styles of Vogue; but that it's a dream magazine. He makes a nice cornbread recipe, and is in general a low-maintenance angel. When I go on dates, we follow a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And he knows when to avert his eyes. He watches the Cartoon Network while I bathe or dress. I'm getting him to do some of the laundry; but he has yet to master the concepts or not mixing white and colored garments; and using different drying settings for certain types of garments. I iron his robes; he looks more cared-for when I do that.

Sometimes, to tease him, I make him unhook my bra.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Lucky Dog Guy Philosophizes

"Allo, Chers. It is fo' true my pleasure to make your acquaintance. Have you the beswan de Lucky Dogs? Dey are hot, spicy, and make your digestion happy! Oui! That is not the bull!

Anyway, you ask: how I come to sell the Lucky Dogs. It is the long story. I studied philosophy at Loyola. They have the best philosophy department in the state; no, the south. And I became imbued with the masters: Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Descartes, Locke, Wittgenstein, Hobbes, Hume. I had difficulties with Marx; understood his frere Harpo better. Bertrand Russell was (how shall I put it?) a colossal bag of wind.

And I became a cynic, much like the Master Cynic Diogenes. I lived in a large tub on Bourbon Street for several months. Two police officers came by to evict me; but stayed and moved in. [Police are natural cynics, seeing the worst of mankind.] One spent her time studying doughnut consumption for her Sergeant's position, and the other one restrung glass beads in his spare time.

The sheer necessities of life compelled me to seek a living, and I ran a modest little confidence racket in which I played on words (a vice for philosophers):

'Mister, I bet $10 that I know where you got your shoes!'

He expresses surprise, and takes me up.

I say, 'You got your shoes on Bourbon Street.'

Usually they pay up, but I get very few return customers.

I remembered one of the professors back in my Wolfpack days talking about Wittgenstein's poker, so I tried a career playing poker in a floating card game. However, my talents obviously were in retail and public relations. This led to my next occupation choice.

Selling Lucky Dogs has allowed me to observe human nature unobtrusively but in the raw. This also positioned me favorably for giving sagacious advice. For example, what can you tell about people when they order with their Lucky Dogs?

If they go for a variety of condiments that suggests a hopeful, giving personality, Mustard alone people are too severe. Ketchup users are unreliable. They really haven't fully commited to eating a sausage. Sauerkraut is generally a good sign; as is chow-chow. Anyone who puts mayonnaise on a defenseless hot dog is open to speculation about possibly being a pervert. Chili augers well; especially if accompanied with onions and cheese. Grilled onions and bell peppers suggest a sophisticated palate. Ladies, these guys are flashy and dance well, but are inclined to be unfaithful. The use of hot dog relish indicates that the person is a simple, straightforward citizen without pretenses.

As for the sausage. The All-American weiner is a good choice if the diner requests a good brand. Andouille is a superior 'dog.' Avoid Red Hots, s'il vous plait. The old-fashioned Polish sausage is best grilled and served either with sauerkraut or grilled onions and peppers. Italian sausage is best unaccompanied. Bratwurst? Ever consider vegetarianism?

Lucky Dogs are suitable for any time of day. One of my customers leaves immediately from Holy Mass and communion to get a Lucky Dog. In a pinch, it is considered good form and a binding oath if sworn in court on a Lucky Dog. And low-rent weddings are often catered by a Lucky Dog man.

Not that there's any sex discrimination in the Lucky Dog line. This field is open to all. I know of one enterprising Lucky Dog saleswoman who has combined Lucky Dogs and step aerobics.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Protesting with Style and Grace

To protest whaever annoys us is a right dear to Americans: we have opinions on just about anything. Oops, I'm remiss a little: my thinking hasn't clarified on Free Silver or on Statehood for the Florida Parishes, despite the best efforts by the Times-Picyaune, the Good Sisters, a motely crew of professors both of the academic and the musical sort, as well as the habituees of coffee shops.

People protest in various ways: with boycotts, with marches, with sit-ins or lie ins, with placards and signs and picket lines. Lately there's been the use of nudity as a shock tactic in protest. And, unfortunately, it's been overdone. I can see the temptation: to be able to flaunt one's buff body openly while simultaneously gaining a frisson of righteousness on the side: now that's a two-fer for you!

