Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cowgirl Melinda and the Philosopher

Now doubt, you meet some curious people on the internet, but the unlikely combination of Cowgirl Melinda and Pierre Duchamp, noted French Deconstructionist philosopher was a new departure from the natural order of things. They met in a MSN 'chat room,' and found out that they both (though unlikely) happened to be in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Being cautious, Melinda agreed to meet him in a coffee shop that also sold barbecue ribs on the side. (This happens in the Land of Enchantment quite often.) Now for a fashion report: just what does a cowgirl wear on a date with a philosopher?

Melinda was stunningly decked out in a brown leather ensemble with a matching chamois halter, a Zuni belt buckle, boots, and silver spurs that jingle. She wore brown cowhand hat; but only outdoors, as she was brought up properly as a typical western girl tends to be.

Pierre wore a dark suit and a gray turtleneck. He strategically had a four-days beard growth, and smoked a pipe with aromatic tobacco.

Some samples of dialogue can serve our purposes:

Pierre: "But of course one must examine the text itself with an attitude toward discovery of meaning: the message cannot be taken as simply what the author intended."

Melinda: "I just read Love's Fiery Passions."

Pierre: "Naturally, our existence will precede our essence."

Melinda: "What kind of horse do you prefer to ride?"

Pierre: "Perhaps a hobby horse. Where can you get escargot here in Tucumcari?"

Melinda: "Maybe in Santa Fé, Sweetie. They're all odd there. But we have some wonderful barbecue here."

Pierre: "Tucumcari is a place of agreeable charm. Perhaps a cognac?"

Melinda: "We sall it sippin' whiskey here, but yes! You speak the language of my tribe, Sir"

Pierre: In both logic and life, form is very important and gives meaning to life. Both Sartre and Decartes expressed such sentiments."

Melinda: "Yes, Sharon Faye said about as much."

Pierre: "Is she a western philosopher?"

Melinda: "Yes, you might say so. She sells me panties. Tell me, Petey, do you want to go to the dump to shoot rats."

Pierre: "Rats?"

Melinda: "Hey, you could pretend they're tourists that clutter up the coffee house back home and talk nothing but English and put whipped cream on top of the coffee."

Pierre: "I have seen such horrors . . . . "

They were so different that they hit it off, big time. And both Pierre and Melinda left a little bit of their hearts with the other after this chance tryst. Life can be beautiful, after all.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Perky Effect

The Perky effect, in psychology, refers to the process by which visual mental imagery is thought to interefere with visual perception. For example, if a person is instructed to project by imagination a tomato or a banana on a while screen, an a faint image of a tomato or banana is projected, the person may not be able to tell the difference between the real image and that which was imagined.

Cheves W. Perky did the pioneering research on this back in 1910.

This is the sacred meaning of the Perky effect.

There is a more profane meaning: the Perky effect is what happens when you go braless on a cold day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Pyrate as a Dean

There is a tide that comes in the affairs of men, and when taken at the flood, leads on to fame. Poor Pete somehow got stuck on the Shoals of Administration.

Far from the wilds of the Caribbean or the safe haven of the produce section, he somehow became a college dean. It was, as you might know, due to a fluke. But then the gods laugh loudly in life, don't they? Some member of the Board of Trustees retorted to the University President that "anyone could reasonably serve as a Dean, so we don't have to up their salary to recruit a suitable one. We could even hire the pirate from the produce department at the super market!" The President, tempted by the challenge, hired Pete as a temp Dean. But he got considerably more than a Dean for a Day.

There were some readjustments that had to be made. Pete learned that the office staff required coffee rather than a grog ration, and were inept in swordsmanship. What a bunch of weenies! The secretaries had to learn that "Shiver me timbers" was not sexual harassment talk. (Was it?)  Department chairs were required to dance the hornpipe as part of their evaluation. Department chairs can't dance; even though they're known not to be tough guys. And lazy, indolent faculty members were not simply fired, but forced to walk the plank. The administration smiled on this solution to personnel problems.

Pete had direct speech that was unaccustomed in academe and sometimes posed problems. For example, he called the Dean of Education a "scurvy dog," thereby offending Canine Americans all over the place. The nonexistent dress code somehow managed to slip another knot as barefootedness on warm days became okay. The Department of English engaged in an endless dialog as to whether their temporary Dean was a "pyrate" (17th century spelling) or a "pirate." Quoth Pete, "Arrrr! I was in a maritime resource reallocation business of late." The University Public Relations department concluded that he had a former career with the I.R.S.!

Strangely, his year of service went better than expected: funds got diverted from athletes and administration to the classroom, the grades went up, and student morale rose. (Grog parties in the afternoon helped raise student morale.) However, there was a decided decline in damsels in distress and swashbuckling toward the end of his year. The Old Sea Dog got sentimental for the sea, or maybe he missed stacking and watering the oranges and bell peppers.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


My apologies to Rudyard Kipling, a great poet.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When Should Girls and Boys First Date?