Alas, buffness is not often evident. Au contraire! One of the recent Yahoo! news pictures astounds the gentle reader with the dubious pleasure of hairy heinies mounted on bicycles. Now is that what a gentle lady wishes to see in her e-mail portal on an otherwise nondescript Friday morning? I think not. Non cogito, ergo non sum. Je ne pense pas, donc je ne suis pas. Ahhhh!

I think the socially correct and considerate protester should endeavor to protest in the most polite manner, so that when she appears in the moment of arrest on the 6 P.M. news her family and neighbors are edified. They should say upon watching: "Ahhhh . . . . the Boudreaux; they reared the children well." There are things to consider:

1. Proper clothing. Nudity is so outré. I recommend wearing designer clothes as an ideal. Versace, perhaps. Or maybe Ralph Lauren. Liz Claiborne has a number of garments that make a stunning look for the elegant protestor. One's lingerie should match, just on principle. This ensures that one is properly grounded.

2. Proper accessories. Think understated elegance. Maybe a nice necklace or gold chain and tiny earrings. No hoop earrings: they are too blatant! Message t-shirts are to be avoided. Navels are not to be flaunted. Consider what message you wish to send: "I've got an innie!" or "I am a conspicuous consumer with no taste; as evident by my buying junk jewelery for my belly button."

3. Proper courtesy. Thank people when you should, and say "please." It is considered mannerly to prepare a complimentary box of cookies for the arresting officer if you expect arrest. However, avoid the stereotype implied in the gift of doughnuts.

4. Proper graphics: Any signs that are use should use lettering that is legible, consistent, and pleasingly congruent with the background.

5. Proper means of protest: Yelling, blocking the right of way, and cursing mark one as unfit for polite discourse. Instead, edifying ways such as having violins on the street or even a string quartet might enhance the prevailing mood and elevate the experience.

6. Proper attitude: Be unfailingly friendly and charming. Treat your act of protest as if it is a possible imposition or inconvenience to others. Smile a lot. Say, "Have a nice day" and "Take care, y'all."

Friday, April 16, 2010

PeTA Tries to Rescue Schrödinger's Cat

Utterly flushed with pride from a successful fun-raising for the First Exhibition of Art Nouveau Toilet Fixtures, and having completed her establishing The Girls of NPR Granny Swimsuit Calendar, Meredith turned her organizational presence to another of her causes: animal welfare. Obviously, she was spurred by the recent horrific reports of the football player-turned dog fighter. "How tacky and depressingly Neanderthal some people can be, particularly in the Flyover States," she thought. It is only with the strenuous efforts of the Better People that we are able to avoid descending into the Stygian depths as a civilization, save a few already-lost locations such as New Jersey and Arkansas. But she was up to it: she was the local President for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals!

She was in the process of scanning the scientific literature for those possible animal-abusing miscreants, which she tended to see primarily in those sulfurous realms of biology and psychology: fields very callous towards Our Fellow Creatures, but then she found something truly horrific: a scientist proposing the exposure of an adorable little cat to radiation! This awful researcher proposed putting an inoffensive cat in a steel chamber for an hour, together with a Geiger counter and some unspecified radioactive substance. If an atom decayed, it supposedly would trigger a relay of that would shatter a flask hydrocyanic acid and kill the cat! In effect, this awful person was subjecting the feline to an involuntary case of radiological Russian roulette! Now there is a sick mind for you!

A cold chill crept down her side. This was awful, in the maximum degree. And this horror was directed to a cute creature that most people love and is the most popular pet in the United States! There was one thing different: this miscreant was a specialist in physics, of all things! And this proposal was so long ago. "Hmmm . . . . this awful creature might be endlessly torturing kitties as I now sit."

Meredith thought of her own cute little kitty, gritted her teeth, and started to draft letters to The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and the New York Times protesting this despicable Professor Erwin Schrödinger. "We of PETA will drive this impudent and unfeeling scientist to his knees! We'll marshal the Steering Committee tonight, and picket his laboratory lair in force tomorrow."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Girls of NPR

Meredith had to deal with that perennial dilemma: as a fund-raiser for a local organization to support public broadcasting, she was having difficulty in finding sufficient funds to maintain the level of funding that National Public Radio has become accustomed to. After all, the governmental largesse is only so limited, and the listener base has never been very large. Maybe it's the times, she mused, that have given us the Day of the Locust. Somehow, intellectuals reading from CD jacket notes or program notes has not attained the level of following that the shock jocks or the country music programming has achieved. Alas! The meretricious, short-sighted Flyover people out there just don’t get how important the arts are to our cultural life! After all, what would they do without the nighttime jazz, All Things Considered, or Vassar intellectuals enlightening them as to high culture and The Correct Way to View Things? The corporations have gotten skeptical too; maybe some of them have finally had their thick heads penetrated with the notion that we intellectual elites really hold them in disdain. We should be less blatant.

The radio medium has its limitations when it comes to fund-raising. Some money-making specials are a possibility; but festivals of chamber music from Poughskeepie and chorales from Wolf Trap have not captured the imagination like PBS's running country singers or old folk singers when it comes to fund raising. Clearly, something very different needed to be tried.

Last year's madrigals were undersubscribed. Sponsoring a tour of a troupe of Dorkovian folk dancers didn't bring the public to contribute, although Meredith fondly remembered that they were easy to book and at a low cost. And telethons inevitably result in a drop of ratings. The answer to her dilemma came to Meredith in considerably less than a flash. She remembered last week when she was slumming in a popular market bookstore that she was astounded by the number of colored calendars for sale, all with substantial markups. Especially prominent were the swimsuit calendars. Now these are absolutely tacky, but the general idea could be modified to make a successful fund-raising item without the lowbrow aspects of the girlie calendar! Why not get some NPR staffers, male and female, to pose while wearing swimsuits in sophisticated settings like the Hamptons or the New York Public Library? Let's not forget the Soho galleries or the Kennedy Center. For the sports-minded, maybe some of the more athletic ones could pose ironically in one of those Cathedrals of Green. But only Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, the two stadia where the well-bred might deign to appear. No places for the plebes like Shea Stadium or those places in Flyover Country like Busch Stadium or the Super Bowl! And, obviously, no football settings. Too many of the Great Unwashed are in attendance with their unfortunate women, not to mention those incomprehensible American Idol fans. Just the thought of that program made Meredith shudder a frisson of horror!.

Meredith's fertile imagination began to wonder: "Now let's see: I can wear a bright red-flowered maillot with a pleated skirt, very fashionable for the Country Club. Or should I pose by the stone lions of the New York Public Library, or maybe in the Reference section? And Megan in News could wear what her children call the Granny bikini from the 1960 era. It had yellow polka dots. Millicent? Hmmm, maybe a pareu to flatter her caboose?"

Meredith's vaunted planning skills were further put into gear. First she planned for an Introductory Signing of the Calendars at a New York museum. This would be a dressy affair at a fashionably late hour: dinner jackets for gentlemen; long dresses for the ladies. A nice white wine and subtle brie on crackers would be served to complement the setting. And she knew exactly which chardonnay would make the proper statement when served: one that was subtle yet slightly amusing.

Now professional fund-raiser Meredith went into overdrive and began to flesh out the particulars: “Let’s have a string quartet to play at Introductory Signing of the Calendars, all models transported to settings by limo (Unionized chauffeurs only), no bikinis, no tee shirts. For small extra fee of $60 the purchaser could purchase a tote bag graced with a picture of his or her favorite model from the calendar.” Yes, Ma'am: Meredith was a dynamo when it came to fund-raising mechanics.

And Meredith worked out her estimation of the costs and included a large markup because this calendar was for a nonprofit. She thought, "Twenty dollars should do it; twenty-five dollars by mail. Surely they would be drawn to a swimsuit calendar that was well-bred?”