This is something that some people get their knickers into a knot about. 

First a little about me, to put things in perspective, I don't believe in casual sleeping around.

Whether you call it dating or hanging out or being seen by someone is your semantic choice: there's an overlap to these terms, or at least not a consistent set of definitions.  I think that this should begin while someone is in her mid-teens, at about the same age as other teens are going out.  First dates are anxiety-generating; they should occur hopefully in as nonintimidating circumstances as possible.  Ideally, it should be with a guy who is new to the scene himself.  For this reason, it is not a good idea to discourage or forbid your daughter to go out until she is 18, or 20, or some other age.  And I think it's not a good idea for her to date someone who is older, anyway. 

Yeah, let her start at about the same age as the other kids.  I think that doing it at that time is important, as the person learns about the opposite sex, how to comport oneself, and how to handle the emotions.  Sports-oriented guys would call it playing on a level playing field.  (Isn't is strange that dating and sports metaphors occur so often?)

When you're going out with a member of the opposite sex, you want to act in an age-appropriate fashion.  In order to do that, you have to have had those experiences so common for that age.  Jumping in as an adult gives you a definite disadvantage.

Let me put it this way.  Suppose you're a 24-year-old woman, going out with a guy of about your same age.  Would you like it if he acted 15, behaviorally or emotionally?

As for sex, maybe not until at least age 18, but that's my opinion.  And, if you don't want a baby, then you all take precautions.  Both of you.  If you're not into planning, you're not mature enough for parenthood.  Basically, that was the advice that Mom gave me.  I'm not sorry I waited until I was 19.  And as for making out, that's part of the learning process.  However, as she did, I do think that when one starts dating, she should have access to the pill and other means.  Yes, I started on the pill when I was 16; and Mom even taught me how to put a condom on a guy's thing by using a broomstick.  (I don't think either of us could have taken more graphicness!)  And a little hints on noncoital means of pleasing a guy wouldn't hurt, either.

Some of you must be mentally measuring me for a scarlet F for my blouse, I guess . . . . and that's your privilege.  But I give my Mom an A+.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Tone of Cities, Including Why New York is Often Unloved

In my opinion, people do form definite feelings about cities that sometimes might be rooted in the past.  Not the primordial past so beloved of the Freudians (how many of us actually came into a scene of Papa and Mama doing it?  Oops, my bad.  According to Freudian doctrine, we repressed any memory of that horrific scene!)
No, the period it's more linked to is junior high age.  Now we've been there; and for many of us it was a time in which we were unsure of ourselves -- awkward ugly ducklings waiting for something to happen even though too often it's something we won't like very much.
Think about the cool kids' table in the school cafeteria.  Some cities are equivalent to the cool kids:  Boston is old money and culture, discounting Southie, maybe.   Chicago is midwestern progress, bustle, and risk-taking. Washington is about power, influence, and sophistication.  Seattle is technological sophistication, caffeine-driven progress, impatience, and the future.  Philadelphia is the national bedrock of learning, the arts, and the sciences.  Atlanta is the New South: brash, booming, self-declared as progressive, and all of those things.  Los Angeles is decidedly nouveau riche; however, they are so riche that they get to make the rules.  So is San Francisco; but it's a west coast city with decided charm.  Tony Bennett was not the only one to leave his heart there; many travelers also do.  However, it's decidedly a high-end place to live: the help lives in Oakland or surrounding places.  Dallas is big; it's brassy; but being in Texas keeps us from taking it too seriously.  Some heavy-handed humorist named Baltimore Charm City.  Las Vegas is tacky; but it's an amusing tacky.
And then there's New York.  Ah, New York: it is pleased to style itself as the capitol of culture, power, finance, sophistication: a Rome among the hill towns and podunks that is everywhere else.  The riff-raff live in Jersey or Yonkers.  Flyover people go there and gawk.
  "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

           -- Percy Bysshe Shelley

And New Yorkers don't mind rubbing your nose in it.  This is The City That Never Sleeps.  If You Can Make It Here, You Can Make It Anywhere.  (Ulan Bator, Kemo Sabe?)  How many television programs are located in New York City?  And there's the presumption that is the New York Times, sometimes referred to as the Gray Lady, with All The News That's Deemed Fit To Print by the Eastern Establishment. 

And their hegemony in sports.  Let's face it: the New York Yankees are preeminent in baseball; but that is to a great degree due to the fact that the spend twice to four times the amount of money on players' salaries as their competition!  In all fairness; some of the other teams may have helped.  Wasn't tere a Florida team that did well one year, and sold off their star performers?

Therefore, it is with sincere pleasure that the Super Bowl will be played between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers: two cities that would not have taken a place at the cool kids' table.