Meredith wondered how to make a high five gesture to further impress the Program Manager with how with-it and hip she was. She wrote on her "to-do" list: Learn high five.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Pyrate of the Produce Section

I met Pete in the produce section of the store. He was spraying the bell peppers and tomatoes with a fine mist, while singing a song with the refrain, "Yo ho ho . . . . " He was unusually clad, wearing tights, a full embroidered jacket, a large silver buckle, a patch over one eye, and a cutlass. Here was a story, my journalistic sensibilities told me; so I asked Mr. Pete (as he shall be henceforth known until the statutes of limitations run out) how he got there and what profession he pursued before going into a career of produce.

Mr. Pete looked critically at the artichokes, and murmured something about restacking and watering them, then he began his story.

"Me Pert Wench, I was once gainfully employed as a Pyrate in the Caribbean; and I had an exciting life, buckling my swash, singing pyrate songs, doing the hornpipe (never could manage the steps though), and making for carefree days on the Spanish Main. Arrr! Cap'n Jones ran a jolly ship, and we drank a cask of rum each day while we were under the Jolly Roger! Yo ho ho! Shiver me timbers! Life was good on the Spanish Main! Arrr!!!

"But then little changes crept in, like the shipworm in oaken ship hulls. Even Hearts of Oak cannot float if the good ship is leaky. It was the Pyrate Leadership on the Dry Tortugas that started it, methinks. A scurvy lot, they were! It was the paperwork we had to fill out: how many cannon balls fired, how many captured passengers and crew had to walk the plank, how many damsels we distressed, our daily consumption of rum. The decks had to be cleaned daily, and there were hourly inspections of the head that were marked on a card above the door.

"They decided we had to be more cost-effective. We had to capture at least one treasure ship per week; but use the cannon balls sparingly. Sell the passengers and crew and damsels rather than dunking them in the true manner of buccaneers. Oh, that's something else. Few landlubbers know that Pyrates are addicted to Dunkin' Donuts. We were limited to three doughnut breaks per week; and prohibited from sailing out of our way to the Caribbean doughnut stands.

"It got worse. They cited insurance regulations to deprive us of our rum ration. Cap'n Jones was beached; and we got a new captain with more modern sensibilities. He was a scurvy dog, this Cap'n Carrot Top. He declared the hornpipe to be passé; and had us to Irish folk dances instead. (Those of us with peg legs had a difficult time keeping up with the stompings of the wee Irish lassies.) We were told to clean up our rough language, and to stop saying 'Arrr!'

"Arrrr!," I said sympathetically in response to Mr. Pete's woeful tale.

""And what was worse was that we were required to become physically fit and to take sensitivity training classes. We had to take a medical exam twice a year to maintain our Pyrate license, or no more 'Yo ho ho.' And we had to learn to relate to our customers, er clients, er fans. I think that the final straw was that, after we had captured and looted a fine merchant ship, we were required to write 'thank you' notes to our victim's company. Something about maintaining a good corporate image.

"You mean that the pirating business got bogged down by bureaucracy? That it wasn't the action of the world's navies that did so?"

"No, me sweet lassie. They were more burdened by the paperwork than we were. So I put ashore and now shiver me timbers in this grocery store. Here the bureaucratic shipworms are less present."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Raid on the Warehouse

"Al Gautreaux of Action News and Weather here. We're talking to Sergeant Girard of N.O.P.D.'s literary squad. Less than one hour ago, the Literary Squad made a spectacular raid on a cliché warehouse on Tchopitoulas Street. Sergeant, how did you know there was an illegal operation going on here?"

"Well, Mel, there were the unmistakable signs. We saw some Really Class Acts in the Vicinity, and the Fat Lady Was About to Sing. There were undesirables loitering around that reliably tipped us on this type of operation. More politicians and clergymen than You Could Shake a Stick At. Of course, this unsavory vice has always been the problem of athletes and sports announcers. We found cases of Tried and True and Rosy-Fingered Dawns and barrels of John Barleycorns and Founding Fathers (with no royalties paid to the estate of Warren G. Harding) and a room full of some Nice Racks. (Apparently, there is a severe need for storage in this business.)"

"Why are there so many of these cliché warehouses in New Orleans, Sergeant?"

"In my opinion, it's that the languid atmosphere of New Orleans that makes this a Hotbed of bad literature. Let's face it: New Orleans is an interesting place to live in and write about. But it's not a place reknown for hard work, literary or otherwise. So these young, aspiring writers that flock to the Crescent City drift slowly into The Life of Dissipation. (They get lazy.) First it's a jaded expression that the writer uses almost unconsciously; then he finds himself using the typical buzzwords from television. Now That Sucks Like a Hoover. Soon he has a well-established fondness for clichés. But then, no one Promised Us a Rose Garden. When you add to this the sports figures and the Uberbabes who flock to the Superdome and to the Sugar Bowl, we have a Bravo Sierra factor that often Reaches Critical Mass.

Anyway, right now were's hot on the trail of Mr. Big. His days are numbered."

"Mr. Big?"

"Yes, that awful wordsmith that first coined the expression, "The Big Easy."

[A horrified look on Reporter Mel Gautreaux's face.]

"Well, we certainly hope you get him, one way or another; with whatever level of force is necessary. Don't worry about it being filmed. Your guys have a dirty job to do and the Good Citizens of New Orleans are grateful for your good work, Sergeant."

Monday, April 12, 2010

At a Soiree

As a nubile and dutiful niece, I am sometimes called upon to attend soirees in which flowered sundress, heels, and gloves are de rigeur. Plus a nice straw hat. That explains my being there, much like a rooster wearing socks. My aunt is in a lather to get me "married off," as my brother charmingly puts it. Anyway, here's the dialogue. I'm trying to write of manners, but I'm not cool or observant like Jane Austen.

"Miss B., I would like to tell you about my nephew, Mortimer.

"He is a very fine lad, and a very eligible from the finest of old New Orleans families. I have always believed that good genes make the man, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Blood will tell. Here is his picture (one of a fortyish, epicene male without a chin). He's a good boy, he lives at home on St. Charles Avenue with his mater and plays the organ at St. George's Episcopal every Sunday. He went to Tulane for a while, and found it too serious; so he transferred to Loyola and found it too Catholic for his tastes. Still, he helps his mother manage the family money, and they have a splendid time vacationing each year. The three of us get along famously; he's so mature and cultured. He knows the lyrics to all the Broadway show tunes and will sing a wide repretoire of them while playing the piano. Yes, you will enjoy their trips to the tropics, or daring to go to Europe; which is, you know, so European. Two weeks ago, he said while we were dancing at the Yacht Club, 'Auntie Mae, I think I must marry soon, as the family needs progeny to carry on. Oh, be a dear, and look for a likely young woman of quality stock and exquisite breeding. Someone who has refined tastes. Someone who is presentable when we go to resorts and associate with others of Our Set. Really, I need someone who knows how to pour coffee and serve petits four. Mortimer's full name is Mortimer Le Tremblay Du Bois-Reymond Willchester _____________. [old families]" He has lineage. But he is so accomplished. He makes his own vichyssoise, and is president of the local ikebana society."

"Ma'am, I have experience with pouring coffee. I have been working as a barista!"

"Oh, my goodness. What's that? Some of you college girls are so accomplished.

"Angel, Dear: when did you come out?"

[Oh. My. God. Does she think I'm a lesbian?]


"When and at what cotillion did you make your debut?"

"Ma'am, I didn't."

"Well, what school did you attend?"

I named a garden variety Catholic girls' high school.

Wrong answer. Or, upon reflection, right answer. She suddenly found my skirt to be too short and my hair and general appearance too modern.

"Mortimer really doesn't care for modern girls. As he puts it, 'Mama, no modern girls for me. They are too flashy and no amount of firmness will make real headway with them.'"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Custodians of Public Morality

I'm convinced that this 'adult thing' that I'm supposed to be now is crazy -- thought out by people who might be employing dangerous recreational drugs while making up the rules for Conduct pr living the Integer Vitae (as Horace put it in his semi-lucid moments). Or, maybe I'm confusing things by incorrectly assuming adult homogeneity. Yes, that's it. There is no Adult Monolith. Adults are morally ambiguous.

Anyway, I've noticed that some grown-ups energetically make various rules about what people should or should not do. And, true to the nature of young people, some young people will find creative ways of breaking them; or at least doing things that, on face value, annoy adults. (I can speak with experience from living in New Orleans and seeing the scope of adolescent or adult misconduct here, some of which I was a perp.)

Take parades or other events sponsored by universities. There's always some group that comes out with some deed that shocks the politically correct (such as dressing like cannibals, as one fraternity was wont to do for a long time). One group marched with appropriate paddings as the University Unwed Mothers' Club, and probably had to take the usual round of ineffective sensitivity training afterwards from the humorless Division of Student Life people. (It's my impression that the faculty likes it when the students do this! They really love underground student newspapers.)

Whenever students really got to choose the names of school mascots, humor and irreverence often reigns. Yes, there are athletic teams named the Banana Slugs and the Anteaters and the Wonder Boys: behind which I fail to see the mortmain of the chronologically enhanced in their selection. (With a little energy, 20-year-olds can be quite creative in making up outré team names.)

Of course, I remember being younger and in elementary school. The Catholic school I attended had a Hallowe'en costume party, and inevitably some boy would come dressed in a costume that parodied some saint, like Saint Francis. Some adults would go, "sacriligious!" or "how awful!" But there was also that tee-hee-hee that accompanied it. Curious.

Likewise, the adolescent cliché of putting detergent in fountains is often the source of adults laughing. (I confess guilt now to such deeds that the statutes of limitations have run out.)

New Orleans's reaction to the heroic drinking and flashing of Mardi Gras is less than strongly censorious; it's like 'we have rules, but they're not really that important.' (And it's not limited to the young, either.) So, there's a lot of mixed signals going on. Some people I know have even gotten priests to bless their Mardi Gras beads afterwards on Ash Wednesday, and the padres go along with this!

Then it came to me as an epiphany.

Lots of adults enjoy these tokens of rebellion, and when they happen, then they are pleased just as much or more as the younger persons! Can it be possible that there is an official social role that some adults are assigned to, or voluntary assume in a spirit of social interest, that requires them to present disapproval of these activities? This sheds a new light on this phenomenon. The miscellaneous assistant principals, deans of students, blue noses, prudes, busybodies, and the like now should be looked on as selfless public servants, establishing rules so that young people and many adults can enjoy their being flouted. If that is indeed the case, then maybe we should honor them with their own special day: Public Custodians of Morality Day. Let May 27th be set aside for that purpose. Or some other day in need of some specific function.

Welcome to My Blog

Thank you for visiting. Because this is a new experience to me, I must confess a certain degree of diffidence: sort of like performing a genteel striptease before an audience of whom I am uncertain as to their response. I beg your patience. I wish to explore the dimensions of humor from a feminine perspective, and to make very irreverent observations regarding cultural dimensions that I'm familiar with. A little bio to flesh things out:

My name is Angélique. You're probably snickering, no? I'm a native of New Orleans, LA, an Acadienne (Cajun), and a product of a Catholic education. And strongly impacted by my New Orleans enculturation.

I'm in my 20's, tall, and can still run the mile in about 5:30. In case you are wondering, they are exquisite minatures, and my belly button is an innie. Politically, I'm independent, with libertarian leanings. I like modern art; but I'm not sure why. Dancing is fun; but don't look on my motions as the epitome of grace. I enjoy pole dancing and crocheting as hobbies, and read a lot. Among my interests are experimental psychology, philosophy, and language. I have a volatile temper naturally: any residual sweetness is courtesy of Lorazepam. I use only one form of drug: caffeine. Oh, I like beer and wine; does that count also? I still have some traces of my accent.

I am single, like the outdoors, and go tent camping on the A.T. Each year I manage to go to the Mardi Gras. It's my religion. La famille is very important to me; in addition to my parents, I have two older brothers and two older sisters.

The anime character I use as my avatar is Princess Lum. She's a space alien magical girl that I think has a number of traits in common with me. However, I don't guarantee that you can control me simply by grabbing my horns!